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Members discuss OFBF's future
At the Feb. 11 launch meeting for the Membership Model Task Force, OFBF President Steve Hirsch laid out the work at hand.
“Your job is to build a better Farm Bureau at the county, state and national level,” he said.
The task force was created by delegates at last December’s annual meeting. It continues a multi-year effort to shape Farm Bureau’s response to significant trends that could challenge the organization’s influence and effectiveness. Its goal is a membership model that fulfills Farm Bureau’s mission by adapting to changes both internal and external.
OFBF Treasurer and task force Chairman Frank Burkett, III told the group their “opportunity and challenge is to seek solutions that will last a very long time.”
Social factors that will influence Farm Bureau’s viability include generational differences, public scrutiny of food, farming and environmental issues, distrust of government and traditional political parties and the impacts of technology.
Within the overall association world, already apparent trends include declining membership, reduced volunteer time, questions about dues structures, succession planning and the mix of member benefits.
Another factor very important to Ohio Farm Bureau is how our partnership with Nationwide will be affected by changes in the insurance and financial services marketplace. With more than three-quarters of Farm Bureau’s operating revenue linked in different ways to our working relationship with Nationwide, consideration must be given to assuring the relationship is mutually beneficial.
Initial input from the task force members revealed some common beliefs. They said the most valuable aspects of Farm Bureau are public policy advocacy, networking and education and financial savings.
In describing what OFBF must do to remain viable in the future, task force members said the organization must become more inclusive but that farmer control is important. Other ideas were to communicate better with members, be able to explain the value of membership, attract younger members and preserve the strength of the local organization.
Regarding Nationwide, task force members acknowledged the importance of the financial support OFBF receives and considered how to strengthen OFBF’s contributions to the partnership.
The task force has three full days of meetings scheduled in March and is to present a membership model proposal to OFBF’s state trustees in June. Communication with all members will take place throughout the summer. The state code committee will consider the plan in the fall and delegates will act on at the annual meeting in December.
All Farm Bureau members are encouraged to share their thoughts on the organization’s model for membership. Visit with any of the task force members.
District County Farm Bureau members
1 Dean Gentner, Fulton
2 Bill Myers, Lucas
3 David Peth, Cuyahoga
4 Eric Cotton, Lake
5 Ryan McClure, Paulding
6 Kerry Oberlitner, Hardin
7 Rose Hartschuh, Crawford
8 Mike Haley, Wayne
9 Phil Greenisen, Columbiana
10 Dennis Howick, Mercer
11 Jody Carney, Madison
12 Gary Mast, Holmes
13 Steve Quillin, Tuscarawas
14 Kyle Smith, Clark
15 Whittney Bowers, Fairfield
16 Joe Smith, Guernsey
17 Andy Barricklow, Belmont
18 Tim Hesselbrock, Butler
19 Craig Cook, Clinton
20 Brett Rogers, Brown
21 Mackenzie Stokien, Pike
22 Karin Bright, Athens
State board members
4 Bill Patterson, Geauga
5 Mike Poling, Van Wert
6 Paul Harrison, Seneca
7 Cy Prettyman, Marion
9 Frank Burkett, III, Stark
11 Katherine Harrison, Franklin
13 Jerry Lahmers, Tuscarawas
15 Steve Hirsch, Ross
18 Lane Osswald, Preble
20 Craig Adams, Highland
21 Tim Williams, Pike
SE Patty DeBruin, Fairfield
Young Ag Professionals:
9 Danielle Burch, Columbiana
10 Aaron Heilers, Shelby
Jeff Zellers, board of directors
Patrick Smith VP, sponsor relations
Ohio Farm Bureau staff:
Leah Curtis, state office
Connie Ward, regional supervisor
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Ohio Associationof Foodbanks
John Logue, CompManagement, Inc.
The work of the task force is being aided by professional facilitator Annie Gallagher of Gallagher Consulting Group, Inc.