Country Life

Ohio Farm Bureau files brief with U.S. Supreme Court

Ohio Farm Bureau has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the highest court in the land to take on a case to help Ohio landowners.

The case, O’Connor v. Eubanks, takes on the question of whether a state can be sued in federal court for a “takings” claim. Specific to this case, the “taking” is about unclaimed funds that were being held by the state, which did not provide the plaintiff, Mr. O’Connor, interest on those funds when he claimed them.

According to Ohio Farm Bureau Policy Counsel Leah Curtis, this could set a precedent that goes well beyond unclaimed funds.

“We filed this brief in large part because of eminent domain and something called, ‘inverse condemnation,’ which is a claim you can make in court when the government takes your property but doesn’t go through the proper process to do so and doesn’t compensate you,” Curtis said.… Continue reading

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Summer is heating up beef demand

By Bernt Nelson, American Farm Bureau economist

Summer grilling season is underway, stimulating demand for all types of animal proteins, including beef.

Though the July Cattle Inventory has been discontinued by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, we can use other reports to piece together the cattle and beef market outlook. Three beef reports to tell the story of where markets and grocery store prices are headed.

Cattle on Feed

USDA’s monthly Cattle On Feed report, published on May 24, estimates that there were 11.6 million head of cattle on feed on May 1, up 1% from May 2023. Cattle placed on feed in April were estimated to be 1.66 million, down 6% from April 2023. Cattle marketed in April totaled 1.87 million head, up 172,000 head or 10% from 2023. Cattle on feed for 120-plus days was 4.72 million, down 4.5% from last month, but up about 5.5% from this time last year.… Continue reading

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Togetherall brings mental health awareness and support to agriculture

By Sarah Covington, a Farm Bureau member from North Carolina who works as a physician associate in oncology, and also owns Hawfields Cattle Company, specializing in registered Scottish Highland cattle 

Throughout the years I have seen our agriculture community come together during times of need. Wildfires, floods, droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes, for example, all bring the appropriate awareness from news headlines but what about the mental health crisis affecting the people in our industry? The chronic, sometimes daily struggles of farmers and ranchers, whether financial, family, weather, economic, or regulatory in nature all play a role in our daily lives. Often, we are left to absorb the hardships alone.  

That is why I’m thrilled that the American Farm Bureau and the Farm Family Wellness Alliance recently came together to unveil a new resource that can help all of us in agriculture remember we are not alone. It is an electronic platform called Togetherall, a tool developed to bring mental health awareness and support to others.… Continue reading

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Fundrasing efforts ramp up after devastating horse barn fire

A devastating barn fire in Logan County claimed the lives of 44 horses in June and one man was seriously injured at Brant Performance and Priest Performance Horses near Belle Center.

Eric Priest, the owner of Priest Performances Horses, suffered second- and third-degree burns, but is expected to recover. The 60,000-square-foot barn that housed around 85 horses and had employee living quarters is considered a total loss, estimated to be over $1 million. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.

There has been a significant outpouring of generosity in the wake of the fire. GoFundMe pages for the involved families are (Brant) and (Priest). In addition, there is an auction fund raiser, Brant and Priest Family Fund Raiser, that will take place from June 24-26. They’re currently taking donations. From custom riding gear and training services to breedings and veterinary care, the community has been busy donating various items and services.… Continue reading

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Financial stress testing for farms

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

It is no secret that there are some economic concerns right now for many in the agricultural sector, and it may be a good time for farms to assess how they are positioned to withstand potential challenges ahead.

“The recent USDA report of net farm profits going down 27% definitely pushes us to consider stress testing,” said Brock Burcham, regional vice president of ag lending for Farm Credit Mid America (FCMA). “Stress testing is a way that you can model how extreme or unfavorable circumstances in the marketplace will impact a specific operation so you can be prepared for what you don’t know and play with the numbers. Three of the numbers that we like to focus on when we’re looking at stress testing are working capital, our interest expense ratio and our net farm income. All of our decisions can impact each of those three numbers and we encourage folks to look at those three to help make their decisions for their next purchase or investment.”… Continue reading

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A decade of the 4Rs

By Matt Reese

Though I can get there if I really think about it, it is hard for me to remember a time when I did not know what the 4Rs stood for. It seems for a while, the program founded on the principles of applying fertilizers at the right source, right rate, right time, and right place was an ever-present staple of just about every story I wrote.

