Country Life

Happy Grilled Cheese Day!

By Shelly Detwiler, a berry farmer and dietician

Happy Grilled Cheese Day! I cannot be the last to know about this momentous occasion on April 12, can I? Grilled cheese sandwiches are a beautiful thing, and this is truly a holiday to celebrate. There is nothing simpler and a work of art than a grilled cheese sandwich. Growing up in Plain City I headed to high school in 1979. An off the beaten track, hidden gem was a restaurant called The Dutch Kitchen, just a few hundred feet from the front door. The smells that wafted across the beautiful green grass front lawn of Jonathan Alder HS were like the Pied Piper’s magic pipe putting already ravenous teenagers in a trance, as we followed the tantalizing smells to enjoy the “Amish” culinary delights. One of their specialties to teens far and wide across the district were their grilled cheese sandwiches. Nothing gourmet, just three simple ingredients.… Continue reading

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4R Program Highlights “Right People in video series

Almost everyone in agriculture knows the 4Rs: “Right Source at the Right Rate, at the Right Time and in the Right Place.” But how often do we stop to consider that crucial fifth ‘R’ — the Right People? 

Launched in 2014, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program would not have gotten off the ground without the coming together of the Right People – agriculturalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers and many more stakeholders. This unique blend of seemingly disparate groups saw a need for a science-based program to proactively work toward the long-term improvement of waterways — and from their efforts, the 4R Program was born.

Today, the 4R Program continues to rely on the Right People — the employees of 4R Certified facilities and independent crop consultants who drive the program forward every day. As the trusted advisers of farmer customers, all employees play a part in advocating for the 4R Program, from CEOs and office staff to custom applicators and agronomists. … Continue reading

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OSU working to advance commercialization of ultra-shear technology for liquid foods and beverages processing

Researchers at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have created a university-industry consortium to further the development of and provide access to the licensing of a new, innovative manufacturing technology that preserves foods and beverages using wholesome, recognizable ingredients; no artificial preservatives; and reduced heat. 

Called ultra-shear technology (UST), this new method of high-pressure-based shear technology will allow beverage companies to manufacture healthier beverages by reducing thermal exposure through the combined application of elevated pressure, shear, and controlled times and temperatures.  

The result?

“Healthier beverage options that health-conscious consumers want that aren’t preserved using chemical additives and preservatives with names they can’t pronounce,” said V.M. “Bala” Balasubramaniam, a CFAES professor of food engineering who is leading the project. His laboratory—with a multidisciplinary team of microbiologists, chemists, and nutritionists—investigates innovative food manufacturing technologies and then works with industry to implement them.

And it’s not just drinks that might soon be preserved in a much healthier way.… Continue reading

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Weather update from NOAA/NWS/Ohio River Forecast Center

By Jim Noel, NOAA

The climate pattern is in a state of a flux.  The La Niña pattern is weakening rapidly and will cause changes in weather patterns in the coming weeks and will result in lower confidence forecasting for a while during this change.

For April it looks like a warmer than normal month with normal or slightly below normal rainfall. However, there will still be big swings in temperatures so the last freeze will likely be in the normal range which is generally mid-April for southern Ohio to late April for northern Ohio.  Evaporation rates will be above normal. This will all result in typical or earlier than normal planting. Beneficial rains will fall over most of the corn and soybean belts in April with the least rain likely in the eastern areas including Ohio. Over the next two weeks we expect 0.50 to 2 inches of rain with normal rainfall being 1.5 to just under 2 inches.… Continue reading

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Agricultural and educational competitions focus for 2021 Ohio State Fair 🎙

The Ohio Expositions Commission announced that the 2021 Ohio State Fair will not be open to the public, and will instead focus on agricultural and educational competitions for exhibitors, their families, and guests. This will include junior fair skillathons, the Outstanding Market Exhibitor programs and a modified Sale of Champions. The status of the open shows for livestock will be determined by leaders within the individual species.

