Country Life

National Agriculture Day: 50 years later, farmers are growing a climate for tomorrow

 By John Wilson, State Conservationist, Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service 

Fifty years after the creation of National Agriculture Day, America’s farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners find themselves on the front lines of climate change. They are uniquely positioned to deliver solutions by implementing climate-smart production practices that conserve natural resources, build healthier soils, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon. 

National Agriculture Day on March 21 was a day to recognize the producers who are the best stewards of our land. America’s producers are not only providing food, forage, and fiber for today — they are also investing in climate solutions that will ensure a prosperous agricultural future for generations to come. They are growing a climate for tomorrow, for our state, our nation and our world. 

Here in Ohio, there are 128,686 agricultural producers operating 77,805 farms on 13,965,295 acres of productive land. The average size of an agricultural operation in Ohio is 179 acres.… Continue reading

Read More »

35 years of growth for the Ohio Beef Expo

The Ohio Beef Expo took time to celebrate its 35-year anniversary in 2023, bringing familiar faces that have been part of its storied past. The Expo is not only a highlight of agricultural events in Ohio, but has solidified its place amongst beef occasions nationally. Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood caught up with Elizabeth Harsh, executive director of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, to discuss the organization’s premier event. In this video, we also hear from Johnny Regula and Jim Rentz as they discuss the Expo’s evolution from a combined-breed sale to what it is today.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio State opens new terrestrial science park devoted to space research

Students, researchers and leaders from The Ohio State University as well as business and community leaders recently helped open the temporary home of the George Washington Carver Science Park’s (GWCSP) Starlab terrestrial analog facility.

The lab, located in the Agricultural Engineering Building on the Columbus campus, marks the launch of the first-ever science park devoted to space research. The space park is a collaboration between Voyager Space, Ohio State, the State of Ohio, JobsOhio and One Columbus, and will house a replica laboratory of the Starlab space station developed by Nanoracks and associated facilities, enabling researchers to prepare, evaluate, validate and test spaceflight experiments, and conduct parallel research on the ground.

“This partnership that we have at The Ohio State University with Starlab and the George Washington Carver Science Park will produce numerous opportunities for research, for outreach and extension and collaboration,” said Cathann Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. “Not… Continue reading

Read More »

Farm Bill top of mind for Farm Bureau county leaders in D.C.

Ohio Farm Bureau leaders from around the state gathered in Washington D.C. for the 2023 County Presidents’ Trip in mid-March. Leading conversation was the Farm Bill, back up for its five-year update. Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood spoke with Ohio Farm Bureau’s Brandon Kern, along with Ashland County Farm Bureau President Jake Kline on that and other topics in this video. We also hear from a variety of lawmakers that addressed the group, with concerns regarding agriculture, including the Farm Bill, crop insurance, East Palestine, and more.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio NRCS EQIP-IRA funding now available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for Environmental Quality Incentives Program — Inflation Reduction Act (EQIP-IRA) funding. These funds expand financial and technical assistance to landowners and producers advancing conservation practices targeting climate mitigation on their land. Applications must be received by April 23, 2023 to be eligible for Fiscal Year 2023 funding.

Nationally, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides an additional $19.5 billion over five years for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that NRCS implements. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is NRCS’ flagship conservation program that helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners integrate conservation into working lands. In Ohio, an additional $3.3 million in financial assistance has been made available to Ohio landowners through EQIP-IRA in Fiscal Year 2023. 

EQIP-IRA is designed to help farmers and private landowners apply conservation measures that focus on carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and soil health.… Continue reading

Read More »

East Palestine: What’s next for area farmers?

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

It’s been over a month since 38 train cars carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine but farmers in the area are still left with questions and concerns. On March 9, the same day the CEO of Norfolk Southern testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, a group of farmers and public officials gathered in a church basement in Salem, Ohio to receive updates and discuss worries. 

Following the controlled chemical release and burn, the Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio State University Extension, the Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District and other agricultural agencies have been actively monitoring the situation. Ensuring the food supply remains safe is of utmost importance.

Brian Baldrige, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, summarized the efforts that ODA has already taken to support farmers. 

“The Department of Agriculture touches every corner of the state and every facet of the agricultural industry.… Continue reading

Read More »

March: National Nutrition Month and National Ag Day

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

As March blows in for 2023, it’s time to celebrate 50 years of both National Nutrition Month and National Ag Day. The message is primarily the same year after year, just with a different twist and trendy words. Climate, environment, tomorrow and future are key words this year. 

In the Detwiler house, the hijacked words of climate, sustainability and environmental are like playing a game of Taboo. We believe that farmers have strived for this from the beginning of time. The importance of buying foods in season, minimal packaging and growing gardens is reinforcing what we have been doing for generations. Nutrition Month and Ag Day give us a stage to promote our authentic messages of food and farming. 

