Country Life

OFBF recognizes excellence at 2013 Harvest Banquet

The annual Ohio Farm Bureau harvest banquet featured ample highlights and success stories from the state’s top general farm organization over the last year.

Distinguished Service winners included Tom Schlenker, who retired from Farm Credit Services, Patricia Leimbach, who entertained and informed with her witty agricultural writing, and Earl Gerdeman. Monte Anderson, from Wilmington College, was the OFBF Cooperative/Agriculture Educator Award winner.

Nathan and Jennifer Brown of Hillsboro were recognized as the winners of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s (OFBF) 2013 Outstanding Young Farmer Award and Emily Buck of New Bloomington is the winner of the 2013 Excellence in Agriculture Award. The contest is designed to help young farmers strengthen their business skills, develop marketing opportunities and receive recognition for their accomplishments. Contestants are judged on the growth of their farm businesses and involvement in Farm Bureau and their community.

The Browns win 250 hours free use of an M–series tractor provided by Kubota, $1,000 in Grainger merchandise sponsored by Farm Credit Services of Mid-America and an expense-paid trip to the 2013 American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in San Antonio.… Continue reading

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Wood Lane CSA feeds a community in multiple ways

Agriculture is feeding the community in a number of unique, and valuable ways through Wood Lane Farm, owned and operated by Wood County’s Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The non-profit Wood Lane Farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program serves the community with farm fresh products while offering adults with developmental disabilities the unique opportunity to participate in all facets of the agricultural operation. The farm is both therapeutic and offers vocational training to prepare participants for other employment opportunities.

“This started with a family who had an autistic son. They found that gardening was great therapy for him. That family donated funds to put a small greenhouse up at Wood Lane to be used as a therapy center, but not a whole lot was done with it,” said Jessica Nagel, Wood Lane’s agricultural project specialist and farm manager. “Then the economy took a downturn and some of the first jobs cut were the lower function jobs and there were a lot of individuals with special needs who were losing their jobs.… Continue reading

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Deer gun season off with a bang

Hunters checked 22,620 white-tailed deer on Monday, Dec. 2, the opening day of Ohio’s deer-gun hunting season, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

The deer-gun season remains open through Sunday, Dec. 8. Hunters are encouraged to take to the field to enjoy the six days remaining in the deer-gun season. Hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population.

Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year’s season. Find more information about deer hunting in the Ohio 2013-2014 Hunting and Trapping Regulations or at

So far this season, hunters have harvested 109,932 deer compared to 113,107 at the same point in the season last year, which represents a 3% difference.

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked in 2013: Coshocton (940), Ashtabula (880), Tuscarawas (853), Muskingum (831), Guernsey (742), Harrison (738), Carroll (698), Knox (645), Columbiana (584) and Licking (572).… Continue reading

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FarmHer project putting ag women in focus

It is a stigma that agriculture just can’t seem to shake. From childhood our society is molded, through fun songs with a lot of letters and farmers in dells, to associate certain characteristics with the people who grow food. The perception is that farmers are a bit older, wearing bib overalls and a dusty hat and they slap their knees at a great joke told at the local square-dance. One of the major differences between the persona kids, and some adults, believe about the farmer and the actual look of a farmer today, is that many of them are now women.

Changing the perception of what a farmer looks like these days is exactly what Marji Guyler-Alaniz set out to do when she started the FarmHer project earlier this year.… Continue reading

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After 16 years Helmlinger writes her final “Food Chat”

JoEllenFood is a necessity and a luxury, a source of health and sickness, business and pleasure, fun-filled and fear inspiring. Food brings people together, is a fascinating and vital component of life, and it has been a career for Jo Ellen Helmlinger, OCJ’s “Food Chat” columnist.

“People have to eat, and if you are going to eat, you may as well enjoy it,” Helmlinger said. “I think food is really interesting. I am interested in the science of how things work with food. Food as pharmacy is a really important topic too.”

