Country Life



ASA advocates for infrastructure improvements

As the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee moves to mark up the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 7) released by Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman underscored multiple high points within the bill’s initial language:

“ASA applauds Chairman Mica’s proposal, which included multiple soybean farmer priorities, including the renewal of an agricultural harvest time exemption from the hours-of-service rules that limit the number of hours truck drivers may operate, as well as the chairman’s proposed inclusion of provisions enabling states to allow increased truck weight limits if an additional axle is used. ASA is disappointed with efforts during the mark-up to block the provisions to allow increased truck weight limits.

“ASA is also particularly encouraged that the proposed bill includes stated support for the Realize America’s Maritime Promise Act, which will ensure sufficient funding for dredging of inland waterways and port maintenance activities.… Continue reading

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With Super Bowl party, food safety worth more than two points

As both the New England Patriots and New York Giants know, you win with defense. When it comes to planning a Super Bowl XLVI party, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants football fans to know how to play defense against potential foodborne illness.

“Great food, large groups of friends and cheering on your team are what make Super Bowl parties so much fun,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “We want to give hosts a few easy tactics to reduce the chances that their guests will develop foodborne illness amidst all the excitement at their Super Bowl parties.”

 

First Down: Clean

Clean hands and surfaces with soap and water to avoid a “false start” before preparing food. Unclean hands are one of the biggest culprits for spreading bacteria, and finger foods at parties are especially vulnerable. Chefs and guests should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.… Continue reading

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OFU adopts 2012 policy

In their recent 2012 public policy discussion, members of the Ohio Farmers Union (OFU) approved language on a number of pertinent topics for this year.

Included in the discussion was the support of a limited moratorium on the issuance of permits by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for new instances of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the state. The OFU supported moratorium differs from those supported by some Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly and by some Ohio environmental groups in that it is tied to a preliminary U.S. EPA report due on fracking later this year – rather than the final study results due in 2014.

U.S. EPA is currently studying what, if any, effects fracking has on ground and surface water, according to Ron Sylvester, OFU’s director of external relations. He said that OFU members from the eastern and northeastern areas of Ohio are being inundated with information, both pro and con, about the gas industry and the effects of fracking in places like Pennsylvania.… Continue reading

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Six Ohio agribusinesses receive USDA grants

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that USDA has selected 298 recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico to receive business development assistance through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. Merrigan made the announcement in Chicago after keynoting the “Local/Regional Food System Conference” hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Six Ohio agri-businesses were among the awardees, including Wood County’s Egg Tech Ltd., Pickaway County’s Van Strohm Fiber Processing Mill, Auburn Twin Oaks Winery in Chagrin Falls, The Ohio Soybean Council in Worthington, Mercer Landmark in Celina, and Loudonville’s Tea Hills Gourmet Meat Products.

“USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants acknowledge the entrepreneurial spirit of Ohio’s farming and small business communities,” said Tony Logan, USDA Ohio Rural Development state director. “This money provides working capital to support emerging markets in areas such as food production and safety, environmental impact and renewable energy. We at Rural Development are proud to play such a positive role in strengthening Ohio’s agronomy.”… Continue reading

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Ridgemont FFA holds virtual FFA meeting

By Hannah Thompson

The National Association of Colleges and Employers ranks computer skills among the top 10 desired traits for potential employees to possess, and in one Hardin County FFA chapter members are gaining these necessary skills by using technology to complete the work of their chapter and their agricultural education classwork.

“Our society is moving toward technology, and we’re going to need to know how to use it for our future jobs,” said Shawn Smith, Ridgemont FFA Chapter president.

Smith’s advisor agrees.

“Using technology allows students to look at things differently and innovatively,” said Stephanie Jolliff, agricultural education instructor and chapter advisor. “We really try to think outside of the box, and I think that is one of the things that parlays into business and industry, because when you’re trained to do it at a young age you continue to do it when you enter the field.”

