Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels seemed to sum up best the feelings of most of the 400-plus people attending the fifth annual Agriculture Is Everyone’s Business event held Friday morning at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro.
“I’m so proud I come from an area of the state that understands how important agriculture is, and I look forward to coming back next year,” said the Greenfield native who has attended each of the five events. “And I’m so glad the Highland County Chamber of Commerce does this for the community.”
“It’s important,” Daniels added after the event, “because agriculture has been a part of our community for a long time. Agriculture is one of those things that just seems to keep kicking along.”
The Chamber hosts and organizes the event each year to highlight agriculture’s importance to the area, and it’s sponsored by a long list of area businesses.
Mike Pearson, host of the nationally syndicated “Market to Market” television program since 2012, stepped in at the last minute to serve as the main speaker at the event after the originally scheduled speaker, Orion Samuelson, informed the Chamber on Monday that he would be unable to attend because an emergency medical issue that required immediate surgery. Pearson is an Iowa native and resident who belongs to the Agriculture Speakers Network along with Samuelson.
Pearson said that when he received the call asking if he could fill in, his schedule was free and he was happy to help.
“I don’t get a chance to come to a breakfast for agriculture with over 300 people – ever,” Pearson said. “It’s great to see that kind of support, and I wanted to be part of it.”
Melissa Elmore, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said she thought the event was great. She said the Chamber sold about 400 tickets for the event, but there were also 25 or so local FFA members in attendance to help, and several area dignitaries and volunteers on hand.
“I went fantastic. We wish Orion well, and he came through his surgery just fine, but there is something super positive about Mike Pearson,” Elmore said. “And the question-and-answer period with Dave (Daniels) and Mike was great, too.”
Kevin Boys, the president of the Southern State, welcomed the crowd and said, “We’re here to celebrate agriculture and the great impact that agriculture has on our community, as well as to celebrate farmers and the great contributions they make…”
Brad Wenstrup, U.S. Representative from Ohio’s 2nd District, called agriculture one of Ohio’s main drivers. He said it’s responsible for our food supply and environment.
“I just want to thank you for what you do and how important you are to our community,” Wenstrup said. “You show what hard work can do and what life responsibility can bring.”
Pearson’s speech centered on what the future of agriculture looks like and how each time since World War I that agriculture has hit a down period financially, it has found a way to rebound. He said he anticipates another boom for agriculture soon because the world’s population is growing rapidly and will need more food, and because capital wealth is growing across the globe. “And when people have more money to spend, they like to eat. And what do they like to eat – beef,” he said, mentioning other livestock products produced in the U.S.
“The goal the next couple years is to stay in business because the wind is at our back in agriculture,” Pearson said. “…We’re in the right industry, at the right time, in the right place. We have so many advantages the rest of the world can only dream of. Stay excited.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.