By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Farmers Union (OFU) annual state convention will be Jan. 25-26 at the Columbus Airport Marriott, where members will consider and adopt policy.
“It’s our 79th convention since 1934,” said Roger Wise, OFU president. “It is shaping up to be a dynamic convention. We’re going to have a full couple of days.”
The convention convenes this Friday. The Beginning Farmers Institute will have a presentation by Bryn Bird of Birds Haven Farm.
That will be followed by the nomination of candidates for the National Farmers Union meetings. The policy debate will also take place Friday afternoon. Wise talked about a couple of topics up for discussion.
“We’re going to say something about the Ohio turnpike,” he said. “We’re going to support the governor’s action to keep it in the hands of the state. We are opposed to privatization. We’re going to give him some suggestions on how to deal with that issue.”
Concerning the severance tax, OFU is in favor of raising it, but the organization is not in favor of using that money for income tax reduction, as Gov. John Kasich has suggested, Wise said. OFU would rather see the money go back to the counties where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, occurred, to support the local governments and for education funding.
The annual convention is also time for renewing friendships and the Political Action Committee reception on Friday, just before the banquet, is an opportunity to do that. Tom Buis, past president of the National Farmers Union and current CEO of Growth Energy, a part of the ethanol and renewable fuel industry, will be keynote speaker at the banquet.
On Saturday winners of the college and high school essay contests, as well as the three winners from the elementary school poster contest, will be announced. Also, Taylor Knight of Reminger Attorneys at Law will lead a breakout session on fracking and on landowners’ rights. The luncheon keynote speaker will be state Rep. Dave Hall from the 70th District, and the Legislator of the Year award will be announced.
OFU is recovering from a major setback a few years ago when an employee embezzled a large amount of funds. “It takes a long time to recover financially, but we are getting our organization back together,” Wise said.
“We have a newsletter, our website has been improved and rebuilt. As an organization, we are out there. We are back on track, and we’re proud of that. Our membership is faithful.”
For more information, phone the OFU at 419-523-5300.