Country Life

GrowNextGen Tour highlights

By Matt Reese

Courtesy of the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Ag Net and Ohio’s Country Journal will be helping showcase agriculture to students around the state through the 2022 GrowNextGen Tour.

GrowNextGen was launched in 2014 with funding from the soybean checkoff through the Ohio Soybean Council and Ohio soybean farmers. The program provides teachers with free, high quality STEM units and lessons that bring agriculture principles and practices into the science classroom. With a primary focus on biology, chemistry, food science and environmental science standards, GrowNextGen includes e-learning courses and a network of educators and industry leaders to answer questions and provide resources to support the lessons. The goal of the program is to increase student interest in careers related to food productionCareer videos and discussion guides describing career pathways allow teachers to give students a look into multiple careers they might not have considered.

Ronda Uresti-Forman and Kathleen Moore are pipetting their soy biodiesel they created to fuel their pop-pop boats at the July 28 GrowNextGen workshop and tour stop at Global Impact STEM Academy.
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Algal bloom prediction low again for Lake Erie

The 2022 algal bloom is expected to have a low severity index of 3.5, according to the final forecast from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration. This forecast uses an ensemble of different models, which consider phosphorus loading into the lake during the spring and early summer.
If realized, this will be the fourth year out of the past seven that the algal bloom will be rated less than 4 on a scale of 1 (mild) to 10 (severe).

Recent soil test data from The Fertilizer Institute found that the number of soil samples tested for Ohio increased from about 69,000 in 2001 to nearly 274,000 in 2020. Over the same period, the median soil test phosphorus levels dropped from 38 to 26 parts per million (Mehlich 3).

With the expansion of the H2Ohio water quality initiative and the growth of the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative certification program, both designed to help farmers find more and better nutrient management practices, efforts will continue to advance across Ohio, according to Jordan Hoewischer, director of water quality and research with Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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Gas tax holiday being considered

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Last week, President Joe Biden called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months, through September, without taking any money away from the Highway Trust Fund. He is also calling on states to take similar action to provide some direct relief, whether suspending their own gas taxes or helping consumers in other ways.

The federal government currently charges an 18-cent tax per gallon of gasoline and a 24-cent tax per gallon of diesel. Those taxes fund critical highways and public transportation, through the Highway Trust Fund. The President is also calling on Congress to make sure that a gas tax holiday has no negative effect on the Highway Trust Fund. 

In addition to federal gas tax relief, the President is calling on state and local governments to provide additional consumer relief. Already, some states and local governments have acted. Connecticut and New York governors temporarily suspended their gas taxes.… Continue reading

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Vilsack announces Bioproduct Pilot Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for a new pilot program created under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the development of biobased products that have lower carbon footprints and increase the use of renewable agricultural materials, creating new revenue streams for farmers. This $10 million investment is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to rebuild infrastructure and create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity in our rural communities. 

Secretary Vilsack visited Dan and Debbie Creamery, a family-owned operation in Ely, Iowa, and met to discuss what impact the Bioproduct Pilot Program and resulting innovations will have on operations like theirs, as well as the customers they serve. Dan and Debbie’s Creamery farm is about 500 acres with a 120-head dairy operation. 

“Dan and Debbie represent the many American farmers, families and communities USDA is called to serve,” Vilsack said. “This pilot program is a critical part of USDA’s commitment to enhancing the circular economy and providing additional revenue streams for farmers.… Continue reading

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Report highlights smarter land use planning to protect agriculture

Smart growth and investment in America’s downtowns and main streets must occur now to secure the land that grows our food, according to American Farmland Trust’s new report Farms Under Threat 2040: Choosing an Abundant Future and the accompanying web mapping tool. 

“It is urgent we safeguard the land that grows our food,” said Mitch Hunter, AFT research director and lead author of the report. “In recent years, the global food system has been severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and widespread drought — pushing millions more people into severe hunger. The mounting effects of climate change and the rising global population will make it ever harder to ensure a stable food supply in the coming decades.” 

AFT’s Farms Under Threat research has shown Americans are paving over agricultural land at a rapid pace. From 2001-16, our nation lost or compromised 2,000 acres of farmland and ranchland every day. … Continue reading

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Dean’s Charity Steer Show returns for 2022

The Dean’s Charity Steer Show, an event that benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Central Ohio, returns to the Ohio State Fair in 2022 after a two-year hiatus. Hosted by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), it will be held from 2–4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, in the Cooper Arena at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair.

