Country Life

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation awards record scholarship amount

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation recently awarded nearly $85,000 in scholarships to students across the state, the highest amount given in a single year.

According to Tara Durbin, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Board and chief lending officer for agriculture at Farm Credit Mid-America, the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has put intentional focus on its purpose to create more clarity and awareness around what the foundation is, and the work that it is committed to. 

“Our focus is to inspire and educate the next generation of agricultural professionals through scholarships, innovative programming and grants. We are in a strong position to catapult the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation to the next level, thus creating greater awareness around careers in agriculture and success to the next generation of agricultural professionals,” Durbin said. “This year’s record-breaking amount of awarded scholarship dollars is a true testament to the continued dedication and hard work from our board, donors and volunteers.”… Continue reading

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Right to repair?

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

Does a farmer have a right to repair his or her own tractor? This is actually not a simple question. And I’m not sure I know the answer. 

            Last July, President Biden issued an executive order promoting competition in the economy. An executive order is a directive by the President that manages operations of the federal government. This order called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to limit anti-competitive practices as a way to promote economic growth in the United States. Included in this order was a recommendation to the FTC to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to repair items they own by limiting manufacturers’ ability to bar self-repairs or third-party repairs of their products. While right to repair affects many products, agricultural markets are specifically noted as becoming increasingly concentrated and less competitive — meaning farmers and ranchers have to pay more for their products.… Continue reading

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Farm Service Agency loans available for beginning farmers

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator, ANR in Tuscarawas County

Building and managing a successful farm is a significant financial investment and can be especially challenging for those just beginning, especially those unable to obtain financing through commercial lenders. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes and guarantees loans to beginning farmers.

Each year money is allocated to FSA for farm ownership and farm operating loans for beginning farmers. These loan programs are important as beginning farmers have historically experienced more difficulty obtaining financial assistance.

What is a beginning farmer?

A beginning farmer is an individual or entity who:

  • Has not operated a farm for more than 10 years
  • Substantially participates in the operation
  • For farm ownership loans, the applicant cannot own a farm greater than 30 percent of the average size farm in the county, at the time of application
  • If the applicant is an entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage, and all members must be eligible beginning farmers.
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The impact of ag exports on U.S. jobs

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County

We are aware that agriculture is a competitive business that operated in a global environment. We understand the importance of global trade to market U.S. produced agricultural commodities. Have you ever considered how important exports of agricultural good produced in the U.S. are to maintaining jobs?

A recent USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) recently analyzed the importance of agricultural exports as it relates to jobs in 2020. The full report is available here:

In 2020, U.S. agricultural exports were valued at more than $150 billion and every $1 billion of exports is estimated to create 7,550 jobs. Crop and livestock production account for the majority, supporting a total of 439,500 jobs. Jobs in this segment included labor provided by farm owners and family members, hired employees, and contract labor.

U.S. agricultural exports also supported 423,900 off-farm jobs in service, trade, and transportation of agricultural goods. … Continue reading

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Grants available through AgCredit’s Mission Fund

The application period for AgCredit’s Mission Fund program is now open. The Mission Fund awards grants to local organizations who are working to improve their local rural communities.  

The grant program operates on an application-based system within the following four focus areas.

  • Education — Educating young, beginning or future farmers
  • Environment — Maintaining or improving the quality of the rural environment
  • Technology — Supporting the advancement and utilization of technology for the benefit of farmers and rural communities
  • Quality of Rural Life — Programs, projects or initiatives that enhance the quality of life for farmers and rural communities

Organizations may apply for grants up to $15,000 per year. The deadline to apply for a grant is Aug. 31, 2022. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee comprised of AgCredit directors, employees and members. Grants will be awarded by Dec. 31.

“The AgCredit Mission Fund allows us an opportunity to invest in the future of agriculture and positively impact the quality of life in rural Ohio,” said Brian Ricker, AgCredit President and CEO. “We… Continue reading

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Busch Light and John Deere partner to support farmers

Busch Light and John Deere, two longtime supporters of American farming communities, are joining forces this season to benefit Farm Rescue, a non-profit that provides immediate aid to farmers who have experienced hardship.

