Country Life



Farmers are responding to food banks in need

There have been numerous efforts of agriculture to provide food for those in need in the past and they are especially important right now. A recent donation from the Ohio Pork Council highlights these efforts. The OPC effort provided over 9,600 wholesome meals to those in need amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time for Easter.

This year, as part of OPC’s annual Pork Power program, Ohio pig farmers donated over 2,400 Sugardale hams to benefit the West Ohio Food Bank, which serves community members in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert and Wyandot counties.

“For Ohio’s pig farmers, providing a safe, wholesome food supply is our livelihood — and giving back to community members is at the core of our values,” said Ohio Pork Council President-Elect Ryan McClure, a pig farmer from Paulding County.

During spring 2020, Ohio pig farmers provided over 9,600 meals to western Ohio families through OPC’s annual Pork Power program.… Continue reading

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Kalmbach Feeds launching campaign to provide half a million meals

In response to the unprecedented challenges being faced by Americans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kalmbach Feeds is launching a campaign to support Feeding America by donating funds to supply 500,000 meals to friends and neighbors in need.

The campaign, named “Feed the Need,” has been created in response to the Covid-19 crisis which has caused massive unemployment due to businesses being forced to close their doors for the health and safety of every individual. Many people, suddenly without wages, are finding themselves relying on food banks for the first time ever. For each bag of Kalmbach Feeds, Tribute or Formula of Champions branded feed sold, Kalmbach Feeds, Inc. will donate one meal to Feeding America, with the mission of providing a half million meals.

“So many people are in need right now, due to circumstances completely out of anybody’s control, and we want to be a part of helping our neighbors in the communities we serve,” said Paul Kalmbach, Jr.,… Continue reading

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Spring farm safety reminders

By Wayne Dellinger, Dee Jepsen, Ohio State University Extension

Spring of 2019 brought never-before seen planting conditions for our generation. With a similar weather pattern predicted for spring 2020, the window to get crops in the field may be short again this season. With shorter windows brings a sense of hurriedness, stress, and fatigue. These may all lead to an increased potential of incidents and injuries during planting.

In the 10-year span from 2009 to 2018, there were 116 farm fatalities in Ohio and 69 of these were the result of tractors, equipment, or other equipment (Farm Fatality and Injury Database of Ohio, OSU Extension Ag Safety and Health Program).

What practices can be done to reduce the risk of injury this time of year? Below is a list of reminders to keep in mind during this busy season.

  1. Be completely acquainted with the equipment you are operating. Read the manual and be comfortable with its operation.
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The CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses

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

We love blogging about agricultural law, but sometimes we don’t feel the need to interpret a law that one of our colleagues has already explained perfectly. Such is the case with the new Paycheck Protection Program recently enacted by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Our colleague Kristine Tidgren at Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation has written an excellent explanation of the new loan program.

A few questions about the Paycheck Protection Program that Kristine answers in detail in her blog post are:

  • Who’s eligible for the loans? Any small business concern, business concern, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, veterans’ organization or tribal business concern employing 500 or fewer employees and eligible self-employed individuals including independent contractors may apply for a loan. Farm businesses with less than 500 employees fit within these eligibility parameters.
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Storm damage adds to challenges in northeast Ohio

By Matt Reese

On top of a pandemic, a Stay-at-Home order and dealing with the challenges of one of the busiest times of year in agriculture as planting season approaches, farmers in northeastern Ohio faced a whole new set of issues earlier this week.

On April 8, an overnight storm whipped through Medina, Stark, Summit and Tuscarawas counties with winds up to 80 miles per hour in some areas and at least one tornado. There was localized damage from high winds in many areas and extended power outages for some.

