Country Life

USDA to invest up to $225 million in partner-driven conservation on agricultural and forest land

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $225 million in available funding for conservation partners through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). RCPP is a partner-driven program that leverages collective resources to find solutions to address natural resource challenges on agricultural land. This year’s funding announcements include opportunities for projects that address climate change, benefit historically underserved producers and support urban agriculture.  

“These public-private partnerships are powerful tools that allow us to work together to address challenges such as climate change and supporting producers and communities who have been underserved in the past,” said Jon Bourdon, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Ohio State Conservationist.

There are two types of funding opportunities under RCPP:  RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). RCPP Classic projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners and communities, in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP AFA, partners have more flexibility in working directly with agricultural producers to support the development of new conservation structures and approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic. Project… Continue reading

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“Planning for the future of your farm” workshops

To kick off 2022, OSU Extension will be offering “Planning for the future of your farm” workshops to help farm families actively plan for the future of their farm business. The workshops are designed to help farm families learn strategies and tools to successfully create a succession and estate plan which can be used as the guide to transfer the farm’s ownership, management, and assets to the next generation. Learn how to have the crucial conversations about the future of your farm.

Topics discussed during this series include: Developing Goals for Estate and Succession; Planning for the Transition of Control; Planning for the Unexpected; Communication and Conflict Management during Farm Transfer; Legal Tools & Strategies; Developing Your Team; Getting Your Affairs in Order; and Selecting an Attorney.  This workshop will be taught by members of the OSU Farm Office Team.

Families can choose to attend the workshop virtually or in-person at regional workshops which will be held across the state.… Continue reading

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AFBF sets policy

By Matt Reese

Farm Bureau members from around the country gathered in Atlanta in January for the American Farm Bureau Convention to set policy derived from the county level up. 

AFBF members addressed long-standing frustration over imbalances in the meat industry leading to calls for greater transparency in livestock markets. Delegates also approved measures that build on existing policies regarding the need for employee stabilization and reforms to the guestworker program. 

Other topics covered in AFBF policy included: transparency to the federal milk pricing system; a more consistent format for milk checks and a review and audit of the producer price differential on milk; biofuel policy updates to include renewable diesel; support in raising the standard for federal broadband projects to be at least 100 Mbps for both uploads and downloads; support of new policy creation for acknowledging agriculture’s (including urban agriculture) economic contributions. Ohio Farm Bureau delegates proposed several policy changes accepted by AFBF.… Continue reading

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Land use planning an underused tool for farmland preservation

By Elizabeth Schuster, Sustainable Economies Consulting LLC

While it is widely acknowledged that land use planning has implications for farmland, county-level land use planning remains an underutilized tool for farmland preservation. The award-winning Land Use Actions project in Wayne County identified several ways to influence land use planning that still use voluntary approaches.

Across Ohio, rural and suburban counties are rapidly losing farmland and open space, which can have a direct impact on quality of life and food security. Typically, the land use projects that move forward the fastest are those with the highest ratio of benefits to costs. The types of benefits that are favored are often new jobs created, total investment in manufacturing or retail, or the number of new housing units. The result is more land use by industrial, urban, and housing and a net loss of farmland.

More community input is needed to ensure that the full benefits that farmland provides are considered in the land use planning process.… Continue reading

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Over $60,000 in Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships available

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has more than $60,000 in scholarships available to Ohio students from rural, suburban and urban communities who are pursuing degrees connected in some way to agriculture.

Through 12 scholarship funds, approximately 50 awards will be made to deserving students. The deadline to apply online at is Feb. 28, and all applications require letters of recommendation, an essay, school transcripts and photos.

The Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in honor of Yvonne Lesicko, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of public policy, who passed away in 2020. The Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Scholarship Fund was created to honor Yvonne and provide support for the next generation of student leaders. The income from this endowment provides scholarship assistance in perpetuity to students majoring in agricultural and environmental policy or agriculture related fields, such as food production, scientific research, education/outreach, policymaking, advocacy, or leadership development for women.

