Country Life

Is your equipment ready for winter?

With harvest finally wrapping up in many parts of the state after a long, wet year, now farmers need to turn their attention to preparing equipment for storage in the winter months. Here is an excerpt from a Q&A with Jason Damron from Delaware County, a professional equipment mechanic and farmer, on winterizing equipment. For the complete interview with Damron see the Mid-December issue of Ohio’s Country Journal

OCJ: With winter on the horizon, what concerns should farmers have regarding their equipment?

Jason: Winterize everything that needs to be winterized because of the freezing temperatures. Anything that has airbrakes on it should have the air dryer cartridge changed on it once a year, preferably before winter. Drain any excess moisture from the air tanks. Remember to check air pressure in all tires because the pressure will drop when the temperature drops.

OCJ: What should farmers do to winterize their equipment?… Continue reading

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The Christmas pony

By Kirby Hidy


I was about 4 years old when I sat on my first horse. Mom and Dad took my brother and me to a local rodeo and horse show. An uncle and several other local cowboys and cowgirls competed in various events from rough stock to wild cow milking (my uncle’s event) to various pleasure horse and youth classes.

As my family and I walked around the grounds, I was fascinated by the horses and, as far as I was concerned, REAL LIVE COWBOYS! Even at 4 years old I was quite a fan of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the myriad of TV Westerns that were on the air in the 1950s.

Among the contestants were local friends, Virgil and Nellie Hardman. Virg’ was a roper and Nellie, as I recall, showed horses in a “pleasure” class. When we saw them, Mom and Dad stopped for a chat, which gave my brother and me a chance to get up close and quietly pet the horse.… Continue reading

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OSU gets grants to study food safety

An Ohio State University scientist and colleagues have garnered two food safety grants totaling $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The first is a $1.8 million four-year grant on “Reducing the Transmission of AMR (antimicrobial-resistant) Organisms by Wildlife within the Food Supply — A Research, Control and Outreach Strategy.” The goal is to determine the extent to which wildlife contribute to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria colonization in livestock, and how much that can spread to humans.

The problem is significant: Overall, the economic health-care burden caused by AMR bacteria is more than $4 billion annually, according to some estimates.  

“In this study, we’re looking at food safety with a ‘one-medicine’ approach where you take into consideration not just animals, not just people, not just the environment, but everything that can have an effect on food safety,” said Jeff LeJeune, the study’s principal investigator and a microbiologist and veterinary scientist with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster.… Continue reading

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OEFFA conference registration open

Registration is now open for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty, February 18-19, 2012 in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

The state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, the event draws more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest, and has sold out in advance the past two years. This year’s conference will feature keynote speakers Woody Tasch and Andrew Kimbrell; more than 70 informative, hands-on workshops; two featured pre-conference events on February 17; a trade show; a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

“Our conference title says a lot about what we believe and what we’re trying to accomplish,” says OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Farmers, businesses, chefs, and consumers are working together to reclaim our food sovereignty—rebuilding local food systems and Ohio’s rural farming communities, demanding access to healthy, organic food and information about how that food is produced, and relearning sustainable agriculture practices that nourish our bodies, our communities, and the environment.”… Continue reading

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FCS scholarships

Farm Credit Services of Mid-America – a $17.5 billion agriculture lending cooperative serving farmers and rural America in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee – is allocating more than $100,000 in scholarships to students studying agriculture and other business related majors during 2012.

In addition to offering scholarships through the 4-H and FFA and several universities across the association’s four-state territory, Farm Credit will be awarding 42 scholarships to FCS members or children of members who are attending college.  The values of the FCS scholarships are between $1,000 and $1,500 and are awarded based on academic record, leadership qualities, and community involvement.

