Country Life

Harvest for All feeding the hungry

Farm and ranch families from across the nation donated 25.3 million pounds of food and raised more than $1 million to help fight hunger in 2022 through Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 31.1 million meals.

Criteria for tracking Harvest for All donations included dollars and pounds of food donated by state and county Farm Bureaus, as well as volunteer hours, reported from the grassroots up as part of the annual campaign.

The spirit of farm communities has always been one of working together and giving back. Now in its 21st year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. Their participation helps ensure Americans who are facing food insecurity can enjoy the bounty of food farmers and ranchers produce.

In addition to raising food and funds, farmers and ranchers tallied 13,827 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2022.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohioan at work training farmers to feed an African nation

By Matt Reese

Retired Ohio State University soil scientist Warren Dick has long been known for his research on soil amendments. He can still talk passionately about gypsum or phosphorus, but his eyes truly light up when he discusses his Bethel Agricultural Association, Inc. project.

Dick grew up in a Mennonite family with 13 children on a small farm in North Dakota. He attended Wheaton College in Illinois as a chemistry major with plans to become a medical doctor. 

“Between my junior and senior year, I went on a summer mission trip to South Sudan, which is one of the newer countries in the world right now,” Dick said. “I saw so much poverty and hunger. I was planning to go to med school but instead of med school, I decided I could do more good for this world in agriculture.”

After the trip, Dick went to Iowa State University for a PhD and was hired by Ohio State University in 1980 where he began his career teaching and researching the biochemistry and microbiology of soils.… Continue reading

Read More »

New deer regulations proposed

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

Next autumn’s deer hunting seasons and bag limits have been proposed to the Ohio Wildlife Council. Notably, bag limits were proposed to increase in six counties and decrease in one. Beyond that, the proposed deer hunting seasons are similar to last year and likely to be approved as written.

As in years past, only one antlered deer may be harvested, regardless of where or how it is taken, and hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. The proposed deer hunting dates for 2023-24 include:

• Deer archery: Sept. 30, 2023-Feb. 4, 2024

• Youth deer gun: Nov. 18-19, 2023

• Deer gun: Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2023; Dec. 16-17, 2023

• Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 6-9, 2024. 

Bag limit increases from two to three deer were proposed in six counties: Belmont, Gallia, Geauga, Harrison, Jefferson, and Monroe. A bag limit decrease from three to two deer was proposed for Butler County.… Continue reading

Read More »

ODA awards funding for two-stage ditches through H2Ohio

As part of Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is awarding $4.2 million in grants for 12 two-stage ditch projects.

“We are keeping our foot on the gas pedal to reach our nutrient reduction goals,” said ODA Director Brian Baldridge. “These projects will provide water quality benefits that complement the other best management practices offered through H2Ohio.”

Six county engineers and six Soil and Water Conservation Districts will receive funds to construct or improve two-stage ditches. Recipients will receive up to 100 percent of requested funding for these projects.

More than 18,000 acres of watershed will benefit from the 8.4 miles of two-stage ditch projects. Construction of these projects will begin this summer, and all projects must be completed by Fall 2024.

The two-stage ditch became the eighth best management practice offered through ODA’s portion of H2Ohio. A two-stage ditch is a conservation practice that modifies the shape of a drainage ditch to create vegetation benches on each side.… Continue reading

Read More »

Spring weather outlook

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Not to be outdone by January, February temperatures have been much above normal as well. Much of the state will end the month with temperatures about 5-10 degrees F above the long-term average (1991-2020). Locations such as Dayton and Columbus experienced daily high temperatures of at least 70 degrees F on three different days in February, a first for both locations. Despite the continued presence, although weakening La Niña, it was a drier than normal month for much of the state. The exception to this was northwest Ohio, where many counties picked up 125% to 200% of normal precipitation. The warm temperatures have certianly advanced the accumulation of growing degree days, with numerous signs of spring. For a detailed look at growing degree days and to see what might bloom next in your area, check out the The Ohio State Phenology Calendar.

