Country Life

America’s Farmers Grow Communities supports Ohio counties

Based upon the idea that farmers are crucial components of successful small towns around the nation, the Monsanto Fund sponsored America’s Farmers Grow Communities to support local farming communities. The program allowed farmers to register to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organization, such as FFA, 4-H, schools, fire departments and other civic groups. One winner was selected in each of 1,204 eligible counties in 38 states, including Ohio.

“We want to recognize what agriculture means to small communities around Ohio because farmers play such a vital role,” said Bill Girten, Monsanto Account Manager who presented some of the awards. “This program has been a great chance for me to get out a see people in our communities. A lot of these donations have gone to youth organizations and it is great to see the smiles from the kids.”

Also, for every farmer who applied, Monsanto donated $1 to their local United Way to help food banks, food pantries, Meals On Wheels and other charitable organizations dealing with hunger in their respective county.… Continue reading

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On-farm renewable energy production shows tremendous growth

The number of solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters on America’s farms and ranches has increased significantly over the past decade and there are now 8,569 operations producing their own renewable energy, according to the results of the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey released today. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, this was the first-ever nationwide survey that looked at renewable energy practices on America’s farms and ranches.
“These results indicate that farmers and ranchers are increasingly adopting renewable energy practices on their operations and reaping the important economic and environmental benefits,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA we are committed to natural resource conservation, prosperity and energy independence in rural America. This survey gives us a benchmark against which we can measure our future successes.”
According to the survey results, solar panels were the most prominent way to produce on-farm energy.… Continue reading

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Wilmington College to host Food Symposium March 31st

Kathleen A. Merrigan, who was selected by TIME magazine in 2010 as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” will highlight the link between the agriculture community and consumer as the keynote speaker at Wilmington College’s second annual Food Symposium March 31.

The day-long event will feature the theme “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: Improving Access to Safe and Healthy Food.”

Merrigan is deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She helped develop the USDA’s organic labeling rules while head of the Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999 to 2001.

She has a Ph.D. in environmental planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked at Tufts University as its director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program.

Merrigan, whose presentation title is “The Critical Connection between Farmer and Consumer,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. She will highlight the efforts of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and will explore how agriculture policy-makers are “integral” to issues ranging from climate change to national security.… Continue reading

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Value Added Producer Grant Program changes to assist farmers as they add value to products

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced changes to the Value Added Producer Grant Program that will provide additional opportunities to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. The changes, outlined in an interim rule published in today’s Federal Register, will also assist independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and will support local and regional supply networks.
“Improvements to this popular program will create additional economic and job opportunities by helping owners of small and medium-sized family farms sell their products in local and regional markets, part of our drive to ‘win the future,’” Merrigan said. “USDA investments such as these are part of the Obama administration’s work to support farmers, ranchers and rural businesses.”
The regulations address program changes included in the 2008 Farm Bill. These revisions:
• Provide up to 10 % funding to beginner farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers;

• Provide up to 10% funding to local and/or regional supply networks that link producers with companies marketing their products; 

• Give priority for grants to beginner farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and operators of small and medium-sized family farms; 

• Extend grant eligibility to producers who market their products within their state or within a 400-mile radius.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farmers Union comes back from devastation

By Matt Reese

Ohio Farmers Union is the yin to Ohio Farm Bureau’s yang. They are the voice of the left in the often right-leaning politics of Ohio agriculture. So many times it seems that if Ohio Farm Bureau has a position on something, Ohio Farmers Union (OFU) is just the opposite — often a lone swath of blue amid a sea of Republican red.

This voice of Ohio’s blue-collar farmer, though, was mostly silenced after the OFU’s former Secretary/Treasurer was caught embezzling money from the organization. The bottom fell out for OFU in spring of 2009.

The disaster that followed gave OFU president Roger Wise more than he had bargained for after taking the office of president.

“I got elected in January of 2008 and all of this came out in June of 2009. We discovered some irregularities in accounting and moving the money around. We started to ask questions.… Continue reading

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OEFFA announces 2011 Stewardship Award Recipients

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has bestowed its highest honor, the Stewardship Award, on Ed Snavely of Knox County and Deborah Stinner of Wayne County. The announcement was made on February 19 as part of OEFFA’s 32nd Annual Conference, Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community.”

Deborah Stinner is a Research Scientist and Administrative Coordinator for the Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Program (OFFER) at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.

