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The Ohio Farm Bureau news update area is provided by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Find more from Ohio Farm Bureau by visiting their website, www.ofbf.org.

$23.5 million headed to Lake Erie water quality efforts

On the same day Toledoans passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights that may make it harder for farmers to focus on nutrient runoff over frivolous lawsuits, the Ohio Department of Agriculture announced new assistance programs to help producers achieve water quality goals in the Western Lake Erie Basin, funded by the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299.

“Farm Bureau has been engaged in identifying water quality solutions for years and the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299 in 2018 was an important step in the right direction to build upon the progress that has been made,” said Jack Irvin, OFBF senior director of state and national policy. “The Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts are both important boots on the ground partners to help identify and implement practical and effective solutions to our water quality challenges.”

The legislation provided $23.5 million for soil and water conservation districts located in the Western Lake Erie Basin for nutrient management programs.

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Farm Bureau to support farmer’s legal action against Lake Erie Bill of Rights

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation has pledged its support to member and Wood County farmer Mark Drewes, who today filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality and legal status of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. Toledo voters yesterday approved creation of LEBOR during a special election. Drewes’ suit was filed in the Federal District Court for Northern Ohio.  

LEBOR grants rights to Lake Erie and empowers any Toledo citizen to file lawsuits on behalf of the lake. It gives Toledoans authority over nearly 5 million Ohioans, thousands of farms, more than 400,000 businesses and every level of government in 35 northern Ohio counties plus parts of Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada.  

LEBOR was passed despite the prevailing legal opinion that many of its provisions are unconstitutional.

Drewes is a long-time member of Ohio Farm Bureau and is on the board of directors for The Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association.

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Ag districts provide defense for farmers

With the Feb. 26 special election on the Lake Erie Bill of Rights looming in the city of Toledo, Ohio Farm Bureau is encouraging farmers to enroll their operations in an agricultural district. 

OFBF Policy Counsel and Senior Director of Member Engagement Leah Curtis sat down with Ty Higgins, OFBF director of media relations, to discuss LEBOR’s potential impacts and the overall benefits to farmers who enroll in an agricultural district.

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) states that Lake Erie, and the Lake Erie Watershed, has the right to “exist, flourish and naturally evolve…” and gives any Toledoan the right to file a lawsuit on the lake’s behalf against any business or government entity in the Lake Erie Watershed.

The ag district program provides an affirmative defense for farmers in certain types of nuisance lawsuits. While it is not certain this defense will apply in potential LEBOR cases, it is one of the best and most underutilized tools in agriculture.

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2019 State, National Priority Issues

Each year, Ohio Farm Bureau’s grassroots policy development process surfaces those issues that have a significant impact on production agriculture, our food system and our communities. These priorities are where Farm Bureau will focus efforts for the continued strength and success of Ohio agriculture in 2019.


No bill is more important to the operation of key state agencies and programs that support agriculture than the state’s two year operating budget. The Ohio Department of Agriculture must be funded at levels that allow it to effectively carry out its core mission as well as responsibilities such as the ongoing implementation of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act, nutrient management regulations, fertilizer applicator certifications, meat processing inspections, livestock care standards, dog breeding and oversight of Ohio’s Soil & Water Conservation Division. Farm Bureau also will support funding for water quality programs that produce science-based data and strategies, and can verify on-the-ground practices and results to protect Ohio’s water resources.

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American Farm Bureau Foundation 2019 Book of the Year

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture presented its 12th “Book of the Year” award to Lisl Detlefsen for “Right This Very Minute.” The book, stunningly illustrated by Renée Kurilla, explains to children how every minute of every day, someone, somewhere, is working to bring food to their table. “Right This Very Minute” is the first book published by the Foundation’s Feeding Minds Press, which was launched in 2018.

Detlefsen lives on a cranberry marsh near Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, with her husband and two sons. She has two previously published books, “Time for Cranberries” and “If You Had a Jetpack.”

Detlefsen said, “I’m so thankful for the Foundation’s passionate devotion to telling the story of modern farming in America. In children’s literature, we talk a lot about windows and mirrors, meaning that young readers need to view the worlds of others, and they also need to see the world they live in reflected on the page.

