Farmers started the year with momentum from 2009’s successful Issue 2 campaign. They worked closely with lawmakers to gain bipartisan support for the legislation that would allow the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to begin its work.
At the national level, Ohio Farm Bureau was expressing concerns about the impacts of new food safety, water and climate rules as well as a number of other legislative and regulatory proposals. In June, farm organizations reached an agreement to prevent a fall ballot initiative that would have overturned the accomplishments of Issue 2. That decision sparked heated debate among farmers about the best strategy to manage the risk posed by the animal rights agenda. Toxic algae on Ohio lakes was exacerbated by weather conditions and brought pressure to address challenges associated with nutrient management.
Meanwhile, Ohio Farm Bureau continued its work at the Statehouse and elsewhere on a number of other issues including on-farm energy production, biofuels, public utility regulations, farm vehicle registrations, hunting, the deer population, wind energy and rural broadband, to name a few. The organization also held numerous meetings throughout Ohio to keep farmers abreast of CAUV and oil and gas leasing issues.
During the election, Ohio Farm Bureau engaged candidates in local, state and national races and worked to highlight the importance of agricultural exports as campaign rhetoric heavily criticized trade policy. Members also continued to consider issues related to the role of Ohio State University Extension and programs such as 4-H and FFA. Farmers prepared to weigh in on the impacts to agriculture from a potential $8.4 billion state budget shortfall and talks regarding the 2012 Farm Bill got underway.
Ohio Farm Bureau also worked to start new conversations with consumers, promote Ohio agriculture and increase food and farm literacy. Through the Our Ohio magazine and television program, the Town Hall Ohio radio show, Internet content, social media and events around Ohio, the organization engaged the non-farming public on issues important to agriculture.
With food production increasingly under the microscope, working with the media was a high priority for Ohio Farm Bureau. Stories such as the Conklin dairy video, Grand Lake St. Marys toxic algae, campaign trade-bashing and livestock care developments gave Ohio Farm Bureau ample opportunity to promote accuracy, balance and context in media reports. The organization also guided consumers to local farms and helped individual farmers share their stories.