Country Life

Students create statewide Food for Thought Challenge

By Matt Reese

Tests, homework, sports, grades, friends, peer pressure, jobs — today’s students have pretty full plates that unfortunately do not often include consideration of the food that is on them.

With deteriorating health in many segments of U.S. society, efforts are being made to bring nutrition closer to the forefront for students. A year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The proposed changes to school meal standards add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk to school meals. Schools would also be required to limit the levels of saturated fat, sodium, calories, and trans fats in meals.

The Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP) decided to take the government’s school food mandates one step further by working with education consultants to change student behaviors and attitudes about their food choices.… Continue reading

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USDA invites applications for renewable energy projects

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).

“Renewable energy development presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” said Vilsack. “This funding will assist rural farmers, ranchers and business owners to build renewable energy projects, providing opportunities for new technologies, create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient.”

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs.  For 2012, USDA has approximately $25.4 million budget authority available to fund REAP activities, which will support at least $12.5 million in grant and approximately $48.5 million in guaranteed loan program level awards. … Continue reading

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USDA announces greater flexibility and additional tools for beginning farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson announced a new rule that expands loan opportunities for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, while also establishing a new Land Contract Guarantee Program. The rule provides additional flexibility allowing FSA loan officers to consider all prior farming experience, including on-the-job training and formal education, when determining eligibility for FSA for farm operating and ownership loans. It also expands a previous pilot program, the Land Contract Guarantee Program, from six states to all 50 states. This program is designed to encourage farmers and ranchers to sell their property to beginning and socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmers and ranchers through the use of seller financing.

“USDA continues to find ways to improve our services for farmers and ranchers by streamlining processes, accelerating delivery, and using innovative solutions to 21st century agricultural challenges,” said Nelson. “These improvements demonstrate FSA’s commitment to helping the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers participate in our nation’s agricultural economy.… Continue reading

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Invasive hemlock pest discovered in southern Ohio

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced the discovery of a hemlock-killing pest in southeast Ohio. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a small, aphid-like insect native to Asia that threatens the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock and Carolina hemlock in the eastern United States.

HWA was first reported in the eastern United States in 1951 near Richmond, Va. By 2005, it was established in portions of 16 states from Maine to Georgia, where infestations covered about half of the range of hemlock.

The relatively small infestation was discovered at Shade River State Forest in Meigs County as part of ODNR’s ongoing forest health survey program. At this time, five trees out of approximately 500 hemlock trees surveyed were infested. HWA is primarily transmitted by wind and birds. Officials believe the finding in Ohio is the result of natural spread from nearby areas where the pest is established.… Continue reading

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Foodborne illness a costly problem

The cost of foodborne illness in the United States is now estimated to be up to $77.7 billion a year, according to an analysis by Ohio State University researcher Robert Scharff.

Although the new estimate, published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Food Protection, is a significant reduction from the researcher’s initial estimates in 2010, “these numbers are still big,” said Scharff, an economist and researcher with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). “The decrease doesn’t necessarily reflect a decrease in foodborne illness. Primarily, it’s due to methodological changes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in how the incidence of foodborne illness is measured. Both the CDC numbers and my new estimates of related costs are more accurate — that’s the important thing.”

In 2011, the CDC issued new figures for the incidence of foodborne illness, estimating that about 48 million people in the United States suffer from foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.… Continue reading

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More on possible USDA office closures in Ohio

By Matt Reese

On January 9, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA would be restructuring the department to meet budget restrictions. Part of that plan calls for the consolidation and closure of offices across the country. In Ohio those offices include:

  • Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, in Bowling Green, Wood County
  • Agriculture Research Service, ARS, Coschocton, Coshocton County
  • Farm Service Agency Offices (FSA)
  • Brookville, Montgomery County
  • Pomeroy, Meigs County
  • Springfield, Clark County
  • Somerset, Perry County
  • Carrollton, Carroll County
  • Food and Nutrition Service, FNS
    • Cincinnati, Hamilton County
    • Columbus, Franklin County

    Those in the affected communities have been quick to express their concerns. The Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) claims that the closure of their FSA office will result in decreased efficiency if merged with the neighboring Preble County FSA.

