Country Life

OEFFA Conference Feb. 18-19

Experts from Ohio State University will give a dozen of the 70-plus workshops at this year’s Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association annual conference.

Billed as the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, the program takes place Feb. 18-19 in Granville in central Ohio and will focus on “Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty.” More than 1,000 people are expected. The past two years have sold out.

Get full details — the schedule, all the speakers and registration information — at or contact OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt, 614-421-2022, ext. 205, or

“Farmers, businesses, chefs and consumers are working together to reclaim our food sovereignty,” Hunt said in a press release. “(They are) rebuilding local food systems and Ohio’s rural farming communities, demanding access to healthy organic food and information about how that food is produced, and relearning sustainable agriculture practices that nourish our bodies, our communities and the environment.”… Continue reading

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New ODA Director?

Rumors and hearsay indicate that the next director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture may be Bob Peterson, from Fayette County, who is currently serving as State Representative of the 85th House District in his first term at the Ohio House of Representatives. There has been no official announcement, but plenty of talk about Peterson being the next to serve as ODA Director.The post has been filled by Interim Director Tony Forshey since the departure of former Director Jim Zehringer after he left to serve as Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Peterson grew up on his family’s farm in Fayette County. After graduating from The Ohio State University, he returned to the family farm, which he currently operates with his father and brother. The Peterson Family Farm is an eighth generation grain and livestock farm. The 1,800 acre operation produces corn, soybean, wheat, hay, and livestock. The farm’s soybean and wheat are raised for seed production and 75 acres are devoted to research test plots.… Continue reading

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Tips for showing your horse

Horse judge Kim Lemmon offers some specific tips to ponder this winter in preparation for next summer’s horse shows.


Please remember that my first chance to meet you and your horse is during the showmanship classes. When you lead your horse in to start your pattern, make sure your clothes are clean and neat and that your horse is banded or braided, neatly clipped and sparkling clean from head to toe.

In 4-H showmanship classes, it doesn’t matter if you have the prettiest or the most ugly horse on the grounds as long as the horse and its exhibitor are neatly and cleanly presented. The scoring system for Showmanship in Ohio 4-H horse shows is: Condition of the horse, up to 10 points; Trimming & Braiding/Banding, up to 10 points; Grooming of the horse, up to 10 points; Appearance of tack & exhibitor, up to 10 points; Showing animal in ring, up to 60 points.… Continue reading

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2012 Ohio county fair dates

Ohioans can start planning visits to all of their favorite fairs across the state. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has released the official dates for the 2012 fair season, which includes Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs and the Ohio State Fair.
The Paulding County Fair will kick off the 2012 fair season on June 11, and the season will wrap up on Oct. 13 with the Fairfield County Fair.
In addition to setting and approving the dates for the independent and county fairs, the department is responsible for helping to assure the safety of fair amusement rides, monitoring livestock shows to help assure honest competition and coordinating animal health efforts with local veterinarian.
View the complete 2012 Ohio fair schedule

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SWCS meeting to focus on water quality

Several Ohio State University Extension experts in soil and water quality, agricultural production practices and nutrient management will present research and facilitate discussion on the issue of managing dissolved reactive phosphorus levels in Ohio’s fresh water bodies during the winter meeting of the All Ohio Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), Jan. 17 in Reynoldsburg.

“We have a lot of different agencies and organizations working on this issue,” said Jim Hoorman, an assistant professor with OSU Extension and one of the conference’s organizers. “A report of recommendations on how to manage this dissolved phosphorus situation is due to Gov. Kasich in early February, so all of these stakeholders will be represented at this meeting.”

Hoorman said Extension personnel have been involved in the multi-agency working group from its inception, along with experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), among others.… Continue reading

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Federal Judge favors ethanol with California ruling

A judge in Federal District Court in Fresno, California sided with America’s ethanol industry in ruling that the State of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is unconstitutional.  Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill agreed with the arguments that the LCFS is in violation of the Commerce Clause the U.S. Constitution.

