Buckeye Farm News: 2009 – A Year In Review
First off, Farm Bureau is not an office building in Columbus. It is not a hired team of professionals. Farm Bureau belongs solely to its members. It is the sum of the votes cast by every county Farm Bureau member at the gatherings in fellowship halls and local meeting places across Ohio. It is the thousands of advisory council participants that meet in farmhouse living rooms to discuss important issues. It is the farmers who are locally elected by their peers to annually establish their organization’s marching orders. And ultimately, Farm Bureau is the voice that emerges when farmers and rural residents are willing to act together and debate the affairs of the state and nation that affect their way of life.
A core belief of one of this organization’s early leaders was that farmers have the tools in their hands to shape their destiny if they would only use them.
The contemporary farmer may till two acres or 2,000. He or she may raise hogs or bees or cattle or berries. Their farm life may be a full-time endeavor or a respite from the office grind. But it is through Farm Bureau that individuals with diverse interests can advocate for a common good. When farmers exercise their vote in this organization, their shared values come forth as a collective voice that resonates through all levels of government.
To segment ourselves by product, by size, by species, by issue or by market is to forget the fundamental reason that our predecessors united: the challenges they faced were too big for any individual.
Those who work a piece of land often feel gratitude for the resources that were provided through the stewardship of past generations. Do we also recognize the resources that the farmers who came before us fought for in the public policy arena?
To name just a few: In 1967, Ohio Farm Bureau successfully advocated for a personal property tax exemption for agriculture. In 1973, Ohio Farm Bureau backed a constitutional amendment that allowed for Current Agricultural Use Valuation and prevented farmers from being taxed off of their land. In 1982, Farm Bureau supported the Ohio Farmland Preservation Act which established the agriculture district criteria and protected farmers from nuisance lawsuits and water and sewer line assessments. In 1992, Ohio Farm Bureau organized to defeat Issue 5, which called for onerous labeling requirements on many farm inputs. In 2009, Ohio Farm Bureau successfully fought to give livestock farmers a constitutional assurance that animal rights activists would not have the only say on how farmers care for animals. The pages of this publication are filled with many more ways that farmers continued to work through their organization in this past year.
Farmers have always felt an obligation to leave their land in better shape than it was given to them. The question is how will you shape Ohio Farm Bureau so that it will be an even better resource for the next generation?
Because in the end, Ohio Farm Bureau is who Ohio farmers make it.