Country Life

Use caution when working with shale gas issues

Shale gas development in Ohio could mean thousands of Ohio jobs, windfalls for landowners leasing away their mineral rights, and economic development for struggling communities.

But landowners also need to fully understand the potential financial, legal and environmental ramifications of the highly complex leases, which could last for generations. And public officials often need guidance on the implications for their communities, as well.

Ohio State University Extension is providing such leadership, offering educational programs to landowners, public officials and other stakeholders to help them make informed decisions. And people are asking for more.

“I’ve been with Extension for 27 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Stephen Schumacher, an Ohio State University Extension educator in Belmont County. “You can’t go to the fair or to the coffee shop without talking about oil and gas.”

Schumacher and colleague Mike Lloyd coordinate the OSU Extension Shale Gas Workgroup, which gathers monthly to allow educators, researchers and state Extension specialists to meet with representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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Turkey prices driving increase in Thanksgiving meal

The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 13% this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF’s 26th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47.

“The cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain, at just under $5 per person,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “The quality and variety of food produced for our dinner tables on America’s diverse farms and ranches sets us apart from our contemporaries around the world.  It is an honor for our farm and ranch families to produce the food from our nation’s land for family Thanksgiving celebrations.”

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.… Continue reading

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OFBF announces winners of “My Ohio Agriculture” video contest

Four Ohioans have been named winners of $500 each in the ‘My Ohio Agriculture’ video contest, sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Center for Food and Animal Issues. The contest required entrants to submit a one- to three-minute video showcasing their connection to Ohio agriculture.

The Stearns Homestead Farm in Parma earned the “People’s Choice Award,” given to the contestant whose video earned the most views on YouTube during the contest period. Submitted by Dana Valensky, the “Stearns Homestead Agriculture Clip” showed the diversity of this community farm in the city and its benefits to the local youth programs and residents. The video was viewed 1,447 times on YouTube throughout the contest.

Lisa Gress of Shreve earned the “Most Creative” Judges’ Choice Award for her video “My Ohio Agriculture – What’s Our Connection?” which featured time lapsed hand drawn farm and agriculture scenes, and described the wide variety and diversity of agriculture in the state.… Continue reading

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OFBF announces winners of "My Ohio Agriculture" video contest

Four Ohioans have been named winners of $500 each in the ‘My Ohio Agriculture’ video contest, sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Center for Food and Animal Issues. The contest required entrants to submit a one- to three-minute video showcasing their connection to Ohio agriculture.

The Stearns Homestead Farm in Parma earned the “People’s Choice Award,” given to the contestant whose video earned the most views on YouTube during the contest period. Submitted by Dana Valensky, the “Stearns Homestead Agriculture Clip” showed the diversity of this community farm in the city and its benefits to the local youth programs and residents. The video was viewed 1,447 times on YouTube throughout the contest.

Lisa Gress of Shreve earned the “Most Creative” Judges’ Choice Award for her video “My Ohio Agriculture – What’s Our Connection?” which featured time lapsed hand drawn farm and agriculture scenes, and described the wide variety and diversity of agriculture in the state.… Continue reading

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Is 2011 the wettest year on record?

By Jim Noel, NOAA/NWS

The outlook from Nov. 8-22 calls for above normal temperatures and rainfall overall. Normal temperatures are highs near 50 and lows near 35. Temperatures will average several degrees above normal.

Normal rainfall is about 1.2 inches. Rainfall will average 1 to 3 inches with the greatest totals in the west. Weather systems will affect Ohio the first half of this week, the first part of next week and the beginning of Thanksgiving week. In addition, a few showers with a colder upper air system will move through later this week.

Longer range, the above normal temperatures of November will gradually turn to normal, then colder than normal as we go through winter. Rainfall will likely turn from above normal in November to normal in early winter before going back above normal later in winter.

As for 2011, it will go down as one of the wettest in Ohio.… Continue reading

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Ag is Cool winners announced

 The Ohio Expositions Commission has announced that four fifth-grade students from the state are recipients of the “Agriculture is Cool” scholarship competition. 

