Agricultural viewpoints on Issue 1

A number of agricultural groups have come out in support of Issue 1, which will be part of a special election scheduled for Aug. 8.

The ballot initiative asks Ohio voters if the state should strengthen the petition process and raise the threshold to 60% for approving constitutional amendment proposals. If passed, the resolution will raise the bar for approving constitutional amendments to 60% and will modify the requirements for the petition process for proposals to change the constitution, requiring no less than 5% of the electors represented from every county of the state to sign a petition. Currently, signatures must be gathered for only 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Additionally, the initiative would eliminate a 10-day period that petitioners are granted to replace any invalid signatures. Importantly, Issue 1 only applies to constitutional changes, and the initiated petition process to amend Ohio law remains unchanged.

Many in Ohio agriculture support the measure because of the security and affordability of the state’s food supply resulting from having a more measured approach to amending the Ohio Constitution. In recent years, out-of-state special interest groups with deep pockets have tried to hijack the Ohio Constitution to fit their own activist agendas. Issue 1 will ensure a strong majority of Ohioans are needed to amend the constitution and help prevent the potential for any misdirection. Changes are often proposed through ballot initiatives regarding agriculture. When changes are mandated by a constitutional amendment, it restricts the industry’s ability to quickly adjust and adapt without having to change the constitution again.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) Board of Trustees decided to support Issue 1 because it aligns directly with OFBF policies, which are established by the voting delegates to the OFBF annual meeting from the 86 county Farm Bureaus in Ohio. The most recent OFBF policies clearly state:

We support reforming the process to amend the state constitution, including but not limited to:

  1. Increasing the amount of petition signatures needed to place a measure on the ballot.
  2. Increasing the percentage threshold for approval by voters.
  3. Strengthening the laws for petition signature gatherers.
  4. Restricting the years in which an amendment may appear on the ballot to odd numbered years.

Other agricultural organizations supporting Issue 1 include the Ohio Agribusiness Association, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, and the Ohio Dairy Producers Association.

The Ohio Farmers Union, though, is urging Ohio voters to reject state Issue 1. OFU’s Executive Committee voted unanimously to take this position on the measure which would remove a constitutional right Ohio voters have held for over 100 years.
“This proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution would permanently degrade the opportunity for Ohio citizens to change the constitution in accord with principles of one person- one vote and majority rule,” said Joe Logan, OFU president. “We are strongly urging our members and all Ohioans to vote ‘no’ in the special election — and reminding folks that early voting has already started and that they may cast their ballots now.”
OFU is issuing an action alert to members with information on Issue 1 and links on how to vote early, in-person before election day. Logan noted that it is rare for any state issue to receive a 60% super majority. He points out that it gives the currently gerrymandered Ohio State Legislature the power to permanently enact any policy regardless of majority opinion throughout the state. Logan noted the out-of-state financing of the campaign to pass Issue 1 and said that it is a further example of deep pocketed special interests imposing their will on Ohio.

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