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A voice in government

Published Apr. 17, 2013 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Dealing with government can be intimidating. But public participation is necessary to ensure policymakers understand the needs of their constituents, that rules are reasonable and programs are responsive to taxpayers. That’s where Farm Bureau can help. It provides its members with a number of opportunities to connect with public officials, to learn about laws and regulations and to shape the debate. The organization’s grassroots process gives it its credibility and its power.

From local legislative farm tours to lobbying trips to Washington, D.C., farmers work through Ohio Farm Bureau to make sure their voices are heard as decisions are made. Engagement can be simple: attend a public meeting, contact your legislator or make a financial contribution. Farm Bureau’s Community Council program as well as local policy development meetings provide an opportunity to connect with others in your county to elevate ideas or share concerns.

Resources can be found on the Policy and Politics section of this website. There you can learn about issues, reach your lawmaker and see the organization’s policy process in action.

 

3 Ways To Get Involved

There are so many options for how and where and when you will be an agricultural advocate. But to get you started, here are three ways Ohio Farm Bureau members can engage in the process to make sure government gets it right.

1. National: Produce Safety

The Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio State University Extension will be hosting a listening session on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act proposed Produce Safety Rule. The act aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to incidents to preventing them.

The listening session will be to provide industry an overview of the proposed produce safety rule, solicit comments, respond to questions and inform the public about the rulemaking process.

Details for the produce safety listening session

The proposed Fresh Produce Rule will be presented on April 30 from 1p.m. - 4p.m. at the Shisler Conference Center- Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Wooster Campus.

Invited speakers include: Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods & veterinary medicine, U.S. Food & Drug Administration; Steven Slack, associate vice president and director of OARDC; and officials from Ohio Department of Agriculture.

For more information on the proposed rule, FDA fact sheets and to register for the event, please visit the information section at www.agri.ohio.gov. Due to limited space, registration for the event is requested. There is no cost for registration.

 “This process is all about education, understanding what it is, how it will affect us...We’re going to have to engage.” ~ Bill Patterson of Geauga County is a member of Ohio Farm Bureau’s board of trustees and farms with his family raising apples, strawberries and peaches. They also have a farm market and a wholesale cider operation.

 2. State: Performance Audits

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost is seeking input from Farm Bureau members on state agency performance audits to help identify possible cost savings, duplicative or underused services that could be reduced or eliminated and gaps and overlaps in services.

Here are questions to consider:

  • What areas of state government do you work with?
  • Where do you think Ohio can become more efficient?
  • What doesn’t make sense in government?
  • Have you ever thought Why does the government take so long to do this?” If so, what was it?

Send your suggestions of where the Ohio Performance Team should do its next audit by e-mailing: PerformanceAudit@OhioAuditor.gov

3. Local: Policy Development

Ohio Farm Bureau’s advocacy efforts are rooted in the county Farm Bureau policy development process. Join with others in your county Farm Bureau to discuss how government affects your ability to do business.

For example, the state budget talks provide an opportunity to examine funding for state programs, such as those at the Ohio Department of Agriculture that help create public confidence in the state’s food and agriculture system. Share your thoughts about the cost of government programs, the value they deliver and how to ensure reasonable regulation.

Join in the discussion about how the Ohio Department of Agriculture balances its core mission of food safety with other programs that call for its limited time and resources. Visit your county Farm Bureau website for local information.



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