Country Life



USDA releases study showing conservation practices protect water resources in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

America’s farmers and ranchers are being challenged by an onslaught of regulations, guidance and other requirements being issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

In testimony on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation before a House  Agriculture subcommittee, Shaffer said that nowhere is the impact of EPA activity more obvious than in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where EPA’s recently finalized Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) guidelines could push hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland out of production.

“EPA itself projects that roughly 20% of cropped land in the watershed (about 600,000 acres) will have to be removed from production and be converted to grassland or forest in order to achieve the required loading reductions,” said Shaffer, a member of the AFBF board and executive committee.

Shaffer said EPA’s over-reaching focus on agriculture is particularly troublesome because agriculture has worked successfully with the Agriculture Department to reduce its environmental impact on the Chesapeake Bay.… Continue reading

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OFBF Celebrates Ag Week In D.C.

As the Nation pays tribute to agriculture today for National Ag Day, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s County Presidents are in Washington D.C. meeting with lawmakers about issues important to farmers in Ohio and around the Country.

Ohio’s Country Journal’s Matt Reese and The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins are there to hear the message the OFBF is delivering to the Hill this week. The topics that are top of mind are energy and the environment, state and national budgets, estate tax and free trade agreements just to name a few.

Ohio Farm Bureau President Brent Porteus tells Ty why this trip is so important and what impact past trips have made.

The Senior Director of Legislative Policy for The Ohio Farm Bureau, Adam Sharp, talks to Ty about the issues that will be focussed on this week.

U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs from Ohio’s 18 talks about EPA’s overreach and other issues that he is tackling during his freshman year.Continue reading

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ODA celebrates agribusiness during Ag Week

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director James Zehringer, in celebration of National Agriculture Week, announced the department’s commitment to promoting economic development in the state by declaring “Ohio’s doors are wide open for agribusiness.”

Director Zehringer also announced the release of a new video designed to showcase the department’s commitment to agribusiness in Ohio. The video, which can be downloaded on the department’s website at http://www.agri.ohio.gov/videos/kasich-zehringer.htm or viewed on our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/OhioDeptofAg, features Governor Kasich and Director Zehringer discussing the state’s pledge to foster agribusiness growth in Ohio.

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Kasich signs bill designating Ohio Ag Week

Gov. John R. Kasich signed House Bill 89 to designate the second full week of March as “Ohio Agriculture Week.” Gov. Kasich was joined by bill sponsor Rep. Timothy Derickson (R-Oxford), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Rep. David Hall (R-Killbuck), Director of the Department of Agriculture Jim Zehringer, and representatives from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Future Farmers of America (FFA).

House Bill 89 was passed unanimously by the General Assembly and is intended to increase public recognition of the vitally important role agriculture plays in Ohio. Generating $98 billion per year and employing one out of every seven Ohioans, agriculture is the state’s leading industry. The 1,100 processing facilities across the state employ more than 60,000 workers, and each family farm in Ohio indirectly creates job opportunities for neighbors in and around their communities.… Continue reading

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Bob Evans to move company headquarters


Bob Evans Farms Inc. said Thursday that it would move its corporate headquarters to New Albany, Ohio, from its long-time location in Columbus.

The new location is about 25 miles northeast of Columbus.

The new corporate campus is expected to be done in 2013, the company said in a news release. “We’re pleased to announce our plans to remain in Central  Ohio. We have been a major part of the Ohio economy for decades, employing nearly 14,000 Ohioans, and contributing more than $1 million annually to philanthropic community-based efforts across the state,” CEO Steve Davis says in the release. “Ohio is where our company was founded … and we’re committed to growing our company here.”

The new location offered an abundance of available land, infrastructure, ease of development, and a convenient location near major transportation routes and the airport, according to the company. The company had moved to its Columbus location from Gallipolis, Ohio in 1968.… Continue reading

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Broadband loan program at USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA issued a Notice of Solicitations of Applications and regulations implementing the 2008 Farm Bill for the broadband loan program. Building out broadband infrastructure remains an important Obama Administration priority to help lay a new foundation for economic opportunity to help rural America win the future.

