Country Life

The Sequester Monster

The impending deadline for “sequestration” has taken on the character of a looming cataclysmic event or awakening of a sleeping monster in a horror movie – a monster with an axe aimed at all government spending.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called sequester one of the “man-made” risks facing agriculture right now. “You all know that March 1 will come, and if it comes before Congress has acted that the sequester will be triggered, and what that will mean for USDA is every line item, virtually every line item, of our budget will have to be reduced by a certain percentage, and that percentage could be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 percent,” Vilsack said during the opening of USDA’s annual Ag Outlook Conference this week. “And that’s an annual percentage, which means we have to implement this reduction in the remaining portion of the fiscal year, which will be approximately 6 months.… Continue reading

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Agricultural market trends in 2013

By Larry Davis,
VP / Team Leader
 Rabobank AgriFinance


I would like to share with you some insights gathered from a recent update from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) team. During this call, valuable information was presented regarding the current conditions and trends in the major U.S. agricultural markets as well as what to look for as 2013 proceeds. Here are some highlights.



While our outlook remains fundamentally bullish with U.S. old crop corn use likely to prove greater than many expect, bearishness over the new crop will remain through the coming months due to lack of data.



Alhough less wheat production is expected from the US during the 2013/14 season, increased global production is expected to more than offset shortfall. Greater production abroad will likely ease prices by the end of the year.


High current stocks of sugar in the US and Mexico market, along with a record Center/South sugarcane crop in Brazil will likely prove bearish during the first half of 2013.… Continue reading

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Expanding fleet of clean diesel vehicles

Having just achieved its largest production year yet with over 1.1 billion gallons of biodiesel produced in 2012, the U.S. biodiesel industry is celebrating 20 years of momentum and growth during the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. At the same time, a bumper crop of new 2013 clean diesel vehicles are beginning to arrive in dealership showrooms nationwide, offering U.S. consumers more options than ever before in their quest to drive cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles capable of running on domestic, renewable biodiesel blends.

“We’re still using biodiesel as a factory fill. Our products run very well on B20,” said Don Borgman, manager of market planning John Deere. “The quality that we are seeing out of the biodiesel industry is very consistent now. In year’s past that was an issue, but the industry took that issue by the horns. Now, frankly, we just haven’t seen those quality problem in the last two or three years.”… Continue reading

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Operating effectively in today’s business climate

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Ben Franklin once said, “Your net worth to the world is merely determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” Those are great words to live by in today’s Agricultural business environment according to Bob Campbell, Senior Vice President of Farm Credit Services of America.

Many things have changed for producers in the last several years from a business-operating standpoint. From the sheer amount of volatility that they face on a daily basis, to the amazing amount of capital that it takes to run their operation, farming certainly requires much more skill and a little bit more luck than it used to.

“The windows that producers have to make a difference to their bottom line are very narrow,” Campbell said. “That is one of the biggest differences in agriculture from only five years ago.”

Campbell said that lenders have been able to adjust very quickly to these changing conditions.… Continue reading

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USDA announces additional steps to reduce misuse in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced tough new measures as a part of USDA’s ongoing effort to ensure integrity in the nation’s nutrition safety net, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Where there is a will to commit malfeasance, bad actors will try to find a way, and we must do everything we can to stay ahead of the curve,” Concannon said. “Today’s announcement reaffirms USDA’s ongoing commitment to cracking down on abuse and protecting taxpayers’ investment in this critical nutrition lifeline.”

The announcement codifies an expanded legal definition of “trafficking” that incorporates not only the direct exchange of SNAP benefits for cash but other indirect methods of obtaining cash for SNAP benefits. The expanded definition now includes so-called “water dumping,” or the purchase of beverages in containers with returnable deposits for the sole purpose of discarding the contents and returning the containers to obtain cash refund deposits; and the sale or purchase of products originally purchased with SNAP benefits for purposes of exchanging those products for cash or other items.… Continue reading

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Gordyville Draft Horse Sale draws Ohioans

By Kim Lemmon

The Mid-America Draft Horse Sale held at Gordyville U.S.A. Auction Center in Gifford, Ill., is the place to be if you own and show draft horses in America. This sale, commonly referred to as Gordyville by most draft horse folks, is the premier halter and hitch draft horse sale in the nation.

In February of each year, draft horse enthusiasts from throughout the United States travel hundreds of miles, often with their trailers in tow, to make sure they don’t miss this yearly sale that includes some of the best draft horses the industry has to offer. This year’s sale was held Feb. 19 -22, 2013. Ohioans, of both the equine and human variety, weren’t in short supply.

Of the 432 sale horses listed in the 2013 sale catalog, approximately 80 horses representing just more than 50 consignors all made the trip from Ohio to participate in the sale.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair seeking talented young musicians

The Ohio State Fair is looking for talented young musicians for membership in the prestigious All-Ohio State Fair Band and the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, traditions that date back to 1925 and 1963, respectively.

