Comments from the CEO
Chris Henney Shares Updates About Your Association, Legislation
As many of our member companies gear up for the busy spring planting season, we here at your association are winding down our “busy season.” January, February and March are traditionally when we hold many of our events and industry education activities. This year’s activities have been especially successful. As I’m sure you’ve read in our News & Notes, attendance and sponsorships have been up this past year. We sincerely appreciate all of the continued support from our members!
In addition to our own winter activities, the state and federal governments have ramped up activity since mid-January. While the U.S. Congress’ activity appears to be partisan bickering and finger pointing, the state legislature is hard at work on a number of fronts. We have been tracking progress on the state budget and have been actively working to ensure the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the Agricultural Technical Institute and OSU Extension all have adequate funding.
We have also been following tax changes closely, including the proposed state sales tax expansion. As of this writing, it seems highly likely that the Ohio House will make some major changes to the proposed sales tax expansion, if not cut it out of the bill completely. It is also our goal to exempt all licensed commodity handlers from the commercial activity tax. We are the closest on that front that we have been in years, with an amendment in the hands of the House Finance Committee, thanks to our friend State Representative Brian Hill (R – Zanesville). It is by no means a done deal, though, and we will continue to push this over the coming weeks.
The state budget, while getting most of the media attention, is not the only bill being considered in Columbus this winter. The state Senate recently passed SB 66, and is now headed to the House for their review. The bill will update and increase the state’s Grain Indemnity Fund to $15 million, amongst other things. OABA supports the Senate-passed version.
The bill that is probably getting the most attention in the agricultural community is one that hasn’t even been introduced in the legislature yet. A few weeks ago, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Agriculture unveiled a much-anticipated draft bill to address nutrient management issues in the state. OABA’s Public Policy Committee and Board of Directors have both been very involved in reviewing and providing feedback on the draft bill. I will be providing official comments on behalf of the association next week. After that, we will wait patiently to see what direction they go next. There will certainly be plenty of opportunities to engage on this issue over the coming weeks and months through both the legislative process and the subsequent rule-making process.
While I’ve been very busy here in Ohio over the winter, I did have the opportunity to visit and work with some of our national partners. In November, I attended the Agricultural Retailers Association Conference and Expo, where I had the opportunity to interact with many of our members as well as my counterparts from all over the country. February brought the annual winter Fly-In to Washington, D.C., where I was joined by Doug Busdeker of The Andersons, Inc. and John Oster of Morral Companies, LLC. Gordon Wallace of Trupointe Cooperative, Inc. was scheduled to join us, but his flight was cancelled at the last minute due to weather issues.
Finally, just a few weeks ago, I travelled to the National Grain & Feed Association’s Annual Convention, where I was able to once again network with many of our member companies as well as my counterparts. Of course, you don’t have to go out of state to visit members and I spent many days this winter out visiting member companies’ facilities. I plan to hit the road this summer again, so don’t be surprised if you see me at your office, plant or elevator!
As spring arrives (hopefully soon), please remember to be safe. It isn’t hard to get caught up in the rush of the planting season, but let’s not comprise safety for efficiency! In closing, feel free to call or email anytime with problems, opportunities or feedback. You can reach me at 614-326-7520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for your continued support.