The Ohio State Fair is a celebration of agriculture. For a politician it is also a time to associate yourself with the state’s largest industry.
Gov. John Kasich found time to declare a drought situation on day one of the fair. In response to severe heat and rainfall shortages across large areas of the state which are afflicting much of Ohio’s agriculture industry, Gov. John Kasich chose the first day of the fair to sign Executive Order 2012-11K instructing state agencies to help farmers reduce the negative impacts of the drought and to seek federal assistance.
CALL FOR ACTION: Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, addressed the group with an impassioned plea for the U.S. House of Representatives to take action on the Farm Bill.
As part of Kasich’s order, Ohio urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give Ohio farmers access to drought-related federal assistance such as emergency low-interest loans for crop losses, relief payments for non-insurable losses, the temporary deferral of payments on federal loans and permission to cut hay for livestock from acreage otherwise set aside for conservation. Additionally, Kasich’s order:
Instructs the Ohio Department of Agriculture to educate farmers on the adverse impacts of drought conditions and how best to mitigate them, as well as to conduct a series of regional drought education meetings to discuss forage management, water availability, heat stress on livestock and mitigation strategies;
Instructs the Ohio Department of Agriculture to create a website to inform farmers of where they can find hay to purchase for their livestock;
Allows the Ohio Department of Transportation to grant permits for farmers to cut hay for livestock they own from highway rights-of-way if their land is adjacent and it can be done safely.
“Farmers are the foundation of Ohio’s $105 billion food and agriculture industry and taking steps to help them through this hot, dry weather is essential to their survival. We need to be taking the right steps so they don’t suffer devastating losses or aren’t forced to abandon their fields or herds. It’s in all Ohioans’ best interests for our hard-hit farmers to be able to come back next year and these measures can help make that happen,” Kasich told the media.
AG’S FACE: What politician wouldn’t want to be associated with the kids and cows at the Ohio State Fair.
Kasich was not on hand for the presentation of the induction of four new members of the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, but he appeared on video and included letters of commendation to new selections. However, Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture did address the gathering. Vilsack spared no rhetoric in praising the values of the American farmer and the industry in general.
“Every single farmer and producer in this country deserves a gold medal,” Vilsack said. “Thanks to our farmers we are food secure. We grow everything we need and we spend less than 10% of our annual income to buy that food.”
FAMOUS FOLKS: New inductees into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame included, from left, Chuck Lifer, Don Myers, Micki Zartman and Bobby Moser. More than 400 attended a breakfast in their honor put on by the Ohio Ag Council.
He told the group that President Barrack Obama had brought him to the Oval Office and instructed him to “do all he can to help American farmers.” However, Vilsack said, the actions of the U.S. House of Representatives in not passing a new Farm Bill “puts rural America at risk.” The Farm Bill is the most important bill for rural America,” he told the group.
He continued by telling Ohio’s ag community that the nation’s value system is alive and well in places like state and county fairs. ”The greatness of this country is centered in the soul of this country in rural America,” Vilsack concluded.