Helmlinger has shared her interests in food through her writing in “Ohio’s Country Journal” since 1997. She recently announced that she is retiring to do more cooking, golfing (which she admits is very challenging), and competing with her Welsh Corgi.

I have written a column every month since September of 1997,” she said. “I have never missed one.… Continue reading

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The last morsel: Top tips and recipes from 16 years of Food Chat

After 16 years of sharing food ideas and recipes with Ohio’s Country Journal readers, I am retiring. In the first column, September 1997, I wrote about preserving tomatoes and making pesto. I’ve included the pesto recipe that was in that first column in this last column. For this last time, I’m also giving you some of my favorite, go-to recipes, many of which have already been part of Food Chat.

I asked my family and friends what they thought were the best tips I’ve given about cooking and food, and have added them to this final column.

Finally, I would like to thank editor, Matt Reese, and managing editor, Kim Lemmon, for the opportunity to write about two things I really enjoy—cooking and eating. A special thanks to Kim who had edited this column for many years and saved me from ingredients not mentioned in the ingredient lists that mysteriously appeared in the method sections of recipes.… Continue reading

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USDA value added producer grants available


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of nearly $10.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge.

“U.S. agriculture is connected to one in 12 American jobs, and value-added products from homegrown sources are one important way that agriculture generates economic growth,” Vilsack said. “Supporting producers and businesses to create value-added products strengthens rural economies, helps fuel innovation, and strengthens marketing opportunities for producers — especially at the local and regional level.”

The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.… Continue reading

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Trees to Textbooks Program

Speaking of trees, sixteen Appalachian Ohio school districts and their corresponding counties and townships are sharing $1,737,857 from the sale of timber in Ohio’s state forests. Through the ODNR Division of Forestry’s “Trees to Textbooks” program, a percentage of the revenue generated from state forest management activity goes to the county, township and school district in which the activity took place.

The Division of Forestry is responsible for the care of nearly 200,000 acres of state forests, managing the woodlands for overall health and diversity, soil and water conservation, improved wildlife habitat and a variety of recreational opportunities. Selected trees or areas of woodland are harvested through a competitive bid process that includes requirements for sound management practices. All work is conducted by certified master loggers under strict monitoring. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit… Continue reading

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Remember tree stand safety

With deer gun season underway statewide December 2 to 8, the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) urges those who hunt from treestands wear a Full Body Safety Harness (FBSH) and use a climbing safety strap whenever their feet leave the ground.

Tree stands are one of the most popular pieces of equipment used by deer hunters in Ohio and nationwide. However, due to human error and/or equipment failure, the number of debilitating or fatal injuries resulting from their use is higher than it should be. Statistically, one out of three hunters will fall from a tree stand at some point in his or her hunting career. Given that statistic, it is imperative that the proper safety gear be used — and used correctly.

All hunter and hunter education organizations recommend wearing a Full Body Safety Harness that distributes the hunter’s weight throughout their shoulders, chest, waist and legs thus securely supporting a fallen person without causing added harm or injury.… Continue reading

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Slowing drainage show benefits for water quality

The rich prairie ground of parts of western and central Ohio, and further west, are some of the most productive farmlands in the world.

In those former prairie soils, prairie potholes — depressions left behind in the landscape when glaciers made their last retreat around 12,000 years ago — contain some of the prairies’ most fertile soils. The potholes are productive, but also prone to ponding because they have no natural drainage outlet, so farmers often install tile risers to drain away excess water. These risers, which are vertical perforated pipes that extend a foot or more above the soil, also connect directly to subsurface tile drainage networks that are spread throughout the Midwest.

“For farmers, the advantage with risers is that water drains quickly,” said Doug Smith, an Agricultural Research Service soil scientist who works at the ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory in West Lafayette, Indiana. “But they don’t like having to drive around the risers or having to make sure they don’t hit them with field equipment.… Continue reading

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Ohio Supreme Court refuses to hear Henry County drainage dispute

Litigation that arose from a drainage improvement project completed in 2002 has finally ended with a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court. The court announced Nov. 20 that it will not accept the case for review, which allows the ruling by the Third District Court of Appeals in favor of the Henry County Engineer to remain in place.

