Farmers educate Ohio lawmakers on agriculture

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Sometimes, you’ve just got to hear it from the source; or at least that’s what Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says. He’s talking about farmers in the capitol Wednesday for the Ohio Farm Bureau’s AG Day at the Capitol event.  

“There are members [of the legislature] who don’t have an agriculture background, don’t represent a district that has much, if any, agriculture in it,” said DeWine. “So, it’s important for them to understand and the best people to explain agriculture to them are the farmers who are out there doing it every single day.”  

Some of those farmers are Austin Wippel, Bennett Musselman, and Lynne Schultz. Each of them are farmers in Central Ohio and each with different issues they would like lawmakers to help with.  

Musselman is a third generation farmer that operates farms in multiple counties with his parents and wife. He wants to be able to pass those farms down to his sons, like his grandfather did to his son, and Musselman expects his dad will do with him.  

The problem is passing farms down generation to generation can be costly, and Musselman wants to see a bill passed that will give farmers a tax break when doing so.  

“When you sit down and think the cost of land and seed and equipment, you know, it adds up pretty quick,” said Musselman.  

Schultz problem actually has nothing to do with crops. Her vegetable farm grows produce all year, but she is having difficulty moving it and not because of tariffs or trade wars, but because of a lack of broadband internet.  

She says, if it rains her internet goes out because the lines are so old they short out when they get wet. “It says, “No internet service,” and that may happen for maybe two-three minutes, and then we have to reconnect; sometimes it will be a day,” said Schultz.  

A lack of broadband internet in rural places in the state, and even some non-rural areas, stems from it not being profitable enough for carriers to invest in the infrastructure. Governor DeWine has made solving this problem a priority for his administration.  

The issue talked about most Wednesday was the Governor’s H2Ohio plan. The Farm Bureau supports the measure, partially because it gave farmers a seat a the table to help determine how to keep chemicals out of Ohio’s waterways.  

“We as farmers want to do everything we can to preserve our land and our water, we definitely don’t want to hurt it,” said Wippel. He’s a second generation farmer from Pickaway County.  

Farmers were instructed to make sure they reminded lawmakers to continue to support the program, but as State Senator Tim Schaffer explained to them that may not be as necessary as they think.  

Schaffer told them that once lawmakers started to support a program it is rare for the legislature to back away from it in subsequent years.  

There are exceptions of course; just looking at the discussion surrounding the Business Income Deduction tax breaks and the recent attempts made by Republicans that came together with Democrats to curb what at one time was a program fiercely protected by the Ohio GOP, and still is.  

At the luncheon DeWine reminded everyone listening that the algae problems in Lake Erie did not start overnight and they won’t be solved overnight either. Further, he asked that the success of his H2Ohio plan not be judged by the number or size of any algae blooms that happen this year. Instead he asks people look to number of farm acres participating in the program instead.  

“We want to make sure that, as farmers, that we let our legislators know that we’re doing what we can to ensure that we have good clean water sources, and that we’re being responsible, not polluting those water sources, and we want to thank them for the job that they’ve done on the H2Ohio program to help incentivize farmers to continue to do the right things,” said Musselman. 

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