Louisville, KY (PRWEB) January 19, 2012
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s AgriPOWER Institute trains promising young farmers and agribusiness professionals to become strong leaders and advocates for Ohio agriculture. David Benavides, northeast Ohio regional vice president for Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, is a 2010 AgriPOWER grad who found his yearlong experience in the program to be a real eye opener.
“It was very much like ‘taking the blinders off,’” said Benavides. “Not only did I learn about diverse types of farming operations across the state, I got to know many young leaders whose passion for agriculture and abilities are absolutely amazing. It also really helped me see a different side of farmers, and how policy changes can directly affect their lives and livelihoods.”
Benavides was so impressed with his experience that when he had the opportunity to give something back, he responded by helping AgriPOWER secure a $4,500 Farm Credit corporate stewardship donation. The gift was presented recently and will fund the tuition for a future member of the Institute.
“We’re extremely appreciative of Farm Credit’s gift,” said Sandy Kuhn, AgriPOWER director. “It seems like agriculture is constantly finding itself on the defensive about any number of issues these days, and AgriPOWER is developing future leaders and current advocates to be better able to tell agriculture’s story—like how important it is for each of us to eat on a daily basis, and how Ohio farmers are doing the right things, at the right times, for the right reasons. This gift helps us accomplish those kinds of objectives.”
Farm Credit's David Benavides secured the recent donation to AgriPower. He is pictured here (standing far right) with his 2010 Class during a breakfast at the Ohio Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden.
The AgriPOWER Institute was launched in 2008 by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation as an elite program for highly-motivated young farm leaders and agribusiness professionals. The yearlong program focuses on public policy issues confronting agriculture and the food industry such as animal activists, climate change and trade policies. It helps participants develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders and advocates for agriculture by learning from experts in these fields.
The program consists of seven multi-day institutes (17 days total) and covers public policy matters facing local communities, the state of Ohio, the nation and the world. One of the sessions is held in Washington, D.C., to help class members gain a better understanding of national and global issues. To date there have been three classes of the AgriPOWER Institute, with 62 alumni. Class IV is currently in progress with 19 participants.
Kuhn said that follow-up studies have shown that AgriPOWER has been effective in preparing participants to move into leadership positions in local boards, churches, Farm Bureaus, and chambers of commerce, as well as some state organizations. Benavides feels that the training he received gave him a much greater appreciation for the need for people to speak up about agriculture.
“It helps participants understand that we have a voice and that we need to be telling the stories of what farming really is, rather than the perceptions many people today have,” he said. “It’s our job to educate consumers what farmers do, why they do it, and where their food comes from. That’s why I wanted to help Farm Credit give something back (to AgriPOWER). For things that are important to agriculture, we need to be engaged.”
About Farm Credit Services of Mid-America
Farm Credit Services of Mid-America is a $17.1 billion financial services cooperative serving over 92,500 farmers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. The association provides loans for all farm and rural living purposes including including real estate, operating loans,equipment loans, and housing loans. FCS also provides an array of financial services, including crop insurance and leases. For more information about Farm Credit, call 1-800-444-FARM or visit them on the web at http://www.e-farmcredit.com.