Richard and Rodney Rohrs sued the county engineer and several staff members in 2005 after a drainage project completed by the county flooded several acres of a farm field the Rohrs had rented from Gerald Westhoven. In the late 1990s, Westhoven approached the Henry County Engineer about flooding problems on Westhoven’s farm and the possibility of cleaning out the open drainage ditch that ran between his land and the county road. The engineer proposed an alternative solution, to lay drainage tiles and fill the ditch, and offered to classify the work as a road safety improvement project to be handled through the engineer’s budget rather than through the petition ditch process that would result in assessments on property owners.… Continue reading

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Young jockey making a name for herself in the racing world

Chelsey Keiser is part of a younger generation becoming more involved in the unique sport of horse racing. And, even at her young age, she has already compiled numerous accolades and built a reputation as a tough competitor as she lives out her lifelong dream of being a horse jockey.

She said her love for horses started as she was growing up on her parents’ Darke County farm. The family began racing horses for money and she would help in the training process by galloping. However, when it came time to race, she always had to hand it off to a jockey to take the horse on the track.

“Deciding to become a jockey wasn’t something I just decided to do one day. My parents owned and trained barrel horses my whole life. I rode horses before I could walk and had a pony as well,” she said. “My parents have always tried to make money with the horses and felt this could be achieved by training race horses.… Continue reading

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Rising world income will drive agriculture and the food system in the future

Per capita income is set to eclipse population growth as the dominant driver of change in the global food system, says a Purdue researcher noted for his work on the economic impacts of global trade and environmental policies.

Thomas Hertel said that while population and income will remain the two most influential factors in determining global food demand and cropland expansion, their relative importance will be altered.

“For the first time in human history, income will have a greater influence than population growth on food security,” said Hertel, distinguished professor of agricultural economics. “While the global population is estimated to jump from 7 billion people to 9 billion in the next four decades, the rate of population growth rate is slowing. Meanwhile, individual incomes are increasing in many parts of the developing world, and with that growth will come more demand for richer, more nutritional diets.”

Hertel is the founder and executive director of the Purdue-based Global Trade Analysis Project, known as GTAP, a network of more than 10,000 researchers and policymakers in 150 countries that aims to improve the quality of global economic analysis.… Continue reading

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2013 farm bill update

As the farm bill progresses through Congress’ legislative process, several major differences exist in the House and Senate versions of the bill, an economist with Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences said.

Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economist in the college’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, recently offered a comprehensive update of the 2013 farm bill process in a policy brief that he co-authored with Jonathan Coppess, clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The conference process involves select members of the House and Senate working together to resolve differences in their two versions of a bill, Zulauf said. These differences must be resolved because the U.S. Constitution requires that the House and Senate pass the same bill before it can be sent to the president for approval or veto.

In the brief, Zulauf and Coppess highlight some of the key differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill, including:

  • Nutrition assistance programs: The biggest spending difference between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill is in relation to nutrition benefits, mostly in the form of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.
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Earthquake shakes up SE Ohio

A few children may have thought Santa had come early and was dropping a really big bag of toys on the roof when their houses started shaking around 1:00 this afternoon.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a 3.5 magnitude earthquake shook things up in the Nelsonville area. There were no damages or injuries reported. The earthquake’s epicenter was 4.9 miles deep about 2.5 miles southeast of Nelsonville. There were calls about the earthquake from residents as far north as Columbus and into West Virginia.… Continue reading

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Agriculture is Cool scholarship winners announced

The Ohio Expositions Commission has announced that four fifth-grade students from across the state are the winners of the “Agriculture is Cool” scholarship competition.

Representatives from the Ohio Expositions Commission, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Ohio’s agricultural commodity groups will be presenting each scholarship winner with a $500 check and commemorative trophy during a special ceremony at his or her school next week.

