Summer is upon us here in Summit County and as I drive home each night I am struck by the sights and smells of agriculture. Syrupy aromas of grape blooms drift from our vineyard and the scent of freshly mown hay lies around the fields in the area. The acrid scent of manure is gone and a few farmers are still stirring up dusty fields to plant the last of their beans and corn. Rainfall has been generous, and it is a lush time for growing things for future harvests.
This is all part of the cycle we in the farming community follow. Whether it is a 100 acre field of soybeans or more often in our county, a few tomatoes or chickens in the back yard for the local farmers market, agriculture is a many faceted and diverse enterprise. It is that diversity that makes Farm Bureau unique and able to represent a wide range of farming voices across Ohio.
So how does Farm Bureau determine what the collective voice says? To start, the language of Farm Bureau is spoken by what’s called “policy.” All policies in Farm Bureau are originated and approved by Farm Bureau members, and there is a multi-step process to arrive at the best and most effective policy voice possible. Once policies are approved by members, it is published in our policy book. There is a book for our county, state, and national Farm Bureau policies. This is the blueprint for guiding our Farm Bureau voice whether it’s with local authorities, members of the media, or elected officials.
Creating policy starts at the county level. Every county Farm Bureau solicits policy ideas from its county membership. The policies can address a completely new topic, or a change to an existing policy concerning agriculture. Each year, new policy ideas are submitted by county members to the policy development committee made up of county Farm Bureau members. The committee then recommends which ones will be presented for approval at the annual county meeting.
Each September, Summit County Farm Bureau holds an annual meeting in which all our active farming members are invited to attend, share a meal, and vote on policies that impact agriculture. Some policies are specific to issues we face in Summit County. Some policy issues are broader and can impact state or national policy. Once the language is approved at our annual meeting, it may be presented in Columbus at the Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting in December. This is where our county policy could be added to the state Farm Bureau policy if it is accepted by delegates from all the county Farm Bureaus of Ohio.
This is how Farm Bureau finds its voice from the local level up to the national level. This is how a grass roots organization succeeds, and how Farm Bureau strives to represent the diversity of agriculture across Ohio and the nation.
The agricultural community is diverse in Summit County with many perspectives. It is vital to speak with one clear voice to keep that community strong. I encourage all our active members to get involved in this important component of your local Farm Bureau. Make a point to attend the Summit County Annual Farm Bureau Meeting in September, and help guide our policies. We’re stronger as an organization when more individuals participate in the process, and share in the opportunity to refine our Farm Bureau voice. See you in September.