“This exciting event brings together our community to celebrate agriculture and children, both for our 4-H youth as well as children benefiting from the Ronald McDonald House,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “Every dollar we raise means families can stay together only steps away from their hospitalized child during one of the most stressful times of their lives.”

Each year, more than 82,000 nights of rest are provided to families of seriously ill children by the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, the second largest Ronald McDonald House in the world.… Continue reading

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July 4th cookout costs up 17%

The average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $69.68, which breaks down to less than $7 per person. The overall cost for the cookout is up 17% or about $10 from last year, a result of ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation and the war in Ukraine.

Farmers are feeling the price-point pain too, like the people they grow food for, according to AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan.

“Despite higher food prices, the supply chain disruptions and inflation have made farm supplies more expensive; like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,” Cryan said. “Bottom line, in many cases the higher prices farmers are being paid aren’t covering the increase in their farm expenses. The cost of fuel is up and fertilizer prices have tripled.” 

Cryan also pointed to the cascading effects of the war in Ukraine, as that country’s contributions to global food security are cut off, Russian and Belarusian fertilizer exports are constrained, and some other countries pull back exports to protect their domestic supplies. … Continue reading

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Preparing an accessible garden

By Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility

Everyone wants a garden to be welcoming, beautiful, and safe. If we add accessible to the list, there is a better possibility the garden meets the gardener’s needs no matter their age or ability level. Several key areas can be incorporated into a garden to make it accessible.


Raised beds or containers

If it is difficult to bend or kneel, and reach plants in the ground, consider a raised bed, a container garden, or a wall hanging garden. If you don’t have the option of a raised bed or container garden this year, think about taking a chair or bench into the garden so you can sit instead of kneeling or stooping. When you are done working, you can sit on the bench and enjoy your garden.

If you like the idea of a container garden but don’t want to buy containers, look around your home and garden and see what items can be repurposed to serve as containers.… Continue reading

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A look at energy alternatives…

By Don “Doc” Sanders

The good old U.S. of A. is blessed with lots of alternative options for energy. However, I believe that these opportunities must be developed slowly and thoughtfully like the steady forward progress of the tortoise, as opposed to the undisciplined pace of the hare, in Aesop’s fable.

Currently, our government is playing its political cards on energy utilization like the speedy, erratic hare, not the methodical tortoise. If you remember Aesop’s tale, you know that the tortoise won the race. And the impulsive hare got waylaid by distractions.

Let’s take a look at what’s being bandied about regarding traditional and alternative energy sources.

Coal is problematic. An estimated 470 years of coal resources are available. While lots of coal is available, true clean-burning coal technology isn’t. The coal industry and coal-fired generating plants are behind the energy power curve with regards to reducing their carbon footprint and environmental impact.… Continue reading

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Angler surveys underway

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

Angler surveys are underway at many of Ohio’s popular public inland waterways and Lake Erie, information from which is crucial to maintaining and improving the quality of Ohio’s public fisheries and angling opportunities.

Eighteen creel clerks are gathering information this summer; six are based on the shore of Lake Erie, two on the Maumee and Sandusky rivers, five on the Ohio River, and five at inland reservoirs. Lake Erie surveys are ongoing until October; surveys at inland reservoirs run until November, and along the Ohio River until the end of the year. Historical surveys reveal that Ohio’s most popular species to target include walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, saugeye, sunfish, crappie, and catfish.

Division of Wildlife creel clerks collect information directly from anglers to generate estimates of fishing effort, catch rates, and harvest rates.… Continue reading

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New report shows rural voters rely on vote by mail and early voting

Voters in rural areas across the country heavily rely on alternative ways to vote, including voting

by mail and in-person early voting, and newly proposed state legislation would restrict their

ability to cast a ballot, according to a new report by the nonpartisan election policy group Secure

Democracy USA. The report, The Forgotten Voters: How Current Threats to Voting Hurt Rural

Americans, found that nearly half of all rural voters in the United States voted by mail or voted

early in-person in the 2020 election.