When discussing plans for the 2021 Ohio State Fair, members of the Commission expressed concern for public health, as well as the financial impact of hosting a fair that would adhere to current safety protocols and the lasting impacts of the long-term viability of the Ohio State Fair.

“Although vaccination rates are improving significantly each day, Ohio continues to fight the battle against COVID-19. Where we are today in this battle makes it challenging to plan a large-scale entertainment event, not knowing where we will be, or what Ohio will look like, in late July,” said Virgil Strickler, General Manager.… Continue reading

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OABA and OSU CFAES partner to host career fair at Farm Science Review

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will partner to hold the Career Exploration Fair at the 2021 Farm Science Review. The event will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The FSR Career Exploration Fair is an opportunity for career seekers, from high school and college students to mid-career professionals, who are looking to start or change their career path to connect with agribusiness employers. All FSR attendees are invited to browse the event, which is included with show admission. The event will also feature short career-related topic presentations on the main stage. 

Vendor booths are available to employers for the career fair. Free vendor space is an exclusive opportunity for current OABA members and FSR exhibitors. Any interested company can indicate their interest when registering as an FSR exhibitor or by contacting the Ohio AgriBusiness Association. For… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau seeks dynamic entrepreneurs with solutions to today’s farm and rural challenges

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. This national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are providing solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award $165,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm CreditBayer Crop ScienceFarm Bureau BankFarm Bureau Financial ServicesFMC Corporation and John Deere.

Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the Challenge continues to identify the next ag entrepreneurs to watch and supports innovation essential to Farm Bureau member businesses and communities. 

For this eighth year of the competition, Farm Bureau is seeking entrepreneurs who are addressing either traditional or new/emerging challenges. The 2021 Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year, Riley Clubb with Harvust, addressed traditional challenges by developing a software platform that helps farmers successfully hire, train and communicate with employees.… Continue reading

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ODA and OSU Extension kick off 2021 Ohio Victory Gardens Program

It’s time to get your hands dirty and start growing! The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and OSU Extension Offices are kicking off the second year of the Victory Gardens Program. Due to high demand, the program is expanding to include 25 counties, up from 10 counties last year. Approximately 8,300 seed packets will be available free to the public to get people planting.

“We have seen a revived passion for planting through our Victory Gardens Program, which has expanded to 15 additional counties this year,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “Our Ohio Victory Gardens are meant to be enjoyed by everyone, from urban apartment dwellers, to those living in the country, and everyone in between. We hope this will inspire a new generation of gardeners who will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor for years to come.”

“We are excited to expand our partnership with ODA on the Victory Garden Program.… Continue reading

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USDA invests $3.6 million to improve rural community facilities and essential equipment in Ohio

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Ohio Rural Development Acting State Director Beth Huhn announced that USDA is investing $266 million to build and improve critical community facilities to benefit nearly 3 million rural residents in 16 states and Puerto Rico. This funding includes $156 million to support health-care-related improvements and emergency response services that will benefit nearly 1 million rural residents in nine states and Puerto Rico.

“The Biden-Harris administration has made restoring the economy a top-priority and USDA is playing a critical role,” Huhn said. “Rural America needs safe, modern community infrastructure to help residents and businesses achieve greater prosperity. These investments are important upgrades for these communities to enhance their quality of life to build back better and stronger.”

USDA is investing in 41 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund a variety of essential community services, including emergency response vehicles and equipment.… Continue reading

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Talk of taxes on the radar for U.S. agriculture

As talk about taxes picks up in Washington, D.C., agriculture is watching. 

Since his time on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden has been talking about potential tax changes and now discussions are ramping up, as are concerns from the nation’s farm community.

There have been recent proposals by several lawmakers to tax unrealized capital gains at death and roll back the stepped-up basis on those capital gains. 