Stinner’s research specialty is organic farming systems, with a focus on specialty small grains, including hard wheat and spelt, for artisan bread and pasta products. She helped found the OFFER program in 1998 in response to requests by organic producers and supporters to provide science-based information to Ohio’s organic farmers. OFFER is internationally recognized as a leader in organic farming research.… Continue reading

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Insulting Ohio's small waters

By Mark Wilson

We’ve entered the age of civility. Politicians started off 2011 by tempering their choice of words when criticizing an opponent. House Speaker John Boehner stopped calling the Democrats’ healthcare bill “job killing” and began calling it “job crushing.”

Recently, a senior water quality manager at Ohio EPA tried his hand at civility by saying farmers are “insulting” small waters instead of “polluting” them. Feel better now, farmers? I wouldn’t.

“Small waters” generally refer to watercourses not typically thought of as natural streams. They tend to convey runoff or tile drainage from upland areas of less than 1 square mile. Most people call them ditches, grass waterways or ephemeral streams (streams that carry water only when it rains).

It’s been Ohio EPA’s goal to expand their authority to “small waters” for a long time — essentially since the mid ‘90s when pollution resulting from stacks and pipes (i.e. point sources) became secondary and pollution resulting from man’s use of the land (nonpoint sources) emerged as primary.… Continue reading

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Insulting Ohio’s small waters

By Mark Wilson

We’ve entered the age of civility. Politicians started off 2011 by tempering their choice of words when criticizing an opponent. House Speaker John Boehner stopped calling the Democrats’ healthcare bill “job killing” and began calling it “job crushing.”

Recently, a senior water quality manager at Ohio EPA tried his hand at civility by saying farmers are “insulting” small waters instead of “polluting” them. Feel better now, farmers? I wouldn’t.

“Small waters” generally refer to watercourses not typically thought of as natural streams. They tend to convey runoff or tile drainage from upland areas of less than 1 square mile. Most people call them ditches, grass waterways or ephemeral streams (streams that carry water only when it rains).

It’s been Ohio EPA’s goal to expand their authority to “small waters” for a long time — essentially since the mid ‘90s when pollution resulting from stacks and pipes (i.e. point sources) became secondary and pollution resulting from man’s use of the land (nonpoint sources) emerged as primary.… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau support of Feeding America breaks record

The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau last year raised more than $273,000 and donated more than 18 million pounds of food to hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program through Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations provided the equivalent of more than 16 million meals.

The money raised, food donated and meal equivalents in 2010 all shattered program records. The Harvest for All Program was established in 2003.

In fact, the 18 million pounds of food donated by Farm Bureau families in 2010 was nearly three times as great as the 6.7 million pounds donated in 2008, the previous record. The $273,000 in funds donated in 2010 surpassed the 2009 level of $213,000, which was also a record. And the number of meal equivalents served at 16 million exceeded the previous high of 6.4 million, also set in 2008, by nearly 10 million meal equivalents.… Continue reading

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The Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative leads Ohio delegation to Israel

The Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative (OIAI) of the Negev Foundation is taking a wide representation of Ohio’s agricultural and agri-business experts to the prestigious AgroMashov tradeshow in Israel this March, where they will speak on their areas of expertise. The Initiative also will present a booth at the tradeshow featuring Ohio companies.

AgroMashov—— is one of the largest international agriculture tradeshows in the Middle East, with 20,000 visitors expected from around the world. One focus of the tradeshow will be enhanced, sustainable production in the face of population increases and climate change.

The Ohio booth is sponsored by OIAI, with the support of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Development’s Global Markets Division, and its Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.

OIAI fosters agricultural trade opportunities and collaboration between Ohio and Israel,” said Sarah Horowitz, OIAI’s program director, who will accompany the delegation. “Our presence at AgroMashov will help Ohio agribusinesses both with the exposure needed to attract international buyers and the opportunity to explore international markets.”… Continue reading

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OFBF legislative priorities discussed at Ag Day at the Capital

By Matt Reese

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s director of state policy Beth Vanderkooi covered some of the important state agriculture-related issues that need to be discussed with legislators during Ag Day at the Capital.

“There are some really exciting things going on at the Ohio statehouse,” she said. “We have a very aggressive state priorities list this year, but we cannot do it without you. There are big issues being discussed.”

Elimination of the estate tax is among the top issues being debated.

“It will be a few weeks before the House sends this bill over to the Senate. That is a few more weeks for us to get out there and send our message loud and clear,” Vanderkooi said. “We have a rare opportunity to get this done in Ohio, but it will not happen if we sit back and let someone else speak.”

