Country Life

Table to Farm: Is it safe to eat food with hormones?

There have been a number of recent questions about hormones in meat and milk. Here are some answers, with some help from the CommonGround program, a great resource for many questions about food.

First, federal regulations allow hormones to be used on cattle and sheep, but not on poultry or hogs, so there are no added hormones in chicken or pork. Sheep producers generally do not use hormones, so hormone use is mostly limited to beef and dairy production. The oft-discussed increased size of chicken breasts is due to a combination of advancements in genetics, feed and improved production practices — not hormones. It should be noted, though, that no meat or dairy products are hormone free, as all animals have naturally occurring hormones in their systems. Growth hormones are sometimes used in meat and dairy production to safely increase milk output per cow and produce leaner meat products more efficiently.… Continue reading

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Russia joins WTO without permanent normal trade relations

Russia officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), ending its accession negotiations that date back to 1993. Despite this achievement, the United States has yet to grant the country permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status, a designation that WTO membership mandates.

Russia’s WTO accession will give the U.S. and other WTO members improved market access to the world’s ninth largest economy and mechanisms to enforce the country’s commitments to domestic supports, export subsidies and state trading enterprise disciplines. As part of their accession “package,” Russia agreed to limit the amount of market-distorting domestic support and to eliminate export subsidies. Limiting trade-distorting subsidies ensures that production and prices are determined by market forces instead of administrative caveat. These commitments, on a major wheat exporter, will benefit world wheat buyers and producers.

Before Russia joined the WTO, there were limited tools to challenge any trade distorting policies. Now, however, if Russia does not play by the rules, other WTO member countries may bring a dispute case.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awards more than $290,000 in Conservation Innovation Grants

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ohio State Conservationist Terry J. Cosby announced more than $290,000 in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding to four Ohio entities for innovative on-the-ground conservation technologies and approaches with the goal of wide-scale adoption.

“These conservation grants allow some of the best minds in Ohio to develop unique and innovative solutions that will help make conservation more efficient in the future for the State’s farmers and landowners,” Cosby said.

Recipients of these Federal funding grants match an average of 50% of the project’s total costs. Ohio’s four State CIG recipients are:

  • Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District in the amount of $75,000 to demonstrate the effectiveness and feasibility of managing crops and improving the environment through phosphorus management.
  • Brandt’s Farm in the amount of $74,414. This project’s objectives are to address soil health priority needs in an effort to demonstrate and quantify the impact of cover crops, crop rotations, and tillage.
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Lessons in cow camp etiquette

By Kirby Hidy

When I went to work as Director of Marketing for the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), one of my first projects was the annual “Sponsor’s Round-Up.” The “Round-Up” gave the various sponsors of the NCHA a chance to “cowboy” with a two-day cattle round-up, some pasture cutting (cutting out cattle in a pasture as opposed to an indoor arena) and, of course, experiencing cow camp in the wilds of West Texas.

Some of the sponsors were from the city and had little or no experience on a horse, let alone working cattle. The NCHA made sure there were plenty of experienced hands available to help make sure everyone stayed safe and out of trouble. Local ranchers furnished horses and tack and tee-pees were brought in to give everyone a real “cowboyesque” place to sleep. There was also an authentic chuck wagon complete with a genuine cow camp cook to prepare meals.… Continue reading

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USDA is now surveying producers for final small grains estimates and hog inventory

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is asking approximately 73,000 producers across the country to respond to some of the most important surveys involving wheat, barley, oats, rye and hogs. From Aug. 30 to Sept. 17, NASS is gathering final information about the 2012 U.S. small grains crops focusing on harvested acreage, crops produced and stored. There will also be a hog survey of current inventories.

“With NASS’s most recent crop production report forecasting corn and soybean production at the lowest levels in years and wheat production up, it is as important as ever that farmers, livestock producers, grain dealers, policy makers and others who use the statistics receive the best estimate possible of small grains harvest and off-farm stocks for year-end business decisions,” said Bob Bass, director of NASS’s data collection and processing center. “The data, which is equally available to all parties, is a direct result of accurate and complete responses to the surveys.”… Continue reading

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Extreme weather conditions and reduced production may affect hay quality, availability and price

By Karen E. Davison, Ph.D., Equine Nutrition Specialist, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed

Harsh weather conditions have affected hay production in many regions of the country. Pressure from high grain prices and government support of biofuel production is also causing some hay farmers to shift acreage from hay production to other crops. Short supply and high demand could lead to record hay prices in 2012. Horse-quality hay will likely be hard to find and/or very expensive.

In some regions, pastures are burned up, dry and non-existent. These pastures are a place to stay, but will not support grazing. Horses must consume a minimum of one pound per 100 pounds of body weight of hay or the equivalent in pasture to meet their fiber needs (10 pounds of hay for a 1,000 pound horse). Variations in quality or type of hay fed are significant risk factors for digestive upset in the horse.

