Country Life

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

Teen’s ag images launched into national farm spotlight

By Matt Reese

You have probably never heard of Erin Ehnle, but chances are, if you are involved in agricultural social media, you have seen her work. The 19-year-old farm girl/photographer/college student is the designer of a wildly popular series of images that have been lighting up agricultural social media, including pictures paired with facts that educate viewers on soils, the number of agricultural jobs the environmental benefits of agriculture and other topics.

“I was raised on a farm and naturally I am very passionate about ag. I love the life skills and the values it has taught me. I also have a very creative side. I started a photography business right out of high school. I always wanted to put the two together but didn’t know how,” Ehnle said. “I heard about an internship with the Illinois Corn Growers and I started dreaming up this project and putting together ideas to present to them.… Continue reading

Read More »

Teen's ag images launched into national farm spotlight

By Matt Reese

You have probably never heard of Erin Ehnle, but chances are, if you are involved in agricultural social media, you have seen her work. The 19-year-old farm girl/photographer/college student is the designer of a wildly popular series of images that have been lighting up agricultural social media, including pictures paired with facts that educate viewers on soils, the number of agricultural jobs the environmental benefits of agriculture and other topics.

“I was raised on a farm and naturally I am very passionate about ag. I love the life skills and the values it has taught me. I also have a very creative side. I started a photography business right out of high school. I always wanted to put the two together but didn’t know how,” Ehnle said. “I heard about an internship with the Illinois Corn Growers and I started dreaming up this project and putting together ideas to present to them.… Continue reading

Read More »

New NASS schedule

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service continues to review its agricultural estimates program to ensure the agency provides the most accurate, timely and useful data, while also remaining within the agency budget. As a result, NASS will make the following changes to its in-season reporting for this year:

Vegetables – Reduce to  one in-season report

Apple – Forecast in October only (Eliminate March preliminary summary and August report)

Apricot – Forecast in July only (Eliminate June report)

Cherry Production – Publish in June only (Eliminate forecast in June Crop Production)

Grape – Forecast in August only (Eliminate July and October reports)

Peach – Forecast in August only (Eliminate May, June and July reports)

Pear – Forecast in August only (Eliminate June report)

Pecan – Forecast in October only (Eliminate December report)

Banana Revisions in May – Eliminate

Guavas in May – Eliminate

Olives in August – Eliminate

Papaya Revisions in May – Eliminate

Prune Forecast and Revisions in June – Eliminate

Prunes and Plums Forecast in August – Eliminate

The current changes affect the 2012 growing season.… Continue reading

Read More »

New nutrition standards for school meals released

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled new standards for school meals that will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation. The new meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The healthier meal requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the First Lady as part of her Let’s Move! campaign and signed into law by President Obama.

“As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And when we’re putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria.… Continue reading

Read More »

MarketReady training program

Ohio food producers looking to sell through different marketing channels are invited to attend a MarketReady training program, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 at the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) office, 5555 Airport Hwy., Ste. 100, Toledo, Ohio 43615-7320.

The day-long workshop teaches what is required to sell to grocers, restaurants, consumers and other wholesale buyers. Plus local producers, wholesalers and buyers will participate on a panel to provide specific insight on requirements for purchasing product.

The workshop will run from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person and $25 for each additional person from the same business, which includes materials, lunch and morning refreshments.

“MarketReady workshops and resources guide producers through the decisions needed for entering various direct marketing channels,” said Rebecca Singer, vice president and director of agricultural programs, CIFT. “Participants leave knowing what is required for packaging, pricing, delivering, regulations, insurance and marketing of their products for each type of buyer.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Working group recommendations for nutrient management

By Matt Reese

The Directors’ Agricultural Nutrients and Water Quality Working Group met earlier this week at the Ohio Department of Agriculture to finalize their extensive findings on how agriculture is contributing to water quality problems and how this can be controlled. The group was assembled to aggregate all of the available information on the problem, organize it and present it to the directors of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency, who will then make recommendations to the governor.

“The 4Rs are a good starting point for messaging and provide a great resource for farmers to turn to,” said Karen Chapman, who represented the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in the Working Group. “EDF believes that adaptive management programs are key to putting the 4Rs into action. These are programs where farmers and their advisors gather data using tools like cornstalk nitrogen tests, strip trials for N and P, aerial imagery, management data and yield data to figure out what is going on for a given season with the crop and the crop’s estimated nutrient uptake.… Continue reading

Read More »

Water quality working group finalizing recommendations

By Matt Reese

Fines for nutrient loss? A new tax on fertilizer? A moratorium on tile installation? Permits for all nutrient applications? Mandatory drainage control structures and tile filters?

