The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) applauded State Representatives Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) and Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) today for providing sponsor testimony in the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee for House Bill 276 (H.B. 276). H.B. 276 will eliminate confusion in the interpretation of zoning laws with regards to agriculture and create more value-added opportunities for Ohio’s farm families.
“OSA strongly supports H.B. 276 and thanks Representatives Buchy and Gentile for their support in creating economic development in rural Ohio,” said Jeff Wuebker, OSA chairman. Wuebker operates a diversified grain and livestock farm in Versailles, OH.
H.B. 276 clarifies agricultural zoning laws with regards to operations secondary to production agriculture. For example, the recent Ohio Supreme Court case, Terry v. Sperry highlights how different jurisdictions’ interpretation of Ohio’s zoning and taxation laws could cripple rural economic growth. In this case, grape farmers installed a winery that was considered secondary to the production of grapes. Local zoning officials attempted to change a zoning ruling that would put the Sperry family of out compliance with the law.
Other examples of secondary agricultural operations that could be affected by this issue are methane digesters that produce electricity on livestock farms and on-farm biodiesel production.
Passage of H.B. 276 would allow a farmer to have a secondary agricultural operation and maintain agricultural zoning and valuation as long as not more than 50 percent of materials for the operation are sourced from off the farm.
“H.B. 276 addresses concerns raised by farmers who are attempting to implement value-added opportunities that create jobs,” said Bret Davis, OSA president and soybean farmer from Delaware Co. “The opportunity to create rural jobs while utilizing environmentally responsible technologies such as digesters and biodiesel is vital to ensuring the long term viability of our family farming operations and very important to OSA members.”
OSA supports H.B. 276 and looks forward to working with the legislature to ensure its passage.