Agriculture and food production’s contribution to Ohio’s economy continues to grow, but the industry also faces significant headwinds, according to a new report produced by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

“According to the Economic Contribution of Agricultural and Food Production to the Ohio Economy report, agricultural and food production in Ohio continues to grow despite decreasing employment and decreasing commodity prices,” said Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. The report examines trends in Ohio’s agricultural and food production sectors, analyzing data from 2015, the most recent statistics available.

The report credits improved technology, rising crop yields, farmer creativity and lower prices for farm inputs for the continued increase in agricultural productivity. Farm incomes have steadily improved too, having increased an average of 2.2 percent a year since 2005.

“Farmers have always been innovative,” said Brandon Kern, OFBF senior director for strategic partnerships and policy outreach. “Technological advances have helped improve efficiencies that allow agriculture’s contribution to our economy to grow. Farmers and the ag industry have made great strides despite the continued challenges we face.”

While productivity has increased, the industry does face decreasing commodity prices and has seen a significant reduction in employment in the agricultural and food sector, according to the report. While income has grown overall during the 10-year period analyzed in the report, farm income has actually fallen in recent years.

“Those are statistics that shouldn’t be taken for granted,” Kern said. “Policymakers need to understand the challenges the industry faces today. We have huge opportunities for growth in employment in our broad food and agriculture sector but we need policies that support that growth.”

Among other positive trends highlighted in the report is that Ohio’s restaurants and bars have experienced strong growth. Restaurants and bars employ 496,342 Ohioans, a 37.5 percent increase since 1994.

The report is the result of a collaborative analysis and writing process that included the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics outreach committee, external peer reviewers and stakeholders. The last report outlining the contribution of Ohio’s agriculture and food-related industries to the state’s economy was released in 2012.

I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
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Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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