Country Life

Cooking with delicious basil

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

It is May and I know the spring planting adrenaline is not just amping up for all you farmers out there but all of you home gardeners as well. Herbs are not only an easy way for you to add some spice to your garden but also your plate. No matter if your garden is a football field or a postage stamp, you too can enjoy the flavors of your labor. One of my favorite herbs is basil. Basil is an easy herb to plant, tend and enjoy in your garden.

Plant basil in your large gardens, kitchen gardens or even just a plant or two in your flower bed. Basil even does well in pots. The most important intel to have is location, location, location. You want to have easy access when you decide to chef it up in your kitchen and need some basil.… Continue reading

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Purdue survey tallies consumer attitudes toward lab-grown meat alternatives

Many consumers view conventional meats as both tastier and healthier than laboratory-grown alternatives, according to the March Consumer Food Insights Report.

The survey-based report out of Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability assesses food spending, consumer satisfaction and values, support of agricultural and food policies and trust in information sources. Purdue experts conducted and evaluated the survey, which included 1,200 consumers across the U.S.

The report explores consumer perceptions of and willingness to try exotic and cultivated meats. The report highlights differing responses to queries based on meat type: conventional (non-cultivated) or cultivated. The researchers use the term “conventional” meat to describe meat that is sourced conventionally — bred and raised or hunted, slaughtered and butchered. Cultivated meat is grown or cultivated in a laboratory from animal cells.

Focusing on familiar meats that Americans can find in any grocery store, such as beef and chicken, center researchers saw a big difference between the perceived taste and healthfulness of conventional versus cultivated versions of these meats.… Continue reading

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REAP grant adding efficiency to Jones farm

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

RB Jones is the eighth generation on his family’s Warren County farm going back to the original Revolutionary War grant. He has been a partner in the farm since 1977. His nephew, Aaron Jones has long helped on the farm and became a partner after his father passed away 5 years ago. RB’s son, Ryan and his family also help on the farm and his wife, Debbie, does the farm bookwork and tax prep. In addition to grain farming together, Aaron has a trucking business on the side and RB and Debbie raise cattle and goats. They all work together year-round but especially come together during the busy planting and long harvest seasons. The 2023 harvest season went a bit smoother than in the past thanks to a 2023 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program grant project the Jones family worked on with funding from the USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).… Continue reading

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Picnic season is almost here

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Sunshine and blue skies are right around the corner as the blustery days are ushered out. Picnicking is upon us with National Picnic Day being celebrated April 23. Nobody was better at picnicking than Winnie the Pooh. He grabbed one or more of his closest friends — Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore — and headed out for picnicking adventures. Pooh’s picnic escapades were never without some excitement, a bib and his hunny pot.

Picnics are about creating memories and enjoying each other whether it is your friends, family or romancing your partner. Eight years ago, on a Paul and Shelly’s excellent adventure, a picnic took an outrageous twist. We had rented a convertible Ford Mustang and were excited to cruise down Highway 1 from San Fran to LA and take in the breathtaking California coast. At one of the overlooks, a couple of Harley riders asked if we had done the amazing 17-Mile Drive — a must-do on our coastal journey.… Continue reading

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Free seeds available through Victory Gardens program

Ohio’s movement to promote urban and rural gardening is back and bigger than ever. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio State University Extension are partnering once again to encourage Ohioans to cultivate their own produce.

The popular Ohio Victory Gardens program is back for its fifth year and due to high demand, the program is expanding to include 64 counties. OSU Extension offices will be handing out the free seed sample kits to the public to get people planting. Specific days and times for each office are available on the Ohio Victory Gardens website, as well as planting resources and information.

“We want all Ohioans to experience the pride of growing their own food,” said Brian Baldridge, ODA Director. “Planting those seeds, watching that produce grow, and being able to provide those nutritious foods for your family is a wonderful opportunity to be involved in agriculture. We encourage all folks to plant their own victory garden.”… Continue reading

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ODA issues box tree moth quarantine

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is issuing a quarantine for six counties in southwest Ohio to prevent the spread of an invasive insect — the box tree moth.

