Coshocton County FFA attend Ag Day at the Capital

by Leah Allen, senior at River View High School and a Coshocton County Farm Bureau Youth Ambassador

On Feb. 21 I had the opportunity to attend Farm Bureau’s annual Ag day at the Capital. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the day and was honestly annoyed I had to wake up at 5 a.m.

But the day was so perfect and much more than I could have imagined. 

Once Johnathan Woodward, the other youth ambassador, and I got to the event we realized we were about an hour early. We got some coffee and pastries and tried to figure out what the goal of the day was. We read through our packets, talked with other early-bird members, and patiently waited. We got started with the Ohio Farm Bureau President Bill Patterson. He introduced the day and some of the tasks we have as members. This introduction speech is when Johnathan and I found out that we would be speaking to members of Ohio’s Senate and House. We also learned about some of the major issues farmers are facing around Ohio. 

The biggest issue was the CAUV tax increase. 41 Ohio counties experienced a skyrocketing increase in their property taxes. Some people experienced a 70% increase. I spoke with someone from Knox County who paid $992 on one track of land last year and paid $2,200 this year in just property taxes. This increase is painful, and it leads to people asking if it’s even worth running farms? I’m sure many people were already aware of this skyrocket, and the struggle people were facing. But this was my first time hearing about it. I was completely shocked and wanted to know how we could express our frustrations and get help. I was told to simply be honest and share how my county has struggled. I immediately thought of the struggle to get funding for my school and for my FFA chapter.  

Growing up in the River View School district, I have experienced and seen others who struggle financially. I have seen farmers who despite their hard work, time, and money still have a hard time breaking even. I’ve seen people working their whole lives without any rest or break, and losing their earnings to taxes. As most people in Coshocton know, River View Schools lost $2.2 million when the AEP plant shut down. River View tried to pass levies to help make up for some of this gigantic loss. These levies failed, and led to cuts in staff, teachers, and buildings. Although the district needed community help, people simply couldn’t pay. Our community could not sustain more taxes; more money taken out of their pockets. I understand why our levy failed. I understand why people simply couldn’t vote to support it. But I knew that we needed to share and express the lack of funding we get from the state. 

Out of 614 school districts, River View is the 8th largest in Ohio. The current formula for state funding takes into account your land as money, making our district look pretty rich. But as we know, our land consists of large farms and few people. Meaning, the people in our community already pay high property taxes, with little of that coming back to benefit them or our district. 

So when we went and spoke to Senator Brenner’s staff, we all talked about issues that had affected our counties, including Knox, Holmes, Delaware, and Coshocton. Once there was an opening I jumped in to share our school’s story. I shared that we experienced a huge loss, and how I felt that loss in our Vo-Ag program. I expressed our struggle to pass levies and the difficulty to get state funding and support. Without applying for multiple grants every year and hoping to get them, our school doesn’t benefit as greatly as other districts from state funding. 

Then we shared again in Representative Kick’s office. One of the aides we met there was a former State FFA officer. He was open, honest and truly wanted to help solve these struggles we all had. He expressed the distaste Representative Kick had for the skyrocketing increase in property taxes. They are looking for solutions and ways to be better in the future. They had a true interest in growing ag, and protecting it. I was so grateful for the connections I made in Representatives Kick’s office. Grateful to know we have representatives who care, who are willing to listen and work with us to find solutions. 

I never would have imagined what the day was going to be. I had no idea how much I would love the day. I owe a huge thank you to the Coshocton County Farm Bureau for giving me this opportunity. I walked out learning that I could work at the Statehouse and advocate for agriculture. I was offered a recommendation letter if I ever apply to the Statehouse for an internship. It truly felt like our time at the Statehouse meant something. I am so excited about the future and thankful that the Farm Bureau is there protecting our rural state.  

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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