WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) launched his ‘Grown in Ohio’ listening tour in Chesterland today at the Patterson Fruit Farm. Brown will be holding a number of these listening sessions across Ohio in the coming months to get the input of Ohio farmers before the Senate considers the 2012 Farm Bill. 

“Ohio farmers not only provide feed for farms, but also put food on tables and fill the tanks of vehicles across the nation. Agriculture remains our state’s number one industry, with one out of every seven jobs tied to this important sector,” Brown said. “It’s with that idea in mind that I kick off my ‘Grown in Ohio’ tour right here in Chesterland, so that I can receive valuable feedback from farmers and growers all across Ohio as the Senate begins to consider the next Farm Bill. The Farm Bill has to be an energy bill, a conservation bill, a rural development bill, a food bill, and provide a strong farm safety net to benefit Ohio farms and farmers—and I will do all I can to ensure that the feedback I receive in these sessions will help shape the final piece of legislation.”

Growers from Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Columbiana, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne Counties were invited to today’s listening session, along with dairy farmers, sustainable agriculture and conservation representatives, and representatives from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Ohio Farmers Union.  Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Steve Maurer, Ohio’s Director of USDA Rural Development Tony Logan, and Bob Boggs, the newest member of the Farm Service Agency, were also present at the listening session.

Brown held a similar series of listening sessions prior to the last Farm Bill, and at one roundtable, the idea for the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program was born and eventually adopted in the final Farm 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 farm economy.

Last month, 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.

As the first Ohioan in more than 40 years to serve on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Brown is looking forward to working on behalf of Ohio’s agricultural community as the Senate considers the 2012 Farm Bill. During the authorization of the 2008 Farm Bill, Brown traveled around the state to listen to Ohio’s farmers and take their ideas to Washington.  Brown helped secure six major provisions that will improve and reform the farm safety net, support rural communities, promote renewable energy, encourage healthy diets, and protect natural resources.

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.