While the cost of operating farms in the state of Ohio has continued to increase, the ability for farmers to receive loans, as well as the funding available to help the state's farms, have become outdated and ineffective.

Since being created in 1985, the Agricultural Linked Deposit Program has loaned about $2.8 billion in assistance to 40,000 Ohio farmers. Obviously, this funding has helped the state's largest industry maintain high productivity and has assisted farmers in keeping up with their input costs. During that time, however, the program has undergone very few changes to bring it up-to-date with today's costs, forcing many farmers to either search for further funding avenues or to reduce the scope of their operations.

For these reasons, it was clear that the Ag Linked Deposit Program needed to be upgraded in order to stay current with what farmers pay for things like machinery, pesticides and fertilizer. To address these concerns, the Ohio House in January passed House Bill 415, which increases the available funding that is coming out of the program. State funding to the program would increase from $125 million to $165 million annually and individual loan amounts would jump from $100,000 to $150,000 per application. Again, these funding increases were necessary due to rising costs sparked by inflation, and considering that the last major change to the program took place in 2002, obvious discrepancies had taken hold.

Another positive feature of the legislation is lowering the interest rates on these loans, which can lead to greater savings for farmers, especially over time. Those savings will allow Ohio's farmers to invest more resources and capital into their businesses, increase hiring and improve the economy.

The bill received bipartisan support in the House, as well as from multiple agricultural organizations, notably the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Cattlemen's Association, the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association and the Ohio AgriBusiness Association. The changes made in this bill go a long way toward helping our state's small, locally owned farms and businesses.

Rep. Landis may be reached by calling 614-466-8035; emailing District96@ohr.state.oh.us; or writing to State Representative Al Landis, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215.