In honor of the legacy of Dr.… Continue reading

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Ohio NRCS funding available for wetlands and wildlife habitat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) continues to accept applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Wetland Reserve Easement Program (ACEP-WRE). The program provides financial and technical assistance to Ohio landowners wishing to protect and restore critical wetlands by enrolling property into conservation easements. Applications for ACEP-WRE are taken on a continuous basis, however, landowners are encouraged to contact their local NRCS Service Center prior to the Feb. 18, 2022 deadline for fiscal year 2022 funding.

Many of Ohio’s landowners can take advantage of this program, as eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored; croplands or grasslands subject to flooding; and previously restored wetlands and riparian areas that connect protected wetland areas.

“Restored wetlands help to improve water quality downstream, enhance wildlife habitat, reduce impacts from flooding and provide recreational opportunities,” said Barbara Baker, Assistant State Conservationist for Natural Resources in Ohio.… Continue reading

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Regional Agricultural Outlook and Policy Meetings set to kick off

Ohio State University Extension will present its 2022 Regional Agricultural Outlook and Policy Meetings starting in late January and ending in late March.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), and the main sponsor of the meetings. Economists from the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, along with other college specialists and invited guests, will serve as speakers.

Held throughout the state, the eight outlook meetings will address agricultural topics of interest not only in Ohio, but across the Corn Belt as well. Programs will include presentations on grain market outlook; agricultural law updates; the dairy industry in 2022; Ohio’s changing climate; farm policy; Farm Bill 2023; Ohio’s Senate Bill 52 related to wind and solar development; farm real estate and cash rent trends; agricultural input price projections; and federal tax updates.

The outlook meetings will be hosted jointly by Union, Madison, and Champaign counties; and also individually by Defiance County; Wayne County; Clinton County; Crawford County; Pickaway County; Muskingum County; and Darke County. … Continue reading

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AFBF Convention underway in Atlanta

The American Farm Bureau Convention was in full swing over the weekend with a full day of keynote addresses, workshops and awards. 

 AFBF President Zippy Duvall opened the convention with an inspirational address in which he discussed the organization’s successes in 2021 and priorities for 2022. 

“Through even the greatest challenges, we never waver in growing the safest, most sustainable food, fuel and fiber in the world. And Farm Bureau remains true to our purpose — to be that one, United Voice of Agriculture,” Duvall said. “I believe with all my heart that there is reason to be optimistic.” 

Former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award. A Border Collie from Florida, “Fit,” was named the 2022 Farm Dog of the Year. “How to Grow a Monster” by Kiki Thorpe was named the Foundation for Agriculture’s 2022 Book of the Year.

Additionally, several state Farm Bureaus were recognized for exemplary financial support of the Foundation and Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine and Montana Farm Bureaus earned the Pinnacle Award, the highest honor a state Farm Bureau can be awarded for program and membership achievement.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farmland Leasing Update Webinar from OSU’s Farm Office

Is it time to review your farmland leasing situation?  OSU’s Farm Office team will provide helpful leasing resources in its Ohio Farmland Leasing Update webinar on February 9, 2022 from 7 to 9 p.m.

“Winter is a good time to review farm leases, and current information is critical to that process,” said Barry Ward,  Leader of Production Business Management for OSU Extension.  “We’ll provide the latest economic and legal information relevant to farmland leasing in Ohio.”

Speakers for the event include Ward and fellow Farm Office team members Peggy Kirk Hall and Robert Moore, attorneys with OSU’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program.

“We always encourage parties to put their leases in writing,” Hall said. “But we’ll also share other legal information that can help parties deal with conservation practices, a potential new law about notice of termination, and how to use leases in farmland succession planning.”

Topics in the webinar will include:

  • Current economic outlook for Ohio row crops
    • Research on cash rent markets for the Eastern Corn Belt
    • Rental market outlook – fundamentals
    • Ohio’s statutory termination legislation
    • Addressing soil quality and conservation practices in leases
    • Using long term leases in farm succession planning
    • Farmland leasing resources

There is no fee for the webinar, but registration is necessary.  Register… Continue reading

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Multitalented oats!