The iconic partnership will deliver two exciting consumer elements to raise funding and awareness for the challenges farmers face, including:

  • Limited-Edition “For The Farmers” Cans: Available at participating retailers May 16-July 3, consumers can purchase 24- or 30-pack cases of 12-ounce Busch Light cans with stunning farming graphics that feature John Deere’s logo and equipment. For each case sold during its limited run, Busch Light will donate $1 to Farm Rescue, up to a maximum of $100,000, with John Deere matching the beer brand’s donation.
  • Cornfield Cornhole Consumer Event: Fans are invited to join a free, one-day experience on Saturday, May 21 in Big Bend, WI. A John Deere tractor and ground-posted slingshot will catapult hay bales across the cornfield to an oversized cornhole board.
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Maple Bootcamp this June

Those who are new or new-ish to making maple syrup, can learn plenty at Maple Bootcamp: Ohio.

Set for June 22–24 at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, the event will provide “intensive hands-on training for beginner and intermediate maple producers.” 

Participants will get details on how to assess a sugarbush and all the steps that follow, from collecting sap to boiling, bottling, and selling. Classroom sessions will take place on the Ohio State Mansfield campus. Field trips and tours will visit local maple operations, including one located right on the campus.  

By the end of the program, participants “will gain the skills necessary for the safe, efficient, and profitable production of maple products,” said event co-organizer Kathy Smith of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Smith, who is forestry program director for the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), looks at some of the bootcamp topics:

1.… Continue reading

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USDA renews People’s Garden Initiative

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack planted a tree to announce the reopening of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) People’s Garden Initiative. People’s Gardens across the country will grow fresh, healthy food and support resilient, local food systems; teach people how to garden using conservation practices; nurture habitat for pollinators and wildlife and create greenspace for neighbors. The garden at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. will be joined by 17 flagship gardens located in urban communities nationwide, including Cleveland, Ohio.   

“The simple act of planting a garden can have big impacts — from building a more diversified and resilient local food system to empowering communities to come together around healthy food access, climate change, and equity,” said Secretary Vilsack, who unveiled the upgraded garden flanking the National Mall. “We’re committed to our priorities, and we are leading by example.”

School gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural and urban areas can be recognized as a “People’s Garden” if they:  

• Benefit the community by providing food, green space, wildlife habitat, education space.  … Continue reading

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Winners of “The Voice” support local effort

By Dusty Sonnenberg

The organization famous for giving farmers a voice joined forces with the winners of “The Voice” for a night of music and celebration, all to benefit the 1920s Farm Bureau Office at Historic Sauder Farm Village in Archbold. 

A concert featuring the group Girl Named Tom, made up of siblings Caleb, Josh and Bekah Liechty, was held in the 1920s Sauder Village Theater for a group of Ohio Farm Bureau leaders and members as well as employees of Ken-Feld Group (the event sponsor). Along with the concert, tours were given of the 1920s Farm Bureau office, and snacks were available from the vintage 1920s ice cream parlor. 

The fundraising event was the idea of Fulton County Farm Bureau president, Mark Ballmer, and John Torres, Executive Director of the Maryland Farm Bureau, (former Fulton County resident) at a meeting in Washington, D.C. when they were talking about fundraising ideas, and also the incredible success of Girl Named Tom.… Continue reading

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Heritage Cooperative expands grain storage at Upper Sandusky location

Heritage Cooperative is excited to announce the construction of a new grain bin providing an additional 750,000 bushels of grain storage at our Upper Sandusky location, 520 W. Wyandot Ave., Upper Sandusky. 

The $3.4 million project will consist of building a steel Chief grain storage bin on the west side of the property, increasing the grain storage capacity to just over 4 million bushels. 

This additional storage will benefit Heritage growers in the Upper Sandusky and northern Ohio area. In addition, an enhanced staggered conveyer system and recently acquired land provides space and better efficiencies for Heritage and farmers for unloading and storing grain. 

