Ohio Budget Preview: Agriculture


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Roughly 1/3 of the funding for the Department of Agriculture comes from state general revenue funds, with the rest provided by federal sources and proceeds from fees and other programs dedicated to specific uses. In order to shore up declining general revenues, several industry fees were raised in the FY 2010-11 budget, which could make it harder to go back for more in FY12-13.

If significant cuts to general funds occur, there will be a disproportionate impact on programs that promote food safety, disease control and the promotion of local and sustainable agriculture. Specific agriculture programs funded through the state GRF include:

  • Ohio Proud, including support for local food through farm markets, the Ohio Food Policy Council and the Neighborhood Harvest Initiative
  • Youth programs at county fairs
  • International trade marketing
  • Milk, poultry and meat inspections and lab testing
  • Animal disease control and lab facilities
  • And, funded through the Board of Regents budget, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, 4-H and Agricultural Extension

Policy Issues – In addition to setting funding levels, budget legislation is likely to include language that indicates the direction the new administration and legislature will take to agricultural issues, and has the potential to reverse gains that were made during the prior administration. Things to watch in this area include:

  • Overall, local food and sustainable agriculture are nearly entirely discretionary programs, funded through the state general revenue fund. Cuts to state inspections, for example, could require small producers to pay much higher USDA inspection fees, potentially limiting access to local meat and dairy products.
  • Will the Department’s ability to enact rules reducing the spread of agricultural waste near Grand Lake Saint Mary’s and other polluted waterways be limited?
  • Does the legislature carry through on adopting new tougher language on cockfighting and puppy mills, as was required as part of the agreement with the US Humane Society, keeping animal care standards off the November ballot?

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