“Taxing capital gains when a loved one passes away would have a devastating impact on farm and ranch families, even more so if the stepped-up basis tool is taken out of the toolbox. Stepped-up basis encourages families to grow their businesses and pass them on to another generation, and elimination could force those families to sell their farms just to pay the taxes,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “The value of many farms is tied up in land and equipment. Cash flow on most farms is much too small to pay large capital gains taxes.… Continue reading

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Ohio State ATI to pilot mikeroweWORKS Work Ethic Certification

The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute is one of the first post-secondary schools nationwide selected to pilot a work ethic certification based on the mikeroweWORKS Foundation’s work ethic curriculum.

It is the first and only institution in Ohio to offer the certification. The certification is accredited by NC3, the National Coalition of Certification Centers, which has partnered with Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation to expand the program across the U.S. 

Known as the MRW Work Ethic Certification, the program is an extension of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation’s S.W.E.A.T. Pledge and examines the importance of work ethic, personal responsibility, delayed gratification, and a positive attitude. Students who successfully complete the program will receive an industry-recognized NC3 certificate.

The program is a natural fit for Ohio State ATI, which was named one of five top trade/career schools in the U.S. by Niche is an education ranking and review site, which compiles student reviews and data from the U.S.… Continue reading

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USDA announces COVID-19 aid expanded to include more producers

USDA announced its plans to distribute more than $12 billion under a program called Pandemic Assistance for Producers, which includes aid that had been put on hold as well as funds newly allocated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The program assists farmers and ranchers who previously did not qualify for COVID-19 aid and expands assistance to farmers helped by existing programs. Farmers will need to sign-up only if they are applying for new programs or if they are eligible for CFAP assistance and did not previously apply.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shared details of the new plan during a virtual meeting.

“We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit hard by the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “USDA’s decision to distribute aid based upon previous applications will help deliver assistance quickly. It was good to hear directly from the Secretary today about this program and his priorities going forward.”… Continue reading

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Agriculture must be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine

The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the Biden administration to prioritize agriculture for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a letter sent to the administration, AFBF President Zippy Duvall called for the elimination of barriers to vaccine access for America’s farmers and farmworkers.

“We fully appreciate and support that our nation’s heroic first responders, medical professionals, the elderly and caretakers, along with other vulnerable individuals, clearly have the highest priority for vaccination,” President Duvall wrote. “As new COVID-19 vaccines are approved and ready for distribution, we encourage the administration to support granting priority vaccine access to employees across the food and agriculture supply chain. This prioritization would ensure that planting, harvesting, processing, and distribution of human and animal food can continue to ensure our grocery shelves and food pantries remain stocked.”

The administration recently directed states to prioritize vaccines for teachers. AFBF’s request that similar action be taken for agriculture is consistent with the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations.… Continue reading

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Growing concern about trade relationship with Mexico

In March, 27 leading food and agriculture associations sent a letter communicating growing concerns over the rapid deterioration of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The letter calls attention to alarming recent developments with regard to food and agriculture trade relationship with Mexico and urges action to address these challenges. 

Together, the group of associations represent much of the food and agriculture sector that is responsible for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting over 23 million jobs — constituting nearly 15% of total U.S. employment. Signers include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, International Dairy Foods Association, North American Meat Institute, National Grain & Feed Association, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

The letter reads:

“Mexico is one of America’s most important food and agriculture trade partners. NAFTA has yielded strong benefits to both countries and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada… Continue reading

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National Ag Day

President Joe Biden has proclaimed March 23, 2021 as National Ag Day. This year marks the fifth year that The White House has publicly recognized National Ag Day as a salute to the contributions of America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.

The proclamation highlights how American agriculture has stepped up over the past year to ensure a safe and abundant food supply. It also stresses during the build back there will be an ag sector that works for everyone and highlights that ag will play a critical role in combatting climate change. The entire proclamation can be viewed at

Greg Horstmeier, DTN/Progressive Farmer, chairman of the board for the Agriculture Council of America, the national organization charged with promoting National Ag Day, said receiving this type of recognition from the administration and USDA greatly enhances the stature of National Ag Day, as well as the many local and state Ag Day activities planned around the country.… Continue reading

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Upper Scioto River Watershed targeted with new conservation effort

American Farmland Trust, along with Ohio Corn and Wheat, Ohio Soybean, and Nutrien Ag, are partnering with the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund (SWOF) to offer farmers in the Upper Scioto River Watershed (USRW) the opportunity to sell both carbon and nutrient water quality credits. 

