Country Life

Summer ag law harvest

By Jeffrey K. Lewis, attorney and research specialist, Ohio State University Agricultural & Resource Law 

Did you know that Giant Panda Cubs can be as small as a stick of butter? A panda mother is approximately 900 times bigger than her newborn cub, which can weigh less than 5 ounces. This is like an 8-pound human baby having a mother that weighed 7,200 pounds — this size difference may explain why so many panda cubs die from accidentally being crushed by their mothers. However, not everything is doom and gloom for the Giant Panda. Chinese officials have officially downgraded pandas from “endangered” to “vulnerable.” Although the International Union for Conservation of Nature re-labelled, the Panda as “vulnerable” in 2016, China wanted to make sure that the population of its national treasure continued to grow before downgrading the panda’s classification. 

Although it seems as though pandas are thriving thanks to conservation efforts in China, not all animal species in China are so lucky.… Continue reading

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Ohio New and Small Farm College events set for 2021

By Tony Nye, Ohio State University Extension educator

Bringing small farms in Ohio to life is the theme of the New and Small Farm College program that has been offered to farm families since 2005. The program focuses on the increasing number of new and small farm landowners that have a need for comprehensive farm ownership and management programming.

The mission of the college is to provide a greater understanding of production practices, economics of land use choices, assessment of personal and natural resources, marketing alternatives, and the identification of sources of assistance.

The New and Small Farm College has three educational objectives:

  1. To improve the economic development of small farm family-owned farms
  2. To help small farm landowners and families diversify their opportunities into successful new enterprises
  3. To improve agricultural literacy among small farm landowners not actively involved in agriculture.

Since the program began, the New and Small Farm College has now reached over 1,175 participants from 57 Ohio counties representing almost 900 farms.… Continue reading

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Approachable cheese at Urban Stead

By Matt Reese

It has been a long road to get to making cheese “approachable” for Scott and Andrea Siefring-Robbins of Hamilton County.

Both share a family history including dairy production and a passion for good food. With breweries springing up in urban centers around the state showcasing their production process for customers to see first-hand, it seemed like a similar business model could be used for cheese.

“The light bulb hit for us when we were on a wine trip in California. We visited a cheesemaker and we had never seen cheese so approachable. It was a rural environment and people were visiting the manufacturing location and retail shop. It occurred to us we could do a version of that in an urban environment in Cincinnati,” said Andrea Siefring-Robbins, owner of Urban Stead Cheese. “We wanted to highlight the craft that goes into the cheese industry and, behind that, the dairy industry.… Continue reading

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Poll finds 10 best ice cream shops in Ohio

Nearly 15,000 ice cream lovers from throughout Ohio voted in Ohio Farm Bureau’s 3rd Annual Ohio Ice Cream Battle for their favorite go-to spot to cool off this summer with a cone, milkshake or banana split.

With nearly 27% of the overall votes, Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl in Muskingum County is the 2021 contest champion.

The informal survey was conducted on Facebook, and over 30 ice cream shops were represented in the final round.

Also making the Top 10 in this year’s Ohio Ice Cream Battle:

No. 2 Lil e’s Ice Cream, Union County

No. 3 Emma’s Frosty Kreme, Pike County

No. 4 Dietsch Brothers Ice Cream, Hancock County

No. 5 Cockeye Creamery, Trumbull County

No. 6 Jubie’s Creamery, Greene County

No. 7 Handel’s Ice Cream, Mahoning County

No. 8 Young’s Jersey Dairy, Greene County

No. 9 Whip-n-Dip, Ashtabula County

No.10 Toft’s Dairy & Ice Cream, Erie County

The Ohio Ice Cream Battle highlights the great tradition of Ohio Farm Bureau’s dairy farm families delivering high-quality milk for everyone to enjoy. … Continue reading

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Buyer beware with solar

By Linda Bishop, Findlay

The Toledo Zoo parking lot solar array is a perfect example of how and where solar panels should be placed to get double duty out of an area that is necessary, but not beautiful. 

In western Ohio, 84 or more solar installations of about 1,000 acres each are being planned. This means that 84,000 acres that will be taken out of farm production. This will change the landscape of western Ohio for upwards of 50 years depending upon the lease terms which are non-negotiable upon signing.

