Columbus, OH – Today, in a joint briefing with Family Farm Action, the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) released a report outlining the dire state of Ohio family farmers and rural communities under pressure from the growth of global agriculture corporate giants. Agribusiness firms that control inputs such as seed and chemicals and meat processing have seen extreme consolidation in recent years, to the point of creating near monopolies. As a result, family farmers, once the economic engine of Ohio, are being lost.
Highlights of the report include:
- Rural per-capita income in Ohio lags behind the average for Ohio by almost $6,500, and value added to the economy by Ohio’s agricultural sector dropped from approximately $3.2 billion in 2013 to just over $1.2 billion in 2017.
- Projected increases in corn and soybean seed prices following the recent mega-mergers of Dow-Dupont and Bayer-Monsanto will take over $15.5 million from rural communities in Ohio to line the coffers of multinational companies.
- Unlike other midwestern states, Ohio does not limit corporate foreign ownership of land, exposing farmers and rural communities to unfair competition and wealth extraction by foreign corporations. Today, $1 billion of agriculture land in Ohio is foreign-owned.
Angela Huffman, a sixth generation Ohio farmer and Director of Communications and Research for OCM said, “While Ohio family farmers have our noses to the grindstone there are huge corporate powers threatening our existence. We hope our new report brings more awareness to the plight of Ohio’s family farmers and our rural communities.”
The report includes a list of policy steps that could be taken in Ohio to help level the playing field for family farmers, including economic investment in local and regional food processing, mandating government and institutional purchasing of local and regional foods, and banning corporate foreign ownership of farm land.
Dave Hutchins, board member of Buckeye Quality Beef Association, highlighted the changes he’s seen in his lifetime. “Ohio cattle producers used to have competitors bidding openly for our products, but today you are lucky if anyone will give you an open bid. We used to have 17 USDA-inspected beef processing plants in Columbus alone, but today we have to ship a load of cattle out of state for processing. This takes money out of Ohio cattle producers’ pockets for transportation costs. The loss of our processing plants has taken jobs out of our rural communities.”
Jake Davis, National Policy Director for Family Farm Action, made it clear: “We can have whatever kind of agriculture we want but we must make policy that promotes it. Ohioans must put pressure on elected officials to make drastic changes or strongly consider electing new representatives that will.”
Family Farm Action is a coalition of family farmers and advocates building the “political muscle” to fight for farmers and rural communities.
Organization for Competitive Markets is a membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.