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Happy New Year! One of the most popular resolutions or goals for the new year is to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Starting your day out with oatmeal may seem B-O-R-I-N-G! Think again. Oats are multitalented. They are shape changing depending on the texture that your tastebuds desire anywhere from the no texture of instant/quick oats and oat bran to the nutty texture of the Irish and Scottish oat. Oats can win an all-around medal for their on and off-label use from desserts to main dishes. One of the most popular recipes on Quaker Oats used to be their Oatmeal Scotch cookies. Today’s labels primarily include other info but check out for many great oat recipes. One of my regular recipes that I make with oats is meatloaf. Several years ago, probably two decades at this point, Paul was in charge of making the meatloaf.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Custom Rate Survey 2022 responses requested

By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management, Ohio State University Extension, Agriculture & Natural Resources

 The Ohio Farm Custom Rates Survey data collection has launched once again. The online survey for 2022 is available at:

A large number of Ohio farmers hire machinery operations and other farm related work to be completed by others. This is often due to lack of proper equipment, lack of time or lack of expertise for a particular operation.  Many farm business owners do not own equipment for every possible job that they may encounter in the course of operating a farm and may, instead of purchasing the equipment needed, seek out someone with the proper tools necessary to complete the job. This farm work completed by others is often referred to as “custom farm work” or more simply “custom work.” A “custom rate” is the amount agreed upon by both parties to be paid by the custom work customer to the custom work provider.… Continue reading

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Fort Wayne Farm Show coming soon

The Fort Wayne Farm Show is back and better than ever before Jan. 18 to Jan. 20, 2022 in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Fort Wayne Farm Show will be in full force for its 33rd year. The Tradexpos team works diligently every year to meet the evolving needs of America’s livestock producers, row crop farmers, and other agricultural professionals. The Fort Wayne Farm Show has been distinctively curated to provide real time value and opportunity to the industry. Whether it’s your first time attending the Fort Wayne Farm Show or your thirtieth, you’re certain to love the fantastic variety of exhibitors and educational seminars that the Fort Wayne Farm Show provides as Indiana’s largest indoor agricultural expo

Attendees can expect to enjoy the innovations and wares of over 1,000 booths as well as ample opportunities to attend seminars to learn more about current topics in agriculture from our partners and trusted experts, Purdue Cooperative Extension, and Northeastern Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts.… Continue reading

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Neighborly relations

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

All I know about Off Property Development, LLC v. Argos Town Council and Argos Plan Commission is what I read in the Court Decision available online. But I found the situation compelling. The action occurred in Argos, Ind., a small town of approximately 1,700 residents in the northern part of the state. It is part of Marshall County. Off-Property Development, LLC is a business comprised of Mark and Kristy Owens and William Haynes. They wanted to build and operate regenerative egg production barns on property they owned outside of Argos. A part of the two-mile buffer zone around Argos, the land is zoned for agriculture. 

            Mr. Null, a neighbor of Mark and Kristy, heard about the proposed project on Feb. 2, 2021. Mr. Null happened to be the President of the Town Council, with 15 years on the Council, as well as a member of the Argos Plan Commission.… Continue reading

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AFBF responds to meat pricing measures

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the “Biden-Harris Administration’s Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain.”

“AFBF appreciates the Biden administration’s continued work to ensure a fair and competitive meat processing system. We must get to the bottom of why farmers and ranchers continue to receive low payments while families across America endure rising meat prices,” Duvall said. “Farmers and ranchers want a fair shake. The joint initiative between USDA and the Department of Justice to create an online portal to report competition law violations, and efforts to strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act, will go a long way to ensuring fairness in the industry. More accurately defining ‘Product of the USA’ labeling will also allow families to make more well-informed decisions at the grocery store.

“We are encouraged by the administration’s willingness to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to improve price discovery in the cattle markets.… Continue reading

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USDA expands partnerships through Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is leveraging its authorities under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to bring in new types of partners and ultimately expand opportunities in voluntary conservation for the Nation’s agricultural producers and private landowners. In direct response to feedback from state agencies, Tribes, non-profits and other groups, USDA has updated CREP’s rule regarding matching fund requirements, and invested in additional staff to work directly with partners for streamlined, partner-driven conservation efforts.  

