Ohio Farm Bureau members from around the state gathered in Columbus to meet with legislators at the Ag Day at the Capital.

Policy priorities for 2024 unveiled at OFBF Ag Day at the Capital

By Matt Reese

Land use, broadband and property taxes were all part of the discussion at the 2024 Ag Day at the Capital when Farm Bureau members from around Ohio came to Columbus to meet with legislators.

 “It is very good to put a face with a story. It’s a little more personal, you know, when you talk to somebody face to face. It’s a little bit better than just sending a letter or even making phone calls,” said Rich Maxwell, from Perry County Farm Bureau who serves on the Public Policy Committee. “I’ve left these meetings and 4 or 5 months later I’ve been in a different meeting and met that representative and they remember me and they give me an update on the issues that we’ve talked about. They’re very receptive to the issues.”

Land use and farmland preservation were brought up in Maxwell’s meetings.

“We talked about land use and urban sprawl, trying to figure out agricultural easements and how to preserve farmland,” he said. “A few of them are already on board with some of the bills being introduced and they’re all about trying to keep repurposing buildings and trying to figure out the brownfield projects to keep the urban sprawl from getting too far out into farm country.” 

For cattle producer Josh Ison, from Clermont County Farm Bureau, broadband and high-speed internet was a major topic.  

“We talked about broadband, issues with telehealth and the importance of that in a lot of the rural communities. It is currently being worked on, but we know with everything it takes years and it takes a lot of time and money,” Ison said. “We did share a win. Last week through all of the pushing and continually beating the drum on rural broadband, my wife and I are proud to say that our farm is currently in the right century — we have high speed internet. It’s changed things for us overnight. We finally have access to all of the tools that we never thought we’d have. We can remotely look in and find our surveillance system for our animals and I can monitor my walk-in freezer now when we’re away. While this is a win, there are still others out there that still need this and we’re not done yet.”

Ison loves the opportunity to go to Columbus to help share his farm story.

“We had some really great conversations, great interactions and everyone left feeling that it was a really good experience. It’s one of the most fun days of the year. I’m the policy chair for Clermont County Farm Bureau and this is the time where we can actually meet with the people that make the decisions and have our voices heard. I’m representing myself, but I’m also able to represent my neighbors who maybe couldn’t make it today so that’s really important and that’s one of the biggest reasons I’m involved in Farm Bureau,” Ison said. “We talked quite extensively on property taxes and the implications with CAUV and what that means downstream not only in our business, but how that relates in our community to food security and just some of the other the other implications.”

Ohio Farm Bureau unveiled the 2024 priority issues for the organization which include:

• A tax landscape that encourages a strong farm economy

• Legislation to help with ag labor needs

• Affordable broadband and high-speed internet 

• Securing resources to rebuild and repair rural roads, bridges, ports, and inland waterway locks and dams.

• Supporting value-added products from locally grown agricultural commodities

• Increasing meat and poultry processing capacity in Ohio

• Creating a transparent regulatory environment enabling farmers to be productive and environmentally sustainable

• Promoting agriculturally sourced biofuels.  

• Eminent domain reform

• Property taxes and CAUV.

The issue of farmland preservation is also top of mind for Ohio Farm Bureau members who support:

• A farmland preservation strategy guiding state and local policy to avoid unnecessary conversion of productive farmland to non-agricultural purposes with emphasis on local control and involvement

• Orderly development of urban areas to concentrate further development, redevelopment of existing urban areas already served by infrastructure and public services

• Rehabilitation of urban brownfield areas 

• Redirection of business and industry to brownfield areas with favorable tax incentives.

Director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau Evan Callicoat said the day went well and will set stage for legislative success in 2024.  

“We have a heck of a public policy staff here but what really gives us our influence down here at the Statehouse and in Congress is our members who show up telling their story and talking about the current issues on their farms. That is how we’re able to get all the work done,” Callicoat said. “This event shows how responsive legislators are when they hear from this many constituents. We’ll be getting calls for the next weeks and months talking about a lot of things that we talked about here at Ag Day and it really helps set the tone for those issues that we care about.”

State Rep. Tim Barhorst meets with Farm Bureau members from Champaign and Shelby counties on Ag Day at the Capital.

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