|By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Farming is part of Ohio’s legacy. Farming and the ag-bioresource sector are critical to Ohio’s future, said U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democrat gubernatorial candidate, in an e-mail from his Columbus office.
“With the right investments, Ohio’s farmer can feed and fuel the world,” said Strickland, who grew up on Duck Run in Scioto County. His wife, Frances, is the daughter of a dairy farmer.
Turnaround Ohio is the Strickland/ Fisher plan to create and keep jobs in Ohio. In that plan, Strickland has committed investment in energy sources, such as ethanol and other biofuels, he said. He has laid out the following goals:
•Marshal the capital and demand to support establishment of Ohio ethanol plants that will produce ethanol to fuel Ohio’s vehicles and help stabilize gas prices for all Ohioans, preferably with a strong equity position for Ohio farmers so that they reap benefits from their production.
•Through Ohio’s tax-exempt bonds, make available to private business and entrepreneurs approximately $250 million per year in low interest capital for new alternative energy projects.
•Complement the bond program with Third Frontier funding to create new jobs and a cleaner environment by investing in new, cutting-edge sources of energy including biofuels, wind, solar, and clean coal technologies.
•Set aside a part of Third Frontier funding and workforce training funds to provide capital and training support to Ohio’s manufacturers who are either making the transition to hybrid auto vehicle manufacturing or entering a new market for renewable energy, such as wind or solar.
•Support development of infrastructure to make biofuels (ethanol, soy diesel, etc.) accessible to every Ohioan by expanding present state incentives to partner with distributors and retailers to make blends such as B2, B20 and E85 available statewide.
•A Strickland Administration will take seriously its responsibility to lead by example. It will use state purchasing power to boost demand for alternative energy sources and to ensure energy efficiency savings.
•As production of biofuels in Ohio increases, a Strickland Administration will pursue legislation to increase the use of ethanol and biodiesel in the state’s fuel supply.
In other areas, Strickland sees potential and opportunities for agriculture in Ohio’s future economic development.
Ohio’s livestock industry is a vital part of the state’s economy and is a crucial link in the agricultural supply chain, providing a market for feed crops, supplying Ohio’s meat and dairy processors, and creating jobs, he said.
“I believe there is a middle ground that includes responsible oversight for ensuring livestock farms of all sizes are able to thrive in Ohio,” Strickland said.
Regarding trade Strickland said that as governor, he would help Ohio’s farmers identify and move products to local, national, and international markets. He would also make sure the infrastructure is sufficient to get these products to markets.
Finally, Strickland said his administration would have one primary goal and that is to create jobs:
“All of my cabinet Directors, including at the Department of Agriculture, will be accountable to meeting that goal and expected to work with one another to produce results,” he said.
Furthermore, my Director for the Department of Agriculture will be an individual who respects and enjoys agriculture and horticulture, has a thorough understanding of the challenges facing all of Ohio’s farmers, and will have an ambitious vision of the many ways agriculture fits into Ohio’s economy,” he said.