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Local farmers offer Sen. Sherrod Brown input on 2023 Farm Bill

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Posted at 5:02 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 18:54:16-04

CHESTERLAND, Ohio — The apples at Patterson Fruit Farm are coming in nicely this August, bringing the promise of a good harvest this fall compared to a devastating 2021 that turned on a night of bad weather.

"So we had a freeze, sort of plain and simple, it came down to a significant freeze in April which destroyed about 90% of our crop," said Bill Patterson, the sixth-generation operator of the farm and also the Ohio Farm Bureau President. "Last year was close to as bad as it gets and this year's as good as it gets."

Such is the ebb and flow of farming; the weather can't be controlled, and for Ashtabula soybean and corn farmer Jeff Magyar, the war between Russia and Ukraine is also something beyond their control impacting their input costs.

"Fuel to fill our tanks, what normally costs $20,000, cost $50,000. Fertilizer what was $350 a ton last year was $1,200 a ton this year," said Magyar.

They are two of about a dozen farmers who met Monday with Senator Sherrod Brown, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee and will be a key player in drafting next year's Farm Bill. At the table were growers of specialty crops, grapes, beets and the fast-growing trend of urban farming, which struggles for recognition.

"Three percent of the land is urban farms, but 83% of the population (is urban)," said Rev. Dr. Carl Wallace, an urban farmer from Akron. "Yet we don't have the proper funding for Urban Ag until it started in the 2018 Farm Bill."

Farm bills are drafted every four or five years, with nutrition programs like SNAP accounting for three-fourths of the spending in them and nearly 10% going to crop insurance. Farmers at the event Monday also encouraged more to be done to recruit and inspire the next generation of farmers as their numbers dwindle.

Brown says he will take this input to Washington where the partisanship that exists as a whole is traditionally set aside when it comes to this vital issue.

"We will get between 70 and 85 votes for this bill out of the 100 in the Senate, and there is almost nothing we're able to, we can do that occasionally on veterans bills, but it's really unique in that the farm bill represents sort of everybody," said Senator Brown.