Ohio Agriculture Week: Growing Ohio

By David T. Daniels Contributing Columnist

March 10, 2014

The recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture validates what we’ve suspected all along: the state’s largest industry is not only maintaining its strong status, but is also growing.

From the increase in value of Ohio’s crop and livestock production to gaining more land in farms, we have a lot to be thankful for in our state. In Ohio, we have rich soils, a temperate climate, and adequate water supplies all ideally located within a 500 mile radius of the majority of the nation’s population.

As we pause for a moment to give thanks for the natural gifts that we have been blessed with, we must also give credit to those who have built upon our strengths and have used agriculture to grow Ohio.

Our planned success has been an intricate combination of three interlocking puzzle pieces: rich and abundant natural resources, a supportive administration working to reduce barriers, and a network of stellar agricultural agents. Without any one of these links, the census numbers might have told a far different story.

Ohio has strong leadership in Governor Kasich, who understands the importance of agriculture to our state. He has worked hard to reduce barriers like the estate tax, eliminate outdated rules and regulations that hinder production, and has spearheaded initiatives to realign our workforce with our job needs and revitalize youth interest in agriculture.

Let there be no mistake that we could never experience this kind of success without the producers and agribusinesses. Ohio producers follow industry practices that are based on science. Farmers take care of the land and their livestock, not only because it is their livelihood, but because it is the right thing to do. The fact that consumers have choices in production practices in a world where food production must increase by 70 percent to feed the population is nothing short of astounding.

These producers provide the raw inputs to support the food and other agribusinesses that give us jobs, boost the economy and provide us with the things we need to survive while, at the same time, doing it in a way that provides all of us with a better way of life.

This year, in honor of Ohio Agriculture Week, March 10-14, I will be traveling across the state to visit many of the agribusinesses and farm families that have helped contribute to a growing Ohio.

Without these individuals, an essential link in our puzzle, our growing food and agriculture industry could not thrive, let alone survive.

David T. Daniels is the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.