Country Life

Springtime means travel time

By Michael Sweeney, Vice President of Bickle Farm Solutions

One of the most necessary evils we have in the agricultural world is moving our equipment on the road. It is hazardous almost every time we put tires on pavement. But it must be done. Jenny Cox, our business development representative, spoke with Shannon Utter, a Sergeant with the Ohio State Highway Patrol to come up with some things to check and a few clarifications that we all might need reminded of before this big spring push.

Michael Sweeney

When asked about escorting farm equipment, Sergeant Utter said that “Ohio does not require an escort for farm equipment on the road, however putting someone up front if available certainly helps warn oncoming traffic.” 

It is not always easy coming up with an extra person to run a pickup out in front, but I think most reading this article have probably had a close call or two that could have been avoided if someone was ahead warning oncoming traffic.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks members for Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agricultural and Innovative Production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking nominations for four positions on the Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Nominations will be open to public from May 15, 2023, to July 15, 2023. The 12-member Committee, which first convened in March 2022, is part of USDA’s efforts to increase support for urban agriculture and innovative production. Members of the Committee provide input on policy development and help identify barriers to urban agriculture as USDA works to promote urban farming and the economic opportunities it provides in cities across the country. 

“The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Committee is an important opportunity for urban and innovative producers to have their voices heard and give direct feedback to USDA,” said Terry Cosby, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which oversees USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. “These new members will provide valuable input on how we can better serve urban agricultural producers with a focus on equity, local food systems, access to safe and nutritious food and new ways to address climate change.” … Continue reading

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Farm Bureau service delivery pilot project launched

Continuing its “value first” approach, Ohio Farm Bureau has developed a new pilot project in 12 northwest Ohio county Farm Bureaus to test an alternative field staff structure. 

This project follows the 2022 launch of an initial pilot that is testing a new service delivery model in cooperation with eight county Farm Bureaus in northwest Ohio, with a unique combination of staffing and a structure aimed to build membership with more specialized programs and services. 

According to Ohio Farm Bureau Vice President of Membership Paul Lyons, this new pilot project will have very similar goals as the first, but will use a slightly different method. Those goals include leading with the value of Farm Bureau when promoting the organization, creating new approaches to acquire and retain members while designing a more individualized experience for them, and testing a new staff delivery model to meet Ohio Farm Bureau’s overall goals.

“For this new pilot project, the county Farm Bureau structure will remain the same, as will the staff,” Lyons said.… Continue reading

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Stay ahead of the field! Sign up for Ohio Ag Net’s NEW free text alerts

We know you’re always on the go and staying informed in this hectic world is important to stay competitive. Now, that’s easier than ever before!

NEW from the Ohio Ag Net – get the latest farm news, weather, and market reports delivered directly to your phone. Keep on the move while our team of broadcasters works to bring you the information you need to stay ahead of the field!

By signing up at the form below, or at www.ocj.com/text, you’ll get the voice you know with the news you trust texted to you each weekday at 11 a.m. ET. Sign up is fast, simple, and free!

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Barn painting auction to benefit 10 Ohio historical societies

Hocking County Historical Society, Logan, Ohio, is holding an online auction of historic barn paintings to benefit 10 historical societies throughout Ohio, including those in the following counties: Shelby, Champaign, Fulton, Stark, Portage, Ashland, Summit, Wood, Ross, and Hocking. Each historical society currently displays 7 to 8 of the paintings. The paintings, oil impasto, are done on a Masonite panel and framed in rustic barn siding, made by the artist and author, Robert Kroeger. The barn paintings and their stories are featured in the recently released book, Round Barns of America, available in bookstores and through online retailers. The auction is on biddingowl.com and under the Hocking County Historical Society. It begins on May 1 and ends on May 31.

The 72 paintings feature 11 round barns in Ohio, including Stark County’s Timken barn and Lancaster’s round barn in the county fairgrounds as well as the oldest documented round barn, built by President George Washington in 1794.… Continue reading

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More ticks expected this season

Backyard lovers, campers, outdoors enthusiasts, and pet owners beware. If you thought last year’s tick season was bad, just wait. This year has the potential to be even worse.