I have a love hate relationship with social media. I love it because it allows me to share my passion of agriculture, food, and my business.… Continue reading

Read More »

East Palestine update

Gov. Mike DeWine’s office provided updates from the State of Ohio regarding remediation work at the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

DeWine is planning a meeting with farmers in the area. Although the Ohio Department of Agriculture currently has no reason to believe that crops planted in soil in the area of East Palestine are not safe for consumption, the agency will host a roundtable discussion with East Palestine area farmers on Thursday afternoon to discuss concerns about the upcoming planting season.

Here are other updates.

Track and soil removal

The excavation continues under the south tracks at the derailment site. Ohio EPA reports that contractors are making good progress, and soil has been removed down to the clay in about 50 percent of the area. Once to that point, confirmation sampling is conducted to see if any contaminants remain. If contaminants are discovered, contractors will scrape away the clay until sampling comes back with no detection of contaminants.… Continue reading

Read More »

EQIP-CIC signup deadline April 7

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) deadline to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program Conservation Incentive Contracts (EQIP-CIC) is April 7, 2023. 

EQIP-CIC expands resource benefits for Ohio producers through incentive conservation practices such as wildlife management, cover crops, nutrient management, conservation crop rotations, and prescribed grazing. Additionally, EQIP-CIC allows producers to target priority resource concerns on their property by offering incentive payments for a five-year contract without needing to enroll the entire operation into the program. EQIP-CIC is designed to be a stepping-stone between EQIP and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), to help producers improve their level of conservation and earn benefits of longer-term conservation enhancements.

Find Ohio’s ranking dates as well as other program information on the Ohio NRCS EQIP website. To learn more about other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit Get Started with NRCS or contact your local USDA Service Center.… Continue reading

Read More »

The challenge of a generation

By Matt Reese

It wasn’t that long ago when the outskirts of central Ohio towns like Groveport and Canal Winchester quickly transitioned to open, fertile farm fields with prolific crops and grazing livestock. In just the span of a generation, though, warehouses, residential areas, strip malls, and traffic have forever altered the landscape. Some would argue the change is for the better, and society is currently demanding it, but a growing number of voices are being raised about the erosion of the Ohio agriculture of generation’s past and concerns about a food insecure future beneath the pavement, in the shadow of perceived progress.

The issue is certainly not new for Ohio, which has a long history of paving over some of the world’s most productive farm ground. But in the wake of massive change including huge solar fields, the Intel announcement, an unsatiable demand for warehouse storage due to online shopping, and yet another housing boom, Ohio’s agricultural future is looking increasingly uncertain in some areas. Continue reading

Read More »

USDA wetland reserve easements now available to Ohio landowners

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a special set-aside funding pool for landowners interested in restoring, enhancing, and protecting wetlands through the Wetlands Reserve Easement Program (WRE). This year, Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding has provided additional financial opportunities for the program, as wetlands play a critical role in climate mitigation. The first application cutoff date to receive fiscal year 2023 funding for the WRE-IRA program is March 17, 2023.  

Wetland Reserve Easements can help landowners protect land from climate impacts by reducing, capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Additional benefits include land development protection, critical wildlife habitat preservation and water quality improvement

Many of the state’s landowners can take advantage of this program, as eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored; croplands or grasslands subject to flooding; and previously restored wetlands and riparian areas that connect protected wetland areas. … Continue reading

Read More »

Harvest for All feeding the hungry

Farm and ranch families from across the nation donated 25.3 million pounds of food and raised more than $1 million to help fight hunger in 2022 through Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 31.1 million meals.

Criteria for tracking Harvest for All donations included dollars and pounds of food donated by state and county Farm Bureaus, as well as volunteer hours, reported from the grassroots up as part of the annual campaign.

The spirit of farm communities has always been one of working together and giving back. Now in its 21st year, Harvest for All is spearheaded by members of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program, but members of all ages from across the nation contribute to the effort. Their participation helps ensure Americans who are facing food insecurity can enjoy the bounty of food farmers and ranchers produce.

In addition to raising food and funds, farmers and ranchers tallied 13,827 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2022.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohioan at work training farmers to feed an African nation

By Matt Reese

Retired Ohio State University soil scientist Warren Dick has long been known for his research on soil amendments. He can still talk passionately about gypsum or phosphorus, but his eyes truly light up when he discusses his Bethel Agricultural Association, Inc. project.

Dick grew up in a Mennonite family with 13 children on a small farm in North Dakota. He attended Wheaton College in Illinois as a chemistry major with plans to become a medical doctor. 

“Between my junior and senior year, I went on a summer mission trip to South Sudan, which is one of the newer countries in the world right now,” Dick said. “I saw so much poverty and hunger. I was planning to go to med school but instead of med school, I decided I could do more good for this world in agriculture.”

