Country Life

U.S. Department of Labor modifies wages in H-2A program

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced it will publish a final rule to amend how the Adverse Effect Wage Rates for the H-2A program are set to improve the rates’ consistency and accuracy based on the work actually performed by these workers and to better prevent H-2A workers’ employment negatively affecting the wages of U.S. workers in similar positions. 

The H-2A program allows employers to address temporary labor needs by employing foreign agricultural workers when a lack of U.S. workers for the positions exists, and as long as hiring non-U.S. workers does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers in similar jobs. The program’s Adverse Effect Wage Rates is the wage below which there would be an adverse effect on the wages of U.S. workers.     

The department uses the data for field and livestock workers combined as reported by the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey to set the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, but on a few occasions in recent years, the FLS has not been conducted.… Continue reading

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Ohio counties eligible for emergency farm loan assistance

By David Marrison, OSU Extension Field Specialist- Farm Management

Farm operations in 15 Ohio counties are eligible to apply for emergency credit through the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Farm Loan program. These 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 the refinance of certain debts.

The Emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President of the United States under the Stafford Act. These loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster. In addition, farmers located in counties that are contiguous to the primary designated county may also qualify for this loan program.

A declaration was made for Brown and Clermont counties on Nov.… Continue reading

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Fish kill numbers, wildlife impacts updated for East Palestine

In early February, 38 Norfolk Southern rail cars carrying toxic chemicals derailed, resulting in a chemical burn to prevent a potential explosion and an ominous smoke plume over the village of East Palestine in Columbiana County.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified five materials known to have been released into the air and water from the incident:

  • vinyl chloride.
  • butyl acrylate.
  • ethylhexyl acrylate.
  • ethylene glycol monobutyl ether.
  • Isobutylene.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz provided a Feb. 23 updated estimate on the number of aquatic animals potentially killed from the incident. The final sample count of aquatic species killed in waterways impacted in the area totaled 2,938. Of this collected sample, most — nearly 2,200 — were small minnows.

“It’s important to stress that these small fish are all believed to have been killed immediately after the derailment. Because the chemicals were contained, ODNR has not seen any additional signs of aquatic life suffering in the streams.… Continue reading

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Farmland preservation gaining urgency

By Matt Reese

The concern around keeping Ohio’s best farmland in agricultural production is not a new one. Our state has a long history of paving over productive soils in favor of “progress” in the form of parking lots, strip malls and whatever other whims developers dream up. Certainly, some of this (or maybe even most) development has real value and benefits to the state and local communities. Each acre of productive farmland lost, though, erodes our society’s future ability to produce food, fuel and fiber, along with the agrarian heritage of the community.

Agricultural lands sequester carbon, produce oxygen, allow for water infiltration, provide wildlife habitat, have aesthetic appeal, and offer value to communities in ways which rooftops, concrete and asphalt cannot. Farms generate tax revenue with low costs to the community. Development brings additional burdens to existing infrastructure such as roads, schools and water systems.

While this has been an issue for many generations, the topic of farmland preservations seems to have gained some urgency in ag circles in the last couple of years.… Continue reading

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Using Quicken for farm record keeping

By Grant Davis, Champaign County ANR Educator, Ohio State University

2022 Quicken Training Flyer

As we have moved into the new year, and tax season is quickly approaching, you might be looking to re-evaluate how you keep records for your farming operation. Maybe you have thought about using a software program like Quicken but think it won’t work for a farm business, or just would like to see how it works before making the commitment of purchasing. Champaign County Extension will be hosting a short series on using Quicken® for Farm Record Keeping on February 21, and 28, at the Champaign Community Center Auditorium from 6 to 8:30pm. Participants will learn about Quicken using an OSU Computer Lab provided during the workshop with Quicken software installed. Or, if you already are using Quicken® you are welcome to bring your own computer. A workshop manual/home reference will be provided. Registration is $50 per farm business (Maximum 2 people per farm).… Continue reading

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Droning on in the classroom

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Ohio’s teachers were talking agriculture at the recent 2023 Science Education Council of Ohio Science Symposium in Lewis Center.

