Anyone who watched this year’s Super Bowl probably saw the inspirational commercial with the late, great Paul Harvey explaining all the reasons why “God made a farmer.” Even if you didn’t watch the game, you have likely since seen the ad.
As Ohio’s number-one industry, there is no disputing the vitally important role that agriculture has in our state. As of last year, there were nearly 75,000 farms in Ohio. Nearly 90 percent of these farms are owned by families or individuals. So while agriculture is a major driver of our economy, it is also an industry that unites families and friends and reminds us of our history.
March 10th-16th is Ohio Agriculture Week, a time when we recognize the agricultural industry, which employs one in seven Ohioans. I think this is an appropriate time to pay tribute to farmers because, in just a couple weeks, we will see many of them in the fields and preparing for the planting season.
After being elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, I was sincerely honored to be appointed to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Agriculture is vital to the economy in Northwest Ohio, and it is my privilege to serve on behalf of so many hardworking people in the 82nd District.
The men and women working alongside me on this committee are also committed to supporting farmers and other ag-related workers. Before each planting season, many farmers seek to finance their operating costs by taking out loans. During the previous General Assembly, the House introduced a bill that reduced the interest rates for farmers on loans or credit lines approved by banks and other lenders.
The bill—which updated what is known as the Ag-LINK Deposit Program—increased the maximum loan amount that a farmer could withdraw from $100,000 to $150,000. Additionally, it increased from $125 million to $165 million the amount of money that the State Treasurer can invest in lending institutions that lend money to farmers. This action made it easier for agriculture-related industries to increase investment in their businesses.
As we inch closer to spring, I anticipate other bills to be taken up before the committee and the House that will impact farming and other industries that strengthen Ohio’s economy.