Leading up to the Toledo water crises in August of 2014, the groundwork was already being proactively implemented by the agricultural community to address the role of excess farm nutrient runoff into Ohio waterways. Now commemorating 10 years of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program, the simple, science-based 4Rs have proven to be effective as certified retailers have been working with farmers and crop consultants to put those principles into practice.

Among the first retailers to gain 4R Certification was the Legacy Farmers Cooperative with five agronomy locations in the Western Lake Erie Basin.… Continue reading

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Celebrating and selling Western-style and culture at (Mid)Western Second Hand

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

In 2003, Reid Curtis was looking for a place to live a quieter, more slow-paced life in rural Ohio that had open spaces and a close-knit community where he could raise some farm animals, in contrast to the environs of Columbus that he was leaving. He found Somerset.

With its quaint downtown featuring centuries-old buildings, brick sidewalks, and a statue of Civil War General and native son Philip Sheridan in the town center, the village of Somerset, nestled on the northern edge of Appalachia, was a perfect place to settle in and then later establish his business.

Coming from a high intensity retail work environment which he had been enmeshed in for decades, Curtis needed a change in work and lifestyle when he moved to Perry County and then opened (Mid)Western Second Hand in November of 2020 in downtown Somerset. His past experiences prepared him for running his own retail store and informed his philosophy for the store.… Continue reading

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The wily wandering ways of wildlife

By Barb Lumley

With the coming of spring and summer comes the emergence and appearance of bugs and animals of all kinds. Birth and reproduction occurs all over our country. As the various animals and creatures grow and mature they must seek their own place or natural habitat. Occasionally some of them do not wind up in the places where you would normally expect to find them.

A few days ago a friend of mine went down to her basement with plans to do her laundry. She noticed that her dryer vent tube was hanging down. Further investigation revealed that it was heavy. She noticed leaves on the floor, which was very weird due to the location of her basement next to the steps. She pulled the tube down, looked into it and it was plugged. She immediately pitched it out the basement door and when it landed a baby possum ran out the end that she had looked into and ran into the flowers.… Continue reading

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Right foot, left foot

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

This was a column I never expected to write, or thought I could, sharing my grieving with the sudden loss of my wife Cindy in May.  

Cindy encouraged me immensely in writing the Ohio’s Country Journal columns. It allowed me the opportunity few writers have, just write. Her objective was to make sure the content made sense. If it didn’t make sense to her, I knew I needed to provide clarification. She did not want confused readers.

It has been my highest privilege to share thoughts about Ohio’s agriculture over numerous columns which have spanned 20 plus years. Some columns flowed easily when there was much to share about Ohio and U.S. agriculture, detailing that grain prices were intertwined with local and global events. Others came with great difficulty even staring at a blank screen at times.

Shortly, after my columns began, Cindy pointed out that other Ohio’s Country Journal columns would often begin with a personal story.… Continue reading

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The Fifty-Year Club Celebration at the Ohio State Fair

This year’s event will be held at the Rhodes Center auditorium at the Ohio State Fair on Monday July 29 with a 9:30 a.m. registration and 10 a.m. start time.

The 2024 Program will feature the “New Footprint of the Ohio State Fair” and it’s time frame for completion. The 2024 Giant Step Recipient is Governor Mike DeWine and the event will include remarks from the Governor along with entertainment from the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Band and All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir. The 83rd Fifty Year Club Celebration also includes an informative and brief business meeting, presentation of the Giant Step Award, refreshments, and door prizes. 

The Fifty-Year Club of the Ohio State Fair is an organization that holds an annual celebration during the Ohio State Fair. The objective of the group is to support, improve, and promote the Ohio State Fair and develop fellowship among the members. There is no membership fee and attendance at the annual celebration is open to any person who has attended an Ohio State Fair 50 or more years ago (1974).… Continue reading

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A train carrying soybeans derailed on their farm – Now what?

