During the 2013 Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting, a request was made by delegates to take a look at the current membership model of the organization. A recent span of declining membership numbers was the reason for that call to action and the creation of a membership model group, led by OFBF President Steve Hirsch.
That group, after months of research and development, came up with a new membership plan and that new plan, which creates four classifications of membership with Ohio Farm Bureau, was adopted by the delegation today at this year’s annual meeting.
“We have had a goal for many years of expanding, inviting and engaging more people in our organization,” said Keith Stimpert, senior vice president of Organization with Ohio Farm Bureau. “A lot of people want to be a part of the food discussion today and want to be involved in agriculture and share our organization’s values. So that is why our delegation created new categories to invite more people to be a part of what we do.”
The new classifications of OFBF membership include expanding the definition of an “active membership” to incorporate those who may be more of a part of the input sector or production off the farm. There is also the addition of a new “young active” member class.
“I think the young active membership class captures the nature of the ag community today with tremendous leadership coming out of our young ag professionals committee at the state level,” Stimpert said. “We are now seeing those types of committees being formed at the county level and that is very exciting for the future of Ohio agriculture.”
The renaming of the “associate” member to a “community” member is also a part of the new membership model. In addition, there is a newly developed non-membership group titled “Our Ohio Supporter.”
“This new Our Ohio Supporter group will give us a great opportunity to network with like-minded people outside of agriculture,” said Frank Burkett, Ohio Farm Bureau first vice president. “Through the support of this new group, we will be able to offer those members our publications, invitations to Know and Grow events, and farm tours across the state. It provides a great avenue to build relationships that may soon become Ohio Farm Bureau memberships.”