ATHENS, OH – This week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) office convened a roundtable discussion with Athens County farmers and stakeholders to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program and efforts to encourage economic development in rural counties. Roundtable participants also discussed the importance of cultivating new markets for farmers and protecting their specialty crops.
“The Rural Development program plays a critical role in supporting jobs in Athens County and rural communities across the state,” said Brown. “By working with farmers to protect the Rural Development program and expand their ability to grow specialty crops, we can support local jobs and increase access to fresh, healthy foods for Ohio communities. My office and I will continue working with community partners to ensure rural Ohio gets the support it needs.”
The roundtable discussion was hosted by Shagbark Seed and Mill, and roundtable participants included local farmers, the Ohio Farm Bureau, The Ohio State University Athens County extension, Rural Action, and ACEnet. This is one of several roundtable discussions Brown’s office will be hosting around the state as work begins on the 2018 Farm Bill.
In the 2014 Farm Bill, Brown supported a strong Rural Development title.
The 2014 Farm Bill also included many provisions from Brown’s Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act including a stronger crop insurance program for specialty crops and organic agriculture. The provisions included in the bill help Ohio farmers and producers sell their products directly to consumers and create jobs by addressing production, aggregation, and marketing and distribution needs. It also works to ensure that consumers have better access to nutritious, locally-grown food.
In 2014, Brown was part of the Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee that successfully negotiated a five-year farm bill. Brown is currently participating in hearings being held in the Senate Agriculture Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill. Brown is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 50 years