Both gubernatorial candidates made appearances at the Farm Science Review last week. The two visits could not have been more different.
Gov. Ted Strickland came in Tuesday for the Vice President’s luncheon which celebrates all things Ohio State. John Kasich came on Wednesday morning and was toured from one key exhibitor to another on foot.
The governor spoke of the valuable contribution agriculture makes to the economy of the state as well as the key support the university and especially the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences makes to the farming sector. He referred to both as important tools for regaining economic viability in the state.
John Kasich (center) quizzes Dwayne Siekman, left, about the potential for new products made from corn.
“OSU is our ladder and agriculture is our ladder to economic stability,” Strickland told the gathering of 670.
He spoke of the benefits of the bio-preferred legislation passed under his term. He called the state “the ideal place to locate an advanced bio-refinery” that would be capable of producing everything from a toothbrush to paint from bio-based products. He cited the growth in ethanol production with five plants producing 400 million gallons in the state. He predicted that on-farm anaerobic digesters were going to become more commonplace.
Gov. Ted Strickland tells the guests at the vice president's luncheon that because of new research into bio-products "Ohioans are sitting on a treasure and we will do all we can to tap it."
He was followed on the podium by Gordon Gee, OSU president, who humorously noted that Coach Tressel had just told him the Ohio University mascot had been given the Jack Tatum Award for the biggest hit of the game in honor of the pre-game blow he dealt to Brutus Buckeye. Dean Bobby Moser, vice president of CFAES, provided an emotional review of the devastation at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at Wooster. Chuck Gamble, the manager of Farm Science Review, noted that the ag economy had exhibitors in a very optimistic mood.
Dean Bobby Moser lets the audience know that OSU is determined to rebuild the research center at Wooster including greenhouses, ag engineering and the Secret Arboretum.
Wednesday morning Kasich hit the media booths before trekking to the Ohio Corn Marketing Program building. He was greeted there by Dwayne Siekman, executive director, who told him about the need for higher weight limits on trucking pointing out that by 2030 grain productions was expected to double and the amount of grain being trucked would likewise get a boost.
What percent of ag commodities go beyond the basic products into advanced bio-products,” Kasich inquired. “Is the new use talk just hype or is it real? How do we stay ahead of the rest of the world?”
Show manager Chuck Gamble says the mood is optimistic and potential record yields on the show site's fields are an indication why.
When Siekman responded that we could see 50 to 60% of the corn crop move away from the traditional feed uses by 2030, Kasich told his staff, “These are smart guys. We want to stay in touch with these guys.”
On the way to Ohio Soybean Council’s building I jogged along next to candidate Kasich and asked him a couple of quick questions. Should the university folks putting on the farm show be worried about their jobs given the state budget shortfall projections? “I’m not talking about the budget now,” Kasich replied. “I am talking about jobs. Once we get the jobs situation settled, the budget will take care of itself.”
E. Gordon Gee, OSU president, salutes the crowd for the strong support they have provided to all aspects of the university.
I asked if he had changed his mind about the value of ethanol production. “We’ve got ethanol plants here in Ohio today. We’ve got to let ethanol do its thing. It’s providing jobs and that’s good.”
At the soybean lot, Kasich was told about more new product development. He also learned that export markets were booming. “Do these farmers know I am being bashed because I think trade is good,” he said. “Let’s get that word out.”
As he left the building he turned and shouted, “I love soybeans. I love ‘em. I am pro-soybean.”
A few minutes later he was leaving the Dairy Farmers of America with a shout out for milk. “I love ice cream. I eat it every night.”