The Ohio Farmers Union held its 83rd Annual Convention beginning Friday, January 27, 2017.
Among public policy topics discussed were Ohio farmland tax issues and whether or not to establish carrying capacities for livestock in Ohio’s sensitive western Lake Erie watershed.
“We have for years been sounding the alarms for CAUV and the 300% to 600% tax increases and more that are becoming an existential threat to many family farms. We have been in communication with the legislature and we understand that we are going into a budget year and we need to communicate with the governor too about the crucial importance to bring CAUV taxes back in line with our ability to generate revenue from our land,” said Joe Logan, OFU president. “We have long understood that ag is a part of the nutrient problem and we are ready to do our part, but we also need to look at other sources of phosphorous and nitrates into our water.”
There was also plenty to discuss at the national level.
“We have a new president and he has hit the ground going 150 miles an hour. A lot of things are turning out that we have supported over time. We have expressed our concern about trade agreements and the way they were formatted and Mr. Trump has come in and said, ‘We’re done with this.” We respect that but we also acknowledge that it is easy to break stuff up but it is hard to put things back together. The next question is, if not that agreement, how do we structure a better one that treats farmers and our customers better around the world? We have a lot of work ahead of us and we are willing to work with president Trump as much as we can,” Logan said. “Right now we are in a situation where the farm bill safety net is not really much of a safety net. We have a lot of farmers on the cusp of financial woes and we’ve heard from the Fed that farmers are getting more into the high-risk area and we are going to need a solid safety net. Frankly it is going to be a more difficult discussion this year than it has been in the past.”
On Friday, delegates heard from Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels as well as Mike Weaver, president of the Organization for Competitive Markets. Friday concluded with awarding Ohio State Sen. Joe Schiavoni OFU’s “Legislator of the Year.”
“In 2016, Joe Schiavoni was consistently on the side of farmers and consumers in his district with his support for CAUV reform and his fight to preserve Ohio’s renewable energy goals,” Logan said. “Senator Schiavoni has also been a great advocate in support of public education and in solving any conflicts between the school funding community and farmers — for that we are greatly appreciative.”
Advisor to President Donald J. Trump’s recent campaign, Fred Yoder, was also on the program. Ohio State Sen. Cliff Hite delivered the convention’s closing keynote on Saturday.