I’m Mike Videkovich, District 15 trustee. The OFBF Board recently completed its January meeting, and I wanted to share this information Ohio Farm Bureau has prepared about the issues we discussed, the decisions made and the people the board heard from at the meeting.
It is my privilege to represent you on the board. Please contact me or your Regional Trustee Jenny Cox if you would like to discuss these or any other local matters.
Steve Hirsch, Nationwide board of directors; Devin Fuhrman, vice president, Sponsor Relations, Nationwide; Dan Durheim, associate vice president, Sponsor Relations, Nationwide; Senate President Matt Huffman – District 12; and Hannah Jarvis, Young Agricultural Professionals State Committee member were guests at the meeting.
The Ohio Agriculture and Rural Communities Action Plan
Over the last eight years, Ohio farmers have suffered declining farm income, devastating crop damage, eroding markets and now the effects of a global pandemic. Rural communities are hanging on as their small businesses close, students attempt to learn from home and economic opportunities dry up. In 2021, Ohio Farm Bureau is calling on policymakers to work with the organization to implement an agenda to help revitalize Ohio agriculture and rural communities. Those statewide priorities for this year include investing in COVID-19 recovery; strengthening the food supply chain; connecting rural Ohio via broadband; promoting efficient budgeting and regulatory reform; investing in responsible land management practices; protecting landowner rights; developing energy solutions; helping farmers cope with farm stress and promoting expanded trade markets.
Private property rights success
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in an important property rights case that lower court judges cannot move forward with an eminent domain action until the landowner has had a chance to appeal whether the taking is necessary and for a public use. OFBF had joined this case as an amicus, in support of members in Washington County. A utility is attempting to take property for an easement with expansive rights, and OFBF wanted to ensure landowners do not have to litigate on two fronts when they question whether a utility’s taking is truly necessary.
Future of Farm Bureau
The board continues to focus on the future of Ohio Farm Bureau. We are working to update our strategic plan, and we need your input. This month, members have several ways to provide their insight toward what our organization should focus on.
You should have recently received an email from OFBF President Frank Burkett asking for your input. Please take a moment to complete the survey by Feb. 15.
A series of Strategic Plan Focus Groups are happening through February.
Finally, a series of conversations about the Dues and Financial Strength Task Force are happening this month. Last year, a special task force created a set of recommendations for our organization that will help us attract and engage young members and be inclusive to all who have an interest in the food and ag industry.
Involvement with LEBOR
As shared in the February edition of Buckeye Farm News, Ohio Farm Bureau was very involved in a lawsuit filed by OFBF member Mark Drewes to thwart the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. LEBOR was an attempt to give legal rights to Lake Erie and give Toledoans authority to sue farmers on behalf of the lake. If upheld, LEBOR would have been detrimental for every farmer in the watershed, so Ohio Farm Bureau stepped up financially to support the great work of Drewes’ law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease. The result of Drewes’ lawsuit was a U.S. District Court judge ruling decisively that LEBOR was invalid. The important precedent of this case cannot be overstated and will influence law and litigation not just in Ohio, but across the country.
We recognize that this year’s volunteer membership campaign is different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers have started to reach out to new member prospects, former members and those not renewed from the last few months. If you are not already a part of your county membership team, reach out to your county Farm Bureau regarding how to get involved. We hope you will step up and share your story of why you are a member with a friend, neighbor or family member and ask them to join or renew their membership.
Winter Leadership Experience
Hannah Jarvis, Young Agricultural Professionals State Committee member, reviewed plans for the Young Ag Professionals Winter Leadership Experience held Jan. 29-30. This event was an opportunity to build personal and professional experience while networking with agricultural leaders. For those who didn’t register, it is possible to still sign up on the registration website and enjoy most conference speakers.
Saving members money
In 2020, through discount programs from Case IH, CAT, Ford, Grainger, John Deere, energy, travel and entertainment, members saved more than $1.5 million because of their OFBF membership. Equipment programs generally did very well. CAT, Case IH and John Deere all experienced double digit growth. Ohio members also purchased through Grainger often, regaining the status of the 2nd most Grainger sales nationally among Farm Bureaus.
Grain bin safety: Nominate your fire department
Grain Bin Safety Week runs from Feb. 21-27, 2021, and nominations for the Nominate Your Fire Department Contest are open until April 30. Fire departments have the chance to win grain bin rescue equipment and training.