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Farm Bureau Priorities Addressed in Ohio Senate Budget
Ohio Ag Connection - 06/12/2019

Farmers, consumers and the environment will benefit from Farm Bureau supported provisions in the just announced Senate budget bill.

Among the items Farm Bureau members and staff advocated for are retention of the business income tax deduction; funding for multiple water quality initiatives; and necessary funding for Ohio State University and Central State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts and OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. Farm Bureau also sought needed funding for multiple programs within the Ohio Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.

Farm Bureau members called, texted and emailed Senators to express their views on the budget. The organization also offered formal testimony several times during the hearing process.

"Our members spoke and our senators listened," said Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp. "We're pleased that our priorities were addressed in the Senate's budget."

The two-year budget, which must now be reconciled with the House version and approved by Gov. Mike DeWine, comes at a crucial time for farmers and rural communities. The worst planting season and production outlook on record, already low commodity prices and market-disrupting international trade disputes have weakened Ohio's largest industry.

The business income tax deduction is especially important to farmers in the midst of an economic downturn.

Ohio Farm Bureau First Vice President Bill Patterson, a produce grower and bakery operator, told senators during budget testimony that the tax deduction helps farmers by "allowing the good years to create a cushion. As a capital intensive business that typically requires yearly operating loans, the ability to save in good years due to policies like the business income tax deduction have allowed many farms to stay afloat as times have gotten tough."

The Senate budget also includes funding for Gov. DeWine's proposed H2Ohio program, which will create additional tools for farmers who are working to adjust farming practices in ways that will improve water quality in Lake Erie and Ohio's other waterways. The Senate budget also supports other water quality measures through specific agency and university programs.

Other line-items Farm Bureau advocated for include ODA's food safety, meat inspection, dairy, Ohio Proud and plant industry divisions, the Heidelberg Water Quality Lab and Ohio Sea Grant programs and education initiatives for career tech and industry-recognized credentials.

Sharp said he was proud of the efforts of Farm Bureau members who reached out to their state senators. He encouraged members of the House-Senate conference committee to deliver to the governor a biennial budget that reflects the needs of rural Ohio. "Farmers and their communities are feeling the effects of a terrible farm economy," he said. "We need lawmakers to respond accordingly."

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