Country Life

New Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarship Program created

Friends of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) and the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation (Foundation) are creating an endowment to recognize the career and life accomplishments of one of its most popular leaders. The Cindy Hollingshead Scholarship Fund will begin offering awards during the

2012-13 academic year.

“Cynthia (Cindy) Anne Hollingshead pursued a career and provided volunteer support for community activities during several decades of profound change,” said past OFBF Executive Vice President and Scholarship Committee Co-chairman C. William Swank.

Many farm and agribusiness leaders remember Hollingshead for her 39 years of service as OFBF executive secretary. She helped the organization transition from one that originally involved farmers and rural residents, to one which includes suburban and urban neighbors.

Residents of Groveport, Ohio knew Hollingshead for her work on the village’s charter committee and zoning board. She helped village government create planned growth strategies that balanced small town quality of life with the opportunities the larger, neighboring Columbus metro areas offered.… Continue reading

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Craigslist: The New Agricultural Marketplace?

I was riding along with my brother, Ryan Vaubel one Saturday morning to pick up some bucket calves and he was telling my husband and I about the last few loads of calves he sold.

He was selling them all over the state and to some interesting characters. I was sitting there thinking how in the world is he getting connected to all these people?

So, I asked, “how are these people finding you?”

Ryan replied, “Craigslist.”


I’ve heard of people buying and selling all kinds of consumer goods on there, but until then did not realize the potential to market and sell agricultural items and livestock.

Ryan had a friend mention it to him and first posted some calves he had for sale a couple of years ago. Not only did he find buyers, but many of those contacts have become repeat customers. In addition to calves, he has also sold a snowmobile along with hay and straw on the site.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Council Announces Inductees to Hall of Fame


Four Ohioans who committed their lives to working in, promoting and advocating for Ohio’s farm community will be honored Friday, August 5, 2011, by the Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC), when they are inducted to the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC) will induct the late Edwin J. Carey of Marion, Lester Lynd of Pataskala, Dr. Thomas B. Turner of Somerset and Fred Yoder of Plain City, into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame during a special breakfast ceremony held during the Ohio State Fair, Friday, August 5, in the Rhodes Youth Center at the Ohio Expo Center. The 46th annual event will attract 500 guests to honor these four professionals for their lifetime of service and dedication to Ohio’s agriculture community.

“Our Board is extraordinarily pleased to be honoring such a diverse group of inductees into this year’s class,” said Tom Schlenker, president of the Ohio Agricultural Council. … Continue reading

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Algae research is building a new industry in Ohio

Visit Yebo Li’s Ohio State University lab and you will find an array of glass tubes filled with a light-green substance, endlessly bubbling inside a growth chamber. It’s algae. The same algae that later this summer will be growing in ponds at a Wooster farm, generating thousands of gallons of oil that will be turned into renewable fuel. Down the road, this green stuff may just be the building block of a new green industry in Ohio.

Li, a biosystems engineer with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), is working with West Virginia-based Touchstone Research Laboratory in the development of innovative technology for efficiently and profitably growing algae in open ponds for production of fuels and other high-value, bio-based products. Also partnering in this unique research and business-incubation venture is Cedar Lanes Farms, a nursery and greenhouse operation located just a few miles from OARDC’s Wooster campus. Other project participants include engineering firm GZA GeoEnvironmental of Cincinnati and SRS Energy of Dexter, Mich.… Continue reading

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Spring tree and perennial planting workshop

Learn what to plant and how to do it in Secrest Arboretum’s Spring Planting Workshop. It’s a hands-on, rain-or-shine, get-your-hands-dirty practice session. Trees, shrubs and perennials are the focus. It’s next Wednesday, May 18.

“We’ll work with woody and herbaceous plants,” said Ken Cochran, the arboretum’s program coordinator and one of the workshop’s instructors. “We’ll look at plant selection ideas for different sites, and techniques for improving the survivability and sustainability of the plants. That’s something we’ll emphasize.”

