Country Life

USDA creates opportunities for U.S. agriculture in China

Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse will lead nearly 40 American businesses on a U.S. Department of Agriculture trade mission to China March 23-28. U.S. agricultural exports to China have grown more than 80 percent in the past three years. The USDA trade mission aims to help American businesses strike new deals, strengthen business ties, expand their markets, and support jobs for Americans.

“This is the largest USDA trade mission to date,” said Scuse. “China and the United States share a special relationship, and we embrace this opportunity to demonstrate that our U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers are reliable suppliers of the highest-quality food and agricultural products. At the same time, USDA and our federal partners will continue to aggressively work to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade.”

Also joining Scuse on the mission are leaders from six state departments of agriculture, including Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese and representatives from North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas and South Dakota.… Continue reading

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Time to re-enroll in CRP

The Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is now available and will continue through April 6. During the sign-up period, farmers and landowners may offer eligible land for CRP’s general sign-up at their local FSA office.

The CRP is Ohio’s most valuable conservation program, consisting of more than 300,000 acres. The CRP provides vital habitat for Ohio’s wildlife species, as well as providing the opportunity for wildlife observation and photography.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife supports the CRP because it creates quality grassland and wetland wildlife habitat and reduces the amount of sediment entering Ohio’s waterways, thus providing improved water quality in Ohio’s streams and lakes.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is a win-win for all Ohioans,” said Scott Zody, chief of the Division of Wildlife. “I encourage all landowners to take the time to consider enrolling all or a portion of their land into this ecologically important program.”… Continue reading

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Farming Film Festival Video Contest

How will we feed 9 billion people? What will the world look like in 2050? Alltech wants to hear from you. With the launch of the 2nd Farming Film Festival, it’s time to get out your camera and tell your story for a chance to win $2,000. The winning videos will be shown at Alltech’s 28th Annual International Symposium May 20 – 23 in Lexington, Ky.

“With the overwhelming success of the first Farming Film Festival, we knew we had to do it again. Social media outlets have been telling stories to the world. We want to use these new media forms to tell stories to the world. We want to use those outlets to tell the story of agriculture,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech.

Participants in the Farming Film Festival may enter by uploading their video to www.farmingfilmfestival.com. Winners will be chosen by a panel of science and agriculture journalists based on creativity, quality of video, story interest and number of views.… Continue reading

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ODA accepting submissions for “Ag Is Cool!” contest

The Ohio Department of Agriculture  announced it will begin accepting submissions for the 2012 “Agriculture is Cool!” Creative Expressions contest. Ohio children enrolled in school or home schooled during the 2011-2012 academic year have until July 9, 2012, to capture their personal interpretation of why Ohio agriculture is cool for their chance to win two tickets to see The Band Perry at the Ohio State Fair.

Entries, which can include an original video, photograph, drawing, or painting, will judged in the following age categories. One winner from each age group and category will be chosen:

Grades K-2: Photography, Drawing or Painting
Grades 3-5: Video, Photography, Drawing or Painting
Grades 6-8: Video, Photography, Drawing or Painting
Grades 9-12: Video, Photography, Drawing or Painting

All entries will be judged by a panel of judges that may include representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Governor, the Ohio Expo Center, and professionals in the areas of video production, photography, drawing, painting and other visual arts.… Continue reading

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ODA accepting submissions for "Ag Is Cool!" contest

The Ohio Department of Agriculture  announced it will begin accepting submissions for the 2012 “Agriculture is Cool!” Creative Expressions contest. Ohio children enrolled in school or home schooled during the 2011-2012 academic year have until July 9, 2012, to capture their personal interpretation of why Ohio agriculture is cool for their chance to win two tickets to see The Band Perry at the Ohio State Fair.

