Country Life



USDA to provide additional direct assistance to farmers impacted by coronavirus

President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin Sept. 21 and run through Dec. 11, 2020.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive,” said Secretary Perdue. “We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities.… Continue reading

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DeWine signs Ohio coronavirus immunity bill

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

It took five months of negotiation, but the Ohio General Assembly has enacted a controversial bill that grants immunity from civil liability for coronavirus injuries, deaths, or losses. Governor DeWine signed House Bill 606 on September 14, stating that it strikes a balance between reopening the economy and keeping Ohioans safe. The bill is effective in 90 days. 

The bill’s statement of findings and declaration of intent illustrate why it faced disagreement within the General Assembly. After stating its findings that business owners are unsure of the tort liability they may face when reopening after COVID-19, that businesses need certainty because recommendations on how to avoid COVID-19 change frequently, that individuals who decide to go out in public places should bear responsibility for taking steps to avoid exposure to COVID-19, that nothing in existing Ohio law established duties on business and premise owners to prevent exposure to airborne germs and viruses, and that the legislature has not delegated authority to Ohio’s Executive Branch to create new legal duties for business and premises owners, the General Assembly made a clear declaration of intent in the bill.… Continue reading

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USDA needs tools to help farmers

The American Farm Bureau Federation and 41 other agriculture organizations are asking Congress to ensure the USDA has the tools necessary to help farmers in times of crisis. The group sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting they immediately provide replenishment for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) through the continuing resolution. Without immediate replenishment, funding for farm bill programs could run out while farmers struggle against low commodity prices, natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.

“For decades, CCC has been regularly replenished to fund programs integral to the farm safety net that Congress has worked tirelessly to craft,” the letter states. “Producers count on programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, Dairy Margin Coverage, Marketing Assistance Loans, conservation programs, and many others as they provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation. Without immediate CCC reimbursement, payments and programs would be significantly delayed, jeopardizing operations across the country.”… Continue reading

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Labor Day rains ease drought

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Summer (June – August) 2020 ranks as the 11th warmest and 29th driest summer on record for the state of Ohio since 1895. Temperatures averaged 1-4 degrees F above average (1981-2010), with 5-10 inches of rainfall across the northwestern half of the state and 10-15 inches across the southeastern half. Particularly dry this summer has been the northwestern counties, a few counties in central and southwest Ohio (e.g., Madison, Pickaway, Ross, Fayette, and Greene), as well as Richland, Ashland, Wayne, and Stark Counties.

Though too late for most crops in the state, recent rainfall is helping to recharge soil moisture. A slow-moving boundary draped across the state on Labor Day brought significant rainfall to much of northern Ohio. Most locations along and north of about I-70 (except NW Ohio) received 2-7 inches of rain. There was also a confirmed EF0 tornado a few miles east of Delaware with estimated winds to 80 mph and a few reports of large hail across the state.… Continue reading

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GROWMARK announces 2021 Essay Contest theme

The theme for the 2021 GROWMARK Essay Contest is: “If you could invent a new technology to improve agriculture, what would it be?” The contest is open to all high school FFA members in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

This is the 28th year for the program, sponsored by the GROWMARK System and FS member cooperatives, in conjunction with state FFA leaders, to help young people develop their writing skills, learn about current issues affecting agriculture, and understand the unique role of cooperatives.

Students will describe a problem within the agricultural industry, and a creative way to provide a solution. Students are encouraged to be creative with their ideas, whether or not the solution they propose is currently possible.

Essays will be submitted online at www.bit.ly/GMKEssay2021. The deadline for all submissions is midnight Central time on Nov. 6, 2020. Additional program details have been sent to agriculture teachers and are online at growmark.com.… Continue reading

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New practices to improve water quality at work in Mercer County

By Matt Reese

Though it started with a focus on farms, ongoing efforts to improve water quality in Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer County are now including additional practices to address the issue.