There’s a $50 fee to participate. Participation is limited to 12. Pre-registration is required. Call 330-464-2148 to register. Call the same number for more information.

Secrest Arboretum is part of Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), 1680 Madison Ave., in Wooster.

Meet at the arboretum’s Seaman Orientation Plaza on Williams Road. It’s about 1.7 miles from OARDC’s main entrance. Follow the signs to the arboretum.

Bring a shovel and hand pruners if you have them.… Continue reading

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Record agricultural exports for first half of fiscal year 2011

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement on data released showing that U.S. farm exports reached an all-time high of $75 billion during the first half of fiscal year 2011:

“Today’s trade data demonstrate that, once again, America’s farmers and ranchers are helping lead the way to recovery from the worst economic recession in decades. The gains in U.S. agricultural exports are particularly encouraging news for those who live in rural America or earn a living in farming, ranching and agriculture-related industries, because exports are creating jobs here at home. Farm exports alone will support more than one million jobs in America this year. Strong U.S. farm exports will be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world.

“At $75 billion, U.S. agricultural exports for FY 2011 are 27% higher than the same period in last year. This puts us on track to reach the current USDA export forecast of $135.5 billion by the end of the year.… Continue reading

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Independent firm releases assessment of civil rights at USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released an independently produced report that provides a Civil Rights Assessment of USDA’s field-based program delivery and makes recommendations intended to ensure that all Americans have fair and equal access to USDA programs.

“From the day I took office as Secretary, I made it a department-wide priority to ensure that all eligible Americans receive equal access to USDA programs, and this report provides a roadmap that will help us continue moving forward in this effort,” Vilsack said. “USDA employees and our partners throughout the country are to be commended for the commitment being made to diversity, inclusion, and accessibility and that they realize our work must continue.”

The Civil Rights Assessment report released today was promised in Secretary Vilsack’s April 2009 memorandum to employees that detailed an aggressive plan to promote equal access and opportunity at the department. The report makes department-wide recommendations that will help USDA improve service delivery to minority and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and also suggests agency-specific changes to enhance program delivery and outreach to promote diversity, inclusion and accessibility.… Continue reading

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NCGA supports FTAs

National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman released the following statement in support of the pending free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama.  Tolman testified before the House Agriculture Committee.

“Increased production and a consistent product make the United States a reliable supplier of corn in the world market. NCGA strongly supports passage of the three-pending Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Beyond increasing domestic and international demand for corn, passing these FTAs also benefits our customers in the livestock and poultry industries. Developing new markets for our country’s agricultural products will help our sector lead the nation in economic growth and international competitiveness.

“The United States is the largest corn producer and exporter in the world, and exports of corn and corn co-products are essential to producer income. During the 2009-10 marketing year, the United States exported 50.4 million metric tons of corn worldwide. Corn co-products such as distiller’s dried grains (DDGS) represent a growing export market for domestic producers.… Continue reading

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4-H: A model for youth development

By Doc Sanders

I imagine that most of you are familiar with 4-H and may know that educator A. B. Graham, who was born in Champaign County and grew up near Lena, founded the youth organization in 1902. My kids actually completed their primary education at A.B. Graham Schools, which encompass all of western Champaign County, near Lena.

The 4-H program has changed many lives, as it teaches youth responsibility and offers them the opportunity to develop skills and interests through summer projects they prepare to exhibit at the county fair. Early on, 4-H concentrated on livestock, along with homemaking projects, such as cooking and sewing. Then, as society became less agrarian, other projects were added, such as electrical, woodworking, speech contests, pets, journalism … the list goes on and on.

