2021 Ohio Agriculture and Rural Communities Action Plan

Across the table: Bridging the rural, urban divide

We often talk about how few of us are involved in agriculture and point out the fact that less than 2% of the U.S. population has a role in food production. That stat is more than likely followed by how many in our society are now two, three or more generations removed from the farm and the importance to reach out to those who may have never stepped foot on a farm and educate them about what goes into delivering the most abundant, safest and affordable food in the world.

Today, the bridge that was built to connect those who farm and those who don’t has become much more complicated and, unfortunately, a lot longer. We now have a stark rural and urban divide in our country, and the 2020 election maps that pitted red versus blue paint a worrisome picture for the future.

President Joe Biden won 477 counties across the U.S. in his successful bid for the White House and President Donald Trump tallied 2,497 counties. Conversely, the total vote count was 76 million for Biden and about 71 million for Trump. Further election analysis showed a major gap from urban and suburban counties that voted for Democratic candidates and the more rural parts of America that supported Republicans.

This is concerning for Ohio Farm Bureau and many of our ag groups and partners. We need to start thinking about how to fill that deep divide, bring people together and create opportunities for agriculture. That is why we created the Ohio Agriculture and Rural Communities Action Plan, putting Farm Bureau’s nine priority issues front and center as we work with legislators in Columbus and in Washington, D.C.

The action plan looks at a path for a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening the food supply chain and connecting rural Ohio with access to broadband. It also calls for adequate funding for both important Ohio Department of Agriculture programs and valuable research from our partners at Ohio State.

In addition, we are advocating for investment in responsible land management practices like those for water quality, the protection of landowner rights, developing energy solutions, creating resources for farmer stress and keeping national and international markets open and strong.

All of these issues are vital to success at the farm level, and seeing them through will require purposeful efforts from our members and staff at the local, state and national levels.

As President Biden begins to learn about the unprecedented challenges in rural America, Farm Bureau will be advocating with his administration and those on Capitol Hill for ways to alleviate the troubles that those “off the beaten path” are facing.

Our members and the entire agriculture community know how to work through the toughest of challenges. It is in our DNA. But the tests we are experiencing now will require strong leadership and the ability to see our nation as a whole, not one split by a narrow aisle creating a bridge too far.