GREENVILLE – The Darke County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Chamber Ag Day Luncheon on March 22 in partnership with the Ohio State University 2019 Darke County Ag Outlook.
“Chamber Ag Day has been in existence for more than 60 years to honor those in agriculture and to foster partnerships among our farmers, agri-businesses and traditional businesses in Darke County,” Chamber Chairman Perry Walls said in his opening remarks. “We’re fortunate to share the stage today with OSU and the resources they have to offer. “
Agriculture is the No. 1 business in Darke County and the most current Census of Agriculture Cash Receipts annual total is $559,494,000 with an average per farm of $330,475. Those numbers give Darke County a ranking of second in agriculture in Ohio.
Annual awards for achievement and advocacy in agriculture were presented. Daryl Riffle was honored with the Agricultural Advocacy Award, and The Andersons Marathon Ethanol was presented the Agriculture Achievement Award.
Award recipients were recognized by representatives from the Ohio offices of Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Treasurer Robert Sprague and Auditor Keith Faber. Also on hand to offer congratulations was Rep. Susan Manchester representing the Ohio House, Ben Thaeler for Rep. Warren Davidson and Sam Bain representing U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.
“Riffle was born in Darke County in the late ’50s and grew up in a home near Ansonia,” said OSU Extension Educator Sam Custer, who presented the award.
As a child, he rode with his father picking up bulk milk at local farms and also helping deliver retail dairy products to homes across Darke County.
“The Great Darke County Fair is an integral part of Darke County and surrounding communities, and Daryl Riffle served as the fair manager for over a decade, always striving to offer an event that was good for children, adults and the community while showcasing Darke County’s No. 1 industry, agriculture,” Custer said.
Numerous fairground capital improvements took place during his tenure from Aug. 1, 2005 to March 31, 2017. The Grandstand seats and flooring were replaced; a new restroom was built in the northwest corner; the Ohio Center was enclosed and became the Ohio/Spiritual Life Center; a new Domestic Arts/Horseshoe Building was erected; renovations were made to the Swine Barn and Coliseum; the Beef and Dairy Pavilion was built; numerous electrical upgrades were made; new phone and computer systems were installed; a LED display sign was installed at gate No. 2 and the Fair Office, Box Office and Boardroom were renovated.
“Attendance records were set during his time as fair manager,” Custer said, “and on average, approximately 20,000 to 24,000 individuals attended The Great Darke County Fair each day of the annual nine-day fair.”
His leadership efforts as the Darke County fair manager were recognized at the state level when he received the Ohio Fair Manager of the Year in 2009. In 2012, he was chosen to sit on the Ohio Fair Managers Board of Directors, a position he held until February 2017.
Riffle feels very strongly about giving back to the community and was a member of the Ansonia Board of Education for 15 years, provided closing remarks for numerous Ansonia FFA annual banquets, coached fifth and sixth grade boys basketball, helped with Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts, has been a church council member for more than 20 years, has been on the Darke County Visitors Bureau for 11 years and is currently the president, has been on the Darke County Court Appointed Special Advocate Board for four years and has been the voice of the Ansonia Tigers boys basketball team since 1996.
Riffle has been married to Mary, his high school sweetheart, since 1979. They have two sons and four grandsons.
“Daryl is deserving of this award as an advocate for the advancement of agriculture in Darke County and has demonstrated extensive participation, leadership and support of agriculture,” Custer said.
“You do things in the community not because you want pats on the back but because it’s the right thing to do,” Riffle said as he accepted. “It’s very humbling and an honor to receive this award.”
Chamber Immediate Past Chairman Tony Roberts presented the Chamber award for Agricultural Achievement to Ted Hafer of The Andersons Marathon Ethanol.
“The award is presented to a producer who is actively involved in the agricultural chain and has demonstrated extensive participation, leadership and support of agriculture,” Roberts said.
“Eleven years ago, 50 employees and over $200 million dollars in capital investments, a presence in Darke County began at The Andersons,” Roberts said. “Under the leadership of plant manager Ted Hafer, in the past 11 years of production, The Andersons has purchased close to 500 million bushels of corn from farmers in an 80-mile radius of Greenville.”
The facility has produced nearly 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol, more than 200,000 tons of corn oil and 3.5 million tons of dry distillers grain that is used for feed rations.
Having carbon dioxide as a co-product of ethanol production led to the establishment of a second business, Continental Carbonic in Greenville. Continental Carbonic specializes in the manufacture and distribution of dry ice and liquid carbon dioxide.
“Supporting their community is something The Andersons do not take lightly,” Roberts said.
Throughout the year, monetary donations are provided to numerous groups and organizations for the betterment of the communities. The Andersons provided a $50,000 donation to the Darke County Fair new beef barn and $25,000 to the Arcanum Ag building project.
Local surrounding communities also have benefitted from the numerous in-state and out of state contractors that come in to perform work on the plant. These contractors usually stay several days boosting the economy of local Darke County businesses.
Ted Hafer accepted the award stating, “I’m humbled to receive this award on behalf of The Andersons and we accomplished success because of our customers, the employees at the plant and those that are here today.”
He asked his employees to stand for a round of applause.
Ohio State University Chair of Agricultural Marketing, Trade and Policy Ian Sheldon was the featured speaker at the March 22 event. Sheldon discussed how escalating tensions between the United States and China could affect Ohio’s economy, as well as the prospects of Ohio’s farmers.
“This is the closest we’ve come to a trade war since the 1930s,” Sheldon said. “Since around the time of the Great Depression.”
According to Sheldon, some economists predict that any gains to the U.S. from its recent renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will be “wiped out” by the costs of the trade war with China. Sheldon also thinks a desire to reduce the trade deficit is what is driving recent changes to U.S. trade policy … a strategy Sheldon and other economists do not think will be successful.
“We’ve been running a deficit since the 1970s,” Sheldon said. “You’re not going to change that with trade policy.”
Sheldon thinks there’s a 40 percent chance the U.S. will experience another recession within the next 24 months, in large part due to these trade-related concerns.