“I see there being a renaissance with the younger generation: Continuing to build on innovations and to re-imagine old school practices,” stated Tim Hicks, Organization Director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). Trends in food choices and new technologies in agriculture, change the relationship between farmer and consumer.
The farm bureau continues to redefine its role to meet those needs. “Farm Bureau is looking to engage the community by recognizing there is a broad range of diversity amongst producers and consumers,” said Hicks. “We (OFBF) are looking to establish a sort of food dialogue, a partnership between farmers and consumers. We best serve farmers by best establishing those bonds.”
“I see new practices being integrated on the farm,” Hicks said. Hicks went on to explain the evolution of the agricultural industry and how he sees farmers and farm bureaus. He said no-till planting has become an industry standard, as well as the micro-management of nutrients through grid soil sampling. The adaptation of new practices and perspectives according to the trends seem to cover all areas in farming, from different tillage practices to diverse livestock.
“We try to act as the collective voice of agriculture,” said Hicks of the Farm Bureau’s role. “We work for farmers.”
As trends suggest, agriculture like most businesses, is expanding with the influences of technology and innovations in the industry. “I see it growing,” said Hicks. “We have the ability to do more land with less people due to technology.” Hicks, who moved to Ohio from New York, went on to share some observations regarding farming as it uniquely pertains to Ohio and subsequently, Richland County. “Agriculture is bigger business here. Farm sizes are bigger, and communities have a really strong tie to agriculture.”
“I see Richland County as a microcosm of the state,” The landscape of Ohio is unique Hicks stated, comparing the rolling hills of the southern half of the state, which are more conducive to fruit farmers and livestock; whereas the northern half is predominately flat with larger farms and more grain farms. “Richland County, uniquely offers both, along with a pretty large metropolitan area,” he added.
“It is most challenging for livestock farmers now, corn and beans are so costly, it affects their cost to raise and feed their animals,” stated Hicks. Hicks went on to say that the grain commodities may have some effect as to where Richland County ranked in the state. “I believe we are hovering somewhere in the middle.”
Hicks, a recent transplant from the Finger Lake region of NY., and his wife Jenna have two small children: Daughter Ellie, five and son Birch, 18 months. The family settled about five months ago on 3.5 acres in Lexington. Hicks studies at Bowling Green University where he and his wife studied environmental sciences and both worked as park interns. Hicks later joined Americorp and moved to New York and then went on to volunteer with the conservation districts for two years.
Hicks described the family acreage as a hobby farm in the making. “We have an urge to be first generation farmers,” said Hicks. “Our choice is to be a small scale diversified livestock operation in addition to some perennial sales from fruit trees, strawberries etcetera.” They also have a family garden and hens; Buff Orpington and Jersey Giants. He explained, “We have some land, we want to see what we like, what we are good at.” In the near future Hicks hopes to get some Idaho pasture pigs (IPP).