Country Life

2011 income tax cut marks final step in Ohio's historic tax reform plan

Ohio’s individual income tax rates will fall by more than 4% across the board next year, meaning additional savings for Ohio taxpayers.

But there is a larger historical significance to next year’s rate reductions. They also mark the finish line in one of the most ambitious packages of state tax cuts ever undertaken in Ohio, a multiyear plan that has reduced income tax rates four other times and phased out Ohio’s two largest business taxes.

With next year’s rate change, state income tax rates will be a full 21% lower across the board in 2011 than they were in 2004, the year before the Ohio General Assembly launched the tax reform plan as part of House Bill 66.

The plan, launched during the Taft administration, was embraced by Governor Ted Strickland and has reduced taxes throughout his term as governor. The reforms also included a gradual phase out of local property taxes on business machinery and equipment and a phase out of the state’s corporation franchise tax on profits.… Continue reading

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Former Bob Evans Inc. CEO Dies

Dan Evans, the former Bob Evans Inc. CEO who worked at the company for half a century and is credited with much of the chain’s growth, died at age 74 on Christmas Eve.

The Columbus-based company said Evans died at Riverside Methodist Hospital on Christmas Eve. Evans started at Bob Evans in a Xenia, Ohio, sausage production plant in 1956 and became chairman and CEO in 1971. He succeeded his father, Emerson Evans, the company’s founding leader. Dan Evans is the cousin of the company’s namesake, who died in 2007.

Evans retired as CEO in 2000 and chairman the following year before retiring from the board in 2006. In his three decades leading the company, Evans helped expand the restaurant chain’s nationwide footprint and its sausage-making operation, bringing Bob Evans past the $1 billion annual sales mark. The company recorded $1.73 billion in revenue in the year ended April 30.

CEO Steve Davis in a statement said Evans “leaves a tremendous legacy, which we are honored to continue each day.”… Continue reading

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New safety rules for private intrastate non-CDL drivers

by Chris Zoller,Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has revised its rules relative to motor carrier transportation safety. The new rules apply to businesses that use vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW), gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 to 26,000 pounds to transport property or passengers on a not-for-hire basis in Ohio.

There have been several questions from farmers about how they will be impacted by these rule changes.

The PUCO regulation change results in intrastate, non-CDL private motor carriers being subject to the same laws as other larger trucks. (Non-CDL is 10,000 – 26,000 lbs). However, these new rules will still not apply to farm trucks which remain in Ohio because the definition of private motor carrier, and for that matter motor transportation company, specifically does not include those trucks “engaged in the transportation of farm supplies to the farm or farm products from farm to market.”… Continue reading

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Conservation Reserve Program Celebrates 25 years

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the 25th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which has protected our nation’s natural resources since the signing of the historic Food Security Act of 1985.  The act provided for the establishment of CRP and for the protection of highly erodible land.

“CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation,” Vilsack said. “Although it was designed to address soil erosion, CRP has become one of the standouts in the USDA arsenal of conservation programs by continuing to provide significant economic and environmental benefits beyond its original intent.”

CRP was introduced at a time when soil erosion exceeded more than 3 billion tons per year, wetlands were being drained, water quality was deteriorating and wildlife populations were under stress due to the loss of habitat.  CRP provided solutions to all of these problems.  Since its inception, the program has helped reduce soil erosion by 622 million tons, provided natural habitats for wildlife, restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands and removed millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air.… Continue reading

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The Christmas choice

By Tim Reeves, the Country Chaplain

A little over a year ago, I spent two weeks in the Holy Land on a combination sabbatical and visitation. Two dozen other pastors who like me who had also never visited the Holy Land were my traveling companions. We spent one week in Galilee and one week in Jerusalem.

As part of the Jerusalem leg, we spent a day in Bethlehem, the city of the Christmas story. We learned a great deal more about the real Christmas story than what we in the Western world know and imagine. We learned that some of the cherished images and stories of that first Christmas, which we hold so dear, are simply not true. However, what we learned makes the story even that much more personal.