Ticks—and the diseases they carry—are on the rise in Ohio and will likely continue to increase. There has been a steady increase in tick-vectored disease numbers in Ohio each year, and officials don’t expect to see a reverse of the trend, said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“While you can encounter a tick during any season, spring marks the beginning of heavy tick season, and this year, the tick population statewide is expected to continue to rise,” he said. 

McDermott said there are multiple factors contributing to the increase in tick-vectored disease, including global climate change, tick range expansion, and increasing numbers of wildlife living in close proximity to people. … Continue reading

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Biodiesel boat racing inspires future agriculturalists

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

At first glance, a group of students racing boats may appear to be more about play than learning about Ohio agriculture. First glances, though, can be misleading. 

Through curriculum from the Ohio Soybean Checkoff’s GrowNextGen program, students learn the science to make biodiesel from vegetable (soy) oil and use it to power boats for racing. Variations of the program are available for elementary and junior high, but Rachel Sanders, FFA advisor and science instructor at the Global Impact STEM Academy in Springfield, uses the boat racing with high school juniors.

“They’re actually looking at the chemical formulas and equations, figuring out the ratios of how much methanol and potassium hydroxide catalyst to use to make biodiesel, and hopefully race some boats,” Sanders said. “A couple of us teacher leaders, about 10 years ago, started looking at how could we incorporate this lesson into a chemistry classroom and some traditional science classrooms and show them how ag relates to any field in any area of science.” … Continue reading

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ODA announces farm pesticide collection dates

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will be sponsoring three collection events for farmers wishing to dispose of unwanted pesticides. This year, the collections are happening in Morgan, Putnam and Miami counties on the following days and locations:

• Aug. 9, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.: Morgan County, Morgan County Fairgrounds
2760 South Riverside Drive, McConnelsville, Ohio 43756

• Aug. 10, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.: Putnam County, Putnam County Fairgrounds, Gate 5
1206 East Second Street, Ottawa, Ohio 45856

• Aug. 22, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.: Miami County, Miami County Fairgrounds, North Gate
650 North County Road 25A, Troy, Ohio 45373

The pesticide collection and disposal services are free of charge, but only farm chemicals will be accepted. Paint, antifreeze, solvents and household or non-farm pesticides will not be accepted.

The pesticide collections are sponsored by ODA in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To pre-register, or for more information, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 614-728-6987.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Hall of Fame announces 2023 inductees

The Ohio Agricultural Council is set to honor four individuals who have dedicated their lives to working in and promoting Ohio’s farm community. On Friday, August 4, Kenneth D. Davis of Leesburg, Terry McClure of Grover Hill, Thomas Menke of Greenville, and Dr. Don Sanders of Urbana will be inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, an esteemed recognition of their contributions to the agricultural industry.

“It gives us great pleasure to acknowledge this outstanding group of Hall of Fame inductees,” said Chris Henney, president of the Ohio Agricultural Council and president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association. “Their commendable contributions to the agricultural industry, including advocacy, mentorship, leadership, and conservation efforts, have garnered recognition at the local, state, national and international levels.” 

In its 57th year, the annual event is typically attended by over 600 guests who gather to honor the inductees for their lifetime of service and dedication to Ohio’s agriculture community.… Continue reading

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New Organic Transition Initiative Funding available for Ohio producers

Ohio producers interested in transitioning to organic production are eligible for new funding opportunities tied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) multi-agency Organic Transition Initiative (OTI), which is investing $75 million in conservation assistance. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will dedicate financial and technical assistance to a new organic management standard and partner with new organic technical experts to increase staff capacity and expertise. Interested producers and private forest owners can apply for this opportunity between May 15 and June 15, 2023. 

The investment, which includes funds from the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), will help build new and better markets and income streams, strengthen local and regional food systems and increase affordable food supply for more Americans, while promoting climate-smart agriculture and ensuring equity for all producers. 

