Farming still alive in Mahoning County

CANFIELD, Ohio — Even in an urban county like Mahoning County, home of the city of Youngstown, agriculture is a major player, according to Eric Barrett, who works with OSU Extension in the county.

Barrett presented some ag impact statements about the county in his address at the Mahoning County Farm Bureau’s annual meeting Oct. 3 at A La Cart Catering in Canfield.

Total ag sales in the county are approximately $41 million, he said, and no one in the audience guessed the biggest player: sales from milk cows.

Barrett said there is growing interest in local foods in the county, which presents potential for farmers.

For example, there are now five farmers markets in the county, he said, “and we don’t have enough farms to support those farm markets.”

He said he is also working with five urban farms on the basics of agriculture, and there are 30 urban farmers with at least half-acre lots in production.

Barrett said there are a lot of misconceptions of farming, even among those growers.

“We say, ‘here’s what real farming is,’” he said. “There are a lot of myths we have to get past.”

More than food

The county’s residents should be supportive of preserving the remaining farmland for one simple reason, he added.

Money

Recent cost of community services studies show that for every tax dollar from farmland owners, those taxpayers receive only 30 cents in services from local governments or the school district. Commercial property owners receive 34 cents from each of their tax dollars paid, but residential property owners actually receive $1.20 in services for each dollar paid.

In other words, farmland owners subsidize the cost of community services for most residential owners.

Farm Bureau update

State trustee Frank Burkett III of Stark County updated members on statewide concerns and policy priorities, including nutrient management and water quality.

“It’s a statewide issue but regional problems exacerbated the issue,” he said, encouraging all the landowners present to become more familiar with the 4Rs, of using the right nutrient, at the right time, in the right amount, in the right location.

Burkett also said the state Farm Bureau leadership is considering a change to its membership model, and is conducting listening sessions with members before formulating a proposal to present to the full membership. No details were given at the annual meeting.

He couldn’t offer an update on any federal legislation, saying the existing stalemate has thwarted any meaningful movement on policy related to agriculture.

“The political climate in Washington D.C. has been, to put it politely, challenging.”

Scholarships, election

The county Farm Bureau presented two scholarships. Recipients include David Corll, son of Paul and JoAnn Corll of Berlin Township, who is a freshman at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster studying beef production and management; and Sarah Montgomery, daughter of Bryan and Mary Montgomery of Springfield Township, who is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee at Martin, studying agriculture science production.

Jenifer Pemberton was installed as new county president, succeeding Brenda Markley.

Sara Greier was re-elected to a three-year county trustee position, and David Hively and Aimee Hum were both elected to three-year terms.

Members also elected Barb Biery and David Kenreich as delegates to the 2014 state Farm Bureau annual meeting, and approved minor code changes to its county code. One code change designates 12 members to the board of trustees, all elected as “at-large” members.

Terms will be for three years, and members can serve two, three-year terms.

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