“Broadband investments are an essential part of the Obama Administration’s effort to ‘win the future’ by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competitors,” Vilsack said.  “Investments in rural broadband networks create jobs and economic opportunity for rural America.  Broadband is critical communications infrastructure of the 21st century, and it is vital to building vibrant rural communities.”

The interim regulation for the Broadband Program requires that certain definitions affecting eligibility be revised and published annually by the agency in the Federal Register. For the purpose of this interim regulation, the agency has amended two definitions: Broadband Service and Broadband Lending Speed and Incumbent Service Provider.… Continue reading

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OSU students, urban first-graders both get a hands-on education

By Kyle Sharp

Thirty-one first-graders from the Columbus School for Girls (CSG) had a “magnificent experience” on March 9, said Linda Ostrander, a CSG teacher, when they traveled to the Ohio State University Sheep Center in Columbus for the fourth annual Food and Fiber Day.

The students spent the day at the farm learning about the food and fiber industry in the state of Ohio through a series of seven educational stations — ruminant digestion, the needs of sheep as they grow, the body parts of a sheep and how they are used to find food, byproducts, plants from seed to food, the food web, and making ice cream. Fifteen OSU agricultural education students developed the stations and organized the day as a project for their “Methods of Teaching Agriculture” course. The stations are designed to meet science standards for kindergarten through second-grade students in the state of Ohio.

“This is non-formal education, so it helps those who have an Extension emphasis or are agricultural education minors,” said Caryn Filson, an OSU doctoral student in agricultural education who does laboratory work for the course.… Continue reading

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Kasich praises agriculture in State of the State

In his 2011 State of the State Address in early March, Gov. John Kasich had positive things to say about agriculture and its role in the future of the state.

“I’ve asked Jim Zehringer to think about agriculture in a completely different way. How many agribusinesses can we get? How many 21st Century products can we develop? And how do we think about ethanol when we have increasing dependence on countries like Libya and Venezuela to provide us our fuel? So we’re thinking about agriculture in an entirely different way,” he said. “It can be great prosperity. And here’s the thing about agriculture, it’s not your old man’s tractor anymore. It’s technology. It’s GPS. It’s weather patterns. It’s you’re your own boss and you fall in love with the good earth. There’s something about it that’s soulful and spiritual. And we need to recognize our farmers for the great work they have done.… Continue reading

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USDA reminds landowners and producers of CRP general sign-up

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reminded landowners and producers that a general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will begin on March 14, 2011, and continue through April 15, 2011. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres. The Secretary announced the sign-up recently in Omaha, Neb., at Pheasant Fest.

“For 25 years, CRP has generated significant environmental improvements,” said Vilsack. “Sound conservation practices encouraged through CRP enrollment preserve the soil, clean our water and restore habitat for wildlife. I encourage all interested farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn more about this opportunity.”

CRP is a voluntary program that assists farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers to use their environmentally-sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolling in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers in exchange for rental payments, cost-share and technical assistance.… Continue reading

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Ohio State receives USAID grant to boost agriculture, food security in Tanzania

Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has been awarded a $24 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve agricultural productivity and food security in the East African nation of Tanzania.

The “Tanzania Agricultural Research and Capacity Building Project” involves a consortium of four other U.S. land-grant universities under Ohio State’s leadership: Michigan State University, Tuskegee University, the University of Florida and Virginia Tech. The grant was announced in late February.

The project is part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, which seeks to address the root causes of global hunger by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and advancing global stability and prosperity. A nation of 35 million people, half of whom live in poverty, Tanzania — whose economy is largely dependent on agriculture — has been identified as a priority country for the FTF initiative.

“With global population exploding, and new uses for the crops we grow, this grant is critical for addressing poverty and hunger in this part of the world,” said Bobby Moser, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES.

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Mexican/U.S. truck dispute settled

The United States and Mexico have reached an agreement to end the trucking dispute between the two neighbors. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon unveiled a deal resolving a longstanding dispute over cross-border trucking that has subjected the U.S. to billions of dollars in punitive tariffs. The plan will allow for half of those tariffs to be lifted immediately.