The land agents use less than honest tactics to get land from owners, first by choosing out of area owners, then the elderly within the area. If they sign a deal with the solar company, there is a confidentiality clause in the contract so opposing neighbors will not find out. The impact to neighbors needs to be considered when rural neighbors will find their properties completely surrounded by solar panels. … Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation offering Action and Awareness grants

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation is currently considering applications from organizations addressing a variety of program areas within agriculture for its Action and Awareness grant program.

“We are proud to offer our Action & Awareness Grants each year to support local organizations as well as county Farm Bureaus in an effort to create positive, measurable impact throughout Ohio,” said Kelly Burns. Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation executive director. 

Through the grant program, the foundation funds programs in four core areas of giving:

• Education — Providing grants for professional development programs allowing individuals to advance their knowledge of agriculture, share ideas and improve people’s lives.

• Environment — Funding sensible solutions that contribute to a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable Ohio by focusing on increased care for land and water.

• Economic development — Capturing opportunities that build prosperity, create jobs and enhance the quality of life for Ohioans by funding projects that spur economic growth in local communities.… Continue reading

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Growing Women in Agriculture: An Empowerment Celebration

The Shelby County Growing Women in Agriculture committee is thrilled to bring back the Empowerment Celebration in 2021. The committee’s goal is to grow women involved in the agriculture community in our area. Since 2007 the number of women in agriculture has increased by 7% in the United States. With this evolving statistic in the industry, many new avenues for our community and state have developed in order to take advantage of these rising agriculture leaders. 

As a part of their efforts to grow the agriculture community in Shelby County would like to support local women in agriculture by holding our sixth annual “Growing Women in Agriculture, an Empowerment Celebration” event on Sept. 16, 2021, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, the early make and take session starts at 4:30 pm. The event will be held at St. Michael’s Hall, 33 Elm Street, in Fort Loramie. The evening will include a unique blend of educational and fun agriculture information, specifically targeted to the women in our community.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau’s AgriPOWER welcomes new participants in elite training program

Eight farmers and agribusiness professionals have been selected to participate in Ohio Farm Bureau’s 2021-2022 AgriPOWER Institute. This yearlong program focuses on public policy issues confronting agriculture and the food industry such as consumer relations, regulations, energy, and trade policies. It helps individuals develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders and advocates for agriculture by learning from experts in these fields.

Class XII members are Brian Herringshaw of Bowling Green, Paige Hunt of Delta, Camille Klick of Massillon, Krysti Morrow of McConnelsville, Christine Snowden of New Albany, Melanie Strait-Bok of Ney, Greg Tholen of Lynchburg and Emily Warnimont of Findlay.

“These participants all have a passion for agriculture and see themselves in a leadership role in the future,” said Melinda Witten, AgriPOWER director. “Getting a better understanding of current issues and developing skills to lead and advocate for agriculture is what this program is all about, and we have a lot of great experiences planned for Class XII.”… Continue reading

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Open hearts and helping hands

By Sally McClaskey, Program Manager, Education & Marketing, Ohio 4-H Youth Development

For many 4-H’ers, showing the animals they’ve raised is a summer tradition. It’s the culmination of long hours of feeding, grooming and practicing, then taking the spotlight in the showring. And thanks to caring 4-H’ers in several counties, special needs youth also have the opportunity be in that spotlight.

The Open Hearts Livestock Show premiered last month at the Marion County Fair for youth with developmental disabilities. Five individuals, paired with a 4-H mentor, took to the ring, displaying their showmanship skills with pigs, rabbits and goats. 

Planning the Open Hearts show began two years ago when 4-H member Kyla Stockdale was inspired after she developed a special bond with a 4-H camper when she served as a counselor. It sparked her interest in pursuing a career working with special needs youth. When Kyla reached out to her 4-H educator, Margo Long, the Extension Educator in Marion County, Long encouraged her to visit the Holmes County Fair.… Continue reading

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USDA announces pandemic assistance for timber harvesters and haulers


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing up to $200 million to provide relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have experienced losses due to COVID-19 as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) July 22 through Oct. 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program (PATHH) is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, authorized this critical assistance for the timber industry. Timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least 10% during the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2020, compared to the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2019, are encouraged to apply.

“USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative promised to get financial assistance to a broader set of producers and today’s announcement delivers on that promise,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary.… Continue reading

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An upward spiral in corporate culture based on faith

By Matt Reese

We all have recent experience with “hard.” It’s doubtful 2020 was anyone’s favorite year, and for many of us it was very difficult. So where do people turn when life is hard and they need a listening ear, or help working out of a difficult situation, or a new way to look at a problem? 

