Medina County delegate Sarah Poling (left) participates in Ohio Farm Bureau's grassroots policy development process.

Delegates set policy, update Farm Bureau’s membership model

Delegates established  policy that farmers applying fertilizer or manure need to complete the state’s applicator certification program and 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   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  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 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.

During the meeting, delegates 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 that 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.

2015 Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Policy Book

Changes to membership structure

A new membership structure was adopted to strengthen the organization. The four classes of membership are:

•Active, which includes OFBF’s traditional farmer members and expands to include individuals whose professions are directly related to production agriculture.

•Young Active, which welcomes young adults who are just entering their careers in agriculture.

•Community, which is the formerly classified Associate members who are not directly related to agriculture but share Farm Bureau’s values and wish to be eligible for the organization’s member benefits.

•Our Ohio Supporter, which is a new, 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.