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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.

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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Ohio Farm Bureau Centennial on Town Hall Ohio

At the close of World War I, Ohio farmers organized to preserve their livelihoods and lifestyles. In 1919, they gave birth to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. And since its origin, Farm Bureau has gone on to significantly shape the culture and economy of the Buckeye state. On this edition of Town Hall Ohio, celebrate the centennial of the state’s largest and most influential farm and food organization and hear from and about its leaders, its accomplishments and its plans for the future.

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Logan County awards first grant from Agriculture Impact Fund

Logan County Farm Bureau is excited to announce the awarding of one of two grants from its newly formed Logan County Agriculture Impact Fund to Indian Lake/Ohio Hi-Point FFA program.

The Logan County Agriculture Impact Fund was created from the proceeds from last April’s Logan County Ag Impact Fund Reverse Raffle organized by the county Farm Bureau, and the county is proud to be able to award over $17,000 in grants this first year. The grants are designed to support and improve the agricultural footprint for youth, agriculture organizations, and schools to develop/improve programming about agriculture, improve infrastructure for agriculture education or promote agriculture in our community.

Indian Lake/Ohio Hi-Point FFA program received a $7,350 Ag Impact Grant for the construction of a 24-by-26-foot animal project building. The building, called a chick-inn hutch, will be constructed on the school’s campus and will be stocked with equipment for feeding and maintaining animal projects that the chapter’s students will be raising.

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Summer Intern needed

Summer Intern Position: Champaign, Clark, Darke and Miami Counties

The position will be located in Miami County and is a part-time position, 20-30/week. Position Summary.

To apply please send resume and cover letter to:

Miami County Farm Bureau
1554 McKaig Avenue Building B
Troy, Ohio 45373 or email to [email protected]
Deadline to apply: Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Anticipated start date May 1.

Primary Duties
1. Provide support/event coordination to county leaders on county program and special projects as assigned by the Organization Director in pursuit of Ohio Farm Bureau and county Farm Bureau goals and objectives.
2. Assist Organization Director with membership prospecting with agribusiness, local businesses, affinity partners, and other community groups in an effort to grow membership by developing business partnerships.
3. Assist Organization Director with membership prospecting with consumers and farmers in an effort to grow all individual/family membership classifications for members and supporters.

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Summer Fellowship Opportunity

Franklin County Farm Bureau is seeking a summer fellow for 2019. This position will provide special project and program support to the Organization Director to meet the needs of the membership relative to established organizational goals and objectives. An ideal candidate should have a knowledge of the agriculture industry. The position will be located at the Franklin County Farm Bureau office and is a full-time position, 40 hours/week. 

Applications are due March 2, 2019.

Please send a cover letter and resume to

Franklin County Farm Bureau, Attn: Steve Berk

P.O. Box 368, Hilliard Ohio 43026 or email  [email protected].

View the complete description.

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Watershed rules sent back to ODA for further review

Ohio Farm Bureau testified at a recent Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review meeting where watershed in distress rules potentially impacting eight watersheds in northwest Ohio were discussed. The review committee ultimately decided to send the rules back to the Ohio Department of Agriculture for further study.

JCARR voted 8-1 to send them back to ODA because the proposed amendments to the Ohio Administrative Code were potentially in conflict with the proposed legislative intent of the rules in the first place.

According to Tony Seegers, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau, the committee decided to tell ODA to “revise and refile” the rules. Doing so gives the agricultural community more time to work with the new administration in 2019 on the rules. Governor-elect Mike DeWine takes office on Jan. 14.

“The rules as proposed grossly exceeded the statutory authority granted the department by the General Assembly,” Seegers said.

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Field Day with Jordan Hoewischer: AFBF Economist Dr. John Newton

In the latest episode of Field Day with Jordan Hoewischer, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of Water Quality and Research talks with American Farm Bureau Chief Economist Dr. John Newton.

Hoewischer and Newton talk about the “tough shape” the farm economy has been in for a number years for various reasons, from low crop prices to trade and tariff issues, and how much impact the newly signed Farm Bill may or may not have on farm income in the future.

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: I know there are a lot of different sectors, but what’s the general feel of the overall ag economy?

A: Well it’s been in the doldrums now for a few years.

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Farmers concerns grow as pipeline construction progresses

As multiple pipeline projects move to construction phase throughout the state, they haven’t come without some headaches for farmers.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has seen a growing number of farmer concerns with regard to drainage activities and soil remediation as part of the ET Rover pipeline project. While Rover’s FERC-approved Ag Mitigation Plan and easement language allows the company to dispose of standing water into adjacent tracts of land off the designated right of way, they must compensate impacted landowners for damages.

Farm Bureau laid the groundwork for such agreements. As early as summer 2015, OFBF staff started meeting with ET Rover officials as they looked to lay pipeline on a northwest diagonal from Monroe County to Fulton County. In those meetings, Farm Bureau stressed the importance of mitigating impacts to farmland and conducting adequate land remediation as part of the company’s pipeline development project.

Farm Bureau organized landowners to testify at FERC hearings and conducted more than 100 pipeline briefings along the project route since early 2015 to educate landowners on pipeline regulations and how to obtain qualified legal counsel.

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