Jolliff’s classroom boasts not only chapter photographs and banners, but also a row of computers and a stack of Apple iPad tablets.… Continue reading

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Workshops help growers make products ‘MarketReady’

Ohio food producers looking to sell through different marketing channels are invited to attend one of three MarketReady training programs. The day-long workshop teaches what is required to sell to grocers, restaurants and other wholesale buyers.

Programs will be held on Feb. 15 at the UFCW Hall in Cincinnati, Feb. 23 at the Center for Innovative Food Technology in Toledo, and Feb. 28 at the Mustard Seed Market and Cafà in Akron. Each program will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person and $25 for each additional person from the same business. Registration should be completed one week prior to the workshop. For details or to register, contact Julie Moose at 740-289-2071, ext. 223, or email moose.14@osu.edu.

The MarketReady program was initially developed by the University of Kentucky and was piloted in cooperation with OSU Extension and the Ohio Direct Marketing Team.

“MarketReady workshops and resources guide producers through the decisions needed for entering various direct marketing channels,” said Julie Fox, direct marketing specialist with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.… Continue reading

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Workshops help growers make products 'MarketReady'

Ohio food producers looking to sell through different marketing channels are invited to attend one of three MarketReady training programs. The day-long workshop teaches what is required to sell to grocers, restaurants and other wholesale buyers.

Programs will be held on Feb. 15 at the UFCW Hall in Cincinnati, Feb. 23 at the Center for Innovative Food Technology in Toledo, and Feb. 28 at the Mustard Seed Market and Cafà in Akron. Each program will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person and $25 for each additional person from the same business. Registration should be completed one week prior to the workshop. For details or to register, contact Julie Moose at 740-289-2071, ext. 223, or email moose.14@osu.edu.

The MarketReady program was initially developed by the University of Kentucky and was piloted in cooperation with OSU Extension and the Ohio Direct Marketing Team.

“MarketReady workshops and resources guide producers through the decisions needed for entering various direct marketing channels,” said Julie Fox, direct marketing specialist with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.… Continue reading

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USDA pilot program offers lower mortgage interest rates

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching a pilot program to help rural borrowers refinance their mortgages to reduce their monthly payments. This initiative is part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to help middle class families, create jobs, and strengthen the economy. The Single Family Housing Guaranteed Rural Refinance Pilot Program will operate in 19 states for homeowners who have loans that were made or guaranteed by USDA Rural Development. These states are among those hardest hit by the downturn in the housing market.

“Through initiatives like the one we are announcing today, the Obama Administration is taking aggressive steps to fight for middle class homeowners who have played by the rules and are trying to get ahead,” said Vilsack “This pilot program will help homeowners’ to take advantage of historically low interest rates, and by working closely with lenders, we are helping rural homeowners protect one of the most important investments they will ever make.”… Continue reading

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Child ag labor issue re-visited

The U.S. Department of Labor‘s Wage and Hour Division has announced that it will re-propose the portion of its regulation on child labor in agriculture interpreting the “parental exemption.” The decision to re-propose is in part a response to requests from the public and members of Congress that the agency allow an opportunity for more input on this aspect of the rule. Following the president’s historic executive order on regulation, issued in January 2011, this re-proposal reflects the department’s careful attention to public comments and its conclusion that it is appropriate to provide the public with further opportunities to participate in the regulatory process.

The parental exemption allows children of any age who are employed by their parent, or a person standing in the place of a parent, to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or such person standing in the place of a parent.… Continue reading

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CAUV’s savings don't eliminate shocking tax increases

By Matt Reese

Yikes! Farmers around the state have been learning of the increased in land values and the resulting increases in the taxes they owe on that land. But, before muttering too loudly about the sharp rise in their taxes on re-assessed land, farmers need consider the amount of money they are saving through Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV). It is CAUV enrollment that has allowed for only a “Yikes!” in the place of a “YIKES!!!!

Nonetheless, there have been plenty of questions about the shocking rise in taxes in recent years.