    “What made a good sound-bite does not make good sense, or dollars!  In an effort to look as if they are doing something (anything) to help us taxpayers, the USDA will be severely harming a system that efficiently, effectively, frugally, and cooperatively serves the citizens of Montgomery County. … Continue reading

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    No-till is a solution and a problem for phosphorus loss

    By Matt Reese

    It seems that, with regard to the phosphorus problems in Lake Erie and other bodies of water, no-till is part of the solution and part of the problem.

    Lake Erie was once known around the world for its pollution and water quality problems, but in the 1970s, farmers and industry teamed up to clean up the Lake. This was done by dramatically reducing the total amount phosphorus, much of it attached to soil particles. For farmers, conservation tillage and no-till were an important part of the solution. No-till reduces soil erosion, which reduces the amount of phosphorus attached to soil particles that are leaving the field.

    The improvements in Lake Erie were amazing, but, unfortunately the problem is back, and this time it is the more vexing form of dissolved phosphorus. To complicate matters, no-till actually may facilitate the loss of dissolved phosphorus.

    “There is no easy answer for this,” said Andrew Sharpley, a leading expert on phosphorus from the University of Arkansas.… Continue reading

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    Funding applications for wetlands accepted until Feb. 10

    USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ohio State Conservationist Terry Cosby announced the availability of Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) funding to enter into agreements with eligible partners to carry out high priority wetland protection, restoration and enhancement activities on eligible lands.

    “Nationally, up to $17 million is available through General WREP for wetlands restoration and enhancements on a competitive basis,” Cosby said.  “Eligible partners are encouraged to submit WREP proposals to our state office by February 10, 2012.  The proposals will be evaluated by Ohio NRCS staff using a competitive process with recommended proposals being forwarded to the national NRCS office for review, ranking and final selection.”

    WREP is a voluntary conservation program that works through partnership agreements with states, nongovernmental organizations and tribes.  It is a component of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) through which NRCS enters into agreements with eligible partners to leverage resources to carry out high priority wetland protection and improve wildlife habitat.… Continue reading

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    Cargill to award 350 scholarships

    Cargill will award $350,000 in scholarships to U.S. high-school seniors who live in communities where Cargill has operations and plan to enroll in post-secondary education next fall. National FFA has administered the Cargill Community Scholarship Program for more than 20 years. 

    Through the program, Cargill will award 350 national scholarships of $1,000 each. In addition, each recipient’s high school will receive a $200 grant from Cargill. National FFA will process the applications and select the scholarship recipients, although students do not need to be FFA members to be eligible for Cargill’s program. Students are chosen based on academic achievement and leadership in extracurricular and community activities.

    “We are pleased to join FFA in recognizing outstanding students and supporting their educational goals,” said Mark Murphy, assistant vice president of corporate affairs for Cargill. “We recognize that our continued success depends on the growth and health of our communities and partners, including our local schools and young people.”… Continue reading

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    LG Seeds donates $1,000 to West Milton 4-H club

    LG Seeds donated $1,000 to the Newton Blue Ribbon Livestock 4-H Club in West Milton after farmers registered for a chance to win $1,000 to be donated to their local FFA or 4-H Club of choice at the 2011 Farm Science Review.

    Jan Strauser of Laura, Ohio was LG Seeds’ grand prize winner.  Strauser elected to donate the $1,000 to the Newton Blue Ribbon Livestock 4-H club, where his grandson, Jeffrey, is a member. LG Seeds Brand Supply Manager and Illinois 4-H Foundation Board Member, Eric Yoder, is thrilled that LG Seeds is giving back to the community, particularly ag-related organizations.

    “The 4-H Club is a strong group that provides learning and leadership opportunities to students across the country.  It is also not your average youth organization,” Yoder said. “It’s a great fit to give back to the 4-H Club because LG Seeds is also not your average seed company.  We truly value our farming community and are excited to give back to such a valuable ag-related cause.”… Continue reading

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    Research takes broad look at Lake Erie Watershed

    A new research project at Ohio State University integrates biological, physical and social sciences to develop a complete picture of what drives decision-making processes and environmental conditions in the Maumee River watershed. The four-year, $1.5 million project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will combine decision-making models with hydrological modeling and future climate change scenarios to examine how people’s actions in the watershed affect water quality in Lake Erie.