Representatives from the Ohio Expositions Commission, Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation will present each scholarship winner with a $500 check and commemorative trophy during a special ceremony at his or her school:


  • Stanley “Stash” Apana (Northfield Village), Lee Eaton Elementary

o               Presentation date, time: Tues., Nov. 8, 2011, 10 a.m.

o               Location: Lee Eaton Elementary School cafeteria, 115 Ledge Road, Northfield, OH 44067

o               Presenters: Ohio Expositions Commission Secretary John Spreng, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director James Zehringer and Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher

  • Katie Meier (Kenton), Benjamin Logan Middle School

o               Presentation date, time: Wed., Nov. 9, 2011, 11 a.m.

o               Location: Benjamin Logan High School auditorium, 6609 State Route 47 East, Bellefontaine, Ohio 43311

o               Presenters: Ohio Expositions Commission General Manager Virgil Strickler, Ohio Department of Agriculture Chief of Markets Janelle Mead, and Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher

  • Alexa Mier (Medina), at St.
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Hunting season open

By Dan Armitage, the Buckeye Sportsman

For thousands of Ohio hunters — and I’m one of ‘em — fall doesn’t really begin until the season opens on ring-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit and bobwhite quail. This year, that all begins on Friday, Nov. 4, when rabbits, pheasants and quail may be hunted from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limits for all three species remain unchanged from the 2011 season at four rabbits, two pheasants (roosters only) and four quail per hunter.

Cottontail rabbit hunting continues through Feb. 29, and ring-necked pheasant hunting is open through Jan. 8, 2012. Both seasons are closed only during the statewide 2011 deer-gun hunting season, Nov. 28 through Dec. 4, and Dec. 17 and 18.

The Division of Wildlife releases pheasants on selected public hunting areas throughout the state on opening day of the pheasant season, the second and third Saturdays of the season, and Thanksgiving Day.… Continue reading

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Comment period extended for proposed farm youth labor regulation changes

The U.S. Department of Labor announced last week an extension of the public comment period for proposed changes to the regulations governing employment of youth on farms and agricultural enterprises.

Experts from Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural Safety and Health program will host a webinar to discuss the proposed changes and answer questions from the public Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 3 p.m.

“The proposed changes to the Agricultural Child Labor Laws are bringing about many questions for safety professionals, agricultural businesses who hire youth, and agricultural educators who teach farm safety to youth audiences,” said Dee Jepsen, program leader and assistant professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “Due to the impact this topic will make on many small farms and agribusinesses, the public comment period has been extended for another 30 days.”

The new deadline is Dec. 1, 2011.

Jepsen said farmers and parents with a vested interest in the proposal are encouraged to read the changes and be aware the new regulations will go into effect Jan.… Continue reading

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Farm Service Agency county committee elections

Steve Maurer, State Executive Director of USDA’s Ohio Farm Service Agency announced that the 2010 FSA county committee elections ballots will be mailed to eligible voters November 4. Dec. 5, 2011, is the deadline for eligible voters to return ballots to their local FSA offices.

“The FSA county committee system is unique among government agencies, because it allows producers to make important decisions concerning the local administration of federal farm programs,” said Maurer. “I urge all eligible farmers and producers, especially minorities and women, to get involved and make a real difference in their communities by voting in this year’s elections.”

Committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on disaster and conservation payments, establishment of allotments and yields, producer appeals, employing FSA county executive directors and other local issues. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and producers must participate or cooperate in FSA programs.… Continue reading

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4R nutrient stewardship efforts address Lake Erie algae

Farmers and other key stakeholders successfully reduced total phosphorus going into Lake Erie over the past 50 years, but must revaluate nutrient management practices to more effectively manage dissolved phosphorus in those same bodies of water, according to one Ohio State University Extension expert.

“It’s a different problem from what we had in the 1960s and 70s in terms of total phosphorous going into the lakes,” said Greg LaBarge, Ohio State Extension educator and one of the leaders of Extension’s Agronomic Crops Team. “From an agricultural standpoint, we changed tillage practices, which reduced the total loading going into the lake from agriculture. We cleaned up the phosphorous and had a very healthy lake.”