An active weather pattern will continue this week as temperatures remain mostly above average.… Continue reading

Read More »

It is time to change the way we think about crop insurance

By Michael Sweeney, Vice President of Bickle Farm Solutions

I am very privileged to sit across the table from some of the best farmers in Ohio multiple times every year and talk with them about crop insurance, farm insurance, or just farming in general. One thing that I have learned in my years in agriculture is that everyone has an opinion and very few are the same. This could not be truer about crop insurance. 

Michael Sweeney

Generally there are two sets of views on crop insurance. One side says, “I buy it because the bank says I have to” or “I buy it to make sure I can farm again next year.” The other says the purpose of crop insurance for their operation is to guarantee margin, or at least to make them whole again. Both sides will have reasons for the stance they take. At the end of the day, it’s all about mental and financial risk tolerance.… Continue reading

Read More »

U.S. Department of Labor modifies wages in H-2A program

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced it will publish a final rule to amend how the Adverse Effect Wage Rates for the H-2A program are set to improve the rates’ consistency and accuracy based on the work actually performed by these workers and to better prevent H-2A workers’ employment negatively affecting the wages of U.S. workers in similar positions. 

The H-2A program allows employers to address temporary labor needs by employing foreign agricultural workers when a lack of U.S. workers for the positions exists, and as long as hiring non-U.S. workers does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers in similar jobs. The program’s Adverse Effect Wage Rates is the wage below which there would be an adverse effect on the wages of U.S. workers.     

The department uses the data for field and livestock workers combined as reported by the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey to set the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, but on a few occasions in recent years, the FLS has not been conducted.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio counties eligible for emergency farm loan assistance

By David Marrison, OSU Extension Field Specialist- Farm Management

Farm operations in 15 Ohio counties are eligible to apply for emergency credit through the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Farm Loan program. These loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

The Emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President of the United States under the Stafford Act. These loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster. In addition, farmers located in counties that are contiguous to the primary designated county may also qualify for this loan program.

A declaration was made for Brown and Clermont counties on Nov.… Continue reading

Read More »

Fish kill numbers, wildlife impacts updated for East Palestine

In early February, 38 Norfolk Southern rail cars carrying toxic chemicals derailed, resulting in a chemical burn to prevent a potential explosion and an ominous smoke plume over the village of East Palestine in Columbiana County.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified five materials known to have been released into the air and water from the incident:

  • vinyl chloride.
  • butyl acrylate.
  • ethylhexyl acrylate.
  • ethylene glycol monobutyl ether.
  • Isobutylene.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz provided a Feb. 23 updated estimate on the number of aquatic animals potentially killed from the incident. The final sample count of aquatic species killed in waterways impacted in the area totaled 2,938. Of this collected sample, most — nearly 2,200 — were small minnows.

“It’s important to stress that these small fish are all believed to have been killed immediately after the derailment. Because the chemicals were contained, ODNR has not seen any additional signs of aquatic life suffering in the streams.… Continue reading

Read More »

Farmland preservation gaining urgency

By Matt Reese

The concern around keeping Ohio’s best farmland in agricultural production is not a new one. Our state has a long history of paving over productive soils in favor of “progress” in the form of parking lots, strip malls and whatever other whims developers dream up. Certainly, some of this (or maybe even most) development has real value and benefits to the state and local communities. Each acre of productive farmland lost, though, erodes our society’s future ability to produce food, fuel and fiber, along with the agrarian heritage of the community.

Agricultural lands sequester carbon, produce oxygen, allow for water infiltration, provide wildlife habitat, have aesthetic appeal, and offer value to communities in ways which rooftops, concrete and asphalt cannot. Farms generate tax revenue with low costs to the community. Development brings additional burdens to existing infrastructure such as roads, schools and water systems.

