Farmers & Agriculture
Local Ag History
Ohio used to have one of the most diverse ag economies in the country where farmers grew all kinds of grains, fruits and vegetables. In fact, right up to the Civil War, Ohio was the leading grape producer in the U.S. but a labor shortage brought on by the War and later disease wiped out most of Ohio’s vineyards.
After the War, Ohio’s farmers focused on two main cash crops, corn and soy, and the primary reason was to feed the South during Reconstruction. With the exception of certain pockets now diversifying, Ohio’s ag economy still relies heavily on those two main crops.
Our farming economy may not go anywhere, but it could still die if not tended to.
Leaders must carefully take into account the history of the country’s Ag economy, its current state and its future and how it will preserve strong farming communities and strengthen them in the decades ahead. Ohio has one of the most diverse economies in the country but if there is one sector that stands out more than most needing direction, it is agriculture.
Leaders must work with our farming community and come up with some practical goals toward a sustainable farm economy in the next few years. These goals cover ethanol, wind and solar farms, rural internet infrastructure, soil and conservation, run-off, access to new markets with industrial hemp.
Our farmers are great at adapting. Just look at the return of the wine industry to Ohio. Ohio’s wineries have grown in number in a very short period of time, from 60 winery operations in the early 2000’s to now 200+. Ohio is back in the beer business too, with new farm operations growing distinctive hop varieties.
Ohio and other states are ready to broaden their ag product range that will increase our food security in the long run by lessening our dependence on a handful of states providing the majority of our country’s food such as California. All they need is leadership that is willing to work with them.
Protecting Our Lake Erie
I fully support Rep. March Kaptur’s proposed Great Lakes Authority that will establish a new federal program to protect the Great Lakes and its watersheds. This program will help the farming community in their initiatives such as the 4Rs program, cover crops, filter strips, buffer zones and blind outlets in efforts to reduce nutrient runoff into the Great Lakes.
Lawmakers can advocate for further regulation of confined/concentrated animal feeding facilities/CAFOs. Additionally, new permits for livestock CAFOs could be paused until a proper census is conducted. The census establishes a baseline to help regulate the number of animal units within a watershed’s carrying capacity.
Finally, the spreading of fertilizer – including manure – be limited to the agronomic rate, especially in any watershed designated as impaired by the U.S. or states’ EPA’s.
States with little regulation on foreign ownership of agricultural land infrastructure, and food security is an important reason to be concerned as overseas owners of our food supply here at home makes us vulnerable to national security.