Thirty years ago, farmers in the watershed of Lake Erie’s western basin were challenged to meet aggressive standards for reducing the total amount of phosphorus impacting the lake. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) credits those farmers for succeeding in cutting phosphorus use in half, while also reducing sediment loading into the lake by 50%.… Continue reading

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Ag foundations host rural-urban community auction program

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation (Foundation), the Animals for Life Foundation (AFL) and the new Ohio Center on Agricultural Law, Inc. (OCAL) have united to host the Seventh Annual Rural – Urban Community Auction.

The online event takes place Nov. 1 – 29 at The program will conclude with a live finale as part of the Hospitality Corner at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s (OFBF) Annual Meeting in Columbus Nov. 30.

Online participants will have the opportunity to bid on getaway travel packages, home goods, sports memorabilia, collectibles and unique adventure items. New items will be entered into the auction’s catalog throughout the event.

“County Farm Bureaus throughout Ohio are creating unique items that represent the best of their communities,” said Dale Arnold, Foundation board member and auction coordinator. “Several businesses, organizations and friends of Farm Bureau who support the Foundation, AFL and OCAL programs are donating items for the event, too.”… Continue reading

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Two Ohio counties win national Farm Bureau competition

The Darke and Medina County Farm Bureaus have been named winners in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) County Activities of Excellence program and will be exhibiting their programs at the 2012 AFBF annual meeting in Hawaii. The two Ohio counties are among only 25 selected from across the nation for this prestigious honor. Both counties will receive $2,250 from AFBF to defray the costs of participating in the annual meeting.

The County Activities of Excellence program recognizes innovative, action-oriented programs conducted by Farm Bureau’s grassroots membership, and by highlighting them at annual meeting allows winning counties to share their ideas with Farm Bureau members from around the nation.

Darke County was recognized in the Education and Agriculture Promotion category. Their entry, “Home Grown in the County,” was a series of cooking demonstrations featuring area chefs and butchers designed to connect consumers with locally produced foods, build awareness of local agriculture and promote sales of local farm products.… Continue reading

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Ronald Reagan was right!

By Kirby Hidy, Ohio’s Country Journal

“The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” Former President Ronald Reagan has been credited with that statement, and on a recent weekend, I came to believe it to be true.

Had you asked me about trail riding 20 years ago, I probably would have “Harrumphed,” allowing that I could think of few things more boring than spending an afternoon looking at the behind of the horse in front of me. That attitude helped immerse me into the world of cutting horses — a passion that consumed me for nearly two decades.

Jump ahead 20 years. I moved back to Ohio after living nearly 13 years in Texas and quickly renewed several old friendships. Among them, a former classmate who kept encouraging me to join her, her husband and a group of their friends on the many weekend trail rides they took.… Continue reading

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Rabies still a risk in wildlife

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) wants to remind Ohioans that rabies in wildlife continues to pose a risk to pets and people. Rabies is almost always 100% fatal once a person or animal begins to show symptoms. Protecting pets by keeping them current on their rabies vaccine is an important buffer between wildlife rabies and human exposure. Indoor animals should also be vaccinated as rabid bats are frequently discovered by pets in the home.

Over the past two decades, ODH laboratories have confirmed two dogs and seven cats with rabies. The most recent dog report occurred on Oct. 13 when it was confirmed that a Siberian Husky from Twinsburg Ohio in Summit County was infected with rabies. The dog has since died and was not current on its rabies vaccination.


“Although this is only the second confirmed dog case in Ohio since 1997, the risk of household pets coming into contact with wild animals is ever present,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Kathleen Smith, who oversees the ODH Zoonotic Disease Program.… Continue reading

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OSU working with Iceland to address climate change

As part of its drive to forge lasting global partnerships, Ohio State University has signed two memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the University of Iceland and that European island-nation’s Soil Conservation Service with the goal of enhancing educational experiences and advancing critical research dealing with climate change, environmental sustainability and food security.

The MOUs were signed last July 14 during a visit to Iceland by Ohio State officials, including President E. Gordon Gee; Bobby Moser, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; William Brustein, vice provost for global strategies and international affairs; and Bill Ravlin, associate director of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

The Ohio State delegation met with Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson — who has been an avid supporter of the trans-Atlantic partnership that started back in 2007, visiting Ohio twice during that period and offering lectures on global warming, land restoration and green energy.… Continue reading

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Ohio biodigesters get a boost with USDA funding

Ohio is among the top states receiving USDA funding to expand clean energy production, reduce energy costs, improve water quality, and create jobs.