    Researchers from six different departments at two universities – Ohio State and Case Western Reserve University – are working together to examine how watershed management practices like the application of agricultural fertilizers impact water quality in Lake Erie, how public perception of the health of the lake may influence those practices, and how these relationships are likely to change under climate change scenarios.

    “Not many people have looked at different populations within a watershed and what drives some of their decisions about land use,” says Jay Martin, scientist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and associate professor of Ecological Engineering in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.… Continue reading

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    Can I avoid paying taxes on oil/gas payments?

    By Chris Zoller, Chris Bruynis & David Marrison, OSU Extension Educators & Peggy Hall, Extension Specialist, Agricultural Law

    The leasing of land for oil and gas drilling throughout eastern Ohio has provided landowners with substantial revenue.  OSU Extension has received many calls from landowners asking how they can avoid paying taxes on these payments.  The quick answer is that there are very few ways to avoid paying taxes on lease bonus payments or royalty income.  Oil and gas revenue payments are classified as Miscellaneous Income and are subject to both federal income and Ohio taxes (and should be reported appropriately).
    Taxation on Lease Bonus Payments: Cash payments received by the landowner prior to drilling, commonly referred to as lease bonus payments (typically paid on a per acre basis) are considered ordinary income for tax reporting purposes and are subject to ordinary income taxes. These payments might be made on an annual basis each year of the lease’s primary term, or could be made as a lump-sum payment that combines all annual payments into one payment made upon executing the lease. … Continue reading

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    Honeybee deaths linked to seed insecticide exposure

    Honeybee populations have been in serious decline for years, and Purdue University scientists may have identified one of the factors that cause bee deaths around agricultural fields.

    Analyses of bees found dead in and around hives from several apiaries over two years in Indiana showed the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides, which are commonly used to coat corn and soybean seeds before planting. The research showed that those insecticides were present at high concentrations in waste talc that is exhausted from farm machinery during planting.

    The insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam were also consistently found at low levels in soil — up to two years after treated seed was planted — on nearby dandelion flowers and in corn pollen gathered by the bees, according to the findings released in the journal PLoS One this month.

    “We know that these insecticides are highly toxic to bees; we found them in each sample of dead and dying bees,” said Christian Krupke, associate professor of entomology and a co-author of the findings.… Continue reading

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    Ohio winners of Amercia's Farmers Grow Communities

    Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities winners were selected in December and are now being contacted. The winning organizations will soon be contacted and check presentations will be scheduled over the next two months. The 2012 Ohio winners have been announced and can be found at www.growcommunities.com.

    Sixty three Ohio counties were involved for a total amount of $157,000 being donated to local organizations.  Nationally to date, there are confirmed 1,112 winning farmers and over 200 organizations!

    This is the second year for the national program and nearly 60,000 farmers signed up for the chance to win.

    Heather Hetterick spoke with Dekalb/Asgrow Territory Sales Manager Janelle Brinksneader about the impact this program has on the local communities Monsanto does business in.

    Heather Wrap for 1-16-12


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    Ohio winners of Amercia’s Farmers Grow Communities

    Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities winners were selected in December and are now being contacted. The winning organizations will soon be contacted and check presentations will be scheduled over the next two months. The 2012 Ohio winners have been announced and can be found at www.growcommunities.com.

    Sixty three Ohio counties were involved for a total amount of $157,000 being donated to local organizations.  Nationally to date, there are confirmed 1,112 winning farmers and over 200 organizations!

    This is the second year for the national program and nearly 60,000 farmers signed up for the chance to win.

    Heather Hetterick spoke with Dekalb/Asgrow Territory Sales Manager Janelle Brinksneader about the impact this program has on the local communities Monsanto does business in.

