Country Life



Earth Day principles apply every day on farms

On Earth Day today, many Ohioans will be cleaning nearby highways and streams or recycling to help preserve the environment. However, for Ohio’s farmers, it’s just another day of doing what they always do to be environmentally responsible.

The occasion presents opportunities for farmers to share with other about agriculture. Here is a link from Ohio Farm Bureau with resources for sharing about Ohio agriculture: http://ofbf.org/education-and-reference/agricultural-facts/?url=CARE-4THPSH/.

Also, here are some highlights from industry efforts to recognize the effort of farmers on Earth Day. The dairy industry serves as an example of agriculture’s commitment to the environment.

Ohio’s dairy farmers have always been committed to preserving the earth’s natural resources while taking excellent care of their animals and providing safe, affordable dairy foods,” said Scott E. Higgins, American Dairy Association Mideast president and CEO. “Our farmers live and work on their farms, so they understand the importance of protecting the land, water and air for their families and for the entire community.”… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA report outlines renewable power opportunities for rural communities

USDA today issued a report that identifies and discusses the wide array of renewable power opportunities available to producers in rural America. The report, titled Renewable Power Opportunities for Rural Communities, is intended to serve as a summary and guide to assist rural utilities that may be considering investing in a renewable electricity generation project and for policymakers who may be considering how to encourage such investments.

The report is designed to assist local and state government leaders, rural farmers and business operators, rural-based utilities and their leadership, and rural residents whose interests are focused on renewable power, distributed generation, and rural economic development. The report discusses a rural utility’s opportunities for investing in renewable electricity generation capacity.

Utility staff can use the report to learn about transmission access for renewable electrical power, system regulation, transmission expansion paths for renewable energy including modernization and a smart grid, future electricity demand, electric utility business models, and developing/financing strategies of renewable energy.… Continue reading

Read More »

Trade deal with Panama moving forward

According to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the trade deal with Panama is ready for the next step. In a letter sent Monday to the Chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees, Kirk states that his office has completed preparatory work on the agreement and is ready to begin technical discussions with Members of Congress on the draft implementing bill and draft Statement of Administration Action.

American Soybean Association President Alan Kemper says the U.S. has a large share of the Panamanian agricultural market that must be protected. ASA says the free trade agreement will prevent other countries from taking some of the current U.S. share of the market and will benefit soybean farmers by immediately removing tariffs on U.S. soybeans, soybean meal and crude vegetable oils. In 2010 the U.S. exported 65-million dollars worth of soybean products to Panama.

Tariffs will also be removed immediately for high quality beef, certain chicken products, frozen whole turkeys and turkey breast and pork variety meats.… Continue reading

Read More »

Free cat program from HSDC

The Humane Society of Delaware County (HSDC) is reaching out for anyone wishing to adopt (for free) a barn cat or entire colony. We have an urgent need to safely relocate many feral, semi-feral, and “friendly, but prefers to be outside” cats. Please contact us immediately at horserescuehsdc@gmail.com if you have room in your heart and barn for any experienced mousers. These cats are being horribly mistreated or neglected by residents and we have to act fast to save these cats whose only crime was being born.

HSDC’s “Barn Cat Rescue” is a newly created program designed to manage the rapidly increasing number of neglected feral and abandoned cats in Delaware County.

Each free barn cat will be: vet-checked, feline leukemia tested negative, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered.

HSDC does not receive any governmental funding, so we are counting on the caring folks within our community to step forward and help us trap, sterilize, vaccinate, and re-home these cats.… Continue reading

Read More »

Annual Update for USDA National Farmers Market Directory begins

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is opening the updating process for the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, the official count of the nation’s farmers markets. For the first time this year, the directory will also track farmers markets with multiple locations and operating days.

“The USDA National Farmers Market Directory not only counts, lists and maps the country’s more than 6,100 farmers markets, it is also a fantastic resource for those interested in local food production, small producer success, and public policy about regional food systems,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “In addition to helping people find the closest farmers market, the farmers markets listed in this directory are included in maps, mobile apps and other stats. We hope that all managers ensure their markets are included so that no farmers market misses out on this opportunity.”

