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Gov. Kasich highlights economic opportunities for Ohio agriculture
Asked about his philosophy on the role of government during a recent taping of Ohio Farm Bureau’s radio show Town Hall Ohio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said government should do what people can’t do for themselves.
“When it comes to Ohio’s greatest challenges, which is to create jobs and restore some prosperity…it’s to have reasonable regulation, low taxes, an educated work force and create an environment where businesses want to come, locate jobs here, where companies that are here want to expand,” he said.
Kasich said Ohio should look to see how it can grow its agricultural base by making it more exciting and more profitable.
“We’ve got great farmers, great resources, great leverage, great agriculture schools, great research centers and a great Farm Bureau,” he said. “So we look at this in terms of how can we do better.”
Kasich said there will always be job opportunities available to people in agriculture.
“People aren’t going to stop growing stuff, and we’re not going to stop eating,” he said. “What we have to do is convince those young people in a farm family that you can have a secure future economically if you will just invest in the farm.”
Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher thanked Kasich for balancing the budget while prioritizing state government functions.
“We were concerned about cooperative Extension, ag research, a viable Ohio Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water (Conservation Districts)—all the things that we work on on a day-to-day basis,” Fisher said. “We participated in balancing the budget, but the governor and the legislature looked after (Ohio) in terms of being in a position to carry on the work we do for Ohio farmers and Ohio consumers.”
Balancing a budget is not just about cuts, Kasich said.
“What drives you is ‘How do you design a better product for a lower price, what priorities do you set and how do you get to the goal,’” he said.
Questioned about criticism that his administration had moved too fast on its initiatives, Kasich said Ohio has been losing young people and entrepreneurs and experiencing anemic population growth.
“This is not a matter of navel-gazing. What we did was we said ‘All this political mumbo jumbo that was the order of the day, we’re not doing that anymore,’” he said. “When you have a family that’s in trouble economically, you better move quickly or you’re going to go bankrupt.”
Kasich highlighted what he saw as positive signs of economic recovery, but said he is measured in his optimism noting that one in four children in Ohio lives in poverty.
“What are we supposed to do, take our time to fix that? No way I’m taking my time,” he said.
Kasich said JobsOhio, a nonprofit organization set up by the state to spur economic development, will have an agricultural cluster that will work to develop opportunities that would benefit farmers.
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer, who joined Kasich on the show, said the state is particularly interested in food processing.
“The way we’re situated here in Ohio: A day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the United States,” he said, highlighting the opportunity to distribute products.
Kasich said his administration is open to ideas on attracting new food and farm businesses.
“I don’t think people have ever been asked, ‘Tell us what you think,’” he said.
Photo by Seth Teter