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Field Day with Jordan Hoewischer: Dr. Kevin King, USDA Agricultural Research Service

In the latest episode of Field Day with Jordan Hoewischer, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of Water Quality and Research talks with Dr. Kevin King from USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Hoewischer and his guest discuss King’s edge-of-field monitoring program which serves as the backbone of scientific information for most nutrient and soil management decisions in the Midwest.

Field Day with Jordan Hoewischer is an ongoing series of conversations with experts and leaders who are helping to shape and secure the future of Ohio’s ag industry for generations to come.

Following are some highlights from this episode. Complete transcript.

Q: What’s happening on farm fields? (The research) is kind of the missing link between how decisions are being made from a number of different facets. So how is that information used? What’s the end game with all this information?

A: Our ultimate goal when we first started this was to identify practices that offer an ability to reduce nutrient loading to surface water bodies or polluted water bodies.

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2019 Collegiate Discussion Meet

Aryn Copeland from Crawford County will represent Ohio at the 2019 American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet. The competition takes place March 15-18 as part of the Fusion Conference in Milwaukee.

The Collegiate Discussion Meet follows the same model as the Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet. The competitive event simulates a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each participant. The competition is evaluated on an exchange of ideas and information on a pre-determined topic. Participants build basic discussion skills, develop a keen understanding of important agricultural issues and explore how groups can pool knowledge to reach consensus and solve problems.

The top four finalists will receive scholarship money from CHS Foundation.

Copeland is a junior at Wilmington College where she studies agricultural communication and is involved on campus, serving as the vice president of the Wilmington College Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter, president of the Eta Rho chapter of Kappa Delta Sorority and the Greek Council Executive Board, and is involved in the Honors Program and Agricultural Advocacy trips.

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OFBF announces staff restructure, realignment

Racking up almost 14,000 miles on the road and visiting with over 800 members across the state since 2016 has helped Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp develop a solid understanding of the direction members want the organization to head toward.

Talking to members was one of Sharp’s first steps in starting a strategic planning process that culminated in a plan in 2018. The plan’s implementation continues in 2019 as Sharp recently announced actions that realigns staff teams and departments around key strategic plan areas.

An important piece of the plan identified a need for organizational focus on strategic partnerships. As a result, a new strategic partnerships department is being established that will include a new cabinet level vice president and a team devoted to working with key industry allies, including long-standing partners like Nationwide, to further organizational financial and program goals.

“Our newly created strategic partnership team will be beneficial as we build on relationships within the food and agricultural community,” Sharp said.

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Historical marker notes where Ohio Farm Bureau began

It was in Ohio State’s Botany and Zoology building on Neil Avenue, now Jennings Hall, where Farm Bureau members representing 76 counties along with many Ohio State University county Extension agents convened for the very first meeting of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation 100 years ago. Now in that same location, a new historical marker commemorating that meeting is being displayed.

“The fact that the meeting took place on the campus of The Ohio State University was appropriate,” said Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett III during the plaque unveiling Jan. 28. “At that first annual meeting, Ohio Farm Bureau pledged its support to its friends at Ohio State and as you can see, Ohio State University, its Extension service and Ohio Farm Bureau are lifelong partners.”

The marker displays OFBF logos, past and present, and highlights how Farm Bureau adopted its first resolutions, pledging to support farm legislation, pressing for organization of a national Farm Bureau, supporting expansion of county Extension agent work and cooperating with Ohio State’s College of Agriculture and Experiment Station.

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Lake Erie Bill of Rights

Lake Erie Bill of Rights

On Feb. 26, 2019, citizens in the city of Toledo will vote on whether to amend their city charter to include the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” (LEBOR). The Lake Erie Bill of Rights, or LEBOR, states that Lake Erie, and the Lake Erie Watershed, has the right to “exist, flourish and naturally evolve…” and gives any Toledoan the right to file a lawsuit on the lake’s behalf against any business in the Lake Erie Watershed.

Ohio Farm Bureau is staying abreast of this issue and will be posting updates as they are known.