Ben Klick farms in Stark County and the worst of the local damage narrowly missed him, but neighbors were not as fortunate. Klick said the local park in Richville looked like a war zone with destroyed trees and mangled baseball bleachers. An area bank barn was destroyed and a elderly neighbor’s machinery storage shed was leveled with debris ending up a mile and a half away.… Continue reading

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Take a little extra time in the kitchen and pamper your family

By Shelly Detwiler, dietitian and berry farmer

Just before salons in the state were closed down in March, I got my day of beauty scheduled. If you haven’t been to a local salon, the world’s problems are all figured out in the name of hair and beauty. Many current, crazy topics urgently needed to be discussed. On that day it was, you guessed it: toilet paper! A woman came in and was telling us she typically got her TP from Amazon on a routine basis. She received an email, the day before, informing her she would not get her usual shipment until the end of April. She went on to tell us Kroger was out as well and was distressed about what she was going to do. She heard through the TPNN (Toilet Paper News Network) that a truck was coming at 6 a.m. Waking at the crack of dawn, she rushed to Kroger replenishing her supply.… Continue reading

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Temperature roller coaster for April

By Jim Noel, NOAA

Temperatures will be on a big roller coaster the next two weeks with highs ranging from the 40s to 70s and lows from the mid 20s to 50s. The tendency will be to switch from above normal the first half of this week to slightly below normal later this week and on.

April precipitation

A progressive pattern is expected the next 2 to 3 weeks with a series of generally weak to moderate systems. The below normal rainfall pattern did occur to start April and that helped dry things out some. It does looks like we will see a gradual increase in rainfall chances the next few weeks. However, since systems will generally be weak to moderate, rainfall will average 1 to 3 inches the next two weeks. Normal is 2 inches. The overall pattern will be switching to a bit more cool and damp as we go into mid to late April.… Continue reading

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One million meals being provided to rural children missing school in wake of COVID-19

McLane Global, a leading food and logistics company, is calling on rural school districts to sign up for home delivery of free meals through the Emergency Meals-To-You Partnership. Eligible participants can get more information and enroll at www.MealsToYou.org.

The feeding program is a public-private partnership between USDA, Baylor Collaborative on Hunger, McLane Global, PepsiCo and others that is designed for emergency home delivery of shelf-stable, nutritious meals to students in rural areas while limiting exposure to COVID-19. Distribution and delivery have already begun, and partners are ramping up quickly to reach the goal of providing more than 1,000,000 meals per week across rural America.

“Companies big and small have a role to play in helping our nation through this difficult period, and we’re honored to work with our partners to help meet this challenge for kids across America who would otherwise go hungry,” said Denton McLane, Chairman of McLane Global.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension Farm Office is open!

Ohio State’s campuses and offices are closed. But we are all working away at home, and our virtual offices are still open for business. Starting April 6, the OSU Extension Farm Office Team will open our offices online and offer weekly live office hours from 8:00-9:30 pm EST.

We’ll provide you with short updates on emerging topics and help answer your questions about the farm economy. Each evening will start off with a quick 10- to 15-minute summary of select farm management topics from our experts and then we’ll open it up for questions and answers from attendees on other topics of interest.

Who’s on the Farm Office Team? Our team features OSU experts ready to help you run your farm office:

Peggy Kirk Hall — agricultural law
Dianne Shoemaker — farm business analysis and dairy production
Ben Brown — agricultural economics
David Marrison — farm management
Barry Ward — agricultural economics and tax
Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss our office hours, we’ll post recordings on farmoffice.osu.edu… Continue reading

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4-H events cancelled statewide through July 6

By Kolt Buchenroth

According to a letter penned by Dr. Kirk Bloir, Assistant Director of 4-H Youth Development with Ohio State University Extension, all Ohio 4-H events are cancelled through July 6, 2020. This closure does not include county fairs, which are governed by county agricultural societies. The letter reads:

It is with a heavy heart that I share this news with you. Due to ongoing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision has been made to cancel all Ohio State University Extension in-person programming through July 6.

This includes all 4-H programs, activities, and events. Additionally, we’ve made the very difficult decision to cancel all 4-H camps through August 31. Although in-person programming is canceled, we will continue to offer virtual 4-H experiences.

We know this is an incredible disappointment and recognize how much everyone looks forward to our cherished 4-H summer events. As 4-H professionals committed to providing positive youth development programming, we share your sense of loss.

