Country Life



Cicadas about to emerge in Ohio

Sinificant portions of the state are about to be bombarded by a swarm of very noisy, very large bugs. A type of cicada that only comes out every 17 years is about to emerge.

The Brood X Cicadas (periodical cicadas) have burrowed underground for almost two decades and will make their way to the surface late April into early May. They will not cause any damage to your home, gardens, crops, or animals. They also won’t harm mature trees, but you should consider protecting newly planted trees by wrapping them with a mesh net.

The noise Brood X cicadas make is loud and distinct. In large groups, the sound can reach as high as 100 decibels, which is equivalent to a motorcycle, low-flying plane or lawn mower starting. The sound of a group of cicadas is often compared to the sound of electricity. 

The largest concentrations of these cicadas is expected in the following counties: Defiance, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Logan, and Montgomery.… Continue reading

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A Great Miami shark tale

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

Haley Weidner was walking along the Great Miami River in Piqua’s Groveside Park late last month when she detected a foul smell. Following her nose to the riverbank, she came upon the head of a shark that had washed up on the shoreline. 

After poking it with her foot to confirm it really was the head of a real (formerly) live shark, CNN Newsource reported that Weidner posted word of her unusual find on social media and contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). According to reports, wildlife officials at first figured someone had caught the shark on a trip to the coast and brought the head back to Ohio. 

The wildlife agency said in a statement to WHIO-TV:

“[The shark’s head] looks as though someone discarded it there … We have seen situations like this before with people discarding shark parts of carcasses after fishing trips to the ocean.”… Continue reading

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The troubling story of the Falun Gong of China

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Falun Gong is a religious movement in China. It involves the practice of qigong — a mix of meditation, energy exercises and regulated breathing — and is guided by a moral philosophy and the ultimate goal of achieving spiritual enlightenment. Falun Gong, with an estimated seven to 20 million adherents, is a Buddhist-like spiritual group that lives out compassion, truthfulness. patience and tolerance.

In one of my trips to China, I observed from my high-rise hotel room local citizens practicing qigong exercises in the village courtyard. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), however, claims the Falun Gong is evil because it demonstrates cult behavior, instills mind control in individuals, spreads heretical ideas and promotes methods for accumulating wealth — all the while endangering Chinese society. 

In 1999, the CCP decided they had had enough. They organized a secret police unit in June that year similar to the German Gestapo of World War II.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau sees membership growth in 2021

Ohio Farm Bureau volunteers and staff worked tirelessly throughout another challenging membership campaign in 2021 and helped the organization increase its “active” membership, which now exceeds the 68,000 member mark. Active members are farmers or other Ohioans whose jobs or livelihoods are directly impacted by the agricultural industry. As active members, they are eligible to vote on Farm Bureau policies and hold elective office in the organization.

“I could not be more proud of the great work that all of those involved in this year’s membership campaign have done,” said Paul Lyons, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of membership. “We completed last year’s campaign at the beginning of the pandemic and had hoped for a more normal campaign in 2021. Although that didn’t occur, in typical Farm Bureau fashion, volunteers and staff found new safe and socially distanced ways to connect with people, share their story and show the value that comes with joining our organization.”… Continue reading

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USDA extends deadline to comment on proposed revisions to national conservation practice standards

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced it will extend the deadline for public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register. The proposed revisions were published March 9 with comments originally due April 8. Comments will now be due April 22.

NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers, landowners, organizations, Tribes and others that use its conservation practices to comment on these revised conservation practice standards. NRCS will use public comments to further enhance its conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions to the 23 conservation practice standards are available on the Federal Register.

Comments can be made through regulations.gov or by mail or hand delivery. 

“By extending the deadline as requested by customers, we hope to collect as much input as possible to ensure that the standards used to carry out these 23 specific conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs,” said John Wilson, NRCS Acting State Conservationist in Ohio.… Continue reading

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A look at the death tax

By Congressman Bob Latta (R_OH5)

 One of the most plainly unfair taxes in the entire U.S. tax code is the Estate Tax — also known as the “death tax.” Even though American families pay taxes their entire lives — income taxes, payroll taxes, Medicare taxes, capital gains taxes and more — the federal government can’t help but reach its hands into their pocket one last time after they die to grab 40% of their hard-earned money.  

