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How local ideas led to AFBF policies
BY CALLIE WELLS
Influencing federal agricultural policy can seem daunting, but Ohio farmers’ involvement in the American Farm Bureau annual meeting showed how getting involved locally can shape the national conversation.
Ohioans voting at the meeting debated and discussed a variety of policies and were successful in advancing three recommendations submitted by fellow farmers.
Those policies, which will guide AFBF’s lobbying efforts, included:
Support for a more aggressive system to investigate and prosecute Electronic Benefits Transfer card fraud, submitted by Adams and Brown County Farm Bureaus.
A position on commodity trading that works to protect against extreme volatility in the market and to protect against fraud or manipulation, submitted by Crawford County Farm Bureau.
A call for continued federal funding and appropriations for agricultural education via the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, submitted by Fairfield County Farm Bureau.
A recommendation developed by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Livestock and Dairy Advisory Team to reduce the somatic cell count standard for dairy failed to pass, but it did stir up debate on the delegate floor.
Ohio’s delegates also were vocal on issues submitted by other states including opposing limits to competition and innovation in biotechnology and creating the flexibility Ohio farmers need for immigration reform contracts.
Delegates considered new policy in several areas including Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), sometimes referred to as drones, and proprietary data. Farmers voted to support use of UASs for commercial purposes but oppose their use for federal regulatory enforcement. Ohio’s delegates and staff were highly engaged in discussion to craft the policy to address the issue of how farmers’ proprietary farming data is collected and recorded and how it may be stored, used and aggregated by companies and third parties.
Ohio’s delegates for 2014 were state trustees: Craig Adams, Pam Haley, Katherine Harrison, Steve Hirsch, Ellen Joslin, Eddie Lou Meimer, John Mossbarger, Lane Osswald, Andra Troyer, Sparky Weilnau, Tim Williams and Cy Prettyman.
Members’ work recognized
Ohio Farm Bureau members’ work was recognized at AFBF’s annual meeting when OFBF was presented six Awards for Excellence. These awards recognize excellence in membership achievement and implementation of outstanding programs serving members and are awarded to states that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in six program areas, all of which Ohio was recognized in:
Education and Outreach;
Policy Development and Implementation; and
Public Relations and Communications.
Four Ohio County Farm Bureaus were recognized by American Farm Bureau Federation for innovative program ideas through the County Activities of Excellence (CAE) Awards program. Each county had its program highlighted with a display booth in the tradeshow at AFBF’s annual meeting.
County programs receiving CAE Awards:
Harvest Hustle 4 Mile Run/Walk, Marion County
Breakfast on the Farm, Franklin County
Agriculture Plastics Recycling Program, Carroll County
Farm Bureau Farm Rescue Program, Highland County
Ohio Farm Bureau members were recognized with the Apex Award for outstanding financial support of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The foundation works to build awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education.
Ohio also received the New Horizon Award, which is presented to states with the most innovative new program.
Young Ag Professionals in San Antonio
Dr. Emily Buck of Marion County competed in the Excellence in Agriculture Award and was named one of three runners-up in the competition. Each runner-up received a Case IH Farmall 45A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL. The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation but actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
In addition, Bailey Elchinger of Deshler represented Ohio in the Discussion Meet, which tests participants’ cooperative problem solving skills, and Nathan and Jennifer Brown of Hillsboro represented Ohio in the Achievement Award contest, in which contestants are evaluated on their agricultural operation’s growth, Farm Bureau leadership and community involvement.