Ohio Farm Bureau President Bill Patterson

As Ohio Farm Bureau president, I have a big responsibility to help lead the organization. But as you will see in this Farm Bureau day in the life, our team of board members, volunteer leaders and staff help our organization work for all of our members. 

I farm full time so relying on our team is essential. Executive Vice President Adam Sharp runs the day-to-day operations and is the full-time face of Ohio Farm Bureau. He’s a part-time farmer in Fairfield County, by the way. 

The 26-member Ohio Farm Bureau Board of Trustees sets the direction of the organization, while Adam manages a very talented staff team, several of whom you will read about below.  

In my role, I am keenly aware of the amazing things Ohio Farm Bureau does each and every day in its pursuit to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities. However, my experience May 8 was of particular note and is completely indicative of the value Farm Bureau provides to members and our members in turn provide to all of agriculture.

The day started as I traveled south to attend a Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon with speaker Gov. Mike DeWine. Jack Irvin and I sat at the sponsor table with the governor, two members of the Ohio State University Board of Trustees and the new director of the Columbus Metropolitan Club (who replaced Jane Scott, who sits on the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation board). Jack and I were able to directly engage with the governor about the work at the Ohio Expo Center and his priorities on water quality. Also attending was OFBF board member Katherine Harrison (who dropped a goat off at the processor on her way to the meeting). Organization Director Melinda Lee attended as well as Franklin County Farm Bureau board members Dwight Beougher, Connie Cahill and Lauren Prettyman.  In addition, there were several other partners from Ohio State as well as Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation board member Annalies Corbin from the PAST Foundation. 

Membership valueUpon arrival at the Farm Bureau office earlier that morning, I was able to stop by a meeting with some of the administrators and staff of the Nationwide 8 states (state Farm Bureaus where Nationwide has a sponsorship relationship). The group was working on various projects related to our membership value proposition. Staff members Mike Bailey, Paul Lyons and Pat Petzel were taking a leadership role in the presentations about delivering value to members both among our Nationwide partner states and American Farm Bureau. Austin Large with American Farm Bureau is helping to lead membership value discussions nationally. Pat and I were also able to chat about an upcoming Our Ohio magazine devoted to helping members better understand CAUV.

Down the street at the Statehouse, Evan Callicoat was hosting state board member (and Darke County Commissioner) Matt Aultman, who was testifying before the Joint Committee on Property Tax Review. Our voice in this debate about taxes in Ohio came about because of our quick action in 2023. Ohio Farm Bureau members engaged their legislators immediately, and the resulting action created the Joint Committee on Property Tax Review, which is a great opportunity to seek additional improvements to the CAUV formula to better represent the spirit of the constitutional amendment passed more than 50 years ago.  Matt recognized the significance of this opportunity and attended in spite of the fact that he had lost a barn the evening before due to a tornado and devastating storms. This is the second time this spring Matt’s farm has been hit by a tornado, by the way. 

Staff member Brad Bales was in Washington, D.C. representing members along with colleagues from other state Farm Bureaus. They received updates from the House and the Senate on the 2024 Farm Bill, discussed the future of agriculturally based sustainable aviation fuels and met multiple industry leaders on potential agriculture issues surrounding their sustainability plans for 2030 and beyond.

On my drive home, I talked with board treasurer Adele Flynn about her and other members’ experience that day at an open seat screening for a seat in Cuyahoga County for the Ohio House of Representatives. Whittney Bowers and Amanda Denes-Diedrick coordinated this screening, and Adele was debriefing me on some opportunities with AGGPAC for both board and member engagement in shaping advocacy.

Meanwhile, Ty Higgins was putting final touches on a letter to the editor to the Toledo Blade regarding its recent hit piece about agriculture’s impact on Lake Erie. 

Later, I received a call from Adam Sharp who was flying home from Iowa where he was with the AFBF Midwest administrators speaking about the value of membership. Ohio is coordinating closely with our friends at Illinois Farm Bureau in this area, and we look forward to having the Illinois board at our June board meeting where we will discuss membership value, land use/green energy balance, and water quality. 

Boyert Q&A
Mike and Patti Boyert

That evening, I joined a Zoom meeting with the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation hosted by Kelly Burns, Kelly Warner, Melinda Witten and Mary Klopfenstein. OFBF board member Mike Boyert and his wife Patti explained their vision for the new Growing Tomorrow Grant that will be providing a minimum of $50,000 annually for up to three recipients who are creating new agricultural businesses. THIS IS AMAZING that the Boyerts are giving back to agriculture and the communities that gave them the opportunity to grow their business and raise their family in a way that inspired them to also be involved in agriculture. Mike emphasized many times….“Relationships and Partnerships.”

And while you think that might be enough for a day, I woke up at 3:49 a.m. to a text from former board member Roger Baker that included pictures of a cover story in Progressive Farmer featuring board member Nathan Brown. Nathan’s “Open Letter to the Ag Community on Mental Health” detailed his efforts in de-stigmatizing mental health issues in agriculture. Nathan stated in the article, “I don’t think we can talk about our emotional challenges in the ag community enough.”  Roger Baker’s text said: “This is a very, very small fraction of people in the ag family that get featured nationally and even worldwide in a publication like that.  It’s really something to be honest”

I couldn’t state it any better. It really is something. And membership makes it happen. 

Note: It’s impossible to recognize everyone who contributes to our success. This snapshot of one day doesn’t capture the full team of staff and volunteer leaders working together every day, both in visible and behind the scenes, to advance our mission. Thank you to all. 

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

Advocacy
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