For one, the shepherds were not grazing their sheep out on the hillsides at night. Nighttime grazing was not the common shepherding practice of that day.… Continue reading

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Publication helps ag retailers improve customer service

Excellent customer service is invaluable in any business, and agriculture is no exception. Purdue Extension provides tips for maintaining good customer relations in “An Agricultural Retailer’s Guide to Customer Care.”

The publication is geared toward agricultural retailers who sell to growers and specifically to those who provide production supplies such as chemicals, seed and fuel for farm operations, said Scott Downey, associate director of the Purdue-based Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

“One of the things that’s hard for small organizations is finding resources that are prepared well and customized for their industry,” he said. “This is created with the agricultural retailer in mind. They don’t have to pick up a business book and try to tailor it toward their needs.”

In addition to discussing the relationship between agricultural retailers and farmers, the publication reviews the importance of being responsive to changes in farm operations and maintaining customer loyalty.

“Everybody within the organization is responsible for relationships with customers,” Downey said.… Continue reading

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HSUS teams up with Forever 21

By Amanda Radke, Beef Daily

Christmas may be just around the corner, but agriculture advocacy never takes a holiday. This just in: Forever 21, a popular clothing store for teens and 20-somethings, is now supporting the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), the richest anti-animal agriculture organization in America. This is a call-to-action. I hope you will join me in writing to the company and letting them know how you feel.

This sign was discovered in New York by Dustin Homan, an agriculture leadership student at The Ohio State University. The photo was then posted on Facebook by his fellow classmate and Simmental breeder, Emily Brinkman. The sign reads, “With your purchase of this T-shirt, Forever 21 will make a $1.00 donation to HSUS. We and all our furry friends thank you!”

While I don’t think a boycott of the company is necessary, I do believe it’s critically important to educate this clothing store about the true agenda of HSUS, which is, of course, to abolish animal agriculture and eliminate consumers’ choice to put meat, dairy and eggs on the dinner table.… Continue reading

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Ohio farm projects receive waste to value awards

Ohio Department of Development Director Lisa Patt-McDaniel has announced that 11 Ohio projects will receive $10 million in grant awards funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s State Energy Program

The funds will be used to convert feedstocks, such as municipal solid wastes, food and farm wastes, or other biomass or waste materials, to electricity, heat, fuel and/or other bio-products.

“These funds give businesses the ability to literally convert waste into economic value,” Patt-McDaniel said. “This program does more than offer businesses an opportunity to grow and prosper: it accelerates Ohio’s position as an advanced energy leader by enhancing energy efficiency.”

Proposals for the Transforming Waste to Value program were accepted beginning June 25, 2010. Projects submitted were selected through a competitive review process based on several criteria, including: a match investment of a minimum of 25% of total costs, project completion within 12 months, and direct economic impact to Ohio by creating and retaining jobs.… Continue reading

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Younger farmers can learn from bad economy

Today’s tough economy gives experienced farmers an opportunity to teach younger farmers planning and decision-making skills they might not learn in good times, a Purdue University agricultural economist says.

Those looking to pass their operation on to next-generation farmers can show them how to plan strategically and make decisions under poor market conditions, said business planning specialist Angela Gloy.

“This type of real-world, real-time education cannot be simulated in the classroom, nor is it necessarily intuitive,” she said. “Good managers will recognize and act upon opportunities to teach the next generation about which cost-saving measures you’re implementing, the trade-offs involved in one choice over another, and the short- and long-run implications behind each decision. In short, you’re teaching how to manage under conditions of not just price volatility but also extremely low price levels.”

One of the financial benefits of a recession is that it can be a time of low interest rates, which helps young people buy into a portion of the farm business if they are prepared.… Continue reading

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Ohio hosts 2011 National Christmas Tree Association Convention

By Matt Reese

The Ohio Christmas Tree Association is preparing for a big year in 2011. In the 50th year of the organization, just after the 500th anniversary of the first decorated Christmas tree, Ohio will be hosting the National Christmas Tree Association Convention in 2011. Ohio ranks ninth in total Christmas tree production and eighth in the number of Christmas tree farms the nation, yet has never hosted the national event.

