The Farm Income Enhancement Program (FIE) develops concepts to enhance income and promote long-term stability in Ohio agriculture. With Tom Sporleder as the first Farm Income Enhancement Professor, much of the focus has been on evaluating value-added alternatives in marketing and the use of cooperatives as a way to involve farmers in the market chain beyond the farm gate. Graduate students and other faculty are involved in projects to benchmark existing industry, propose innovative new alternatives, or evaluate specific industry issues.
The Farm Income Enhancement Program has a mission to promote innovation and experiential foundations of enhancing farm income through scholarship in learning, discovery, and engagement. We develop, facilitate, and conduct applied research, foster programs and promote communication that enhances the income of the agricultural sector. To have a meaningful and sustainable program over time we also work to deepen our understanding of the economic phenomenon that influence the global food supply chain and the managerial decision-making of firms within it.
The Farm Income Enhancement Program focuses on quality scholarship in learning, discovery, and engagement. The scholarship is focused on the economics of innovation and technological change in the global food system.
In 1986, an idea paper written by Professor Dennis Henderson of the Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Department outlined the broad concept of an endowed chair and program in Farm Income Enhancement in the College of Agriculture at The Ohio State University. The concept was born from mutual discussions among Professor Henderson, Professor Joseph Havlicek, then Department Chair of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology and Dr. C. William Swank, then president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Professor Havlicek is credited with moving the concept along administratively and thus paving the way for major financial support for the program through the assistance of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
As a result of numerous meetings and discussions the concept continued to evolve into reality. From the perspective of The Ohio State University, the first commitment to a new program was the establishment of the Farm Income Enhancement (FIE) Endowed Chair on April 8, 1988. This is the date of the endowment’s ‘creation’ on paper and the work of seeking donors to contribute toward the goal of a $3 million endowment targeted to this area was then set in motion. The income from the endowment was intended to support a senior professor whose research and outreach activities focus on innovation and imaginative solutions to marketing and policy issues facing commercial farmers and agriculture in general. The chair provides leadership for innovative applied research and outreach programs concerned with farm income, price and market stability and new alternatives for enhancing farm income.
The first official Farm Income Enhancement activity was a conference held in Columbus, Ohio in April of 1989. After a national search, and at this conference, Thomas L. Sporleder was announced as the first Endowed Chairholder. Dr. Sporleder articulated a focus of the FIE Program as alternatives for group action by farmers to enhance their income, especially through investment in off-farm business activities that harmonize to existing farm enterprises. This includes activities such as agricultural cooperatives, forward integration and value-added alternatives. As expected, the activities of the Program have been refined and harmonized closely with other programs, both state and national, but the core values articulated in the early days remain the core values of the FIE Program today.
During the early days of the Farm Income Enhancement Program in 1988 through 1993, a primary task for Sporleder was to articulate the mission and purposes of the proposed program to potential donors to the endowment. Much of the early time by Tom Sporleder was spent traveling around the state and nation to articulate the potential to prospective donors. The $3 million goal officially was reached in June 1993 when the total value of the endowment hit $3,175,000 from a total value of collected pledges between 1988 and 1993 of $2,890,154.
Two key organizations were especially helpful in reaching the goal of $3 million for the Farm Income Enhancement Program. One key organization was Nationwide Insurance
that pledged over a half-million dollars to the Program. In addition, this permitted a substantial base of pledge dollars to be logged early in the endowment-raising process.
Another key organization was the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, headed at the time by Dr. C. William Swank. Not only were the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation members substantial monetary contributors to the program, but more importantly, the OFBF provided opportunities for Tom Sporleder to meet with various groups and individuals from around the state and around the nation to articulate the mission, purposes and objectives of the proposed program. These meetings proved instrumental in raising additional pledges so that the $3 million goal could be reached.
The total corporate and individual gifts to the Farm Income Enhancement Endowment numbered in the hundreds. The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation conducted numerous county meetings where the purpose and potential of the Farm Income Enhancement Program was articulated. Often at these meetings the ‘hat would be passed’ for contributions and the resulting median contribution to the endowment would be approximately $20. Although a few key large corporate gifts allowed the endowment to reach the $3 million goal, the wide participation from individuals provide a salient backdrop for the endowment as well as for the FIE Program.
Among the largest contributors to the Farm Income Enhancement Program were individuals making contributions of $1,000 or more and corporations making contributions of $5,000 or more. These large contributors are recognized here for their significant monetary gifts and their steadfast support of the Farm Income Enhancement Program:
Individual Contributors of $1,000 or More
- Don and Elaine Benschneider
- Raymond and Clara Casey
- Dr. Glenn C. Dowell, Jr.
- Fred and Marilyn Finney
- Laura B. Frick Trust
- Paul and Lucy Gillmor in honor of Congressman Paul E. Gillmor
- George G. and Agnes M. Greenleaf
- Floyd O. and Mildred W. Gwin in honor of the George Gwin and Charles James Families
- Max and Sharon Heilman
- Sam and Nita Hellwarth
- Jack and Barbara Hill
- Richard N. Hogle
- Earl J. Johnson
- Robert L. and Sylvia Lehmkuhl
- Earl and Ruth Ann Lemaster
- Edmund G. and Carol O’Hare Motz
- Dwight and Patricia Oberschlake
- Stephen F. and Wanda Oman
- Lee and E. Maxine Oswalt
- James and Nancy Patterson
- Samuel A. and Iona L. Patterson
- John Pavick
- Glenn and Janice Pirtle
- Bruce and Ethel Roadarmel
- Carl E. and Marjorie Rufener
- Don and Grace Rupert
- Dean W. and Ruth V. Simeral
- E. A. Spafford
- Thomas L. and Marjorie J. Sporleder
- C. William and Helen Swank
- Dick and Ruth Tootle
- Donald C. Trinter
- William and Betty Young
Corporate and Organization Contributors of $5,000 or More
- American Electric Power Service Corporation
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- Archer Daniels Midland Company
- Ashland County Farm Bureau
- Birdseye Frozen Foods, Inc. through Art Hanke
- Chelsea Milling Company
- Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy
- Farm Credit Bank of Louisville
- Hancock County Farm Bureau
- Marion County Farm Bureau
- Mercer County Farm Bureau
- John Morrell and Company
- Nationwide Insurance Companies
- The New Waterford Bank in honor of Charles E. Koch
- Ohio Corn Marketing Program
- Ohio Department of Agriculture
- Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
- Philip Morris USA
- Portage County Farm Bureau
- Remarks, Inc.
- Seneca County Farm Bureau
- Sladeco, Inc. in honor of Charles A. Slade
- Summit County Farm Bureau
- Trumbull County Farm Bureau
- Wayne County Agricultural Leaders
- Worthington Foods, Inc.
- Wyandot County Farm Bureau