Editor’s Note: The Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium was an eventful day of grain news. See what association leaders had to say, and check back in the coming days for further coverage.
LIMA, Ohio — Two of Ohio’s top grain associations are becoming one, in hopes of combining resources and creating more representation at the state and national level.
Mark Wachtman, president of Ohio Wheat Growers Association, announced during the annual Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium on Dec. 16 in Lima, that the Ohio Corn Growers Association and Ohio Wheat Growers Association will combine to form the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association.
“Not only will we have more of a voice in Columbus, but we (will) have more of a national presence as well,” Wachtman said.
The Ohio Wheat Growers Association has joined with National Association of Wheat Growers, and with only one year under its belt, Ohio already “has made an impact on the policy process,” he said.
Wachtman serves on the Domestic and Trade Policy Committee for NAWG, and Ohio wheat grower Jay Griffith serves on NAWG’s Environmental and Renewable Resources Committee as vice-chairman.
Wachtman said the work being done is giving farmer insight into the 2012 Farm Bill, crop insurance and other risk management policies. This past year, the wheat association started a wheat education process that strives to educate consumers, lawmakers and media about the nutritional and economic importance of wheat.
Joining him at the podium was Ohio Soybean Association President Jeff Wuebker, of Versailles, and Ohio Corn Growers Association President John Davis, of Delaware County.
Wuebker commented on what has been “an exceptional year” for Ohio’s soybean growers, from advancements in bioproducts to truck weight limits.
A highlight came in February, when Gov. Ted Strickland signed biopreferred purchasing legislation (Senate Bill 131) that requires all Ohio governmental entities to “purchase bioproducts when readily available, of equal or better quality and do not significantly cost more than the traditional product.”
The policy is believed to be the most comprehensive statewide bioproducts procurement program in the nation.
The soybean association also joined forces with Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, to advocate for a new permit to allow higher weight limits for trucks carrying containers bound for export markets. Wuebker said it will allow the state to be more competitive with surrounding states.
Davis turned the attention of the 300-plus crowd toward corn, saying its producers have worked diligently to share the message of Ohio’s corn growers, and what their crop means to “food, feed and fuel,” and “jobs in a time of economic need.”
The association used detailed data maps to show all of the jobs related to corn in each congressional district, which it presented to leaders in Washington.
“When we handed the maps to our reps, we could see the look of surprise on some faces,” Davis said. “Our point was to show that supporting key agriculture issues is in the best interest to the state’s economy, because we keep the wheels turning.”
He reminded producers that one in every six Ohioans has an agriculture-related job, and Ohio’s corn industry contributes 150,000 jobs.
The corn association also worked this past year on trade agreements, an effort Davis said is to ensure a “steady growing market for American corn.”
The past year saw the association’s first leadership program for young farmers, and various educational seminars and district meetings.
Davis concluded by casting his own support for the new Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association.
He said the new partnership will “make (us) stronger as well because we realize we are all the same grower. We’ll continue to represent your best interests in Washington D.C. and in Columbus at the statehouse.