CAUV Crisis in Ashtabula County
It is shocking that the current County Auditor and his supporters say the removal of CAUV farmers in our county is an "Issue that doesn't exist". In the past 5 days alone, I have had 4 businessmen and farmers approach me at events to say they received letters taking them off the budget saving CAUV program. Hundreds have been taken off and put in financial stress in recent years, following the 300 removed in the current Auditor's first year in office.
This is a crisis. I promise to be that partner our farmers deserve- having evening classes on property standards, meetings at local farms, direct lines of communication, and using other county's best practices will be my priority.
Under the current Auditor Administration, these farmers are afraid to speak up, but have all shared similar examples of a lack of information, incorrect assumptions of farming, and an unwillingness by the Auditor and Deputy Auditor to help their cause. When hay is brush-hogged because of the weather and claimed to be a non-farmed field, or property is in the husband's name and taken out of the program for adding his wife, when land is occupied for one year for road construction and the owner must pay back taxes erasing his status, or a bee farmer is forced into recoupment because of incorrect information- I fully believe we have an issue.
It is an issue of communication and mentality.
Are there state laws and restrictions, yes. But flexibility is part of all regulations and our local Auditor's Office has large leeway for interpretation. When it comes to those who's lifeblood comes from the land, we as a County should do all that is possible to protect them.