Thanking the agriculture community for all it does was the theme of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce’s 4th annual Ag Is Everyone’s Business event held Friday at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro.
“I’m seeing more and more events like this and they’re unique to each community,” the event’s keynote speaker, John Phipps, said after it was over. “They’re something that arises that fits the community they’re in. They are the most vibrant, active and useful meetings that I go to. This is something for Hillsboro and Highland County, and more communities need to replicate these kinds of events.”
Chamber President Melissa Elmore, SSCC President Dr. Kevin Boys, 2015 Ohio State Fair Queen and Bainbridge resident Sarah Everhart, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director and Greenfield native David Daniels, Phipps and more all spoke at the event after a breakfast served by Ponderosa Steakhouse.
“I am so glad that God made a farmer” Boys said as an introduction.
Elmore, a member of a fourth generation farm family, talked about the many hats farmers have to wear and the long days and nights they work. She said family is the backbone of it all.
“The families in this room today are responsible for feeding families across the nation,” Elmore said.
Everhart said that in the past year she visited 71 Ohio fairs and spent 12 days at the state fair, traveling 12,000 miles.
“I am convinced I’ve met the world’s most incredible people,” she said.
Before her travels started, Everhart said she had a preconceived idea that farming was just about food, but she learned it was much more than that. She said what sets the industry apart is the people in it and that the hospitality those people showed her was overwhelming.
“Your passion for your work is contagious,” Everhart said.
Daniels said he has been at all four ag business events and that it makes him proud he’s from Highland County. He said 2015 was pretty good year for Ohio agriculture and he presented several facts to back that up. He told they crowd they have to embrace technology if farmers expect to feed an estimated 9 billion people worldwide by 2050.
“Farms today are run on technology many of us never dreamed would be there,” Daniels said. “It allows us to boost our yields and control our costs.”
Agriculture provides one out of every seven jobs on Ohio, Daniels said. He said there are 4,100 farmers in Highland, Adams and Brown counties with 1,700 principal operators. And that doesn’t include other family members, hired help, and all the industries that serve farmers.
“Our biggest challenge going forward is to make sure consumers know what we do – like we are here today,” Daniels said. “Thank you for being the type of community that takes pride in agriculture and Ohio’s number one industry.”
Phipps mixed jokes in with advice to ag community. He said they should make sure they get enough sleep, stay in a positive mood, have safety nets, use technology, have patience, and have the equipment they need to compete with other farmers.
At the close of the meeting three pedal tractors were auctioned off. The first one sold for $800 to Charles Stevens of Stevens Hardware in Greenfield. He donated the tractor back to the McClain FFA. South Central Power purchased the second tractor for $900 then donated it back to the Chamber. It was purchased again by Pitzer Trucking for $800.
That $2,500 will be split among the five FFA chapters in Highland County.
The third tractor was purchased by Highland County Farm Bureau President Nathan Brown for $650. That money will support 4-H in Highland County.
The breakfast was served by students from the five Highland County public high school FFA programs and students in SSCC’s ag program.
More than 450 people showed up for the event, according to Elmore. She said plans are being made for the fifth annual event next year.
“I think it was fantastic,” Elmore said of the event. “People are speaking and they say they want it again next year. It’s just about recognizing everyone that touches the agricultural community and, echoing comments that were made earlier, it’s about supporting each other when times are great and when they’re not so good.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.