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Ohio offers $12.6 million to support food supply chain

Ohio Bits: OSU dean honored by sheep industry; inaugural cattle show hosted; apply now for OFBF scholarships.

February 2, 2024

4 Min Read
Rear view of women wearing protective clothing on a processing line for strawberries
GRANTS AVAILABLE: The RFSI program aims to support growth in the middle of the food supply chain and strengthen local and regional food systems by creating new revenue streams for Ohio producers, keeping profits circulating in rural communities and increasing diversity in processing options. Chris Sattlberger/Getty Images

From farm gate to the plate, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is offering financial support to businesses and producers who work in the middle of the food supply chain sector.

ODA has been awarded $12.6 million through the federal Resilient Food System Infrastructure program to fund projects that support supply chain coordination activities, create more and better processing centers, and increase accessible, affordable and efficient distribution of Ohio products. Projects may also include the construction, expansion and modernization of supply chain facilities.

“A strong Ohio depends on a strong agriculture community,” ODA Director Brian Baldridge says. “The RFSI grant program will help ensure we’re thoroughly investing in local producers and supporting Ohio’s food system. These grants create more economic opportunities for our communities and the farmers who help feed our state.”

RFSI aims to support growth in the middle of the food supply chain and strengthen local and regional food systems by creating new revenue streams for Ohio producers, keeping profits circulating in rural communities and increasing diversity in processing options.

Those interested in receiving funding should apply directly through ODA by March 15. ODA encourages applications that serve smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers, underserved producers, veteran producers, and underserved communities.

ODA has entered a cooperative agreement with USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service to administer the program. Detailed guidelines, including project requirements and eligibility, can be found here.

Kress honored by Ohio’s sheep industry

Cathann Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, was recently named a Friend of the Ohio Sheep Industry.

The recognition was presented at the 2023 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium in December at the CFAES Wooster campus, from the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program. 

The Friend of the Sheep Industry award recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field that has contributed significantly to the sheep industry but may not be directly associated with the industry on a daily basis.

“Dr. Kress has been committed to the Ohio sheep and lamb industry through her continued support of Ohio State University sheep programming,” says Roger High, executive director of OSIA. “Cathann’s dedication to this program and her assistance to our industry has brought her recognition in this very important role for our industry.”

As the largest sheep- and lamb-producing state east of Mississippi River, Ohio ranks 11th in national sheep and lamb production, and every Ohio county has a sheep operation. With an estimated 3,400 sheep and lamb farms in Ohio, the industry is vitally important to the state. It provides an estimated economic impact of more than $25 million yearly. It provides more than 3,000 full- and part-time jobs, according to the Ohio Livestock Coalition.

Saddle and Sirloin Club hosts inaugural show

The Ohio State University’s Saddle and Sirloin Club rang in the new year in a big way, hosting its inaugural Saddle and Sirloin Spectacular cattle show Dec. 29-31 at Pickaway Agriculture and Event Center in Circleville.

During the livestock show, youth were awarded grand champion through fifth overall in both market and breeding shows. While no animals were sold, all event proceeds went to fund the continuation of the show.

While the 114 student members of Saddle and Sirloin are no strangers to livestock show management and have frequently facilitated youth opportunities, this is the first year for its cattle show.

The show ran nearly 400 head (193 breeding heifers and 194 market animals) through two rings. Show chairs and Department of Animal Sciences students Erin Pope, Savannah Kinley and Collin Fedderke worked with other club members to ensure a positive experience for families and exhibitors.

While club membership is comprised of a variety of majors, animal sciences students and those with backgrounds in agriculture make up a majority of the club. For many students, hosting these opportunities for youth is especially rewarding.

Apply for 2024 OFBF scholarships

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has multiple scholarships available to Ohio students from rural, suburban and urban communities who are pursuing degrees with a connection to the agricultural industry.

Through 14 scholarship funds, nearly 50 awards will be made to deserving students. The deadline to apply online at ofbf.org is March 31.

In addition, many county Farm Bureaus have their own scholarship programs. To view all scholarship opportunities, visit ofbf.org.

For more information about the scholarships that Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation offers, call Kelly Warner at 614-246-8205.

OSU wants feedback on eFields program impact

The eFields team is looking for farmers, consultants and other individuals to participate in a study to evaluate the impact of the OSU eFields program and assist with making improvements.

Completing the survey will take less than 15 minutes. It is accessible online at go.osu.edu/eFieldsImpact. The deadline to complete the survey is March 1. Completing the survey will constitute your consent to participate in the study.

Questions about the survey or its use should be directed to Elizabeth Hawkins at [email protected].

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