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Do the big shots make the calls, or is it the grassroots?
When Dan Bock got a letter asking if he would participate in Ohio Farm Bureau's policy development committee, his first question was “Am I qualified?”
He reached out to Organization Director John Fitzpatrick and learned that past committee participants had been impressed by the process and the information they learned.
“I decided to try it out and would like to do it again,” said Bock, who has a small grain farm in Medina County. “This was the first time I really got to see how the grassroots of Farm Bureau works.”
Here is a glance at Bock’s experience on the committee.
Amount of time: A day and a half in September and a day in November in Columbus.
His subcommittee’s issues: Governance, energy, labor, Farm Bureau.
First meeting details: Committee members, which included county Farm Bureau members and state board members, learned about current policy for their issues and heard from experts on timely agricultural issues, including nutrients, water quality, a proposed severance tax and federal animal care standards for egg laying hens.
Second meeting details: The committee reviewed policy suggestions from county Farm Bureaus and decided which ones to present at annual meeting.
What he liked about the process: Bock learned a lot about Ohio’s oil and gas challenges, an area that he personally hadn’t dealt with. “I liked that even though I was the new guy, they didn’t treat me that way. If somebody had something relevant to say, they really listened to you.”
What he gained from the experience: That his input on Ohio Farm Bureau issues matters because the organization is grassroots. He was impressed watching Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of energy policy, tell a lawmaker Ohio Farm Bureau’s position on an issue, saying it was decided by members. “I don’t get exposure at home to seeing how the process works. Sometimes we wonder if it’s just the big shots in Columbus making the calls but it’s not. It really shows you how it’s grassroots.”
Participate again? Yes. “I think the learning experience is great. It’s information that I normally wouldn’t get without really digging down for it. They hit the highlights – you don’t get the bottom of the cereal; you get the meat and potatoes.”
Final thoughts: “I didn’t realize that a lot of lobbyists come to Farm Bureau to find out what their position is and the influence they have on whether to support something.”