  • Dylan Bryan (Elida)
  • Shelby Jones (Marysvillle)
  • David Leeth (Springfield)
  • Reese Shull (Toledo)

These outstanding students were among dozens to submit essays or creative stories about the “Agriculture is Cool” education program held during the 2013 Ohio State Fair in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio’s agricultural commodity groups. Scholarships are funded by the Ohio State Fair Youth Reserve Program.

The “Agriculture is Cool” program has been recognized by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions 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.… Continue reading

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EPA proposes lower renewable fuel requirements

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released the long awaited proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumetric requirements. For 2014, EPA is proposing to lower the conventional renewable fuel requirement from the statutory level of 14.4 billion gallons (BG) to 13 billion gallons, and reduce the total RFS volumetric requirement from 18.15 BG to 15.21 BG. The proposed 2014 blending requirements will be open to public review and comment before a final ruling is made.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has been incredibly successful, achieving every goal that it was designed to accomplish,” said Brent Hostetler, president of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “By reducing the amount of renewable fuel required in the RFS, the price of gasoline will increase and favor oil over home grown renewable fuels, taking money out of the American economy and hindering additional investments in bioenergy.

“For the first time since 1995, the U.S. imported less oil than we produced.… Continue reading

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Ohio Phosphorus Task Force releases updated report

The Ohio Phosphorus Task Force II issued its final report on findings to support reduction of phosphorus loading and associated harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and surrounding watersheds.

The report was released Nov. 13.

Recommendations include the development of loading targets for the Maumee River watershed and other Lake Erie tributaries, expansion of current phosphorus monitoring programs, and working with area stakeholders to improve soil health, nutrient retention, and proper timing and placement of applied fertilizers, the report said.

The report was created by a diverse working group of industry professionals including experts from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and Ohio State University Extension; Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab; the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; the Ohio Department of Agriculture; the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; and the Lake Erie Commission.

In addition to improving water quality throughout the Lake Erie watershed, recommended measures could lead to cost savings for farmers due to reduced need for fertilizer, improve public health as combined sewer systems are updated to reduce overflows, and build on previous successes in reducing phosphorus content in commercial lawn care products, organizers said.… Continue reading

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Ag Outlook and Policy meeting

The annual Ag Outlook and Policy meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12, 2013 at Fisher Auditorium North exhibit area.  Fisher Auditorium is located on the OARDC campus  at 1680 Madison Avenue, Wooster. Come and hear what experts from the OSU department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics as well as others, have to say as they look ahead to issues, prices, and policies for 2014.

Topics that will be covered include: Farm Bill Update, Dairy Market and Dairy Policy Outlook, Grain Market Outlook, Dairy Farm Business Summary, Nutrient Management Legislative Update.

The meeting will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m.  The program begins at 10:00 a.m. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Farm Credit Services of Mid-America and First National Bank, registration cost remains at $10 per person. Registration includes morning refreshments, noon lunch and handout materials. Pre-registration is requested by December 5th to help with planning the noon meal and handout numbers. … Continue reading

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The allure and lures of canine trapping

Predatory canine numbers are on the upswing in the Ohio heartland and these varmints are the bane of many barnyards. But, as winter sets in and the coats of these critters grow full and thick, trapping season opens.

Trapping is the art of enticing targeted animal species into foot hold, body gripping, or snare traps through the use of gland lure or meat baits. Once a popular and wide spread rural practice, the trapping of wild dogs has diminished, and the increase in their populations is testament to this fact. Sly and cunning, intelligent and resourceful, these animals can nonetheless be captured by educated and dedicated trappers.

Trapping requires an intimate knowledge of one’s quarry and a set of skills that take much experience to hone. A consistently successful trapper is a master of his environment, having spent countless hours in the field patterning his prey and analyzing the movements and habits of both individual animals and the targeted species as a whole.… Continue reading

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