WASHINGTON — Ohio Farm Bureau Federation presidents marched to Capitol Hill this week to tell legislators what is important back home on the farm.
The county presidents are spending three days, Monday through today, Wednesday, in Washington, trying to get the 2012 farm bill under way; stop the Department of Labor from overregulating child labor; and to discuss the estate tax, immigration reform and regulatory reform.
The group came to Washington armed with stories of how legislation could affect farms, and stuffed with knowledge of what is happening on Ohio farms and why federal legislation is needed in some areas and not in other areas.
When talking to the legislators, the members shared examples and weren’t afraid to say what they are seeing on farms and tell the stories of who they are representing.
This is the 66th year that Ohio Farm Bureau Federation presidents have made the trek to Capital Hill.
The OFBF hopes to find out what kind of changes farmers could be facing in the farm bill, and, as some of the legislators are telling them, the intent is there to pass a farm bill but it might not happen because of the political turmoil in an election year.
The presidents are also looking to stop the passing of legislation that could change or stop youth under 18 from working on anyone’s farm that is not their parents’. The legislation being considered also would stop young people from working on their own parents’ farm if it was a partnership or a limited liability company.
The Ohio Farm Bureau presidents were on the Hill telling legislators that they need a common sense approach and that by stopping children from working on the farm, regulators are taking away the ability to teach farm children the family business.
Another issue the Farm Bureau presidents were adamant about is the estate tax. In 2013, the estate tax is being reduced from $5 million. The presidents are asking legislators to either abolish the tax completely or at least keep it at that rate.
The group attended a forum hosted by Ohio Rep. John Boehner (R) to talk about agriculture issues. The group also heard from Reps. Pat Tiberi (R), Bob Latta (R) and Jim Jordan (R).
Tiberi told the group he feels food security and trade are big issues for the American farmer. However, Tiberi said even though the trade agreement with South Korea is finally in gear, he feels it will be difficult to get more trade agreements passed if President Barack Obama is re-elected in November.
Latta told the group he represents the largest number of farmers and manufacturing workers in the state in his district. He added that he feels the voice of agriculture has decreased and that more farmers need to get out and tell their story.
He told the group he is very much against the regulations being considered by the Department of Labor for children working on a farm.
“They are trying to impose their value systems on us and it won’t work,” Latta said.
The group is headed back to Capitol Hill today (March 7) to meet with legislators individually.