“By stacking a water quality credit payment on top of a carbon credit payment, the SWOF is offering significantly more money per acre than the current carbon-only credit payments,” said Mark Wilson, Farming for Cleaner Water project manager for American Farmland Trust. 

The Soil and Water Outcomes Fund provides financial incentives directly to farmers who transition to on-farm

conservation practices that yield positive environmental outcomes like carbon sequestration and water quality

improvement. We provide significant per-acre payments to farmers and landowners by selling these environmental outcomes to public and private beneficiaries.

Farmers and landowners are uniquely positioned to implement conservation solutions. These solutions generate value well beyond the farm, and the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund is structured to fairly compensate for that value.… Continue reading

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Fun food for National Let’s Laugh Day

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Doom and gloom have been the headline for the past year, but this March 19 it is time to find your funny for National Let’s Laugh Day. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the secret to my heart was laughter. On a cold Friday night in January a long, long time ago, Paul picked me up in a 1966 Blue Volkswagen Beetle, a car just a few months younger than me. I say there was no heat and a hole in the floorboard; but Paul says it was a fine operating machine. Unbeknownst to me, it was the first of many of Paul and Shelly’s excellent adventures. Movies such as Beverly Hills CopBreakfast Club and Cocoon filled our date book. I will never forget laughing until my belly hurt at the late show of The Gods Must Be Crazy.… Continue reading

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Typical March weather continues

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

After a warm December and January but chilly February, Ohio’s winter will go down as one of near-average temperatures for the season. This past winter also ranks as the 23rd driest on record (1895-2021). This was a bit unusual given the cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, a pattern referred to as La Niña, and one that often brings wet weather to the Ohio Valley during winter and early spring.

A more active pattern has certainly set in over the last several weeks, especially across southern Ohio. Precipitation for the last 30 days shows quite a contrast between northern and southern Ohio, with less than 1 inch falling across northwestern counties, while areas near the Ohio River have experienced more than 4 inches. With long-term lingering dry conditions relative to average across northern Ohio, the current U.S. Drought Monitor depicts more than 50% of the state in abnormally dry conditions, with Fulton, Lucas, and northern Wood counties currently in moderate drought conditions.… Continue reading

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RFS showdown in the courts

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining v. Renewable Fuels Association. The case is from the Tenth Circuit, which includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. The Court will review a decision denying economic hardship exemptions for small refineries dealing with the costs of the federal renewable fuel mandate.

            Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard Program to move the United States toward greater energy independence and “to increase the production of clean renewable fuels.” To accomplish these goals, the statute provides “increasing volume requirements that are designed to force the market to create ways to produce and use greater and greater volumes of renewable fuels each year.”

            The EPA has the authority to extend a temporary exemption from Renewable Fuel Standards obligations that allowed small refineries additional time to prepare for the obligations. In this matter, the EPA agreed with the refiners until the appellate court issued its decision, after which the agency switched sides amid the difficult politics of an election year.… Continue reading

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Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance members testify on opportunities to tackle climate change in Senate Hearing

Four witnesses representing the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance’s (FACA) founding organizations and co-chairs — American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and National Farmers Union — testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on the agriculture, food and forestry sectors’ role in delivering climate solutions. Farmers, ranchers and forest owners are both on the frontlines of climate impacts and offer innovative, natural solutions through increased carbon sequestration in trees and soils and reduced GHG emissions.

In accordance with FACA’s guiding principles, the four representatives stressed to lawmakers that federal climate policy must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities, promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities, and be grounded in scientific evidence. In addition, solutions proposed by Congress and the Biden administration must be strongly bipartisan and accommodate the diverse needs of producers and landowners, regardless of size, geographic region or commodity.… Continue reading

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