Entries, which can include an original video, photograph, drawing, or painting, will judged in the following age categories. One winner from each age group and category will be chosen:

Grades K-2: Photography, Drawing or Painting
Grades 3-5: Video, Photography, Drawing or Painting
Grades 6-8: Video, Photography, Drawing or Painting
Grades 9-12: Video, Photography, Drawing or Painting

All entries will be judged by a panel of judges that may include representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Governor, the Ohio Expo Center, and professionals in the areas of video production, photography, drawing, painting and other visual arts.… Continue reading

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SARE Grants Fund Sustainable Agriculture Research at Ohio State

Ohio State University Extension researchers have garnered some $2.8  million in grant funding over the last 23 years to advance sustainable agriculture issues in Ohio as part of an effort to benefit farmers, farm families and Ohioans statewide, according to a pair of OSU Extension educators.

Since 1988, OSU Extension faculty members, researchers, educators, graduate students and farmers have been awarded the grants to fund 47 research and/or education projects and Extension projects from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture in partnership with regional and state coordinators nationwide.

The goal of the program is to advance agricultural innovations that improve profitability, environmental stewardship and quality of life, according to USDA.

The grants have allowed Ohioans to identify projects that are relevant to them and their interests, said Mike Hogan, an OSU Extension educator and one of Ohio’s SARE coordinators.… Continue reading

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Ag groups express more concern with LightSquared

In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) International Bureau, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and other organizations representing farmers and agribusinesses in all 50 states today declared that “high-precision GPS technology is vitally important to American agriculture, and would be gravely harmed by LightSquared’s plans.”
In the petition, the groups urged the International Bureau “to adopt without delay” the bureau’s proposals to withdraw the conditional waiver it granted LightSquared and prohibit it from building a ground-based wireless network.
In addition to ASA, the petition was signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugar Cane League, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Potato Council, National Sunflower Association, US Canola Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, and the USA Rice Federation.
The groups described the benefits of high precision GPS to American agriculture as “immense and diverse,” saying that, “By enabling farmers to make precise applications for planting, irrigation, and crop protection, GPS technology has been responsible for remarkable growth in productivity, farm income, and improved environmental sustainability.”
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Nominations sought for conservation farm family award

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 Conservation Farm Family Awards, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Soil and Water Resources. The awards program through ODNR is co-sponsored by Ohio Farmer Magazine and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Award program has recognized Ohio farm families doing an outstanding job of managing natural and human resources in meeting both production and conservation goals.

Individual farmers, partnerships or family farm corporations are eligible for nomination, provided a substantial portion of their income is derived from farming. Judging is based on the nominee’s use of new and traditional conservation techniques, comprehensive management, individual initiative in applying conservation measures and the nominee’s willingness to share conservation information, experiences and philosophy with others.

Five area finalists will be chosen from around the state, and they will be recognized at the annual Farm Science Review in September.… Continue reading

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ASA urges permanent normal trade relations with Russia

In advance of Wednesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on the implications of Russia’s accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the United States, the American Soybean Association (ASA) joined more than 150 organizations from across the business community in submitting a letter urging the committee to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia.

“The pork and poultry industries, which use soybean meal in animal feed, are poised to see great success in Russia as income levels rise and the demand for meat increases. What benefits these industries benefits soybean farmers,” said ASA First Vice President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. “Those potential positives, however, hinge on further expansion of trade to Russia. The establishment of PNTR with Russia is critical to our ability to increase soybean exports into Europe’s largest consumer market and the world’s 11th largest economy.”

As part of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, which comprises businesses from a wide range of industries, ASA advocates the graduation of Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, enabling Congress to approve PNTR before Russia’s expected entry into the WTO later this summer.… Continue reading

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Nominations open for Ohio Agriculture Women of the Year

Ohio First Lady Karen W. Kasich and Ohio Agriculture Director David T. Daniels today announced they are now accepting nominations for the 2012 Ohio Agriculture Women of the Year Awards.  The award program is administered through the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Office of the First Lady.  The 2012 recipients will be announced at the Ohio State Fair.

“Director Daniels and I are excited for the opportunity to honor the impact of Ohio women on our state’s largest industry,” said Mrs. Kasich, who announced the creation of the award during last year’s fair. “We are looking forward to what we hope becomes an annual Ohio State Fair tradition for many years to come.”

