Farmers Union spirit

Ohio Farmers Union is the yin to Ohio Farm Bureau’s yang. They are the voice of the left in the often right leaning politics of Ohio agriculture. So many times it seems that if Ohio Farm Bureau has a position on something, Ohio Farmers Union (OFU) is just the opposite – often a lone swath of blue amid a sea of Republican red.

This voice of Ohio’s blue-collar farmer, though, has been mostly silenced in recent years after the OFU’s former Secretary/Treasurer was caught embezzling money from the organization. The bottom fell out for OFU in spring of 2009 and the organization scrambled to maintain the viability of their insurance programs and other necessities. The tremendous financial loss from the crime severely crippled the OFU and forced the organization to cut staff and close its Columbus office. Heroic volunteer efforts of OFU president Roger Wise and others managed to keep the Ottawa office open, though their work in the Statehouse was all but eliminated.

No matter what you think about the politics of Ohio Farmers Union, the comeback story is one to be respected and admired. While there is still a long way to go for OFU, they held their annual convention again this year that included elections of delegates for the National Farmers Union Convention, a visit from Senator Sherrod Brown and the long held tradition of singing together. They are planning a legislative visit on March 22 and working to reopen their Columbus office in 2011.

“We are making steady progress,” Wise said. “And we’re working to get someone in Columbus working on our behalf sooner than later.”

No matter what your opinion of OFU politics, you should admire their spirit and tenacity to come back and the endless hours Wise and others have put into the long and difficult process. I am glad to hear the “Farmers Union spirit” that is so often sung about at meetings is back on track to being alive and well in Ohio.

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