Incentives sought for young farmers

Have you ever felt so strongly about an issue that you wish you could meet one of your elected officials? Face to face? Explain why this issue is so important? Give him or her a personal connection to a particular piece of legislation?

As I am writing this, I am preparing for Feb. 28 when farmers and others involved in agriculture from all over Ohio will do just that at Ag Day at the Capital.

This is an annual event sponsored by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation that you probably remember me talking about.

OFBF’s grassroots policy development process surfaces issues that have a significant impact on production agriculture, our food system and our rural communities. We will have the opportunity to meet with our elected officials to discuss these priority issues that are important to all Ohioans. Topping the list are water quality, property rights, business climate and economic development, energy and the drug epidemic.

Young and beginning farmers are also on the list. We will pursue incentives for young and beginning farmers. With many farmers approaching retirement, it is crucial for the nest generation to be able to step into that role. Farm Bureau will explore the option of tax incentives to assist young and beginning farmers along with other incentives to make Ohio agriculture attractive and accessible for generations to come.

Something else I am planning to do is to thank my legislators for their recent efforts to modify the Current Agricultural Use Value laws for farmland taxation. The reform legislation has provided some needed adjustments to the tax formula, taking into consideration farm economy, farm-specific equity data from the USDA, and how long farmland is being held. The penalty for year-round conservation practices or land retirement programs has been removed. It was a long three-year process and much appreciated.

I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers in Ohio and our nation. Being a grassroots organization, OFBF is what it is because of its members.

But I have to give a shout out to OFBF staff and leadership!  Without their organization and guidance, we would be individual voices accomplishing little.  They help equip farmers, 1 percent of the population, to have a unified voice.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Submitted by Mary Smallsreed, a member of Trumbull County Farm Bureau, who grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.