WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dave Daniels told more than 200 guests attending the annual Groundhog’s Day Breakfast Feb. 2 that they should be proud that Fayette County is a rural county with great agriculture production and plays an important part each year in Ohio’s agriculture numbers.
“I also predict that 2018 is going to be another good year for agriculture in our state,” he said.
Daniels was one of two guest speakers at the sixth annual Fayette County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event held at the Mahan Building, Fayette County Fairgrounds.
Daniels, a native of Greenfield, former mayor of Greenfield and Highland County Commissioner, was named Ohio Department of Agriculture director in 2012.
Daniels said it was, “Fitting for me to be speaking on Groundhog’s Day because if there is ever an industry that is keen on repeating itself it is agriculture. We are thinking about what our season is going to look like each year, and always looking to see who will get the first seeds in the ground.”
He said Ohio farmers plant each March and April and move into summer for the fairs to work with young people in the FFA and 4-H groups. “Then we roll into fall and harvest season and usually a successful year for Ohio farmers. So yes, it is like Groundhog’s Day. We get an opportunity to do the same things each year and in the end it all works out for us in agriculture.”
Daniels said agriculture in Ohio is strong – $105 billion in Ohio’s economy annually and accounts for one in seven jobs. “These are numbers we are proud of. You look at places like Fayette County – where the agriculture landscape is king. You are in the heart of agriculture production in the state,” he told the Fayette County guests at the breakfast.
He pointed out that in Ohio, farmers grow a variety of crops, from corn and soybeans to being in the top 10 in the nation for specialty crops — non-traditional crops — such as Christmas trees, grapes and maple syrup, “that make up about 200 different crops in Ohio,” he added. “And why is that? We have the best soil, best water and the best climate.”
“Our challenges? Our biggest challenge is helping understand what responsible food production in 2018 looks like. We try to let people know that we are lucky to have the food choices we have,” Daniels said. He added Ohio has more than 1,100 food processing facilities employing about 68,000 people.
He also said that Ohio has two of the nation’s most advanced dairy processing facilities, one in Tipp City and the other in Wooster.
A major challenge, he added, is continued work on water quality. “Our producers are responsible. They are the original environmentalists and they work hard every day to make sure they are current with land management practices.
“Look at where we have come from over the last 50 years in terms of areas such as yields and production efficiency,” he explained.
He pointed out that agriculture touches our lives in many ways, and every day. “On Sunday, at the Super Bowl, that leather for the football was made here in the midwest and the football was made here in Ada, Ohio.”