While this has been an issue for many generations, the topic of farmland preservations seems to have gained some urgency in ag circles in the last couple of years.… Continue reading

Read More »

Using Quicken for farm record keeping

By Grant Davis, Champaign County ANR Educator, Ohio State University

2022 Quicken Training Flyer

As we have moved into the new year, and tax season is quickly approaching, you might be looking to re-evaluate how you keep records for your farming operation. Maybe you have thought about using a software program like Quicken but think it won’t work for a farm business, or just would like to see how it works before making the commitment of purchasing. Champaign County Extension will be hosting a short series on using Quicken® for Farm Record Keeping on February 21, and 28, at the Champaign Community Center Auditorium from 6 to 8:30pm. Participants will learn about Quicken using an OSU Computer Lab provided during the workshop with Quicken software installed. Or, if you already are using Quicken® you are welcome to bring your own computer. A workshop manual/home reference will be provided. Registration is $50 per farm business (Maximum 2 people per farm).… Continue reading

Read More »

Droning on in the classroom

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Ohio’s teachers were talking agriculture at the recent 2023 Science Education Council of Ohio Science Symposium in Lewis Center.

The Ohio Soybean Council’s GrowNextGen was a major sponsor of the event, offering teachers effective methods of integrating agriculture into their lesson plans. One of the attendees was Chris Brown, a science teacher for seventh and eighth grades from Glandorf Elementary in Putnam County, who has been working with GrowNextGen in his classroom. 

“My first memory with GrowNextGen is we got to go to the Farm Science Review as part of the Ohio Rural Educator Program. I was just overwhelmed by the amount of things that are involved agriculture and that just opened my eyes,” Brown said. “I thought ‘Wow, I need to get this in my classroom because I can connect it to basically everything I teach.’ I really don’t think there’s a student who couldn’t find a way to use this, no matter what career they want to do.… Continue reading

Read More »

Farm Bureau seeking YAP leaders

Ohio Farm Bureau members ages 18-34 who are interested in developing their leadership skills and enhancing programming for their peers should apply for the 2024-2026 Young Agricultural Professionals State Committee. Application deadline is April 28, 2023 at 5 p.m.

The state committee is composed of eight members or couples who suggest, develop and conduct activities that provide networking, social and learning opportunities for young farmers and ag professionals, including planning the yearly leadership experience and hosting Young Agricultural Professionals in a variety of in- and out-of-state events.

Committee members serve a two-year term that begins in September 2023 and expires two years later after the Young Ag Professionals Leadership Experience in January. Four new couples or singles are appointed each year. Members serve a two-year term with four returning and four new positions each year.

Applications are due to Kelsey Turner, Ohio Farm Bureau director of leadership and business development, by April 28, 2023 at 5 p.m.… Continue reading

Read More »

Leases, zoning, milk insurance and popcorn: Answers to legal questions

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

Yes, you read it right: our roundup of agricultural law questions includes a question on popcorn–not one we often hear. Below are our answers to and several legal questions we’ve recently received in the Farm Office.

Q: A farm lease landlord didn’t notify a tenant of the intent to terminate a verbal farm lease before the new September 1 deadline. What are the consequences if the landlord now tries to enter into a new lease agreement with another tenant operator?

A: Ohio’s new “statutory termination law” requires a landlord to provide written notice of termination of a verbal farmland lease by Sept. 1 of the year the lease is effective. The law is designed to prevent a tenant from losing land late in the leasing cycle, after the tenant has made commitments and investment in the land.… Continue reading

Read More »

Turkey study underway

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

The National Wild Turkey Federation Ohio State Chapter recently allocated $50,000 to support a new wild turkey research study that seeks to address population declines in the Buckeye State. With increasing concerns over population declines in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio State University are conducting the first broad-scale study of hen survival in the state in almost two decades. Findings will help researchers and wildlife managers understand how survival rates, harvest rates and reproduction have changed in the last 17 years and what factors may be causing those changes.