In a joint statement, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said: “The state of California overreached in creating its low carbon fuel standard by making it unconstitutionally punitive for farmers and ethanol producers outside of the state’s border. With this ruling, it is our hope that the California regulators will come back to the table to work on a thoughtful, fair, and ultimately achievable strategy for improving our environment by incenting the growth and evolution of American renewable fuels.”

The groups filed their suit on December 24, 2009 and asserted that the California LCFS violates the Commerce Clause by seeking to regulate farming and ethanol production practices in other states. … Continue reading

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Lorain County 4-H saved

By Matt Reese

There will be Extension for another year in Lorain County thanks to some financial support from less-than-conventional sources.

A county probate judge decided to allocate $55,400 of the revenue from the sale of the former Green Acres orphanage to help fund the program. The donor of the property requested that the funds be used to support youth in the county. The $55,400, when combined with funding from a nonprofit group and a local recycling program, was enough to keep Extension for another year.

“It is wonderful and exciting here in Lorain County,” said Minnie Taylor, the 4-H educator in the county. “We’re alive and well and we are not going to let up. We’re already working on 2013.”

Taylor said the 4-H program in the northeast Ohio county is a blend of traditional rural youth and urban youth as well.

“We have a really good mix in this county and, through 4-H, we can work on a lot of partnerships between rural and urban areas,” she said.… Continue reading

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Lessons from "A Christmas Carol"

By Tim Reeves, the Country Chaplain

Okay, let me ask, have you pulled out the video or DVD of “A Christmas Carol” yet and watched it with your family? Charles Dickens’ immortal Christmas classic celebrates its 168th birthday this year. It’s hard to believe it’s that old! Written in 1843, Dickens’ short story was an immediate hit, with 6,000 copies selling out within three days of publication and it’s still a hit even today.

I’ll openly admit I’m an “A Christmas Carol” fanatic! At this time of year, I bring out all the different media versions of this classic. I read the original story (actually it’s an easy read; only takes a couple hours). I’ll watch several versions, from Lionel Barrymore’s black and white version to the Muppet’s Christmas Carol and Mickey Mouse’s version. I even have a copy of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas carol. Certainly, I’ll listen to Jonathon Winter’s taped reading of the story as well.… Continue reading

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Lessons from “A Christmas Carol”

By Tim Reeves, the Country Chaplain

Okay, let me ask, have you pulled out the video or DVD of “A Christmas Carol” yet and watched it with your family? Charles Dickens’ immortal Christmas classic celebrates its 168th birthday this year. It’s hard to believe it’s that old! Written in 1843, Dickens’ short story was an immediate hit, with 6,000 copies selling out within three days of publication and it’s still a hit even today.

I’ll openly admit I’m an “A Christmas Carol” fanatic! At this time of year, I bring out all the different media versions of this classic. I read the original story (actually it’s an easy read; only takes a couple hours). I’ll watch several versions, from Lionel Barrymore’s black and white version to the Muppet’s Christmas Carol and Mickey Mouse’s version. I even have a copy of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas carol. Certainly, I’ll listen to Jonathon Winter’s taped reading of the story as well.… Continue reading

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Ohio State researching ash tree resistance to EAB

The native North American ash tree’s future rests in the ability of researchers to create a new variety with the right genetic traits to withstand its greatest nemesis: the emerald ash borer (EAB).

Scientists with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) have received a three-year, $1.4 million grant to continue their groundbreaking work toward the development of a tree that can be used for preservation of ash in natural and urban forests. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) provided the funds.

An accidental import from Asia, EAB is an invasive insect that has killed millions of ash trees in the eastern U.S., the Midwest and Canada. It is so devastating that virtually all ash trees within 31 miles of the initial EAB infestation in southeastern Michigan are now dead. And the tiny beetle is predicted to cause an unprecedented $10-$20 billion in losses to urban forests over the next decade.… Continue reading

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Ohio keeps adding to rainfall records set in 2011


It just keeps raining and Ohio is saturated. Two of the three official Ohio climate stations used by the National Weather Service in Wilmington have set all time records for rainfall. Here is the chart of highest yearly precipitation values at the three official climate stations as of Dec. 21.

