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Last updated: March 21. 2014 1:21PM - 2458 Views
By Heather Rutz hrutz@civitasmedia.com



File photo | The Lima NewsAlex Recker, of Brennco Sow Farm in Elida, unloads a grain truck filled with corn just harvested from a field in October.
File photo | The Lima NewsAlex Recker, of Brennco Sow Farm in Elida, unloads a grain truck filled with corn just harvested from a field in October.
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LIMA — Ohio’s agriculture industry continues to grow, preliminary data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture by the United States Department of Agriculture shows.


Ohio’s increase in the market value of crops and livestock sold is outpacing the nation, and the number of acres in farm production increased, the new numbers show.


Farmers and producers are working harder than ever to provide a safe, wholesome and abundant food supply, Ohio Agriculture Director David T. Daniels said.


“These are good things for Ohio. The state continues to grow in agriculture. We are and always will be a strong agricultural state,” Daniels said. “Ohio provides opportunity all along the food industry spectrum, and I’m looking forward to that continuing.”


The Census of Agriculture is a complete count, taken every five years by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, of America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them. More information on the Census of Agriculture, including a copy of the preliminary results, can be viewed at www.agcensus.usda.gov. A final version of the report is scheduled to be released in May.


While market value numbers increased 32.78 percent nationally, the value of Ohio crops and livestock increased 42.28 percent. This is primarily due to a sharp increase in crop values, which increased in Ohio by 60.54 percent but only 47.85 percent nationally. Ohio is ranked 13th nationally with a total value of crop and livestock sales just over $10 billion in 2012.


While the number of farms decreased both in Ohio and in the nation, Ohio performed better than much of the country. From 2007 to 2012, Ohio lost 0.5 percent of its farms while farms nationally decreased by 4.3 percent. Ohio now ranks seventh for the number of farms in the nation with 75,462.


Also, at a time when farm acres are disappearing nationally, Ohio gained land in agricultural production.


The nation lost about 7.5 million acres of farmland since the 2007 census. In Ohio, the numbers of acres in agricultural production in Ohio increased slightly, from 13.95 million acres to 13.96 million acres.


“One of the most important takeaways to remember about the Census of Agriculture is that the information is used for decision-making by producers, as well as all those who serve farmers and rural communities – federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations and many others,” said USDA State Statistician Cheryl Turner. “When we look at the data for our state, we can all use it as a snapshot in time to see how Ohio agriculture is changing over time and how we compare to the rest of the country.”


Agriculture, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are working together on farming regulations to help address toxic algae blooms in places such as Grand Lake St. Marys. The state has worked hard to cooperate among agencies and also work with farmers to make sure those regulations are not too onerous for farmers, Daniels said.


“The governor was clear when we started working on this, we all have our responsibility and agriculture is doing its best to step up and make sure our part is being done,” Daniels said.


Ohio has booming agribusiness and food processing economies, boasting food companies such as Bob Evans, Dannon, Nestle and Kroger with headquarters and major facilities in the state.


“It’s connected, as those companies are bringing in products grown and raised on farms here,” Daniels said. “I’m so proud of the food processing industry here. The census numbers show we have more than 110,000 people employed in the industry. It’s a big bonus for the state.”


And, Ohio continues to promote niche foods and markets with its Ohio Proud label.


“We have amazing choices in the state, and more than 500 companies carry the Ohio Proud brand,” Daniels said. “We know that consumers are looking for locally grown, locally raised options, and we can help them find those products.”


 
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