    Heather Wrap for 1-16-12


    Continue reading

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    Custom rate survey

    By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management, OSU Extension

    Custom farming providers and customers often arrive at an agreeable custom farming machinery rate by utilizing Extension surveys results. Ohio State University Extension collects surveys and publishes survey results from the Ohio Farm Custom Survey every other year. This year we are updating our published custom farm rates for Ohio. We need your assistance in securing up-to-date information about farm custom work rates, machinery and building rental rates and hired labor costs in Ohio.

    Please download the Ohio Farm Custom Rates 2012 survey and respond even if you know only a few rates.  We want information on actual rates, either what you paid to hire work or what you charged if you perform custom work. Custom Rates should include all ownership costs of implement and tractor (if needed), operator labor, fuel and lube. If fuel is not included in your custom rate charge there is a place on the survey to indicate this.… Continue reading

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    AEPP may be impacted by state budget crunch

    By Kyle Sharp

     

    Although first approved by Ohio voters in 2000 and overwhelmingly renewed in all 88 counties in 2008 with strong bipartisan support from the executive and legislative leadership, some fear funding for the Clean Ohio Program is at risk this year. If funding for the program is not included in Governor Kasich’s capital bill, the popular Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (AEPP), administered through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, could be put on hold.

    “We don’t know yet if the bonds voters approved in 2008 will be included in the administration’s capital bill this winter or spring. Even though voters approved the initiative, the issue must be authorized in a capital bill,” said Krista Magaw with the Tecumseh Land Trust, Yellow Springs. “The administration drafts the bill and sends it to the house first.  This capital cycle ordinarily happens every two years, but we’re over a year behind on the cycle at this point.”… Continue reading

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    AgriLabs announces 2012 NCBA Scholarship Program

    For the fifth consecutive year, AgriLabs will donate $1500 to be awarded as scholarships to deserving youth by participating state cattle association affiliates.  Selection of the participating organizations will be made during the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) Convention in Nashville, TN, being held from February 1-3, 2012.

    Each of the three days the convention’s trade show is open, one lucky attendee will be selected to choose the affiliate organization that will receive a $500 scholarship grant.  In turn, the organization-which must be a state affiliate of either NCBA or the American National Cattle Women (ANCW or the ANCW foundation)-will award the $500 educational scholarship to a deserving youth during 2012.

    Convention participants can register to win and select their participating organization by registering at the AgriLabs booth (#436).

    “Educating the youth of today who will be the leaders of our industry tomorrow is an important responsibility,” says Adam Yankowsky, business unit manager, AgriLabs. … Continue reading

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    Now is the time to make your estate plans

    Attendees of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 93rd Annual Meeting picked up valuable advice from Christopher Hesse on how to protect their estates. Hesse is a CPA with LarsonAllen Firm-Wide Tax Resource Group and a partner in a family farm.

    According to Hesse, proper planning is critical to ensure an estate will be passed down to future generations, and not the government. The current death tax exemption for 2012 is $5 million. While Congress is expected to extend the current exemption to 2013, Hesse warns that if this is not the case, it will be reduced to $1 million. Any amount over the death tax exemption is subject to a taxable amount of 55% of the asset’s present value.

    “It’s important to start the estate planning process now, because no one has a crystal ball that can predict the future,” said Hesse.

    With the high price of farmland today, farmers and ranchers can easily find themselves having an estate worth more than $5 million.… Continue reading

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    Scholarship programs

    United Producers Inc. (UPI) is excited to support the future generation of agriculture through its scholarship program.

    UPI is offering two $1000 scholarships in each of its 16 districts to deserving high school and college students pursuing agriculture degrees.

    “The future of agriculture depends on those who are currently considering and pursuing a career in this critical industry,” said Dennis Bolling, President and CEO, United Producers Inc. “We want to do all we can to encourage students who have an interest in agribusiness, farming, veterinary medicine or other agriculture-based industries to pursue their careers, and this is our way of helping them do so.”

    Applicants must be a Preferred Member of UPI or a child or grandchild of a Preferred Member, and a 2012 graduating high school senior enrolled in, or a student currently attending, a college or technical school studying an agriculture-related field. Completed applications and essays must be postmarked by April 1, 2012.… Continue reading

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