All of the information in the directory relies on input from farmers market managers in the field.… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA Rural Development invites applications for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today invited agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for loans and grants to implement renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

“Biofuels and other renewable energy sources present an enormous economic opportunity for rural America and the rest of the nation,” Vilsack said. “President Obama and I recognize that we need to win the future by implementing a long-term strategy to meet our country’s current and long-term energy needs. The funding I am announcing today will help make America’s farmers, ranchers and rural businesses more energy efficient.”

USDA is providing funding for up to $61 million in guaranteed loans and $42 million in grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Funds are available to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses develop renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements and conduct studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems.

USDA issued a rule to clarify that the definition of renewable energy systems in REAP includes flexible fuel pumps, sometimes referred to as “blender pumps.”… Continue reading

Read More »

New regulations affect farm fuel storage

Agricultural producers storing more than 1,320 gallons of fuel or other petroleum products on their farms soon will need a written plan for preventing and handling spills, a Purdue University specialist said.

The plans are covered in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation amendments that take effect Nov. 10, said Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs.

The federal Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulation was adopted in 1974. It has been amended over the years.

“The SPCC’s basic intent is to make sure growers who store large amounts of these products are putting in place measures that will protect the area around their properties, specifically groundwater and surface water,” Whitford said. “With this regulation EPA is saying that we need to be thinking about fuel storage as much as pesticide and fertilizer storage. It doesn’t take much oil or gas to pollute water.”

Under the new amendments, only petroleum products stored in stationary tanks and containers of at least 55 gallons are counted toward the regulated total.… Continue reading

Read More »

Boggs named to the State Executive Committee of the Farm Service Agency

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that Bob Boggs, a former Director of Agriculture for the State of Ohio, was named to the State Executive Committee of the Farm Service Agency. Boggs, of Rock Creek in Ashtabula County, was recommended by Brown and appointed by USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack to serve on the five-person committee.

“Bob Boggs has demonstrated a commitment to Ohio’s agricultural communities and farmers,” Brown said. “Bob has not only bolstered economic growth and helped create agricultural jobs all across our state, but has worked on behalf of all Ohioans to ensure access to healthy, grown-in-Ohio foods. I was proud to recommend him for this important position and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

The position is part-time and the committee meets 2-3 days per month. The Farm Service Agency provides federal support to Ohio farmers with commodity price supports, disaster relief, emergency assistance, conservation and loans for operating and land purchase.… Continue reading

Read More »

Farmers not overextending on farmland despite price increases

While there’s no end in sight to strong farmland prices and rental rates, farmers don’t seem to be overextending, said an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist.

“Prices are sky high everywhere and continue to increase,” said Barry Ward, OSU Extension’s leader for production business management.

Factors pushing land and rental rates are likely to continue. Increasing commodity prices, profitability of row crops, strong international demand and low interest rates all are part of the equation.

Ward sees farmers purchasing land with plenty of equity and therefore doesn’t anticipate cash flow will be hurt if land values start to fall in the future.

“Farmers are buying land for the same reason as investors: good crop profitability and low interest rates,” he said. “They also want to be able to control the land for production purposes and provide for the next generation. If values drop 10 or 20%, they will still have the land to use as a business asset.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Tax time is upon us

By Tim Reeves

It’s April, the month of showers and new growth. It’s the month when God reminds us that winters don’t last forever and that spring will chase away the cold and harshness of wintry times.

That’s what makes April the “best of times,” but since it’s also the month for paying taxes, it is also the “worst of times!”

As I write this column, the U.S. Congress is still trying to pass a budget for the year; a budget that SHOULD have been passed before the year started, nearly four months ago. I find it so interesting (and amazing!) that our federal government can just arbitrarily choose to ignore basic accounting and economic practices, seemingly at will. No state or business; no church or individual, for that matter, could get by with the kind of accounting ignorance the federal government shows time and again.