The death tax creates real world problems for farmers, ranchers, and small business owners — groups we can least afford to penalize during this economic recovery. In sectors that require high capital investments, like agriculture, families often have difficulty meeting tax requirements imposed by the death tax because their cash assets are much lower than the value of land, property, and equipment. In addition to the costs imposed at death, the death tax also has a stifling economic impact beforehand due to the cost preparation and planning needed to plan and comply with the tax.… Continue reading

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How will your farm emerge from the pandemic?


By Chris Zoller, OSU Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County, David Marrison, OSU Extension Educator, ANR, Coshocton County and Mike Estadt, OSU Extension Educator, ANR, Pickaway County

It has been more than a year since Coronavirus was declared a pandemic.  Everyone has been touched by the pandemic either directly or indirectly.  As an industry, agriculture has experienced market disruptions and slowdowns in the processing sector due to the pandemic. In response, the United States government provided billions of dollars in economic relief in 2020 to assist farmers affected by the disruptions. This assistance has continued into 2021 as just recently the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details about the “Pandemic Assistance for Producers”Initiative.  This article takes a look at federal farm support, forecasts for net farm income in 2021, and challenges farm managers to examine how their  business will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. governmental farm support

The following figure from the University of Illinois (Figure 3) shares the government farm support programs for the past fifteen years with a forecast for 2021. … Continue reading

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Trees and climate change

In the fight against climate change, expanding and better managing the nation’s forests are the cheapest and easiest steps to cutting carbon dioxide emissions, according to new research at The Ohio State University. 

Across the United States, trees take up about 12% of the carbon dioxide that cars, planes, factories, and other sources generate every year, said Brent Sohngen, a professor of natural resources and environmental economics at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). 

But trees could do even more, Sohngen said—possibly taking up as much as 16% of the nation’s annual carbon dioxide emissions—nearly a one-third increase. That would happen by planting more trees across the country; allowing some existing stands to grow longer before they’re cut; and managing some stands more intensively with weed and pest control, fertilizer, thinning, and other measures, he said. 

Within a decade of adding up to 7 million more acres of forests and more intensively managing 50–70 million acres of forestland, an additional 160 million tons of carbon dioxide would be taken out of the atmosphere every year, Sohngen said. … Continue reading

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A flurry of tax proposals in Congress

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

You can count on tax law to generate interest in the agricultural community and that’s certainly the case with several tax bills recently introduced in Congress. Within the last month, members of Congress proposed a flurry of tax proposals that could impact agriculture if enacted. Of course, passing tax legislation is always difficult and subject to partisanship, and we expect that to be the case with these bills. 

Here’s a look at the tax proposals receiving the most attention.

Death Tax Repeal Act of 2021

Sen. Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Smith (R-MO) are the primary sponsors of S. 617 and H.R. 1712, companion bills introduced March 9 that propose to repeal the federal estate tax, which the sponsors claim to be “the most unfair tax on the books.” The Act would also repeal the generation-skipping tax and make modifications to the computation of the federal gift tax, beginning at 18% under $10,000 and incrementally increasing by an additional 2%.… Continue reading

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Ohio local bank market conditions


By Kevin Kim, a Ph.D. student and Ani Katchova, Professor and Farm Income Enhancement Chair, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State University

The US banking sector and local community banks faced great uncertainty in 2020 due to the pandemic. The consolidation intensity within US banking sector continued in 2020. Ohio experienced a similar trend, with continued decrease in the number of community banks. However, Ohio banks remained highly profitable relative to the national average, and the credit availability increased significantly as the increase in the amount of bank deposits outpaced the increase in the amount of loans. Overall Ohio banks slightly increased bankruptcy risks in 2020 but are still more resilient than the national average.

The full report is available at: https://aede.osu.edu/sites/aede/files/publication_files/OhioLocalBankMarketConditions.pdfContinue reading

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Happy Grilled Cheese Day!