“Nothing should restrict an American’s ability to make their voice heard and vote, regardless of

where you live or what method you use to cast your ballot,” said Daniel Griffith, Senior Policy

Director at Secure Democracy USA who helped author the report. “Rural voters are often

forgotten in policy debates around election changes, but this report shows that voters in rural

areas are often most at risk when our freedom to vote is restricted.”… Continue reading

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Ohio 2022 Water Quality Status Report released

From trends in soil tests that show marked improvement in water quality over the last 20 years, to the ongoing on-farm best practices research being done in northwest Ohio to help farmers find the best nutrient management solutions for them, water quality is always a literal work in progress for the Ohio Farm Bureau.

The 2022 Water Quality Status Report highlights how signature water quality initiatives and partnerships such as the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network along with H2Ohio, and its farmer certification piece the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative, have had major roles improving and protecting clean water, one of the state’s most valuable resources.

However, further work is done quietly behind the scenes by Ohio Farm Bureau staff and volunteers to help guide the state and region to a healthier future. Ohio Farm Bureau members are represented on multiple advisory boards and committees by staff that ensure the voices of farmers, landowners and agriculturalists are heard.… Continue reading

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Bringing agriculture to the classroom

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

For generations, Ohio agriculture has recognized the valuable learning opportunities for young people who grow up on farms. The vast majority of Ohio’s children, though, do not get that opportunity.

This fact has extensive implications. In the late 90s, Ohio’s soybean growers recognized those implications and decided to try to bring lessons from the farm to Ohio’s young people.

“About 25 years ago, I was at home with my young sons and writing curriculum for Upper Arlington schools with a friend of mine who was also writing curriculum for Worthington schools. We both were educators with years of experience in the classroom,” said Jeanne Gogolski, CEO of Education Projects. “We got a call from a local marketing firm who said, ‘Hey, we have a client who’s interested in a curriculum writer. Can you come and talk with them?’ And we said, ‘sure.’ So we went to the meeting, and it turns out that it was the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) with their checkoff dollars beginning to explore how to educate students in Ohio about modern agriculture, and in particular, soybeans.”… Continue reading

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Depp v. Heard offers some unsettling legal insights

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

As I write this column, the jury is deliberating in John C. Depp, II v. Amber Laura Heard, a defamation action in Fairfax County, Virginia. I have no interest in this litigation, but my Google news feed insists on keeping me updated. A quick look at this case, however, can offer some important insights into our legal system.

Defamation is the action of damaging the good reputation of someone through slander (oral) or libel (written). In other words, defamation is a false statement presented as a fact that causes injury or damage to the character of the person it is about. An agricultural example is “Tom Smith stole livestock from his neighbor.” If this is untrue, and if making this statement damages Tom’s reputation or ability to work, it is defamation.

The elements of defamation are (1) a false statement purporting to be fact; (2) publication or communication of that statement to a third person; (3) fault; and (4) damages.… Continue reading

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Luke Bryan set to continue #HeresToTheFarmer Campaign and concert series

Bayer announced it is renewing its multi-year partnership with five-time entertainer of the year Luke Bryan, joining his 2022 Farm Tour as presenting sponsor and continuing their Here’s to the Farmer campaign celebrating America’s farmers and fighting hunger. New this year, Kroger, America’s largest grocer, joins the campaign offering the first-ever Farm Tour 2022 sweepstakes, giving fans across the country the chance to win a Luke Bryan VIP experience, tickets, swag and more. Together Bayer, Kroger and Luke Bryan are encouraging fans to share the hashtag #HeresToTheFarmer on their social media channels. Now through Oct. 31, 2022, for every share, Bayer will help provide one meal through the Feeding America network, up to 1 million meals to communities in need.

The son of a peanut farmer from Georgia, Bryan launched his Farm Tour in 2009 to highlight and celebrate the contributions of America’s farmers. The Georgia native will set up stages in the fields of local farmers across six states this September 15-24, with tickets now on sale at LukeBryan.comContinue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau submitted comments to SEC

On Friday, Ohio Farm Bureau submitted public comments in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding a proposed rule that could severely impact family farms by requiring climate disclosures by public companies.