“We have had a slew of efforts over the last 10 years in the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed. It started with a lot of agricultural efforts. We expanded manure storage on farms, we covered feedlots, we wrote nutrient management plans for all the farms in the watershed,” said Theresa Dirksen, Mercer County Ag Solutions coordinator. “In the last 5 years or so we have done more innovative practices like installing wetlands and saturated buffers. We also restored about 2,000 feet of channel through the Mercer County Elks Golf Club. We have some really innovative things happening and we are trying to move further upstream in the watershed with these practices like wetlands, saturated buffers, stream restoration, and more filter strips to improve water quality in the lake.”… Continue reading

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The foresight Genghis Kahn

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Mongolia in 1206 was inhabited by numerous tribes. They lived on the steppes (plains with virtually no trees), surrounded by the Altai, Khanghai and Khentii mountains on the Russian border. (I was on those steppes last winter while in Mongolia with the V.E.T. Net mission project of the Christian Veterinary Mission. The steppes are huge, surrounded by sky, mountains and, when I was there, -40degrees F air.)

Now back to the 13th century — or just before the turn of that century — when a boy named Temujin and his brother were growing up fatherless. Because of this, they and their mother were shunned from their Mongolian tribe. They scavenged for food, picking through garbage, digging root vegetables and hunting for game while trailing behind the nomadic Mongol warriors.

As a teenager, Temujin became a member of the Mongolian raiders on horseback. By the age of 40 he had worked his way up to major general.… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau policy committee begins work

Twenty Ohio Farm Bureau leaders are serving on the 2020 Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Policy Development Committee. The committee collects and organizes public policy recommendations from county Farm Bureaus and presents the final policy suggestions to be voted on by Ohio Farm Bureau’s delegates during the state annual meeting in December.

In its initial session, the committee heard from government leaders, subject matter experts and Farm Bureau staff on topics such as rural broadband, climate change, timber harvesting, alternative conservation funding, livestock processing capacity, state disaster response and sustainability.

The policy committee consists of 10 members from Ohio Farm Bureau’s board of trustees and 10 representatives of county Farm Bureaus.

The committee is chaired by Ohio Farm Bureau First Vice President Bill Patterson of Chesterland and includes OFBF President Frank Burkett III of Massillon and Treasurer Cy Prettyman of New Bloomington. State trustees on the committee are Wyatt Bates of Wheelersburg, Adele Flynn of Wellington, Katherine Harrison of Groveport, John Mossbarger of Washington Court House, Michael Videkovich of Ashville, Jesse Whinnery of Coshocton and Craig Pohlman of Venedocia.… Continue reading

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NFU urges FTC, USDA to strengthen meat labeling standards

For years, beef and pork that was born, raised, and slaughtered in another country but processed in the United States has legally been labeled as a “Product of the U.S.A.,” a claim that misleads consumers and puts American ranchers at a disadvantage.

National Farmers Union (NFU) has long advocated clear and accurate labeling, for the sake of farmers and consumers alike. As part of those efforts, the organization supports a rule proposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that would strengthen voluntary U.S. origin claims on labels and penalize those who incorrectly label products. In comments submitted today and in a subsequent statement, NFU President Rob Larew urged the FTC to swiftly finalize the rule and “vigorously enforce it.”
“American consumers want to know where their food comes from — and farmers want to tell them. When mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) was the law of the land, it was easy to determine where meat had been born, raised, and processed, to the benefit of both parties.… Continue reading

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Victory Gardens program expands

A tremendous response to the just launched Victory Gardens campaign has resulted in an immediate expansion of the program. The program took off immediately and demand was so high for seed packets, four more counties were added: Fairfield, Licking, Mahoning, and Summit. Seed pick-up days and times for each office are available on the Ohio Victory Gardens website. The collaboration between the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Offices has delivered more than 2,600 seed packets to 10 counties across the state.

Victory Gardens originated during World War I, an answer to a severe food shortage at the time. The idea was wildly successful, growing an army of amateur gardeners and serving to boost morale and patriotism. Although there’s no food shortage now, ODA and OSU Extension are reviving the effort and once again encouraging people to plant seeds, realize the fruits of their labor, and share with others if inspired.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks input on ready-to-go technologies and practices for agriculture innovation agenda

To further the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) work on the Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA), USDA announced it is seeking public- and private-sector input on the most innovative technologies and practices that can be readily deployed across U.S. agriculture.
USDA is looking for ready-to-go technologies and practices to achieve its goal of increasing agricultural production by 40% to meet global population needs in 2050 while cutting U.S. agriculture’s environmental footprint in half.