After the trip, Dick went to Iowa State University for a PhD and was hired by Ohio State University in 1980 where he began his career teaching and researching the biochemistry and microbiology of soils.… Continue reading

Read More »

New deer regulations proposed

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

Next autumn’s deer hunting seasons and bag limits have been proposed to the Ohio Wildlife Council. Notably, bag limits were proposed to increase in six counties and decrease in one. Beyond that, the proposed deer hunting seasons are similar to last year and likely to be approved as written.

As in years past, only one antlered deer may be harvested, regardless of where or how it is taken, and hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. The proposed deer hunting dates for 2023-24 include:

• Deer archery: Sept. 30, 2023-Feb. 4, 2024

• Youth deer gun: Nov. 18-19, 2023

• Deer gun: Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2023; Dec. 16-17, 2023

• Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 6-9, 2024. 

Bag limit increases from two to three deer were proposed in six counties: Belmont, Gallia, Geauga, Harrison, Jefferson, and Monroe. A bag limit decrease from three to two deer was proposed for Butler County.… Continue reading

Read More »

ODA awards funding for two-stage ditches through H2Ohio

As part of Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is awarding $4.2 million in grants for 12 two-stage ditch projects.

“We are keeping our foot on the gas pedal to reach our nutrient reduction goals,” said ODA Director Brian Baldridge. “These projects will provide water quality benefits that complement the other best management practices offered through H2Ohio.”

Six county engineers and six Soil and Water Conservation Districts will receive funds to construct or improve two-stage ditches. Recipients will receive up to 100 percent of requested funding for these projects.

More than 18,000 acres of watershed will benefit from the 8.4 miles of two-stage ditch projects. Construction of these projects will begin this summer, and all projects must be completed by Fall 2024.

The two-stage ditch became the eighth best management practice offered through ODA’s portion of H2Ohio. A two-stage ditch is a conservation practice that modifies the shape of a drainage ditch to create vegetation benches on each side.… Continue reading

Read More »

Spring weather outlook

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Not to be outdone by January, February temperatures have been much above normal as well. Much of the state will end the month with temperatures about 5-10 degrees F above the long-term average (1991-2020). Locations such as Dayton and Columbus experienced daily high temperatures of at least 70 degrees F on three different days in February, a first for both locations. Despite the continued presence, although weakening La Niña, it was a drier than normal month for much of the state. The exception to this was northwest Ohio, where many counties picked up 125% to 200% of normal precipitation. The warm temperatures have certianly advanced the accumulation of growing degree days, with numerous signs of spring. For a detailed look at growing degree days and to see what might bloom next in your area, check out the The Ohio State Phenology Calendar.

An active weather pattern will continue this week as temperatures remain mostly above average.… Continue reading

Read More »

It is time to change the way we think about crop insurance

By Michael Sweeney, Vice President of Bickle Farm Solutions

I am very privileged to sit across the table from some of the best farmers in Ohio multiple times every year and talk with them about crop insurance, farm insurance, or just farming in general. One thing that I have learned in my years in agriculture is that everyone has an opinion and very few are the same. This could not be truer about crop insurance. 

Michael Sweeney

Generally there are two sets of views on crop insurance. One side says, “I buy it because the bank says I have to” or “I buy it to make sure I can farm again next year.” The other says the purpose of crop insurance for their operation is to guarantee margin, or at least to make them whole again. Both sides will have reasons for the stance they take. At the end of the day, it’s all about mental and financial risk tolerance.… Continue reading

Read More »

U.S. Department of Labor modifies wages in H-2A program

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced it will publish a final rule to amend how the Adverse Effect Wage Rates for the H-2A program are set to improve the rates’ consistency and accuracy based on the work actually performed by these workers and to better prevent H-2A workers’ employment negatively affecting the wages of U.S. workers in similar positions. 

The H-2A program allows employers to address temporary labor needs by employing foreign agricultural workers when a lack of U.S. workers for the positions exists, and as long as hiring non-U.S. workers does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers in similar jobs. The program’s Adverse Effect Wage Rates is the wage below which there would be an adverse effect on the wages of U.S. workers.     

The department uses the data for field and livestock workers combined as reported by the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey to set the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, but on a few occasions in recent years, the FLS has not been conducted.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio counties eligible for emergency farm loan assistance

By David Marrison, OSU Extension Field Specialist- Farm Management

Farm operations in 15 Ohio counties are eligible to apply for emergency credit through the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Farm Loan program. These loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

The Emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President of the United States under the Stafford Act. These loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster. In addition, farmers located in counties that are contiguous to the primary designated county may also qualify for this loan program.

A declaration was made for Brown and Clermont counties on Nov.… Continue reading

Read More »