Professional development for farmers, entrepreneurs, and agribusiness and food industry professionals is the goal of the new Ohio Farm and Food Institute. The institute will provide dynamic programs, networking opportunities, idea sharing, trends and issues updates, educational opportunities and leadership development training. The institute is a creation of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF).

“These efforts are about bringing additional value to our members in a way that meets their needs,” said Tim Hicks, OFBF’s business development field director. “We’ll be partnering with a broad range of industry groups, such as the Center for Innovative Food Technology and others, to bring valuable content and connections within the food chain, not only for current members and farmers, but to create relationships with businesses and individuals that didn’t think Farm Bureau was for them.”

As part of its initial programming, two regional workshops on marketing are scheduled: April 5 in Wilmington and April 8 in Hartville. Marlene Eick of Herdmark Media and OFBF’s 2015 Excellence in Agriculture winner will be presenting on Branding and Social Media Strategy. In her presentation “Telling the story you’re living: Using branding and marketing to maximize your brand’s influence,” she will discuss how small business owners should consider their brand’s story and then create a strategy to share it with their target market. Other presenters will also participate.

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In addition to regional workshops, the institute will encompass the annual Farm and Food Leadership Forum and will introduce an online learning program. “With these and several other ideas, we plan to engage farmers and the food industry in unique and exciting ways,” Hicks said.

Staff report