When it comes to the current state of Ohio’s food system, the numbers best tell the story. Ohio is ranked 13th nationally with a total value of crop and livestock sales just over $10 billion in 2012. Ohio ranks 7th for the number of farms in the nation with 75,462 and an average farm size of 185 acres. Furthermore, in a time when farm acres are disappearing, with the nation losing about 7.5 million acres of farmland since the 2007 census, the numbers of acres in agricultural production in Ohio have remained steady and actually increased slightly. The state now has nearly 14 million acres of farmland.
In 2015 Ohioans spent approximately 32 million dollars on food. A focus on increased sourcing of food from regional communities can bring direct and induced multiplier effects that provide increased wealth generation. Improving the Ohio food system will require focus and dedication of local food policy councils/coalitions, farmers, agencies, individual citizens and organizations. According to a survey on food, agriculture and environmental issues (Smith and Sharp,2008) 98% of Ohioans believe the government should be engaged in the development of local food systems.
The state of Ohio’s food system can be understood in greater detail by analyzing four key areas: Connections, Agriculture Production, Food Insecurity, and Health Outcomes: