Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ohio Farm Bureau backs state Ag Dept nominee; says too early to say impact on outdoors issues

Praising governor-elect John Kasich’s pick of state Rep. James Zehringer, R-77, as the newest director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture is the Ohio Farm Bureau.

Zenringer will replace out-going Ashtabula County resident, Robert Boggs, an appointee of Gov. Ted Strickland who lost Nov. 2 to Kasich.

“We see this is being very positive for agriculture in the state," said Joe Cornely, spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau. "Rep. Zehringer has experience as a farmer, as a businessman, and also in state government. So when you put that background together it will serve the citizens of Ohio very well.”

The Ohio Farm Bureau has about 215,000 members of which around 60,000 are farmers, both full-time and part-time.

Cornely said also he wouldn’t be surprised to see an extensive look taken at state government revamping in order to see how it can better deliver its products.

“There’s been a lot of discussion for years that we have more government then we can afford,” Cornely said. “When you look at the current budget direction with a possible $8 billion deficit something is going to have to change.

How that change will come about, however, is the unanswered question.

Even so, it is way too premature to discuss how any restructuring of state government - a key Kasich campaign talking point - will impact Ohio’s natural resources issues in general and fish and game policies in particular, Cornely says as well.

Rumblings that Kasich and the state legislature will create a super Agriculture Department that will control elements impacting hunters, anglers, naturalists and the like have picked up steam.

“That’s a micro-policy issue; it’s just too much of a stretch,” Cornely said. “Certainly there are areas where both farmers and sportsmen need to come together and come to terms with each other.”

For now, Cornely says, it is the role of the Ohio Farm Bureau to represent its members’ interest, “making our case for what we believe state government can do for Ohio.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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