The Ohio Soybean Council’s GrowNextGen was a major sponsor of the event, offering teachers effective methods of integrating agriculture into their lesson plans. One of the attendees was Chris Brown, a science teacher for seventh and eighth grades from Glandorf Elementary in Putnam County, who has been working with GrowNextGen in his classroom. 

“My first memory with GrowNextGen is we got to go to the Farm Science Review as part of the Ohio Rural Educator Program. I was just overwhelmed by the amount of things that are involved agriculture and that just opened my eyes,” Brown said. “I thought ‘Wow, I need to get this in my classroom because I can connect it to basically everything I teach.’ I really don’t think there’s a student who couldn’t find a way to use this, no matter what career they want to do.… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau seeking YAP leaders

Ohio Farm Bureau members ages 18-34 who are interested in developing their leadership skills and enhancing programming for their peers should apply for the 2024-2026 Young Agricultural Professionals State Committee. Application deadline is April 28, 2023 at 5 p.m.

The state committee is composed of eight members or couples who suggest, develop and conduct activities that provide networking, social and learning opportunities for young farmers and ag professionals, including planning the yearly leadership experience and hosting Young Agricultural Professionals in a variety of in- and out-of-state events.

Committee members serve a two-year term that begins in September 2023 and expires two years later after the Young Ag Professionals Leadership Experience in January. Four new couples or singles are appointed each year. Members serve a two-year term with four returning and four new positions each year.

Applications are due to Kelsey Turner, Ohio Farm Bureau director of leadership and business development, by April 28, 2023 at 5 p.m.… Continue reading

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Leases, zoning, milk insurance and popcorn: Answers to legal questions

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

Yes, you read it right: our roundup of agricultural law questions includes a question on popcorn–not one we often hear. Below are our answers to and several legal questions we’ve recently received in the Farm Office.

Q: A farm lease landlord didn’t notify a tenant of the intent to terminate a verbal farm lease before the new September 1 deadline. What are the consequences if the landlord now tries to enter into a new lease agreement with another tenant operator?

A: Ohio’s new “statutory termination law” requires a landlord to provide written notice of termination of a verbal farmland lease by Sept. 1 of the year the lease is effective. The law is designed to prevent a tenant from losing land late in the leasing cycle, after the tenant has made commitments and investment in the land.… Continue reading

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Turkey study underway

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

The National Wild Turkey Federation Ohio State Chapter recently allocated $50,000 to support a new wild turkey research study that seeks to address population declines in the Buckeye State. With increasing concerns over population declines in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio State University are conducting the first broad-scale study of hen survival in the state in almost two decades. Findings will help researchers and wildlife managers understand how survival rates, harvest rates and reproduction have changed in the last 17 years and what factors may be causing those changes.

In the early 2000s, researchers determined May 1 to be the median date for which hens begin incubating; however, it’s clear today that incubation start dates vary in different regions of the state. Changing weather and habitat conditions, too, may be impacting the initiation of nest incubation from the median date established in the early 2000s.… Continue reading

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Bill introduced to reform eminent domain in Ohio

Ohio lags behind most states in protections for landowners. In fact, when Ohio landowners are faced with losing property rights through eminent domain, the present law makes it difficult for them to defend their own interests and they often find themselves at a disadvantage.

House Bill 64, introduced by State Rep. Darrell Kick (OH-98) and State Rep. Rodney Creech (OH-40), would create a more direct legal route for a landowner to receive compensation when property is taken by the government without compensation, using a court action called inverse condemnation. In most states, when a property owner files an eminent domain case in court, the court starts by determining if there was indeed a taking of land or property value and if the owner is owed compensation. If so, the same court handles the trial to set the amount of compensation to the landowner.

