Top stories of 2019

Our web site keeps track of the stories that generate the most interest and at the end of the year we like to review the top stories to gain insight into how to better serve readers of our web and print content and our radio listeners. Plus, it is always fun to see which story comes out on top.

To revisit all of these favorite Web stories and videos in the last year, visit search for “2019 top stories of the year.” In addition to these top posts, other noteworthy drivers of web traffic in 2019 included the Ohio and Pro Farmer crop tours, the Ohio State Fair livestock show results, FFA, and Between the Rows. Weather challenges, the tough farm economy, and all things draft horse also garnered major web traffic in the last 12 months. Here are the 10 most popular stories of 2019.


  1. $65 hay bales a sign of the times

It was tough for hay production in 2018-2019. That truth came to a fever pitch in June at the LaRue Horse and Tack Sale.

“We usually have an average of 300 to 500 bales a month that people bring in,” said Janeen Heilman, sale organizer. “In April, of this year, we had 439 bales of hay of all different kinds and cuttings. The average per bale for April was $5.64. In May, we only had 195 bales for sale. The average for those was $6.91 per bale.”

The situation, which has slowly been increasing in desperation, hit its peak on Saturday, June 1.

“This month, we only had 15 bales and we had two people hurting for hay. It ended up at $65 a bale,” she said. “We talked to make sure they knew how they were bidding and they did.”

You read that correctly — $65 for small square bales of fourth cutting alfalfa mix. This story by Joel Penhorwood helped set a new daily record at and continues to generate plenty of traffic as readers marvel at the per bale price.


  1. Citizens of Toledo approve the Lake Erie Bill of Rights

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) was passed by the citizens of Toledo in a special election held on Tuesday, Feb. 26. The passage of LEBOR opened up the possibility of thousands of lawsuits against any entity that could be doing harm to Lake Erie, including agricultural operations. This was immediately followed up with a lawsuit from Wood County farmer Mark Drewes challenging the constitutionality and legal status of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. This case has been moving in Drewes’ favor since then, but has not yet been resolved.


  1. Hemp bill signed into law at the Ohio State Fair

Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 57 into law, decriminalizing hemp and paving the way for the development of a new hemp industry in our state. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will administer the newly created hemp program.

Hemp is a cannabis plant that does not produce intoxicating effects. Hemp contains a fiber, a grain, and oil that can be extracted for CBD, which is now being used in food and dietary supplements.

The hemp program sets up a licensing structure for farmers who are interested in growing the crop and those interested in processing it. It also allows for universities to grow and cultivate the crop for research purposes.


  1. “Deal or No Deal” appearance yields big win and lasting memories for an Ohio family

In March of 2018, the Anderson family got more bad news. Randy Anderson, who had been fighting cancer for several years, found out it had spread. His daughter, Casey Heath, wanted to do something to help her father focus on something other than his pain and health issues. At the same time, Casey and her husband were contemplating selling their home in Sandusky so she could move closer to Bluffton to work at Anderson Tractor Supply, the family’s agribusiness in northwest Ohio.

The situation prompted Casey to do an unusual Google search to find out about the television game show “Deal or No Deal” — her father’s favorite game show. That led to the family being featured on the episode that first aired on Dec. 5, 2018. When the show was over, Casey had $133,000 — enough to make the financial leap for Casey to return to the family business. And, after losing Randy in the summer of 2019, the family memories from the experience have no price tag.


  1. Are we being poisoned by glyphosate or is this an attorney-get-rich scheme?

Columnist Don “Doc” Sanders cracked into the top tier of stories in 2019 with his honest, research-based assessment of the court rulings regarding glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


  1. June 11 brings bullish news for corn

Doug Tenney, with Leist Mercantile, has been a long time contributor and, in recent years, has been offering his insights immediately following the monthly USDA reports that often have tremendous implications for the crop markets. In June, after what had been the most challenging planting season in history that led to record setting prevented planting acres, there was clearly huge interest in the bullish numbers from USDA.


  1. The corn crop insurance date looms as wet weather continues to stall planting

Columnist Doug Tenney did a great job outlining the uncertainty and many factors to consider for Ohio agriculture as the crop insurance dates for prevented planting corn approached.


  1. Ohio FFA’s Kolesen McCoy elected National FFA President

Heading into the 2019 National FFA Convention, the organization announced a record-high student membership of 700,170 and, in the next year, Kolesen McCoy, from the Global Impact STEM Academy Chapter, will be representing each of those members as only the third National FFA President from Ohio. The other National FFA presidents from Ohio were Bobby Jones in in 1933-1934 and Mark Sanborn in 1978-1979. McCoy is looking forward to building upon that heritage.


  1. Life and lessons at Laurel Valley Creamery

Intern Kayla Hawthorne, who was working for us as a student at Ohio University, stepped up with a several really great stories in 2019, two of which made the top 10. This story highlighted Nick and Celeste Nolan, who operate a 25- to 30-cow dairy on their family’s homestead in Gallia County.


  1. Ohio is home to back-to-back six-horse hitch champions

Again OCJ field reporter Kayla Hawthorne hit a home run with her story about All Star Farms earning several national and world titles within the draft horse six-horse hitch industry. The All Star hitch qualified for and competed in the North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series where they were crowned Classic Series Champions.







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