Here’s the press release sent statewide by the Ohio Farmers earlier today:
State Representatives Sheehy, Patterson will be honored on final day of meeting
COLUMBUS – Ohio’s educational and advocacy organization dedicated to family farming will tackle several hot button issues in Ohio during its 81st annual convention in Columbus this Friday.
“We expect 2015 to be an exceptionally important year for Ohio’s farmers in terms of state legislation and Kasich administration tax policies,” said Linda Borton, executive director of the Ohio Farmers Union.
“Farmers in Ohio are facing additional regulation with manure application and they are already feeling the effects of agricultural property taxes increasing by 50 to 300 percent in the past couple of years,” Borton said.
“Those two items – water quality and the broken CAUV formula – will be major points of emphasis for our policy committee,” Borton said.
CAUV, or Current Agricultural Use Valuation, is a state tax formula instituted in the 1970s to help protect Ohio farmland by lowering the property tax bills for farmland. The program is responsible for keeping much of Ohio’s agricultural lands in production as the lower property tax rates do not skew the farmers’ cost of production, especially in areas where rural land is threatened by urban sprawl and suburban development.
Due to changes in commodity markets and the effects of a changing larger economy, over the past two to three years, the formula used by the Ohio Dept. of Taxation for determining a farmer’s CAUV tax value has begun to wildly fluctuate. In many cases across the state, family farmers have seen their farmland property taxes rise by 300 percent or more in a single year.
Borton said that on the water quality front, OFU is expected to adopt policy for 2015 urging the Ohio General Assembly to take a “science-based and targeted” approach to new regulation. During the debate over H.B. 490 in 2014, OFU President Joe Logan and other members asked the Ohio House to limit tighter regulatory schemes to distressed watershed areas such as the Maumee River Basin in northwest Ohio.
“No one wants to see the algae problems we’ve had in Lake Erie and in other waterways,” Borton said.
“The key is for regulation to be fair, fact-based and targeted,” Borton added.
OFU’s convention will kick off Friday, January 30 and run through Saturday afternoon. Key speakers and topics will include:
- Update from Washington D.C., Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union
- Trade Policy for American Prosperity, Michael Stumo, CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America
- GIPSA – Working for Fair and Competitive Markets for Farmers and Livestock Producers Locally and Globally, Larry Mitchell, Administrator, USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration
- Unfair Farm Real Estate Taxes – Broken Promises, Ted Finnarn, Attorney at Law; Member, CAUV Agricultural Advisory Committee, Ohio Dept. of Taxation
- Move to Amend – Dr. Steve Nelson, Take Back Democracy – Oxford
OFU will also award two Ohio House members with its 2015 Legislator of the Year award for exceptional service to Ohio’s family farmers in 2014.
State Rep. John Patterson, representing the 99th District, distinguished himself by organizing the Northeast Ohio CAUV Task Force to shed light on the plight of farmers being hit with massive tax increases in his part of the state. His task force included farmers, industry representatives and local public officials and presented several findings and potential solution to members of the House Ways and Means Committee and others in late 2014. Patterson also stood out for forming a bi-partisan coalition of members around the issue.
State Rep. Michael Sheehy, 46th District, made water quality in and around the western basin of Lake Erie one of his prime legislative objectives in 2014. Sheehy has championed a science and fact-based approach to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms. He sponsored amendments in the former House Agricultural & Natural Resources Committee that would have allowed for better analysis of data regarding nutrient overloads in the Maumee River Basin – including manure. He has also been a proponent of common sense best management practices by farmers including a prohibition of the spreading of manure on frozen or snow-covered ground.
Information on the convention and the Ohio Farmers Union may be found at ohfarmersunion.org.