Farmers are encouraged to enroll in an agricultural district. The ag district program provides an affirmative defense for farmers in certain types of nuisance lawsuits. While it is not certain this defense will apply in LEBOR cases, it is one of the best and most underutilized tools in agriculture. Enroll in an ag district via the county auditor.

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Staff Position: Organization Director

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is seeking a highly motivated, detail oriented self-starter for management position in Fairfield, Hocking, Pickaway and Ross counties. Must be willing to reside in the service area. Demonstrated leadership skills, management ability and a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field are required. Three years work experience in agriculture or business setting preferred. The ideal candidate will have working knowledge of a membership organization and be comfortable with public speaking and sales. Attractive benefit package includes a company vehicle.

POSITION SUMMARY: Provide quality professional service and support to county boards and volunteer leaders to meet the needs of the membership relative to established organizational goals and objectives, consistent with the Ohio Farm Bureau Strategic Plan.

Primary Duties:

  1. Provide leadership and direction to county Farm Bureaus for the purpose of improving the strength, effectiveness and visibility of the organization in pursuit of stated Ohio Farm Bureau and county Farm Bureau goals and programs.
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Discover the Alpine Countries with Ohio Farm Bureau

Hosted by Collette Tours, one of the oldest and most respected 4-star tour operators in the United States, Ohio Farm Bureau presents the “Discover the Alpine Countries” trip departing Sept. 12, 2019.


Have an amazing trip experience dreams are made of and travel with other Farm Bureau members to the Alpine countries of Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Transportation, lodging, several meals and well-known highlights are included in the 13-day excursion. Some of the must-see highlights include Vienna and Schoenbrunn Palace, Salzburg and a Mozart Dinner concert, Munich, Oberammergau, the Black Forest, Innsbruck, Zermatt and Lucerne Switzerland, known as the “Swiss Paradise on the Lake.”

“Many of our members have traveled the United States extensively, but a trip like this will give them the opportunity to see other countries as well as the peace of mind of traveling with a top-notch tour operator, and traveling with a similar group of great people,” said John Marihugh, Ohio Farm Bureau director of member services.

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Higgins joins Ohio Farm Bureau staff

Ty Higgins has been named director of media relations for Ohio Farm Bureau. He will be the organization’s primary point of contact for journalists reporting on farm, food, environmental and public policy issues. Higgins also will contribute content across Farm Bureau’s print, broadcast and social channels and will work with Farm Bureau members as they communicate with public officials and consumers.  

For the last eight years, Higgins has been a farm broadcaster, writer and network director for Ohio AgNet and Ohio’s Country Journal, where he has been deeply engaged in issues important to both farmers and the public. His 23-year career includes farm broadcasting at WRFD radio and the Agri Broadcasting Network and as an on-air personality for WHOK radio in Columbus.  

Higgins will work alongside Ohio Farm Bureau Senior Director of Corporate Communications Joe Cornely, who will retire at the end of 2019.  

He and his wife, Angela, are parents of two children.

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100th American Farm Bureau Annual Convention coverage

Monday, Jan 14
This morning’s closing General Session featured the announcement of the Young Farmer and Rancher competition results, the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge Awards, remarks from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and keynote speaker President Donald Trump addressed the group.

Jess and Adam Campbell did not advance in the Excellence in Agriculture contest.

The counties that won the County Activities of Excellence presented at the IDEAg Trade Show.

Sunday, Jan. 13

OFBF President Frank Burkett proudly represents Ohio.
OFBF President Frank Burkett proudly represents Ohio. Photo: AFBF

The opening General Session of the 2019 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention began with the annual parade of state flags. Notable presenters included Louisiana governor, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mike Strain, commissioner of Louisiana’s department of agriculture and forestry. AFBF President Zippy Duvall delivered his annual address, focusing on the history of AFBF and how it has been a united voice over the last 100 years.

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Lake Erie Bill of Rights could be on February special election ballot


You could be sued by Lake Erie, or more precisely, by any resident of Toledo who wants to speak for the lake and finds fault with the way you’re farming or doing business.

It sounds incredible, and likely won’t become a reality, but the threat is real enough that Farm Bureau is engaged in the legal maneuvering.

