It was Ag Day at the state capitol in Columbus Feb. 11.
Representatives of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation were gathered to deliver the organization's message on the state budget to their legislators. The group kept it simple. Restore funding for Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio agricultural Research and Development Center. Maintain funding for the Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Support agricultural education. Uphold private property rights especially with regards to wildlife and ATV trespassing. And improve and maintain transportation including broadband communication.
Gov. Ted Strickland addressed the group, calling them "the salt of the earth" and "the backbone of the economy of this state." He then focused on his own budget issue, education. He expressed two goals; find ways to reform the state's education system and to find ways to fund our public schools.
"I want to teach our youngsters how to be leaders and how to be able to adapt to a world that in 10 to 20 years is going to be very different from the one we have today."
When pressed for comments on agricultural funding issues, Strickland told the group that Soil and Water Districts were being moved to a definite and sustainable funding source based on increases in solid waster dumping fees. Ohio has by far the lowest fees of any surrounding states which draws garbage from as New York and other locations, he said.
He said the current level of funding for employees to operate the state fair and the Expo Center would be maintained. Extension would face a slight reduction in 2010 and 2011, but it would be "a reasonable amount to continue funding."
The budget for the Ohio Department of Agriculture would be held in line to support its core mission of food safety. Some fees for services to the department would be increased. "But those have not been raised for the last 20 years," Strickland said.
I listened with a table of dairymen who expressed their own budgetary concerns. "With $9 milk there is no way, I can stay in business long," a producer from Wooster commented. "Unless this downturn is short lived we dairymen are going to be in world of hurt," another from Preble County added.
Tough times all around.
Registered users can comment on this blog.