Ohio Farmers Union members focus on CAUV, water quality

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Ohio farm landscape/Farm and Dairy file photo

COLUMBUS — Stemming the dramatic increases in taxes on farmland and compiling data on the density of livestock in Ohio’s watersheds lead the Ohio Farmers Union’s list of public policy priorities for the year.

“Agricultural property tax increases are becoming an ‘existential threat’ to family farmers and rural land owners in Ohio,” said OFU President Joe Logan. “In recent years, our farmers have suffered increases in CAUV of 300 to 600 percent, while ag commodities have plummeted.”

CAUV, or Current Agricultural Use Valuation, is the formula used to value farmland for tax purposes in Ohio. While the Kasich Administration could change the formula administratively, OFU members are seeking the help of the Ohio General Assembly.

Logan said one issue that narrowly missed being passed by delegates was a proposed “$0 tax value” for Ohio’s woodlands.

“The fact that we had a lengthy debate on our convention floor about zero tax values for woodlands should wake up policy makers in Columbus about the need to revamp CAUV,” Logan said.

Water quality

Logan said OFU adopted a “special order of business” at its recent convention proposing further action in Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Mary’s and other Ohio watersheds by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“We need data on all the livestock operations in our watersheds, not just the animals raised by licensed CAFOs,” Logan said.

OFU proposes the department make an accurate assessment of all livestock operations within each watershed.

“They have access to this valuable data and the capacity to aggregate it in a way that would safeguard farmer’s proprietary information, while compiling it in a way that would be extremely useful in developing a comprehensive strategy to manage nutrient runoff,” Logan added.

“It’s a common sense, next step in the policy-making process to clean up watersheds like the western basin of Lake Erie.”

Other measures

Delegates to OFU’s recent 83rd annual convention also approved five other special orders dealing with:

  • Maintaining the link between ag policy and public nutrition in the next federal farm bill;
  • Placing former Ohio Dept. of Corrections farmland into a “community land trust” to be used by young farmers of limited resources;
  • Ensuring that any replacement of the Affordable Care Act assures “same or better” coverage;
  • Reforming the nation’s dairy policy and pricing structure;
  • Reiterated a policy from last year calling on a moratorium on the use of Class II injection wells for wastewater disposal of fracking and other oil and gas operations — and the adoption of Class I standards for such injection wells.

Legislator honored

During the convention, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, was honored for his work on behalf of Ohio’s farmers, rural citizens and consumers.

Logan said Schiavoni was “consistently on the side of farmers and consumers in his district with his support for CAUV reform and his fight to preserve Ohio’s renewable energy goals.”

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