2015 OFA Annual Meeting, February 11-12, 2015
The Annual Meeting is approaching quickly. Meeting and registration information can be found at the OFA website. You can go directly to the on-line registration here. Here is a quick run-down of the presentations and activities planned for the annual meeting:
- Can Ohio Forest Property Tax Laws be Revised to Address Timber Theft and Other Forest Policy Issues? – A Discussion with the Chief, ODNR Deputy Director and Chief of Forestry, Bob Boyles, with John Dorka, Moderator. Instead of the annual DOF state of the Division address and OFA annual report to members, the session will involve a policy discussion on Ohio’s forest property tax laws (CAUV and Ohio Forest Tax Laws). With all of the interest the past year on timber theft legislation as well as concern over rising CAUV agricultural land property tax rates, ideas and thoughts brewing on how the existing property tax laws might be changed to better address forest policy concerns and issues. Join in the discussion following lunch on Wednesday, February 11 to find out more about ideas on what could be done and weigh in with your thoughts.
- OWIN Tour of Caretta Workspace. Take in a fun tour of Caretta Workspace, manufacturers of functional and beautiful workstations using Ohio hardwoods and the latest in technology.
- OWIN Reception. Relax and enjoy a reception back at meeting headquarters following the tour, and take a chance on a few items that the Ohio Tree Farm Committee will be auctioning.
- Keynote Address. We are still awaiting confirmation on a speaker in the Ohio public policy and legislative arena.
- Hardwood Market Analysis, David Caldwell, Hardwood Market Report. Hear first-hand what is happening in the with domestic and international hardwood market analysis from an expert in the industry. David has joined the OFA annual meeting on several occasions to provide his insights on where the market is at and what may be in store ahead.
- The Affordable Care Act –The Latest on What it Means to You and Your Business, John M. Lawrence, CPA, John M. Lawrence and Associates. You’ve heard so much about, no doubt already dealing with it. But the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare, continues to unleash new twists and turns, fees and requirements. Get an overview of what it means to you individually and to your business from an expert who offers regular updates to Ohio’s Ag members at Farm Bureau workshops. Mr. Lawrence promises a presentation that you will want to hear!
- Awards Luncheon. Enjoy a luncheon with awards recognizing the Ohio Logger of the Year, Ohio Tree Farmer of the Year and other OFA Conservation Award winners.
- Bats, Water, Air and Roads-What’s Going on with Federal Regulations? Pat Rita, Lobbyist, Orion Advocates, Washington, DC. The potential designation of the Northern Long Eared Bat as an endangered species could have a profound impact on hardwood forest management in the eastern U.S. A lot has been happening with that status and it has been a challenge keeping up with the latest federal activities. In addition, concerns over EPA designations of Clean Water Act definitions on the Waters of the U.S and carbon emissions designations for woody biomass energy use as well as federal truck weight issues all can have major effects on the hardwood industry through business or forest management activities. Mr. Rita works with the hardwood industry and is very familiar with these issues. He will share with us where they currently stand.
- Hardwood Product Sector Panel, Gale Keener, Mullican Flooring; Dave Forst, Woodcraft Industries; Ernie Hershberger, Homestead Furniture; Larry Evans, ITL; Gordon Kendrick, Rockland Flooring. Listen to a panel of hardwood sector experts talk about their unique perspective of what is going on in their sector of interest. They will share their insights on current and coming industry activity as they see it. There will be plenty of opportunity for attendee participation with an exchange of questions and ideas.
- President’s Reception. Finish the meeting with another opportunity to network with other OFA members and attendees.
"Hardwood Check-Off" Moving Forward?
In a recent article from the Woodworking Network, it is being reported by the Hardwood Checkoff Committee, a group which has been pushing for the adoption of the check-off, that USDA is moving forward with further review of the Hardwood Lumber and Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research and Information Order (“Hardwood Check-Off”) proposal, at least for another year. The committee is asking the USDA to commit to providing additional funding for the review and for a revised version of what has already been discussed, accounting for the considerable feedback already received on the proposal. Contrarily, the U.S. Hardwood Industry Coalition, which is opposed to proceeding with a check-off, has asked USDA to officially terminate the proposal and did so in a December 18, 2014 letter to USDA. Got that? There is confusion abounding on where this issue is at. We hope to be able to provide some clarity at the annual meeting, at least on the latest status of the proposal.
