Ohio Farm Bureau Small Scale Food Business Guide

The Census of Agriculture, released by USDA every five years, helps to tell the story of agriculture at the farm level.

The latest data shared from the 2022 census shows a scenario that farmers are very familiar with: turning adversity into success.

As an example, updated statistics show that although Ohio realized a loss in the number of farms in 2022 compared to 2017, total sales from those farms jumped from $9 billion in 2017 to over $15 billion in 2022. Plus, despite the obstacles it takes to get started, more people are wanting to be a part of this great way of life. In fact, the number of producers across the state is higher, with new and beginning farmers growing by over 5,000 between this census and the last.

Those new to the industry are finding out what more experienced farmers have learned over the years. This business has highs and lows, and predicting when each will happen is anything but a science.

After a couple of years of remarkable yields and very favorable prices, the tide has turned and it could be more of a tsunami. Looking ahead at U.S. farm income for 2024, USDA is projecting a $70 billion deficit compared to 2022, making it what could be the largest two-year decline in history. However, even with these sharply lower projections, the farm economy will see levels well above the 10-year average, putting the recent strength of our industry into perspective.

It is not a rosy picture, and the resiliency and resourcefulness of farmers will once again be put to the test. For some, a tightening of the belt will be the answer. For others, diversifying what they produce and who they grow their products for will be the key to success.

Direct-to-consumer marketing has become a greater source of income for many of our members in recent years. To that point, the census revealed that over $90 million was added to Ohio agriculture’s bottom line in 2022, an over $10 million jump from 2017, and farms using local and regional markets to sell their goods have more than doubled during that time frame.

This edition of Our Ohio features our members who work face-to-face with their customers, and highlights new resources developed for direct marketers, including Ohio Farm Bureau’s Small-Scale Food Business Guide. This issue of the magazine also offers insights and tips from our partners at Nationwide and The Ohio State University. We hope you find the information valuable as we all work together to navigate the challenges that farmers have so naturally been good at turning into opportunities.

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.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
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.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
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.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
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.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
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.
Austin Heil's avatar
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.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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