Country Life

Surprises in the horse barn aren’t always pleasant

By Kim Lemmon, Ohio’s Country Journal

At this point in my life, I’m never really very surprised when I find some kind of problem or disaster in the barn. I will admit that I did reach my breaking point last spring, when the barn flooded and my pregnant goats where standing in three inches of water but that was a pretty extreme problem.

Most of the time rotten mini horses, Mike and Ike, create the little surprises I meet randomly during my morning feedings.

I wasn’t really very surprised when I saw Mike and Ike munching on several bales of hay they had managed to pull into their stalls one morning last week. Really it was only a matter of time until it happened.

Last summer, in an effort to cram as much hay into the barn as possible, my husband, Mark, and I filled two of our three horse stalls with hay.… Continue reading

Read More »

Surprises in the horse barn aren't always pleasant

By Kim Lemmon, Ohio’s Country Journal

At this point in my life, I’m never really very surprised when I find some kind of problem or disaster in the barn. I will admit that I did reach my breaking point last spring, when the barn flooded and my pregnant goats where standing in three inches of water but that was a pretty extreme problem.

Most of the time rotten mini horses, Mike and Ike, create the little surprises I meet randomly during my morning feedings.

I wasn’t really very surprised when I saw Mike and Ike munching on several bales of hay they had managed to pull into their stalls one morning last week. Really it was only a matter of time until it happened.

Last summer, in an effort to cram as much hay into the barn as possible, my husband, Mark, and I filled two of our three horse stalls with hay.… Continue reading

Read More »

Will ag and trade get burned with EPA's PCB proposal?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

I believe in fair play. When our government gets it right, I speak positively. And when they get it wrong, I don’t mince words. In the latter case, I’m sometimes accused of being a right wing, commie-hating, Archie Bunker-wannabe, redneck zealot.

Before the accusations fly, please hear me out on what I think of the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest take on dioxins — chemical compounds that have polluted the environment.

Without a doubt, pollution has been a problem for health and the environment. But I believe too many Americans become overly paranoid when someone mentions the presence of chemicals in the environment. In many cases, dioxin contamination is not the product of industrial pollution. Dioxins, which result from combustion, are produced every time there is a grass fire, every time lightning strikes, every time a volcano erupts and every time someone burns leaves in his backyard.… Continue reading

Read More »

Will ag and trade get burned with EPA’s PCB proposal?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

I believe in fair play. When our government gets it right, I speak positively. And when they get it wrong, I don’t mince words. In the latter case, I’m sometimes accused of being a right wing, commie-hating, Archie Bunker-wannabe, redneck zealot.

Before the accusations fly, please hear me out on what I think of the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest take on dioxins — chemical compounds that have polluted the environment.

Without a doubt, pollution has been a problem for health and the environment. But I believe too many Americans become overly paranoid when someone mentions the presence of chemicals in the environment. In many cases, dioxin contamination is not the product of industrial pollution. Dioxins, which result from combustion, are produced every time there is a grass fire, every time lightning strikes, every time a volcano erupts and every time someone burns leaves in his backyard.… Continue reading

Read More »

OFBF grants distributed

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation continues to develop programs helping smaller, community-based groups and has awarded a series of Agricultural Action and Awareness Grants forthe 2012 program year.

The competitively awarded grants support programs and projects focusing on agricultural education and ecological and/or economic development. This year’s grant recipients and projects:
·        Clintonville Farmer’s Market, Connecting Farmers and Emerging Market Customer Population, $2,000; 
·        Community Food Initiatives, Dig in for Health, $2,500; 
·        Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, Conservation From the Ground Up: From Soil to a Healthy Ecosystem, $2,266; 
·        Fairfield Soil and Conservation District, Soil Testing for Fields Receiving Municipal Biosolids and Digester Biosolids, $700; 
·        Ohio State University Scarlet & Gray Ag Day Committee, Agriculture: Superheroes in Our Fields, $3,000; 
·        Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District, Kids Farm Safety Day, $1,100; 
·        Ohio State University Ag Safety and Health, Farm Safety Round Up, $3,000; 
·        Preble County Farm Bureau, Preble County Grow It Know It Expansion Grant, $3,000; 
·        Rural Action, Developing a Local Food, Regional Distribution System, $3,000; 
·        Seneca Soil and Water Conservation District, Agriculture Technology for Youth by Soil and Water, $3,000; 
·        Southeastern Correctional Institution, The Green Zone Community Garden, $2,966; 
·        Stratford Ecological Center, Stratford’s Children’s Program, $3,000.Continue reading