In the early 2000s, researchers determined May 1 to be the median date for which hens begin incubating; however, it’s clear today that incubation start dates vary in different regions of the state. Changing weather and habitat conditions, too, may be impacting the initiation of nest incubation from the median date established in the early 2000s.… Continue reading

Read More »

Bill introduced to reform eminent domain in Ohio

Ohio lags behind most states in protections for landowners. In fact, when Ohio landowners are faced with losing property rights through eminent domain, the present law makes it difficult for them to defend their own interests and they often find themselves at a disadvantage.

House Bill 64, introduced by State Rep. Darrell Kick (OH-98) and State Rep. Rodney Creech (OH-40), would create a more direct legal route for a landowner to receive compensation when property is taken by the government without compensation, using a court action called inverse condemnation. In most states, when a property owner files an eminent domain case in court, the court starts by determining if there was indeed a taking of land or property value and if the owner is owed compensation. If so, the same court handles the trial to set the amount of compensation to the landowner.

Current Ohio law, on the other hand, requires a landowner to first file a lawsuit to force the government or entity taking property to follow the law, then separately go through the eminent domain process.… Continue reading

Read More »

The hermit of Mad River

By Don “Doc” Sanders

I’d like to introduce you to an interesting character in Champaign County history and lore: Professor David Orin Steinberger. Steinberger, who became known as the Hermit of Mad River, was born in Clark County, March 25, 1857, and settled in Champaign County. His family had an extensive pioneer history in the area. His maternal uncle Isaac Funk was one of the founders of Funk & Wagnalls, the publisher of encyclopedias and other reference works. 

A graduate of the National Academy of Design and Art League Schools in New York City, Steinberger taught art at Wittenberg College (now University) in Springfield, Ohio. His uncle and the other half of Funk & Wagnalls, Adam Wagnalls, had also studied at Wittenberg. 

While a professor, David Steinberger contracted tuberculosis (TB). At the time, it was commonly thought that people only got TB from drinking unpasteurized milk from infected cows. While there is scientific evidence that bovine tuberculosis can be passed to humans through raw milk and other dairy products made from raw milk, it has been learned that TB can also be transmitted human to human.… Continue reading

Read More »

ODA presents awards highlighting water quality efforts

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) showed its appreciation for exceptional leadership and commitment to conservation by honoring the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Sunrise Cooperative, and Ed Crawford of the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The awards were presented by ODA Director Brian Baldridge at the 2023 Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Partnership Meeting.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Brian Baldridge presents the H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award to Putnam SWCD for outstanding H2Ohio program delivery and administration.

The H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award recognizes those who exhibit exceptional leadership and commitment to water quality through H2Ohio. Recipients of this award are devoted stewards of water quality improvement and conservation who demonstrate innovation, partnership, enthusiasm, and a “get it done” attitude. The recipients were chosen from three categories:  agricultural retailers, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and conservation-minded individuals.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Brian Baldridge presents the H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award to Sunrise Cooperative for being an outstanding agricultural industry H2Ohio partner.
Continue reading

Read More »

The value of remaining silent….

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

How did the fish get caught? He opened his mouth. That riddle is the essence of what I wish clients, both civil and criminal, understood about our country’s legal branch of government. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows Americans to refuse to answer questions from law enforcement. The presumption of innocence and the burden prosecutors bear to prove guilt, even when the accused remains silent, are the bedrock of America criminal law. 

The United States uses the adversarial system in its courts, for both civil and criminal cases. The opposing attorneys have primary responsibility for controlling the development and presentation of the lawsuit. The attorneys may not lie but have no duty to volunteer facts that do not support their client’s case. There is one exception. A prosecutor must disclose exculpatory evidence which is evidence that exonerates the defendant of guilt. Because of the adversarial approach, the plaintiff (or the government in a criminal setting) and the defendant each have lawyers that work to present their best side to persuade a judge and a jury.… Continue reading

Read More »