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Grassroots process gives you a say in your organization

Published Sep. 20, 2013 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Dale Arnold, OFBF director of energy policy, met with Farm Bureau members in Van Wert County for an issues update.

Buckeye Farm News

After meeting with a committee of Farm Bureau members tasked with analyzing the organization’s stance on policy issues, former Ohio tax commissioner Tom Zaino was impressed.

He said Farm Bureau’s grassroots process is “documented, well thought out and is a very disciplined process in terms of making sure that the members and the board really have a say in developing policies.”

Zaino, who now runs a private tax firm, was one of several experts and public officials who provided information to the policy development committee, which will also review policy proposals from county Farm Bureaus.

After talking with the group, Zaino noted that Ohio is the only state that has more than 600 jurisdictions that have the authority to impose and create their own tax.

“It is so complicated,” he said. “It’s the cost of complying with the law that makes Ohio anticompetitive.”

Among other issues the committee considered were nutrient management and wildlife. Following the meeting, Mike Bailey, deputy chief at the Division of Soil and Water Resources, said the public is paying attention to farmers’ efforts to reduce nutrient runoff.

He also discussed potential nutrient management legislation, saying the goal is to “balance effective, non-burdensome regulations that will achieve the end result of decreasing the amount of nutrients leaving our farm fields without unnecessarily hindering farms’ operations.”

Scott Zody, chief of the Division of Wildlife, followed up on his session with the committee by saying his aim is balanced wildlife policy.

“That’s exactly what we have to try to do as wildlife managers and public servants is to take all of those different interests and all those different desires and try to work those into how we manage the populations,” he said.

In December, delegates elected by the county Farm Bureau will consider suggestions made by the policy development committee and then vote on how the organization should advocate on behalf of members in the coming year.

Photo caption:Ohio Farm Bureau's policy development process starts at the county level.  Here, Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau's director of energy policy, meets with Farm Bureau members in Van Wert County to update them on current issues during their recent annual meeting.  County Farm Bureaus frequently draw on issue experts and community leaders to help them draft policy proposals that will benefit agriculture and rural Ohio.

Photo by Chip Nelson

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