Read More »

Understanding new meat labels

By Jo Ellen Helmlinger

More than 20 years after the first nutrition labels were required on most grocery products, fresh meat will join the group. The final rule from USDA that was so long in coming goes into effect in March, and requires nutrition labeling of the major cuts of single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products either on the label or at the point of purchase using signs or brochures. In addition, ground or chopped meat and poultry products must have labels on the packages.

Understanding the labels

Labeling meat with nutrition information is challenging because the amount of fat and nutrients can vary depending on the grade of the meat, how it is trimmed, the breed of the animal and other factors. The information on the label reflects the percentage of grades from choice through select, with a 1/8-inch trim of fat, available at most supermarkets.

Also, the nutrition numbers are based on 3-ounce portions of cooked meat even though you usually buy meat raw.… Continue reading

Read More »

New Ohio AgrAbility resources

Farmers, growers and any agriculture workers dealing with a disabling condition can find tips on how to cope with their condition while continuing to farm thanks to 15 new fact sheets from the Ohio State University Extension’s Ohio AgrAbility Program.

The fact sheets are designed to provide useful information and resources to any farmer or agricultural worker who has a disability, injury or illness, said Kent McGuire, Ohio AgrAbility program coordinator.

“Much of the focus of this series of fact sheets is on helping farmers prevent injuries, including secondary injury, and how to manage serious conditions such as arthritis or Parkinson’s disease while being able to continue daily farm activities,” he said.

The fact sheets also seek to provide farmers with tips on how to use assistive technology to be able to remain productive on their farms and can be useful to any grower or producer, McGuire said.

“They provide useful information on health and various strategies that can be used to help with a particular issue in farming,” he said.… Continue reading

Read More »

ASA advocates for infrastructure improvements

As the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee moves to mark up the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 7) released by Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman underscored multiple high points within the bill’s initial language:

“ASA applauds Chairman Mica’s proposal, which included multiple soybean farmer priorities, including the renewal of an agricultural harvest time exemption from the hours-of-service rules that limit the number of hours truck drivers may operate, as well as the chairman’s proposed inclusion of provisions enabling states to allow increased truck weight limits if an additional axle is used. ASA is disappointed with efforts during the mark-up to block the provisions to allow increased truck weight limits.

“ASA is also particularly encouraged that the proposed bill includes stated support for the Realize America’s Maritime Promise Act, which will ensure sufficient funding for dredging of inland waterways and port maintenance activities.… Continue reading

Read More »

With Super Bowl party, food safety worth more than two points

As both the New England Patriots and New York Giants know, you win with defense. When it comes to planning a Super Bowl XLVI party, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants football fans to know how to play defense against potential foodborne illness.

“Great food, large groups of friends and cheering on your team are what make Super Bowl parties so much fun,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “We want to give hosts a few easy tactics to reduce the chances that their guests will develop foodborne illness amidst all the excitement at their Super Bowl parties.”

 

First Down: Clean

Clean hands and surfaces with soap and water to avoid a “false start” before preparing food. Unclean hands are one of the biggest culprits for spreading bacteria, and finger foods at parties are especially vulnerable. Chefs and guests should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.… Continue reading

Read More »

OFU adopts 2012 policy

In their recent 2012 public policy discussion, members of the Ohio Farmers Union (OFU) approved language on a number of pertinent topics for this year.

Included in the discussion was the support of a limited moratorium on the issuance of permits by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for new instances of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the state. The OFU supported moratorium differs from those supported by some Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly and by some Ohio environmental groups in that it is tied to a preliminary U.S. EPA report due on fracking later this year – rather than the final study results due in 2014.

