Country Life



Farmland values on the rise

Much of the U.S. economy has been slow to recover from the recession. That hasn’t been true of farmland markets, which have continued to climb, a group of Purdue University agricultural economists said.

Strong crop returns, very low interest rates and a growing expectation that both might continue have had a positive influence on farmland values, said Mike Boehlje, Chris Hurt and Brent Gloy.

“Even while some residential and commercial real estate values have been falling, that has not been the case for farm real estate,” Boehlje said. “Instead, we’ve seen some high prices for farmland in recent months, even exceeding $10,000 an acre in some extreme cases.”

Boehlje, Hurt, Gloy and fellow Purdue agricultural economist Craig Dobbins examine farmland value dynamics in their paper “Farmland Values: Current and Future Prospects.” The paper can be viewed online by going to http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/commercialag/progevents/landvalueswebinar.html and then clicking on the link.

Farmland values have risen steadily since 1987 but have shot up in recent years.… Continue reading

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New food safety regulation signed into law

In early January, President Barack Obama signed into law new food safety regulations that are the most dramatic changes to American food safety practices in over 70 years.

“The Food Safety bill will provide the Federal Government with improved tools to prevent foodborne illness and address challenges in the food safety system by promoting a prevention-oriented approach,” said Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary. “Protecting consumers from harm is a fundamental function of government and with passage of this landmark food safety legislation, USDA remains committed to keeping food safety a top priority.”

The changes have generated some concerns within the agricultural industry, however. “Food safety knows no size, and exempting some small producers and processors from the legislation, as the Tester/Hagan amendment will do, sets a dangerous precedent for the future our nation’s food safety system. Instead of including the Tester/Hagan language, Congress should have passed legislation to set appropriate standards for all products in the marketplace, no matter the size of the producing entity,” said Kristina Butts, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) executive director of legislative affairs.… Continue reading

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Tips for planning for the future of your family farm

A conversation with Robert Moore, with Wright Law Firm

OCJ: First, could you share with us about your background and how you got involved with the legalities of family estate planning?

Robert: I grew up on a dairy farm in Coshocton County. After graduating from Ohio State I worked for OSU Extension for 9 years. During my time with OSU Extension, I attended Capital Law School at night. I felt a legal career working with farmers would be both challenging and rewarding. After law school I joined Wright Law Co., which focuses on agricultural law, particularly estate and succession planning for farm families.

OCJ: How do you feel about the recent changes to federal estate tax?

Robert: It is definitely beneficial to farmers. The new $5,000,000 federal estate tax exemption will allow most farm families to be exempt from federal estate tax. If the exemption had gone back to $1,000,000, many farm families would have struggled to continue the farm due to federal estate taxes upon the death of a family member.… Continue reading

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Ohio residents honored for support of fairs

The individuals from across the state were recognized for their outstanding support of local fairs during ceremonies at the 86th Ohio Fair Managers Association Annual Convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs presented each recipient with a certificate.


The award recipients were:

District 1 – L.C. “Butch” Krauss, Fulton County

District 2 – Dave Jury, Wyandot County

District 3 – James A. Bell (posthumous), Greene County

District 4 – Jim Kirk, Fayette County

District 5 – Herbert J. Berry, Wayne County

District 6 – Joel D. Spires, Fairfield County

District 7 – James C. Rex, Morgan County

District 8 – Albert Young, Coshocton County

District 9 – James Bailey, Portage County

Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs and the Ohio State Fair support the local economy and help educate the public about the importance of agriculture and the many necessities it provides, including food, clothing, shelter, fuel and energy.… Continue reading

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A new “coffee shop” is born

By Matt Reese

A jingle announces when someone walks in the door and every head turns to see who it is. Golden oldies country music is playing in the background. Coffee is consumed by the pot and the food is good enough to accompany the bountiful conversation that flows freely, depending on who is sitting around the table.
Farmers have flocked to the local coffee shop for generations to learn the local gossip, talk about the weather and share their (often slightly exaggerated) crop yields. This is just the kind of place Bill Yeoman had in mind when he conjured up the idea of a new business for his Fayette County family farm.
The Yeoman family has been in the area since 1815 when their founder got a 1410-acre land grant for service in the Revolutionary War. In more recent years, the Yeoman family operation had evolved into corn and soybeans and freezer beef from an Angus herd.… Continue reading

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Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program 2011 application period opens

The 2011 Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program application is now available on the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website. All applications must be submitted electronically no later than 5 p.m. on April 6, 2011. A hard copy of the completed application must also be sent by registered or certified mail to the department, postmarked on or before April 6, 2011.

The applications are used by the department to evaluate and purchase agricultural easements to preserve Ohio’s farmland. Agricultural easements are voluntary legal agreements restricting non-agricultural development on farmland, with the land itself remaining on the tax rolls and under private ownership and management. Landowners may undertake any agricultural activity permitted under Ohio law. They can sell their farm or pass it along as a gift to others, but the easement remains with the land, prohibiting any future non-agricultural development to make certain that it remains used for agricultural purposes.

The Clean Ohio Fund bond initiative won support from Ohio’s voters in November 2008 to preserve farmland and green spaces, improve outdoor recreation, encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities by cleaning up brownfields.… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2010

At Ohio’s Country Journal, we made a significant effort to expand and improve upon our Web site in 2010 and it has been extremely successful at getting the news out instantly. We have enjoyed the chance to get Web site visitors the stories they want to know about as they are happening. The response from Ohio agriculture has been fantastic with many visitors this year. Here are the most commonly viewed stories on the Web site from 2010.

#5. Kent Boyd: From farmtown to Hollywood, by Heather Vaubel, posted Aug. 16

Kent Boyd danced his way from his hometown in Botkins to the finals for the TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance” on Fox.

Each week Boyd wowed the judges with his talent and America fell in love with his innocence and charming, genuine and goofy personality. As Boyd’s fame grew, Botkins became prouder and prouder, especially since there was a little confusion about where he was from.… Continue reading

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IRS publishes 2011 mileage rates

By David L. Marrison, OSU Extension Educator

On December 3rd, the Internal Revenue Service issued the 2011 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2011, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: 51 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 50 cents per mile in 2010);
19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (up from 16.5 cents per mile in 2010); and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (same as 2010).
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. Independent contractor Runzheimer International conducted the study.… Continue reading

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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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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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