“We are really excited about this project. It will provide immediate grain storage solutions for our growers and allow us to take their grain when they need to unload it during the busy harvest season.” said Jeff Osentoski, president and CEO of Heritage Cooperative. “This storage capability also positions us well for the future.” … Continue reading

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Farm Credit Mid-America announces Board of Directors and Nominating Committee candidates

Farm Credit Mid-America announces the candidates running for its Board of Directors and 2023 Nominating Committee. Customers with voting stock in the financial services cooperative that serves farmers and rural residents in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee may cast their votes from May 5 at 12 a.m. through June 2, 2022 at 9 p.m. EDT. 

The eight candidates running for the Board of Directors are:

  • Kevin Cox – Brazil, Indiana
  • Stephanie Hopper – Macy, Indiana
  • V. Alan Meyer – Vincennes, Indiana 
  • Todd Clark – Lexington, Kentucky 
  • Chris Mitchell – Flemingsburg, Kentucky
  • Allen Armstrong – South Charleston, Ohio 
  • Lowell Hill – De Graff, Ohio  
  • Ellen Joslin – Conover, Ohio

“Voting in our elections is one of the most important ways our customer-owners can contribute to our overall strength and shape our future,” says Dan Wagner, Farm Credit Mid-America’s President and CEO.  “Our Board of Directors understands the challenges and opportunities that agriculture and rural communities face. Thanks to the guidance and direction set by the Board, we will continue to be a reliable source of credit for farmers and rural residents, today and tomorrow.” … Continue reading

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OABA Impact and Connection for women in AgriBusiness

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association is pleased to announce new leadership development and networking opportunities for the Women Leading in Ohio Agribusiness Program. Through the Impact podcast series and Connection networking events, Ohio’s female leaders will have the opportunity to dive into leadership topics while also networking with their peers.

Impact podcast
Through the new, 8-month podcast series, Ohio’s agribusiness women will be inspired by the stories of other women in agriculture who have been successful in their various roles. Each episode will be 45 to 60 minutes long and consist of an interview with one guest. The first episode will be available in May with subsequent episodes releasing the first week of every month.
The Impact podcast kicks off with Chasitie Euler as the first guest, diving into the critical need for intentionality in your work life and family life. As a working mom who has spent her career in agricultural sales and business, Chasitie shares her experiences evaluating priorities and modeling expectations for her team and for her kids.… Continue reading

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To arbitrate or not?

By Jeffrey K. Lewis, Esq., Program Coordinator Ohio State University Income Tax Schools & ANR Extension

One of the core principles of the American legal system is that people are free to enter into contracts and negotiate those terms as they see fit.  But sometimes the law prohibits certain rights from being “signed away.”  The interplay between state and federal law and the ability to contract freely can be a complex and overlapping web of regulations, laws, precedent, and even morals.  Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on a case that demonstrates the complex relationship between Ohio law and the ability of parties to negotiate certain terms within an oil and gas lease.  

The background  

Ascent Resources-Utica, L.L.C. (“Defendant”) acquired leases to the oil and gas rights of farmland located in Jefferson County, Ohio allowing it to physically occupy the land which included the right to explore the land for oil and gas, construct wells, erect telephone lines, powerlines, and pipelines, and to build roads.  The… Continue reading

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Wet weather continues before a pattern shift

By Jim Noel, NOAA

April was a challenging month. It was a cold month with most of Ohio -1F to -3F below normal for temperatures. We saw late freezes and snow events. Because of the cold, precipitation was generally around or slightly below normal in the 60% to 120% of normal range. However, with limited evaporation and evapotranspiration, soils did not dry much.

Looking forward, May will start off challenging but improvements are forecasted. The first week of May will see a wetter period across Ohio with temperatures generally below normal. Rainfall will range from just under an inch to over 2 inches in places. As we move into the middle and end of May, expect a pattern change to warmer and drier than normal which should open the rapid window for planting.

It appears the chances for a hard freeze are pretty much over. There is still a low chance for some patchy frost especially in northern and eastern Ohio like this weekend but the freeze risk has decreased significantly.… Continue reading

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Will interest rates slow land prices?

By Matt Reese

While officials with the Federal Reserve have kept interest rates near zero since 2020, they approved a .25 percentage point increase in March, the first increase in more than three years, with additional increases expected in 2022.

Bart Sheridan

With a long, continued stretch of very strong farmland values, will the increasing interest rates slow things down?

