COLUMBUS — Farm Bureau members from across Ohio gathered at the Columbus Convention Center Dec. 8 and 9 to update policies for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and recognize the achievements of the past year.
The organization’s 104th annual meeting drew attendance of more than 700 members and guests, with 366 serving as voting delegates.
Policy discussion covered farmland preservation, eminent domain and impact fees when farmland is pulled from production for solar.
Delegates discussed the growing development pressure on Ohio farmland. Delegates debated a policy calling for more Current Agricultural Use Valuation tax recoupment on land removed from production, however, that change was not passed.
Hannah DiVencenzo, a member of the policy development committeee from Lorain County, challenged delegates to come back next year with ideas for expanding the organization’s policies related to farmland preservation in ways other than altering policies related to the CAUV program.
Policy changes passed by the delegates include supporting clear standards for construction of oil and gas pipelines, as well as supporting standards for repair and remediation of land affected by utility easements. The delegates also favored allocation of more funding for the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, in response to increasing easement values and the demand for more easements.
In addition, delegates passed policy favoring the establishment of impact fees assessed when farmland is removed from production due to solar development. The policy calls for the fee money to be used for the purchase of farmland preservation easements.
Another new policy related to solar development recommends that community-scale solar projects that fall outside the jurisdiction of the Ohio Power Siting Board be subject to regulation under local zoning.
New policies related to eminent domain were also passed by the delegates. One of the new policies calls for landowners to be notified in writing of their right to seek legal counsel on transactions related to eminent domain. Another change recommends that the compensation a landowner receives for land taken in an eminent domain case include compensation for future lost income.
During his address Friday morning, Adam Sharp, executive vice president for the Ohio Farm Bureau, highlighted the year’s achievements. The organization worked to support legislation and government policies that help farmers such as Ohio House Bill 95, which offers tax credits that help beginning farmers; the Ohio Meat Processing Grant program, which is helping expand processing capacity in the state; and the H2Ohio program, focused on improving water quality.
The Ohio Farm Bureau also evaluates elected officials, to help voters choose candidates who are “friends of agriculture,” Sharp said.
In the most recent election, 92% of the candidates designated as “friends” were elected, including Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy, Supreme Court Justices Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine, and U.S. Senator J.D. Vance.
When the Ohio Farm Bureau initially contacted Vance when he was running for office, he admitted he didn’t know a lot about agriculture, Sharp said. Since then, Vance has met several times with Farm Bureau leaders and visited members’ farms.
“We appreciate our new relationship with J.D. Vance,” Sharp said.
State fair plans
Another highlight of the year for Ohio agriculture is the recent announcement of a new master plan for the Ohio State Fair from the Ohio Expositions Commission, Sharp said.
The plan keeps the fair at the current site with upgraded facilities to enhance the fair experience and the use of the grounds.
Gov. Mike DeWine has made it clear he wants to see the plans implemented before he leaves office in four years, Sharp added. At last year’s Farm Bureau annual meeting, delegates passed a statement of support for the Ohio State Fair and its current location. As the new plans are put in place, Farm Bureau will continue to be involved.
“We’ve got to stay vigilant on it,” Sharp said.
State board elections
Bill Patterson of Chesterland was re-elected as president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation during the annual meeting, and Cy Prettyman of New Bloomington was re-elected first vice president. Elected as treasurer was Chris Weaver of Lyons.
Delegates also elected the following district representatives to serve on the state board of trustees: District 1 Trustee Chris Weaver, representing Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties; District 5 Trustee Craig Pohlman, representing Allen, Paulding, Putnam and Van Wert counties; District 6 trustee John Bolte, representing Hancock, Hardin, Seneca and Wyandot counties; District 10 Trustee Mike Bensman, representing Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties; District 13 Trustee Mackenzie Deetz, representing Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties; District 15 Trustee Mike Videkovich, representing Fairfield, Hocking, Pickaway and Ross counties; District 19 Trustee Nicol Reiterman, representing Clinton, Fayette, Greene and Warren counties; District 20 Trustee Nathan Brown, representing Adams, Brown, Clermont and Highland counties; Southwest Regional Trustee Steve Berk, representing Adams, Brown, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Darke, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Highland, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Union and Warren counties.
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