Thanks to the efforts of Ohio Farm Bureau volunteers and staff, the organization had an increase in its “active” membership for fiscal year 2017. OFBF had an increase of 2,146 active members, bringing the total to 63,605. Active members are farmers or other Ohioans whose jobs or livelihoods are directly impacted by the agricultural industry. As active members, they are eligible to vote on Farm Bureau policies and hold elective office in the organization.
“Our campaign theme ‘Together with Farmers’ helped our volunteers, organization directors and state staff deliver a compelling message about the mission of our organization,” said Paul Lyons, senior director of membership. “I am very proud of their efforts to communicate this message and their commitment to grow our organization. That commitment shows in our results.”
A record 15 Farm Bureau members earned the Murray Lincoln award — named after OFBF’s first executive secretary — for signing 50 or more new members. That’s nearly double the number from last year. Some were able to reach Murray Lincoln status by getting businesses to sign up for a group membership, Lyons said. Murray Lincoln winners have their choice between attending American Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention in Nashville in January or receiving a $500 Visa card. Those named Murray Lincoln winners are Sparky Weilnau, Erie County (180); Bruce Patterson, Portage County (84); Susan Shoup, Wayne County (63); Ervin Raber, Holmes County (62); Brian Nusbaum, Defiance County (58); Chris Weaver, Williams County (55); Marilyn Morrison, Darke County (53); Dean Shoup, Wayne County (52); John Fitzpatrick, Wayne County (52); Michael Ralph, Marion County (52); Daniel Stevenson, Defiance County (52); Barbara Biery, Mahoning County (51); Hal Brehm, Fulton County (51); Paul Morrison, Darke County (50); and Levi Richards, Wood County (50).
Also invited to attend AFBF’s convention are 63 county Farm Bureau membership coordinators whose counties had at least a four percent increase in active memberships than the previous year. In addition, 59 members earned the Ambassador Club award for signing a minimum of 10 new members.
OFBF staff and volunteers are already starting on the 2018 membership campaign, which kicked off April 1.
Ohio Farm Bureau has several membership categories because the organization doesn’t just represent farmers and the agricultural industry. OFBF advocates on a wide range of issues that are important to most Ohioans, including private property rights, safe food and good government policies. OFBF’s nonactive categories are community members (for those interested in local foods, landowner rights and issues and protecting agriculture) and Our Ohio Supporters who are not members but still support the work of Ohio Farm Bureau.
“Farm Bureau helps everybody from the landowner who has a question about the state’s trespassing law to the backyard gardener selling to the local farmers market to a food packing plant,” Lyons said, noting that OFBF has an extensive benefits program. Some of the more popular benefits include members savings on some Nationwide Insurance products, cost savings at thousands of retailers and restaurants across Ohio and the United States through Member Savings Advantage, and discounts on hotels and tourist activities.