By Brian Palmer, AgriPOWER Class IX participant
AgriPOWER Class IX took on Chillicothe to focus on local government. As always, we had a busy but very informative agenda.
Day One – First up was Tia Meretti who discusses the opioid crisis in Ohio and what steps are being taken by Attorney General Mike DeWine that trickles down to local law enforcement and fire departments that help the affected families. We then heard from Ross County Commissioner Steve Neal and Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney discuss what their jobs consist of and how they deal with their ever so tightening budgets. Our next speaker was Larry Long from The Ohio Projects Group to discuss how we can impact our local government by being informed on how local government is designed. Finally we broke into our small groups for our Mock Farm Bureau Policy Development Session to submit our policy suggestions to Melinda Witten and Brandon Kern before heading out for our first farm tour.
This tour consisted of traveling to Miedema Dairy to see how they operate their large herd and how they work with other local farmers to sustain their operations.
Day Two – We had another great lineup of speakers that I’m sure opened everyone’s eyes to different ways of doing things. We heard from Mandy Way of Southern Ohio Growers Cooperative on how forming their co-op helped their pumpkin business flourish along with seven other area pumpkin growers to reach out to a larger market that otherwise would have been unattainable. Our next panel was on organic farming presented by Paul Dorrance and Kyle Sharp. They both discussed their operations and why they either started in organic farming or switched to organic farming. As we all know this can be a contentious issue that brings a lot of great discussion. Then we were off for more tours staring with Glatfelter Paper Facilities wood yard where we learned the importance of the timber industry and how that is incorporated into agriculture. Then the final tour of the day landed us at Hirsch Fruit Farm (pictured above). This tour was probably my favorite learning about how and why they plant fruit trees where they do compared to other fruits and vegetables. Also, how they sustain themselves throughout the slow time of the year.
Again, this session brought a lot of insight to the opioid crisis, the how and why our local government works and how each of our operations are different but still provide people with quality food. Each of these classes that we have taken has given us the tools required to promote our agricultural agenda at the local, state, and federal level of government.