The American Farm Bureau Federation County Activities of Excellence awards celebrate unique, local, volunteer-driven programs that serve as models of innovation for local program development. The winning counties receive a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2021 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and Trade Show in January. AFBF received more than 60 entries across all membership categories, with only 12 activities nationwide being selected to present at the convention.
“Once again, Ohio has more CAE winners than any other state,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director, leadership development. “We are always proud of the county Farm Bureau programming in Ohio, but we are thrilled to see five counties recognized at the American Farm Bureau level.”
Here are Ohio’s winners.
Delaware and Pickaway counties: Farms to food banks
The counties purchased 43 head of locally raised hogs and beef cattle from member-producers and junior fair exhibitors. 10,500 pounds of meat was processed at a local packer as part of its rehabilitation workforce development program. The supply of freezer pork and beef was distributed to 15 food banks in the counties during COVID-19, at a time when food banks were in desperate need of healthy proteins to feed friends and neighbors.
Henry County: Farmer and landowner appreciation dinner
The 2019 planting season was painfully slow due to record rainfall, causing a decrease in yield potential and subsequent increased farmer stress. Local Farm Bureau members working in agribusiness as well as the county Farm Service Agency staff began sharing stories of landowner and farmer depression due to the losses they faced. These same Farm Bureau members then planned a Farmer and Landowner Appreciation Dinner for members and nonmembers Oct. 1, 2019, bringing the agricultural community together to let them know they are appreciated, they have support options and they are not alone in dealing with the devastation.
Scioto County: Conservation school is cool
The conservation school event targeted emerging homesteaders and celebrated rural lifestyles in the county by providing sound guidance to those getting involved in agriculture. The event kicked off with a simple meal, and then attendees had the opportunity to attend two class sessions during the evening. Session topics covered beekeeping, maple syrup, introduction to freezing and canning, homemade salve making, raising mushrooms and organic gardening. At the end of the night, items that complemented the class topics were raffled off to attendees of that session.
Tuscarawas County: Cows 2 Kids
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the abrupt closure of schools, churches and businesses, and the economic impact on the residents in the county was enormous. The county Dairy Farmers Committee and Farm Bureau recognized the need to keep milk in the diets of the county’s children and created the Cows 2 Kids project. This effort resulted in 7,000 gallons of milk donated to families in eight schools, plus homeless shelters and a food pantry. The dairy farmers, all Farm Bureau members, planned the project, solicited sponsorships, sourced the milk, and transported and delivered the product to the schools and facilities for distribution.