When hay or pasture is poor quality or in short supply, there are hay replacement options available to help stretch how long the hay will last or even totally replace hay when needed.… Continue reading

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USDA awards $1 million grant to update Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index

The Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff and the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) celebrated the announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that The Ohio State University (OSU) has been awarded a $999,987 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to evaluate and refine the Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index using field-scale monitoring. A total of $26 million CIG grants were awarded this year to entities across the U.S.

“This announcement is very exciting and an important step forward in finding answers to some challenges we have with regards to water quality,” said John Motter, OSC chairman and Hancock County soybean farmer. “Ohio soybean farmers want to be a part of the solution and this type of research is the key to making real progress.”

OSC began work with OSU on this project in 2011 and has since committed $450,000 to the research.

Other funding partners include the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program, The Andersons, United Soybean Board, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Nachurs, Trupointe Cooperative, Luckey Farmers Cooperative, Schlessman Seed and Paulding County Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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H3N2v up to 98 confirmed cases

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced additional confirmed cases of Influenza A H3N2v, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 98.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that the virus does not spread easily from person-to-person but limited human-to-human infection has occurred.

County of Residence

Number of Confirmed H3N2v Cases


 Those with confirmed cases of H3N2v are between the ages of 6 months and 51 years old. To date, several of the confirmed cases in Ohio were hospitalized, but they have since been treated and released.

At this time, surveillance indicates that the individuals most likely became ill with the flu virus after exposure to swine. … Continue reading

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Poverty in America measured on a relative scale

By Tim Reeves, The Country Chaplain

When I was ordained into the United Methodist Church, during the ordination ceremony, we carried a large three- by five- foot banner to the altar area. Each banner featured a Scripture passage and an image, which reflected our personal journey of life and ministry. These banners are made by the local church we serve at during the time of our ordination.

My banner (which still hangs in my church office) features the Matthew 25: 40 passage, which reads: “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’” It’s from the Jesus parable about people who neglect to care for their needy brothers and sisters by not serving the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and not visiting the prisoner and the sick.… Continue reading

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NRCS announcing grants to help farmers, ranchers adapt to drought

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the availability of up to $5 million in grants to evaluate and demonstrate agricultural practices that help farmers and ranchers adapt to drought. NRCS is taking applications for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to help producers build resiliency into their production systems so they can adapt to climatic extremes, such as the historic drought impacting the nation.

NRCS is offering the grants to partnering entities to evaluate innovative, field-based conservation technologies and approaches. These technologies and/or approaches should lead to improvements such as enhancing the water-holding capacity in soils and installing drought-tolerant grazing systems, which will help farms and ranches become more resilient to drought.

“Severe drought conditions across the U.S. have greatly impacted the livelihood of our farmers and ranchers,” said NRCS Chief Dave White. “Conservation Innovation Grants allow us to generate and deploy as soon as possible cutting-edge ideas that help farmers and ranchers run sustainable and profitable operations.”… Continue reading

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USDA grants to boost renewable energy

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 106 projects in 29 states, Guam and Puerto Rico have been selected for funding to produce renewable energy and make energy efficiency improvements. Funding is made available through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

“The Obama Administration is helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners across the country reduce their energy costs and consumption,” Vilsack said. “This is part of the President’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, which involves expanding support for traditional as well as alternative energy sources. Stable energy costs create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America.”

For example, in Washington County, Iowa, Andrew McCall is receiving a guaranteed loan to construct a 50 kilowatt (kW) wind turbine at his agricultural business. The turbine is expected to generate approximately 103,200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually, enough to meet the annual requirements of nine homes.… Continue reading

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July the hottest month on record

With an average temperature of 77.6 degrees F in the contiguous U.S., the month of July surpassed the 20th century average by 3.3 degrees F. The previous warmest July was in 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4 degrees F.

The hottest locations in July were mostly stretched across the Midwest and central Plains, areas largely plagued by intense drought.

“Droughts tend to feed and sustain heat waves,” Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

July’s warmth may have been intensified by dry conditions, which has caused a devastating corn crop loss and the potential for a significant soybean loss.

“A lack of water in the ground has allowed the sun to heat the surface much more efficiently than it normally would, due to less water being evaporated,” Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. “Evaporation is a cooling process. In July, all the sun’s energy went into heating instead of evaporation and that likely added to the extremes a bit,” Anderson said.… Continue reading

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Ohio State to hold first-ever training course on anaerobic digestion

Ohio State University will hold a first-of-its-kind training course on anaerobic digestion, a waste-management process that livestock farms and wastewater plants are increasingly using to produce biogas, a type of renewable fuel.

The course takes place Sept. 6-7 at the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster in northern Ohio.

“The (anaerobic digestion) industry is growing in Ohio, but there are no educational programs that provide an understanding of the scientific principles underlying the AD process or the daily management of an AD system,” said Yebo Li, the organizer of the course and an OARDC biosystems engineer.

“If the industry is to continue to grow successfully, training must be available for the workforce, including AD operators, regulatory personnel who will oversee permitting and operations, and investors who will provide funding.”