In 1980, the United States of America was the world’s largest lender nation.… Continue reading

Read More »

OSCF announces scholarship winners

The Ohio Soybean Council Foundation (OSCF) is pleased to announce the scholarship recipients of the OSCF Scholarship Program for the 2011-2012 academic year. Undergraduate scholarships of $3,000 each will be awarded to Dustin Homan, Andrew Klopfenstein, Rhiannon Schneider and Brent Stammen.  The first annual $3,000 Farmer, Lumpe + McClelland (FLM) Scholarship was awarded to Emily Krueger, and the annual $5,000 Bhima Vijayendran Scholarship was awarded to Rachel Yoho.  Graduate scholarships of $5,000 were awarded to Sasiwimon Buddhiranon and Andika Gunadi.

This is the fourth year for the OSCF Scholarship Program, which was created to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers in agriculture, as well as to support ongoing graduate-level research.  All OSCF scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to full-time students enrolled at an Ohio college or university.

“There were many scholarship applicants this year and they were all very impressive students to make it a tough competition,” said Tom Fontana, OSCF director of programs and development.… Continue reading

Read More »

Truck weight reform introduced in Senate

The U.S. Senate recently introduced the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2011 (SETA). The bill, S 747, sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), with co-sponsoring Senators Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would give any state the option to allow semi-trucks weighing up to 97,000 pounds access to its Interstate highways, provided owners equip trucks with a sixth axle, to preserve braking distances and pavement wear patterns, and agree to pay a supplemental user fee.

An identical bill, HR 763, introduced February 17 in the House by Reps. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), has already attracted 27 co-sponsors.

“The haulers of raw agricultural and forest products are pleased that a bipartisan group of Senators has recognized the importance of improving truck productivity and safety on our nation’s Interstate system, by introducing Senate Bill 747,” stated Richard Lewis, President of the Forest Resources Association. “We must now move quickly to ensure that the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill adopts the terms SETA sets forth.… Continue reading

Read More »

Nine new AgrAbility fact sheets are now available online

The Ohio AgrAbility Program has produced nine new fact sheets designed to assist disabled farmers who may be dealing with paralysis, arthritis, diabetes or who have developed age-related issues.

“Once someone gets back to farming after experiencing an injury, they’re at higher risk because of issues regarding range of motion, mobility or reaction time,” said Kent McGuire, Ohio AgrAbility program coordinator. ” Most of the new fact sheets are designed to help those farmers prevent secondary injuries, although they include important safety information for any farmer.”

Fact sheet topics came from the organization’s work with farmers who have asked for information on these issues.

This group is the first in a series of 40 new fact sheets the Ohio AgrAbility Program plans to produce over the next year. This first set is available for download now as PDF files at http://ohioline.osu.edu/lines/farm.html#FSAFE.

Fact sheet topics are:

* Secondary Injury Caused by Lifting, AEX-981.1-10: About 25 percent of Ohio work-related injuries are caused by overexertion when lifting objects.… Continue reading

Read More »

Columbia FTA progresses

There are three free trade agreements that, if implemented, would represent nearly $2.5 billion in additional U.S. exports. The stalling trade agreements with Panama, Columbia and South Korea are costing U.S. agriculture huge losses in potential exports and lost market share. For this reason, there was cause for celebration with the recent progress in the FTA with Columbia.

President Barack Obama and his team of negotiators successfully completed an Action Plan to resolve the issues that have been holding up the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This will now allow Congress to move forward with consideration for approval. The FTA will create new opportunities for American farmers and ranchers in the Colombian market.

“U.S. farmers and ranchers have been losing market share in Colombia to our competitors who have trade agreements with the country. It’s time to turn the tide and recoup our losses. Colombia has duty-free access to the U.S.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ag Credit borrowers celebrate record $14.5 million return

Ag Credit is distributing a record $14.5 million in profit sharing to stockholding borrowers.

The refunds amount to about 27 cents on every dollar of loan interest accrued last year. At an average rate of 5.29 percent, that would reduce a borrower’s interest for 2010 to 3.86 percent.

Ag Credit, part of the national Farm Credit System, is a financial co-op that provides loans to farmers, agricultural businesses and rural communities. As a cooperative, Ag Credit’s borrowers are its stockholders. When the cooperative earns a profit, it puts a portion back into the pockets of its stockholders. Each receives a check twice a year containing their share of annual profits.