Other important issues include the business climate and taxes in Ohio.… Continue reading

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BioHio Research Park links business and OARDC

At a time when the Buckeye state is trying to dig out of the recession and re-engineer its economy to boost job creation, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) is collaborating with forward-thinking industry to do just that.

The Wooster center — part of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — is looking beyond the classroom and lab to commercialize technology that can lead to startup companies or attract businesses to invest and build their workforces right here in Ohio.

This initiative has given birth to BioHio Research Park, a first-in-the-state business and technology center whose aim is to link OARDC scientists with business and industry partners interested in the growing and promising field of agricultural biosciences — which includes high-impact areas such as renewable energy and materials, food safety, and environmental remediation.

“BioHio is a truly unique asset,” said Rod Crider, president of the Wayne Economic Development Council, a key partner of OARDC in this endeavor. … Continue reading

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Utica and Marcellus Shale Gas and Oil Lease Terms Program

Leasing activity of land for gas from Utica and Marcellus shale formations has been on the increase in Licking County and surrounding counties in recent months.  As a result landowners have many questions on terms in a lease and what are reasonable expectations.  With that in mind OSU Extension in Licking County has arranged for a program on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at the Newark Campus of Ohio State University and Central Ohio Technical College.  The program will be held in Hopewell Hall South, Room 68.

J. Richards Emens, an attorney with Emens & Wolper Law Firm, LPA, Columbus, Ohio will resource the program.  He is a specialist in dealing with leasing contracts for mineral rights.  There will be some time for questions.  No advance reservations are needed.  Handouts will be available that will provide additional information on shale gas formations and exploration. A fee of $5 per family is asked to cover the cost of the handout materials.… Continue reading

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Farm Credit’s Tom Schlenker retires after 33 years of service

Tom Schlenker, executive vice president of Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, retired on February 15 after 33 years of service.  Schlenker joined the agriculture lending cooperative in 1978. He is widely credited for organizing and leading the organization’s Relationship Management Philosophy program and providing leadership in the launching new products including the Agnition dealer credit program and crop insurance.  Also under his leadership, Schlenker supervised the overall support of a very diverse agriculture market, from agribusiness, to the full- and part-time farmer markets, to rural residents.

Farm Credit President and CEO Donnie Winters said “Tom represented and served the interest of American agriculture and Farm Credit. He consistently modeled the values of integrity, hard work, high performance and dedication to our customers. Because of his contributions, he has helped guide this organization to become the premier lender to farmers and rural America and we appreciate the efforts he has made over the many years.”… Continue reading

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Several From Ohio Competing in Championship Tractor Pull in Louisville

Several people from Ohio will be competing in the Championship Tractor Pull during the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville this week.

8,200 Super Stock Tractors

Mike Beck                          Napoleon                              High Tech Redneck
David Siefert                     New Washington                Renegade Deere

7,500 Modified Tractors

John Evans                       Wilmington                         Double Stuff
Keith HuKeith                  Ansonia                                The Fury

10,200 lb Modified Tractors

Larry Shope                      Bellville                                 Iron Dragon

9,300 lb Super Farm Tractors

Julia Conny                      Beloit                                      Mac Daddy

6,200 lb 2-WD Super Modified Trucks

Jessie Petro                     Camden                                  2 Timin’
Jeff Whitsel                      Orient                                    At It Again

8,000 lb Super Stock Alcohol Tractors

Jeff Hirt                             Port Clinton                        Runnin’ Bare
Tim Howell                       Wilmington                        Ryans Toy II
Frank Keener                    Ashland                               XXX
Larry Roberts II               Wilmington                         The Big Toy

9,300 lb Super Farm Tractors

Larry Sheets Jr.                 Williamsport                    Red River
Dean Wildermuth              Lewistown                       The Replacement Deere II

6,200 lb 2-WD Super Modified Trucks

Randy Petro                        Camden                             Kathy’s Komplain

10,200 lb Pro Stock Tractors

Carlton Cope                        Salem                               Warpath
Mike Linder                          Edison                              Linder Brothers

7,500 lb 4×4 Super Stock Diesel Trucks

Carl Atley                               Xenia                              Lethal Weapon
Cory Atley                              Cedarville                      Agstremely Hooked
Wayne Greier                       Salem                              Resurrected Ram
Shane Kellogg                      Forest                              Gotta Have It
Erik Stacey                            Winchester                    Smoknya HD

10,200 lb Pro Stock Tractors

Monte McCoy                     Warsaw                            Dusk Till Dawn
Kevin Schmucker               Louisville                         Rampage

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New rules for estate taxes

By Jim Skeeles & Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension Educators

Congress passed new legislation in December affecting estate taxes, but only for 2011 and 2012, reducing federal taxation of large estates. This legislation affects families with an individual who dies in 2011 or 2012 and has assets more than one million ($1M) or an individual that gifts more than $1M dollars during this period.

