LONDON, Ohio – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman made another stop in Ohio last week, speaking to 600 people attending the annual Farm Science Review “Vice President’s Luncheon” Sept. 21.
The lunch, hosted by Bob Moser, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, attracts a who’s who in Ohio agriculture.
Veneman’s presence highlights the importance of Ohio’s rural vote in November’s presidential election, as the visit was at least the third for the secretary in the last two months. In late July, she visited Farm Focus in Van Wert and she attended the Ohio State Fair Aug. 12.
Her Farm Science Review visit lured Gov. Bob Taft, who joined Ohio Director of Agriculture Fred Dailey and Ohio State University President Karen Holbrook, as the day’s dignitaries.
New opportunities. Looking around the grounds, Veneman said the science and technology illustrated at the Review is changing not just what American farmers produce, but how it’s produced, transported, processed and marketed.
“Technology is also opening up new worlds of opportunity,” the secretary said, citing potential from a renewable fuels standards in the energy bill currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Veneman got in a little campaigning for President Bush, saying the president’s policies are “critical” for farmers.
His tax cuts, she added, have meant farmers kept $8 billion in their own pockets over the last two years.
She also declared the president hopes to eliminate the death tax “once and for all.”
More EQIP funding. While in Ohio, Veneman announced an additional $1 million in Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, funds for the Buckeye State. The program is targeting manure and forage management assistance for livestock producers in 35 Ohio counties (see adjacent list).
The $1 million came from EQIP funds that were unallocated at the end of the fiscal year.
“It’s a program to farmers to do the right thing,” Veneman said of the conservation program.
The program offers financial and technical help to install or implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.
The funds should support more than 1,200 new cost-share contracts, Veneman added.
Rural development funds. Veneman also announced more than $16 million in rural development assistance for Ohio.
Grant recipients include the city of Zanesville ($5 million for 12 miles of sewer line and improvements to wastewater treatment plant); Andover ($4.6 million to refinance debt and build new dialysis center); Medina and Valley City ($4.5 million, four guaranteed loans to Stop-N-Go convenience stores); McArthur ($1.7 million as guaranteed loan to Waldron Lumber, and $94,000 to repair low-income residences); Ravenna ($100,000 to repair low-income residences); Rio Grande ($38,700 to repair low-income residences); Barnesville ($30,000 grant for tanker fire truck); and Jewett ($25,000 for new ambulance).
Taft touts exports. In his Farm Science Review address, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft echoed a saying often attributed to former Gov. James A. Rhodes, that “Ohio has more things by accident than other states do on purpose,” meaning its natural resources, infrastructure, transportation system and population.
Those advantages are also pluses for Ohio farmers, the governor added.
“We’re exporting our crops and our livestock all over the world,” said Taft, who left Sept. 24 on a business mission to Japan and Taiwan with a delegation that included Ohio Director of Agriculture Fred Dailey.
The governor was slated to participate in two Ohio dogwood tree-planting ceremonies in Japan to symbolize the long-term roots of friendship and business relations between Ohio and Japan.
The Taft family has been exchanging Ohio dogwoods for Japanese cherry trees since 1909 when former President William Howard Taft, the governor’s great-grandfather, was in the White House.
Stumps for ethanol. Taft reiterated his support for an expanded ethanol production industry in Ohio. Ohio currently uses roughly 200 million gallons of ethanol, but none is produced in the state.
“It’s about time our farmers benefit from our higher consumption,” Taft said.
Ohio finally approved offering state tax credit incentives for construction of an ethanol plant, he added. “Things look promising right now.”
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