2014 ‘Special Orders of Business’
Each January, the Ohio Farmers Union holds its annual convention in Columbus, Ohio. One of the most important duties the delegates undertake each year is to identify the “Special Orders of Business” for duration of the current year. These special orders are what convention delegates determine through debate and votes should be the highlights of OFU policy for the year.
Our 2014-15 chairwoman for the OFU Policy Committee is Mardy Townsend, president of the Geauga, Lake and Ashtabula Counties chapter of OFU. If you are a member and would like to get in touch with Mardy regarding a policy concern, please contact OFU in Ottawa at 419.523.5300 and we will connect you with Mardy.
Ohio Farmers Union Policy Overview
For an exhaustive and detailed account of OFU current policy please download our annual policy document. Please find below some policy highlights:
- OFU is opposed to current legislative efforts in the Ohio General Assembly to cut funding for the Office of the Ohio Consumers Counsel by 51%.
- OFU supports phasing out the routine feeding of antibiotics to healthy livestock.
- OFU supports the development of local farmers markets.
- OFU calls on the FDA and USDA FSIS to increase efforts to ensure that all products, foreign and domestic, meet U.S. health and safety standards. There should be increased inspection of imported food products.
- OFU believes in the consumer’s right to be informed about foods they consume through proper labeling and information. This includes country of origin labeling on all food products.
- We support a federal farm program which recognizes the market realities of the unique business of farming. The USDA has wide latitude regarding implementation of programs under the 2008 Farm Bill. We encourage the USDA to continue implementation of these programs in the spirit that Congress, producers and interested parties intended.
- OFU supports measures that strengthen price, income and loan levels for farmers which set floors for prices, prevent market distortions and are equitable and account for family-type farming operations.
- OFU supports the transition away from direct farm payments in the federal farm program and the promotion of relying on sustainable market prices based on the cost of production.
- OFU will continue to work with and support efforts by the Ohio Director of Agriculture to help make the grain depositors trust fund program successful.
- OFU believes many improvements can be made to the federal Dairy Program. We support the development of a comprehensive program which provides long-term inventory supply management to family-sized farms.
- OFU calls for comprehensive, scientific studies of certified organic beef versus conventional beef. Studies should include comparisons of the nutritional and economic aspects of organic versus conventional.
- OFU believes that the central principle of state tax policy should be taxation based on the ability of taxpayers to meet their tax liability. This principle should be applied to income, estate and property taxes. We recommend that the current trend toward increased reliance on farmers and homeowners – through property taxes – be reversed.
- The federal and state Departments of Agriculture should enable USDA guaranteed farm loans available in every rural community.
- OFU supports legislation which would establish “young farmers” credit facilities which would provide credit for young farmers on a long-term, pro-rated and low interest basis.
- OFU supports free trade so long as foreign producers are held to the same standards as those in the United States.
- OFU supports passage of the NAFTA Accountability Act. Supporters of NAFTA must be held to their promises. Since these promises of job creation, increased living standards, reduced illegal immigration and improved environmental quality have not been met, Congress should immediately pass this act.
- OFU supports comprehensive national health care reform
- OFU calls on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to assure that the oil and gas drilling practice known as “hydraulic fracturing” or “hydro-fracking” is regulated to protect the health of Ohio citizens and the quantity and quality of Ohio’s groundwater.
- Terminator Seed Technology raises serious technical and ethical questions. This seed stock has been DNA manipulated to be sterile, preventing the seed from germinating. This technology puts too much economic and food production control into the hands of very few. Farmers should be permitted to use any seeds grown on their farms as seed stock in future years without penalties.
- Agricultural lands are under attack from urban pressure and runaway development. The state of Ohio should promote land uses that are consistent with the goal of protecting preserving agricultural lands, a finite and irreplaceable resource, while allowing farmers to maintain and improve drainage and fertility to protect family farm profits.
- OFU supports the conservation of subterranean and surface water use. OFU opposes the federal government’s purchase of water rights anywhere in the United States.
- OFU proposes legislation at the state and federal level for the EPA to stop the dumping of hazardous nuclear, low-level radioactive and toxic waste into Ohio land. We encourage efforts to ensure that generators of hazardous waste bear the cost of disposal of such waste and recommend the recycling of hazardous waste on the site where it was created.
- OFU supports comprehensive solid waste disposal plans which include recycling, reducing the flow of waste into landfills, further research into other forms of disposal such as incineration and the development of markets for recycled materials and products.
We’ve really just scratched the surface with the overview above. If you want to dig deeper into tax policy, national food policy or any of a number of issues, download our 2011 policy document.