Farm Bureau’s landowner advocacy

Farm Bureau works hard advocating at the Ohio Statehouse, Ohio Supreme Court, Congress, Federal Supreme Court and with local governments to ensure property rights and address other issues landowners have. Below are a few highlights of that advocacy work.

Ohio Farm Bureau has not taken an official stance on House Bill 375 which is a new severance tax, Farm Bureau members have established policy that prioritizes the use of severance tax revenue for funding of ODNR’s oil and gas regulatory program, funding the Orphan Well Program and funding reinvestment in counties impacted by oil and gas drilling.

In late 2013, an Ohio Farm Bureau member received an unexpected inspection from the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) on his farm. OFBF looked into it and found no reason why the farm shouldn’t have qualified for OSHA’s small farm exemption. OFBF quickly referred the member to legal counsel and began to spread the word to other state Farm Bureaus and the American Farm Bureau. In a letter to Congress Feb. 10, 2014 OSHA indicated that it removed a memo from its website that allowed them to circumvent a legislative directive and inspect small farms. OSHA’s letter appears to be in direct response to congressional efforts supported by AFBF, OFBF and others.

OFBF and Henry County Farm Bureau supported an Ohio Supreme Court case pursued by a member who suffered significant losses after a county drainage project caused his tomato field to flood. Unfortunately the Ohio Supreme Court decided not to hear the case and Farm Bureau will look to whether other solutions may be available to solve issues like these.

American Farm Bureau Federation took legal action to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from publicly releasing personal information about thousands of farmers and ranchers and their families.

Energy development projects are popping up very quickly across Ohio, particularly pipeline projects. In some cases, land developers not completely versed with Ohio’s regulations governing pipeline construction are stopping farmers out in the fields to ask them to sign survey forms and releases to bring crews out to place flags in preparation to lay pipeline. Ohio Farm Bureau is helping landowners navigate this process.

Jan. 1, 2013 brought an end to Ohio’s estate tax. Ohio Farm Bureau opposed the tax because it placed a burden on farm families, whose money is often tied up in land, equipment and buildings. To settle an estate, farmers could be forced to sell some of these assets, threatening the viability of their business.

A federal court judge in Maryland ruled in favor of Perdue Farms’ poultry grower Hudson Farms in a case filed against them by the Waterkeeper Alliance, which failed to prove the poultry growers violated the Clean Water Act by polluting the Pocomoke River. Because of the similarities in challenges and opportunities in nutrient management in Maryland and Ohio, OFBF financially supported the defense of Hudson Farms, as did other state Farm Bureaus.

In a 2012 unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with landowners who were denied their day in court after the Environmental Protection Agency ordered them to stop construction on what the agency said was a wetland. American Farm Bureau had filed a brief in support of the landowners, concerned that many Farm Bureau members could find themselves in a similar situation.

In 2011, Ohio Farm Bureau weighed in on three Ohio Supreme Court cases that resulted in favorable rulings for farmers regarding private property rights, zoning regulations and compensation for landowners in certain flooding situations.