Top 5 Wettest Years on Record (Through 10 AM Dec 21)
1. 71.65 / 2011*1. 59.75 / 19901. 53.54 / 2011*
2. 57.58 / 19902. 55.88 / 2011*2. 53.16 / 1990
3. 54.67 / 18803. 54.65 / 19963. 51.30 / 1882
4. 53.41 / 19964. 52.23 / 19934. 50.73 / 1890
5. 53.22 / 19505. 51.26 / 19955. 49.17 / 1979
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Septic systems and storm water — Is there a connection?

By Karen Mancl, professor in the Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

More than a dozen people have died from eating contaminated fruit this year. Beach closures occur all over Ohio, giving the state the reputation as having some of the most polluted beaches in the United States.

Where does the contamination come from? One serious source is the illicit discharge of home septic systems to storm sewers and ditches. In Franklin County, Ohio, for example, sewage has been found illegally leaking from 1,500 storm sewer outlets. Under federal law, the search continues to find sources of raw sewage that pollute water used for irrigating food and beaches where families want to play.

It’s gross

Diseases like the “stomach flu” are caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated by human sewage. Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Norwalk virus, Cryptosporidium and Giardia are just some of the pathogens spread through ingestion of human sewage on food or in water.… Continue reading

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Shale may boost economy less than thought

A recent industry-funded study estimating that development of shale natural gas and oil could create or support 200,000 jobs in Ohio greatly overestimates the economic impact of the industry, according to a new Ohio State University analysis. Furthermore, the researchers say, focusing on jobs rather than other factors related to the growing industry is misguided.

The analysis, written by doctoral student Amanda Weinstein and Mark Partridge, Swank Chair of Rural-Urban Policy in Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, is available online at

Partridge and Weinstein wrote “The Economic Value of Shale Natural Gas in Ohio” in response to various industry studies, such as the Kleinhenz and Associates study prepared for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, which was released in September. The Ohio State researchers’ analysis suggests that the state could expect a net gain of about 20,000 jobs over the next four years from shale gas development, just one-tenth of what the Kleinhenz study suggested.… Continue reading

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Communicating positive messages about food more important than ever

By Matt Reese

Lisa O’Brien, United Soybean Board executive director, talked about the importance of communicating positive agricultural messages to consumers at the recent Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium.

“We want to turn the war on agriculture into a conversation. We need to engage consumers in conversations about food,” she said. “It is not what you say, it is what they hear. When you say ‘safe,’ they hear ‘we don’t know if pesticides antibiotics or hormones are safe in the long term.’ When you say, ‘affordable,’ they hear ‘at what expense to quality.’ Abundant – that is part of America’s health problem. Because of this, a lot of the old arguments fail. We need to open the door for conversations and acknowledge that there is always room for improvement.”

While they are wary of agricultural practices and terminology, consumers have a very positive feeing about farmers.

“Audiences are very favorable toward individual farmers or ranchers.… Continue reading

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Deer-gun week numbers down

Ohio hunters took 90,282 white-tailed deer during the state’s weeklong deer-gun season, which ran Nov. 28 through Dec. 4. In 2010, hunters checked a total of 105,034 deer during the same time period.

“Hunters clearly took advantage of the weather as the week progressed. They trimmed the deficit from last season from 39% on opening day, to 14% by the close of the season on Sunday, “said Mike Tonkovich, Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) deer project leader. “While other factors may have been at work, it is clear that extreme weather — good or bad — on key harvest days can have a significant impact on the bottom line.”

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer brought to Ohio check stations included Coshocton — 3,690, Muskingum — 3,223, Tuscarawas — 3,180, Guernsey — 2,982, Harrison — 2,772, Licking — 2,678, Knox — 2,480, Belmont — 2,431, Carroll — 2,252 and Washington — 2,225.… Continue reading

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USDA Introduces new tools for GAP certification

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, along with leaders from food and agriculture organizations, introduced a free online tool to help U.S. producers of all sizes achieve Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) harmonized standards and certification, helping to further expand economic opportunities for American agriculture.

