Editor’s note: With the 2010 election on our doorstep, Ohio’s Country Journal recently asked Ohio’s two leading candidates for governor and two leading candidates for U.S. Senate to answer the following question in 400 words or less: “Why should Ohio’s agricultural community vote for you?” Here are their responses.
Growing up in rural Scioto County, I understand the vital role agriculture plays in Ohio. I am proud of my record as governor and the many accomplishments my administration has been able to achieve with the support of Ohio farmers and the agricultural community. These are tough times but together we’ve overseen the largest tax cut in Ohio history, continued to tighten the belt of state government by reducing its size and cost, and cut burdensome regulations so businesses and farms can grow and expand.
It is essential that the next generation of Ohioans have the skills they need to succeed, so we have made record investments in K-12 education and expanded access to affordable higher education. I created the Ohio Food Policy Council, which recommended that we pair the agricultural community with schools to increase access to locally grown and raised products for Ohio’s families. They also emphasized the investment of federal resources to promote Ohio’s farmer and farmers’ markets, which have bolstered Ohio’s agricultural brand and increased the number of families that put Ohio-grown food on their table.
Over the past four years, we have expanded markets for Ohio’s agricultural goods like ethanol and bio-products. We streamlined the EPA process for permitting ethanol plants in the state, and seemingly overnight, Ohio went from producing zero ethanol when I took office, to producing more than 400 million gallons of ethanol annually. It is essential for our economy and our national security that we continue to work toward a reliance on renewable energy sources produced by Midwestern farmers instead of a reliance on oil from the Middle East.
At my core, I believe that the success of Ohio’s agribusiness will help drive our economy into the future. As governor, I have and will continue to partner with the leading agricultural organizations to defend Ohio agriculture from opposition groups who don’t have an interest in seeing agribusiness prosper.
Ohio needs a leader who isn’t afraid of tough decisions, has the strength to take on entrenched interests in both parties and is experienced in delivering the change our state desperately needs. I’ve done all of that.
In Congress, I led the effort to balance the federal budget for the first time in 30 years and worked with leaders from both parties to reform welfare. As a business leader I’ve seen firsthand how CEOs make decisions to create jobs and I’ll put that know-how to work to revive Ohio’s economy. I’ll reduce government spending so we can reduce taxes, and streamline our regulatory system to cut the red tape that just adds new burdens on farmers and small business owners.
One big improvement we can make is in research. Our universities and private research facilities must work better with agriculture to find and bring to market new innovations. Our Third Frontier program must focus more on agriculture as well. Finally, I am proud of the fact that unlike my opponent, I am not endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States — an extremist, left-coast group that is waging war against Ohio’s farmers.
My unique combination of high-level success in both public service and private business, together with a proven track record of delivering results to stubborn problems, is what Ohio needs if we are to get our state back on track.
It’s time the politicians in Washington prioritize Ohio working families over the interests of Washington and Wall Street. We cannot go back to the failed policies that created this economic crisis in the first place.
For the last four years, I have traveled to every corner of the state to save and create jobs in the midst of this national recession, and I recognize that the agricultural industry is an essential part of Ohio’s economy, contributing more than $93 billion to the state’s economy and employing 1 out of 7 Ohioans. I have advocated for and will strongly support investments in our farming communities, such as promoting and increasing agricultural exports, expanding broadband access, funding water infrastructure projects, and providing assistance to entrepreneurs to start businesses in rural areas. I will also stand with Ohio farmers in the U.S. Senate by opposing efforts to weaken the strong safety net created in the 2008 Farm Bill.
With the right policies in place, Ohio’s rural communities can thrive and help solve pressing national problems by providing a safe and healthy food supply and producing the renewable energies we need to move toward a green economy and energy independence. It’s time to put Ohio farmers first.
Ohio is blessed with fertile farmland and a proud farming tradition. In fact, agriculture is Ohio’s No. 1 industry, providing nearly 1 million jobs. The farming community and our agriculture heritage are an important part of the fabric of the Buckeye State.
Ohio’s unemployment is more than 10%, and elected officials at every level should be doing all they can to help the agriculture community grow and prosper. During my 12 years representing seven counties of Southern Ohio in the U.S. Congress that is what I tried to do, and that is why I consistently received the Friend of the Farmer award from the American Farm Bureau. Based on my record and my policy proposals, I have also received the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau in this U.S. Senate race. I am proud to stand with Ohio’s agriculture community.
For me, the top issue we face in Ohio is jobs and the economy. After my opponent, Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, was elected, he became Ohio’s director of development, the lead person in Ohio for job creation, and under his watch, our state’s unemployment rate has nearly doubled and we’ve lost more than 400,000 jobs, including many companies who have left Ohio for other states.
There’s a better way. That’s why I’ve proposed my Plan to Create Ohio Jobs, which reflects my conversations with Ohioans in every single one of our 88 counties, numerous small business roundtables, visits to farms, talking to workers and management at more than 70 factory visits, and meetings with economic development experts.
My plan recognizes that we must get spending under control. Every Ohio farmer understands that you can’t keep spending money you don’t have — but that’s exactly what we have seen in Washington with the failed $800 billion stimulus and the $2.6 trillion big-government health care bill that have helped create record deficits and a dangerous and unprecedented buildup of debt.
My plan would also expand exports to help the farmer. One in three farm acres is planted for export, and I believe we should continue to expand markets for our agriculture products. By expanding exports, we can ensure better prices and add jobs.
For me, it’s about Ohio’s future. Jane and I want our children and all Ohioans to find opportunity here in the Buckeye State. It’s time to turn things around in Washington and help get Ohio back on track.