Much to the dismay of Buckeye fans, Ohio State was not No. 1 in basketball or football. Ohio is not the top corn or soybean producers in the nation. Nor is the Buckeye State at the top of the list for the production of many agricultural commodities. But I do think a case can be made that Ohio is near or at the top of the nation in another very valuable category — farm and agricultural leadership.
From the FFA to the commodity organizations to the Federal Government, Ohio has a rich history of producing leaders with agricultural backgrounds. One of the most recent additions to this storied history is Bob Gibbs, the first-ever former state Farm Bureau president to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
Gibbs graduated from The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in 1974, and then started raising livestock at his Hidden Hollow Farms in Holmes County. He served as the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) president for two terms starting in 1999 after serving on the OFBF board of trustees since 1985.
In 2002, Gibbs was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives and then was elected to the Ohio Senate in 2008. And last fall, in the wild elections of 2010, Gibbs was chosen by voters to represent Ohio’s 18th Congressional District in the 112th Congress. On their recent trip to Washington, D.C., OFBF county presidents got to meet with Gibbs for his first time on the opposite end of the group’s annual lobbying trip to the nation’s Capital.
“Well I’ve been on both sides of this and I’ve seen the value of this communication back and forth. It is a learning experience on both sides,” Gibbs said. “It was a great trip when I did it then and it is still a great trip. One thing I learned in all my years in Farm Bureau is that they used real facts and science to make their decisions where a lot of entities get emotional.”
Gibbs has jumped right in to his new role as an agricultural advocate in Congress by introducing HR 872 along with Ohio Congresswoman Jean Schmidt. The bill addresses the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to add another layer of regulation to pesticide use.
“HR 872 is really important and we need to get it done. A federal court issues a ruling that changed the intent of the Clean Water Act to say that a sprayer is a point source and anything that is a point source has to have an NPDES permit,” Gibbs said. “This has potential to cause a lot of regulatory headaches for farmers or municipalities spraying for mosquitoes. It puts more burdens on farmers and municipalities. The EPA is totally out of control.”
H.R. 872 has passed the House by a 292 to 134 vote. Gibbs also plans to work with efforts to reduce the federal deficit and forge a new farm bill as a part of the House Ag Committee. Ohio’s farmers should consider themselves fortunate to have such a champion for agriculture from Ohio and a healthy crop of other great leaders.