Part 1 of Spectrum News 1's series "The Year in Farming"
CLEVELAND, Ohio —The Ohio Farm Bureau says agriculture plays a significant role to the state’s economy, adding billions to its bottom line.
- Ohio’s biggest crop is soybeans, followed by corn, with hogs being the most popular form of livestock
- 96 percent of farms in Ohio are family owned
- Ohio is in the top 10 in pork production, number two in egg production and number one in producing Swiss cheese
Matt Hartong is a fourth-generation dairy farmer.
“I’ve always been on the farm, I’ve always been helping Dad and Grandpa. Even when I was in college I’d come back and make sure to help out with chores, and plowing and harvesting and all that kind of stuff,” said Hartong.
But he says the last three years have been tough on dairy farmers like him.
“We can make ends meet, and that’s kind of the bottom line. When you think about people living paycheck to paycheck, that’s an accurate description of how we’re living right now,” said Hartong.
Despite struggles for farmers, the Ohio Farm Bureau says agriculture is still a major player in Ohio’s economy.
“Every single year, Ohio agriculture and food production adds $53 billion to Ohio’s bottom line. One in eight jobs is related in one way or another to agriculture and food production all across the Buckeye State,” said Ty Higgins, Ohio Farm Bureau.
He says Ohio’s biggest crop is soybeans, followed by corn, with hogs being the most popular form of livestock.
“Farmers are still planting quite a bit,” said Higgins. “In fact, almost half of the acres in Ohio are used for farmland. 35% of acreage all across the Buckeye state are used for row crops, so that equates to about 10 million acres across Ohio that’s used for corn, soybean, wheat and other commodities.”
Farmers have grown wheat and soybean for decades, but there’s a new crop many are excited to see hit the market.
“Hemp can be grown for three different reasons, it can be grown for the CBD oil, it can be grown for grain and it can also be grown for its fiber, and I think Ohio is prime for hemp production,” said Higgins. “We have a lot of farmers that have some acres that they may want to try out for hemp and just see how the market is. It’s going to be a trial and error here in 2020.”
Higgins adds that 96 percent of farms in Ohio are family owned —even some considered corporations.
One of those family-owned farms —Hartong’s and his family’s.
“It means a whole lot to me. And I think that my kids and my wife, we’re going to live here someday and we’re going to build our lives around the farm,” said Hartong.
Higgins says Ohio is seventh in the nation in soybean production and eighth in the nation in corn production.
Ohio is also in the top 10 in pork production, number two in egg production and number one in producing Swiss cheese, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau.
The number of farms in Ohio has actually increased since 2012, and right now, it's the largest number since 2004.
But the state of Ohio had 2,600 dairy farms four years ago, and now has below 2000.