Water quality, property taxes, energy and illegal drug use topped the action items identified by delegates at the 97th annual meeting of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). Adams County Commissioner Stephen Caraway was among the nearly 350 delegates representing all Ohio counties. The group established the organization’s policies during the convention Dec. 2-4 in Columbus.
The Farm Bureau leaders renewed their support for collaborative efforts among farmers, municipalities, businesses and other stakeholders to find solutions to Ohio’s water challenges. “We have water quality issues across the state because of the alga blooms,” Caraway explained, “That’s why last year the Farm Bureau released $1 million dollars to combat these water quality issues throughout the state of Ohio. That money has been dispersed, and Adams County received part of it.”
The delegates supported the concept of a voter-approved bond measure to fund water improvement initiatives.
“A lot of folks are wanting to blame agriculture for the poor water quality. Agriculture deserves its share of the blame, and we’re taking responsibility for our contributions to this issue,” said Caraway.
The organization continued to stress the importance of ensuring that the Current Agricultural Use Value program provide an accurate valuation of farmland based on the land’s agricultural use only.
Farm Bureau delegates discussed the issue of rising drug use and passed policies to support programs that will reduce or eliminate Ohio’s drug epidemic. Additional new policy opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana and provides principles and considerations that Farm Bureau believes must be addressed in any future discussion of legalization in Ohio.
Delegates discussed the future of renewable energy, agreeing the use of economically viable renewable sources should be promoted. In addition, new policies were passed to address oil and gas pipeline development.
Concerns arising out of recent county charter proposals were also discussed by the delegates and resulted in policy that opposes their use to regulate agriculture.
“The EPA released a new rule that said farmers were limited as to what they could do with a ditch on their property regarding water shed issues, manure spreading and the like.” Caraway stated, “We fought against it and the EPA fought for it, our slogan was ‘ditch the rule’ and their was ‘ditch the myth’. Both houses of congress passed a resolution condemning the EPA rule, and a federal judge ruled that there were problems with the regulation. It’s another example of government overreach as they try to regulate agriculture.”
On national issues, OFBF will be sending policies to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration by national delegates. Those address regulation of unmanned aircraft systems, reducing the spread of the weed Palmer Amaranth and updates to meat packing and processing laws.
Ohio Farm Bureau is the state’s largest and most inclusive food and farm organization. Its mission is to forge a partnership between farmers and consumers.