What’s in the Budget: Agriculture


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As we suggested in February, because only a portion of the state Agriculture Department’s budget is funded by general revenues, a limited number of programs could take a disproportionate share of cuts in the Kasich budget.

Overall, the Department’s budget was reduced 17.6%, but that includes large reductions in federal funds. The total impact of general revenue fund cuts to the Department is 8.8%. Programs affected include

  • Meat Inspections were cut by nearly 16%, and will result in the loss of even more federal matching funds. A significant portion of the facilities inspected by the State are small operations that process animals for small farms. Larger operations will be able to make up for the lack of state inspectors by paying the higher fees for USDA inspections.
  • Marketing programs are cut by nearly half. The Ohio Proud program, which promotes domestic food products through a statewide marketing and labeling program, saw its funding cut by 74%. Only $50,000 per year remains to support the program, barely enough to support a single staff person. During the past two years, the program has expanded from 200 companies in 61 counties to 425 in 77 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The international trade program, which works to promote Ohio agriculture to overseas markets, is completely eliminated in this budget.
  • Programs to preserve Ohio land for farming and protect it from commercial or residential development are still funded through the Clean Ohio program and federal sources, but the Office of Farmland Preservation, which provides the staffing necessary to operate the programs, is cut 64% from $200,000 to $72,000 per year.
  • Funded through the Board of Regents, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster and OSU Agriculture Extension were both cut by 10%.
  • The $252,000 line item supporting the Junior Fair was eliminated completely, throwing into question the program that pays for the fair’s youth choir and band, livestock competitions and activities by groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, FFA and 4H.
  • Six new fees were introduced to support the Division of Weights & Measures, responsible for testing retail fuel meters, store scanners, livestock scales and other instrumentation. The fees, if enacted, will replace general revenue funds.

Given the Governor’s statement, shared through his Agriculture Director, that he wants to make Agriculture “cool” again, we find the choices in the budget curious. Ohioans are seeking out local food, as demonstrated by increased interest in farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs increase, and participation in the Ohio Proud program has grown from 200 to 425 producers in just two years. Cutting funding for programs that promote Ohio food reduces visibility of local foods in our communities, and cuts to Agriculture Extension and the Junior Fair will not help increase the participation in agriculture by our youth.

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