Energy, new leadership among focus of Ohio Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation members and volunteers from around the state have gathered in Columbus this week for the Annual Meeting.

Approximately 340 delegates from around Ohio gathered to set policy and direction for the next year for the OFBF.

“We know that we can do way more collectively than we can do individually. That’s the purpose of a great organization like Farm Bureau and as we move forward, working with a new administration nationally, it’s going to take engagement — it’s going to take our volunteers to be there and they will be,” said Frank Burkett of Massillon, the new Ohio Farm Bureau president. “We have an absolutely committed group of volunteers in this organization.”

Burkett said it’s an interesting time for agriculture with a broad range of issues including CAUV, water quality, livestock care issues and energy all on the meeting agenda. Outside of policy discussion, Burkett said it’s an exciting time for Ohio Farm Bureau in general with more young people getting involved and new leadership with longtime Executive Vice President Jack Fisher retired and Adam Sharp stepping into the role.

“Our youth program continues to grow. We had over 700 last year at our winter conference. That’s the future of our organization,” Burkett said. “Our new Executive Vice President Adam Sharp is doing a great job. I’m looking forward to interact with the members and to share his plan and vision of what he sees in Farm Bureau in the coming years.”

Agriculture’s ability to have a positive impact on water quality was high on the agenda at the meeting.

Delegates opted to get in front of the possibility that Ohio might create some type of farm stewardship certification program for farmers. The idea has been discussed among various stakeholders. In order to inform the discussion, Farm Bureau set forth some criteria on how the plan might look. Delegates said a certification program should build upon existing water quality programs, protect the farmer’s confidentiality and provide legal and regulatory certainty for farmers who choose to participate.

Wildlife damage to crops and livestock also earned the attention of delegates. Policy was written that advocates for farmers to be able to respond to crop damage in a more immediate fashion. Farm Bureau would also like to see federal wildlife management administered locally to help create a more efficient system for addressing crop and livestock damage. Policy also seeks permission for farmers to deal with nuisance wildlife by offering hunting privileges to members of their extended family.

Ohio’s growing drug epidemic is not confined to metropolitan areas, which led Farm Bureau delegates to discuss the challenges drugs bring to rural areas. The organization will advocate for multifaceted solutions including prevention and recovery efforts and support for law enforcement.

Other topics addressed by the Farm Bureau delegates included protections for landowners against eminent domain claims, local infrastructure needs and funding challenges and changes in federal policy to account for advances in technology in areas such as drones or use of e-logs in commercial driving records.

Agriculture’s ability to have a positive impact on water quality was high on the agenda. Delegates opted to get in front of the possibility that Ohio might create some type of farm stewardship certification program for farmers. The idea has been discussed among various stakeholders. In order to inform the discussion, Farm Bureau set forth some criteria on how the plan might look. Delegates said a certification program should build upon existing water quality programs, protect the farmer’s confidentiality and provide legal and regulatory certainty for farmers who choose to participate.

Wildlife damage to crops and livestock also earned the attention of delegates. Policy was written that advocates for farmers to be able to respond to crop damage in a more immediate fashion. Farm Bureau would also like to see federal wildlife management administered locally to help create a more efficient system for addressing crop and livestock damage. Policy also seeks permission for farmers to deal with nuisance wildlife by offering hunting privileges to members of their extended family.

Ohio’s growing drug epidemic is not confined to metropolitan areas, which led Farm Bureau delegates to discuss the challenges drugs bring to rural areas.  The organization will advocate for multifaceted solutions including prevention and recovery efforts and support for law enforcement.

Other topics addressed by the Farm Bureau delegates included protections for landowners against eminent domain claims, local infrastructure needs and funding challenges and changes in federal policy to account for advances in technology in areas such as drones or use of e-logs in commercial driving records.

The Ohio Farm Bureau 2016 Annual Meeting ran through Friday, Dec. 2 in Columbus.

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