Direct Farmer Assistance

NRCS will dedicate $70 million to assist producers with a new organic management standard under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). … Continue reading

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USDA’s CLEAR30 offers longer term options for expiring conservation program contracts

Agricultural producers and landowners with certain expiring Conservation Reserve Program(CRP) contracts can receive additional rental incentives and extend that land’s role in conservation for another 30 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has opened the signup period for its Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers enrollment (CLEAR30) now through July 31, 2023. 

CLEAR30 is a part of the CLEAR initiative, which prioritizes water quality practices as a part of Continuous CRP enrollment, and is one of several CRP enrollment opportunities. CLEAR30 allows producers and landowners enrolling certain water quality practices to enroll in 30-year contracts, extending the lifespan and strengthening the benefits of important water quality practices on their land. Like other CRP enrollments, CLEAR30 is a voluntary, incentive-based conservation opportunity offered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). 

“The foundational value of CLEAR30 enrollment is right there in its name: Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers—there is nothing more essential to all things on the planet, including agriculture, than clean water,” said Zach Ducheneaux, FSA Administrator.… Continue reading

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Court lands on the side of preserving farmland in Bailey case

By Matt Reese

Promises only have value if they are kept. 

As Successor Trustee to his uncle Arno L. Renner, Don Bailey made a promise to protect the easement on the land donated to the State of Ohio to keep the family’s Union County farm in agriculture. Though it has not been easy, Bailey kept his promise. 

“In 2003, my uncle Arlo Renner saw the massive growth in the farmland disappearing around us so he voluntarily donated the ag easement to the state of Ohio under the farmland easement program,” Bailey said.

With the intent to protect his farm for perpetuity, Renner donated the development rights to his 231.25 acres of land valued at over $3.5 million on Nov. 5, 2003. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) accepted the donation. At the time, the ODA Office of Farmland Preservation entered into an agreement with the Union Soil and Water Conservation District to monitor the easement on the land.… Continue reading

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Registration open for popular Ohio camp

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry is looking for future foresters, biologists, and the conservation leaders for tomorrow, as registration opens for the popular Camp Canopy — one of my favorite opportunities for Ohio’s outdoors-minded middle- and high school students.   

“We are excited to provide forestry-centered programming to campers this year,” said Jeremy Scherf, Ohio Division of Forestry service forestry manager and camp co-director. “Camp Canopy facilitates learning around many natural resource-related topics while allowing campers to enjoy the beauty of 

Ohio’s forests. Additionally, campers can interact with working professionals and form long-lasting friendships with their peers.” 

Camp Canopy 2023 will explore forests and creeks with sessions focused on Ohio trees, insects, fungi, and amphibians. There will also be a session on how Ohio’s Native Americans used and managed our forests in the past, including how they made and hunted with atlatls.… Continue reading

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Read this before you lease land for a solar project

By Don “Doc” Sanders

In this column I cover important matters to consider if you or your farmer friends are approached about leasing acreage for a solar array project. In preparation for this column, I have spent time reading about solar energy and talking with experts who assist in developing solar panel projects. 

I offer this disclaimer: The conditions I discuss here don’t cover every situation. 

Each potential solar project has unique factors to consider, including the landscape and environment. I usually don’t advocate for solar farm projects, nor do I come right out and oppose them. But I do recommend that you conduct due diligence before you decide whether to commit any of your land to a solar project. 

Here’s the lowdown…

Solar panels generate electricity, on average, about a third of each day, depending on the weather, including the amount of sunshine, and the project’s engineering. Seventeen acres of solar panels generate about the same amount of electricity as one wind turbine.… Continue reading

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Truth in food labeling for plant based beverages

America’s families deserve to know what they’re buying when shopping in the dairy aisle. The American Farm Bureau Federation recently filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration calling on the agency to enforce food labeling standards for dairy substitute products and enforce existing prohibitions on the misleading labeling of nut- and other plant-based beverage products as “milk.” The FDA requested comments on its draft Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements: Guidance for Industry.