Current Ohio law, on the other hand, requires a landowner to first file a lawsuit to force the government or entity taking property to follow the law, then separately go through the eminent domain process.… Continue reading

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The hermit of Mad River

By Don “Doc” Sanders

I’d like to introduce you to an interesting character in Champaign County history and lore: Professor David Orin Steinberger. Steinberger, who became known as the Hermit of Mad River, was born in Clark County, March 25, 1857, and settled in Champaign County. His family had an extensive pioneer history in the area. His maternal uncle Isaac Funk was one of the founders of Funk & Wagnalls, the publisher of encyclopedias and other reference works. 

A graduate of the National Academy of Design and Art League Schools in New York City, Steinberger taught art at Wittenberg College (now University) in Springfield, Ohio. His uncle and the other half of Funk & Wagnalls, Adam Wagnalls, had also studied at Wittenberg. 

While a professor, David Steinberger contracted tuberculosis (TB). At the time, it was commonly thought that people only got TB from drinking unpasteurized milk from infected cows. While there is scientific evidence that bovine tuberculosis can be passed to humans through raw milk and other dairy products made from raw milk, it has been learned that TB can also be transmitted human to human.… Continue reading

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ODA presents awards highlighting water quality efforts

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) showed its appreciation for exceptional leadership and commitment to conservation by honoring the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Sunrise Cooperative, and Ed Crawford of the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The awards were presented by ODA Director Brian Baldridge at the 2023 Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Partnership Meeting.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Brian Baldridge presents the H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award to Putnam SWCD for outstanding H2Ohio program delivery and administration.

The H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award recognizes those who exhibit exceptional leadership and commitment to water quality through H2Ohio. Recipients of this award are devoted stewards of water quality improvement and conservation who demonstrate innovation, partnership, enthusiasm, and a “get it done” attitude. The recipients were chosen from three categories:  agricultural retailers, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and conservation-minded individuals.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Brian Baldridge presents the H2Ohio Lifetime Conservation Advocate Award to Sunrise Cooperative for being an outstanding agricultural industry H2Ohio partner.
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The value of remaining silent….

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

How did the fish get caught? He opened his mouth. That riddle is the essence of what I wish clients, both civil and criminal, understood about our country’s legal branch of government. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows Americans to refuse to answer questions from law enforcement. The presumption of innocence and the burden prosecutors bear to prove guilt, even when the accused remains silent, are the bedrock of America criminal law. 

The United States uses the adversarial system in its courts, for both civil and criminal cases. The opposing attorneys have primary responsibility for controlling the development and presentation of the lawsuit. The attorneys may not lie but have no duty to volunteer facts that do not support their client’s case. There is one exception. A prosecutor must disclose exculpatory evidence which is evidence that exonerates the defendant of guilt. Because of the adversarial approach, the plaintiff (or the government in a criminal setting) and the defendant each have lawyers that work to present their best side to persuade a judge and a jury.… Continue reading

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Seeking Student Reporters for 2023 Ohio FFA State Convention

The 2023 Ohio FFA State Convention is right around the corner, May 4-5, and Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net is looking for outstanding Ohio FFA members to help serve as student reporters for this year’s event. 

Selected FFA members will get the opportunity to help cover the convention and work alongside our news staff. Ever wonder what it’s like to do our job? This is your chance! Reporters can expect to gain an early insight into a possible career in agricultural communication, and make some new connections along the way. 

The coverage of the Ohio FFA Convention will be posted on and various social media outlets with reporters helping to host news coverage alongside our staff in addition to veteran student reporters. 

Students will assist in gathering information, shoot photos and video of newsworthy items and people, share their commentary of what happened in each session, and much more. … Continue reading

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Ohio 4-H Spark EXPO back in 2023

Students have the opportunity to explore future careers at the 4-H Spark EXPO, held this summer on The Ohio State University campus.

From June 14-17, teens at the Spark EXPO will learn about agriculture and related STEM fields from industry experts, and faculty and staff of the Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). 

