The 98th Ohio Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting was held Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Columbus. A total of 338 delegates representing all 88 Ohio counties discussed and voted on policy that will direct our organization for the coming year. As county president, I was one of four delegates representing Trumbull County.
In 1919, under leadership by many, but especially Murray D. Lincoln, Farm Bureau was born. Ohio farmers organized themselves for the betterment of their businesses. Early goals included getting electricity to rural areas, group purchasing of farm supplies and the cooperative marketing of farm commodities. Farmers, working together with help from this new leadership, were achieving the mission of Farm Bureau – to help farmers.
The tradition continues today. The delegate body is made up of active members, which includes farmers and those whose jobs are directly impacted by the health of Ohio agriculture. Agriculture’s ability to have a positive impact on water quality was high on the agenda. Delegates opted to get in front of the possibility that Ohio might create some type of farm stewardship certification program for farmers. The idea has been discussed among various stakeholders. In order to inform the discussion, Farm Bureau set forth some criteria on how the plan might look. Delegates said a certification program should build upon existing water quality programs, protect the farmer’s confidentiality and provide legal and regulatory certainty for farmers who choose to participate.
Wildlife damage to crops and livestock also earned the attention of delegates. Policy was written that advocates for farmers to be able to respond to crop damage in a more immediate fashion. Farm Bureau would also like to see federal wildlife management administered locally to help create a more efficient system for addressing crop and livestock damage. Policy also seeks permission for farmers to deal with nuisance wildlife by offering hunting privileges to members of their extended family.
Other topics addressed by the Farm Bureau delegates included protections for landowners against eminent domain claims, local infrastructure needs and funding challenges and changes in federal policy to account for advances in technology in areas such as drones or use of e-logs in commercial driving records.
The vision of OFBF is to forge a partnership between farmers and consumers that meets consumer needs, addresses public expectations and ensures agricultural prosperity in a global marketplace. Farmers need consumers and consumers need farmers. By providing organization, leadership and education to its members, I believe that OFBF is the vessel to connect the two.
“If the agricultural economy collapses, then the economy of the rest of the United States sooner or later will collapse.” – Sen. John F. Kennedy, Sept. 26, 1960.
Mary Smallsreed is a member of Trumbull County Farm Bureau.