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OFBF highlights priority wins during Farm Science Review

Each year, Ohio Farm Bureau crafts top priority issues impacting growers around the state.  

Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy, says OFBF board of trustees came up with the Ohio Agriculture and Rural Communities Action Plan to summarize those priorities.

“This year we presented to policymakers what we’re calling our Ohio Agriculture and Rural Communities Action Plan and it was devised as being able to take definitive steps to help improve the farm economy and help improve rural economies coming out of COVID-19,” he says. “With all the challenges we faced and a shutdown of many small businesses in rural communities and some of the challenges that farmers faced with logistics and supply chain issues, this was devised to take a look at that situation and provide really direct recommendations and action steps that policy makers could take to help recover.”

He says some of the priority areas included “investing in COVID recovery and investing in small businesses and rural communities and strengthening the food supply chain. We all saw how the logistics of the supply chain could break down when there were disruptions. For example, think about meat processing and dairy producers experiencing significant disruption in their operations because of those supply chain break downs. One of the issues we’ve continually been working on the last few years is broadband investment for rural communities. The list goes on and on to include protecting landowner rights, helping growers cope with farm stress, and more.”

Kern says there have been some great wins.

“Particularly here at the state level, a lot of those accomplishments were achieved in the two-year state budget bill that was passed in June,” he says. “There was a significant investment in broadband in that piece of legislation– $250 million for broadband development. There was a lot of effort put in to help small businesses recover. There were several grant programs created for small businesses to help them weather the storm of not having that demand. Another thing we’re proud of is that there was a new grant program created in the state budget bill to help enhance and incentive the development and expansion of more small- and medium-sized meat processors to help provide more competition and build out capacity.”

There is still work to be done, he says.

“There are other things we need to accomplish particularly in logistics and supply chain. I think at the federal level there is a lot more work to be done in dairy pricing, for example, and additional work to be done in that meat processing sector to look at that bigger picture with the four large meat processors and how much they dominate the market. We’ll continue to push for broadband development— we had a great win at the state level and we’re hopeful we’ll see the federal government also make some more investments.”

Brownfield interviewed Kern during the 2021 Farm Science Review.

Audio: Brandon Kern

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