Taking the pulse of Ohio farmers

(Photo: Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Extreme weather, trade tensions, declining prices, lack of access to health care, and urban sprawl.

To get a better handle on how Ohio farm families are adapting to these challenges, researchers at The Ohio State University will be asking farmers to share their experiences through a new statewide survey this February.

The 2020 Ohio Farm Poll will gather information about the current well-being of different types of farmers across the state, including any changes they might be seeing. The questionnaire will provide an opportunity for farmers to share their views with researchers at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and state policymakers about a range of issues. The survey will be mailed in early February to a random sample of 3,000 farmers.

“We know Ohio farmers often feel over-surveyed and have limited time. However, we also know that decisions are being made by local, state, and national policymakers without a good grounding in the realities farmers face,” said Doug Jackson-Smith, a CFAES professor.

The survey will ask farmers not only about their farm businesses, but also about how farming trends are affecting the well-being of their households and communities.

The persistent spring rain last year created the state’s worst planting year on record. That, plus a significant increase in international tariffs on American agricultural goods and a spike in prices for hay and other forages made farming particularly challenging last year. As a result, knowing how farmers are dealing with these hurdles has become especially important.

“Our hope is to better understand how farmers who raise different crops and market in different ways have been affected, and how we can best help them through those challenges,” said Shoshanah Inwood, a CFAES assistant professor.

It has been over a decade since a scientific, statewide poll was conducted in Ohio on these types of issues. Ohio has a diverse agriculture industry, and the survey is designed to help researchers and leaders better understand the challenges different types of farmers face. To ensure the results represent the full breadth of Ohio’s diverse agriculture industry, Inwood and Jackson-Smith are enouraging everyone contacted to respond, if at all possible.

Survey results will be available later this year and will be shared with farmers, farm organizations, state agencies, and policymakers. Results will also guide CFAES researchers and program leaders with CFAES’ Ohio State University Extension outreach arm in building a more vibrant, prosperous farm economy and farm population. 

For more information about the survey, contact the survey’s leaders, Jackson-Smith, jackson-smith.1@osu.edu, 330-202-3540; and Inwood, inwood.2@osu.edu, 330-263-3790.

For more information, contact: 

Doug Jackson-Smith

Shoshanah Inwood