“We’ve been spending quite a bit of time talking to farmers about CAUV and the increases that people have been seeing,” said Chad Endsley, director of agricultural law for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “CAUV values are determined for each of about 3,500 different soil types in Ohio by a formula that is administered by the Ohio Department of Taxation.… Continue reading

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CAUV’s savings don’t eliminate shocking tax increases

By Matt Reese

Yikes! Farmers around the state have been learning of the increased in land values and the resulting increases in the taxes they owe on that land. But, before muttering too loudly about the sharp rise in their taxes on re-assessed land, farmers need consider the amount of money they are saving through Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV). It is CAUV enrollment that has allowed for only a “Yikes!” in the place of a “YIKES!!!!

Nonetheless, there have been plenty of questions about the shocking rise in taxes in recent years.

“We’ve been spending quite a bit of time talking to farmers about CAUV and the increases that people have been seeing,” said Chad Endsley, director of agricultural law for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “CAUV values are determined for each of about 3,500 different soil types in Ohio by a formula that is administered by the Ohio Department of Taxation.… Continue reading

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Mild January not in top 10 warmest

AccuWeather.com reports that, while January has been unusually mild across the Northeast and Midwest, this month will not go down in the record books as one of the top 10 warmest in major cities such as New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.



A lack of long-duration cold was the theme for January.



“The jet stream was located far to the north for much of January, which allowed for some occurrences of snow and cold across the far northern tier, but the jet did not plunge very far to the south,” according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.



However, two fairly strong shots of cold air across the Midwest and Northeast around the middle of January helped to keep monthly temperatures from approaching records. Despite mild weather for the last day of January, most of the Midwest will still end up cooler than the top 10 warmest Januaries on record.

Chicago, for example, had an average temperature of 29.5 degrees F, which is 5.8 degrees above normal.… Continue reading

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MF Global update

MF Global failed on October 31, 2011,resulting in the eighth-largest bankruptcy in US history and the largest commodity brokerage collapse of all time. While this is not the first time a major brokerage firm has failed, what sets MF Global apart is the fact that $1.2 billion in customer funds were missing at the time of the failure, and still remain missing three months later. This shortfall affects approximately 38,000 futures brokerage accounts, a large percentage of which were held by individuals and entities in the agricultural sector.

The Commodity Exchange Act and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulations require funds in customer futures and options brokerage accounts to be segregated from all other money, securities or other property owned or controlled by the brokerage firm. The funds from all customers can be commingled in a single account, but they must be separately accounted for, and must be treated as belonging to the customer.… Continue reading

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FCS scholarships

A February 29 deadline is rapidly approaching to submit applications for the Farm Credit Services of Mid-America (FCS) customer scholarship program.

FCS, an $18 billion agricultural lending cooperative serving farmers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, is offering scholarships to college students enrolled in agricultural and business programs. Forty six scholarships ranging in value from $1,000 to $1,500 will be awarded.

“We are invested in the future of agriculture and that future sits with today’s youth,” said George Stebbins, chair of the FCS board. “The winners will be scholarship recipients today and agriculture leaders tomorrow – these scholarships are an investment in the future of our industry.”

The scholarships are available to customers, their dependents, and spouses of the ag lending cooperative. Scholarships will be awarded in April based on academic record, leadership qualities and community involvement. To apply, visit www.e-farmcredit.com, select “Community”, then “Scholarships” or call 1-800-444-3276 to talk to the nearest office about obtaining an application.… Continue reading

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AFBF, plaintiffs file for judgment in Chesapeake Bay case

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Total Maximum Daily Load regulation (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay watershed establishes new controls on land use that trespass into territory Congress legally reserved for state governments, according to the opening brief for summary judgment, filed Friday, Jan. 27 by the American Farm Bureau Federation in the case, “AFBF vs. EPA.”

The TMDL will impact all economic activity in the watershed with potentially devastating impacts for agriculture within the watershed, according to AFBF.

“We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “This lawsuit is about how we reach that common goal. Farm Bureau believes EPA’s new regulation is unlawful and costly without providing the environmental benefit promised. Farmers in the watershed have clearly delivered a documented track record of continuous improvement, through conservation and sound stewardship and will continue their dedicated efforts.”

The TMDL dictates how much nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment can be allowed into the Bay and its tributaries from different areas and sources.… Continue reading

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ODA still searching

According to a recent press release, Bob Peterson from Fayette County, who is serving his first term in the Ohio House, has turned down an offer to serve as the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).