Though some are unlikely, there are plenty of terrifying regulatory scenarios that have been conjured up as possible solutions to the challenging water quality situation in Lake Erie. The wheels of action directed at addressing the water quality problems are in motion and, while the end result is uncertain, it is likely that changes for Ohio agricultural nutrient management are coming at some point in the future.

With the goal of balancing the need for water quality improvements and a continued vibrant agricultural industry in the state, the Directors’ Agricultural Nutrients and Water Quality Working Group met earlier this week at the Ohio Department of Agriculture to finalize their extensive findings on how agriculture is contributing to water quality problems and how this can be controlled.… Continue reading

Read More »

DeWitt speaking on being a Christian environmentalist

Carl DeWitt of the University of Wisconsin, an expert on sustainability and land stewardship and a leading Christian environmentalist, will speak five times in Wooster and Columbus later this week, Jan. 26-28.

DeWitt is a professor with Wisconsin’ Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies the author of Earthwise: A Biblical Response of Environmental Issues.

“I have a lot of heroes, but Cal DeWitt is high on the list,” author Bill McKibben (The End of Nature). “Before anyone else, (DeWitt) was at work building the religious environmental movement in this country, and he has never wavered — the fact that evangelical leaders from across the theological spectrum last year signed a statement of concern about climate change owes more to his leadership than anyone else’s.”

Two of DeWitt’s talks will be co-presented with David Kline, an Amish organic farmer in north-central Ohio’s Holmes County.

All the talks are free and open to the public.… Continue reading

Read More »

Rabies in Ohio annual summary

By Zoonotic Disease Program, Bureau of Infectious Diseases, Ohio Department of Health

In Ohio, there are three rabies variants circulating among our wildlife: bat, skunk and raccoon.

The north central skunk-rabies variant has been present in Ohio for decades. Raccoon-rabies variant (RRV) first moved into Ohio in the late 1990s and is localized to north and eastern Ohio. Bat rabies can be found anywhere in the state; it is sporadic and geographically disbursed since bats fly and migrate. Each variant prefers a specific animal reservoir, but all variants can infect humans and other mammals.

For example, a skunk with RRV can cause rabies in a human, dog, cat, horse, goat, etc.

Infection with any variant of the rabies virus affects the nervous system of mammals, and the disease is usually fatal. It is transmitted when saliva from an infected animal comes in contact with an open wound or mucous membrane.

Taking weeks to months, the virus travels to the brain where it causes progressively severe symptoms that may include anxiety, restlessness, confusion, agitation, lack of coordination, difficulty swallowing, seizures and death.… Continue reading

Read More »

Are agricultural degrees really useless?

A recent Yahoo article suggested five degrees, three of them agriculturally related, are useless.

This has set off an online firestorm on the topic. The Facebook page,  I Studied Agriculture and I Have a Job has even been created in response.

We’ve gathered some other responses from across that web that include:

Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio legislators proposing to expand Ag-LINK

Ohio legislators are proposing to expand the Agricultural Linked Deposit program, or Ag-LINK, which offers farm operators an interest-rate reduction on loans and lines of credit through the Ohio treasurer’s office. House Bill 415, along with its companion, Senate Bill 281, would increase the amount the state treasury sets aside each

year for the program from $125 million to $165 million. It also would increase the amount applicants can receive, from $100,000 to $150,000.

The interest-rate reductions help farmers invest in seeds, feed, fertilizer, fuel and other operating expenses. Since its inception in 1985, Ag-LINK has loaned about $2.8 billion to more than 40,000 Ohio farmers.

Last year, more than 800 farmers in 67 counties took advantage of the program. The bills’ sponsors, Rep. Robert

Sprague, R-Findlay, Rep. Brian Hill, R-Zanesville, and Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, said they hope a bigger investment in Ohio agricultural businesses will create more jobs and boost the economy.… Continue reading

Read More »

Students create statewide Food for Thought Challenge

By Matt Reese

Tests, homework, sports, grades, friends, peer pressure, jobs — today’s students have pretty full plates that unfortunately do not often include consideration of the food that is on them.

With deteriorating health in many segments of U.S. society, efforts are being made to bring nutrition closer to the forefront for students. A year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The proposed changes to school meal standards add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk to school meals. Schools would also be required to limit the levels of saturated fat, sodium, calories, and trans fats in meals.

The Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP) decided to take the government’s school food mandates one step further by working with education consultants to change student behaviors and attitudes about their food choices.… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA invites applications for renewable energy projects

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).

“Renewable energy development presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” said Vilsack. “This funding will assist rural farmers, ranchers and business owners to build renewable energy projects, providing opportunities for new technologies, create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient.”

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs.  For 2012, USDA has approximately $25.4 million budget authority available to fund REAP activities, which will support at least $12.5 million in grant and approximately $48.5 million in guaranteed loan program level awards. … Continue reading

Read More »