“We want to show the nation’s Christmas tree farmers the high quality of Christmas tree farms in this state and we also want to showcase Ohio,” said Dave Reese, Ohio Christmas Tree Association president. “Ohio has a lot of great things to offer and we have the opportunity to show that to Christmas tree growers from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.”

The convention will be held at the beautiful Sawmill Creek Resort on the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky.… Continue reading

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Ohio Camp Muskingum receives a FCS grant

Todd Davis knows a lot about the history of Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum. He should —after all, he’s been its director for 15 years, and before that he grew up there during the 28 years his dad (John) was the director.

“Dad farmed part-time, and during his tenure the camp evolved from a summer-only to a year-around program,” said Davis, who earned his degree in ag education from Ohio State University. “When Dad retired and the board decided to go to a full-time director, I jumped at the opportunity to come back to the camp and the hills of Carroll County. I just love it here.”

Davis stated that Camp Muskingum, which is nestled on beautiful Leesville Lake in northeast Ohio, was originally built during the Great Depression by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps to teach young men vocational skills like welding, carpentry, or plumbing. The camp was later purchased by the Ohio FFA, and since then facilities and programming have both advanced steadily.… Continue reading

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OFBF urges Ohio to call for an end to the death tax

The White House announced “a framework for a bipartisan agreement” Monday night over the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts that includes Farm Bureau supported Estate Tax Relief of a $5 Million exemption and a 35% tax rate.

Your phone calls and e-mails to Congress are critical in making sure that the $5 million exemption and 35 percent top rate are included in the final agreement for all farmers and ranchers in order for this to become law!  Time is running short for Congress to act, and House and Senate Democrats, especially Progressives, have not yet announced support for the agreement.

Contact your members of Congress today using Farm Bureau’s On-line Legislative Action Center.

The future of American agriculture depends on the Estate Tax exemption, and whether or not farmers can afford to stay on the land they farm and can afford to purchase the land they need!  Because Estate Taxes influence the sale of land, this tax can interfere with the orderly transfer of farmland to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.… Continue reading

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Nanoparticle gives antimicrobial ability to fight Listeria longer

A Purdue University research team developed a nanoparticle that can hold and release an antimicrobial agent as needed for extending the shelf life of foods susceptible to Listeria monocytogenes.

Yuan Yao, an assistant professor of food science, altered the surface of a carbohydrate found in sweet corn called phytoglycogen, which led to the creation of several forms of a nanoparticle that could attract and stabilize nisin, a food-based antimicrobial peptide. The nanoparticle can then preserve nisin for up to three weeks, combating Listeria, a potentially lethal foodborne pathogen found in meats, dairy and vegetables that is especially troublesome for pregnant women, infants, older people and others with weakened immune systems.

Controlling Listeria at deli counters, for example, is especially problematic because meat is continually being opened, cut and stored, giving Listeria many chances to contaminate the food. Nisin alone is only effective at inhibiting Listeria for a short period – possibly only a few days – in many foods.… Continue reading

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National Ag Day Essay Contest announces Feb. 4 deadline

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) calls on ninth- to 12th-grade students to submit an original, 450-word essay or a two-minute video essay about the importance of agriculture. This year’s theme is “American Agriculture: Your Food. Your Farmer.” and the deadline is Feb. 4, 2011. The ACA asks teachers and parents to encourage student participation.

The theme, “American Agriculture: Your Food. Your Farmer,” presents an opportunity for students to address how the agriculture industry continues to feed a growing population. Entrants may choose to either write an essay or create a video that acknowledges the many ways today’s growers are providing a safe, stable food supply and sustaining the significant role agriculture plays in everyday life.

“CHS believes in the mission of Ag Day,” said Linda Tank, vice president, marketing and communications, CHS Inc. “The company is proud to help support the 2011 essay and video contest for students. Today’s youth are vibrant and resourceful.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension offers new farm finance workshop for women

An intensive farm finance workshop for women will be offered by Ohio State University Extension in Knox, Ross, Wood and Erie counties in early 2011.