Farm Bureau Policy Counsel Leah Curtis explains that a proposed amendment to the Toledo City Charter may be on the ballot during a special election Feb. 26. The measure would give Lake Erie and its watershed legal standing in court and allow any Toledo citizen to represent the lake and file lawsuits on its behalf.

The rights this measure would grant the lake include, “an ability to exist, flourish, be free from pollution” and other broadly described entitlements.  Any farming practice that allegedly infringes on these rights presumably makes the farmer subject to a lawsuit.

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Meeting with Judge Judi — AgriPOWER Session 4 blog

By Trish Raridan Preston, AgriPOWER Class X participant

Our AgriPOWER class focused our November session on two primary topics: state level governmental and judicial affairs and sustainability. Our travels brought us to the capital city of Columbus, which is where we met up with Supreme Court Justice Judi French, who gave us a personal tour of her cpreston-agripowerourtroom, as well as shared with us the judicial process for the court. 

We enjoyed the opportunity to meet with several of our elected officials through legislative visits in the House of Representatives. Our discussions were a mosaic of topics that were concerns we brought from our various home counties and an illustration of the broad experiences and backgrounds from which we each hail. From water quality management to funding for 4-H and extension education to the opioid crisis hitting all of our communities in devastating ways, we shared personal stories from our home farms and neighbors.

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2019 Scholarship opportunities

Numerous agricultural organizations, county Farm Bureaus and the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation are offering scholarships for students whose parents are members of that organization, or for students pursuing majors in an agriculturally related field.

The list will be updated throughout the year.

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation. Various scholarships and application due dates, some as late as June 30.

Ohio Agricultural Council is offering six $1,500 scholarships to assist students pursuing undergraduate and graduate level agricultural-related studies. Applications can be found by clicking here. Application deadline – Feb. 15.

Kavanagh Wildlife Farm, Inc. (scholarships for students in Greene and Clark counties) Apply by April 15.

County Farm Bureaus offering scholarships:

Adams County–apply by March 28

Brown County–apply by March 28

Champaign County–apply by April 1

Clark County–apply by April 1

Clermont County–apply by

Darke County–apply by April 1

Delaware County–apply by April 1

Franklin County–apply by Feb.

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Golden Owl Honorees


Honoring Ohio’s Ag Educator of the Year

During December and January, 10 agricultural educators are being named as Golden Owl Award finalists in surprise ceremonies throughout the state.

Presented by Nationwide, Ohio FFA and Ohio Farm Bureau, the Golden Owl Award honors educators for their outstanding contributions in helping future agricultural leaders.

Nominations were accepted through November 2018. The 10 teachers who have been selected as Golden Owl honorees receive a $500 prize and entrance into the final selection stage. One honoree then will be chosen for the grand prize, the Golden Owl Award and $3,000.

The Golden Owl Award winner will be announced in April.

NOTE: This post will be updated as the finalists are announced.

Congratulations to the finalists:

Dave Stiles, Indian Valley High

Pictured: Nationwide Sponsor Relations Account Executive Shawnda Vega, OFBF Organization Director Michele Specht, Indian Valley High FFA President Clayton Sprowl, finalist Dave Stiles, Nationwide Agent Don Kemp, Indian Valley High Principal Robert Clark and Alyssa Bregel FFA State Supervisor/Ohio Department of Education.
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UPDATE: Market Facilitation Program sign ups

UPDATE Jan. 3, 2019: Due to the partial shutdown of the federal government, Farm Service Agency offices are currently closed and unable to process in-person applications for the Market Facilitation Program. There are other options to sign up for the program electronically. Click here for more information. Deadline to apply is Jan. 15. Farmers who have already signed up but have yet to certify their 2018 crop production will have to wait for FSA offices to open in order to do so. 

PREVIOUS: This week, USDA released the second and final round of trade mitigation payments aimed at assisting farmers impacted by the ongoing trade and tariff implications around the world. Corn, soybean, dairy and other farmers in Ohio and across the country are now eligible to receive Market Facilitation Program payments for the second half of their 2018 production.

Producers who have signed up for MFP are eligible for the first and second payments.

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