Li said the course is designed for people who already work in the anaerobic digestion industry; those who want to find out if anaerobic digestion is right for their operation, whether a farm, a wastewater plant or otherwise; and those who advise others on waste-management technologies.… Continue reading

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Perry County FSA to close Oct. 1

Steve Maurer, State Executive Director for the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that as of Oct. 1, 2012, the Perry County FSA offices will be officially closed.  A separate announcement will be made public for the other FSA offices that were approved for closure, once a date is determined.  From this date forward, all FSA program services will be provided by the Fairfield county FSA office unless a producer has elected to transfer his/her records to another county.

On May 29, 2012, the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) received approval from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to proceed with the implementation of county office consolidation plan, including the five county offices in Ohio.

“Over the past three years, FSA has faced a variety of budget-related challenges,” said Juan Garcia, Administrator of the Farm Service Agency.  “Through a targeted office consolidation effort that includes 125 offices nationwide, FSA is striving to balance significant budget cuts, staff reductions and increasing workloads while focusing the efforts of our staff on high-quality service. … Continue reading

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Ohio is the first state granted approval for interstate shipment agreement

Following an announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ohio Agriculture Director David T. Daniels applauds a long-awaited cooperative agreement that will allow certain Ohio small businesses to sell their products in other states. Ohio is the first state to be granted a cooperative agreement under new USDA rules that were finalized in 2011.

“Before this agreement was finalized, small and specialty meat processors in Ohio who are inspected daily by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) were prohibited from selling their products over state lines. You had to be inspected by the federal government to do that despite the fact that our state inspection program has been rated as “at least equal to” the federal program since 1969. It just didn’t make sense,” Daniels said.

Under the new agreement, announced by USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, small, state-inspected businesses with 25 or fewer employees will now be permitted to sell their products across state lines. … Continue reading

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Farmland preservation highlighted at Center for Innovative Food Technology event

Much of northwest Ohio was once covered by the Great Black Swamp – an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. It took more than 10,000 years for the swamp to develop, but only 50 years for humans to drain the swamp and plant crops. After ditches were built and the murky water was drained, the swamp left behind rich farming ground. Unfortunately this area of Ohio is loosing this very abundant farmland to subdivisions, strip malls and the like – all detrimental to agriculture’s role as the largest component of Ohio’s economy.

Rob Krain, conservation director, Black Swamp Conservancy, will explain ways to slow down the loss of farmland at the monthly Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum, Thursday, Aug. 16 from 7:30 – 9 a.m. The program begins at 8 a.m. with informal networking prior, hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation, north of Bowling Green, Ohio.… Continue reading

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How will the drought affect the prices of fruits and vegetables?

Corn and soybean supplies and prices are usually the crops most affected by drought because they are the least irrigated. As discussed two weeks ago, the price increases from these commodities will likely increase food prices some, but probably not significantly. The livestock sector will be hit hardest by this and there could be increases in prices due to a reduction in supply as farms cull herds because of high feed costs. These potential increases are yet to be determined and will not be realized for a while.

Typically, fruit and vegetable crops are not as affected by droughts because, in most cases, these crops are irrigated. An exception, though, could be Indiana this year, that is experiencing some of the most severe drought conditions in the country. In general, though, the prices of fruits and vegetables will probably not be affected much unless there is a significant reduction in supply.… Continue reading

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Farm expenditures hit record high

Farm production expenditures reached a record-high $318.7 billion in 2011, a 10.2% increase over 2010, according to the Farm Production Expenditures 2011 summary released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Average production expenditures per farm were $146,653 in 2011, an increase of 11.3% over the previous year. The largest expenditure category was feed, on which farmers spent an average of $25,129 in 2011, followed by farm services ($17,075); livestock, poultry and related expenses ($13,163) and farm labor ($12,334). Together, these four categories accounted for nearly half of all production expenditures on U.S. farms in 2011.

Nearly a third of all 2011 farm production expenditures occurred in the Midwest region, where farmers reported spending a total of $98.7 billion. Expenditures in the other regions were as follows:  $73.8 billion in the Plains region, $69.8 billion in the West region, $39.1 billion in the Atlantic region, and $38.2 billion in the South region.… Continue reading

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Sign-up continues for improvement efforts in Lake Erie

More than $24 million is available to agricultural producers and landowners to improve and protect the waters and resources in the Great Lakes Basin. Terry J. Cosby, Ohio State Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), announced a second sign-up period for agricultural producers to install specific conservation practices through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

Agricultural producers located in select watersheds within the Maumee River (Upper Blanchard) watershed, which includes portions of Hancock, Hardin, Putnam, Seneca, Allen, and Wyandot Counties, have until August 17, 2012, to submit an application to be considered for priority ranking.

“The GLRI is a multi-agency partnership working together to improve and protect the waters of the Great Lakes Basin,” Cosby said. “By extending the sign-up deadline, we are providing agricultural producers in the Maumee River watershed with an opportunity to still utilize these funds as they work to improve their natural resources.… Continue reading

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