2022 Farm Science Review Grand Opening

The following remarks were delivered during the grand opening of the 2022 Farm Science Review on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.


Welcome, everyone!

It is such a thrill to be back at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center.

I want to thank Governor Mike DeWine for his outstanding support of Ohio’s food and agricultural industry — and for The Ohio State University’s land-grant mission. Our agricultural experiment stations, extension offices, and 4-H programming — as well as our magnificent College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — are major aspects of that mission.

I would also like to acknowledge: 

  • Our elected officials and friends from all levels of government, 
  • City and business leaders,
  • Our wonderful alumni and generous donors, 
  • Our past and present trustees, 
  • Our students, faculty, and staff; and the amazing leaders at our university — especially Dean Cathann Dress of CFAES, our vice president for agricultural administration.

And, I thank our Farm Science Review sponsors and volunteers for helping all of us learn and connect. 

This is so important, because the need for innovation in our agricultural ecosystem has never been greater. Farming clearly tops the list of industries all of us rely on most — but it is right on the front lines of the accelerating effects of climate change causing great uncertainty.

At the same time, agriculture itself represents about 11% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers can play a key role in reducing those emissions, including with farming practices that sequester carbon while controlling erosion, conserving water and increasing soil fertility.

However, simultaneously managing and mitigating climate risks comes with a host of additional challenges. Ohio’s farmers need new science, new strategies, new skills, new tools, new funding and new collaborations.

So, I am happy today to announce a new partnership between the Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and Nationwide. Together, we are launching the AgTech Innovation Hub — which will offer fertile ground for programs and ideas that contribute to agricultural resiliency, food security, and the economic security of farmers and food producers. This innovation hub will be an incubator for groundbreaking ideas to help the agricultural ecosystem understand, manage and mitigate climate risk.

At Ohio State, we are so pleased to have the perspectives that Nationwide will bring to this project. Some of the earliest warnings about the potential impacts of climate change came from the insurance industry — nearly half a century ago! — and insurers are experts in helping their customers reduce risks. 

Our AgTech Innovation Hub is going to promote applied research, technology transfer, entrepreneurship, new products and processes, and cross-disciplinary solutions to these complex problems. It is going to help Ohio’s largest industry manage very dynamic times with grace and grit — and I cannot wait to see what emerges from it.

Ohio State, with help from partners like Nationwide, is leading the way on agricultural research.

I also have to mention another brand-new venture that is going to generate important insights for the Ohio agriculture community.

We are honored to have been selected yesterday by Voyager Space Holdings to locate, at Ohio State, the terrestrial analog facility for the first commercial free-flying space station in low-earth orbit, and successor to the International Space Station — called Starlab. This state-of-the-art laboratory system, here in Ohio, will mirror the workings and operations of the Starlab space station in orbit, and will be the North American anchor for the entire research ecosystem, called the George Washington Carver Science Park, the first science park in space. We will host comprehensive, space-related research, science, technology development and STEM activities — including education and outreach in partnership with 4-H in Ohio and Ohio State Extension.

My thanks to Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and their teams, and to JobsOhio and One Columbus, for joining us in this successful — and truly exciting — proposal.

This research will generate positive social, economic, educational and quality-of-life outcomes for a broad range of constituents, in particular, the Ohio agriculture community, and will include developing new approaches to preserving Ohio’s water quality, improving crop genetics and production efficiency, and enhancing animal health.

I am thrilled about this latest announcement and the New AgTech Innovation Hub. Together, we are collectively moving toward solutions for some of the world’s most complex environmental problems.

Now, I am delighted to welcome Mr. Mark Berven, president and chief operating officer of Nationwide Property and Casualty, to the podium.