This letter was in addition to 8,500 comments sent in by Farm Bureau members across the country who took part in the action alert from American Farm Bureau on this issue. The letter emphasized that Farm Bureau members are committed to transparency in climate-related matters to inform our stakeholders in a manner consistent with existing practices in the agriculture industry.

“However, without changes and clarifications, the Proposed Rules would be wildly burdensome and expensive if not altogether impossible for many small and mid-sized farmers to comply with, as they require reporting of climate data at the local level,” the letter read. “The rule will only encourage consolidation for those without the resources to comply.”

Such consolidation would have far-reaching socioeconomic consequences, including further eroding rural tax bases.… Continue reading

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New set of Ohio local agricultural easements approved for purchase

The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced approval for local sponsors to purchase agricultural easements on 37 family farms representing 3,701 acres in 29 counties.

Local sponsoring organizations, which include land trusts, counties and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, receive funding from the Clean Ohio Fund to manage the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP). The easement ensures farms remain permanently in agricultural production. The program supports the state’s largest industry, food and agriculture.

To be eligible for the program, farms must be larger than 40 acres or next to a preserved farm, actively engaged in farming, participate in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, demonstrate good stewardship of the land, have support from local government and not be in close proximity to development. Landowners may use the proceeds of the easement in any way they wish, but most reinvest it in their farm operation.

ODA 2022 local agricultural easements were approved for purchase in the following counties: Allen, Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Coshocton, Darke, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Harrison, Highland, Huron, Knox, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Morrow, Muskingum, Preble, Ross, Seneca, Union, and Warren.… Continue reading

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Benefit in the barn returns for 2022

Organizers for the Benefit in the Barn announced that the affair is returning for its 8th year on Aug. 20 at Glenndale Farms in Delaware County. Owners Glenn and Kelly Harsh will be opening their farm to what has become a signature late-summer occasion bringing consumers and farmers together for food, entertainment, fun and a purpose. The main objectives of the Benefit in the Barn are to spotlight the hunger issues in our community, raise funding to help address the issue while also providing opportunities for dialogue between consumers and farmers.

The outdoor event will feature dinner catered by City Barbeque, Eda’s Italian Ice and Gelato and a cash bar featuring Ohio Craft Beer and Ohio Wine. Sponsored by Delaware and Union County Farm Bureau organizations, this year’s entertainment will spotlight North to Nashville, a Central Ohio country music band.

Benefit in the Barn has raised over $370,000 to support hunger relief efforts in Delaware and Union Counties.… Continue reading

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ASA providing input on sustainability to White House

In an effort to assist the Biden administration in developing its consensus definition of “sustainable chemistry,” the America Soybean Association’s Regulatory, Biofuels & Infrastructure, Conservation & Precision Ag Advocacy Teams submitted comments to the White House Friday regarding its on sustainable chemistries.

The comments discussed how vital sustainable chemistries are to U.S. soybean growers, both from a crop inputs and production perspective and as market opportunities for the soy industry. Addressed in the comments are the stewardship efforts of farmers, the importance of crop protection products in enabling conservation practices, and the benefits and market opportunities for biofuels and biobased products. ASA stresses, “any definition of ‘sustainable chemistry’ is complementary to and enhances these practices and products, the sustainability of which are supported by robust scientific evidence and data, and does not risk their disruption.”

Read the comments .… Continue reading

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Modernizing Ag-LINK to better serve Ohio’s farmers

By Robert Sprague, Ohio Treasurer

Forty-year high inflation, an unprecedented supply chain crisis, record-breaking energy prices — combine these nationwide economic challenges with the yearly concerns about weather and commodity futures, and Ohio’s agriculture industry is facing roadblocks at every turn. Now, to create the perfect storm, the rise in interest rates is quickly increasing the cost of borrowing.

Since last year, I’ve been meeting with farmers, co-ops, financial institutions, and other members of Ohio’s ag community to learn more about how inflation and other economic challenges are impacting their operations and bottom lines.

For more than three decades, our Ag-LINK program has helped farmers and agribusinesses drive down the cost of doing business by providing interest rate reductions on new or existing loans. Year-in and year-out, borrowers use the program to finance upfront operating costs for feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel, equipment, and other expenses. But despite Ag-LINK’s popularity and long track-record of success, my travels made it clear to me that there was much more our office could do more to meet farmers’ borrowing needs.… Continue reading

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