“Across America, we have seen significant advances in agricultural production efficiency and conservation performance during the past two decades,” said Bill Northey, Under Secretary, who leads USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We want to keep the momentum. As part of our Agriculture Innovation Agenda, USDA wants to continue helping farmers access new approaches.”

To help identify and accelerate adoption of ready-to-go innovations, USDA is currently accepting public comments and written stakeholder input through its Request for Information (RFI) offsite link image through Nov.… Continue reading

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September means Farm Science Review…

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

…But it’s going virtual this year. The dates stay the same as planned for the in-person show – September 22 to 24. I for one am looking forward to seeing how the staff, exhibitors, and OSU educators pull this off. There has been a lot of shuffling since the decision was made to go virtual but most details will be in place by about Sept. 1. Go to the website http://fsr.osu.edu after the first of September and start to put your plan for your virtual visit together. And FYI, there will be field demos, looks like there could be better visuals than you typically see because the camera can get closer to the combines, tillage tools, etc. than you could in the past.

I have some old memories of the Farm Science Review. I began work in June of 1975 as a student worker for Dale Friday, FSR Manager and Craig Fendrick, Assistant Manager.… Continue reading

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Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation invites students to apply for college scholarships

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation (OCF) is offering several college scholarships for students involved in the beef industry. These scholarships are administered through OCF in conjunction with the following organizations and individuals.

Tagged for Greatness

Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to college students enrolled in an agricultural program or graduating high school seniors who plan to study agriculture at a college or university. These scholarships are made possible by the sale of Ohio’s beef specialty license plates.

Cattlemen’s Country Club

Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to college students enrolled in a two-year or four-year program or graduating high school seniors who plans to attend a college or university majoring in an agricultural or non-agricultural program. These scholarships are made possible by proceeds from the beef putt-putt golf course at the Ohio State Fair.

Saltwell Expo Scholarship

One $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a college student who is enrolled in an agricultural program or a graduating high school senior who plans to study agriculture at a college or university.… Continue reading

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September – A time to remember, find hope and have faith

By Robin Kinney, senior director of member engagement for the American Farm Bureau Federation
This time of year brings beautiful memories of fall colors, the hope for a safe, bountiful harvest and for me, the remembrance of friends gone too soon. But as someone once said, “As long as we are being remembered, we remain alive.”

I’m acutely aware that Sept. 10 is National Suicide Awareness Day. My life changed forever two years ago when I learned one of my best friends made the decision to end his life and others I know are making that choice. It still troubles me daily that they believed it was their only option. It is hard for me to imagine that feeling of isolation, the weight of the decision, the pressures they were dealing with. In my view, there was an alternate path and other options.

Our rural families are resilient, enduring and overcoming overwhelming odds time and time again.… Continue reading

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AgCredit awards $10,000 in scholarships to local students

AgCredit has announced the winners of five $2,000 scholarships awarded through the cooperative’s Joe Leiser Memorial Scholarship program.

Leiser served as the first president and chief executive officer of AgCredit, which is one of northern Ohio’s largest lenders, serving farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners. The annual program recognizes dependent family members of AgCredit voting stockholders who are enrolled in an agriculture-related field of study at a post-secondary educational institution. The cooperative has awarded over $123,000 since the scholarship program began in 1989.