U.S. EPA is currently studying what, if any, effects fracking has on ground and surface water, according to Ron Sylvester, OFU’s director of external relations. He said that OFU members from the eastern and northeastern areas of Ohio are being inundated with information, both pro and con, about the gas industry and the effects of fracking in places like Pennsylvania.… Continue reading

Read More »

Six Ohio agribusinesses receive USDA grants

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that USDA has selected 298 recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico to receive business development assistance through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. Merrigan made the announcement in Chicago after keynoting the “Local/Regional Food System Conference” hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Six Ohio agri-businesses were among the awardees, including Wood County’s Egg Tech Ltd., Pickaway County’s Van Strohm Fiber Processing Mill, Auburn Twin Oaks Winery in Chagrin Falls, The Ohio Soybean Council in Worthington, Mercer Landmark in Celina, and Loudonville’s Tea Hills Gourmet Meat Products.

“USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants acknowledge the entrepreneurial spirit of Ohio’s farming and small business communities,” said Tony Logan, USDA Ohio Rural Development state director. “This money provides working capital to support emerging markets in areas such as food production and safety, environmental impact and renewable energy. We at Rural Development are proud to play such a positive role in strengthening Ohio’s agronomy.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Ridgemont FFA holds virtual FFA meeting

By Hannah Thompson

The National Association of Colleges and Employers ranks computer skills among the top 10 desired traits for potential employees to possess, and in one Hardin County FFA chapter members are gaining these necessary skills by using technology to complete the work of their chapter and their agricultural education classwork.

“Our society is moving toward technology, and we’re going to need to know how to use it for our future jobs,” said Shawn Smith, Ridgemont FFA Chapter president.

Smith’s advisor agrees.

“Using technology allows students to look at things differently and innovatively,” said Stephanie Jolliff, agricultural education instructor and chapter advisor. “We really try to think outside of the box, and I think that is one of the things that parlays into business and industry, because when you’re trained to do it at a young age you continue to do it when you enter the field.”

Jolliff’s classroom boasts not only chapter photographs and banners, but also a row of computers and a stack of Apple iPad tablets.… Continue reading

Read More »

Workshops help growers make products ‘MarketReady’

Ohio food producers looking to sell through different marketing channels are invited to attend one of three MarketReady training programs. The day-long workshop teaches what is required to sell to grocers, restaurants and other wholesale buyers.

Programs will be held on Feb. 15 at the UFCW Hall in Cincinnati, Feb. 23 at the Center for Innovative Food Technology in Toledo, and Feb. 28 at the Mustard Seed Market and Cafà in Akron. Each program will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person and $25 for each additional person from the same business. Registration should be completed one week prior to the workshop. For details or to register, contact Julie Moose at 740-289-2071, ext. 223, or email moose.14@osu.edu.

The MarketReady program was initially developed by the University of Kentucky and was piloted in cooperation with OSU Extension and the Ohio Direct Marketing Team.

“MarketReady workshops and resources guide producers through the decisions needed for entering various direct marketing channels,” said Julie Fox, direct marketing specialist with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.… Continue reading

Read More »

Workshops help growers make products 'MarketReady'

Ohio food producers looking to sell through different marketing channels are invited to attend one of three MarketReady training programs. The day-long workshop teaches what is required to sell to grocers, restaurants and other wholesale buyers.

Programs will be held on Feb. 15 at the UFCW Hall in Cincinnati, Feb. 23 at the Center for Innovative Food Technology in Toledo, and Feb. 28 at the Mustard Seed Market and Cafà in Akron. Each program will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person and $25 for each additional person from the same business. Registration should be completed one week prior to the workshop. For details or to register, contact Julie Moose at 740-289-2071, ext. 223, or email moose.14@osu.edu.

The MarketReady program was initially developed by the University of Kentucky and was piloted in cooperation with OSU Extension and the Ohio Direct Marketing Team.

“MarketReady workshops and resources guide producers through the decisions needed for entering various direct marketing channels,” said Julie Fox, direct marketing specialist with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA pilot program offers lower mortgage interest rates

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching a pilot program to help rural borrowers refinance their mortgages to reduce their monthly payments. This initiative is part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to help middle class families, create jobs, and strengthen the economy. The Single Family Housing Guaranteed Rural Refinance Pilot Program will operate in 19 states for homeowners who have loans that were made or guaranteed by USDA Rural Development. These states are among those hardest hit by the downturn in the housing market.