“Providing students with experiences, like Spark, introduces them to a variety of educational and career opportunities they may not know about,” said Margo Long, 4-H Workforce Development and Pathways program manager. “Not all students find their way to a four-year college, so we want to ensure all young people know 4-H is a space to prepare them for wherever their path may lead them after high school.”  

As part of Spark EXPO, students visit Ohio State’s Columbus and Wooster campuses and learn from Ohio State students, teachers, scientists, and researchers. Students explore careers, hear from Ohio 4-H alumni who share their career stories, and learn about the college and career-readiness program: Ohio 4-H Pathways to the Future.… Continue reading

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Budget, eminent domain addressed in Ag Day at the Capital

By Matt Reese

In February, Ohio Farm Bureau members left their farms for the day to make the trip to Columbus and meet with legislators for the 2023 Ag Day at the Capital. Jonathan Francis from Madison County Farm Bureau enjoyed the chance to share the story from his farm. 

Matt Reese talked with Jonathan Francis from Madison County at Ag Day at the Capital.

“So being in Madison County, right next to Franklin, we’ve had some districting changes and our new senator is very urban focused. We were really excited to get the opportunity to meet with her staff and show her the importance of agriculture. She’s not really familiar with Madison County, but we’re excited to show her what we’re about and remind her of the different agricultural issues we face,” Francis said. “We talked a lot about solar with her staff — there’s quite a bit of solar pressure in Madison County so we’re trying to share the good and bad and the ugly of that.… Continue reading

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Farmers’ Breakfast Series continues in Plain City

OSU Extension in Delaware, Madison and Union Counties, with support from the county Farm Bureaus presents the 2023 Farmers’ Breakfast Series at the Der Dutchman. 

Feb 28: 2023 Central Ohio Weather Outlook: 8:30am -Aaron Wilson, Assistant Professor, OSU Ag Weather and Climate Field Specialist. State Climatologist

Mar 28: Ag Law Update: 8:30am -Peggy Hall, Associate Professor, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Director and The Future of Rural Economies discussion on how development on and around farmland impacts the rural economy with Mark Partridge, Professor, OSU Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy.

The meetings are at Der Dutchman, 445 S Jefferson Ave, Plain City and are free to attend with pre-registration. To register go to or Call 937-644-8117 by the 22nd of each month.… Continue reading

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USDA announces grants to expand local food systems

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is now accepting applications for this year’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), with a total of $133 million available in competitive grant funds to expand and strengthen local and regional food systems and increase the availability of locally grown agricultural products.

The funding available for this year’s program includes $65 million in supplemental funding authorized by the American Rescue Plan, carry over funding from last year’s program and funds provided through the 2018 Farm Bill and annual appropriations. 

“Through LAMP, USDA is helping to maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Program Jenny Lester Moffitt. “Over the years, these grants have generated new income sources for small, beginning, and underserved farmers, increased local food access across rural and urban communities and provided platforms for value-added and new products to shine.” 

USDA’s LAMP is made up of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) and the Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) grant program, all administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).… Continue reading

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YAP 2023 grant recipients announced

Eight local Young Agricultural Professionals groups have been awarded $500 grants for educational programming or events.

The local grants are a part of Farm Credit Mid-America’s $100,000 donation to Farm Bureau young leader programs in their four-state region of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Farm Credit Mid-America proudly supports these local grant programs, as well as Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual statewide Young Ag Professionals contests and the YAP Winter Leadership Experience.

Ag Toy Drive

The Ashland & Wayne County Young Ag Professionals and the Medina County Young Farmers hosted their 6th Annual Ag Toy Drive Nov. 29 at Lincoln Way Vineyards. After sponsorships and individual contributions were counted, over $11,000 in agricultural toys were donated to Associated Charities of Ashland County, Medina Toys for Tots and Wayne County Toys for Tots for the holiday season. Both local business and individual cash donations were used to purchase ag-themed toys within each county.… Continue reading

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