More than 400 members and guests of Maryland’s largest general agriculture organization gathered for the state’s 97th Farm Bureau annual meeting and convention Dec. 2-4 at the Clarion Resort Hotel in Ocean City, Md.
Members celebrated record-high membership and program achievements, took time to learn and share ideas and established policy for the coming year.
President Patricia Langenfelder of Kennedyville, First Vice President Chuck Fry of Tuscarora and Vice President Jim Steele of Woodbine all were re-elected to their respective offices.
The highlight of the event was the annual awards banquet, where Baltimore County took the coveted Silver Bowl award for its outstanding program work in the past year. President Keith Wills accepted the honor, along with several president’s awards.
Baltimore County was one of 10 counties to receive gold ratings in all six of the program areas. The honors are given for member benefits/membership, legislative affairs, women’s leadership/agriculture education, young farmers, leadership development, and outstanding county Farm Bureau program.
The other top-rated counties were Anne Arundel, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Washington and Wicomico.
In order to earn an award in any of the six program areas, county Farm Bureaus must submit an essay explaining how the program is communicated to members, what is the member involvement, what are the goals and planning activities and what were the results of the program and activities.
The awards were judged and given a score and ranked gold, silver or bronze.
The top-scoring counties in each of the program areas were presented President’s Awards for their results and innovation.
Honored counties in the membership category of 300 regular members and below were: Baltimore for ag education, leadership development, membership and county board organization; Howard for government relations; and Kent and Talbot counties for outstanding county program for their group effort.
The President’s Awards in the membership category of 301 regular members and above went to: Wicomico for membership, Cecil for government relations, Frederick for agriculture education and leadership development and Queen Anne’s for county board organization. Queen Anne’s and Cecil counties teamed up for the outstanding county program honor.
George Lechlider, an active member and president of Montgomery County Farm Bureau for more than 50 years, received the Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau Award.
During his tenure, he served on the state board as well as the legislative affairs and livestock advisory committees. He attended countless meetings and was a regular at the annual Day in Annapolis, Washington Drive-In and state convention.
Among his numerous achievements, Lechlider was responsible for creating the Maryland Wholesome Meat Inspection Program and was a director of the Federal Land Bank of Maryland. He also served as chairman and worked tirelessly for the Maryland Vocational Technical Education Council.
He was a pioneer of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, purchasing the property in Gaithersburg for the fairgrounds with two others. He worked to build barns and membership, directed the 4-H programs and supervised the swine department.
Lechlider champions the cause of soil conservation, improved water quality, nutrient management and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. He worked with the Soil Conservation District in numerous capacities for decades.
Along with his wife, Carolyn, he owns and operates The Lech’s Farm, a grain and livestock operation in Laytonsville that he purchased in 1946. The couple has been agriculture advocates in the county and state for years.
Board of Directors
Because of a by-law change during last year’s annual meeting, the structure of the state board of directors was adjusted during this year’s meeting. Instead of every county Farm Bureau having at least one seat, the structure now includes two directors from each of the six districts.
Leaders selected for two-year board terms were: Larry Howard of Frederick County, District 1; Jay Rhine of Howard County, District 2; Milly Welsh of Anne Arundel County, District 3; Wayne Stafford of Cecil County, District 4; John Draper of Queen Anne’s County, District 5; and Eddie Johnson of Wicomico County, District 6.
Selected for one-year terms were: Billy Bishoff of Garrett County, District 1; Tom Hartsock of Montgomery County, District 2; Chris Parker of Prince George’s County, District 3; Keith Wills of Baltimore County, District 4; Tom Mason of Kent County, District 5; and Bill Edwards of Dorchester County, District 6.
Among those directors, six executive committee members were selected. They were Howard, Hartsock, Welsh, Wills, Draper and Edwards.
The future of agriculture rests in the hands and hearts of the Young Farmers. To assist in the development of their leadership skills, both personally and professionally, the Maryland Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation organized four areas of competition — the Achievement Award, Excellence in Agriculture Award, Discussion Meet and Collegiate Discussion Meet.
Chris Price of Cecil County won the 2012 Young Farmer Achievement Award and Bill Rawlings of Carroll County captured the Excellence in Agriculture honor. Brooks Long of Washington County won the Discussion Meet. All three will represent Maryland Farm Bureau in the national competition at the national convention in Nashville, Tenn., in January.
Emmilee Guy of St. Mary’s County was the winner of the Collegiate Discussion Meet. Her national competition will take place at the Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., in February.
Eight county presidents were recognized for their service to their counties and on the Maryland Farm Bureau Board of Directors as they retired.
They were Jack Miltenberger of Allegany County, Joe Kuhn of Carroll County, Wayne Stafford of Cecil County, Pat Wathen of Charles County, Dr. Ray Ediger of Frederick County, Johnny Knott of St. Mary’s County, Ronnie Leggett of Washington County and Donnie Powell of Worcester County.
Newly elected county presidents are T.R. Robinette of Allegany County, Billy Harrison of Carroll County, Jonathan Quinn of Cecil County, David Hancock Jr. of Charles County, Charles Brault of Frederick County, Jamie Raley of St. Mary’s County, David Herbst of Washington County and Kathryn Danko Lord of Worcester County.
Also at the annual meeting, Elaine Moreland, chairman of the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, led the group’s business meeting at which Jennifer Cross of Prince George’s County was elected vice-chairman.
The top three Safemark dealers in Maryland also were recognized based on dollar sales volume. The top dealer in the state was Classic Tire Service of Queen Anne’s County. Kinnamon’s Service of Caroline County took second place and J. David Mullinix of Howard County took third.
At the conclusion of the banquet, an auction of items donated by the county Farm Bureaus raised $5,671 for the Maryland Farm Bureau Scholarship Fund and the MFB Office Relocation Fund.