This post is OFU President Roger Wise’s latest column for the Ohio Country Messenger – which will be hitting members’ snail mail soon … Happy 2014!
Reflections on Year’s End and Thoughts of 2014
This is the time of year to pause and ponder the plentiful blessings which upon us are bestowed. As the Christmas season envelopes us we are reminded that, as farmers, we are entrusted with the stewardship of some of the best resources anywhere on earth. The land, air and water are all intertwined in a manner that requires respect and that they individually be treated as components of the whole.
This is also a time of year when we reflect on our mortality. Time passes by so quickly and we are powerless to slow its pace. The average age of farmers increases while the number of us decreases. In spite of tremendous medical advances, loved ones pass and we are helpless to do anything about it.
My point is not to just wax sentimental but to be mindful that in our society we cannot and do not exist as islands. We depend on health care to keep us as healthy as possible for as long as possible. We depend on public services such as police, fire, public health, infrastructure, public education and more; everyone benefits from them and they provide us a better quality of life. We should not allow them to be undermined or eliminated because of current dissatisfaction with those holding political power.
As Ohio begins 2014 – an election year for all state office holders – there are numerous issues facing Ohio. The ones I want to see the focus on are: a better attempt to adequately and equitably fund education, cleaning and restoring Lake Erie to it splendor, making child care more affordable for working families (it is the largest job related expense), a reformed (progressive) tax policy, to continue the energy efficiency legislation in place that some (utilities) want to repeal. These are some of the many issues that if effectively addressed will help Ohio’s economic engine go forward with vigor.
At the federal level, all 435 representatives and many senators are on the ballot. Polls suggest most of us would like to see “the whole bunch of them” voted out on their keisters. It will be interesting to see if we follow through with that sentiment by actually voting to replace them.
Some of the many issues that will impact our vote will be: tax policy (again, will it be progressive?), immigration reform, maintaining Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) or allowing packers and foreign countries to effect its demise, keeping the Renewable Fuel Standard in place (or allowing big oil to influence its repeal), dealing with Greenhouse Gas (climate change), enacting a credible budget, passing a significant Farm Bill that provides a realistic safety net and disaster assistance when needed, enforcing GIPSA, raising the minimum wage (or not and if not why not) – the list is practically unending.
To close, on a lighter note, plan to attend our state convention on January 31st and February 1st in Columbus. Senator Sherrod Brown will be there along with many state officials, interesting speakers, educational opportunities, policy and bylaw debate, exhibits, national convention delegate selection and more. Essay finalists will present and the elementary posters will be on display. As always, this is an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new ones.
Join your out of state friends at this year’s national convention. It is in Santa Fe New Mexico touting the theme, “Spicing up Family Agriculture,” March 8 through 11.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thank you for all you do.