COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut unveiled the creation of a new Center of Excellence in Agriculture, Food Production and Bioproducts March 30 at The Ohio State University’s Food Industry Center in Columbus.
“This Center of Excellence will accelerate the research and technology development to strengthen our agriculture industry and create good jobs for Ohioans,” Strickland said.
The Food Production, Supply, and Safety Center of Excellence at The Ohio State University was named to focus its academic and research activities on improving the quality of life through research, learning, policy development, and outreach to ensure access to safe, health-promoting foods, as the state’s only Center of Excellence in Agriculture, Food Production and Bioproducts.
Centers of Excellence
The Centers of Excellence, as outlined in Ohio’s 10-year Strategic Plan for Higher Education, will position Ohio’s university system as a magnet for talent and a leader in innovation and entrepreneurial activity by developing distinct missions for each institution that are recognized by students, faculty and business leaders, while eliminating unnecessary competition for resources, students and faculty within the state.
“The Ohio State University is continuing its leadership as one of the nation’s preeminent land-grant institutions,” said Fingerhut.
“Agriculture remains one of Ohio’s primary economic strengths, and the innovations created by this Center of Excellence will bolster our state’s global leadership within the industry.”
Ohio’s ag industry
Ohio’s agriculture industry already plays a critical role in the health of the state’s economy, contributing more than $98 billion each year.
Currently, one out of every seven Ohioans is employed in the agriculture and food industries. Of that, more than 60,000 workers are employed at more than 1,100 production plants around the state.
A leading manufacturer of key food and agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables, specialty foods, Swiss cheese and eggs, Ohio is home to food industry leaders such as Kroger, J.M. Smucker, Honeybaked Foods Inc., Chiquita Brands International and Bob Evans Farms.
The state is also a leader in the specialized nutraceutical food production industry.
The announcement is the third announcement of university Centers of Excellence that align with the state’s targeted industries and focus on talent recruitment.
In October 2009, the governor and chancellor announced Ohio’s Centers of Excellence in Advanced Energy at eight of the state’s universities. Ohio’s Centers of Excellence in Biomedicine and Health care at 14 universities were announced earlier this year.
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Having worked on this issue many years ago and found the numbers to be very inflated, is agriculture still counting the employees of supermarkets, restaurants and any other indiduals who may in the course of their work handle food, as agriculture employees? Lets be honest on this issue and give the real figures!