By Ohio Corn Growers Association and Ohio Wheat Growers Association Executive Director Dwayne Siekman
Over six years ago, the Ohio Wheat Growers Association (OWGA) entered into a formal relationship with the Ohio Corn Growers Association (OCGA).
The relationship began with shared staff, but grew over the years, with joint membership meetings, legislative visits, public campaigns, and policy development synergies.
As joint activities increased, the leadership of the two organizations started to ask themselves, should we be doing this a little differently? Aren’t we really just the same person? In Ohio, if you grow corn and beans, you probably grow wheat. Although you may be a member of one organization and may identify with that, the reality is that when you think about your operation, you are a farmer who looks at all the business opportunities from a variety of crops and decides what is best for you. You expect nothing less of an association that represents you.
In 2009, Ohio growers were asked about bringing the groups together to build upon the successes of OCGA and OWGA and develop synergies among the members, the leadership and their staff. The survey, as well as district meetings held throughout the state, indicated tremendous support to form a new organization advancing opportunities in corn and wheat production for Ohio growers. Equipped with this feedback, as well as information gathered by a joint task force, the OCGA and OWGA boards voted to support moving forward with one organization.
A Structure Task Force was established with three nominated board members each from OCGA, OWGA, as well as the Ohio Corn Marketing Board and the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Board. An outside facilitator to assist in organizational development and strategic planning was contracted. Work began in earnest in December 2009, with two additional meetings already this year in February and March. The task force is building the identity of the future organization, including mission, core values and goals, by looking at what a grower association is and what is needs to do for its members. They are developing an organization that maximizes the benefits while responding to understandable concerns and navigating through the expected challenges of change.
The group has made significant progress so far, and I commend them for their efforts and extra time dedicated to designing a new organization that represents Ohio farmers, advocates for you, bringing new opportunities and success to your farm. Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Mobilized together, the corn and wheat growers of Ohio have a greater voice to affect positive change and opportunities
Growers can look forward to a new organization, called the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, next year. More information will be available at the annual Grain Farmers Symposium in December.