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Agriculture-related concerns after East Palestine train derailment

Many in the agriculture community in Ohio are discussing concerns about the impacts of the train derailment in East Palestine.

Water and air quality tests are ongoing and state and federal agencies have maintained that it is safe, but some in the community have expressed concerns.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture hosted a farmer roundtable addressing concerns about the upcoming planting season and potential ag impacts of the train derailment on Thursday in Salem, Ohio.

ODA Director Brian Baldridge discussed some farmer concerns.

“Spring planting season is 45 days away and we’re looking at our legumes that are coming out of dormant stages and our pastures are greening up. (Farmers) had a lot of questions from a standpoint of making sure that’s safe and making sure as that milk cow consumes that grass and grabs ahold of that nutrient, that the end product that comes out is safe for our consumers,” he says. “We had those great conversations to say, ‘yes, with everything we’re seeing so far we have a safe product here in Ohio and Columbiana County, but we’re continually doing test to reiterate that point.’”

Audio was provided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Baldridge says the department will continue to be there for producers moving forward.

There are several actions being taken to address the aftermath of the train derailment. During a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Hearing on Thursday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio expanded on the issue.

“These Ohioans are worried about whether their water is safe to drink, the air is safe to breather, whether their kids will get sick, whether their crops are contaminated, and whether they’ll still be able to do business and attract investment to the community,” he says.

He also discussed concerns during the Ohio Farm Bureau County Presidents’ Trip to D.C. on Wednesday. Brown said many farmers are not sure whether their soil or crops are safe, and even if they are, they worry people will be scared to buy it.

Senator J.D. Vance, also speaking with farm bureau members during the trip, said public opinion is a concern.

“I’ve talked to a number of farmers from the area who say, ‘I grow chickens, I grow hay, and nobody wants to buy the stuff grown on my farm even if all the tests say that everybody is fine,’” he says. “They have a brand problem that they’re going to have for the next few years and we’re going to have to solve that problem. We can’t just leave this community behind which is what I fear a lot of people in D.C. are going to want to do.”

Brownfield was on the ground in Washington D.C. this week.

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