Ohio Farm Bureau is directed by its members, at all levels of the organization. They define the positions the organization takes on issues affecting farmers and rural residents through an annual policy development process. The grassroots process leads to the creation of policy positions that guide legislative and regulatory action by the organization on important issues. The 2019 process culminated at the American Farm Bureau annual convention in January 2020.
Larry Antosch, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director of policy development and environmental policy, said county Farm Bureau boards select their county policy development teams, and then begin to develop a plan of work, timeline and strategies to write the county’s policy proposals.
“Policy development is an opportunity for our members to study in-depth and identify areas of concern in their county and of agriculture.” Antosch said. “Policy development is one of the best means to assure that grassroots input from our members is addressed.”
How the process works
County policy development teams are made of Farm Bureau members from a variety of involvement areas within the county organization. They can come from county action teams, advisory councils, boards and young ag professionals. According to Antosch, some important members of the county policy development teams are also appointed to be county delegates and alternates to the state annual meeting.
OFBF state annual meeting delegates are selected during each county Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, to represent the interests and views of their county’s members in the development of county, state and national policy. Each county has a number of delegates determined by how many farmer members it has. Antosch said that it is important for delegates to serve on the policy development team so they can properly represent their county members’ ideas and thoughts at the state annual meeting.
Once the team is put together, they hold policy resource meetings to identify issues or concerns members would like to move forward through the policy development process. Groups within Farm Bureau such as advisory councils, action teams and young ag professionals may be invited to speak at these meetings. Groups outside of Farm Bureau such as OSU Extension educators, county commissioners, legislators and agricultural organizations also are invited to speak at the meetings.
“We encourage our county policy development committees to be as diverse as they can with who they invite to resource meetings,” he said. After the resource meetings have been held, the county policy development teams consider the recommendations. The team will then write their policy proposals that are voted on at the county Farm Bureau annual meetings, held in August and September.
From county to state
As soon as the county policy development process ends, the state process begins. Deadlines for county policy submissions to Ohio Farm Bureau and the first meeting of the state policy development team are in September and October. Members of the state policy development team are appointed by the state president, and they are typically state board members and county Farm Bureau presidents, Antosch said.
The state team also holds resource meetings, hearing from individuals and organizations that have state and national level policy concerns and issues.
Recommendations from the state advisory teams are also considered during these meetings. Advisory teams are groups of Farm Bureau members who discuss current issues within the team’s area of expertise (i.e. feed grains), and then submit policy recommendations to the state policy development team for consideration.
After considering proposed and recommended policies, the state policy development team writes policy proposals on state and national issues.
“We ask that all committee members, state or county, be able to speak to why a policy was written a certain way,” said Antosch.
These policy proposals are discussed and voted on by the delegates, representing every county, at the Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting, held each December.
Then to national
Following the OFBF annual meeting, any policy proposals that are about national level issues are submitted by Ohio Farm Bureau to the American Farm Bureau for consideration and voting at its annual convention.
Ohio sends delegates to the AFBF annual convention to vote on the national policy proposals. OFBF’s delegates are appointed by the board president, and are typically OFBF board members.
With AFBF’s annual meeting being held in January, the process starts over as soon as it ends. Counties begin recruiting and appointing county policy development team members in January, starting the process over again.
View the 2020 state policy book.
Watch a video about the importance of working together through Farm Bureau.