Ohio farmers may have varied opinions regarding polices and issues surrounding the 2007 Farm Bill, but they agree that the continuation of farm programs is important to their overall financial stability, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economic survey.

 

Nearly half of the surveyed farmers stated that their financial situation would be worse off in five years if farm programs were eliminated in the 2007 Farm Bill. Financial expectations related to the Farm Bill were just one of a series of questions that OSU agricultural economists tackled in the 2007 Agricultural, Food and Public Policy Preference Survey.

The survey was conducted in November and December 2005. Three thousand Ohio farmers were surveyed; 662 responses were deemed usable for the results. The Ohio survey was part of a national survey commissioned by the Farm Foundation, with 27 states participating.

The following is a breakdown of major findings and significant results:

• For Ohio farmers, the goals of the 2007 Farm Bill extend beyond farm income and risk management, two aspects most associated with previous Farm Bills. The goals that farmers most support include: assuring safe, secure and affordable food; reducing dependency on non-renewable energy; and enhancing opportunities for small and beginning farms. Other goals listed are increasing global competitiveness, contributing to protecting the environment and enhancing rural communities.

• No consensus exists regarding which crop support programs should be cut, if cuts are indeed needed. For example, a net total of 70 percent of Ohio farmers who receive loan deficiency payments would maintain this program. In contrast, only 3 percent of Ohio farmers who do not receive loan deficiency programs would maintain the loan deficiency program.

Other survey results worth noting include:

• Ohio farmers widely support technical and financial assistance for addressing environmental problems associated with farming.  According to the survey, water quality protection and soil erosion control topped the list with 59 percent and 56 percent, respectively, of Ohio farmers supporting the provision of both technical and financial assistance.

• Farmer support of free trade agreements is mixed.

• Ohio farmers want labeling and traceability explored as food system options. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed strongly agree or agree government should implement mandatory labeling that identifies country of origin on food products. Sixty-six percent believe the government should increase efforts to improve traceability of food from consumers back to producers.