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Policy ideas can have national impact

In my article last month, I shared how the Trumbull County Farm Bureau held its annual meeting to honor scholarship winners and individuals who have made a difference in the county. But the evening was much more than just an evening of fellowship and a great meal. Policy developed in Trumbull County was proposed and passed that will have a local, state and national impact.

How can Farm Bureau members in Trumbull County have such an impact? Well, because we are members of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, which is a grassroots organization. Policy is developed and presented to members at annual meetings all over Ohio. Policy is often driven by issues or problems faced by county residents and can be of a local nature just affecting our county or of a state or national level of concern.

The state and national policies are sent to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation to be considered by a committee made up of Farm Bureau members across the state and OFBF staff. Proposals are researched and discussed, compared to existing policy and then presented to the delegates from each county at the OFBF annual meeting. It’s these policies, developed and voted on, that direct the actions of this agricultural advocacy organization.

Seems a little overwhelming, so here is an example: helium balloons. Yes, balloons.

Have you ever released a balloon at a memorial service or seen thousands released at a major sporting event? May seem like a harmless thing to do. The balloons float way up into the sky, never to be seen again — at least by you.

After they have traveled up to 500 miles and the helium expands, the balloon eventually explodes. What goes up must come down, but where do balloons land?

There lies the problem.

Animals, domestic or wild, are curious creatures and eat things they shouldn’t and can become entangled in any attached strings causing extreme harm. Some types of balloons pose a hazard when they come in contact with power lines. And if they land in a field, they can get entangled in equipment. Biodegradable or natural are great, but it still takes a long time, and what about the strings?

Two Trumbull County farmers expressed concern over this issue and last month a policy was created and passed that would prohibit the release of helium balloons.

Another great thing about our annual meeting last month was the number of elected officials and candidates for public office who were in attendance. It is an opportunity to get to know them and they can get to know us.

Some elected officials have really built a relationship with Farm Bureau. If they have an agricultural question, they call us. And there are times when we have called or visited them with issues like property taxes, water quality, rural broadband availability, and the challenges faced by young and beginning farmers. Because of these relationships and because they have supported the public policy goals of Farm Bureau, Ohio Rep. Glenn Holmes, 63rd District, and Ohio Rep. Michael O’Brien, 64th District, received the official designation as a “Friend of Agriculture.” Our thanks to these two representatives who have represented Trumbull County well.

It was a full night for sure. As we use the policies of the Trumbull County and Ohio Farm Bureau to guide us, the Trumbull County volunteers will continue to work hard for farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

Submitted by Mary Smallsreed, a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.

OFBF Mission: Working together to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

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