JNR Farms outside of West Mansfield in Logan County, Ohio was the site of a train derailment the evening of June 2, 2024. As reported by CSX, “A CSX train carrying grain derailed 20 railcars near CR 142 North in West Mansfield, OH. There were no injuries resulting from the incident and there is no danger to the public.”

Farmer Jerry Regula and his son Reggie Regula happened to be farming in the field immediately adjacent to the derailment and watched it all unfold. In this video, they talk with Ohio Ag Net about the incident and the major grain cleanup that they and other area farmers were able to help with to salvage the thousands of bushels of overturned soybeans. Tune in to hear about their perspective, lessons learned, and how it has impacted their planting season.… Continue reading

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Soy meal is the right fit for hungry tilapia

By Matt Reese

Tilapia has become one of the most popular fish nationwide and there is a consistent and strong demand as a food source in Ohio, both from people and from other fish in farm ponds.

“They’re high demand in the food side, especially in Asian markets. They don’t want to be buying their tilapia from overseas. They want it as local and as fresh as possible, so that’s been very good, high demand,” said Curtis Gram, owner of Freedom Fish Farms in Muskingum County. “The other side is for pond stocking and tilapia have played a big role in Ohio where we can stock tilapia in residential waterways in Ohio. They eat a lot of algae and vegetation in people’s ponds and we stock males and females in the ponds. They breed about every 30 days so they produce a lot of foraging fish and a lot of new mouths to start eating all that algae and vegetation to keep up with that growth over the summer.… Continue reading

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Turkey population efforts underway

By Dan Armitage, outdoor writer

Ohio’s wild turkey abundance peaked in the early 2000s and since then, statewide turkey populations and spring harvest have generally declined. My own gobbler-hunting experiences reflect that decline. That’s why I was glad to hear that the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) began an in-depth study of wild turkey nesting and movement in 2023 to better understand and manage the state’s changing turkey population. The study effort was expanded in 2024, when biologists affixed GPS transmitters to 49 hens and gathered information on their movement, survival, and nest activity timing. This year, staff are gathering data from 137 hens via GPS transmitters.

What’s more, each summer, the Division collects information on young wild turkeys, called poults. Brood surveys in 2021, 2022, and 2023 showed above average results that benefitted Ohio’s wild turkey population numbers this spring. The statewide average poults per hen observed was 2.8 in 2023, 3.0 in 2022, and 3.1 in 2021, with a long-term average of 2.7.… Continue reading

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Cauliflower is all the rage

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

The low-carb and gluten free frenzy has pushed the cauliflower trend toward hysteria. You can find cauliflower crackers, pasta, pizza, rice, and even hot cereal (which seems like another marketing hijack since its… grain free).

In our house we like to gluten and whole grain it up, so cauliflower is typically served as a side and AS cauliflower. Peer pressure in your late 50s takes a new twist when you are following your friends’ making cauliflower a mainstay on their plates and recipes and cauliflower pictures flood your social media. Yes, I caved — not as a crazy diet idea but because they kind of, actually, looked good, and I needed some new ideas to feed the hubby. First up: pizza crust with pulverized cauliflower, egg and cheese was not too bad. I would give it a 6 as in I would make it again, but never have actually made it again.… Continue reading

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Timber Talk: Chainsaw Safety

By Jenna Reese, Executive Director of the Ohio Forestry Association

Despite many advancements in technology and equipment, the chainsaw remains a foundational tool for landowners looking to clear invasive species or general property upkeep, power line technicians or local governments charged with clearing material from utility lines and public rights-of-way, and loggers harvesting timber. With the month of June being National Safety Month, it is the perfect time to talk about proper chainsaw use. Many individuals fire up a chainsaw without fully considering the loss to life or limb that can occur when operating this piece of equipment. Between 2013 and 2023, 200 deaths involving a chainsaw were reported through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Clearinghouse. Many deaths and injuries resulting from chainsaw use are preventable through PPE, maintenance, and technical training.