Benefits, and then some …

The benefits of 4-H are far more wide-ranging than most adults realize. Of course, there are the obvious ones that come from being a member of a youth club.… Continue reading

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OEFFA announces tour series featuring Ohio’s organic and sustainable farms

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has announced its 2011 series of free public tours of some of Ohio’s finest sustainable and organic farms. OEFFA has offered this series for the past 29 years, providing unique opportunities for Ohioans to see, taste, feel, and learn what sustainable food and fiber production is all about from the real experts—the farmers themselves.

Consumers interested in local foods, farmers and market gardeners wanting to learn more and network with other farmers, aspiring and beginning farmers, and anyone interested in learning more about the production and marketing techniques of sustainable farmers in Ohio, are encouraged to attend. 

“The food production system is a mystery for many consumers. This series of free tours shows that some farmers are eager to open their doors to share their experiences with other farmers and with the general public,” said Michelle Gregg-Skinner, Organic Education Program Coordinator at OEFFA.… Continue reading

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Ohio is sending its water downstream and causing flooding reports that, despite the recent trend toward less rainfall, there is no way to reverse the wave of flooding moving southward from Ohio through the lower Mississippi Valley.

As far as looking for a magic bullet to stop the surge of water flowing slowly downstream in the lower Mississippi Valley, there is none. The damage from two feet of rain in recent weeks in the region where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers come together has already been done.

A break of dry weather was not enough to stop rising waters along the lower Mississippi River and many of its tributaries. The practice of opening floodways took some of the pressure off the levees and will lower the height of the rivers in some cases, but it did not completely stop the slow-moving natural disaster from affecting areas downstream.

Levees or higher ground will allow some communities to be spared the worst of the flooding.… Continue reading

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State FFA Convention Coverage

The Ohio FFA Convention is underway and we have complete coverage via our FFA news section.

Session 1

State FFA Officer Entrance

Part 1 Proficiency Award Results

Photo Gallery of Session 1

Recap of Session 1 from our student reporters

Devon Alexander goes backstage to get a behind the scenes look at convention

Session 2

State public speaking award winners

Photo Gallery of Session 2

Recap of session 2 from our student reporters

Star Farmer, Star in Agribusiness & Star Agricultural Placement Winners

Session 3

Recap of session 3 from our student reporters

Photo Gallery of Session 3
Session 4

Recap of session 4 from our student reporters

Photo Gallery of Session 4

Session 5

New State FFA Officer Team

Photo Gallery of Session 5

Recap of session 5 from our student reportersContinue reading

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Ag firms outperform S&P 500

While the general economy has underperformed in the past several years, the crop farming sector has been not just stable, but profitable. A recent University of Illinois report comparing the returns from publicly traded companies from 2007 until the end of the first quarter of 2011 showed an 8.6% market value increase from agriculture-related companies, and companies in the S&P 500 experienced a decline of 2.7%.

“We looked at 21 agriculture-related Midwestern companies in five sectors: fertilizer, equipment, seed and genetic companies, crop production companies, and first processors,” said U of I graduate student Clay Kramer who created the index with agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey. “The overall goal was to build an AgIndex that measured the change in market value of publicly traded agricultural companies and compare it to the S&P 500, looking at their market values and how they did over time from 2007 up to the first quarter of 2011.”… Continue reading

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Ag firms outperform S&P 500

While the general economy has underperformed in the past several years, the crop farming sector has been not just stable, but profitable. A recent University of Illinois report comparing the returns from publicly traded companies from 2007 until the end of the first quarter of 2011 showed an 8.6% market value increase from agriculture-related companies, and companies in the S&P 500 experienced a decline of 2.7%.

“We looked at 21 agriculture-related Midwestern companies in five sectors: fertilizer, equipment, seed and genetic companies, crop production companies, and first processors,” said U of I graduate student Clay Kramer who created the index with agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey. “The overall goal was to build an AgIndex that measured the change in market value of publicly traded agricultural companies and compare it to the S&P 500, looking at their market values and how they did over time from 2007 up to the first quarter of 2011.”… Continue reading

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EPA Releases Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Guidance

The Obama administration yesterday, April 27, 2011, essentially rewrote two U.S. Supreme Court cases and ignored concerns from Congress and industry by issuing a guidance, which dramatically expands the regulatory authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said the Obama administration has once again acted as an “activist” administration rather than simply implementing laws as intended by Congress and required under the U.S. Constitution.