Nominations will be submitted online and reviewed by a diverse committee of industry leaders. Winners will be selected on the basis of their outstanding contributions to Ohio agriculture, leadership and advocacy in the agricultural community and significant impact on the agriculture industry as a whole.… Continue reading

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AFBF supports farm truck measures in transportation bill

Although the Highway Bill (S.1813) has been a victim of partisan politics, according toNational Cattlemen’s Beef Association Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reached an agreement on the consideration of a series of amendments to the Highway Bill. Two of those amendments, which passed, are of particular importance for farm and ranch families. Specifically, an amendment brought forth by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will exempt drivers of farm vehicles from having to acquire a commercial driver’s license. Another amendment, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), will waive hours of service restrictions during harvest seasons.

“Farmers and ranchers are not professional truck drivers and shouldn’t be treated as such. Hauling livestock to market two times a year is hardly the same as hauling goods across the country on a daily basis. Subjecting family farmers and ranchers to costly and requirements is an unnecessary burden we cannot afford,” said Bacus.… Continue reading

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Obama announces Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator

The Obama Administration announced a $15 million multi-agency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenge to spur job creation and economic growth in distressed rural communities.This competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council.

President Obama recently announced the challenge as part of the Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” efforts to strengthen the economy, create jobs and support business growth, particularly expanding opportunity for rural Americans and supporting new and innovative businesses nationwide.

The national effort will support rural partnerships by identifying and leveraging local assets and strengthening linkages to industry clusters. Strong industry clusters promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success in rural areas.… Continue reading

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Ohio Agriculture Week

It is Ohio Agriculture Week, which is celebrated the second full week in March to educate citizens about the importance of Ohio’s agriculture industry. Here is a piece written by David T. Daniels, the new Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, to commemorate the occasion:

As a kid, I used to deliver eggs to my neighbors from our family farm — that was the standard pace of a farming business back then. But when you’re a farmer, the only thing that changes faster than the seasons is the technology you use to advance your operations.

Today, agriculture tells a much different story than it did when I was growing up. Ohio farmers are on the cutting edge of technology. They are doing things faster and more efficiently, using precision equipment and GPS-guided tractors, and the effects are resonating far beyond Ohio’s borders and into a global marketplace.

Ohio farmers and agribusinesses are now sorting and sending thousands of bushels of identity-preserved, food-grade soybeans to Japan and Korea.… Continue reading

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2012 Census of Ag lets farmers share their story

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is  calling on America’s farmers and ranchers to sign up for the 2012 Census of Agriculture and to share stories about how Census data benefits them. Recognizing the central role of agriculture in Americans’ lives, USDA wants to make sure it counts all farmers and ranchers in the upcoming Census. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years and is currently preparing to send the Census form to all agricultural producers in December.

“Census data can help us to better tell the amazing story of American agriculture, but that story will be incomplete if farmers aren’t all counted,”  said Renee Picanso, director of NASS’ Census and Survey Division.

To put together a complete list of agricultural producers, NASS sent out the National Agricultural Classification Survey (NACS) early in 2012. This initial survey helps identify all potential agricultural activities in the United States and who should receive the Census form later this year.… Continue reading

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Farm Safety 4 Just Kids commemorates 25 years

2012 marks the 25th anniversary of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK). The organization has promoted farm safety to more than 6 million people through local programs and education since 1987.
Over the past 25 years, FS4JK has established a network of more than 120 chapters across the United States and Canada that offer farm safety presentations on a local level. In that time, 35,600 volunteers donated 280,000 hours of their time to help promote safety on the farm.



Marilyn Adams founded the non-profit organization in 1987 after the death of her 11-year-old son in a gravity flow grain wagon accident. Its mission is to promote a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries and fatalities to children and youth. What started as a tribute to her son has touched nearly 6 million people so far.



