At the end of July every year, the Ohio State Fair begins its annual 12-day exhibition in the capital city—bringing kids, teenagers, and adults together to enjoy carnival rides, fair food, and the best of Ohio’s agriculture industry. I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend this year and meet many students who have committed much of their free time to raising animals and crops specifically for the fair. Not only does the Ohio State Fair give families something fun to do during the summer, but it also provides approximately $85 million towards Ohio’s economy each year.
This year, the Ohio House and Senate Agriculture committees again held a joint committee hearing at the fair. This annual, informal committee meeting gives state leaders within the agriculture community the opportunity to update the committee and the public on the important work being done at the state level to improve the industry for the benefit of all Ohioans. Those who gave testimony include the directors of the Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and leaders from the Ohio State University and the Ohio Expositions Commission.
Many Ohioans don’t realize just how important agriculture is to our economy. It is the number-one industry in the state, contributing about $105 billion to the economy each year and employing one out of seven Ohioans! Because of its impact, the state legislature and the administration have made it a priority to establish policies that support the continued success of agriculture in Ohio.
Through funding in the state budget, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has been hard at work on various programs that research innovative ways to carry out the department’s mission—to protect the public and uphold regulations for a safe and profitable food and agriculture industry. Director Daniels was keen to remark at the committee meeting about just how much agriculture touches our everyday lives, whether you live on a farm or not. The fair is a great way for families to interact with the food and farm industry and discover just where their family dinner comes from.
Additionally, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1, a water quality bill, which establishes best nutrient practices and regulates the spreading of manure and fertilizer on frozen, snow-covered, or saturated ground in the Western Lake Erie Basin. This bill, already enacted, demonstrates the coordination of Ohio farmers and the Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and the Ohio EPA at its best, working together to create sound policy that allows farmers to carry out best practices for their agricultural enterprises while protecting Ohio’s natural resources.
The yearly joint Agriculture Committee held at the Ohio State Fair is a true connection between the state, the industry, and Ohio’s citizens. It gives us as legislators the chance to hear what more we can do to ensure the successful collaboration between all stakeholders within the agriculture community, and it helps connect the general public back to this important sector of Ohio’s economy. I hope you were able to attend this year’s fair and learn a little more about agriculture in Ohio.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.