“We offer scholarships to youth as a way to demonstrate our commitment to help prepare them for tomorrow’s world.  As agriculture continues to grow and evolve, we want to make sure that the next generation of rural community leaders are at the forefront of the industry, and grow with it,” said George Stebbins, chair of the Farm Credit Services of Mid-America board.… Continue reading

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OFBF sets policy for 2012

Energy, water quality, farm policy and Ohio State University Extension services were the primary topics delegates discussed during the 93rd annual meeting of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). More than 340 delegates representing all of Ohio’s county Farm Bureaus established the policies for the state’s largest farm organization during its convention held Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Columbus.

With Ohio facing great opportunities with shale oil and gas, wind and solar energy generation, Farm Bureau delegates said it is essential that Ohioans be assured of a transparent, inclusive public policy process through which they can obtain information and offer input.  Delegates said the infrastructure and resource needs of the community and individual farmers should be adequately addressed when energy projects are being developed. Farm Bureau delegates also strongly supported coordination and collaboration between federal, state and local governments and regulatory agencies to ensure sound policies on energy development.… Continue reading

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Significant tax changes coming in 2012

As 2011 draws to a close, so do opportunities for farmers to take advantage of certain provisions of the federal tax code, according to Ohio State University Extension educator David Marrison.

“The ability for bonus depreciation is changing, so if you’re looking to make capital expenditures, this is the year to do it,” said Marrison, one of the leaders of OSU Extension’s Ag Manager Team. “You can depreciate 100% now, it will go to 50% next year, and after that it could go away completely depending on what Congress does.”

Marrison said that over the past decade, Congress has repeatedly allowed faster depreciation of capital assets to stimulate business investment by providing a “bonus” depreciation allowance in the year the asset is purchased.

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended the depreciation bonus for 2011 and 2012 to encourage new equipment purchasing. The additional first-year depreciation rules allow farmers to deduct on their 2011 income tax returns 100% of the cost of qualifying assets purchased in 2011 and 50% of the cost of qualifying assets in 2012.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair's "Ag is Cool" receives recognition

The Ohio State Fair was recently presented with a first place Agricultural Award of Excellence from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) for the fair’s new “Agriculture is Cool” interactive education program held in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio’s agricultural commodity groups.

The 2011 “Agriculture is Cool” program inspired by the initiative of Gov. John R. Kasich included several interactive education stations throughout the Ohio State Fair where students could learn about the many ways Ohio’s largest industry – agriculture – impacts many facets of their everyday lives. The program, which also offered scholarships to top participants, was recognized as the best special or specific agricultural education exhibit, event or program for the fairgoing public for fairs with annual attendance between 500,001 and 1 million.

The award was presented during a special awards ceremony held on November 29 during the 121st Annual IAFE Convention.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair’s “Ag is Cool” receives recognition

The Ohio State Fair was recently presented with a first place Agricultural Award of Excellence from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) for the fair’s new “Agriculture is Cool” interactive education program held in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio’s agricultural commodity groups.

The 2011 “Agriculture is Cool” program inspired by the initiative of Gov. John R. Kasich included several interactive education stations throughout the Ohio State Fair where students could learn about the many ways Ohio’s largest industry – agriculture – impacts many facets of their everyday lives. The program, which also offered scholarships to top participants, was recognized as the best special or specific agricultural education exhibit, event or program for the fairgoing public for fairs with annual attendance between 500,001 and 1 million.

The award was presented during a special awards ceremony held on November 29 during the 121st Annual IAFE Convention.… Continue reading

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Survey looks at carbon storage capacity in landscape

The Department of the Interior released the first in a series of regional studies measuring the amount of carbon stored in U.S. ecosystems. Published by Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the study examines the current and projected future carbon storage in the Great Plains region, as part of a nation-wide assessment.

“This is truly groundbreaking research that, for the first time, takes a landscape-level look at how our lands naturally store carbon and explores how we can encourage this capability in ways that enhance our stewardship of natural resources,” said  David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior. “Our landscapes are helping us to absorb carbon emissions that would otherwise contribute to atmospheric warming.”