Dedicated high school musicians in grades 9 through 12 are encouraged to apply for membership, which is granted based on a number of factors including student ability and recommendation from choral or band directors. Participating students gain a unique musical and educational experience, as well as an opportunity to build many lasting friendships during a two-week stay at the Ohio State Fair. Being a member of the Band or Choir offers a valuable challenge to learn and perform music of varied genres, as well as an opportunity to work with a staff of talented and motivational music educators from across Ohio.

Interested high school students may obtain an application from their local school band or choir directors, or download them from ohiostatefair.comContinue reading

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Hay Stretcher/replacement programs for horse owners

By Karen E. Davison, Ph.D., equine nutritionist and sales support manager, Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC

When drought conditions occur, horse owners may be faced with the situation of having no hay available, having hay available at very high prices or very poor quality roughage to feed as hay. None of these situations are good, but there is another option. Complete feeds with roughage built in the formula can be used to stretch how long hay will last or completely replace the hay if needed. Purina offers a full line of complete feeds to meet a variety of needs. These complete feeds include Horse Chow 100, Horse Chow 200, Omolene 400 and the Equine Family products of Equine Junior, Equine Adult and Equine Senior. Horseman’s Edge Hay Stretcher and Horseman’s Edge Senior feeds are also complete feeds.

These products have quality fibers in the proper amounts and types to effectively meet the horse’s forage requirements.… Continue reading

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Strong farmland values expected in 2013

We asked Douglas E. Walton, Broker, CAI Auctioneer with United Country Walton Realty and Auction Co., LLC in Upper Sandusky; Nick Cummings, with Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company, Inc. in Columbia City, Indiana; and Mike Weasel, with Wilson National, LLC in Hillsboro about the outlook on farmland values in 2013. Here are their responses.


OCJ: There was a quite a bit of excitement with the flurry in farm sales late last year. Can we expect to see land sales dropping off since then, or is there still strong activity for the foreseeable future?

Douglas: There is strong activity in the land market yet, however, the supply is low, as far as land for sale, compared to the past 6 to 12 months.

Nick: As we have turned the corner to 2013, demand for cropland continues to be strong. The number of farms available has declined, likely due in part to the acceleration of activities at the end of 2012 as a result of expected changes in the tax laws.… Continue reading

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OEFFA announces 2013 Stewardship and Service Award recipients

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2013 recipients for the Stewardship Award and Service Award. Mardy Townsend of Marshy Meadow Farm in Ashtabula County received the Stewardship Award and Rev. Charles Frye of Ashland County received the Service Award.

The announcements were made on Saturday, February 16 as part of OEFFA’s 34th annual conference, Growing Opportunities, Cultivating Change. The Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the cultivation of sustainable agriculture and the Service Award recognizes outstanding service in support of sustainable agriculture.

Mardy Townsend raises grass-fed beef cattle at Marshy Meadows Farm in Ashtabula County, near Windsor, Ohio. Portions of the 226 acre farm has been in the Townsend family since 1972 but it wasn’t until 1993 that she transitioned to grass farming to better suit the farm’s wet, erodible land conditions and the area’s long, cold winters. Marshy Meadow Farm’s land has been certified organic through OEFFA since 1996 and the beef herd is in transition to organic.… Continue reading

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National FFA Week

National FFA Week began Saturday throughout the U.S. and includes activities and events at the national, state and local level in all 50 U.S. states throughout this week.

Each year, National FFA Week gives the nearly 560,000 FFA members throughout the country, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands a chance to raise public awareness about FFA and agricultural education and share the importance of American agriculture in general.

According to responses to the National FFA Organization via social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, local FFA chapters plan to visit elementary and middle schools to talk to students about the importance of agriculture, stage local farmers’ markets and labor auctions, host teacher appreciation breakfasts, conduct Olympic-style competitions based on agricultural activities, perform community service projects and connect with state and local government leaders.

Historically, the week of President George Washington’s birthday was designated as National FFA Week in 1947 at a National FFA board of directors meeting.… Continue reading

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Hauling hazardous materials on the farm

By Matt Reese

Hazardous materials and farm truck hauling may not seem to go together, but they do more often than many farmers may think.

“Regardless of what size of operation you have, how you apply your ag products and ag chemicals is being watched. There are a lot of regulations out there involving the transportation of some of these products,” said Bill Lehmkuhl, a crop consultant from Shelby County. “Commercial carriers have a lot of regulations and we don’t have to deal with some of those rules in agriculture. However, many of the products, including fertilizers, pesticides as well as gasoline and diesel fuel, that we may be hauling to the fields, are actually considered hazardous materials.”

