Kristen Dickey

The power of cooperative federalism — AgriPOWER Session 4 blog

By Kristen Dickey, AgriPOWER Class IX participant

Cooperative federalism is a concept of federalism in which national, state and local governments interact cooperatively and collectively to solve common problems, rather than making policies separately but more or less equally. (Source: Wikipedia)

So what does this have to do with AgriPOWER, or you? Well, in November we met with several state agencies as well as our state representatives. We learned a great deal about the state government, how it works and how it interacts with the federal government as well as with you and me. While cooperative federalism is a concept Director Craig Butler of the Ohio EPA introduced us to, it’s something that in its simplest form could benefit us all… Compromising and working together to accomplish a mutually agreed upon goal.

We all want Lake Erie to be healthier. We all want a safe, reliable and affordable food supply. So why is it so hard to come together to achieve these things? Too often “we” look for differences and magnify those issues rather than finding commonalities with “them.” “We” listen to our own news and take everything that defies our ideals as a personal affront. Rather than asking questions of one another and listening to find the commonalities we need, “we” yell at each other till we’re blue in the face about how “we” are right.

This is now the second session of AgriPOWER where a speaker has encouraged us to look for commonalities with others and engage in open dialogue. Back in August at our second AgriPOWER session, Dr. Leah Dorman of Phibro Animal Health encouraged us to ask questions and find commonalities when encountering those who question what is ethical in food production. In this most recent session, former president of the Ohio Senate, Tom Niehaus brought it up again when talking about Ohio’s legislatures. We aren’t able to pass meaningful legislation that helps anyone because the left and the right would rather be right than compromise. This mentality isn’t getting anyone what they want. Unfortunately it’s the mentality that so many people in this country have adopted. So how do we fix it?

I’m a big fan of practice what you preach. If you want others to listen, you have to listen too. In August, Dr. Dorman even went so far as to challenge us to have three conversations in 30 days with non-farming people and find commonalities before trying to share our knowledge. Finding that personal connection is what Senate President Niehaus said was the key to bipartisan agreement when he was in the senate. In today’s society we don’t know one another, and we don’t take time to talk either. Their advice: if you want something to get better, ask questions and don’t just complain and yell. Ask questions of your local representative and share your knowledge. Spend time collaboratively with those in your community.  And always be open to a conversation. Just because it isn’t your opinion doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be heard; just ask questions and share your knowledge.

Session 1 blogs

Eric Reed is excited about implementing the “Building Strong Communities” project.

JD Bethel talks about the strong partnership between Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide.

Leadership is influence, explains Melinda Lee.

Session 2 blogs

Communication with consumers is key, says John Arnold Jr.

Stephanie Rucinski vlogs about the relationship between media and agriculture.

Brenda Mescher talks about community “why” rather than “what.”

Addressing tough conversations is the subject of Terri Specht’s blog.

Session 3 blogs

Jess Campbell talks about the United States of Agriculture.

Respectful conversations are vital, says Craig Pohlman.

Megan Lezzer describes making a difference in D.C.

AgriPOWER trip to D.C. fast-paced, informative, says Jackie Mosier.

Session 4 blogs

Steve Brunner talks about civics and camaraderie 

Jonah Neill learned about the benefits of lobbying



Kristen Dickey of Wilmington is a marketing specialist with Farm Credit Mid-America. A Wood County Farm Bureau member, she plans to become the fourth generation to run the family grain farm in northwestern Ohio.

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