By Jonah Neill, AgriPOWER Class IX participant
AgriPower Session 4 was a two- day trip to Ohio’s capital to focus on state government and what OFBF has done and continues to do for our state.
Day One: We started off the day listening to Ohio Farm Bureau’s Tony Seegers about the House and Senate. The House has 66 members serving a two-year term with a maximum of four consecutive terms. The Senate has 33 members serving four-yeear terms with a maximum of two consecutive terms. Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of State Policy Jenna Beadle joined in and spoke about the issues that OFBF has worked on, including CAUV reform, water quality, FFA funding and many other issues. The AgriPOWER class met with our state legislators and discussed issues that are affecting the state. I met with Melina Tornero, legislative aide to Representative Thompson. After our meetings with our representatives, we met with Craig Butler, director of Ohio EPA, and learned what issues are facing Ohio EPA and what they are doing to combat the issues. One of the issues that we have in Ohio is water quality in the Western Lake Erie basin. To finish up the day, we met with Supreme Court Justice Judith French. We toured the Supreme Court building and learned about its history.
Day Two: We started the day off listening to Yvonne Lesicko, OFBF vice president of policy, about lobbying. Yvonne was with us in Washington D.C. and led discussions there. Yvonne talked about how “lobbyist” shouldn’t be a bad word. Erica with Delta Dental and Belinda a lobbyist with multiple clients spoke about issues they have had and what they do to overcome them. Throughout the day we meet with other individuals that have had or still do have an important role in the government of the state of Ohio. To finish up session four, we toured the Ohio Department of Agriculture Reynoldsburg facility. We had the opportunity to meet with director David Daniels and his staff. We toured the facility and saw what takes place daily in the facility.
The short session that we took part in was a two-day event in Columbus that focused on state government. We had the opportunity to see what Ohio Farm Bureau is doing for agriculture in our state and learn how lobbying takes place at the state level. The ODA is a department in Ohio that is not widely known outside of the agricultural community but it plays a vital role in our food safety in Ohio.