Ohio Farm Field

Community Council Fall 2021 Discussion Guide

Many of us are still weaving our way through COVID-19. Infection resurgence, local guidelines, as well as making decisions to attend live meetings – Farm Bureau members are finding innovative ways to remain involved in policy and program work. Here are two discussion guides and background information for fall meetings. Ohio Farm Bureau values input from community councils, which contribute to the grassroots policy making process for the organization.

Topic: Carbon Credit Trading

Science involving climate change is simple, energy consumption and fuel use emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, more heat is trapped in the atmosphere, raising global temperatures and affecting the climate. Strategies addressing climate change are more complex. Community stakeholders on local, national and international levels are looking at agriculture to take a leadership position in carbon sequestration and related market programs to help address part of the issue.

Discussion Guide

Additional information/materials on this subject:

OFBF Website – Carbon Markets: Potential Income for Farmers: Farmers are used to getting paid for raising a quality product — soybeans, sweet corn, apples, peppers. But a farm’s value lies in its soils, too. What if farmers could get paid for building a quality soil? Just like markets for those soybeans, there’s now a small, but growing, commodity market for building and storing carbon in a farm’s soils.

US EPA Website – How do Emissions Trading Programs Work: Emissions trading programs work by first setting an environmental goal: a national, or sometimes regional, limit on the overall amount of pollution that sources are allowed to emit into the environment. This environmental goal is a critical part of an emissions trading program. This website offers basic information and background on types of trading programs, as well as serves as a gateway to additional materials.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions – Multi-State Initiatives: Discover more about the current carbon credit trading programs in the United States, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Western Climate Exchange (WCI).

Topic: Ohio SB 52 and Property Rights

Ohio Senate Bill 52 (SB 52) is a legislative act that limited the property rights of private landowners to use their land for solar or wind development. OFBF opposed the bill in the General Assembly, on the basis of our bedrock principle of protecting private property rights of all landowners. Ohio Farm Bureau’s position was not based on the type of development at hand, but rather the principle of property rights and our concern for how this affects the ability of farmers to continue farming.

Discussion Guide

Additional information/materials on this subject:

OFBF Website – SB 52 Changes Wind, Solar Landscape: A recently enacted piece of legislation regarding solar and wind power signals a shift in landowner rights when it comes to the location of these energy developments. Senate Bill 52 gives county commissioners new authority to decide on which areas within their jurisdiction solar and wind development can take place.

“That’s a pretty new and unprecedented government restriction on land use and something that we’re concerned about,” said Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “If you look at the process of zoning, the decisions that are made to implement zoning in an unincorporated area in a county are much more thorough. Voters have to give government permission to go down that road, not just government automatically having the ability to place those restrictions on land use in unincorporated areas. So we’re concerned about that piece of it and the precedent that it sets.”

OFBF Website – Legal with Leah: Know Your Rights on Wind, Solar: The passage of Ohio’s SB 52 made some major changes to the process of developing wind and solar projects in Ohio. OFBF’s Policy Counsel, Leah Curtis, talks about the consequences of the legislation and what those currently in a lease or thinking about a lease need to know.

Ohio’s Country Journal Website – HB 349 Takes the Next Step Eroding Landowner Rights with Agriculture: Gov. Mike DeWine signed SB 52, which limits landowner’s abilities and opportunities to have wind and solar projects on their property. This is a concern, partly due to the precedent it sets — government taking of landowner rights without the consent of the landowner. Of greater concern for agriculture is the recently introduced HB 349, which takes a cue from SB 52 with direct agricultural application.

Cincinnati.com Website – New Ohio Law Bans Cities From Enacting Prohibitions on Natural Gas. No City Has One: HB 201 signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine prohibits municipalities from banning customers from using natural gas or propane. The change passed even though no Ohio city currently has such a ban and current law allows customers to choose their energy source. Still, proponents of the change say cutting natural gas out of the mix would dramatically increase the price of energy for Ohioans.

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Remember, participants are not limited to these discussion topics and materials – Feel free to discuss additional topics and issues generated from the local newspaper, other publications and/or key events happening in your neighborhood.

Need some additional help? Contact your county Farm Bureau office for assistance.

Councils can access the council rostermeeting summary sheet and activity sheet forms online.

Remember to send council meeting forms and correspondence directly to the county Farm Bureau.

Many of Farm Bureau’s action plans started with conversation around a kitchen table, living room or front porch; lively discussion continues to develop using web applications, too.

To join a community council, contact the county Farm Bureau office.