At its January board meeting, the state board of trustees examined the policies delegates finalized during the annual meeting and prioritized them into 2018 state and federal priority issues.
State Priority Issues
Leading statewide agricultural efforts to reduce nutrient runoff and improve water quality will continue to be a top priority. Utilizing the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network, Farm Bureau will advance research and share real-world examples of best land management practices with both farmers and consumers. Creating tools and programs that assist our members in implementing best management practices on their farms will also be a top priority.
Ohio Farm Bureau also will be an active partner in implementing the collaborative agreement among Ohio, Michigan and Canada to reduce nutrient loading to the Western Lake Erie Basin. In 2018, the state law also requires a legislative review of Ohio’s restrictions on nutrient application in the Western Lake Erie Basin under certain soil conditions and weather forecasts. Farm Bureau will help lead a thorough review of the law’s provisions.
INCREASE GRASSROOTS POLITICAL AWARENESS AND INVOLVEMENT
Ohio Farm Bureau will work with members to create numerous opportunities for political education and engagement during the 2018 election cycle including open seat screenings, Ag Day at the Capital, designating Friends of Farm Bureau, candidate education and recruitment and promotion of the candidate reception program for counties. Initial signatures for restrictions on dog breeding and expansion of county self governance ballot measures have been collected and if they are placed on the statewide ballot, they will be priority issues for Farm Bureau. In addition, Farm Bureau will strongly engage in local county self governance ballot measures.
The taking and use of private property by governmental entities continues to plague property owners across the state. Private companies are evading court review of their eminent domain power, and the transition of abandoned railroad easements to private trails continues to present problems. Farm Bureau will advocate for additional landowner protections including further clarification of the eminent domain power for private uses, streamlined judicial procedures and stronger requirements for local government use of private land.
YOUNG & BEGINNING FARMERS AND EDUCATION
Ohio Farm Bureau will pursue incentives for young and beginning farmers. With many farmers approaching retirement, it is crucial for the next generation to be able to step into that role. Farm Bureau will explore the option of tax incentives to assist young and beginning farmers and advocate for education to make Ohio agriculture attractive and accessible for generations to come.
BUSINESS CLIMATE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
To increase economic development, educational opportunities and competitiveness, Farm Bureau supports legislation and initiatives that bring proper infrastructure and affordable broadband and high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved parts of the state. Value-added enterprises in Ohio, such as food processors, wineries and distilleries create numerous economic opportunities for local businesses including farms. Farm Bureau will continue to support the development of businesses that produce value-added products from locally grown agricultural commodities.
Farm Bureau will promote a diversified energy portfolio of advanced technologies, as part of a deregulated market, and continue to assist in the development of the state’s comprehensive energy policy. Agriculture is being called upon to provide feedstocks to help produce energy, as well as accommodate generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure on farm ground. Farm Bureau will advocate for greater transparency and education for royalty holders. It will also be a priority to create a regulatory system that works with landowners to quickly decommission the countless orphaned wells burdening members.
Opiate addiction has become an epidemic in the state, harming families and impeding workforce development for employers. Ohio Farm Bureau will connect members with efforts led by experts working in prevention, treatment and law enforcement. While engaging a wide range of stakeholders, OFBF will focus on grassroots initiatives that offer prevention strategies for youth and adult leaders of youth programs such as 4-H and FFA.
National Priority Issues
With the current farm bill set to expire in 2018, Farm Bureau is working to maintain a farm safety net to help farmers through market fluctuations and harmful weather. Farm Bureau continues to support actions for a farm bill that provides a basic level of protection to help all farmers, as well as supporting programs that identify specific needs such as defending crop insurance and finding a workable dairy program.
All Americans, including farmers, need a regulatory system that is fair, takes economic impacts into account and respects our freedoms. Farm Bureau will oppose expansion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, strive to advance legislation to reform the Endangered Species Act, preserve farmers’ land-use and water rights and work to improve the federal regulatory process.
With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside the United States, American farmers must have access to foreign markets to boost farm profitability and sustain the agricultural sector for the next generation. Farm Bureau will work for greater access to global markets both through new trade agreements and enforcement of existing trade commitments.
The nation’s roads, bridges, locks and dams, ports and waterway system are vital components of the transportation network needed for agriculture’s success. There are decades worth of backlogs for needed repairs and improvements to the U.S. transportation infrastructure and Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for investments in these important areas.
Along with transportation, the need for more access to broadband technologies and higher speed internet throughout rural Ohio remains a priority to boost our economy and create opportunities for job development and growth.
Online extra: Learn how Ohio Farm Bureau influenced national policy decisions at American Farm Bureau’s annual convention in January.