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Safe drinking water tops farmers’ concerns in ‘Buckeye Poll’
By Larry Antosch, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director of policy development and environmental policy
When it comes to Ohio’s water resources, what do farmers care about?
I had the opportunity recently at the 51st Farm Science Review to find out. During the course of the three-day review, hundreds of people stop in the Ohio Farm Bureau building to grab an apple, get a drink of water and share what is on their minds. What an excellent opportunity to ask them about what they feel are the most important issues facing Ohio’s abundant high quality water resources.
The idea of conducting an opinion poll came to mind, but how could I do it in a way that was fun, interactive, engaging, quick and easy? As we all know, when attending the review, there are lots of things to see and many places to go. There just is not enough time to stop and fill out a paper questionnaire. Discussions in the office lead to the development of the “Buckeye Poll”. Using 12 Ball Mason jars and a bucket of buckeyes we were ready to go.
As visitors stopped by, they were given three buckeyes and asked to place them in one, two or three of the jars labeled with the issue or issues they felt were the most important facing Ohio’s water resources. Almost 600 individuals cast their “buckeye” votes over the three days of the review.
The opinion poll produced some interesting results. By an over two-to-one margin, participants felt that maintaining safe drinking water was the most important issue, followed by preserving fishing and wildlife habitat, fertilizer runoff and fixing aging infrastructure. Many of these hit close to home and there is a strong personal identification with the issue. Water allocation, data collection, sustaining recreation and tourism and maximizing water’s role in job creation received the lowest number of votes. In the middle were water for energy production, funding, coping with natural disasters and dealing with changing weather patterns.
Plans are to do a similar activity at the Ohio Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and at other events and locations across Ohio. As we move forward to develop a comprehensive long-range water resources management plan for Ohio, finding out what issues Ohioans all across the state feel are the most important will be critical. Farmers attending the review have provided their input.Photo by Callie Wells.