AFBF supports a consumer’s right to access dairy-free products, but one in four Americans, 83 million people, are confused or have been misled about whether dairy alternatives contain milk, according to a survey used by FDA. Non-dairy beverages are sold in the milk case alongside traditional milk, very often with labeling that implies they are dairy products. Nut- and plant-based beverages do not include several important nutrients that are found in cow’s milk, however.… Continue reading

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AgriPOWER program accepting applications

In 2023, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation will select individuals to participate in AgriPOWER, a leadership and advocacy development program, which will consist of seven multi-day institutes (17 total days). AgriPOWER is a program of Ohio Farm Bureau and designed for farmers and agribusiness professionals. It focuses on public issues that are relevant to the food industry such as consumer relations, regulations, energy and trade policies. In AgriPOWER, individuals develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders and advocates for agriculture by learning from experts in these fields.
Two of the institute sessions will be held out of state (one in Washington, D.C., and the other location will be decided at a later date) to help class members gain a valuable understanding of national and global issues.
Individuals may nominate themselves or have their nomination sponsored by their respective county Farm Bureau, other agricultural organization, or employer. All applicants must be Farm Bureau members. … Continue reading

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Ohio’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit now available

By Matt Reese

Of numerous challenges for the future of Ohio’s farms, one continues to be the barriers of entry for young farmers with extremely high startup costs, need for an extensive knowledge base and limited on-farm opportunities. 

“It’s been difficult for younger people to get into the industry, especially if they have not come from a farm,” said Evan Callicoat, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “We all know that farming is a very capital-intensive industry and that often comes with a very large price tag, so it can often be hard to get passed that barrier of entry.”

After years of debate in the legislature, Ohio now has a Beginning Farmer Tax Credit available to help address this challenge. In April of 2022, House Bill 95 was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine. The law establishes an income tax credit for beginning farmers who participate in a financial management program.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair scholarships available

In an effort to recognize the quality youth of Ohio, and to help those interested in furthering their education, the Ohio Expositions Commission has established a Scholarship Program for Ohio State Fair participants. The Ohio State Fair Scholarship Application deadline is May 1.

The purpose of these scholarships is to assist high school juniors and seniors and graduates who are continuing their education at an accredited institution in an under graduate course of study in any field.

Those interested can find the information and apply online at Scholarships (ohiostatefair.com).… Continue reading

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Brown introduces Local Farms and Food Act

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Ag Net

Based on feedback from Ohio farmers, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is pushing for legislation to make it easier to sell farm products locally, improving and updating existing farm bill programs. 

“Leading up to every farm bill we hold roundtables around the state to hear what Ohio farmers need and in ‘17 and ‘18 at every event I heard a similar message: Ohio’s farmers want to find new markets for their products. They have trouble connecting with Ohio families who always prefer buying fresh, locally grown food,” Brown said in a press conference. “So we fought to include the Local Farms Act in the 2018 farm bill to make it easier for farmers to feed their communities and for customers to buy local food and farm products. We’ve also created the Local Agriculture Market Program(LAMP) program which provides permanent funding to help farmers sell their products direct to consumers to create rural jobs and to invest in local and regional food economies.… Continue reading

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Camp Canopy schedule released for 2023

The Ohio Forestry Association Foundation has released its Camp Canopy schedule for June 11-16, 2023, at Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum. Registration is open to students who have completed eighth grade through graduating high school seniors.

“We are excited to teach our campers wildlife management tools like trapping and banding this year,” said Marne Titchenell, wildlife program director for OSU Extension and camp co-director. “Wildlife biologists have historically used these tools to study wildlife, and they are still critical for managing species and habitat.” 

Campers will also explore forestry and wildlife topics like Ohio tree identification, insects, silviculture, amphibians, and how the first native residents of Ohio hunted and managed forests. See the detailed schedule here.

Nearly $8,000 in scholarships were awarded to campers pursuing a degree in forestry, wildlife, or environmental science in 2022. Many campers have discovered their passion at Camp Canopy and pursued degrees and careers in these areas.… Continue reading

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