Country Life

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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OSU ACT club helps students “Become tomorrow’s leaders today” at Night for Young Professionals

By ​Kylie Ramirez, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Ohio State University

Night for Young Professionals is a long-time tradition for students at The Ohio State University in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow club organizes this event for an evening of networking and professional growth, thanks to its sponsors Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff. 

Seats were full at both the Columbus and Wooster campuses where students enjoyed a complimentary City Barbeque meal. 

Reagan Feldner, ACT leadership committee chair thanked everyone who showed up “dressed for success, and eager to learn,” during her welcome. Julia Brown, Ohio Soybean Council, and Bernadette Arehart, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net, took the stage for a conversation about the contributions of Ohio’s soybean farmers to the success of the event.

“We see a need to encourage young people to get involved in agriculture,” said Brown when asked why Ohio Soybean Council wants to support the program.… Continue reading

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Biofuels update

By Matt Reese

Biofuels are the subject of complex politics, controversy and confusion, but have, without a doubt, forever left their mark on crop markets and rural America. In this constantly evolving sector, what is next for biofuels? 

Paul Bertels is an Illinois-based agricultural leader and consultant at FarmGate Insights who closely follows ever-changing developments with biofuels.

“We’ve seen a number of advances in the last couple of years. We’ve largely hit a blend wall in ethanol with E10 blends, so the way around that is E15 or to work with the auto industry to where they’re designing engines that need a higher ethanol blend,” he said. “On the bio-based diesel side, most people think of biodiesel, which is a blend. What we’ve seen in the last few years is really a ramp up in renewable diesel. With renewable diesel, you’re actually making the exact equivalent of diesel fuel, you’re just doing it with biomass — soybean oil, used cooking oil, things like that.… Continue reading

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A century of conservation

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) marked 100 years of conservation in 2022, celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the Roosevelt Game Preserve. Known today as Shawnee State Park and Shawnee State Forest, the property was established in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1922. The area, now displaying a historic marker, was created to encourage the replenishment of natural resources and wildlife that had been depleted in Ohio’s past. 

From preserving the past to investing in the future, Shawnee State Forest was expanded by more than 1,200 acres thanks to a federal grant through the Forest Legacy Program. Visitors at Shawnee State Park will soon enjoy a new state-of-the-art campground, new bike trails, a splash pad, and dog park at the Shawnee Ohio River Park, Campground and Marina. The new and improved attraction is expected to be complete next year. 

Boaters and paddlers at Alum Creek State Park can now enjoy a brand-new marina building.… Continue reading

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Farm income expected to decline

While America’s families continue to deal with record-high grocery prices,farm familiescan expect to see a drop in income in 2023. American Farm Bureau Federation economists analyzed USDA’s Farm Sector Income Forecast in their latest Market Intel report. U.S. net farm income is forecast to fall almost 16% from last year, while costs are expected to increase more than 4%, on top of a record increase in production expenses last year.

Increased operating costs, lower prices for livestock and crops, and the end of pandemic-related assistance are among the factors that will contribute to a loss in farm income, down to $136.9 billion. While fuel and fertilizer costs are expected to decline somewhat from record highs, marketing, storage and transportation costs are forecast to increase 11%. Labor costs are projected to increase 7%. 

“The farm income forecast is a stark reminder that America’s farmers and ranchers are not reaping big benefits from higher prices at the grocery store,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president.… Continue reading

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CAUV changes in Lorain County

After several meetings with Lorain County Farm Bureau members, County Auditor Craig Snodgrass will be making some major changes in how his office applies Ohio’s Current Agricultural Use Value program.

CAUV allows farmland devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture to be valued based on its value in agriculture, rather than the full market value, resulting in a lower tax bill for farmers and property owners.

At issue was a “residual” designation, which is given to uncultivated land that could potentially be cultivated. Land given that designation is given a higher tax rate than typical CAUV designations.

The changes mean that land previously classified as residual, such as areas with structures, waterways and fence lines, will now receive CAUV crop designations. Farmers and landowners will experience lower tax values for much more of their property used for crop production, pastureland and woods.

The auditor’s adjustments are being attributed in large part to a letter that was sent from the Lorain County Farm Bureau board to over 2,000 CAUV landowners in the county, creating a “Call to Action” to inquire with the auditor’s office about how CAUV acreage and values were being made.… Continue reading

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Carbon credit market assistance program through USDA

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

Sometimes a legislative proposal stalls, appears dead, then emerges in another piece of legislation in a slightly different form. That’s exactly what happened with the Growing Climate Solutions Act and its plan to help farmers with carbon and environmental credit markets. First introduced in 2020, the bill gained some momentum and passed the U.S. Senate before coming to a standstill in the House. But Congress added the bill, with some negotiated changes, into the Consolidated Appropriations Act it passed in the final days of 2022. The USDA is now charged with implementing its provisions.