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H2Ohio funds may fall victim to pandemic

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) applauds Ohio farmers’ demonstration of voluntary conservation through the overwhelming sign up of H2Ohio best practices to reduce phosphorus in the Maumee River Watershed. Nearly 2,000 farmers submitted applications to enroll more than more than 1.1 million acres. This far exceeded expectations for the agricultural portion of the H2Ohio program.

While the rollout of the program was very thoughtfully executed, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a necessary reevaluation of ODA’s budget for the H2Ohio Initiative. ODA is committed to working within the Administration’s budgetary guidelines and will communicate with farmers the status of H2Ohio going forward based upon those guidelines once they are known.

Ohio Farm Bureau issued this statement in response: “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to state budgeting and it is likely that H2Ohio funds will be negatively affected. Despite this, Ohio Farm Bureau has been working with ODA and the DeWine administration to gain clarity on what dollars will be available for the H2Ohio program.… Continue reading

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Farm prices plummeting from virus shutdown

From dairy farmers with nowhere to send their milk and cattle ranchers reeling from plummeting beef prices, the impact of the coronavirus is rippling through farm country. Corn, cotton and soybean futures have tumbled, ethanol plants have been idled, and some fruit and vegetable farmers are finding their best option is leaving produce in the field.

Price forecasts for most agricultural products are bleak. In the past month, dairy prices have dropped 26% to 36%, corn futures have dropped by 14%, soybean futures are down 8% and cotton futures have plummeted 31%. Hog futures are down by 31%. A surge in demand for beef emptied grocery store meat aisles, but there is no lack of supply. Despite a rise in retail prices in some areas, the prices paid to cattle ranchers have fallen 25%.

Dairy producers were optimistic at the start of 2020 that it would be a turnaround year, with milk prices on the rise and feed costs holding steady.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s agribusinesses committed to service through coronavirus outbreak

In the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, farmers across Ohio continue to operate to their fullest in order to keep Ohio’s food supply strong. Standing behind them are Ohio’s agribusinesses, which, as an essential industry, continue to diligently serve their farmer customers, while also managing the risks related to coronavirus.

Nearly all areas of the agriculture industry are considered essential, ranging from feed manufacturers and feed delivery, to agronomists and custom applicators, to support personnel such as IT, mechanics and operations. Due to the inherent seasonality of agriculture, agribusinesses have capacity to hire those individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of mandated business closures. Interested individuals should contact their local agribusinesses to inquire what seasonal positions may be available or visit www.oaba.net/careers for open positions.

“Our members understand the risk COVID-19 represents, but also know their importance to operating as an essential business,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO.… Continue reading

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Ohio NRCS seeks new proposals for Conservation Innovation Grants

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking new proposals for cutting-edge projects that will provide new conservation opportunities with its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. Through the CIG program, Ohio will invest up to $300,000 for new projects in fiscal year 2020.

NRCS CIG emphasizes projects that have a goal of providing benefits within a limited geographic area. Ohio priorities in fiscal year 2020 will be Soil Health, Water Quality and Forestry-Based Sustainable Natural Ecosystem projects. Projects may be farm-based, multi-county, small watershed or Statewide in scope. For additional information about State CIG competitions, please contact Ohio CIG program manager Cheryl Rice or search for the latest postings at Grants.gov.

All non-federal entities and individuals are invited to apply, with the sole exception of federal agencies. Projects may be between one and three years in duration and the funding minimum for a single award is $25,000 and the funding maximum for a single award is $150,000.… Continue reading

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Pollinators and honey bees

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

A good deal of attention has been given to honey bees and other pollinators the last several years. Honey bees first began to draw notice back in 2006 when concerns over Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) first emerged. CCD is defined by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service as a dead colony with no adult bees and with no dead bee bodies, but with a live queen, honey and immature bees. More recently, attention has been given to habitat for other pollinators as well. The USDA has looked at existing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts in a Mid-Contract Management (MCM) process to address growing pollinator habitat concerns. Along with reducing soil erosion and improving water quality, CRP aims to ensure plant diversity and wildlife benefits as well. Several producers with CRP contracts for grass filter strips received letters from the FSA offices notifying them of recent revisions to the MCM process that require all CRP contracts undertake a MCM activity.… Continue reading

