COLUMBUS -- Delegates to the annual meeting of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) have established the organization's policy positions for 2009. Representing all 88 Ohio counties, 349 farmers set policies on environmental protection measures, livestock production practices, energy and other issues important to all Ohioans.
Farm Bureau delegates reiterated the need for balance in environmental regulation of the livestock industry. They expressed a desire for rules that protect the environment without unnecessarily hampering farmers' ability to produce food. The group's policy expresses the belief that environmental responsibility and viable livestock production are not exclusive of one another and that state regulations can and should serve both needs.
Delegates set policy that would support giving authority to the Ohio Department of Agriculture to regulate Certified Livestock Managers.
Anticipating state regulation of carbon emissions, delegates established a set of principles that should drive potential state laws. The guidelines promote regulations that keep Ohio competitive with other states, are market-based, do not adversely affect farm production input prices and allow for all affected stakeholders to participate in the law and rule-making process.
Farm Bureau representatives also encouraged law enforcement officials to bring about a remedy to the growing problem of metal theft. Rural residents are increasingly targeted by criminals stealing copper and aluminum, which are common on farms.
Delegates debated policy set two years ago that called for a reduction of the state deer population to 250,000. Policy-makers left the target herd size unchanged, but the discussion raised the question of whether hunting, by itself, is a sufficient herd management strategy.
A key topic addressed during the policy session was reaction to November's passage of California Proposition 2, which places severe restrictions on a variety of modern livestock production practices. OFBF delegates vowed to take a proactive approach to preventing such an initiative in Ohio, preferring that humane standards of livestock care be established by professionals such as animal scientists and veterinarians rather than animal rights activists. Delegates also voted their support for adequate training of farmers to assure the proper care of all livestock.
Farm Bureau's delegate body also discussed at length the challenges facing Ohio's educational system. They supported efforts to integrate agriculture into an enhanced curriculum that emphasizes teaching of science, math and technology.
Farm Bureau leaders, members and staff at the county and state levels will work throughout the coming year to advance the policy positions established during OFBF's 90th annual meeting held Dec. 3 through 5 in Columbus. Ohio Farm Bureau is the state's largest and most influential farm organization, is an advocate for agriculture and specializes in public policy and public relations on behalf of it's more than 234,000 members, which includes more than 60,000 farm families.