Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018, Ohio Proud – an Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) program promoting food and agricultural products made in the state – is continuing to help consumers connect to Ohio’s ag industry while supporting farmers and ag-related companies of all sizes.
The program, currently comprising more than 500 members, helps consumers easily spot products that are at least 50 percent raised, grown or processed in the state and meet all inspection and labeling requirements. According to Ashley McDonald, public information officer for the ODA, each Ohio Proud product features a sticker or logo identifying it as part of the program, and they’re available statewide at farmers markets, grocery stores, specialty shops and other retail destinations.
“Buying local is important to Ohio consumers, and our goal is to make the process of identifying and buying Ohio products a quick, easy and enjoyable experience,” McDonald says. “Supporting local programs is a win-win because not only are consumers getting unique and high-quality products, they’re also supporting local businesses, their community and the state’s largest industry – food and agriculture.”
Rustic Brew Farms
Based in Marysville, Rustic Brew Farm recently joined the Ohio Proud program. The fourth-generation, 2,600-acre family farm is owned and operated by Matt Cunningham and his father, and the pair grows corn, soybeans, malting barley and hops for the state’s craft brewers, home brewers and distillers.
Rustic Brew Farm also includes a malting facility with a $300,000 custom-built system capable of malting 4,000 pounds of grain per batch, and they offer four types of malt (pilsner, pale, Vienna and Munich), with additional styles in the works.
Because Cunningham aims to provide Ohio-grown ingredients for Ohio-made beer, Rustic Brew Farm’s inclusion in Ohio Proud makes perfect sense. He says the program’s logo provides “a very easy way to communicate that we are certified as using Ohio ingredients,” and he knows it’s something his customers value as the public is increasingly seeking out locally grown and produced products.
“We joined [the program] because the ‘Ohio Proud’ philosophy is basically what our business was founded on,” Cunningham says. “We wanted to provide quality Ohio-grown ingredients for Ohio’s craft brewers so they could make a truly Ohio beer. What better way to show that we are growing our products here in Ohio and are proud of that fact? Ohio Proud! Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
Anheuser-Busch Joins Ohio Proud
Ohio Proud welcomes large operations, too, like the Anheuser-Busch Columbus brewery. Joining the Ohio Proud program in 2018, the facility covers more than 1 million square feet on a 168-acre campus and produces 10 million barrels of beer annually under
20 brands including Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob ULTRA.
Although the brewery is relatively new to Ohio Proud, it has always had Ohio pride. For example, Anheuser-Busch Columbus brewery has released Ohio-themed bottles in the past that featured the state’s name on the label along with “The Buckeye State” and “So Much to Discover,” a former Ohio slogan. Because of that pride, Josh Zabek, the brewery’s general manager, says joining Ohio Proud was an easy decision.
“Being part of Ohio Proud reminds people that our products are truly local to Ohio,” Zabek says. “We’ve been brewing here since 1968, and this facility – one of the largest breweries in the U.S. – has employed thousands of Ohio residents over the years and works with many local farmers. We are proud to be a big part of both our community and state, and our participation in Ohio Proud is just one more way we can show our commitment and support.”