Ohio's Diverse  Agricultural  History 

All The Way Back To The Civil War

Prior to the Civil War, Ohio had one of the most diverse ag economies anywhere.  Ohio 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.  It lost that status due to a couple of reasons; first a labor shortage brought on by the War so vineyards weren’t looked after properly and then to disease which 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 for this was to feed the South which lay in ruins after the War, and its inhabitants needed food.  And with the exception of certain pockets still diversified or becoming more so, Ohio’s ag economy still relies heavily on those two main crops.


For decades now including the present, the assumption was that manufacturing, information technology and even financial services may rise and fall as the times change, new modes of business evolve or capital investment wanes and looks elsewhere for the next best thing, but agriculture like the ground underneath it, never moves.


Our farming economy may not go anywhere, but it could still die if not tended to.  

Ohio policymakers, when dealing with farm issues, must carefully take into account the history of Ohio’s Ag economy, its current situation and its future prospects and how it will preserve Ohio’s strong farming communities and strengthen them in the decades ahead. Ohio possesses 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.