The Highland County Chamber of Commerce held its 11th Annual Ag is Everyone’s Business event Friday at a packed house at Boeckmann Farms north of Hillsboro.
Highland County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jamie Wheeler said:
The event exists to bring together local business leaders, farmers and young people who plan to go into agriculture.
Key speakers at this year’s event are Ty Higgins, senior director of communications and media relations for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and fifth-generation rancher, farm industry columnist and speaker from Mitchell, South Dakota. It was Amanda Radke.
Higgins grew up on a dairy farm in Licking County and began his career as a farm broadcaster while studying at Ohio State University. After his 10 years working in country radio, he returned to agricultural journalism for another 10 years, with the Ohio Department of Agriculture where he has worked for over 3 years.
Radke is a former National FFA Improvisational Speaking Champion and National Beef Ambassador. In her 15 years, she has traveled the country promoting agriculture, rural America, and the Western way of life. She has challenged animal rights activists, environmental extremists, politicians, and celebrities who seek to eradicate livestock farming.
Brian Baldridge, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, was a special guest and spoke about Ohio’s agriculture initiatives. He said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio program to address the serious water problem that has been building in Ohio for decades is a “tremendous initiative.” .
“When some algal blooms formed, they were really pointing the finger at the farming community,” Baldridge said. We are in this together as a society because we have problems with prevention systems and problems with runoff from local governments.”
He also spoke about about $70 million awarded to build a new animal laboratory for his department and farmland conservation.
After taking the stage, Higgins told a story about how a fan neighbor in Michigan mowed Script Ohio on his lawn while on vacation. The incident garnered him three million views on his Facebook, was featured on his SportsCenter on ESPN, and Higgins traded Barb with the show’s host at a radio station in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Higgins said he sees a job at the Ohio Department of Agriculture as the next best thing to agriculture. “I work with farmers every day, advocate on their behalf, and communicate not only with our members, but with consumers, the media, and lawmakers,” Higgins said.
He shared statistics showing the importance of the agriculture and food sector in society. He said $397 billion came into the U.S. economy through agriculture, of which his $11 billion came from Ohio.
Higgins also spoke about Ohio programs such as the Meat Processing Grant Program, the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit, H2Ohio, and the Ohio Regional Broadband Expansion Grant Program.
He said the H2Ohio program is an incredibly successful, voluntary, science-based program that will continue to expand statewide. “We hear as much about nitrogen in the South as we talk about phosphorus in the North,” he said. “Honestly, if H2Ohio doesn’t continue to work the way it does now, regulatory-wise, we wouldn’t like the following,” he said.
Higgins also emphasized the importance of mental health in farming communities. “In Ohio alone, he’s had four farmers die by suicide in the last eight weeks,” he said. “Your worth is not in acres, bushels, or dollars. is in the
Radke said she was happy to see a packed audience at Boeckmann Farms when she took the stage. “I always know there’s hope in the farming community when I see the packed crowds doing it,” she said.
Radke shared his experience of having a vegan animal rights activist as a roommate during his college days at George Washington University. Her roommate eventually decided that the cattle industry wasn’t so bad and went back to eating beef.
She said taste, nutrition, budget, safety, environment and animal care are important to everyone when it comes to raising cattle for beef. It’s these six basic things that we don’t care about: We all care about these things, because at the end of the day, we all have to eat,” she said. Said. “Somehow it’s been weaponized for use against us.”
“Above all, we believe that the best product that comes out of American agriculture is people,” said Mr. Radke, concluding the presentation.
Contact John Hackley at 937-402-2571.