This is the first regional report applying a comprehensive methodology designed by the USGS in 2010 to assess how much carbon is stored in various ecosystems, such as wetlands, forests and rangelands. The study covers an area of the United States that includes parts of fourteen states from eastern Montana to southern Texas and eastern Iowa.… Continue reading

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Watch out for flooded roads

This week, Ohio was soaked with nearly 1.25 inches of rain in one day on top of already saturated conditions. Cleveland received 1.5 inches of rain. Columbus, nearly 2 inches, and Cincinnati broke precipitation records with nearly 3 inches of rain in a day.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s, several major roadways are currently closed due to flooding. Safety experts urge motorists to be careful when approaching a flooded road. Never drive through flooded roadways and never drive around barriers warning of flooded roads. It only takes two feet of water to float away most vehicles, and many deaths have resulted from attempts to drive through flooded roadways.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency recommends the following safety measures during a flood warning:

* Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or television station to receive current weather and emergency information. If your area is advised to evacuate, do so immediately.… Continue reading

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Navy making largest biofuel purchase ever

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) signed a contract to purchase 450,000 gallons of advanced drop-in biofuel, the single largest purchase of biofuel in government history. While the Navy fleet alone uses more than 1.26 billion gallons of fuel each year, this biofuel purchase is significant because it accelerates the development and demonstration of a homegrown fuel source that can reduce America’s, and our military’s, dependence on foreign oil.

The Defense Department will purchase biofuel made from a blend of non-food waste (used cooking oil) from the Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels, LLC, a joint-venture of Tyson Foods, Inc., and Syntroleum Corporation, and algae, produced by Solazyme. The fuel will be used in the U.S. Navy’s demonstration of a Green Strike Group in the summer of 2012 during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise.… Continue reading

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AFBF responds to proposed child labor regulations

Responding to proposed child labor regulations, the American Farm Bureau Federation this week filed comments on behalf of more than 70 agricultural organizations in response to a proposal by the Labor Department that would limit youth employment opportunities on farms and ranches. AFBF also filed separate comments on its own behalf supplementing its views on the DOL proposal.

The coalition comments focused on what Farm Bureau and other agriculture organizations see as over-reaching regulatory efforts by DOL. Most prominent is the proposal’s potential impact on family farms. The coalition comments urged the department “to maintain the integrity of the family farm exemption approved by Congress.”

“Farmers and ranchers are more interested than anyone else in assuring the safety of farming operations,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We have no desire at all to have young teenagers working in jobs that are inappropriate or entail too much risk.”

Stallman added that families, family partnerships and family corporations own 98% of the approximately 2 million farms and ranches in the country, and “their right to operate their farms with family members is specifically permitted by Congress.… Continue reading

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PUCO extended hours of service exemption for agriculture

Earlier this week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio granted an extension of the hours of service exemption for agricultural operations until Jan. 1, 2012 to account for this year’s longer harvest.

The extension resulted from a request the Ohio Agribusiness Association (OABA) submitted on Nov. 18, 2011 and a similar request submitted by the Ohio Farm Bureau on November 23. In its request, OABA stated that extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, including a much wetter than normal spring that delayed planting and a wet fall, have compounded an already delayed 2011 crop harvest and could extend Ohio’s crop harvest into at least the first few weeks of December.

This posed a problem for Ohio farmers and agribusinesses, because under current hours of service rules, agricultural operations are only exempted from hours of service requirements during planting and harvesting seasons, which the state of Ohio defines as March 1 through Nov.… Continue reading

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2012 Southern Ohio New and Small Farm Colleges

Are you a small farm landowner wondering what to do with your acreage? Are you interested in exploring options for land uses but not sure where to turn or how to begin? Have you considered adding an agricultural or horticultural enterprise but you just aren’t sure what is required, from an equipment, labor, and/or management perspective? Are you looking for someplace to get basic farm information? If you or someone you know answered yes to any of these questions, then the OSU Extension Small Farm College program may be just what you are looking for.

OSU Extension is offering a program targeted at the new and small farmer. The Southern Ohio New and Small Farm College is an 8-week program that introduces new and even seasoned farmers to a wide variety of topics. The program will teach participants how to set goals, plan, budget, and where to find resources available for them if they chose to start a small farming operation.… Continue reading

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Poinsettia care

Poinsettias represent 80% of all potted plant sales in the United States during the holiday season, said University of Illinois Extension educator Ron Wolford.