With this law change, an individual can pass on a total of $5M worth of assets with no federal estate or gift tax due. Further, if the net worth of an individual’s estate combined with the total counted amount given exceeds $5M, the federal estate and/or gift tax rate has been reduced to 35%.

Also upon the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse now receives the unused $5M exclusion of the deceased spouse. Since the surviving spouse also has her exclusion of $5M she now can transfer assets totaling $10M, either by giving them away, the assets going through her estate, or a combination of the two.… Continue reading

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Finally, warmer weather

Though it is still not warm, it is at least warmer.

Following relentless shots of record cold in December, January and now early February, a much-anticipated warm-up is coming to much of the eastern two-thirds of the country over the next week or so.

Temperatures in a few areas are set to jump as much as 90 or 100 degrees from this week’s frigid levels. In the process, much of the nation’s snowcover will be wiped out toward the end of next week.

As of Feb. 10, 2011, roughly 65% of the contiguous U.S. was covered with snow, according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. Also, 49 of 50 states had snow on the ground Thursday and Friday morning. This includes even Hawaii, with some snow atop Mauna Kea. The only state without any snow on the ground was Florida. Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity expects the warm-up to reduce the nation’s snowcover to about 25% toward the end of next week.… Continue reading

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Small farm conferences in March

Farmers who want new ways to grow, sell and stay in business can find them at two events coming next month. The “Opening Doors to Success” Small Farm Conference and Trade Show runs March 11-12 at Wilmington College in southern Ohio. The “Living Your Small Farm Dream” Northeast Ohio Small Farm Conference and Trade Show takes place March 26 at the R.G. Drage Career Center in Massillon.

“‘Small’ is relative, almost a mindset,” said Mike Hogan, one of the organizers and an Ohio State University Extension educator in eastern Ohio. “It’s hard to draw a line to say what’s small and what isn’t.

“The main focus either way is to help farm families identify ways to become more profitable and sustainable — economically, environmentally and socially.”

Alternative enterprises, such as blueberries and freshwater shrimp, will be among the topics. So will alternative production systems — reduced tillage, grass-based livestock and others — and alternative marketing systems, including CSAs (community supported agriculture), farmers’ markets and direct online selling.… Continue reading

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Brown asks for assistance to rebuild OARDC

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to help rebuild the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) on the Ohio State University’s Wooster campus, which was partially destroyed by a tornado in mid-September.

“The OARDC has been a crucial link between agricultural producers and world-class researchers and scientists, [and] is a cornerstone of economic development for the region,” Brown wrote in the letter. “A recent study showed that OARDC annually contributes more than $142 million to the Ohio economy and generates more than 1,576 jobs in the state.

“Following the tornado, nearly every building on the campus sustained damage.  While most buildings have considerable roof damage, three buildings and seven greenhouses were completely destroyed,” Brown continued. “This past October, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited OARDC and surveyed the extensive damage. After inspecting the grounds, Deputy Secretary Merrigan reiterated the need to restore the facilities so that research activities could resume…Bringing these critical resources back to full capacity is critical for Ohio and for the advancement of agricultural research.”… Continue reading

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Natural gas drilling could be boon for landowners, but be cautious

Eastern Ohio landowners interested in leasing their land for natural-gas drilling into the rich resources of the Marcellus Shale need to be aware that such leases can carry some financial risk if they’re not cautious. And, potential risks to the environment could be serious.

The Marcellus Shale formation encompasses about 95,000 square miles from New York to West Virginia, swinging through the southeastern corner of Ohio. The ancient formation, lying 8,000 to 15,000 feet below the surface, is estimated to be capable of producing more than 363 trillion cubic feet of clean-burning natural gas — more than 15 times the natural gas used in the United States each year. The Utica formation, which lies beneath the Marcellus and reaches into parts of central Ohio, appears to have similar reserves.

These rich resources are fueling a “gas rush” in areas where drilling is taking place, but the rise of the new industry has also raised concerns about the possibility of contamination or depletion of groundwater reserves.… Continue reading

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