County agricultural offices help farmers do what they do best: feed people
Through its annual County Excellence Awards, the American Farm Bureau Federation celebrates county agricultural offices for their unique volunteer-led programming. The following counties were among the 12 recognized for their programs and activities in 2019 and 2020. The programs presented here focus on the efforts of the county agricultural office to help cope with the huge increase in the number of families in need during the pandemic.
Recognizing the importance of keeping milk in children’s diets as schools transitioned to virtual learning in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tuscarawas County Agricultural Office and the Producers Committee County dairy farmers created the Cows 2 Kids project. This effort donated 7,000 gallons of milk to 2,200 families in eight schools, as well as homeless shelters and a pantry. The dairy farmers, all members of the Farm Bureau, planned the project, solicited sponsorships, purchased the milk, transported and delivered the product to schools and facilities for distribution.
Within a week of the program’s launch, volunteers raised $ 7,000 to purchase the milk. Walmart agreed to buy the processor’s milk for the price the company usually pays – $ 1.89 – and sell it to Project Cows 2 Kids for 89 cents, the same low price it sells. in the store. This amounted to a donation of $ 7,000 from Walmart and allowed Cows 2 Kids to double the number of gallons of milk they could hand out.
Once a week for three weeks, the processing plant delivered 2,300 gallons of milk to Walmart. The milk was transferred to a refrigerated truck owned by dairy farmers. Farm Bureau volunteers with coolers collected the milk and distributed it to schools and pantries. In some schools, volunteers have had the chance to help distribute the milk. Families also received nutritional information with their gallon of milk.
The Cow 2 Kids program not only helped families in need by providing them with 3 gallons of milk (1 gallon per week for three weeks), it also provided dairy farmers with an outlet for their milk, which they greatly needed. needed after the abrupt closure of schools and restaurants. at the start of the pandemic.
Pickaway and Delaware counties
Seeking to help their friends and neighbors who need healthy protein to feed themselves and their families, the Pickaway and Delaware County Agricultural Offices purchased 43 head of locally raised pork and beef cattle from member producers and exhibitors at the Junior Fair, processed them and donated the meat to food banks.
In May 2020, counties purchased 30 pigs from a Farm Bureau member producer. The meat was processed at the Meat Wrapping Plant of the Orient Ohio Rehabilitation and Correction Department, a local packer who rehabilitates prisoners through workforce development. The factory had recently reopened after a COVID-19 related shutdown. The county agricultural offices then coordinated the distribution of nearly 4,000 pounds of pork to 15 food banks in the counties.
A month later, the county agricultural offices purchased 13 steers from the Junior Fair Sale at the Pickaway County Fair. The steers were purchased at the top market price of $ 1.15 per pound and also processed at the Meat Wrapping Plant of the Orient Ohio Rehabilitation and Correction Department. The purchase provided 6,500 pounds of ground beef which was distributed to six food banks.
The Pickaway and Delaware County agricultural offices have tapped into the generosity of the community for their Farms to Food Banks project. They worked with local foundations to plan the project, raise funds, purchase livestock and distribute meat. County leaders have set a goal of raising $ 30,000 in outside funding for the project. The Pork Council and Beef Council enthusiastically supported the project, providing $ 2,500 and $ 5,000 in funding, respectively. The Well Being Foundation and the Food Insecurities Program have coordinated with community foundations to provide funds for the project. The remaining funding came from the county agricultural offices and generous donations from the community, including individual members of the agricultural offices and businesses large and small.
A total of 10,500 pounds of Farm Bureau donated meat was distributed to 15 food banks in Pickaway and Delaware counties in the spring of 2020.
From farms to food banks 2.0
In 2021, the Pickaway County Farm Bureau partnered with the Pickaway County Community Foundation and the Delaware Community Foundation to launch Farms to Food Banks 2.0. The Farms to Foodbanks beta aimed to address food insecurity and a shortage of meat processors for small and medium-sized livestock operations.
In May, the partners purchased 12 pigs from a Pickaway County producer and worked with the Ohio State University Meat Science Program to process the pork while educating students on the underlying principles. biology, physiology and nutrition that stimulate animal growth and their impact on meat quality. The pork was donated to food banks in Pickaway and Delaware counties. In June, Farm Bureau made a packer bid on all of the young exhibitor’s cattle steer projects at the Pickaway County Fair. The county agricultural office and community foundations will process 17 steers at a local processor and donate the beef to area food banks.
The Pickaway County Farm Bureau thanks the Ohio Pork Council and the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation for their support of the project. Additionally, Farms to Food Banks 2.0 would not have been possible without the Well Being Fund, the Pickaway County Community Foundation, or donations from community members to the Food Insecurities Fund.
Applications are now open for the 2021 County Excellence Activities. Up to 24 counties will showcase their winning activities at the 2021 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and Trade Show in Atlanta in January. County award winners receive up to four free annual convention registrations (travel and accommodation costs not included) and a stipend of $ 2,250 to be applied towards travel and exhibit costs.