Ryleigh Egbert, from Auglaize County, sold her Grand Champion Steer for a jaw-dropping $225,000 at the 2022 Sale of Champions.

Top 10 of 2022

By Matt Reese

Per tradition, I love to take a look at the top posts online from the previous year. It offers many insights into the hot topics, concerns and interests of Ohio agriculture. Top videos for the year were the National FFA Proficiency Awards, Cab Cams and Ohio State Fair interviews. 

Here are the top web stories from 2022.

  1. Grand champion steer shatters all Sale of Champions records

I have been attending the Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions for more than 20 years and auctioneer Johnny Regula has said it every year. He wants $100,000 for the Grand Champion Steer. Going into Sunday, Aug. 7, the record sale for the Grand Champion Steer at the Ohio State Fair was $85,000 from 2011. Every year Regula has said it, and every year he has come up short. The 2022 Sale, though, was different. 

“I’m going to get this out the way early,” Regula said as he took the microphone after Ryleigh Egbert from Auglaize County entered the sale ring with her Grand Champion Steer. “He has won more times than he has been beaten. This is a very unique, very special calf. This young girl lost her Grandpa this year. She told Grandpa, ‘This one is for you.’ And by gosh she did it. She did it…It is time to sell him. It is going to be a tough thing to do. But I’m going to sell him. And you know what I want. I want $100,000 for this steer.”

Within moments the bid was over $100,000 and there was an audible gasp from the crowd when the bid topped $200,000. Many spectators were in tears when the final bid was announced. 

“This blows my mind. This blows everybody’s mind,” Regula said. “Congratulations Ryleigh, you hold the record, and I’m sure you will for a while — $225,000, the Grand Champion Steer! I sold him!”

Combined with our livestream and additional coverage of the Sale of Champions (including the accompanying photo shared over 1,300 times on social media), this was hands down our biggest online presence for 2022.

2. Farmers pushing back on fertilizer prices

Fertilizer prices, of course, were a huge issue for crop production in 2022. Through the National Corn Growers Association, state organizations (including Ohio) commissioned two studies taking a look at fertilizer prices — one focused on nitrogen and the other on phosphorus. In response to the phosphorus study, NCGA and Ohio Corn & Wheat members (including the organization’s president Ben Klick) had multiple conversations with fertilizer industry leaders concerning the issue. 

“When farmers are talking about 300% cost increases from a year ago, it raises red flags. We just can’t let this go without looking into this,” said Tadd Nicholson, executive director of Ohio Corn & Wheat. “There are clearly supply chain disruptions with everything from tennis shoes to fertilizer, but none to the tune of 300% increases. This is causing us to ask a lot of serious questions. One question we are really focused on right now is about the tariffs on imported fertilizer that would further increase the prices from today’s levels going forward. We are going to increase the price of domestically produced fertilizer as well as the imported fertilizer. And, when you put a tariff in, it is for 5 years. This is not a 1-year blip where farmers can expect things to go back down next year. This is a multi-year issue. All of the other factors that go into the price of fertilizer will take time to work through the system. Today we are focusing on these tariffs. This is an unfair time to put tariffs on fertilizer when we have all of this disruption going on in the market.”

3. Will diesel prices ever come down?

Jeff Fichtelman, partner in JP2 Risk Management, wrote a very timely June article on the subject near the summer peak of diesel prices. While prices have dropped some, they still really cannot be considered “low.” Fichtelman concluded with: “it’s going to be very hard to actually lower prices over the next year. Our only hope is they don’t go much higher.”

4. New program pays landowners, expands hunting access

I talked with Tommy Springer, the education/wildlife specialist for Fairfield Soil and Water Conservation District, about the Ohio Landowner Hunter Access Partnership Program. This fairly new program from the Division of Wildlife offers a way for Ohio hunters to get access to private properties and the chance for property owners to derive some income. Hunters access the properties within set GPS boundaries for a daily permit on the OLHAP website through the Division of Wildlife. Landowners are paid rates ranging from $2 to $30 per acre depending on the property. 

5. Enlist herbicides banned in 12 Ohio counties

In this huge issue in 2022, Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension herbicide specialist, set the record straight about the ins and out regarding a sudden ban of Enlist in various parts of the country, including some Ohio counties. Through a big push from agricultural groups, especially the American Soybean Association, the ban was lifted for many areas, including all affected Ohio counties.  

6. Yes, Brazil’s soybean crop has failed: What now?

Daniele Siqueira, with AgRural Commodities Agrícolas, hit a homerun with her January 2022 crop update describing a soybean crop trying to bloom and fill pods under 100 to 110 degrees every day for two weeks, after receiving below-normal rains for nearly three months. That was the reality in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state and number-three soybean producer. Despite the crop failure in the South, Brazilian production as a whole, though, was not that bad thanks to very good yields in other producing states such as Mato Grosso and Goiás.

7. Weighing in on the future of the Ohio State Fair

To say it has been a challenging stretch for the Ohio State Fair and Ohio Expo Center in the last couple of years is probably an understatement. The extended period of having no events, or only partial events, labor shortages, supply chain issues, and skyrocketing costs has taken a very heavy toll. Prior to these extensive hardships for the Ohio State Fair, in the summer of 2019, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the creation of a task force to develop and recommend a long-term vision for the Ohio Expo Center.
The 20-member Expo 2050 Task Force was charged with reviewing the Expo experience, including the assets and activities of the Ohio Expo Center, the Ohio History Connection, and Mapfre Stadium, and developing ideas for getting the most use and enjoyment out of this state land in the future. Alternative suggestions for some of the grounds include athletic fields and a Columbus Crew training facility. 

8. NW Ohio swamped after big rain

Rain totals in the neighborhood of over 5 inches fell on already soggy northwest Ohio starting June 6. The rains left fields flooded and newly planted crops swamped under feet of water in some areas. Ottoville, Miller City, Kalida, and Deshler got some of the heaviest rain. It made for plenty of heartbroken, frustrated farmers who had been battling persistent rainfall all planting season. Areas around Van Wert faced heavy rains as well. 

9. A ride through history of southern Ohio’s scenic railways

OCJ field reporter Mike Ryan’s stories always garner attention. This story was no exception with a look at the enormous importance of the locomotive in the development of the nation and some modern ways to celebrate (and learn about) that history in Ohio. Mike had another top performing story in 2022 with “Searching for Ohio’s Bigfoot.” 

10. Ohio case illustrates the risk of leaving farmland to co-owners

Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law for the Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program, cautioned against leaving farmland to multiple heirs as co-owners on the deed to the property. If the goal of a farm family is to keep property in the family, co-ownership and partition rights put that goal at risk. She cited a recent case from the Ohio Court of Appeals to illustrate how partition can force the unwilling sale of property from a co-owner of the property.

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