WASHINGTON – United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released the following opening statement from today’s Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on Challenges and Opportunities Facing American Agricultural Producers:


“As the first Senator from Ohio in nearly forty years to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am proud to represent Ohio’s farmers and agricultural industry. Much has changed since I helped milk cows on my family’s dairy farm near Mansfield. Today’s farmers are participating in a global market with countless competitors, and not only are they expected to feed the world, but also to satisfy its growing demand for energy.


“Earlier this month, I held a weeklong series of agricultural roundtables throughout the state of Ohio. These roundtables enabled me to meet face-to-face with the farmers who will be affected by the farm bill. By listening to the personal stories of family farmers, I gained a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face as an agricultural state — and what Ohio agriculture needs to remain strong.


“The roundtables during my statewide tour renewed my appreciation for the innovation and diversity of Ohio farmers. I met with a corn and soybean farmer in Henry County who will be supplying corn to one of the first ethanol plants in Ohio, and a Montgomery County hog farmer who invested in wind turbines to provide on-farm energy.


“I discussed labor issues with nursery and greenhouse owners in Lake County; I met with fruit and vegetable growers in Ross County who spoke about the opportunities to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to children and senior citizens; and I spoke with dairy farmers in Wayne County about the importance of livestock to our rural communities.


“As the Senate prepares to debate the 2007 Farm Bill, I will bring what I learned from Ohio farmers to the table. I will work to ensure that new legislation promotes renewable energy, guarantees a safety-net for farmers, and rewards farmers for their environmental stewardship. In addition, the 2007 Farm Bill must assist young farmers with their start in agriculture and it must support programs that provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables for all Ohioans.


“The agricultural industry in Ohio has experienced unprecedented change, but the values of Ohio’s farmers – hard work and stewardship of the land – have remained steadfast. Ohio agriculture has a rich history and a bright future. It is a privilege to work on behalf of Ohio farmers to help grow our agricultural prosperity.”