By Shelly Detwiler, a berry farmer and dietician

Happy Grilled Cheese Day! I cannot be the last to know about this momentous occasion on April 12, can I? Grilled cheese sandwiches are a beautiful thing, and this is truly a holiday to celebrate. There is nothing simpler and a work of art than a grilled cheese sandwich. Growing up in Plain City I headed to high school in 1979. An off the beaten track, hidden gem was a restaurant called The Dutch Kitchen, just a few hundred feet from the front door. The smells that wafted across the beautiful green grass front lawn of Jonathan Alder HS were like the Pied Piper’s magic pipe putting already ravenous teenagers in a trance, as we followed the tantalizing smells to enjoy the “Amish” culinary delights. One of their specialties to teens far and wide across the district were their grilled cheese sandwiches. Nothing gourmet, just three simple ingredients.… Continue reading

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4R Program Highlights “Right People in video series

Almost everyone in agriculture knows the 4Rs: “Right Source at the Right Rate, at the Right Time and in the Right Place.” But how often do we stop to consider that crucial fifth ‘R’ — the Right People? 

Launched in 2014, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program would not have gotten off the ground without the coming together of the Right People – agriculturalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers and many more stakeholders. This unique blend of seemingly disparate groups saw a need for a science-based program to proactively work toward the long-term improvement of waterways — and from their efforts, the 4R Program was born.

Today, the 4R Program continues to rely on the Right People — the employees of 4R Certified facilities and independent crop consultants who drive the program forward every day. As the trusted advisers of farmer customers, all employees play a part in advocating for the 4R Program, from CEOs and office staff to custom applicators and agronomists. … Continue reading

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OSU working to advance commercialization of ultra-shear technology for liquid foods and beverages processing

Researchers at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have created a university-industry consortium to further the development of and provide access to the licensing of a new, innovative manufacturing technology that preserves foods and beverages using wholesome, recognizable ingredients; no artificial preservatives; and reduced heat. 

Called ultra-shear technology (UST), this new method of high-pressure-based shear technology will allow beverage companies to manufacture healthier beverages by reducing thermal exposure through the combined application of elevated pressure, shear, and controlled times and temperatures.  

The result?

“Healthier beverage options that health-conscious consumers want that aren’t preserved using chemical additives and preservatives with names they can’t pronounce,” said V.M. “Bala” Balasubramaniam, a CFAES professor of food engineering who is leading the project. His laboratory—with a multidisciplinary team of microbiologists, chemists, and nutritionists—investigates innovative food manufacturing technologies and then works with industry to implement them.

And it’s not just drinks that might soon be preserved in a much healthier way.… Continue reading

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Weather update from NOAA/NWS/Ohio River Forecast Center

By Jim Noel, NOAA

The climate pattern is in a state of a flux.  The La Niña pattern is weakening rapidly and will cause changes in weather patterns in the coming weeks and will result in lower confidence forecasting for a while during this change.

For April it looks like a warmer than normal month with normal or slightly below normal rainfall. However, there will still be big swings in temperatures so the last freeze will likely be in the normal range which is generally mid-April for southern Ohio to late April for northern Ohio.  Evaporation rates will be above normal. This will all result in typical or earlier than normal planting. Beneficial rains will fall over most of the corn and soybean belts in April with the least rain likely in the eastern areas including Ohio. Over the next two weeks we expect 0.50 to 2 inches of rain with normal rainfall being 1.5 to just under 2 inches.… Continue reading

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Agricultural and educational competitions focus for 2021 Ohio State Fair 🎙

The Ohio Expositions Commission announced that the 2021 Ohio State Fair will not be open to the public, and will instead focus on agricultural and educational competitions for exhibitors, their families, and guests. This will include junior fair skillathons, the Outstanding Market Exhibitor programs and a modified Sale of Champions. The status of the open shows for livestock will be determined by leaders within the individual species.

When discussing plans for the 2021 Ohio State Fair, members of the Commission expressed concern for public health, as well as the financial impact of hosting a fair that would adhere to current safety protocols and the lasting impacts of the long-term viability of the Ohio State Fair.

