Membership: What Is Your Time Worth?

June 4, 2020 Ohio Soybean Association

By Ryan Rhoades, OSA President

What would you pay to spend more time being with the people you love and doing the things you love? Advocacy is an incredibility important civic duty and when it’s time to call in the troops, we need our members to mobilize. But advocacy can also mean long hours sitting in a committee to present your testimony or waiting three hours to talk to your representatives for five minutes. The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) exists to represent you in these situations, so you can spend your time where it’s needed most — with your family and your farm.

1.) What does it mean to you to know that other farmers are fighting for your interests on your behalf?

For myself, it means a lot when other farmers are in Washington advocating on behalf of their fellow farmers. It not easy and sometimes, frankly, it is not fun — running around trying to make meetings where you sometimes have only 15 minutes to argue for all your issues. I’m glad farmers have OSA to do that because my time is valuable, and I can’t be everywhere all the time. I have to prioritize, like we all do, and OSA does an incredible job prioritizing issues for soybeans farmers so don’t have to all the time.

2.) How have you seen member dollars being put to good use? What’s the ROI for membership dues?

I have seen a great return for our membership dues, especially in the area of trade. We pushed hard to restore our relationship with China and continue our relationship in a responsible way that would benefit both countries. But as time went on without a trade deal, our incomes were affected. As a result, we saw an MFP payment that resulted in a $1.65/bushel. Other commodity organizations didn’t see that level of return back to farmers for the trade losses we all suffered. The American Soybean Association (ASA) and OSA put a lot of time and energy advocating for farmers who were left in a financial slump to have some type of restitution that would help sustain us through another year. Basically, my three-year membership of $205 went toward providing $99 an acre (60 bu/a average) from the trade MFP. In other words, without MFP happening an additional $99/acre left the farm.

3.) Are you a member of any other organizations that advocate specifically on soybean farmers’ behalf? What makes OSA unique?

What makes OSA unique is that at the end of day it is all farmer-driven advocacy and policy-led discussions at every level of government to not only increase our bottom line but to make our farm operations management run more smoothly on a daily basis. OSA works on issues from water quality to fuel standards, trade, transportation, etc. Anything that could be to the determinant of soybeans or the soybean grower, OSA is there first working toward a long-term solution.

4.) What would you estimate it would cost you to be away from your farm for a day to go by yourself to advocate on Capitol Square/Hill?

I am by no means a wealthy man, but I value my time at $40/hr. That said, for myself to leave for D.C. on my own and advocate would be nearly financially impossible as well as generally inefficient. We all know that when we fight for something, we have strength in numbers. Two full days off the farm for 12-hour days would be $960. I would estimate other costs for things like fuel ($58), plane tickets ($150-200), hotel ($250), Ubers/taxi ($50), and food ($100). For myself to go to D.C. and advocate for two days would be nearly $950 and I am probably forgetting a few minor costs along the way. It’s not cheap!

5.) Why is OSA needed now? What kind of challenges are facing soybean farmers that can be helped or solved by working with the government?

With an uncertain economy, a stressed relationship with all our trading partners, and the continued battle with phosphorus and other nutrients in the Western Lake Erie watersheds, 2020 will be another challenging year for Ohio soybean farmers. The H2Ohio initiative, where farmers and government are working together to improve our water quality, will be rolled out this year. In addition, infrastructure like roads and bridges need repair or replacement. All of these challenges are priorities for OSA when we go talk to legislators and industry partners.

OSA is needed more than ever because our farm gate prices are falling precipitously every day and regulation, fear/uncertainty, trade issues, transportation issues, etc., are growing. Without OSA, a soybean grower could not be 100 percent dedicated to his/her farm AND advocate at the Statehouse or D.C. with 100 percent dedication. OSA is the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease.” We’re working to solve all the issues related to soybeans and to soybean growers. We simply cannot do this on our own with this level of intensity. That is why the OSA is needed now more than ever.

Last year, OSA was able to meet with over 50 legislators and legislative staff at the state level alone, which helped keep Ohio’s soybean farmers at the forefront of discussions when it came to things like H2Ohio and the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit. Meeting with that many people is something I simply could not do on my own.

When I think about the time I save, I think about how I can spend it being a father, a husband, a farmer, and a businessman. Is an $80 membership worth it to you? Is a $205 membership worth it? It is to me. Join and renew online today here.