Beginning April 11, 2024, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Greene, Montgomery, and Warren counties will have regulations in place restricting the movement of boxwood shrubs out of the area. ODA is encouraging landscapers and residents in these counties to check the quarantine boundaries and not transport the plants outside of the quarantined area.

Box tree moth. Image courtesy of Walter Schön,, and Courtesy of Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio.

The box tree moth was detected in Ohio in June 2023, near the border of Hamilton and Clermont counties. More sightings have been confirmed in the quarantined counties listed above. Box tree moths are invasive pests from East Asia that pose a threat to boxwood plantings and the horticulture industry.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan now offered to all sole proprietors

Farmers and small businesses with employees have a lot of expenses, but many of them are finding affordable health coverage options through the Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan. Now, the plan has been updated to give sole proprietors access to more rate stability and a smart solution that offers potential savings on health care.

“We hope that the Health Benefits Plan will continue to become an even more valuable business solution which is now more readily available to sole proprietors throughout the agricultural economic sector,” said Mike Bailey, senior vice president of operations & partnerships with Ohio Farm Bureau. “These changes will have zero impact on existing employer groups and employees currently enrolled in the plan.” 

Additionally, enrolled members will not notice anything different, nor will their benefits be affected in any way.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan can lead to more rate stability and is a smart solution that offers potential savings.… Continue reading

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Gifting may help with estate taxes

By Robert Moore, attorney and research specialist for the Ohio State University Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Estate taxes are receiving a lot of attention due to the impending reduction in the federal estate tax exemption in 2026. If Congress does not extend or make permanent the current estate tax exemption, the exemption in 2026 will be $5.5 million per person plus inflation. The inflation-adjusted estate tax exemption for 2026 is expected to be between $7 million and $7.5 million. The current federal estate tax exemption for 2024 is $13.61 per person.

The lower federal estate tax exemption will still be high enough for most people to avoid federal estate taxes. However, some farmers will see themselves move into the federal estate tax bracket in 2026. People who will find themselves subject to estate taxes due to the 2026 sunset provisions are exploring strategies to help reduce estate tax liability.

One such strategy that may be considered is gifting.… Continue reading

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Rule 34

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth     

A rule is one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere. An example is Rule 34, titled Killing of Game Animals, of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that states, “in the event that an edible big game animal, i.e., moose, caribou, buffalo, is killed in defense of life or property, the musher must gut the animal and report the incident to a race official at the next checkpoint. Following teams must help gut the animal when possible. No teams may pass until the animal has been gutted and the musher killing the animal has proceeded. Any other animal killed in defense of life or property must be reported to a race official, but need not be gutted.”

In plain English, if a musher is forced to kill a moose in self-defense or in defense of the dog team, the musher must properly field dress the moose before continuing the race.… Continue reading

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Researchers want to know about your livestock’s behavior from the 2024 solar eclipse

The solar eclipse has captivated the imagination of a good swath of rural Ohio this year, but a certain group of scientists are looking to livestock owners to help make hay of the unique event.

This year, the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is wanting help observing and recording livestock, poultry, pet and wildlife behavior. 

“There is a lot of research being done these days using the general public to get input from a larger area and diversity,” said Jacqueline Jacob, UK Department of Animal and Food Sciences agricultural extension project manager. “This survey builds off that current trend.” 

UK’s current initiative seeks observers who have witnessed changes – or even no fluctuations – in animal behavior including:  

  • Various types of behavior changes, such as deviations in feeding, sleeping, movement, vocalizations (e.g., singing or mooing) 
  • Productivity declines 
  • Indications of perplexity among other behavioral variations 

These collected observations from diverse areas and animal species will be combined into a report that can then be distributed to all participants. … Continue reading

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AgCredit patronage returns

AgCredit — one of northern Ohio’s largest lenders for farmers, rural homeowners and agribusiness — announced that it will distribute $22 million to its borrower-owners through its patronage program.