The U.S. Pork Industry is certainly pleased with the U.S./Mexico trucking deal. Pork exports to Mexico have been hit hard by Mexican retaliatory tariffs. In August, 2010, Mexico put a 5 percent tariff on U.S. bone-in hams – a big export item – and 20 percent on cooked pork skins in retaliation for the United States not complying with the trucking provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement . The provision was supposed to become effective in December 1995.… Continue reading

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OARDC helps Mansfield company produce ‘green’ polyurethane foam, jobs

Waste is a terrible thing to waste. That’s the mantra guiding an Ohio State University researcher and a bioenergy entrepreneur in the development of a brand-new, renewable source of polyurethane foam that’s expected to create up to 30 jobs in Mansfield, Ohio, in the next two years.



The product (known as a bio-polyol) is made from crude glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production that has so little commercial value it’s practically considered waste. Mixed with other biomass — through a patent-pending process developed by Yebo Li, a biosystems engineer with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster — this crude glycerin becomes the foundation for making polyurethane foam, which is used in a variety of products in the construction, automotive, appliance and other industries.



“Polyurethane foam made with our bio-polyol is renewable, biodegradable and its quality is comparable to petroleum-based foam,” said Jeff Schultheis, chief operating officer of Mansfield-based Poly-Green Technologies, LLC, a start-up formed to commercialize Li’s invention.… Continue reading

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OARDC helps Mansfield company produce 'green' polyurethane foam, jobs

Waste is a terrible thing to waste. That’s the mantra guiding an Ohio State University researcher and a bioenergy entrepreneur in the development of a brand-new, renewable source of polyurethane foam that’s expected to create up to 30 jobs in Mansfield, Ohio, in the next two years.



The product (known as a bio-polyol) is made from crude glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production that has so little commercial value it’s practically considered waste. Mixed with other biomass — through a patent-pending process developed by Yebo Li, a biosystems engineer with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster — this crude glycerin becomes the foundation for making polyurethane foam, which is used in a variety of products in the construction, automotive, appliance and other industries.



“Polyurethane foam made with our bio-polyol is renewable, biodegradable and its quality is comparable to petroleum-based foam,” said Jeff Schultheis, chief operating officer of Mansfield-based Poly-Green Technologies, LLC, a start-up formed to commercialize Li’s invention.… Continue reading

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AFBF backs bills to preempt EPA greenhouse gas regs

The American Farm Bureau Federation supports legislation introduced today in both the House and the Senate that would preempt regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency based on climate change considerations.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 was introduced today in the House by Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). In the Senate, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, introduced a companion bill.

In separate letters sent today to Upton and Inhofe, AFBF President Bob Stallman commended the lawmakers for introducing the legislation and pledged to work with them in achieving passage. Stallman said the legislation is important because it would prevent EPA from regulating GHGs without prior congressional approval.

“The regulation of GHG does not fit within the current framework of the Clean Air Act. Unlike other regulated pollutants, where Clean Air Act thresholds are sufficient to regulate the largest emitters, GHG regulation at statutorily required thresholds holds the prospect of costly and burdensome permit requirements on farms, ranches, schools, hospitals and some large residences,” Stallman wrote.… Continue reading

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Flood resources

With many areas of Ohio experiencing or expecting flooding due to melting snow and rain, the following resources may be helpful.


Flood Map: The Ohio River Forecast Center out of the National Weather Service — http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/ohrfc/ — features a flood map depicting current and forecasted flood conditions.

Flash Flood Map: The flash flooding information used to issues watches and warnings is available at this link — http://www.srh.noaa.gov/rfcshare/ffg.php?location=OH&zoom_map=state&duration=1. You select the state and the time criteria you wish to view.

Weather Radio: This link — http://www.weather.gov/nwr/ — provides information on the NOAA Weather Radio — and this link — http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/nwrrcvr.htm — provide information about purchasing the receiver which is needed to hear the weather information.

Flood FactSheets/Education: The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)  Flood Resources page — http://eden.lsu.edu/Topics/Hazards/Floods/Pages/Default.aspx — provides links to factsheets and other resources that can be helpful for people experiencing floods.