The “Farm Finance for Women” workshop addresses cash flow, balance sheet and income statement development, Quicken basics for farm recordkeeping, and benchmarking. The goals of the workshop are to help participants:

Become more aware of resources available to assist farmers with financial analysis and recordkeeping.

Gain a better understanding of their farm business’s financial position, increasing their ability to assist in making educated management decisions.

Use recordkeeping as a resource for their whole farm decision-making process instead of solely for tax purposes.

Increase their knowledge of using Quicken to organize farm records.

Prepare and analyze balance sheets.

Improve their recordkeeping system.

“This workshop is designed to be a ‘next step’ for women who have participated in Annie’s Project,” a risk-management program for farm women, said Julia Woodruff, OSU Extension educator and co-coordinator of the workshops.… Continue reading

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Technology, sustainability and ag in 2020

A decade from now, farmers will rely on the marriage of agronomic, information and process control technologies to grow thousands of acres of crops in ways that create smaller carbon footprints, predicts a Purdue University agricultural economist.

Crop farming could become both simpler and more complex by 2020, said Mike Boehlje.

“There will be challenges and opportunities for agriculture 10 years down the road,” Boehlje said. “Those will involve the continued change in the size of the agricultural industry at the farm sector level, the sustainability issue, challenges associated with productivity and resource utilization, and the increasing demands our urban society is making on farming.”

Large farms with vast acreages of corn, soybeans and wheat could become the norm in the years ahead, Boehlje said. Consolidation within the agriculture industry has been ongoing since at least 1980, he said.

“If you look at farms with 1,000 acres or more, that comprises about 6% of the farmers.… Continue reading

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Happier holidays with Ohio wines

By Matt Reese

The holidays are here and so are the countless parties and get-togethers with family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances. All of these events can be very fun, but they can also be stressful, especially for the host. The decorations, the preparations, the guest list, the food and the entertainment are plenty to think about. The inclusion of wine can add a whole new set of challenges, but a fine Ohio wine can also make the party.

“All of the holidays and celebrations get people thinking about sparkling wines, ice wines and dessert wines which are great for holiday parties and meals and are also done very well in Ohio,” said Bruce Benedict, with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “Wines are meant for consumption with food and these great wines are even better when they are matched with great food.”

For those who are less than wine savvy, these pairings can be daunting, so Benedict offers some advice on how to dazzle guests and partygoers with Ohio wines.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks applications for grants to help farmers improve rural environmental quality and energy efficiency

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is seeking proposals for grants to improve water quality, air quality and promote energy conservation. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available $25 million through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program to address natural resource concerns nationwide with a special emphasis on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and the Mississippi River Basin.

“The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change,” Vilsack said. “USDA is seeking grant applications from farmers, ranchers and our conservation partners to solve America’s natural resource challenges.”

Now in its eighth year, the CIG program offers funding dedicated to the adoption of technologies to address a broad range of agricultural issues. For example, the Michigan Department of Agriculture worked with Michigan State University and agricultural landowners to establish conservation practices for high-risk erosion areas, with a goal of reducing sediment and nutrient runoff. … Continue reading

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2010 is the 500th Anniversary of the first decorated Christmas tree

By Matt Reese

Little is known about the first decorated Christmas tree in Riga, Latvia, other than the tree was placed in the public marketplace and decorated by members of a merchants guild to honor the birth of Christ. A ceremony was held and the tree was burnt at its conclusion.

The year of that first decorated Christmas tree was 1510, 500 years ago. A plaque now marks the spot where the first Christmas tree stood. This year, Christmas tree growers from around the world are commemorating the 500 years of the beloved holiday tradition.

“Christmas tree growers from Ohio are proud to be a small part of this long and cherished Christmas tradition,” said Dave Reese, president of the Ohio Christmas Tree Association. “Many of the Christmas tree farms in the state will being doing special activities and promotions to commemorate this occasion. It is not every year you get to be a part of a 500-year anniversary.”… Continue reading

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