Proper PPE is essential for protecting yourself from the many hazards of operating a chainsaw. Anyone operating a chainsaw needs to protect the following:

  • Head, Eyes, Ears – A helmet that combines a hardhat, safety visor, and earmuffs is best for working professionals, but a hardhat, safety glasses and ear protection will suffice for private use.
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A new Lake Erie lawsuit targets TMDL

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

A new chapter is developing in the legal battle over resolving water quality problems in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Earlier this month, the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, City of Toledo, and Environmental Law & Policy Center filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The lawsuit targets the EPA’s approval of Ohio’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan for the Maumee River Watershed. If it feels like déjà vu, that’s because it is. In the 10 years since Toledo experienced a drinking water crisis caused by harmful algal blooms in the Western Basin, there have been four federal lawsuits demanding a plan for improving water quality in the lake and a legal battle to protect the lake with a “Lake Erie Bill of Rights.”

The current litigation arises from a 2023 settlement agreement that led the Ohio EPA to create the TMDL for the Maumee River Watershed.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers at Ralston and Wilcox Farms in Hardin County

The fourth and final of the spring 2024 Feeding Farmers series found the Ohio Ag Net crew in Hardin County at a unique combination of both Ralston Farms and Wilcox Farms. Dale Minyo talks with Kelsey Ralston, a third-generation farmer on her family farm (Wilcox Farms). She married into another local farming family (Ralston Farms) and they currently are each majority grain farming families while also enjoy raising cattle for fresh beef.

The wet conditions on the day of the event made it ideal for taking a break for a much deserved family meal.… Continue reading

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FEMA designates 11 Ohio counties as primary natural disaster areas due to March 14 tornadoes

There has been a Presidential disaster declaration for areas in Ohio from tornadoes that occurred on March 14, 2024. The declaration allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters through emergency loans

Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation, or to refinance certain debts. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability. USDA’s FSA offers these loans for losses caused by the tornado that occurred on March 14, 2024. The deadline for producers in designated primary and contiguous counties to apply for loans is January 2, 2025.

The application deadline is Jan. 2, 2025. In Ohio, the primary counties eligible are: Auglaize, Crawford, Darke, Delaware, Hancock, Licking, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Richland, and Union counties. Contiguous counties are also eligible, which are: Allen, Ashland, Champaign, Clark, Coshocton, Fairfield, Franklin, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Knox, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Preble, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert, Wood and Wyandot counties.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s conservation team of teens

By Dan Armitage, outdoor writer

You’ve got to like this program: Ohio teenaged conservationists are invited to join a team of high school leaders for the 2024-2025 Conservation Teen Advisory Council (ConTAC) — but you need to get your applications in quickly. Highly motivated students who are interested in natural resource conservation, outdoor outreach, wildlife, or simply making a positive impact in their state would make the perfect applicants, according to host Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“ODNR has spent the last 75 years creating a legacy of conservation,” said Mary Mertz, ODNR Director. “ConTAC is a way for teenagers to build upon that legacy and become future leaders who address issues that face our great outdoors.”

ConTAC gives students a chance to meet new peers from across the state with similar interests. Through monthly meetings and project work, members will develop and implement innovative and practical ideas that empower young people to protect and preserve Ohio’s natural resources.… Continue reading

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War on the Western Front: Ohio and the War of 1812

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

After achieving independence from England, the upstart American government was tasked with a variety of conflicts that threatened the newly established nation. As the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France raged on the European continent and on the seas of the Atlantic, tensions with Americans were provoked by the English maritime practices of commandeering American ships, forcing U.S. sailors into servitude with the British Navy and firing upon, boarding, and sinking any U.S. commercial ship suspected of contact with the French. 

Further, the British continued to occupy forts and establishments in territory ceded to the U.S. after the Revolution. Though the Brits abandoned the 13 colonies after the Revolutionary War, they still maintained possession of other parts of the continent, and some British loyalists would come to settle in the Northwest Territories along the southern shores of Lake Erie. The English allied with hostile Native American tribes in the Great Lakes region, supporting and arming them, further contributing to conflict and instability in the area.… Continue reading

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