Dec. 12, 2014
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) delegates took action to address water quality, taxes and agriculture’s prominence at Ohio State University during the group’s 96th annual meeting. Other policy issues during the Dec. 10-12 meeting in Columbus included combating rural drugs and dealing with Ohio energy issues. They also voted on a new membership structure to strengthen the organization.
The delegates established policy that states the organization expects all farmers applying fertilizer or manure to complete the state’s applicator certification program and to develop and follow nutrient management plans. They also set policy that farmers applying nutrients should follow approved state conservation guidelines.
The delegate body voiced support for preserving The Ohio State University’s land grant mission to promote sound and prosperous agriculture and rural life. Specifically Ohio Farm Bureau supports proper facilities to carry out the mission, connecting agriculture to the university and outside communities and ensuring the viability of the OSU Extension service.
Delegates discussed tax policy at length. In particular, they reaffirmed support for Ohio’s current Current Agricultural Use Value formula while agreeing to continue to explore adjustments aimed at reducing volatility in valuation and addressing variations in agriculture across Ohio.
Farm Bureau called for programs to help reduce and eliminate Ohio’s opiate epidemic. Programs could address housing, employment, treatment and medications.
Delegates adopted policy to seek oil and gas auditing standards to ensure accurate accounting of well production for tax and royalty calculations. Farm Bureau also adopted new policy to promote renewable energy.
The delegates also voted on many specific national and state issues that affect the daily operations of their farms including drainage, the national beef checkoff and genetically modified crop production.
Delegates also passed two significant changes to the organization’s code of regulations. A new membership structure was adopted with four specific classes. The Active member class includes OFBF’s traditional farmer members and expand to include individuals whose professions are directly related to production agriculture. The Young Active class welcomes young adults who are just entering their careers in agriculture. Community members will be those formerly classified as Associate members who are not directly related to agriculture but who share Farm Bureau’s values and wish to be eligible for the organization’s member benefits. The new Our Ohio Supporter will be a non-membership class that offers access and exposure to Ohio’s food and farm community through Our Ohio magazine, Grow and Know events and other Farm Bureau experiences.
County Farm Bureau boards will manage the designations. Delegates also approved a new dues schedule within the membership plan. The new model was adopted following years of discussion on how to make the organization more inclusive while ensuring its long-term sustainability. The specific model was arrived at over the past year through the work of a statewide member task force.
Delegates also updated the code to make the organization’s regional trustee positions gender-neutral. Regional trustees on the state board were formerly designated as women’s trustees, a tradition began decades ago when members saw a need to ensure that females had a voice in the organization. Delegates codified Farm Bureau’s long-standing practice of fostering equality within its leadership opportunities.
President Steve Hirsch, First Vice President Frank Burkett III and Treasurer Bill Patterson were re-elected to one-year terms.
More highlights of Ohio Farm Bureau’s 96th annual meeting are at ofbf.org.