Page 59 - Discover Magazine 2019
P. 59

   At the end of World War I, Ohio farmers felt the need to organize to preserve their livelihoods and lifestyles. At that time, 30% of Ohioans lived
on farms and many rural areas did not even have electricity. The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation began as an insurance company providing lower-cost insurance for farmers. That company eventually became Nationwide Insurance.
Today, only 2% of Ohioans live on farms and those farms yield almost ten times the crop totals of a century ago. The Ohio Farm Bureau has continued to be the voice of the agriculture community. Its efforts in providing education and affecting change in regulatory and legislative circles has benefited generations of farmers. On the national level, there are over four million members of Farm Bureaus in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
“In Ohio, there are
86 county bureaus across
the state,” said Jill Smith,
Organization Director
of the Auglaize, Logan,
Mercer and Shelby County
Farm Bureau. “A lot of
what we do is intangible
because it involves what
happens at the Statehouse
and at the national level.
We review rules and regulations to make sure they are feasible for the agriculture industry. The amount of legislative work we do is maybe not noticed right away, but it impacts our farmers over time.”
The local four-county bureau has recently moved its office from New Knoxville to Wapakoneta. Smith works with four boards, one in each county. The boards vary in size and representation is determined by the members at the annual meeting. Besides working to advocate on the state level, Smith and board members are involved in many education and awareness activities in their particular counties.
Shelby County’s board has 14 seats that represent districts as they relate to townships. There are about 900 members of the Shelby County Farm Bureau and that figure includes a group of Young
Ag Professionals. For an annual family membership fee of $85, members
receive Nationwide insurance discounts, information, educational programs, and other perks.
The organization is also involved in local schools and FFA programs, helping with projects and participation at the Shelby County Fair.
From February through May, Anna, Botkins, Jackson Center and Fairlawn third graders do a project called “First Peas to the Table.” Students experience hands-on science lessons as they plant and nurture the growth of snap peas. The class that produces the most peas is rewarded with a pizza party.
March will mark the fifth year of the “Women in Agriculture” event. A day of speakers and networking celebrates how women are making a difference on their farms and in their communities.
“Another popular event we sponsor is the Farm to Table Dinner,” said Smith. “Farmers supply locally grown produce and proteins to a caterer who
puts together a nice dinner. Held at a local farm, ticket proceeds from the event go to support a community need. Last year’s dinner provided
a grain tube for the Fort Loramie Fire Department.” An annual exhibit in
the round building at the Shelby County Fair spotlights the Soil, Education,
Conservation Coalition and focuses
on recycling and conservation efforts particularly in the areas of soil and water.
Smith feels like she has been part of the Ohio Farm Bureau all her life. She grew up on a farm on the Logan/Shelby County line near Jackson Center and her parents were on the Advisory Council of the Logan County Farm Bureau. It was
a grassroots effort of families and friends meeting to discuss problems that could then be brought to the attention of the Bureau.
After receiving a B.S. in Animal Science with a Business minor from The Ohio State University, Smith started
with the Ohio Farm Bureau in southern Ohio before moving closer to home when Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby Counties consolidated their bureaus and the position opened.
“The Ohio Farm Bureau is all about our members and the community,” said Smith. “Our job is to be a part of the greater good.”
Shelby County Pork Producers serve lunch during the 2018 Farm Tour

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