Ohio’s 8th Congressional District is one of the state’s largest agricultural districts with more than 5,400 farms on nearly 1 million acres. Each year, Speaker of the House John Boehner hosts a Farm Forum in his home district to bring together experts from different sectors of the agriculture community for a discussion of ideas impacting this vital industry. This year, more than 250 people gathered at the event.
This year’s discussion covered international trade, food security, and biotechnology led by panelists Michael Scuse, USDA Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services, John Campbell a senior vice president with the Ag Processing, Inc. cooperative, Jerry Flint with Pioneer, and Bill Hoffman with the National Corn Grower Association. The panel was moderated by ODNR Director Jim Zehringer.
Campbell of Ag Processing Inc. told attendees he would rather see 80 cents of every dollar spent on renewable fuels rather than the farm bill because it would do more for farm income. Some livestock producers in attendance disagreed.
All of the panelists were very concerned about the amount of time it takes for genetically modified products to get through the system. In addition, the growing world middle class (particularly in Asian nations) was discussed. The increased demand for food as a result of an increasing global middle class will set the stage for positive agricultural demand, but also create global food challenges. The cost and preservation of farmland, along with making improvements in urban planning, were also discussed at the event.
The keynote speaker this year was Ed Schafer, who served as the 29th Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under former President George W. Bush from 2008 to 2009. Currently, Schafer serves on public and private corporate boards of directors and holds leadership positions in foundations and trade associations.