For 100 years, people have turned to Ohio Farm Bureau to help them in the legislative arena at the state and national level. More and more these days, members are relying on Farm Bureau in the legal world as well. Many have asked how they could contribute to these legal actions over the years.
In this episode of Legal with Leah, OFBF Senior Director of Corporate Communications Joe Cornely and OFBF Policy Counsel Leah Curtis explain Ohio Farm Bureau’s Legal Fund, which was created this year for members or those who are interested in supporting our legal advocacy to donate funds that help Ohio Farm Bureau to engage in that legal advocacy.
Listen to Legal with Leah, a podcast featuring Ohio Farm Bureau’s Policy Counsel Leah Curtis discussing topics impacting farmers and landowners.
Joe Cornely: The legal fund is set up; what is it and why does it exist?
Leah Curtis: The legal fund is a place for members or those who are interested in supporting our legal advocacy to donate funds that help us to engage in that legal advocacy. I think everyone knows lawyers aren’t cheap. I work pretty cheap, but (laughter) it just helps us to continue to do those legal advocacy activities that we do here at Farm Bureau because more and more we’re seeing things happen that are affected by the courtroom more so than the Statehouse.
Joe Cornely: People don’t like the way the legislature rules so they just simply file lawsuits.
Leah Curtis: Yeah and sometimes that’s the only way that you can deal with that. The courts are the coequal branch and (lawsuits) are the way to have a court review whether something’s constitutional, whether it’s lawful and whether it has any problems with it.
Joe Cornely: We have this legal fund. What do you do with the money?
Leah Curtis: The money in legal fund will largely help pay for our legal advocacy activities which are normally what’s called an amicus brief. Amicus curiae means friend of the court in Latin and that’s a chance for our Farm Bureau to weigh into the court on what Farm Bureau’s thoughts are. We’re not able to pay for anyone’s individual legal bills due to IRS restrictions, but it does allow us to, if they are in a lawsuit to say hey not only do we support what’s happening to them individually but on a broader scale this could affect a lot of other people and here are the ways it would affect them.
Joe Cornely: How how do I keep tabs on some of the things that the legal fund might be engaged in?
Leah Curtis: Some of the things that we have been involved in recently include a case that found that grain bins were not taxable as property. So that took a lot of people’s grain bins off their property tax bills for the rest of the time they own that property. We also were involved in a lawsuit that confirmed that CAUV landowners can challenge CAUV values at the Board of Tax Appeals which previously the Board of Tax Appeals had said they could not review those. Those are just two examples of big changes. And then of course the U.S. Supreme Court which we’ve talked about here on the podcast, that was one thing that we were able to do and weigh in on and that means a big difference for our members when eminent domain happens because they can now challenge that in federal court. They don’t have to go through the state court procedures and they have a quicker route to resolution.
Joe Cornely: How does someone contribute?
Leah Curtis: You can go to ofbf.org/legalfund. It’s a pretty simple way to just online make a donation and every little bit will help, but it’s just something we wanted to have available for our members because we’ve had lots of people ask why we don’t have that available. So now it is there if anybody’s interested in participating and donating.