Bill Patterson 105th AFBF Convention

The 105th American Farm Bureau Convention in Salt Lake City in January was not just another gathering for farmers and ranchers. It was a celebration of grassroots initiatives, policy shaping, and the diverse voices that make up the backbone of American farming. I found myself immersed in an atmosphere of camaraderie, innovation and impassioned advocacy for the future of agriculture.

Trumbull County Farm Bureau’s recognition as one of the 24 County Activities of Excellence was a testament to the dedication and creativity of our local community. AFBF received 151 entries across all membership categories, with only 24 activities nationwide being selected to present at the convention. Our Books & Barns Ag Literacy Project stood out for its commitment to promoting agricultural education and fostering a love for reading among children.

Through initiatives like Storytime with a Farmer and the distribution of agricultural books, we aimed to bridge the gap between urban youth and the farming community, cultivating a deeper appreciation for the hard work and challenges faced by farmers. In addition, it’s crucial to acknowledge that America’s farm families represent less than 2% of the population, and with each generation becoming more and more removed from agriculture, it is critical that we share the endless opportunities in agriculture with others.

Attending the convention provided not only a platform to showcase our local efforts but also an opportunity to see the impact we (Farm Bureau members) have on shaping national policy. From educational workshops on leadership and business insights to discussions on cutting-edge innovations like artificial intelligence in agriculture, the convention offered insights into the trends and realities shaping the future of food production.

One of the highlights was witnessing firsthand the grassroots process in action as farmer and rancher delegates deliberated on key policy issues. From addressing the challenges of artificial intelligence (where much of the policy originated from right here in Ohio) to advocating for a stable agriculture workforce, the resolutions passed reflected the collective voice of farmers across the nation.

Yet, amid the policy discussions and networking opportunities, what truly resonated with me were the heartfelt conversations surrounding mental health in agriculture, generational challenges, and the importance of preserving our agricultural heritage for future generations. It reminded me of the profound impact our voices and stories can have in shaping the future of agriculture.

Reflecting on the convention, I am reminded of a quote by Greg Harden, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” It serves as a poignant reminder of the power each of us holds to be a part of the solution. Whether it’s getting involved in local boards or sharing our voices on national platforms, we all have a role to play in safeguarding the future of agriculture.

As I return home from the convention, I carry with me a renewed sense of purpose and a deepened commitment to continue advocating for the agricultural community and even though it may be small, each tiny impact we make adds up to a great impact. The journey from our county’s initiatives to national policies may seem daunting at times, but as long as we remain united in our passion for agriculture, there is no challenge too great to overcome.

Submitted by Mandy Orahood, the organization director at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties.


OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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