2021 RIFB Annual Meeting

Wrap-up of the 2021 RIFB Annual Meeting

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us on November 18 at the Crystal Lake Golf Club as we celebrated 68 years of Farm Bureau in Rhode Island.

Over 35 attendees joined us for the morning and early-afternoon events, with 90 guests attending the dinner. Casey Ellington, of Ellington Farms in Ohio is currently serving her first year on the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee along with her husband, Charlie. They raise beef, pork, and chicken that is sold directly to local consumers. They also grow corn, soybeans, and hay. Casey specializes in connecting agriculture to her local communities by working with many local organizations.  Casey spoke to about 30 attendees including the RI State FFA officers about marketing and the importance of being on boards and committees.

After lunch, Executive Chef Andy Teixeira of Brix restaurant at Newport Vineyards returned as our featured chef to make a lamb pasta dish using Hopkins Southdowns lamb.  The workshop was sponsored by Blackbird Farm.

During the RIFB Business Meeting, Rob Swanson of West Greenwich was elected to the board, filling the spot vacated when Wayne Salisbury stepped down.  Wayne had been on the RIFB Board of Directors since 2004.  The remaining incumbent board members were also re-elected to the board.  Eight resolutions were then brought before the membership for discussion and all passed.

After the social hour, guests enjoyed a buffet dinner and Sam Kieffer, Vice President, Congressional Affairs at AFBF, spoke to the group.  Sam was followed by the introduction of guests including: 

Janet Coit, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, former Director RI DEM
Terry Gray, Acting Director of RI DEM
Jason McNamee, Deputy Director, Bureau of Natural Resources
Ken Ayars, Chief, RI Division of Agriculture
Juli Stelmaszyk, Director of Food Strategy, Rhode Island
Samantha Seivers,  Congressional staffer on behalf of Congressman James Langevin
Representative David Bennet, Chair, House Environment and Ag Committee
Jacob Raleigh, Credit Representative, Farm Credit East, Dayville, CT
Richard Brock, Multiple Line General Agent American National 
Earl Adams, Adams Agency
Ashley Johnson, Ashley Johnson Agency
Matthew Richter, Acting State Director, RI State Farm Service Agency
Sheryl Michner, County Executive Director, Farm Service Agency
Peg Sweeney, F/S Capitol Consulting (our lobbyists)
Jack Teear, F/S Capitol Consulting (our lobbyists)

Evenings Awards

Janet Coit was awarded our highest honor, the 2021 Golden Tractor Award. This award is bestowed each year upon deserving individuals who have personally upheld and campaigned for the preservation of farming in our great state and sustaining agriculture for future generations. As the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for over 10 years, her dedication to the role has helped to show our state’s citizens and legislators the value and importance of farming in Rhode Island. Without such strong support from RI DEM, many people would be unaware of the role of agriculture in our small state and continuing the farming tradition would be even more difficult. For her years of dedication and support of RI farms and agriculture, RIFB has chosen this opportunity to reward Janet Coit for her efforts on behalf of Rhode Island’s farmers.  

William Tabor received the Director Emeritus award,  retiring from the board in 2019.  
Richard Schartner received the Director Emeritus award, retiring from the board in 2018.  The award was accepted on Richard’s behalf by his son, Tim Schartner.

Rhode Island Farm Bureau was honored to present Dave Lewis’s family with our Lifetime Achievement Award.  Dave was a dedicated teacher at Scituate High School for over 25 years until he retired. He then continued his love of teaching at Exeter-West Greenwich High School for a short time after. Dave was an active and passionate member of the Rhode Island chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). He enjoyed farming, the Washington County Fair and spending time with friends and family.  His contribution to local agriculture through educating young people as well as the general public was of great value/cannot be overstated. Dave lost his battle with Dementia on July 17, 2021.  Wayne Salisbury, outgoing RIFB Board member and former board Vice President, taught with Dave for many years. He gave a wonderful speech about Dave’s dedication to his students and agriculture, impressing upon the evening’s attendees the importance of continuing to offer vocational education opportunities for students.

Following the awards, our raffle winners were announced.  

Silent Auction for 1 Cord EZLight Kiln Dried Firewood donated by Verrier Tree Service- winning bidder was Larry D.

Local Farm Products Raffle winners of RIFB Farm Gift Certificates were:

1st Prize $500 – Kristen F.
2nd Prize $300 – Angie B.
3rd Prize $200 – Cheryle M.

Our Penny Social Raffle had donated items and gift cards from: Grainger, Dave’s Marketplace, Seven Cedars Farm, Briar Berry Farm, Dungarees.com,