CREP is part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and enables USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), through Farm Service Agency (FSA), and partners to co-invest in partner-led projects. CREP also plays an important role in USDA’s broader climate change strategy, bringing together producers, landowners and partners for climate-smart land management. 

“CREP is one of the most flexible tools we have for locally-driven, partner-led efforts to reward producers and drive important environmental and climate outcomes, said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We look forward to working with new, diverse partners who can shape CRP to address priorities most important to them and to local communities, from water quality and conservation to wildlife habitat and climate outcomes.… Continue reading

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No Christmas gifts for agriculture, but some Ohio legislation is moving

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

The weeks since Thanksgiving have been busy ones at the Statehouse, but not a creature is stirring now as the General Assembly recesses for Christmas. While agriculture didn’t receive any final legislative Christmas gifts, a few bills advanced and may pass early next year. Here’s a rundown of agricultural legislation in Ohio.

Newly introduced Ohio legislation

S.C.R. 13 – Repeal Individual Income Tax. Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) introduced a concurrent resolution on December 9, 2021 expressing an intention for the legislature to repeal the state personal income tax within ten years. The resolution cites disincentives to reside in Ohio, repeals by other states, and business climate impacts as justification for the intent to repeal the income tax. The Senate referred the measure to its Ways and Means Committee on December 15.

H.B. 484 — Walleye as Official State Fish.Continue reading

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Deadline extended to apply for pandemic support for certified organic and transitioning operations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the deadline for agricultural producers who are certified organic, or transitioning to organic, to apply for the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP). This program provides pandemic assistance to cover certification and education expenses. The deadline to apply for 2020 and 2021 eligible expenses is now Feb. 4, 2022, rather than the original deadline of Jan. 7, 2022.  

“We listened to feedback from our stakeholders and are happy to provide organic producers, and those transitioning their operations, enough time to learn about the program and complete the application,” said Zach Ducheneaux, FSA Administrator.  

Signup for OTECP, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), began Nov. 8.  

 Certified operations and transitional operations may apply for OTECP for eligible expenses paid during the 2020, 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. Signup for the 2022 fiscal year will be announced at a later date. 

For each year, OTECP covers 25% of a certified operation’s eligible certification expenses, up to $250 per certification category (crop, livestock, wild crop, handling and State Organic Program fee).… Continue reading

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Here are some blogs to get you in the holiday spirit:’t-look-a-gift-horse-in-the-mouth/

Draft Horses in Snow1

 … Continue reading

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A simple gift to bring some hope

By Matt Reese

Generations of children have hauled just about anything that can be hauled in the classic little red wagon which has never really gone out of style. Sadly, though, some children in Ohio will never get the simple pleasure of this special Christmas gift because of numerous challenging circumstances for Ohio families in poverty. To address this issue, over 750 volunteers gathered in Columbus in early December to build 1,500 wagons (each with a Christmas dinner for a family) through the Wagons Ho Ho Ho program. 

Donn Ditzhazy is co-founder and a board member of the 501c3 charity, founded on the goal of delivering Christmas hope to children and families in need during the holidays. Wagons Ho Ho Ho got its start as a charity project for Columbus-based RMD Advertising that focuses on food product promotion.

“Fourteen years ago we thought we’d take the money earmarked for client gifts and buy something nice.… Continue reading

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Winter off to a warm wet start

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Temperatures across Ohio have been running 2-6°F above average (1991-2010) during the month of December, almost guaranteeing another top 10 warmest year on record for the Buckeye State (1895-present). Daily average soil temperatures remain above freezing, with upper 30s to low 40s across the north and low to mid 40s across central and southern counties. 

Precipitation, mainly in the form of rain, has been plentiful as well with a large portion of the state picking up 2-4 inches of precipitation since Dec. 1. Pockets of heavier precipitation can be found across portions of southwest, north central, and southern Ohio.  Snowfall has been very light, even across the snowbelt areas of the northeast, with less than 1 inch statewide.


High pressure will remain anchored across the Ohio Valley for the next couple of days, with cool daytime highs in the upper 30s to mid 40s.… Continue reading

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