The specifics of the rules can be confusing, though.

“We can be treated differently as long as we stay close to home and there is a lot of confusion about this,” he said.… Continue reading

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USDA announces 45th general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced at the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), beginning May 20 and ending on June 14. CRP has a 27-year legacy of protecting the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States. Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, USDA has enrolled 11.7 million acres in various CRP efforts.

“Since the 1980s, the CRP program has established itself as a benchmark in voluntary conservation efforts, providing American producers with assets to address our most critical resource issues,” said Vilsack. “Last year, during one of the worst droughts in generations, the CRP proved vital in protecting our most environmentally sensitive lands from erosion. Emergency haying and grazing on CRP lands also supplied critical feed and forage for livestock producers due to the drought.… Continue reading

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2013 National Farm Machinery Show photos

A huge crowd gathered at an even larger venue at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville to see equipment that was just a little bigger (and a little more expensive) than last year. The latest in innovation, ingenuity and iron was all in the spotlight at the 2013 show. Here are some photo highlights from the massive event.… Continue reading

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AFBF sets record for feeding the needy

The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau raised a record $971,235 and donated a record of more than 24 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program in partnership with Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations also reached a record level of the equivalent of more than 28 million meals.

Now in its 10th year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but Farm Bureau members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. In all, a record 21 state Farm Bureaus heeded the call to action. The joint effort between Farm Bureau and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, is a national community action program through which farmers and ranchers can help ensure every American enjoys the bounty they produce.

In addition to raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranchers tallied 11,333 volunteer friend hours assisting local hunger groups in 2012.… Continue reading

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OABA conference drew strong crowd

More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association members, agribusiness professionals and industry stakeholders came together for the 2013 OABA Crop Production and Seed Technology Conference last week in Columbus, OH.

Jan. 30 featured the OABA Industry Dinner and Annual Meeting, with keynote speaker Dr. Bruce McPheron – the new Vice President of Agricultural Administration and dean of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. New and re-elected OABA Board of Directors were also announced (click here to read more) during the OABA Annual Meeting portion of the dinner.

The Crop Production and Seed Technology Conference was the first OABA event of its kind, and combined two OABA events with invaluable networking opportunities for agronomy and other agribusiness professionals. Participants who attended the three-day conference were eligible for 19 Certified Crop Adviser continuing education credits and five ODA Pesticide Applicator Certification credits.


Click here to see photographs from the event, or contact Angela Davis-Haines (614-326-7520, ext.… Continue reading

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Conference to help small-farm owners make the most of their operations

An Ohio State University Extension conference March 23 in Zanesville will help current and future small-farm owners make the most of their operations.

The “Living Your Small Farm Dream” conference and trade show are designed to help participants diversify their operations and reach new markets to improve farm economic growth and development, said Mark Mechling, an Ohio State University Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources.

“It might be a person who is new to agriculture, or someone who might have acreage that they aren’t using to the fullest, or even someone who has newly acquired land and might not know what to do with it,” he said. “What we try to do with this conference is to give participants a smorgasbord of ideas that may interest them by offering a wide variety of sessions in which they can learn more in-depth about an issue, gain resources and learn how to finance a new venture.”… Continue reading

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The square dance of Francis McFarkle

His wife had long passed. Their four children had grown,

He lived in town now, still on his own.

His mind was still sharp, but frail he’d become,

Mostly tied to his walker, and stayed at home.

Yet a life of farm memories made his eyes sparkle,

And full of life still was Francis McFarkle.


It was one month ‘til Francis would turn 95,

And to celebrate all those years of his life,

He wanted a square dance like those of his youth,

When his body was strong and he looked good in a suit,

He wanted a hog smoked over charcoal.

This was the dream of Francis McFarkle.


For he wanted his great grandchildren to see,

Just exactly how good the old ways can be,

When to relax was the exception and hard work the norm,

When the old farmers knew how to weather a storm,

but there was still fun to be had, when they got a chance —

So a lifetime of toil was symbolized with a dance.… Continue reading

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Budget debated in Ag Day @ the Capitol

By Matt Reese

The Ohio state budget was the hot topic of discussion today at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) 2013 Ag Day @ the Capitol in Columbus. Two years ago, the state’s budget discussion was very different than today. Going into the last budget, Ohio faced an $8 billion budget shortfall. Now, even with a cut in taxes (including the elimination of Ohio’s estate tax), Ohio enjoys a $1.4 billion budget surplus in the Ohio “rainy day” fund and the state is the top in the Midwest for job creation.

Despite the success, there are budgetary challenges ahead and concerns from many Ohio constituents, including the OFBF, as the next budget moves forward. Governor John Kasich has released a more than 4,000-page two-year biennium budget proposal that will be debated in the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

“In the last week or so you have seen a roll out of our state budget.… Continue reading

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