Chamber holds ag luncheon


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — Darke County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Agri-Business Luncheon and Expo on Friday, March 22 at Romer’s Catering in Greenville. The event recognized this year’s individuals and groups with the Agriculture Advocate Award, Agriculture Achievement Award and Young Farmer Award. Aaron Wilson was the keynote speaker.

Sam Suter, agriculture committee chairman, shared some of the statistics for Darke County in 2023. Over 26 million bushels of corn were harvested with 134,500 acres planted and over 127,000 acres harvested. There were over eight million bushels of soybeans harvested with over 141,00 acres planted and over 140,400 acres harvested. There were also 1.3 million bushels of wheat harvested and 14,600 acres planted, and 13,400 acres harvested. Suter said the totals all exceeded 2022.

This year’s Agriculture Advocacy Award was presented to the Darke County Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau is a grassroots member organization that addresses the issues farmers are facing as well as promoting the industry through its work with students and farmers through economic and networking opportunities. Taylor Watkins, director of the Darke County Farm Bureau, said advocacy is the organization’s main concern and she regularly meets with local farmers in order to take their concerns to the state and federal levels. In addition to weather and prices, Watkins said their biggest concerns are tax relief and the continuing fight with CAUV valuations and planned development property protection.

Sam Custer was presented with the Agriculture Achievement Award. Custer has been a staple in the local and state agricultural industry for several decades. He began his career as the Versailles FFA advisor in 1981. He stayed with school until 1994. He said his proudest achievement came early in his career at Versailles when he had 11 or 12 student teachers. His final student teacher became the current FFA advisor, Dena Wuebker. Custer went on to work with Miami Valley Career Technology Center and The Ohio State University Extension Service. Custer reflected on his work with OSU and how agriculture is moving toward the future. He shared how OSU and agriculture engineering is creating a mechanism for the space station to grow tomatoes. He said you don’t have to have an agriculture background to work in agriculture.

The 2024 Young Farmer Award was presented to Aaron Overholser. The introduction of Overholser called him a forward-thinking farmer that is working to leave the land for future generations. He puts value into his farm and community. Overholser said his family grows two things on every acre of land – crops and knowledge. He and his family use data from their farm to continually decide what works best and be better able to predict the future. He is dedicated to keeping the farm going and pointed out every decision on grain bins or barns follows the 100-year philosophy. Is the barn/grain bin going to be around in 100 years or 50 years? He said that while he may be retired in 50 years, he doesn’t want to mess it up for other generations.

Wilson shared information on climate and what it means to farmers. He is expecting more growing days this year (days above 90 degrees) than in 2023. The summer of 2023 was affected by colder air coming from Canada as well as haze and smoke from the wildfires in that country.

This year’s sponsors included: Event Sponsor: GNB Banking Center; Gold Sponsors: Daily Advocate, Darke Rural Electric Cooperative, Cooper Farms, Spirit Emergency Medical Services, Park National Bank, and The Andersons; Silver Sponsors: Darke County Farmer’s Union, Edison State Community College, EverHeart Hospice, Farm Service Agency, First Choice Realty, Fry & Co. Graves-Fearon Agency Nationwide, Holiday Inn Express, Jon Coomer Investment Management, King’s Poultry Farm, Lawn Plus LLC, Moriroku Technology North America, Inc., Poeppelman Materials & PEPCON, Premier Crop Insurance, ProMedica 360Health, Theodore O. Finnarn, Ag Law.

Several elected officials presented commendations to the award winners, including Congressman Warren Davidson, Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Treasurer of State Robert Sprague, Senate President Matt Huffman, Senator Steve Huffman, Representative Angie King and Darke County Commissioners Larry Holmes, Matt Aultman and Marshall Combs.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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