“Serving in this capacity would have given me the opportunity to help local farmers and keep related jobs in Ohio,” Peterson said in the release. “However, I know there is important work to be done to turn Ohio around and I think I can be most helpful in that effort by continuing my service in the Ohio House of Representatives.”

As a result, the ODA remains in limbo as the search for a Director continues. The post is currently being filled by Interim Director Tony Forshey, who has been in the position since the departure of former Director Jim Zehringer. Zehringer left to serve as Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.… Continue reading

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What's that smell? A white striped tale of critters in the barn

By Kim Lemmon, OCJ managing editor

In 2011, the local critters declared war on Smokey Road Farm. For weeks, we saw skunks on a daily basis. Some of these sightings were surprises at very close range. Thirty pounds of cat food was consumed; our house and goat shed smelled like skunks, and generally it was risky to feed the goats and horses in the mornings.

As a lifetime horse owner, I realize unwanted critters are a part of country life and I try to do my best to keep all feed locked up tight, but these critters were wizards and were becoming unstoppably dangerous and costly.

My co-workers and my husband, Mark, were starting to think I was crazier than normal because all I talked about was my fear of meeting skunks in the barn. They kind of thought I was exaggerating the situation.

One afternoon, I made Mark take his gun out to the goat hay shed because it smelled terrible and I was certain I had seen a skunk tail dart back into the handful of hay bales in the shed, but by the time Mark arrived at the shed, nothing was visible and he wasn’t moving hay.… Continue reading

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What’s that smell? A white striped tale of critters in the barn

By Kim Lemmon, OCJ managing editor

In 2011, the local critters declared war on Smokey Road Farm. For weeks, we saw skunks on a daily basis. Some of these sightings were surprises at very close range. Thirty pounds of cat food was consumed; our house and goat shed smelled like skunks, and generally it was risky to feed the goats and horses in the mornings.

As a lifetime horse owner, I realize unwanted critters are a part of country life and I try to do my best to keep all feed locked up tight, but these critters were wizards and were becoming unstoppably dangerous and costly.

My co-workers and my husband, Mark, were starting to think I was crazier than normal because all I talked about was my fear of meeting skunks in the barn. They kind of thought I was exaggerating the situation.

One afternoon, I made Mark take his gun out to the goat hay shed because it smelled terrible and I was certain I had seen a skunk tail dart back into the handful of hay bales in the shed, but by the time Mark arrived at the shed, nothing was visible and he wasn’t moving hay.… Continue reading

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Minyo retires third soy biodiesel truck

By Matt Reese

Ohio Ag Net farm broadcaster Dale Minyo is turning a page with the addition of the newest soy biodiesel truck.

He is retiring the 2006 Dodge Ram Megacab, which is the third truck he has driven to promote soy biodiesel. In total, the three trucks have traveled more than 500,000 miles and been to more than 1,300 county fairs and countless field days, FFA banquets commodity meetings and farm visits through the years. Minyo averaged 40,000 to 45,000 miles per year.

“The truck never fails to attract attention and get a lot of questions everywhere I go,” Minyo said. “It has been a great chance to share the benefits and importance of soy biodiesel.”

The most recently retired soy biodiesel truck had larger after market tires and a Cortex Superchip. It averaged 19 to 20 miles per gallon and was run on a B20 biodiesel blend. Dale usually got his fuel at the Sunoco at I-71 and State Route 95 near his home in Morrow County where B20 was generally 4-cents per gallon higher than standard diesel.… Continue reading

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Jan. 30 deadline approaching for 2011 disaster program

Eligible producers with livestock, purchased or harvested feed, honey bees, or farm-raised fish losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions between January 1, 2011 and December 29, 2011, have until January 30, 2012, to submit all supporting documentation, if they have not already done so.

Adequate documentation must prove the loss occurred as a direct result of an eligible adverse weather event in the calendar year for which benefits are being requested.

Producers should contact their local FSA county offices with any questions about ELAP.… Continue reading

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