Each year, AgCredit’s Board of Directors reviews the cooperative’s net income and determines how much to return to the cooperative’s borrower-owners in the form of patronage. Qualified borrower-owners will receive their share during events at their local offices, through the mail or through direct deposits into their bank accounts. This is the 37th consecutive year AgCredit has distributed patronage with a total of over $444 million returned during that time.

“Our ability to return patronage dividends to eligible borrower-owners in our territory for 37 consecutive years demonstrates the commitment of our cooperative,” said Brian Ricker, AgCredit President and CEO.

How do patronage refunds benefit AgCredit borrower-owners? They reduce their cost of borrowing. AgCredit already offers competitive rates on loans, but on average over the past five years, the patronage program has reduced rates by an additional 1.67%.… Continue reading

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Online Food Business Central launched by OSU Extension

Are you a home baker ready to sell your baked goods? Maybe you’re a farmer looking for value-added opportunities for crops you’ve grown or livestock you’ve raised? Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur aiming to use local agricultural products to make value-added foods to sell?

If so, then the new Food Business Central online course offered by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) can help equip you with the knowledge and strategies to launch a successful farm-raised or home-based food business in Ohio.

Created by Ohio State University Extension educators and specialists in family and consumer sciences (FCS), the online course is designed to serve as a centralized hub to connect participants to information and resources regarding all types of food products they might want to make and sell, said Emily Marrison, OSU Extension educator, FCS, and course development team member.

“This course is designed for anyone wanting to start a packaged food business,” she said.… Continue reading

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Smart farms and precision

By Teresa Bjork, consumer content manager at Iowa Farm Bureau

I’m stubborn about keeping my phone for as long as I can. My last one lasted four years until I got fed up with the dying battery. I recently upgraded my phone with a newer model, and I didn’t realize how much the technology has improved.

My new phone can connect to my car’s hands-free navigation system, making my morning commute easier. The camera automatically filters photos to smooth out wrinkles (a cool feature, but also a little creepy). Last night, the phone sent me a notification asking for permission to record my coughs and snores at night to monitor my sleep quality. (Again, cool but creepy.)

While I’m catching up with the latest innovations, pig farmers have already embraced it. For example, scientists have created microphones to record pigs’ coughs and thermal cameras to measure body temperature. This helps farmers promptly identify, treat and isolate potentially sick pigs, ensuring the herds’ health.… Continue reading

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Spring has sprung in Washington

By Brooke S. Appleton, vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association

Spring is an important time in Washington. It’s when cherry blossoms bloom to the delight of city residents and tourists alike, and many outdoor activities, such as marathons, take off, shutting down city streets on the weekends.

This is also a time when congressional and administration officials begin to unveil their plans for the year ahead. We saw the beginnings of this on March 7, when President Biden gave his State of the Union speech. The president released his proposed federal budget for FY 2025 several days later, even as Congress and the administration are at an impasse on parts of this fiscal year’s budget.

If the tone and tenor of the president’s address and the Republican response to that address are any indication of what we should expect in the year ahead, we should all fasten our seatbelts because it is going to be a bumpy ride.… Continue reading

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Largest ever patronage distribution from Farm Credit Mid-America

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

The week of March 18, Farm Credit Mid-America (FCMA) was busy celebrating National Ag Week by making farm visits to deliver patronage checks to owner members around the Midwest.

“We call this Christmas in March because it’s just such a fun way to celebrate Ag Week and say ‘thank you’ to all of our member owners. We get out on the farm and deliver checks to them instead of them having to bring checks in to make payments. It’s just a really rewarding week to be able to say, ‘thank you’ in a way that’s really impactful for their operation,” said Melanie Strait-Bok, FCMA Senior Vice President of Agricultural Lending for Ohio. “This year we’re giving back $255 million to our customers. For Ohio customers, we’re giving back about $61 million in patronage. When you look at all of the years that Farm Credit Mid-America has been paying back patronage since 2016, it’s $1.25 billion that we have been able to give back to our customers.… Continue reading

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Trends show more agricultural land lost to development

The new 2022 Census of Agriculture data shows the number of farms in Ohio declined by 2.3% and in land in farms declined by 6.4% between 2002 and 2022. One number that is concerning to agricultural stakeholders in Ohio is the loss of 931,089 acres in land in farms in Ohio in the last 20 years. 

