The United States has a rich agricultural history dating back to its founding. The idea that this country was built from the ground up, forged from the hard work of men and women pouring themselves into the work of cultivating the land, is a point of pride for Americans. These men and women were the nation’s earliest farmers, and farming was not merely a profession. It was a lifestyle.
The U.S. agricultural industry has made great strides since its humble beginnings. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture there are 2.2 million farms in the United States. Farmers have played a crucial role in advancing the prosperity of the nation and continue to do so today.
The role of a farmer is unique. There is a special sense of accomplishment when the fruits of your labor literally become the fruits that sustain the population. This pride resonates nowhere more vibrantly than in the hearts of Midwesterners.
Ohio’s agricultural reputation precedes itself. Ohioans have been living off the land for more than two centuries and today Ohio remains one of the nation’s leaders in agriculture. Though the tools used to maintain a farming operation in the 21st century are ever-evolving, the character that defines farmers has gone unchanged. These dedicated, hard-working, knowledgeable individuals are the backbone of the farming industry, and the keystone of the state’s economy.
Though daily recognition and gratitude toward those in the farming community would be more befitting, I am especially excited that this month the state of Ohio publicly recognizes the vitally important role that agriculture plays in Ohio. March 11th-17th is Ohio Agriculture Week.
Ohio’s agriculture industry generates about $98 billion per year and employs one in seven Ohioans, making it the state’s leading industry. Ohio ranks first nationally in the production of swiss cheese, second in egg production, third in tomatoes and fifth in the production of maple syrup. Ohio is also fifth in the nation in soybean and sweet corn production, sixth in cucumbers and seventh in the number of chickens sold. You cannot separate agriculture from the overall culture of the state of Ohio. They are inherently intertwined.
The agricultural industry not only produces good crops, but also great jobs for Ohioans. The 1,100 processing facilities across the state employ more than 60,000 workers. Each family farm in Ohio indirectly creates job opportunities for neighbors in and around their communities. This is certainly true in our own backyard. There are 730 farms in Clark County alone. These farms cover 178,000 acres across the county and bring an average of more than $100 million into the county each year.
Ohio has a hefty crop of dedicated farmers that have shaped the character of the state throughout Ohio’s history. Ohio Agriculture Week is a fantastic opportunity to applaud Ohio’s farmers for all of the great work that they have done and the countless ways they contribute to the prosperity of the state.