Department of Taxation Advises of Upcoming Hearing on CAUV Rates
Last week, the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) reported that it continues to work on adjustments to the CAUV property tax rates as farmers and landowners have raised extensive concerns of late about escalating tax rates. ODT plans to re-convene the Agricultural Advisory Committee in late February or early March to determine the best course of action on the rate formula. Some groups have asked for such changes as “caps” on the rates, but ODT is advising they do not plan on that course of action. ODT is arguing that it will continue to work within the existing formula to make changes, and that it has no plans to attempt changes that will require law or rule changes.
Of note for forestland owners is rising concern over the formula used to calculate woodland tax values, which uses a cost to clear forestland as part of the formula. Currently, that rate is “$500/acre”, the same as the rate when CAUV first became law in the 1970s. OFA has been arguing that at the least, land clearing rates used in the formula should reflect current costs, which according to OFA surveys range from $2,250-$4,500 per acre. The Ohio Farm Bureau is a long-time member of the Agricultural Advisory Committee and concurs that changes are needed, which can be seen in their policy recommendations.
BWC Proposes Another Premium Cut for Private Employers
Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Director Steve Buehrer announced last week that starting July 1 this year, workers comp premiums for private employers will be cut 10.8%. This amount of reduction will reduce BWC premium revenues by $153 million this coming year. This reduction, in addition to others implemented over the last several years, will have cut premiums by 21.4% since 2011. Similar premium reductions for public employers over the same period have dropped rates almost 20%. BWC says that the reductions have been made possible by a combination of good returns on revenue investments and lower claim frequencies.
Ohio House and Senate Announce Committee Assignments
Last week, House Speaker Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) announced that he had made committee assignments for the Ohio House in the 131st General Assembly. The Ohio Senate has also announced new committees and committee leadership. You can find a Gongwer pocket legislative directory in a pdf format that you can download for your own record. This contains a listing of all Ohio Senate and House members with committee assignments, as well as all of Ohio Congressional members, with their contact information. OFA will be printing copies of these directories to make available to the OFA membership. We hope to have some available by and at the Annual Meeting. If not, they will be mailed to the membership as soon as ready thereafter.
Ohio Tree Farm Committee Meeting
Recently, the Ohio Tree Farm Committee held its first meeting of the new year and discussed a number of issues. Information from that meeting:The Ohio Tree
- Farm of the Year Tour will be September 19, 2015 on the Alan Walter Farm in Harrison County;
- The Ohio Tree Farm Program recently met with an assessment team from PricewaterhouseCoopers to discuss audit plans for the Ohio Tree Farm certification program this year. The audit team plans to visit 35 Tree Farms over a 4-day period in late March, early April to do certification audits. As part of the discussion, committee members indicated that some Ohio wood product manufacturers who use certified wood would consider helping with certification costs;
- The Ohio Tree Farm Committee will have 3 representatives at the Tree Farm National Leadership Conference in St. Louis in February.
- The Ohio Tree Farm Committee will have host several fund raising activities at the OFA Annual Meeting on Feb. 11-12, 2015 at the Embassy Suites-Dublin including a silent auction and card raffle.. Donations for the auction and raffle will be accepted up to the day of the meeting. Those wishing to donate should contact Alex and Abby Kindler (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 740-214-4642.
- Jeremy Scherf will be recognized as the 2015 Ohio Tree Farm Committee Inspector of the Year at the annual meeting.
CSAW Training Review
Last week, OFA staff reviewed the Chainsaw Safety Awareness that Works (CSAW) Training program as part of its effort to insure continued improvement and growth. Staff met with the 3 certified instructors (Ryan Redoutey, Brock Couture, and Ed Faris) and identified areas for improvement as well as ways to grow the program. From 2013 to 2014, the number of training classes doubled, with classes offered throughout the state.
Beyond the core mission of providing safety training for the Master Logging Company program, CSAW has expanded its reach to offer training to other public and private users throughout the state, as well as volunteers who use chainsaws for a variety of purposes. Don’t hesitate to pass along to any chainsaw user that the safety training provided through CSAW is top-notch and can help any professional or volunteer chainsaw user to reduce risk and injury.