Ohio Statehouse

Several Farm Bureau ‘wins’ in Ohio’s new budget

Ohio has a new budget for fiscal years 2022-2023. The $74 billion budget includes education reform, statewide cuts to personal income taxes, and investments to help keep Ohioans employed and to create more job opportunities across the state. It also checks many other Ohio Farm Bureau priority issues boxes.

“From rural broadband and local meat processing capacity, to funding for H2Ohio, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio State, lawmakers and Governor DeWine heard from Ohio Farm Bureau and our members and responded to the issues laid out in our Ohio Agriculture and Rural Communities Action Plan with this new budget,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “We appreciate the legislature and the administration for their recognition of the challenges facing Ohio’s farm and food sector and for the action to provide funding to address the concerns of their rural constituents across the state.”

Rural broadband

One of the biggest line items in the new biennial budget is $250 million for the Ohio Rural Broadband Expansion grant program, created earlier this year by lawmakers to allow internet service providers to apply for grants that will help fund the infrastructure needed to provide faster internet access to underserved rural Ohio communities.

“This is the largest public investment in broadband we have ever seen in Ohio,” said Jenna Reese, Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of state policy. “Broadband access is essential in rural Ohio for many reasons. Farmers use it to market their products, to keep track of commodity prices and to utilize new precision technology. Rural Ohioans’ quality of life depends on technology, and their need for reliable internet access is critical.”

Water quality

Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, a comprehensive, data-driven water quality plan to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure and prevent lead contamination, received $170 million in the budget – $49.3 million of that will be used to expand the program to 10 additional counties in the Lake Erie Watershed.

Meat processors

The budget also created the Meat Processing Investment grant program and funded it at $10 million to help existing plants in Ohio expand their capacity and fund new construction, including guidelines for reviewing and approving the grants.

“This is specifically for small and medium-sized meat processors in Ohio to start up or expand their operation,” said Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “The goal is to increase meat and poultry processing capacity in Ohio to make our food system more resilient for farmers and consumers.”

Other key victories in the budget for Ohio Farm Bureau include:

  • $1.75 million in additional funding for the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab.
  • $58.3 million for the TechCred Program and Individual Microcredential Assistance Program.
  • $20.5 million for high school students to receive an Industry-Recognized Credential.
  • The Fair School Funding Plan, which contains greater funding for career-technical education and replaces set dollar amounts with weights that can be multiplied by the base cost.
  • A 3% personal income tax cut statewide.
  • Full funding for The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Prohibition of park districts in Lake and Mahoning counties from using eminent domain for recreational trails.

DeWine signed the budget into law July 1.