The question is how much of the agricultural land in Ohio was lost to development?

Ani Katchova, Professor and Farm Income Enhancement Chair, and Xiaoyi Fang and Rae Ju, PhD students in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at the Ohio State University published a report to answer this question.

They used the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) of the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium ( which uses satellite imagery to show land of different categories and changes in land categories over time. 

The definition of agricultural land according to the NLCD includes cultivated crops and pasture/hay, which is narrower than the more general definition of land in farms (which also includes woodland, wasteland, and land in conservation programs) according to the Census of Agriculture.… Continue reading

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The search is on for 2024 Ohio Ag Net Student FFA Reporters!

The 2024 Ohio FFA State Convention is fast approaching, May 2-3, and Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net is looking for outstanding FFA members to help serve as student reporters for this year’s event. 

Ever wonder what it’s like to do our job? This is your chance!

Selected FFA members will get the opportunity to help cover the convention and work alongside our news staff. Reporters can expect to gain an early insight into a possible career in agricultural communication, and make some new connections along the way. 

The coverage of the Ohio FFA Convention will be posted on and various social media outlets with reporters helping to host news coverage alongside our staff in addition to veteran student reporters. 

Students will assist in gathering information, shoot photos and video of newsworthy items and people, share their commentary of what happened in each session, and much more. 

To be considered: 

  • Applicants must be attending both days of the Ohio FFA State Convention May 2 and 3, 2024. 
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Ohio’s farms continue to rebuild after tornado damage

Ohio farms are known for their resilience, which also holds true for The Ohio State University Molly Caren Agricultural Center, home to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) annual Farm Science Review (FSR), after it was damaged by an EF2 tornado in the early morning hours of Feb. 28.

The aftermath of the storm left 46 of the 62 buildings on the grounds damaged or destroyed. This included 13 university-owned buildings and 33 privately-owned buildings. 

Like other local farmers impacted by the storm, the focus of the FSR and CFAES teams has been on recovery and rebuilding to ensure the show will continue as scheduled.

“We are fully committed to hosting this year’s show and coming back stronger than ever, which is in our nature as a farmer-focused facility and event. This is real life for farmers, and we’re right here experiencing it, too,” said Nick Zachrich, FSR manager.… Continue reading

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Agriculture Innovation Center to support value-added agriculture in Northeast Ohio

One of Ohio’s most vibrant agricultural regions will be the recipient of a “one-stop shop,” developed by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), to help food, fiber, and fuel value-added agriculture producers set themselves up for success.

The Northeast Ohio Agriculture Innovation Center (NEO-AIC) is the result of an almost $1 million new grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, with matching in-kind funds of nearly $500,000 from Ohio State. The 3-year investment was awarded through the USDA Agriculture Innovation Center Program.

“Northeast Ohio is a great agricultural region with rich prime soils and is home to a diversity of businesses and farms, including the highest concentration of women farmers and small and medium farms in Ohio,” said Shoshanah Inwood, CFAES program director and rural sociologist.

The NEO-AIC will hire four new staff members, including two new OSU Extension positions focused on value added agriculture business planning and market development in Northeast Ohio. The… Continue reading

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Your license to fun!

By Dan Armitage, outdoors writer

I recall when the first day that you could buy the coming season’s fishing license was, if not a big deal, at least circled on many Ohio anglers’ calendars. It usually fell on the first day in March, which was appropriate, seeing as a new season of angling was just over the horizon. You had to go to a bait store or ODNR offices to get the permit, which made it feel special for some reason. Then I would always head to a Kinko’s to make photocopies of the license to stash in wallets, tackle boxes and glove boxes to improve the odds of my having one available to show the authorities wherever I might be fishing.   

Licenses to enjoy both fishing and hunting in the Buckeye State during 2024-25 are available now and can be purchased without leaving your easy chair, at, on the HuntFish OH mobile app, or at participating agents statewide.… Continue reading

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