“Through initiatives like the one we are announcing today, the Obama Administration is taking aggressive steps to fight for middle class homeowners who have played by the rules and are trying to get ahead,” said Vilsack “This pilot program will help homeowners’ to take advantage of historically low interest rates, and by working closely with lenders, we are helping rural homeowners protect one of the most important investments they will ever make.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Child ag labor issue re-visited

The U.S. Department of Labor‘s Wage and Hour Division has announced that it will re-propose the portion of its regulation on child labor in agriculture interpreting the “parental exemption.” The decision to re-propose is in part a response to requests from the public and members of Congress that the agency allow an opportunity for more input on this aspect of the rule. Following the president’s historic executive order on regulation, issued in January 2011, this re-proposal reflects the department’s careful attention to public comments and its conclusion that it is appropriate to provide the public with further opportunities to participate in the regulatory process.

The parental exemption allows children of any age who are employed by their parent, or a person standing in the place of a parent, to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or such person standing in the place of a parent.… Continue reading

Read More »

CAUV’s savings don’t eliminate shocking tax increases

By Matt Reese

Yikes! Farmers around the state have been learning of the increased in land values and the resulting increases in the taxes they owe on that land. But, before muttering too loudly about the sharp rise in their taxes on re-assessed land, farmers need consider the amount of money they are saving through Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV). It is CAUV enrollment that has allowed for only a “Yikes!” in the place of a “YIKES!!!!

Nonetheless, there have been plenty of questions about the shocking rise in taxes in recent years.

“We’ve been spending quite a bit of time talking to farmers about CAUV and the increases that people have been seeing,” said Chad Endsley, director of agricultural law for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “CAUV values are determined for each of about 3,500 different soil types in Ohio by a formula that is administered by the Ohio Department of Taxation.… Continue reading

Read More »

CAUV’s savings don't eliminate shocking tax increases

By Matt Reese

Yikes! Farmers around the state have been learning of the increased in land values and the resulting increases in the taxes they owe on that land. But, before muttering too loudly about the sharp rise in their taxes on re-assessed land, farmers need consider the amount of money they are saving through Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV). It is CAUV enrollment that has allowed for only a “Yikes!” in the place of a “YIKES!!!!

Nonetheless, there have been plenty of questions about the shocking rise in taxes in recent years.

“We’ve been spending quite a bit of time talking to farmers about CAUV and the increases that people have been seeing,” said Chad Endsley, director of agricultural law for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “CAUV values are determined for each of about 3,500 different soil types in Ohio by a formula that is administered by the Ohio Department of Taxation.… Continue reading

Read More »

Mild January not in top 10 warmest

AccuWeather.com reports that, while January has been unusually mild across the Northeast and Midwest, this month will not go down in the record books as one of the top 10 warmest in major cities such as New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.



A lack of long-duration cold was the theme for January.



“The jet stream was located far to the north for much of January, which allowed for some occurrences of snow and cold across the far northern tier, but the jet did not plunge very far to the south,” according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.



However, two fairly strong shots of cold air across the Midwest and Northeast around the middle of January helped to keep monthly temperatures from approaching records. Despite mild weather for the last day of January, most of the Midwest will still end up cooler than the top 10 warmest Januaries on record.

Chicago, for example, had an average temperature of 29.5 degrees F, which is 5.8 degrees above normal.… Continue reading

Read More »

MF Global update

MF Global failed on October 31, 2011,resulting in the eighth-largest bankruptcy in US history and the largest commodity brokerage collapse of all time. While this is not the first time a major brokerage firm has failed, what sets MF Global apart is the fact that $1.2 billion in customer funds were missing at the time of the failure, and still remain missing three months later. This shortfall affects approximately 38,000 futures brokerage accounts, a large percentage of which were held by individuals and entities in the agricultural sector.

The Commodity Exchange Act and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulations require funds in customer futures and options brokerage accounts to be segregated from all other money, securities or other property owned or controlled by the brokerage firm. The funds from all customers can be commingled in a single account, but they must be separately accounted for, and must be treated as belonging to the customer.… Continue reading

Read More »