By Sydney Garrett
Through its annual County Activities of Excellence Awards, the American Farm Bureau Federation celebrates county Farm Bureaus for their unique, volunteer-driven programming. The following county Farm Bureaus were among 24 county Farm Bureaus recognized for their programs and activities in 2021 and 2022. The programs featured here focused on policy implementation.
Shared Stewardship – Modoc County Farm Bureau, California
The Shared Stewardship Agreement is a collaborative agreement between Modoc County Farm Bureau and Modoc National Forest to address continual labor shortages that impact the timely completion of forest projects critical to members of the local community.
Modoc County Farm Bureau recruits, hires and oversees short-term employees who work in the forest to keep projects on time while the forest brings permanent employees on staff. At its peak the agreement had a payroll of over $600,000 and 45 employees, critical to county membership and the local community.
Soil Smart Farm Day – Fredrick County Farm Bureau, Maryland
Fredrick County Farm Bureau partnered with Horizon Farm Credit and two local Soil Conservation Districts to host a Soil Smart Farm Day Tour of four agricultural operations in the county. The tour was designed specifically for the county executive and county council members along with elected state government representatives.
The group visited a winery, a grain and hay operation, a dairy operation and an orchard, each recognized for their conservation practices. This event gave county and state decision-makers a firsthand look at conservation practices and provided them with knowledge they can use when working on future policies.
Check Your Engine – Tuscarawas, Carroll, Harrison, & Jefferson County Farm Bureaus, Ohio
The Check Your Engine mental health awareness project is a four-county initiative for farmers. The project is in partnership with the county’s Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board and The Ohio State University Extension agents to provide mental health training to people who interact with farmers regularly.
The project tagline “Have you checked your Check Engine Light?” encourages farmers to take care of themselves, similar to how they care for their crops, livestock and equipment. The counties have shared their message in a variety of ways including large group presentations, social media, video projects and policy development to call for increased local and state funding of mental health resources.
Applications are now open for the 2024 County Activities of Excellence. Up to 24 counties will display their winning activities at the 2024 American Farm Bureau Convention in Salt Lake City in January. County award winners receive up to four free registrations to the Annual Convention (cost of travel and housing not included) and a $2,250 stipend to apply toward the cost of travel and exhibition.
Sydney Garrett is the communications assistant for the American Farm Bureau Federation.