Brown Presses USDA Secretary Vilsack on Assistance with Rebuilding OARDC
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today attended the first hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on the 2012 Farm Bill. The hearing examined the role our nation’s agriculture industry plays in tackling global food insecurity. At a hearing entitled, “Food for Thought: The Role, Risks and Challenges for American Agriculture and the Next Farm Bill in Meeting the Demands of a Growing World,” Brown pressed U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to devote resources to rebuild Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster which was damaged by severe weather.
“Agriculture is Ohio’s largest industry and Ohio farmers provide food for kitchen tables across the globe,” Brown said. “Our nation’s farmers are the most productive in the world and while considering the 2012 Farm Bill, I will continue to seek ways to expand market opportunities for Ohio farmers to build strong rural communities and bolster our nation’s economy.”
US farmers are now struggling with difficult weather, natural disasters, growing populations, and improving diets abroad – all putting a greater demand on U.S. agricultural exports and international food aid programs. The world’s population is estimated to grow to more than 9 billion by 2050, yet the amount of available farmland is expected to remain stagnant. Food production will need to increase by 70-100 percent by mid-century to meet this growing population.
In addition to discussing the growing need to agriculture products, Brown also pressed Vilsack to commit resources for reconstruction of OARDC in Wooster. In February, Brown sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack urging him to help rebuild the OARDC, which was partially destroyed by a tornado in mid-September. Earlier that month, Brown toured OARDC and held a roundtable with dairy farmers at the center.
In advance of the 2012 Farm Bill, Brown launched his ‘Grown in Ohio’ listening tour in Chesterland at the Patterson Fruit Farm last month. At a similar listening session during consideration for the 2008 Farm Bill, the idea for the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program was born and eventually adopted in the final bill. The ACRE provision allows farmers to choose a new safety net program that protects against drops in yield or prices, which is critical for farmers given the uncertain and volatile agriculture markets.
In March, Brown addressed the Ohio Farm Bureau in Washington, D.C, where he announced his plans for the ‘Grown in Ohio’ tour. At that speech, Brown outlined priorities for economic development and job growth in Ohio’s agricultural industry. In March, Brown also held a call with nearly 30 Ohio farmers to announce that he will be the new Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth, and Energy. The critical panel is responsible for job creation in small towns and rural communities and the continued development of renewable fuels and clean energy technologies that support rural America.
Brown has held more 170 roundtables throughout the state, and he is the first Ohioan to serve on both the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee. Agriculture is still Ohio’s largest industry.