The following column was submitted by State Representative Dorothy Pelanda.
Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry. It plays a vital role in the overall economic success of our state. I am proud to serve on the Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee in my capacity as your State Representative to help create and continue sound agricultural policies to promote this industry.
Ohio has about 75,000 farms located in very county. Nearly half (44 %) of the state’s total acreage is considered prime farmland.
One out of seven Ohioans is employed in some aspect of agriculture, including farm production, wholesaling and retailing, marketing and processing and agribusiness. Ohio is the 13th leading agricultural exporter of goods, estimated at 2.6 billion annually and produces more than 200 products sold.
Almost all production occurs near the state’s metropolitan counties. While there is nationally-recognized value in being a leader of urban-influenced agriculture, a number of rural communities are facing developmental and social change as a result and urban development is displacing farming and farmland.
The Office of Farmland Preservation has been created within the Ohio Department of Agriculture to help to assist local officials with farmland protection efforts.
If the value of a farmer’s property for non-agricultural development becomes higher than it is for farming uses, he or she is unable to capitalize on the appreciated value unless they sell the farm. Under the farmland preservation program, the farmer can sell an agricultural easement to a local government entity or to the state and be compensated for the difference between the agricultural value and the developmental value of the land so that he or she may continue the farming operation. In return, the farmer agrees to place a deed restriction on the land to keep the land in agricultural use in perpetuity. The farmer still owns the land. Only the developmental rights have been restricted.
This easement purchase program is competitive and easements are sought for areas that are desirable for preservation and farmlands not likely to block necessary future development.
In Addition, Ohio’s AgLink Deposit Program allows farms to apply for reduced-rate loans directly with the Treasurer of State. This is critical to many family-owned farms which at times have trouble getting credit. To date, the program has assisted approximately 40,000 Ohio farmers. Recently, House Bill 415 and Senate Bill 281 increased both the loan amounts available per application and the amount set aside for the program to better assist our farmers.
Ohio farmers feed our nation as well as being the bulwark of our state’s economy. As your legislator I will continue to focus on ways to promote and protect the agriculture industry within our state.
State Representative Dorothy Liggett Pelanda represents the 83rd House District in the Ohio House of Representatives, which includes Union and Logan counties, as well as most of Marion County. You can find more information about and contact Pelanda by clicking here.