Ohio Livestock Coalition holds successful Ag Power Briefing
COLUMBUS, OH - Nearly 100 current legislators and candidates for Ohio's General Assembly left the Ohio Livestock Coalition's (OLC) Ag Power Briefing May 6th in Columbus better suited to address their constituents' agricultural and livestock concerns.
The briefing connected the politicians with experts on food and fuel, animal care, environmental issues and the economic impact of agriculture to the state. The briefing consisted of a repeated morning and afternoon session, meant to be flexible for busy political schedules. Each session consisted of a 15 minutes presentation followed by questions from the candidates and legislators. The goal of the program was to help the attendees to better address their constituents questions as they relate to livestock production.
"I've been to enough public meetings that I know questions are out there," said OLC Executive Director Sandy Kuhn. "You need to have some answers for your constituents," she told those in attendance.
Bill Knapke of Cooper Farms presented information on how livestock owners and operators are excellent stewards of the land and how they take the necessary precautions to insure that environmental problems do not occur. He touched on things such as manure handling and application, rodent and insect control, livestock facility siting and neighbor relations.
According to Knapke, "All of these aspects along with excellent management go into making for successful stewards of the land and good neighbors."
Todd Stickley of Kalmbach Feeds, addressed the fact and fiction that surround today's animal care issues. Todd started with the fact that today's livestock industry is very different than it was 50 years ago when most farms were smaller and were diversified with a few sheep, cows, pigs and chickens. Todd went on to say that now more than ever, today's livestock producer must conduct himself/herself in a manner which promotes animal wellbeing and produce animal food products which are of the highest quality… and he/she must be willing to speak-out for our fellow producers who conduct themselves in a responsible manner.
The issue of food and fuel was addressed by Jim Chakeres of the Ohio Poultry Association and Tadd Nicholson from Ohio Corn Growers. The purpose of this session was to address what impacts the cost of food in the grocery store. The reason for the increase in food prices as of late include: a weaker U.S. dollar, weather, increases in energy, fuel and crude oil costs, workforce issues, biofuels, world food policy and world carbohydrate demands. There is not one single thing, including the increased production of biofuels, that is causing the price of food to increase. It is a combination of a multitude of activities and events and cannot be blamed on one single event or activity. The good news is that Americans still enjoys the most economical and safest food in the world, paying less than 10% of their disposable income on food.
The final presentation by Scott Higgins representing the Ohio Dairy Producers Association provided candidates and legislators an update on the economic impact of agriculture and the livestock industry to Ohio. Food and agriculture are Ohio's top industry, contributing $93 billion to Ohio's economy. The agricultural industry creates 924,000 jobs - that's
1 out of every 7 jobs in Ohio. Higgins then went on to explain how much each commodity adds to Ohio's economy. Higgins ended the presentation by encouraging the legislators and candidates to support growth in production agriculture, support new product development and support policies that promote and protect food and agriculture.
In addition to hearing from OLC members from numerous livestock and commodity organizations, each individual received a binder to take with them containing contact information of OLC members, Ag Facts about Ohio, their congressional district and counties in their district.