“Profit sharing is a key part of the value proposition of our cooperative,” said Ag Credit President Neil Jordan. “By focusing on sound lending and strong capital we continue to be a reliable financial partner to farmers and agricultural community in 18 Ohio counties.”… Continue reading

Read More »

AgChat celebrates one year of connecting through social media

AgChat Foundation celebrates one year of connecting consumers
with farmers and ranchers using social media

Americans may have noticed a new social media trend this past year: more Facebook posts from the farm, more tweets from the tractor and more blogs from the back forty.

The timing of this social media “stampede” couldn’t be better, says Jeff Fowle, president of the AgChat Foundation. Celebrating its one-year anniversary today, the AgChat Foundation is a 100-percent volunteer organization formed to empower farmers and ranchers to effectively tell their stories using social media. He says in one 2010 study1 conducted by the Hartman Group, 59 percent of consumers purchasing local said they wanted a “connection to the farmer.”

In just 12 months, AgChat Foundation has successfully inspired farmers to add tweets and posts to their daily chores. It even earned a coveted spot on the 2011 SXSW® Interactive Festival program, last month, presenting alongside the country’s brightest in emerging technology.… Continue reading

Read More »

Faith & Farming

By Heather Hetterick

I don’t live inside what’s referred to as God’s country or the “Land of Seven Steeples” (Darke & Mercer Co.), I do live on the outskirts, though (Shelby Co.).

Therefore it was no surprise that in this week’s church bulletin was the announcement of the annual farm mass. I believe it rotates around the area and this year will be held May 10, at 6:30 pm at Lehman High School in Sidney. It’s a program of  Catholic Social Action, which is a division of the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

In years past I’ve heard of these masses taking place on farms. In fact I see that even the Archbishop himself presided over one of these. Can you image the Archbishop coming to your farm? I bet those people had really good crops that year.

This reminded me of the time a mere 20 years ago when our priest came to my family’s farm.… Continue reading

Read More »

Faith & Farming

By Heather Hetterick

I don’t live inside what’s referred to as God’s country or the “Land of Seven Steeples” (Darke & Mercer Co.), I do live on the outskirts, though (Shelby Co.).

Therefore it was no surprise that in this week’s church bulletin was the announcement of the annual farm mass. I believe it rotates around the area and this year will be held May 10, at 6:30 pm at Lehman High School in Sidney. It’s a program of  Catholic Social Action, which is a division of the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

In years past I’ve heard of these masses taking place on farms. In fact I see that even the Archbishop himself presided over one of these. Can you image the Archbishop coming to your farm? I bet those people had really good crops that year.

This reminded me of the time a mere 20 years ago when our priest came to my family’s farm.… Continue reading

Read More »

OSU conference on state budget’s impact on local government

As the ongoing debate about Ohio’s economy intensifies during the legislature’s budgeting process, Ohio State University is hosting a conference focusing on the budget’s impact on local government.

“Death by Deficit? Is the Future of Local Government Really All Bad?” is planned for Thursday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsored by Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, the conference will be held at the university’s Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive.

“We are receiving many questions related to the impact of Ohio’s budget woes on local government, infrastructure and related programs,” said Stan Ernst, Ohio State University Extension outreach program leader for the department. “We thought this was a natural topic for our annual educational session about public policy and the economics behind it. We’ll be looking at the economic challenges to local government as well as to state programs.”… Continue reading

Read More »

OSU conference on state budget's impact on local government

As the ongoing debate about Ohio’s economy intensifies during the legislature’s budgeting process, Ohio State University is hosting a conference focusing on the budget’s impact on local government.

“Death by Deficit? Is the Future of Local Government Really All Bad?” is planned for Thursday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsored by Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, the conference will be held at the university’s Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive.

“We are receiving many questions related to the impact of Ohio’s budget woes on local government, infrastructure and related programs,” said Stan Ernst, Ohio State University Extension outreach program leader for the department. “We thought this was a natural topic for our annual educational session about public policy and the economics behind it. We’ll be looking at the economic challenges to local government as well as to state programs.”… Continue reading

Read More »