FARM SCIENCE REVIEW: Ohio Agricultural Roadmap outlines next 25 years

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LONDON, Ohio – For Jack Fisher, there was an unexpected outcome from the 18-month brainstorming that led to the new Ohio Agricultural Roadmap.
As the individual groups met to rehash and thrash through issues facing agriculture, the Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president watched a growing undercurrent of passion surface and spread.
It’s that optimism the farm leader hopes will steer the 25-year planning initiative.
Fisher unveiled details of the roadmap Sept. 20 during the Farm Science Review.
Driving forward. ‘Traditional’ agriculture can’t be defined anymore, he said. There are more small farmers and there are more large farmers. And Ohio exemplifies the chafing rural-urban interface as metropolitan areas sprawl outward.
But, Fisher added, Ohio has also jumped out to develop new commercial uses for ‘traditional’ agricultural crops, and ‘traditional’ farmers are developing more entrepreneurial thinking.
“We have captured enthusiasm for taking advantage of our opportunities,” Fisher said. And that fervor really struck him during the roadmap development.
“I saw great enthusiasm,” Fisher said. “We believe in it.”
The shift in thinking is critical, Fisher said, because in the last five years he’d attended so many farm meetings where the focus was whining about fewer farmers and agricultural opportunities. And yet, he observed agriculture’s economic output growing.
“I’d had it up to here,” he said. “What’s wrong with this picture?”
Not your father’s agriculture. The roadmap developers coined the word “agbioresource” to point the way.
The word builds on the high tech “bio” world of biotechnology or biofuels, but adds the agriculture foundation and hopes to capture the idea that agricultural products can be a base, a resource, for more than just food and fiber.
It’s new science and new technology, Fisher said. It’s linking agriculture and medicine; it’s boosting Ohio’s economy and jobs through new ag uses and partnerships.
It’s also about enhancing and developing rural communities in Ohio, he added.
Segments of the 36-page guide outline directions for government, business and development initiatives, education, research, and consumer outreach.
While the directives are broad, the roadmap includes some specific recommendations in seven categories, including:

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