“Although vaccination rates are improving significantly each day, Ohio continues to fight the battle against COVID-19. Where we are today in this battle makes it challenging to plan a large-scale entertainment event, not knowing where we will be, or what Ohio will look like, in late July,” said Virgil Strickler, General Manager.… Continue reading

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OABA and OSU CFAES partner to host career fair at Farm Science Review

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will partner to hold the Career Exploration Fair at the 2021 Farm Science Review. The event will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The FSR Career Exploration Fair is an opportunity for career seekers, from high school and college students to mid-career professionals, who are looking to start or change their career path to connect with agribusiness employers. All FSR attendees are invited to browse the event, which is included with show admission. The event will also feature short career-related topic presentations on the main stage. 

Vendor booths are available to employers for the career fair. Free vendor space is an exclusive opportunity for current OABA members and FSR exhibitors. Any interested company can indicate their interest when registering as an FSR exhibitor or by contacting the Ohio AgriBusiness Association. For… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau seeks dynamic entrepreneurs with solutions to today’s farm and rural challenges

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. This national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are providing solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award $165,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm CreditBayer Crop ScienceFarm Bureau BankFarm Bureau Financial ServicesFMC Corporation and John Deere.

Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the Challenge continues to identify the next ag entrepreneurs to watch and supports innovation essential to Farm Bureau member businesses and communities. 

For this eighth year of the competition, Farm Bureau is seeking entrepreneurs who are addressing either traditional or new/emerging challenges. The 2021 Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year, Riley Clubb with Harvust, addressed traditional challenges by developing a software platform that helps farmers successfully hire, train and communicate with employees.… Continue reading

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ODA and OSU Extension kick off 2021 Ohio Victory Gardens Program

It’s time to get your hands dirty and start growing! The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and OSU Extension Offices are kicking off the second year of the Victory Gardens Program. Due to high demand, the program is expanding to include 25 counties, up from 10 counties last year. Approximately 8,300 seed packets will be available free to the public to get people planting.

“We have seen a revived passion for planting through our Victory Gardens Program, which has expanded to 15 additional counties this year,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “Our Ohio Victory Gardens are meant to be enjoyed by everyone, from urban apartment dwellers, to those living in the country, and everyone in between. We hope this will inspire a new generation of gardeners who will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor for years to come.”

“We are excited to expand our partnership with ODA on the Victory Garden Program.… Continue reading

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USDA invests $3.6 million to improve rural community facilities and essential equipment in Ohio

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Ohio Rural Development Acting State Director Beth Huhn announced that USDA is investing $266 million to build and improve critical community facilities to benefit nearly 3 million rural residents in 16 states and Puerto Rico. This funding includes $156 million to support health-care-related improvements and emergency response services that will benefit nearly 1 million rural residents in nine states and Puerto Rico.

“The Biden-Harris administration has made restoring the economy a top-priority and USDA is playing a critical role,” Huhn said. “Rural America needs safe, modern community infrastructure to help residents and businesses achieve greater prosperity. These investments are important upgrades for these communities to enhance their quality of life to build back better and stronger.”

USDA is investing in 41 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund a variety of essential community services, including emergency response vehicles and equipment.… Continue reading

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Talk of taxes on the radar for U.S. agriculture

As talk about taxes picks up in Washington, D.C., agriculture is watching. 

Since his time on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden has been talking about potential tax changes and now discussions are ramping up, as are concerns from the nation’s farm community.

There have been recent proposals by several lawmakers to tax unrealized capital gains at death and roll back the stepped-up basis on those capital gains. 

“Taxing capital gains when a loved one passes away would have a devastating impact on farm and ranch families, even more so if the stepped-up basis tool is taken out of the toolbox. Stepped-up basis encourages families to grow their businesses and pass them on to another generation, and elimination could force those families to sell their farms just to pay the taxes,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “The value of many farms is tied up in land and equipment. Cash flow on most farms is much too small to pay large capital gains taxes.… Continue reading

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