Energy, water quality, farm policy and Ohio State University Extension services were the primary topics delegates discussed during the 93rd annual meeting of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). More than 340 delegates representing all of Ohio’s county Farm Bureaus established the policies for the state’s largest farm organization during its convention held Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Columbus.
With Ohio facing great opportunities with shale oil and gas, wind and solar energy generation, Farm Bureau delegates said it is essential that Ohioans be assured of a transparent, inclusive public policy process through which they can obtain information and offer input. Delegates said the infrastructure and resource needs of the community and individual farmers should be adequately addressed when energy projects are being developed. Farm Bureau delegates also strongly supported coordination and collaboration between federal, state and local governments and regulatory agencies to ensure sound policies on energy development.
Maintaining the quality of Ohio’s water resources was another significant part of the Farm Bureau policy discussion, including the recognition that farmers are playing an important role in protecting natural resources. The approved policy states, “We expect all farm operations, regardless of size, to complete and follow a comprehensive nutrient management plan.” Farm Bureau delegates also discussed the value of market-based approaches, such as nutrient-trading programs, as viable options to help protect Ohio’s lakes, rivers and streams.
Delegates also listed their priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill. The legislation should provide a revenue-protecting safety net, which emphasizes affordable crop insurance and simplified commodity programs.
Farm Bureau delegates also recognized the financial challenges facing OSU Extension due to reduced funding from federal, state and local sources. Delegates voted to support all Extension programming when dollars are available. As needed, Extension should have flexibility in delivering programs and services, and local communities should be able to prioritize their local Extension needs.
The policy session during the state convention culminates a yearlong process through which Farm Bureau members discuss important issues, submit suggestions to their county Farm Bureaus and vote on recommendations. County policies are aggregated and voted on at the state level, and national policies will be considered by delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in January. This grassroots system enables Farm Bureau to advocate for laws and regulations, which further its mission to forge a partnership between farmers and consumers.