Coach Belo

These were the questions that Kalmbach Feeds was asking on behalf of their team members in 2017. Fortunately, a great solution presented itself. Kalmbach welcomed Bob Belohlavek to their team as a “life coach” available to all of the company’s 700+ employees. Better known as “Coach Belo,” Belohlavek has spent his entire life dedicated to helping people. Since 2017, he has worked one-on-one with hundreds of Kalmbach team members on dozens of different topics and issues. Any issue that is important to that person is important to Coach Belo. Kalmbach understood the difficulty of trying to discuss tough situations, especially personal ones, with a boss or co-worker.… Continue reading

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Burnout: What it is and how it impacts you

By Bob Belohlavek, life coach for Kalmbach Feeds
Four phrases come to mind when considering our culture today. It’s fast-paced, stress-filled, demand-saturated, and relationship-starved. It’s understandable then, in light of such conditions, why good people burn out. 
It’s a state of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion brought on by too much stress over a long period of time. If you’ve been “crazy busy” for as long as you can remember, don’t be surprised if you lose enthusiasm, energy, perspective and purpose. Burnout feels as if you’re merely putting in time, not making waves, barely getting by, or going through the motions. Even though we may do our best with what we have to give, we may also find ourselves feeling as if we’re “at the end of our rope” during prolonged periods of work-related or personal stress.


Burnout creates a feeling of never-ending exhaustion. Symptoms of fatigue flag the fact that something’s wrong.… Continue reading

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Raw Milk: To drink or not to drink?

Some millennial parents believe that raw milk is a good dietary choice for their children. 

In my educated opinion, whole milk is certainly a healthy choice, for children and parents. But raw, unpasteurized milk? …. Ehh-nnn-ttt! (If you’re wondering, that’s my guess at how to spell the sound the wrong answer buzzer makes on a TV game show.) It’s what you hear before a contestant is sent off the set with a consolation prize, like a case of Rice-a-roni.

Researchers at UC-Davis in California agree with the game show judge’s call on this one. And they go even further in a study, in which they conclude that the natural bacteria in raw milk take on a generous dose of antimicrobial (antibiotic) resistant genes when the milk is left out of the fridge and allowed to warm to room temperature.

Their study recommends that if you’ve got raw milk — and a desire to drink it — you should keep it in your refrigerator until you’re ready to pour a glass.… Continue reading

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Ohio legislative summer update

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

Following a flurry of activity before its break, the Ohio General Assembly can now enjoy a few lazy days of summer. While the legislature spent much of its energy passing the state budget, it also moved several bills affecting agriculture. Here’s the latest update on legislation that’s moving down at the capitol.

Enacted bills

Solar and wind facilities 

We wrote earlier about S.B. 52, the wind and solar facility siting bill the legislature passed in late June. Despite pressure to veto the bill, Governor DeWine signed the legislation on July 12; its effective date is October 9, 2021. The new law requires developers to hold a public meeting in a community at least 90 days prior to applying for project approval, allows counties to designate restricted areas where wind and solar projects may not locate, sets up a referendum process for county residents to have a voice in restricted area designations, adds two community officials to the project review process at the Power Siting Board, and establishes rules for decommissioning of projects, including performance bonds.… Continue reading

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Back this year for an in-person show: Farm Science Review 2021

Ever want to climb into the cockpit of a plane and glide over a field? 

At this year’s Farm Science Review Sept. 21 to Sept. 23, visitors will have that chance without leaving the grassy ground under them. 

The upcoming, annual farm trade show will offer a series of virtual reality experiences such as operating a crop duster, high-tech planters, combines, and other equipment.

Sitting in a mini IMAX-type theater, visitors to FSR can watch videos projected on a domed screen around them. They’ll get an expansive view — a bit wider than peripheral vision—so they can feel as if they’re flying a plane. Or riding a high-tech planter. Or peering into a beehive.  

To film the videos, Ohio State University Extension educators mounted cameras to various spots on planters, tractors, combines, and other vehicles, so viewers can get a perspective they wouldn’t normally get. 

“It’s a little bit like having a bug’s eye view of all of these places,” said Brooke Beam, Extension educator in Highland County. … Continue reading

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New Priority Area and EQIP funding announced to improve northern bobwhite quail habitat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has designated a new priority area in Ohio focused on improving and creating northern bobwhite quail habitat. Private landowners and producers can apply for funding through the NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Interested landowners in the selected townships are encouraged to contact their local NRCS service center, ODNR private lands biologist or Pheasants Forever biologist to learn more.  

