John Kasich (R), Gov. Ted Strickland (D)

Ohio governor, challenger address 300 farmers at OFBF’s Ag Day

Buckeye Farm News

Many farmers aren’t happy with the move of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to overturn the will of Ohio voters. Neither are Gov. Ted Strickland and his 2010 Republican gubernatorial opponent John Kasich, who both addressed a crowd of approximately 300 farmers during OFBF’s Ag Day at the Capitol in Columbus.

Before lawmakers had a chance to establish the details of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, HSUS launched a ballot campaign that would force the board to adopt the policies of the Washington, D.C.-based animal rights group.

“If we want to eat, and if we want access to affordable and inexpensive food, it is important for the agricultural community within our state not to be hamstrung and to have their hands tied behind their back by those who do not fully appreciate the value of what happens on our farms,” Strickland said. “(The HSUS ballot initiative) is unnecessary and I will oppose it.”

Kasich referenced HSUS’s “extremism,” saying the initiative is about regulations. “No outsiders ought to come in here and try to destroy our farms…I’m stomping with you. It is wrong.”

The candidates also laid out their individual platforms for the upcoming gubernatorial race.

Strickland said Ohio can be the center of advanced energy solutions and that agriculture can be instrumental in this effort. He stated that in 2007, no ethanol was being produced in Ohio, but now there are four functioning facilities annually producing 295 million gallons. “It is better to depend on the Midwestern farmer for energy than Middle-Eastern oil barons,” he said.

Strickland described Ohio as “the polymer state,” and that it is the ideal location for advanced polymer research and development. He also noted that Ohioans spend $43 billion per year on food, with only 3 percent of that going to products grown on Ohio farms, an equation he wants to work to change.

Kasich, who focused on fixing the state budget, referred to his experience as U.S. Budget Committee chairman in 1995, where he headed up the only U.S. budget surplus since 1969. “You hold yourselves accountable (fiscally) and you should hold legislators just as accountable,” he said.

He said the Third Frontier Program needs more agriculture inclusion.

“You’re in the business of alternative fuels and bioproducts, and doing remarkable things,” he said. “This program can help you be prosperous, and (in a Kasich administration) you’ll be included.”

“Agriculture is exciting, valuable, and it works,” Kasich said.

Farmers also shared lunch with their legislators and visited them in their offices at the Statehouse.

Allen County Farm Bureau President and hog farmer Troy Ernest, who made the trek to visit his lawmakers, said it’s important to voice opinions on everyday issues in person.

“It’s extremely important for them to see faces from back home. It helps them realize the issues are more localized than they might think,” he said.

“The fact farmers are willing to come to Columbus and take part in the policy process shows the strong grassroots component of our organization,” said OFBF Director of Legislative Relations Chris Henney.

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