“I didn’t really know what to expect when I started FS4JK,” Adams said. “The organization has grown and evolved so much in the past 25 years.… Continue reading

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A true grassroots effort: The 2012 OFBF Presidents trip

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

It is too bad that the word “lobbying” has become so negatively viewed by this country. Lobbying by its true definition is to try to influence the thinking of legislators or other public officials for or against a specific cause. In essence, the act of voting is in itself a form of lobbying. We choose the ones we want representing us based on their views and opinions matching up as closely to ours as possible.

In early March, Ohio Farm Bureau (OFBF) County Presidents from all over the Buckeye state made the journey to Washington to sit directly in front of their Congressmen and women and share their views and concerns. As you know, there are many issues inside the Beltway that are being reviewed by lawmakers that could have enormous impacts on agriculture, including the farm bill, child labor changes from the Department of Labor (DOL) and estate taxes.… Continue reading

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High prices could compete with conservation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s offer to pay farmers and landowners more money to stop farming their land to create additional wetlands and grasslands may not be enough incentive to get more growers to forgo planting crops that have fetched record prices in recent months, an Ohio State University expert said.

In a move to get farmers to enroll up to 1 million new acres of land into the federal Conservation Reserve Program, the USDA last week said it would increase a one-time signing bonus for the program to $150 per acre from $100. The increase will be available only to owners of approved land that features wetlands and benefits duck nesting habitat and certain animal species, including upland birds, the USDA said.

The offer comes as 6.5 million acres of land are set to expire from conservation programs this fall. That land could return to tillage at a time when high crop and land prices are enticing more farmers to put the land into production, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.… Continue reading

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Kasich requests federal disaster designation for tornado damage

Governor John R. Kasich asked President Barack Obama to issue a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Clermont County so that the maximum level of federal relief can quickly begin flowing to families hard-hit by last week’s storms.

Kasich asked the President to approve the request by Monday, or at the same time as the requests from other states impacted by the storm, so that relief can begin flowing as soon as possible. Kasich wrote that if the President didn’t decide by Monday that, in order to see relief flowing as soon as possible, he would have to withdraw his request and resubmit a request for disaster assistance from the Small Business Administration. SBA relief is less generous than that provided through a Presidential Disaster Declaration, but Ohio’s degree of damage likely already qualifies for it so it could begin flowing relatively quickly.

In his letter, Kasich wrote:

“While the level of damage sustained in this disaster may fall below the levels sustained by Kentucky and Indiana, the significant shortage of housing alternatives creates a unique need that cannot be solved without supplemental Federal assistance.… Continue reading

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What are you doing for Ag Day?

The National Ag Day program was started in 1973 by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) to increase the public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in society.

The ACA feels that every American should understand how food and fiber products are produced and appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products. As a part of National Ag Day, ACA announced the 2012 National Ag Day written essay and video essay contest winners. Ohio teen Diane Gress, from Shreve, won the video portion of the contest.

ACA called upon ninth- to 12th-grade students nationwide to submit an original written essay of 450 words or an original, two-minute video essay about the importance of agriculture in the U.S. Using this year’s theme, “American Agriculture: Feeding the Future, Filling the Gaps.” students addressed how the agriculture industry continues to feed a growing population while acknowledging the many ways today’s farmers continue to provide a safe, stable food supply and sustain the significant role agriculture plays in everyday life.… Continue reading

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Death tax debate won’t die in D.C.

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Everyone has heard the saying that there are two things that are inevitable – death and taxes. Leave it to our leaders in Washington, D.C. to skip some steps and just combine the two.

Estate Tax, commonly referred to as the “death tax,” is one issue that was put into focus as the Ohio Farm Bureau County Presidents visited their Congressmen and women in the nation’s Capitol in early March. Individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own 98% of the country’s 2 million farms. When estate taxes on an agricultural business exceed cash and other liquid assets, surviving family partners may be forced to sell land, buildings or equipment needed to keep their businesses operating.

“Congress has the ability to keep the current rates in place,” said Pat Wolfe, Director of Tax and Rural Development for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “They need to get this legislation on the floor and vote to keep the higher estate tax exemption.… Continue reading

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