SUGARCREEK -- "Food for Thought" was the theme for the 2013 Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau annual meeting, emphasizing the importance of being able to converse about the food farmers produce.

Another successful year was celebrated during the annual meeting held at Union Hill United Methodist Church at Sugarcreek, A ham and chicken meal was served by the women of the church.

Michele Specht, organization director for Tuscarawas, Carroll, and Harrison counties, welcomed the group, and Don Kemp gave the invocation.

Specht said, "The purpose of the U. S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA ) Conversation Movement is to give an overview about how our food is produced. Conversations about how the food is produced is happening, but the voices of farmers and ranchers have been less than representative in the conversation about food production.

"Engaging in a conversation about food production-rather than defending food production-helps farmers and ranchers understand what consumers want and helps consumers learn more about how food is produced from the people who actually produce it," she said.

Retiring board president, Steve Quillin, gave his report and introduced the 2012-2013 Action Leaders and Team and thanked them for their work, the 2012-2013 Action leaders recognized for their achievements were: Eric Kinsey, communication; Carol Mutti, organization; Jeremy Evans, public policy; Mike Yoder, center for food and animal issues; Mary Jane John, membership.

Team members recognized were: Jim Rowe, Don Hoffman, Shelly Wheeler, Sonya Quillin, Dave Potts, Michelle Evans, Cathy Clarke, and Jerry and Rita Lahmers.

Michele Specht recognized membership volunteers and presented the Ag Educator Award to Scott Ripley, who teaches the meat, deli and bakery operations class at Buckeye Career Center.

Students in the meat cutting, deli, and bakery program learn to identify, cut, wrap and merchandise a wide variety of meat and cheese products. They operate a full service department.

The students operate, maintain and clean all professional food preparation equipment. This program will process approximately $300,000 a year in farmer beef, hogs and lambs.

The weeks following the Tuscarawas County Fair are their busiest of the year. They work closely with many 4-H groups, breaking down beef, hogs, and lambs into retail cuts, packaged for customers.

Recently, their lab became state inspected, providing students with the opportunity to learn more about the state inspection process, specifically packaging, labeling and documenting.

Ripley received a certificate and a $200 check from the Farm Bureau for his work in bringing agriculture education to the classroom.

Specht also recognized Danielle Dufour, regional Supervisor for the Ohio Farm Bureau, and Pam Haley, OFBF board trustee, who gave an update to members on what is happening with Farm Bureau.

Thad Gerber announced the trustee and delegate election results, as follows: Jim Rowe, Sonya Quillin, Mike Yoder, Dave Stiles, Cathy Clarke and Tim Sigrist were elected to the board of trustees.

Jim Rowe, Roger Bond, Rita Lahmers, Steve Quillin, Mike Yoder and Thad Gerber were elected delegates to the 2014 state annual meeting. Bill Hawthorne and Randy Clum are alternates.

Jeremy Evans presented the 2013-2014 local, state and national proposed policies that had been developed by the policy development committee. All the policies were approved by members attending the meeting, including the one on supporting Ag in the Classroom projects developed by the Tuscarawas and Carroll County Farm Bureaus and the state agriculture commodity groups.

Other local policies approved were encouraging the collaboration with landowners and local, state, and federal agencies to ensure proper soil conservation and water quality practices; supporting local funding for bee and hive inspections and supporting control of invasive species (plants and animals) and education of landowners on identification and control methods.

State issues include supporting and valuing local control of county law enforcement served by the elected sheriff's office; and continuing to support opposition to an increase in the severance tax solely to fund an income tax reduction.

National issues approved include encouraging collaboration with landowners and local, state and federal agencies to ensure proper soil conservation and water quality practices; and supporting the control of invasive species (plants and animals) and the education of landowners un identification and control methods.

New board president, Jeremy Evans introduced 2013-2014

Action Leasers and Team, as follows: Steve Quillin, communication; Thad Gerber, organization; Don Hoffman, Public Policy; and Jim Rowe, Center for Food and Animal Issues.

Team members are: Mary Jane John, Sonya Quillin, Shelly Wheeler, Carol Mutti, Mike Yoder, Dave Potts, Michelle Evans, Cathy Clarke, and Jerry and Rita Lahmers.