·   NRCS: Nick Schell,, 614-255-2490

·   Ohio Division of Wildlife: John Kaiser, 937-203-7511

·   Quail Forever: Cody Grasser,, 419-551-3875

“Private landowner involvement is such an important part of preserving this iconic species,” said Lori Ziehr, Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting State Conservationist.  “The northern bobwhite quail is an edge species, and through priority area funding, we can incentivize and promote conservation practices that generate the high-quality early successional habitat crucial to their survival.” 

Ohio is near the northern edge of the species’ range, and winter weather conditions can contribute to dramatic fluctuations in bobwhite quail populations.… Continue reading

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City of Maumee caught after 20 years of sewage dumping 🎙

Unlike permitted livestock farms, such as CAFOs, that are not allowed to discharge an ounce of manure into Ohio’s waterways, municipalities have agreements with Ohio EPA to allow for a certain amount of sewage to be dumped directly into tributaries located in watersheds that flow into Lake Erie.

For Maumee, Ohio, that agreement is 25 million gallons per year. However, due to an outdated sewer infrastructure, the municipality has actually been adding as much as 150 million gallons of sewage into the Maumee River for each of the past 20 years.

City Law Director David Busick confirmed that Department of Public Service Sewer Division employees, who keep track of sewer discharge levels, did not comply with the law when they failed to self-report the incidences of annual sewer overflow in Maumee. The City Council has since approved an action plan that requires mandated maintenance upgrades and infrastructure replacement guidelines. The city has also been fined by Ohio EPA to the tune of $29,936, which can be applied to remediation steps.… Continue reading

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Unions and property rights

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

On June 23, 2021, the United States Supreme Court decided Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid. Many legal analysts are touting this case for upholding property rights. A closer look, however, reveals that the impact is more about unions and access and the viability of a very specific California law, unlike any other in the country.

            In 2015, two California businesses, Cedar Point Nursery (a grower of strawberry plants) and Fowler Packing Company (a shipper of table grapes and citrus), challenged a California state law that allowed unions to access private property, before and after the working day, 3 hours per day, 120 days per year to recruit new members. The regulation was issued in 1975, in the days of Caesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Union. It is a law unique to California. The law’s history indicates that the provision was a practical way to give farmworkers, who can be nomadic and poorly educated, a realistic chance to consider joining a union.… Continue reading

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NBB disappointed in DC Circuit decision on SREs in 2019 RFS rule

The National Biodiesel Board expressed disappointment in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision on the 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard rule. NBB joined other biofuel industry associations (the case is known as Growth Energy v EPA) to challenge EPA’s failure to account for a flood of retroactive small refinery exemptions that undercut the annual volumes by 7% in 2019.

“Small refinery exemptions harm biodiesel and renewable diesel producers when they retroactively reduce demand for advanced biofuels,” Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President for Federal Affairs. “Today’s decision creates renewed uncertainty for our industry because it does not require EPA to account for retroactive exemptions — something the 10th Circuit Court identified as ‘a gaping and ever-widening hole’ in the RFS.

“On behalf of NBB’s members, I call on EPA to quickly issue the 2021 and 2022 RFS rules, provide a strong signal of growth for advanced biofuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel, and fully account for any small refinery exemptions it plans to grant—as it has already done in the 2020 RFS rule.”The… Continue reading

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AEP Re-Creation Lands purchased

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

Among more than $70 billion in state spending priorities is a major item of importance to Ohio’s sportsmen. During negotiations late last month between the House and Senate, Gov. Mike DeWine successfully advocated for $29 million for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife to purchase the remaining 18,000 acres of the AEP Re-Creation Lands. 

Back in 2015, the power company announced its intention to sell the 60,000-acre property, which has long been used by Ohio hunters, anglers and trappers. It was thought that the state of Ohio would be first in line to purchase the prized property, which amounts to 10% of all available public land for sportsmen in the state.

After 2 years, with very little progress, AEP began to consider private buyers, a result Ohio sportsmen were unwilling to tolerate. Led by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, a Columbus-based coalition of the state’s top sportsmen’s groups united in 2017 under the banner of Protect What’s Right to advocate for funding for AEP and to restore the financial security of the Division of Wildlife, which had deteriorated over the previous years.… Continue reading

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