I was out west recently, and during my return flight, I gazed over the dry earth below. Clearly the lack of rainfall has made much of the rest of the country look like the desert area I visited. This is the time of year when we celebrate agriculture at our many county fairs, and the drought has been felt severely in much of Ohio. Governor Kasich announced that he'd be seeking relief funds for the many farmers in dire straits.
The other theme at the fairs is that of what the oil and gas boom means to land owners. At the Belmont County Farm Bureau Dinner last week, I asked a couple of fellow Farm Bureau members if the windfall being received by property owners would have a positive or negative effect on the number of farmers. The conclusion was that it would have a very positive effect in enabling more farmers to remain on their land, to retire debt, and to invest in new machinery. I concur that this seems to be the trend, and a very positive one.
There is tremendous uncertainty at the direction in which our country is headed. Many seem to agree a course correction is needed. While we celebrate the many contributions of farmers to our lives and livelihoods, we also know that many have struggled to survive. We need more young people to take the plunge into farming, and we need to support those that have. America is a world leader in agricultural production, and I'm proud to represent so many vital counties that contribute to that reputation.