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Farmers team up to take action
Buckeye Farm News
More than 400 Ohio Farm Bureau members met in Columbus last month for the annual Leadership Conference, where President Brent Porteus stressed that the organization relies on their involvement.
Training sessions focused on policy issues, communications, membership and spokesmanship. County Farm Bureau action teams, made up of local farmers and other members, will use the training to support their programs and goals. Trade policy, regulation, the 2012 Farm Bill, dairy labeling, property rights, antibiotic restrictions and the upcoming elections were just some of the issues farmers considered at the conference.
U.S. Senate candidates Lee Fisher and Rob Portman visited with the group, each taking questions after describing their policies for Ohio agriculture. More on their plans as well as those of other candidates will be covered in Ohio Farm Bureau’s upcoming Election Guide, which will be included in the next Buckeye Farm News.
The meeting was also the first statewide gathering of Farm Bureau members following a recent agreement to keep an animal care initiative off of the 2010 ballot. OFBF Executive Vice President Jack Fisher discussed the OFBF decision-making process and contemplated the initial strong and mixed reaction to the agreement. He said he valued the scrutiny he has received because it demonstrated farmers’ passion for their organization.
Fisher also reaffirmed that “HSUS is not your friend…we’ve just changed the terms of engagement.”
Fisher’s reflection was warmly received by attendees and signaled a positive step forward as farmers continue discussions on how the organization will tackle a host of political challenges facing agriculture.
Farmers also heard from Gary Conklin, whose farm received national attention when an employee was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty after an undercover video surfaced. Conklin, who has been cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury, said he was never made aware of the abuse, which was recorded over several weeks by an animal rights activist who got a job on the farm.
“They said ‘heck with the animals, let’s get as much salacious video as we can,’” he said.
Conklin said he has continued to receive death threats and harassing phone calls since the video was released in May.
To learn how to get involved in Farm Bureau’s grassroots programs, contact your county Farm Bureau by visiting www.ofbf.org/counties.