USDA’s GAP audit verification program focuses on best agricultural practices to verify that farms are producing, and packers are handling and storing, fruits and vegetables in the safest manner possible to minimize food safety hazards. The free online tool — developed by with funding from USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) — helps farmers design a customized manual to meet GAP harmonized standards and certification requirements, including USDA GAP standards, and mitigate business risks by answering just a few questions.

“USDA believes that a strong farm safety net — including effective, market-based risk solutions for producers of all variety and size — is crucial to sustain the vitality of American agriculture,” Merrigan said.… Continue reading

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Research looks into medicinal compounds in plants

Scientists at Purdue University and eight other institutions have developed new resources poised to unlock another door in the hidden garden of medicinally important compounds found in plants.

The resources were developed by the Medicinal Plant Consortium, led by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. They grew out of a $6 million initiative from the National Institutes of Health to study how the genes of plants contribute to production of various chemical compounds, some of which are medicinally important.

Purdue professor of horticulture and landscape architecture Natalia Dudareva was part of the research team. Dudareva’s work included research on rosemary, a fragrant shrub often used in perfumes and cooking that produces a variety of pharmacologically active compounds.

“This grant allowed for the work of scientists from a number of different universities, with many different areas of expertise,” Dudareva said. “We hope the discovery of plant genes leads to new and more effective drugs.”… Continue reading

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Winter farm markets on the rise

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the number of winter farmers markets is increasing. According to the updated National Farmers Market Directory, since 2010, the number of winter markets has increased 38%, from 886 to 1,225. These winter markets also account for nearly 17% of the nation’s 7,222 operating farmers markets.

“Consumers are looking for more ways to buy locally grown food throughout the year,” Merrigan said. “Through winter markets, American farmers are able to meet this need and bring in additional income to support their families and businesses.”

Farmers markets operating at least once between November and March are considered winter farmers markets. The top 10 states for these markets are:

State                                     # of Winter Markets in 2011     # of Winter Markets in 2010

1. New York                                                 180                                                 152

2. California                                                 153                                                 137

3. Pennsylvania                                           78                                                   35

4. North Carolina                                        73                                                   53

5. Ohio                                                           50                                                   34

6. Maryland                                                  48                                                   30

7.… Continue reading

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CIFT working to bring Ag Research Service patents to Ohio

The Center for Innovative Food Technology, based in Toldeo, aims to bridge the gap between researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture and commercial business.

On Thursday, CIFT held an event announcing a partnership with Bowling Green University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership to present Ohio businesses with patents from the USDA Agricultural Research Service that have the opportunity to be commercialized. Most of the patents are for direct agricultural use or add value to an agricultural product.

Graduate students from the center presented to the group the patents’ market opportunities.

Patents presented at the meeting include:

Biopolymer Thickener: A thickening agent that when added to a milk product creates desired thickness. Main target would be the elderly segment.

Soil Strength Measurement Tool: Sensor that attaches to tillage tool and connects to GPS to allow continuous on-the-fly measurement of soil strength in the top 18 inches. Allows for the creation of soil compaction maps and adjust tillage depths.… Continue reading

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Black Swamp Conservancy protects 600-acre farm

The Black Swamp Conservancy, along with the U.S. and Ohio departments of agriculture, has entered into a permanent farmland preservation agreement with a Sandusky County family. The agreement covers a 604-acre farm, the Conservancy’s largest protected property to date.

The farm is owned by Washusky Farms LTD and managed by a brother and sister, Ron and Judy Mauch, owners of Washusky Farms. The family includes parents Chester and Betty Mauch, who had already protected two parcels, covering 230 acres, with permanent farmland preservation agreements with Black Swamp Conservancy. The family is working with the Conservancy to protect another 349 acres of agricultural land.

Located west of Fremont, the 604-acre farm is part of a 4,000-acre family farming operation. The portion recently protected is significant to the Mauch family because it includes the original 80-acre farm purchased by Chester Mauch’s father in 1915. Originally a small dairy operation, today the farm produces corn, soybeans, wheat, tomatoes and sugar beets.… Continue reading

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