“This will affect those who are in the residential side of things, and this will have an effect on the land, but it is hard to say what it will be. It always lags after the interest hikes,” said Bart Sheridan, of Sheridans, LLC based in Cedarville. “Those 25 basis point jumps — we are expecting to have as many as four this year. The first increase may be an impetus to go out and buy more land before it goes higher. The first one was in March and might propel some people to get out and do it before it really hits.… Continue reading

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Is a recession coming?

By Jeff Fichtelman, partner in JP2 Risk Management

If you polled the average American, most would agree we are likely to enter a recession. Thanks to the loose monetary policy from the Fed and the White House, we are now dealing with rapid inflation. This inflation has increased corporate costs, reduced their margins and is hurting consumer’s ability to spend. What does this translate to? Lower revenue and income for many corporations and therefore lower stock prices. 

Jeff Fichtelman

Why should the U.S. farmer care about the stock market? In most cases, the price of corn and soybeans move independent to fluctuations in equities. However, in those rare circumstances that the equity market is “in free fall” all markets suddenly move together. In the 2008/09 recession, the stock market fell 20% while corn and bean prices actually went higher. Then, equities fell another 30%, which ended up dragging corn and bean prices down sharply.… Continue reading

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Walleye outlook is excellent for 2022

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

Based on Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) trawl surveys, it appears that another excellent Lake Erie walleye hatch may be underway as we speak. In research presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council, fisheries biologists reported the 2021 walleye hatch was the fifth largest recorded over the past 35 years and there’s every reason to think this spring’s may top that. 

The 2021 walleye hatch index was 90 fish per hectare (a standard measure of area), well above the rapidly increasing prior 20-year average of 34 fish per hectare. The young walleye averaged just over 4 inches long and were caught at every site sampled.

“Our fisheries biologists survey nearly 40 locations between Toledo and Huron by dragging a large, concave net along the bottom of the lake,” said Travis Hartman, Division of Wildlife Lake Erie Fisheries Program manager.… Continue reading

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USDA video showcases key partnerships driving conservation in Lake Erie

A new USDA video provides a closer look at the collaborative partnerships driving innovative water quality assessment and conservation in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The video, Science-Based Solutions: Leveraging Partnerships to Protect the Western Lake Erie Basin, shows how USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) watershed studies in the Western Lake Erie Basin bring researchers, farmers, government agencies and nonprofit organizations together to develop science-based solutions and strategically place them where they can deliver the greatest conservation benefits. 

“This video demonstrates the importance of regional partnerships, both in developing and encouraging the adoption of conservation practices that have been scientifically proven to be effective.” said John Wilson, NRCS State Conservationist in Ohio, “This collaborative approach is informing our conservation strategies and making tangible improvements in the Western Lake Erie Basin watershed.” 

Under CEAP, a network of researchers, from government agencies to universities, work together to monitor the impact of conservation practices on the landscape.… Continue reading

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Weighing in on the future of the Ohio State Fair

By Matt Reese

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.
“At the Ohio State Fair and other events that occur here, there are countless ways to have fun. We need to find ways to keep that excitement going all year long,” DeWine said in 2019. “I am announcing the formation of a task force, called ‘Expo 2050,’ to take stock of all of the great things going on at the Ohio Expo Center, as well as the Ohio History Connection and Mapfre Stadium, and to develop a strategic vision for the entire area.”… Continue reading

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A look at the weather now that spring has sprung

By Matt Reese

Many months of preparation have gone into preparing for Ohio’s planting season that will finally be taking place throughout the next few weeks. Farmers will be working hard to make the most of planting opportunities in what has so far been a cold, soggy spring.

Ohio’s soils remain on the wet side after an unusual winter.

“The winter was kind of strange. There was a lot of variability,” said Aaron Wilson, Research Scientist with the Byrd Center and State Climate Office of Ohio and Ohio State University Extension climate specialist. “We had a very warm December with record highs on Christmas Day. Cincinnati hit 69 degrees for the warmest Christmas day ever back to 1871. We had soil temperatures in Central and Southern Ohio in the low to mid 50s by Jan. 2, but then January got really cold. It was the 35th coldest January on record. It was a fairly dry January as well.… Continue reading

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