“EPA and the Corps have attempted to make an end run around two Supreme Court decisions that limited their authority under the CWA by issuing a draft guidance document giving field staff a plethora of approaches to make jurisdictional determinations,” said Lyon. “Through vague definitions and broad interpretations laid out in this draft guidance, EPA and the Corps have once again shown little regard for the practical implications of their actions or Congress’ intentions under the CWA.… Continue reading

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Saturated soils can threaten drinking water

Heavy rains mean more than an increased risk of flooding. They also can pose a threat to drinking water, said Ohio State University Extension‘s water quality specialist.

Many residents in rural areas get their drinking water from wells rather than municipal systems, and have septic systems rather than sewers for household wastewater.

“Normally, soil does a fantastic job of removing pathogens and other pollutants from wastewater,” said Karen Mancl, who also is a scientist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

“But when it’s saturated, soil loses its ability to remove pollutants. If your well or your neighbor’s well is near your septic system, drinking water could be unsafe.”

Properly constructed and grouted wells protect drinking water against this type of problem, Mancl said. But it’s estimated that 40 percent of the nation’s well water is contaminated.… Continue reading

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How to spot, stop invasive species: May 13 workshop

You may have invasive species on your land and not even know it. Learn about the harm they do, how to spot them and how to fight them in a workshop in Dayton May 13.

The Ohio Woodland Stewards Program’s Invasive Species Workshop looks at such banes as purple loosestrife, common buckthorn and hemlock woolly adelgid — plants and pests that aren’t native to Ohio but are here now and causing problems.

“Invasive species come in all shapes and sizes and include insects, woodland plants and aquatic plants,” said Kathy Smith, coordinator of the Stewards Program and one of the workshop’s speakers.

“We’ll cover the identification of those species that are giving landowners the most difficulty along with some control options — from mechanical removal to the more complex chemical options,” Smith said.

Troublemakers also include common reed, tree-of-heaven, emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, Japanese honeysuckle and some looming new threats.… Continue reading

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New USDA rule encourages the purchase of local agricultural products for Critical Nutrition Assistance Programs

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced that USDA’s child nutrition programs are implementing new rules designed to encourage use of local farm products in school meals. The final rule, published in the Federal Register, will let schools and other providers give preference to unprocessed locally grown and locally raised agricultural products as they purchase food for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, Child and Adult Care, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable, and Summer Food Service programs. The rule is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 signed into law by President Obama and one of the key provisions to bolster farm to school programs across the country.

“This rule is an important milestone that will help ensure that our children have access to fresh produce and other agricultural products,” said Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “It will also give a much-needed boost to local farmers and agricultural producers.”… Continue reading

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Bat disease could cost Ohio agriculture up to $1.7 billion a year

Ohio farmers could suffer more than $740 million a year in agricultural losses, and possibly as much as $1.7 billion, if the new deadly disease called white-nose syndrome wipes out the state’s bats, according to a recent study in the journal Science.

Especially hard hit, the study said, would be the rich farming counties in the state’s west and northwest, such as Darke, Wood, Mercer and Putnam, where typical losses could range from $18 million to $23 million per county per year.

“Simply put, bats eat a lot of insects — insects that bother us around our homes, and insects that can damage crops and forests,” said Ohio State University Extension wildlife specialist Marne Titchenell, who was not part of the study but gives bat conservation workshops around the state and studied southern Ohio bat populations in graduate school. “It’s logical to assume we’ll lose a significant amount of the pest-control services that bats provide us as the disease spreads through Ohio and potentially the Midwest.”… Continue reading

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