AgCredit congratulates the following students for earning scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year:

  • Cora Dorman of Licking County is a junior at The Ohio State University, where she is studying agribusiness and applied economics, agricultural communication and agronomy.
  • Rachael Herring of Wyandot County is a sophomore attending Purdue University, where she is majoring in landscape architecture and agribusiness.
  • Matthew Roth of Hancock County is a sophomore at The Ohio State University – ATI, where he is studying agri-science education and production agriculture.
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Low iodine diet tips

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

You have heard about my aging knees and more recently my pandemic induced changing hair color. Effects of aging happen whether we like it or not. Let’s back up to pre-pandemic times, April 2019. I was headed to the Doc to talk about a recent lab, my lipid levels. To my dismay, it was not my lipid levels that became the topic of discussion, but my TSH. TSH is a snapshot of your thyroid function. Mine was a little elevated and my thyroid a “little puffy.” Symptom-free, after repeating some labs, an ultrasound and ruling out a common culprit in women, Hashiomotos, an autoimmune hypothyroid disease, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Ground Hog Day had arrived as I began to hear a repetitive phrase “If you are going to get cancer, this is one of the best ones to get.” It was still heartbreaking and no matter how many docs and people tell you this….the… Continue reading

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A tail-selling tradition

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

As one of my all-time favorite “win-win” PR efforts in the outdoors industry, Mepps fishing lures continues its popular Squirrel Tail Recycling Program this month. The tails are used for the hand-tied, dressed hooks of their world-famous, fish-catching lures, a program that has been ongoing for more than half a century.

“Squirrels are good eating and we can reuse their tails for making the world’s No. 1 lure,” said Josh Schwartz, Mepps Communications Director.

Antigo, Wisconsin-based Mepps buys fox, black, grey and red squirrel tails and will pay up to 26 cents each for tails, depending on quality and quantity. Plus, the cash value is doubled if the tails are traded for Mepps lures.

“We do not advocate harvesting of squirrels solely for their tails,” Schwartz said.

For details on the Squirrel Tail Recycling Program, visit mepps.com/squirrel… Continue reading

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The good and bad about Ohio’s jobless rate

The news is mixed about the rate of Ohioans out of work.  

The state’s unemployment rate has rebounded from late spring’s rates, and it’s below the national rate.

But, in July, Ohio’s jobless rate of 8.9% topped that of many nearby states. Across the Midwest, only one state had a higher rate than Ohio’s: Illinois. 

Keep that in perspective, said Mark Partridge, an economics professor with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). During a recession, Ohio typically takes a bigger hit, he said.

Jobs in manufacturing make up the largest portion of Ohio’s economy, and typically manufacturing sharply declines during a national recession. So far, dips in manufacturing have not been significant, he said. 

“We’re actually doing relatively well compared to what we normally do,” Partridge said. “Usually we’re one of the worst in the country during a recession, and it often takes us a while to climb out of it.”… Continue reading

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Harvest weather outlook

By Jim Noel, NOAA

The cooler than normal blob of water in the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator tends to push the first autumn freeze later than normal in our region. Therefore, there is no indication of an early freeze in September this year. It appears the first freeze for Ohio will not come until October either on schedule or a bit later than normal.

September looks to have the first half start cooler than normal followed by a return to normal temperatures for second half of the month.  Precipitation will be normal or slightly above normal for September. Normal rainfall is currently 1 inch to 1.5 inches per two weeks dropping to about an inch per two weeks for the second half of September. Even though we expect rainfall at or slightly above normal in September, there is a great deal of uncertainty due to the tropics and where those systems will travel.… Continue reading

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Managing your fall farm operations through COVID-19

By Lisa Pfeifer and Dee Jepsen

In big or small ways, COVID-19 has impacted most aspects of farming and agribusiness. Safety, health, and wellness have become necessary concerns for farm operations.

Health officials have provided guidance on frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and staying home when sick. These practices should be in place for the farm operation, not just those businesses with public interaction. Consider these additional measures as you prepare your workforce for staying healthy through the fall season.

Teams or workforce pods

Look at the functions of your total farm operation. Creating workforce teams or “pods” can help ensure an operation minimizes the impacts should a worker become ill or test positive for the coronavirus. Pods of workers that had no interaction with the affected employee will be safely able to continue working.

For example, do you have livestock to care for as well as harvesting activities?

  • If so, can you manage employee schedules so those that feed, milk or care for livestock can do tasks without overlapping with the harvesting crew?
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