“There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today,” Wolford said. “And they come in a myriad of colors like red, white, pink and burgundy. Keeping your poinsettias healthy during the holiday season can be a challenge considering the dry indoor environments in many homes.”

Here are a few tips from Wolford to help you keep your poinsettia healthy.

— Purchase a poinsettia with fully colored bracts (modified leaves) and tightly closed flower buds. The plant will start to decline after the flower buds have completely opened.

— After you have purchased your poinsettia, make sure it is wrapped completely because exposure to cold temps below 50 degrees in just the short walk to your car can damage the bracts and leaves.

— Place the poinsettia near a south, west or east facing window.… Continue reading

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USDA announces dates for conservation initiatives

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the ranking dates for the On-Farm Energy, Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel and Air Quality conservation initiatives. All four initiatives offer technical and financial assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

“Producers tell us they want to apply for these initiatives, but many want more time to make sure they choose the one that’s right for their operation,” Vilsack said. “Moving to multiple ranking dates for each initiative is going to make it easier for more producers to apply and help them get started with implementing the practices they need to benefit the natural resources on their operations.”

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be three ranking periods for the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel initiatives, all ending on February 3, March 30 and June 1, 2012. Ranking periods for the Air Quality Initiative end February 3 and March 30, 2012.… Continue reading

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Locks and dams crucial for the future of ag

The National Corn Growers Association joined a well-timed effort to let the nation’s politicians know that farmers and their allies are paying attention to their positions on funding for essential lock and dam improvements along the Mississippi River. To determine how to best structure a strategic educational campaign on the issue, NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, NCGA staff and key industry stakeholders met in Quincy, Ill., for a discussion covering the importance of the actual improvements and the best way in which to move forward as a unified front.

“Our inland waterway system plays a crucial role in the nation’s economy, and we must act now to help our future leaders understand that funding improvements is critical to maintaining their viability,” said Niemeyer. “Acting together, we can magnify our voices, and thus our effectiveness, exponentially. Achieving our goal is not only important for farmers and shippers, our nation as a whole will benefit from the job creation and shipping efficiencies this project would generate.”… Continue reading

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2011 farm sector income forecast

The USDA Farm Income Forecast paints a bright picture for agricultural profitability this year. Net farm income is forecast at $100.9 billion for 2011, up $21.8 billion (28%) from 2010 while net cash income at $109.8 billion, is forecast up $17.5 billion (18.9%) from 2010, and $34.2 billion above its 10-year average (2001-2010) of $75.6 billion.

Net cash income reflects only the cash transactions occurring within the calendar year. Net farm income is a measure of the increase in wealth from production, whereas net cash income is a measure of solvency, or the ability to pay bills and make payments on debt.

“Today’s farm income forecast shows that the American brand of agriculture continues to be a bright spot in our nation’s economy. Following on a strong 2010, all three measures of farm sector earnings again experienced strong growth in 2011. According to today’s numbers, farmers are earning 28% more for their products than they made last year.… Continue reading

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Yes We Can supports Highland County Extension

By Matt Reese

Sarah Young, though she was only 10, knew she loved showing sheep in 4-H at the Highland County Fair. She also knew that, after the failure of levies for Extension funding in Highland County, the $50,000 in annual local funding would have to be raised or she would no longer have the opportunity to participate in 4-H with her lamb projects.

So, in 2010, she decided to donate the proceeds of the sale of her market lamb to support Highland County Extension. Though she was hoping for the entire $50,000, the lamb sold for almost $13,000, which was a great start that encouraged more contributions from others.

“When it was all said and done, she ended up raising, directly and indirectly, about $30,000 from other people stepping forward contributing money after she was on the news,” said Shelli Young, Sarah’s mother. “Other kids offered up proceeds from their animals and money just started rolling in.”… Continue reading

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