Purpose of the bill

The bill aims to reduce barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters who want to enter into voluntary markets that establish environmental credits for greenhouse gas emission reductions resulting from agricultural or forestry practices (also known as carbon credits).… Continue reading

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Agricultural guestworkers in Ohio

Please join Ohio State University Extension, with support from the Farm Financial Management and Policy Institute, and the Ohio Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs (OCHLA) on Feb. 15 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. to learn more about agricultural guest workers in our state.

Each year, OCHLA publishes Latino Community Reports designed to educate and facilitate discussion on particular challenges and opportunities facing Hispanic Ohioans. This season’s publication focuses on the H-2A guest worker population in Ohio. During this event, Anisa Kline, author of the report, will present original research results from her survey of 285 H-2A workers across Ohio.  Following her presentation stakeholders from across sectors will respond to her findings.  These panelists will include: Silvia Hernandez (Starting Point Outreach Center), Dr. José Salinas (Ohio Migrant Education Center), Phil Riehm (Riehm’s Produce), and Dr. Margaret Jodlowski (Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Developmental Economics, OSU). This panel will be moderated by OCHLA’s Executive Director, Lilleana Cavanaugh.… Continue reading

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Government leadership and impacts on Ohio ag

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

A new year always brings new leadership appointments. Sometimes those appointments result in a change, but sometimes they bring back previous leaders. As we settle into 2023, we’re following what has changed and what remains the same and considering how leadership will impact agriculture in the coming year. Here’s a summary of what we’re seeing in the leadership landscape.

Ohio ODA and EPA

Here in Ohio, two of the agencies we commonly deal with will have new leaders. Governor DeWine has nominated Brian Baldridge to head the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Anne Vogel as director of the Ohio EPA. Baldridge is from a livestock and crop operation in Adams County, and previously served as a Representative, county commissioner, and township trustee. Vogel was previously DeWine’s Policy Director and Energy Advisor. She has a background in the energy industry and helped the governor establish the H2Ohio program.… Continue reading

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Farmers needed for national study about balancing work and children

All parents know how challenging it is to balance children and work, especially when childcare options are limited. One group of parents in particular, farm and ranch parents, are being sought for a national study into their experiences. 
Researchers at the National Farm Medicine Center and The Ohio State University are looking to better understand farm and ranch families operating in rural, urban, or suburban areas and their lived realities of balancing children and work. 

“Childcare challenges (paid or unpaid) can have consequences for the farm business, the safety of children, and the well-being of the family as a whole,” said Shoshanah Inwood, an associate professor of community, food and economic development at Ohio State. “This is the first nationwide comprehensive survey focused on the realities of farmers and ranchers raising children.”
Because this is a farm bill year, the survey is especially timely, said Florence Becot, an associate research scientist at the National Farm Medicine Center and affiliate of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. … Continue reading

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By Shelly Detwiler

Let us eat cake, morning, night and anytime we wish!

Cake for breakfast. It’s an absurd, ridiculous, even preposterous idea, right? Think about it for a second. Common breakfast foods…eggs, milk, butter, oil. I’ve got you thinking now, don’t I? Throw in the sugar and flour you have a recipe for breakfast deliciousness such as donuts, pancakes, and waffles. Now that I have gotten you outside your breakfast box, let’s talk cake.

“Cake really isn’t important at all nutritionally, but symbolically it seems to have had an enormous importance,” saidAlysa Levene, author of “Cake: A Slice of History.” 

History tells us we need to thank ancient civilizations of Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for our introductions to cake, cheesecake and fruitcake, respectively. The early Egyptian’s cake was enjoyed in celebrations and feasting, much like we do today. Unlike today, those first cakes were made more like round cakes of bread with bits of honey or special ingredients.… Continue reading

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Night for Young Professionals at OSU Feb. 9

By Matt Reese

Ohio State University student leaders are gearing up for the Night for Young Professionals — a free professional development event open to all students in the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. 

The over-arching theme of the event, taking place in two locations in Columbus and Wooster, is to “Prepare tomorrow’s leaders today” with the goal of answering questions students have about the transition to a real-world job after graduation. Student participants get a professional headshot photo, dinner, door prizes and an opportunity to connect with industry leaders and have real conversations about what to expect when launching their career after graduation. The event is being hosted by Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) in Columbus and Agricultural Communicators, Educators and Leaders of Tomorrow (ACELT) in Wooster. 

“Our goal is to really give them an opportunity and a space to ask questions and to help prepare themselves for what comes after graduation,” said Raegan Feldner, leadership chair of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow.… Continue reading

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