Friday, November 27, 2009

Reflections on National Grange Session

The 143rd National Session is over and as I sit in my office and reflect on it, I am pleased with what was accomplished.

The Special Session on Sunday the 15th went well and the session overview had a lot of great questions asked.

Monday's activities started with the delegate tour and was a time for renewing friendships and making new ones. That afternoon, the committees began their work until it was time for the host banquet.

Tuesday we tried something new and committees met until noon. We had the honor of having eight dedicated Grangers present to be recognized as Heroes of the Grange. I felt it was an honor just to share the head table with them. That afternoon we opened the Session and started working.

Wednesday opened with the Ag Breakfast and our speaker told us about the efforts to improve agriculture in Afghanistan by the National Guard. This is one project that shows the local people that Americans care about them and want to help. The Delegates worked a number of resolutions and made great progress during the day. That evening we had a lengthy and passionate discussion our policy on industrial hemp as well as introductions of each State's delegation.

Thursday brought elections and we continued to make progress in getting the work of the Session finished. That evening we tried another new thing. The spouses of the National officers, or someone selected by the officer if not married, closed the National Grange. The officers stated that this was to show our love and respect for those who enable us to serve the Grange as officers. The business meeting of the Assembly of Demeter was held that evening. Brother Valentine announced that he was stepping down as High Priest and the Assembly elected officers with a new High Priest.

Friday finished the final working day of the Session. We continued to have spirited debate and discussion on the issues of the day. We finished the election of the two officers not completed on Thursday and installation was held at 2:30 p.m. Brother Valentine did an outstanding job as the installing officer. Session closed prior to the scheduled time as our work was done.

Saturday saw the 6th and 7th Degrees conferred and we closed the week with our celebration banquet.

We packed a lot into the week of Session and while we were all tired at the end, the sense of accomplishment, pride, and fellowship was strong throughout the entire week. We made a lot of positive changes in the Rules of the order, added to the ritualistic work, updated our policy in many areas, and recognized many members and Granges for outstanding work.

I am feeling so much pride in our organization. We have so much to be thankful for and our future is so bright. Next year, you need to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a Session that promises to be even better!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I hope every person in our country takes a moment to reflect on the gift that our veterans have given us.

We have a country where we change our leaders by the ballot, not by the bullet. We have the right to gather and discuss the successes and the failings of our government. We have the right to publicly disagree with anyone. We have the right to be right or wrong as long was we don't harm others. We can associate with whom ever we choose and we can be as unique as we want. We can read anything, share our opinions, and live the lifestyle we desire because of our veterans.

Our military veterans and those currently in the service are the ones that changed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States into functioning documents. The beautiful words that express the desires of men and women to be free would have little meaning if citizens had not answered the call to service and fought to earn the freedoms outlined in those documents. Our founding documents carry such great weight around the world because our brave citizens chose to back up those words with their actions as Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen.

It is fitting that the armistice of the first world war be a time to reflect on the gifts that our veteran's have given us and the sacrifices that they have made on our behalf.

My respect and thanks go to each veteran from those brave men who volunteered to fight in the American Revolution to our courageous men and women who today continue the fight against terrorists who seek to destroy our country and force innocents around the world to adopt their beliefs.

We must never forget the deaths, the changed lives, or the bravery of each veteran regardless of when they served. Peacetime or war, the members of the American military have always stood for the principles of our great nation. Each American family joins today in remembering the sacrifices that have been made to ensure our countries freedoms.

Join with me today in thanking God for so many citizens who answered the call to serve our country. Take the time to thank a veteran and also the ones who serve today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Farm Animal Welfare

Agriculture, especially animal husbandry, is under attack by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This past year California voters passed a proposition that may end the egg industry in that state as well as impact many other areas of livestock production. The voters in California have joined with voters in Florida and Arizona to regulate specifics of raising and caring for livestock through the ballot.

Ohio has taken a different path in this Novembers election. The voters passed issue 2 by a 64 to 36 percent margin. Issue 2 establishes a thirteen member Livestock Care Standards Board. No more than seven members on the board may be of the same political party. The Ohio General Assembly would have the power to set the terms of office for the Board members and determine any conditions for the Board members' service. The proposal states that the Board would consist of:

The director of the department of agriculture, who would serve as chair of the Board;
Ten members appointed by the Governor with Senate approval, which must include: one family farm representative, one member knowledgeable about food safety in Ohio; two members representing statewide farmer organizations; one veterinarian licensed in Ohio; the State Veterinarian; the dean of an Ohio college or university’s agriculture department; two members of the public representing Ohio consumers; one member representing a county humane society; One family farmer appointed by the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives; and One family farmer appointed by the President of the Ohio Senate.

In addition the Department of Agriculture will be vested with the enforcement authority.

Instead of depending upon voters making decisions based upon campaign ads or bumper stickers, which may not be accurate, Ohio farmers will have the advantage of science, best practices, and thoughtful consideration being a part of the process to create the rules that they must live and operate under.

The HSUS has a reputation of being an extremist animal rights organization with tremendous amounts of money to spend to accomplish their goals. From my perspective, after visiting their website, they care more for animals than for the people who's livelihood depends upon the care of those animals.

I would challenge every Grange member to research issue 2 from Ohio and to consider what the possibilities of this issue are in your state. Isn't it better to create an opportunity for farmers and others to work together in creating livestock management practices based on good science rather than face a ballot based upon an emotional argument that might harm a portion of our agricultural economy?