OABA, an organization to help ag businesses PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Farm Editor   
Tuesday, 21 May 2013 09:13
At Thursday's monthly Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum, those attending learned about the services of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.
Chris Henney, president and CEO of the organization, outlined how farmers and other agricultural businesses need to stay on top of all aspects of the business climate to meet what he called "our greatest challenge" which is to feed the expected nine billion people on the planet by 2050 with less land and less resources.
Rather than just a challenge, he called it "tomorrow's opportunity" to met those needs by increasing yields, strengthening crops, improving animals while assuring the public health and stainability for the agricultural community.
Henney shared one interesting fact which many people, including some of those agricultural leaders gathered to hear his talk did not know.
"It takes one-third of a ton of grain to sustain one person for one year," Henney said.
He also noted how diseases and pests need to better controlled as his statistics show those two problems "currently reduce food production by 35 percent."
The speaker noted how the OABA, which is operated by a 15-member board and three-member staff work with the various members of the association, both large and small, to be a strong advocate for the members it serves.
Henney also noted he serves as the organization's full-time lobbyist at the state legislature, but urged all those in attendance to also to "start today" to make connections with their legislators. Thus, when an issue comes up before the state house, they already have a working relationship with the state senators and representatives.
The speaker touched on various topics of interest which will continue to be addressed over the coming months and years, including tax exemptions including a grain exemption to all commodity handlers, a half-cent per bushel charge for the elevator insolvency fund, to name a couple of the topics.
Henney also shared how the recent fire in Texas brought to the forefront the ongoing need for safety regulations regarding the flammability of fertilizers, notably all ammonia products. He said such large instances will often result in greater regulations imposed on everyone.
"Sometimes we have to make changes merely for the public perception, if nothing else," Henney said.
He explained that despite all safety precautions and features, if the public does not have a sense of that safety, things sometimes need to be changed to help reassure the public.
He also noted how many of the veteran agricultural leaders are now retiring baby boomers. There are also many younger people coming into ag-related fields.
"There is a gap in middle management, we are very slim in middle management," Henney said. "We need folks within the industry to prepare for those roles."
He thus told the group about the OABA's LAUNCH (Leaders Achieving Unexpected New Career Heights) program. According to the OABA website the leadership development training program was designed to help "fill the void, and ultimately to help ensure a bright future for Ohio's agribusinesses."
He stressed the importance of being proactive to help solve issues such as the algae bloom in Lake Erie in order to minimize regulations being placed which would inhibit the operations. He shared how the 4R stewardship program of making sure right fertilizers are used at the right rate at the right time with the right placement.
"If we do our jobs right, we won't need outsiders to tell us how to farm," he said.
The pilot program for the 4R stewardship has been successful. "We are very proud of that," he said.
He told those gathered it is important for agricultural leaders to be present at the various tables for discussions and regulations so they "don't cripple our ability to feed the seven billion today and the nine billion tomorrow."
He added that some of this will require being able to "compromise on how we do business, even if it's only paperwork."
Adding, "We don't know what those compromises are yet. This is nothing new, we've done it for years. The goals are the same we want to keep the fertilizer on our crops any way."

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