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Challenging conditions remain into April

By Jim Noel, NOAA

Temperatures and rainfall

Temperatures will start the first 7 days of April 1-3 degrees F above normal. Rainfall will start April below normal — about half of normal. That is some good news as the end of March (as forecast) was very wet. However, most indications are for after the first week of April, temperatures will be near normal and rainfall slightly above normal. This will put pressure on early spring planting in April. Evaporation and evapotransporation will be held in check by closer to normal temperatures as we go through April. The May outlook calls for warmer than normal and a little wetter than normal but not as wet as last year.

Soil moisture and temperatures

Soil temperatures have come out of winter above normal due to heavy saturation and the mild winter. However, soil moisture remains in the top 1% to 10% wettest on record, so it is wet.… Continue reading

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Navigating and understanding the CARES Act for small businesses

On March 27, President Donald J. Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) into law with provisions to provide financially distressed consumers and small businesses greater access to bankruptcy relief. The legislative package, which quickly passed the House of Representatives, provides a $2 trillion economic stimulus for U.S. industries and citizens faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It is the largest modern stimulus package in the country.

The COVID-19 impact on agriculture includes a rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closure of ethanol plants, the dramatic decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand, and the reduction in direct-to-consumer sales. The agreement includes a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation and $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators.

“Of course there are provisions in there that affect everyone as taxpayers and specifics in there that affect agriculture.… Continue reading

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Ohio FFA Convention cancelled, other events postponed

The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio FFA have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Ohio FFA Convention according to an email from Matt Winkle, Ohio FFA Advisor.

On March 9, 2020 Governor DeWine issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Ohio due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak; and on March 30, 2020 ordered Ohio’s school-building closure until May 1st. The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate in the U.S. and Ohio, raising numerous issues and questions. The Governor has made it clear to limit large gatherings regardless of their sponsorship or purpose.

The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio FFA remains committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of its members. Therefore, it has been determined that the 2020 Ohio FFA State Convention is cancelled. In addition, all in-person events and competitions scheduled through May 1st have been postponed until further notice.

“The decision to cancel and postpone events was not made lightly,” said Winkle.… Continue reading

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NRCS services available by telephone appointment only

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field offices in Ohio are open by telephone appointment only until further notice. NRCS staff are available to continue to provide one-on-one, customer-specific advice to producers to help them meet their unique conservation and business goals.

All USDA Service Centers, including those with NRCS field offices, are not currently accessible to customers in person. NRCS staff are working with customers through telephone, mail and online communications, and field work continues with appropriate social distancing to help producers with conservation planning and financial assistance through Farm Bill programs.

“Our team is here to work with you and we are looking at every possible option and flexibility to support the conservation needs of Ohio farmers,” said Jon Bourdon, acting NRCS State Conservationist. “We want to continue our customer assistance while also taking precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

NRCS offers year-round continuous signup for its Farm Bill programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.… Continue reading

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Free online listings available to all sustainable farm and food businesses during COVID-19

Recognizing that farmers are trying to reach consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is taking steps to get the word out and is making its online searchable database available to all sustainable and organic farmers to list their products for sale.

The Good Earth Guide gives consumers an online tool to search for farms and food businesses by product, name, county (Ohio only), and additional options such as community supported agriculture (CSA) and certified organic. Consumers can find out what farms and businesses in Ohio and beyond offer and how to contact them.

“We know farmers, farmers’ markets, and farm-related businesses are scrambling to market their products online, and the Good Earth Guide can help people find them,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA program director.

Users can find many food and farm related products including fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, beef, pork, milk, cheese, flour, maple syrup, mushrooms, honey, jams/jellies, breads, sauces, teas, and more.… Continue reading

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