Farmers need to share their stories

Ag Day at the Capital is a one-day event during which Farm Bureau members from every county in the state congregate in Columbus to visit with lawmakers on issues impacting agriculture and their communities. It’s one of my favorite events.

A powerful and beautiful sight is seeing more than 300 farmers and ag business owners who changed from boots to suits, walking the streets of downtown Columbus with one intention — “AGvocating” and telling their story.

It’s so exciting to see people who care so much about something that they commit an entire day to make a difference. Farmers are the busiest people I know. There is no day off, and there is ALWAYS work to be done, but they still find a way to be present and to use their voice to share and to educate.

Our elected officials make decisions that impact each and every one of our lives every day. You and I both know they don’t know all there is to know about everything. Nobody does. Imagine a world in which elected officials only made decisions based on what they knew and they never talked to a single expert to learn anything about the topic. Pretty scary, right?

Ohio Farm Bureau staff are experts not only on agriculture, but also on many issues that impact our communities like property rights, broadband access and water quality. While our staff are definitely an asset, the real MVPs are our members who face these issues every day.

Because we couldn’t congregate in Columbus due to COVID-19, our members came together in their counties and held in-person and virtual meetings with our state representatives and senators to tell their stories during Farm Bureau’s Ag Week Feb. 15 to 19. This week sets the tone for Farm Bureau policy work.

In these meetings, members unveiled The Ohio Agriculture and Rural Communities Action Plan that lays out major policy concerns to policymakers. Members from the county shared personal stories and messages on beginning farmers, rural broadband access, water quality, county fairs, meat processing, effects of COVID-19 on small businesses, personal property rights and more.

Two million farms dot America’s rural landscape. About 98% of those farms are operated by families. Even more alarming, those farm and ranch families only account for 2% of the entire population in the United States. TWO PERCENT! In a time when the other 98% are on average at least three generations removed from the farm and as consumers, they drive the markets and make decisions on how we farm, it is more important than ever that we as an industry stand together and tell our stories.

Farm Bureau gives farmers, landowners and our community a unified platform to make our voices heard. Our members and grassroots process are the reason policymakers turn to Farm Bureau for guidance and action plans.

“Each one of us can make a difference. TOGETHER we make change.” — Barbara Mikulski, retired U.S. senator from Maryland.

Submitted by Mandy Orahood, an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties. She can be reached by email or by calling 440-426-2195

 

OFBF Mission:  Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.