USDA is funding more than $10 million for Ohio companies to install biodigester projects in Cuyahoga, Morrow, Paulding, Summit, Wayne, and Williams Counties. The funding was awarded through a competitive process by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) through a competitive process. The are funded projects in 7 other states as well.

“This round of REAP funding places Ohio in the forefront of the anaerobic digester industry nationwide,” said Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan. “These advanced biodigesters not only create jobs for Ohioans, they turn our existing waste streams – municipal waste, foods, oils and grease and livestock manure – into valuable biomass inputs. They are solid investments for our economy and our environment.”

One of the biodigesters announced will be located at the waste water treatment plant in Wooster, Ohio.… Continue reading

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Prepare for another cold winter

If you’re wondering how the weather might be shaping up for this winter, just think back to the last one and plan for that. The Midwest could be in for another rough one, depending on how weather patterns develop.

La Nina conditions have returned for the second consecutive year, said Indiana State Climatologist Dev Niyogi. The presence of La Nina raises the prospect of weather similar to last winter’s extreme cold and frequent snowstorms.

“There is a good probability that we could have the same thing that we had last winter,” Niyogi said.

Studies by the State Climate Office, based at Purdue University, show that typical effects from La Nina’s cool Pacific air are an autumn of drought, which was present until recently in some parts of the Midwest, and a transition to conditions colder and wetter than normal across the northern states during the second half of winter.

Farmers will be watching weather patterns closely over the winter.… Continue reading

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The unthrifty horse

By: Phil Dilts, DVM

It’s now officially fall, which is my favorite time of year. The only bad thing about fall is it means winter is getting close. Winter is when horses that have difficulty holding their weight typically lose their body condition. This happens for a variety of reasons. Pasture is gone or nearly gone, and horses use more energy maintaining their body temperature. The purpose of this article is to lay out a systematic troubleshooting guide to help owners manage the unthrifty horse.

The first, and often overlooked treatment, is to feed the horse more. I know you’re thinking “Of course you would feed them more. Who wouldn’t do that.” But, it’s not quite that simple. When you have four horses of basically the same type and you are feeding them all the same and three are getting fat and one is losing weight, it’s rational to think feed is not the issue.… Continue reading

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Research on trees for biofuel production

Someday trees could provide more than just shade, scenery and building materials. Purdue University researchers are studying how poplars might be turned into liquid fuel.

In May a team of researchers led by Rick Meilan, associate professor of forestry and natural resources, began a five-year study to determine the viability of poplar species as an ethanol feedstock and cash crop for Indiana farmers. The study includes trial plots at Pinney-Purdue Agricultural Center east of Valparaiso and Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center just north of Vincennes.

Findings from the research could help propel the fledgling cellulosic ethanol industry, Meilan said.

“For biofuel production we’re principally using the sugars in corn that are fermented to produce alcohol that’s then blended with petroleum products,” he said. “What we’d like to do is use cellulosic feedstocks, including not just corn stover but also wood chips.”

Cellulose is considered the next frontier in ethanol production. The process involves extracting sugars from the cell walls of plant material, or what is commonly known as biomass.… Continue reading

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Renewable Energy Workshop

Companies, farmers, and university and private researchers will converge in Wooster on Thursday, Nov. 10, to show the growth of Ohio’s renewable energy and products sector and explore new opportunities within this promising green industry. And they want you to be a part of it.

Registration is now open for the fourth annual Renewable Energy Workshop at Ohio State University’s OARDC. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster. Registration (including lunch and materials) costs $25 before Nov. 3 and $35 after that date.

The cost for college students is $10. To register, fill out the form available at or contact Mary Wicks, 330-202-3533,

This year, the workshop will focus on the production of biogas through anaerobic digestion and the conversion of agricultural feedstocks and waste to industrial products, said Yebo Li, a biosystems engineer with OARDC and OSU Extension.
… Continue reading

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