Here in Ohio, a State steeped in a rich history of agriculture, April is Agriculture Month. April is the month most farmers in our State are getting ready to, or in some cases,have already begun to plant corn. Corn is a huge crop in our State, but it is not the only one farmers and ranchers grow and/or raise. With approximately seventy-four thousand farms in our State it is not surprising that agriculture is THE first industry in the State in terms of total dollars and employment. Greater than any other type of industry and one of the few to actually GROW during the recession.
"The most recent, from June 2012, uses data from 2010 gathered primarily federal and county level agencies, Sporleder said.
In 2010, the study found, the total food and agricultural cluster contributed 11.7 percent, or $105 billion, of Ohio's total economic output of $898.7 billion. The cluster's share of the gross state product of $477.7 billion was $51 billion, or almost 11 percent.
Ohio's gross state product improved by 1.3 percent from 2008 to 2010, the study said, while the portion attributed to the "agrifood" cluster increased about 30 percent.
The agrifood cluster accounts for 14 percent of Ohio employment, or about 1 of 7 jobs. It gained 1 percent from 2008 to 2010, a period when total employment declined about 3 percent."
The Ohio Secretary of the State has recently listed several examples of farms and agri-businesses in the State, including Carriage House Farm.
We think this is a perfect time to discuss the problems with centralizing so much of our nation's agriculture production in arid regions, susceptible to drought, subjected to the whims of radical swings in weather patterns. It is time for other states to pick up the production, supplying demand, in-season, of a bulk of the crops that can be grown in a our warm weather periods and invest in structures that allow us to take advantage of year round growing.
As a farm that has diversified, we understand the difficulties of finding new markets and dealing direct with customers rather than a broker or commodity buyer, but imagine, if every corn and bean farmer suddenly began growing three or four acres of vegetable, fruit, artisan grains that command more value on the market? Imagine if that production went to Ohio cities and towns and was purchased by friends, and family, neighbors, and fellow Ohioans. Imagine just how much more significant our already strong agricultural industry would become? How many more jobs would be created up and down the the chain from field to market?
It is time for Ohio farmers to change.
"Agriculture 'is the strongest industry in Ohio.'"
- John Kasich in a 2012 speech to the Ohio Farm Bureau
Let's change Ohio by making agriculture even stronger.