Mold Resources: Mold resources from EDEN are located at this link — http://eden.lsu.edu/Topics/HumanHealth/Mold/Pages/default.aspxContinue reading

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Ohio Ag Council Seeks Hall of Fame Nominations

The Ohio Agricultural Council is seeking nominations for the 2011 Ohio  Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Induction into the Ohio Agricultural  Hall of Fame is Ohio’s highest recognition of an individual who has made  outstanding contributions to the agricultural industry.  Each year up to  four prominent agricultural leaders are honored and inducted into the Ohio  Agricultural Hall of Fame for their superior service, dedication, leadership  and plentiful contributions to agriculture.

Persons wishing to  nominate an individual who he or she believes is deserving of consideration  for this honor may secure a nomination form by writing to the Ohio  Agricultural Council, 5950 Sharon Woods Blvd., Columbus, Ohio 43229, by  calling 614-794-8970 or emailing info@ohioagcouncil.org

Nominations must be submitted by April 1, 2011, in order to be  eligible for consideration in 2011.

The Ohio Agricultural Council  is a member-funded organization comprised of organizations, companies and  individuals who support agriculture in the state of  Ohio.… Continue reading

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Experts to explain how to get food products to stores

It is believed more than 30,000 new food products are launched every year, which

can make it very difficult for a startup food business to get the attention of retailers.

Fortunately, regional experts from The Andersons and Metro D Distributing will explain a retailer’s decision making process when evaluating whether or not to bring in a new product or line to stores.

In addition, guests can learn about the costs and expectations related to distribution.

The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and the Agricultural Incubator Foundation (AIF) will host “How to get your Product on Store Shelves,” Tues., Mar. 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the AIF, north of Bowling Green, OH. The seminar is open to anyone – in particular small food manufacturers, market managers, farmers, growers, or individuals who are thinking of producing and selling a value-added food product.

The cost is just $25/person or $40/two guests (cash or check at the door, payable to Agricultural Incubator Foundation) which includes great networking opportunities and light refreshments.… Continue reading

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EPA regulations on dust would overstep boundaries

By Kyle Sharp

For the past several years, my brother Scott and I have planted some acreage with oats in August after wheat was harvested from the fields he rents from my dad. The idea came from the work done several years ago by Stan Smith. with Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County, and Bob Hendershot, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state grassland specialist who is also based in Fairfield County, and others who showed that oats planted in this fashion could be harvested for hay in the late fall or grazed over the winter.

We tend to make hay out of them, although the challenge is getting the fields dry enough to mow, rake and bale, along with having enough warm, dry weather to get the oat hay dry enough at all. While we still struggled this past fall with getting the mowed oats dry enough for baling, we had no problem with the field being too wet to drive the tractors through.… Continue reading

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America’s Farmers Grow Communities supports Ohio counties

Based upon the idea that farmers are crucial components of successful small towns around the nation, the Monsanto Fund sponsored America’s Farmers Grow Communities to support local farming communities. The program allowed farmers to register to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organization, such as FFA, 4-H, schools, fire departments and other civic groups. One winner was selected in each of 1,204 eligible counties in 38 states, including Ohio.

“We want to recognize what agriculture means to small communities around Ohio because farmers play such a vital role,” said Bill Girten, Monsanto Account Manager who presented some of the awards. “This program has been a great chance for me to get out a see people in our communities. A lot of these donations have gone to youth organizations and it is great to see the smiles from the kids.”

Also, for every farmer who applied, Monsanto donated $1 to their local United Way to help food banks, food pantries, Meals On Wheels and other charitable organizations dealing with hunger in their respective county.… Continue reading

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On-farm renewable energy production shows tremendous growth

The number of solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters on America’s farms and ranches has increased significantly over the past decade and there are now 8,569 operations producing their own renewable energy, according to the results of the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey released today. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, this was the first-ever nationwide survey that looked at renewable energy practices on America’s farms and ranches.
“These results indicate that farmers and ranchers are increasingly adopting renewable energy practices on their operations and reaping the important economic and environmental benefits,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA we are committed to natural resource conservation, prosperity and energy independence in rural America. This survey gives us a benchmark against which we can measure our future successes.”
According to the survey results, solar panels were the most prominent way to produce on-farm energy.… Continue reading

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