Country Life

Lightning Safety Awareness Week

In the annual coordinated effort with the National Weather Service and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, Governor John R. Kasich recognizes June 19-25, 2011 as Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and encourages all Ohioans to practice lightning and severe weather safety and preparedness during this week and throughout the summer.

According to the National Weather Service, the number of annual lightning-strike fatalities is decreasing. Twenty-nine people died of lightning strikes in 2010, including one Ohioan. In 2009, 34 people died.

This year, one person has died from a lightning strike. On May 23, a 31-year-old Missouri police officer was struck while performing search and rescue efforts after a massive tornado destroyed the town of Joplin, Mo. He was one of a dozen emergency responders from Kansas City who volunteered to help with recovery efforts. The tornado killed more than 130 people.

Ohio averages 30-50 days of thunderstorm activity annually. But this year, with the eastern half of the nation experiencing extreme severe storms, flooding and tornadoes, Ohio has already exceeded record rainfall for the months of March, April and May.… Continue reading

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Officials working to find and eliminate Asian longhorned beetle in Ohio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announce that surveys are under way in Bethel, Ohio, after the June 9 detection and June 17 identification of the Asian longhorned beetle. Bethel is located 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati.

First discovered in the U.S. in 1996, Asian longhorned beetles attack several species of trees including maple, willow, horsechestnut, buckeye, and American elm. While in its larvae stage, the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) kills trees by tunneling into large branches and the trunk.

Ohio is the fifth state to detect ALB, which APHIS confirmed in Bethel after a citizen reported finding unusual damage in three maple trees to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry service forester. Previous infestations sites, where the beetles are being successfully contained, include Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

APHIS and ODA inspection crews are surveying the southern portion of Bethel and the surrounding area to determine the extent of the ALB infestation.… Continue reading

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Owens Community College unveils Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Certificate Program

Area residents with aspirations of learning how to grow, maintain, harvest, store and distribute local produce and animal products will now have the opportunity to begin their educational journey at Owens Community College as the academic institution’s Department of Science unveils a new Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program. Beginning Fall Semester 2011, the new academic program will be offered on the Toledo-area Campus in Perrysburg Township and at The Source Learning Center in downtown Toledo.

“Owens Community College is excited to expand our academic curriculum specific to the urban agricultural concentration area and offer this region’s first Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program,” said Matthew Ross, Owens Faculty Member of Urban Agriculture. “The popularity of community gardening, especially within urban areas, has grown immensely within the last few years as result of increased awareness of our food systems and the desire of local residents to grow their own produce for economic and health reasons.… Continue reading

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Owens Community College unveils Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Certificate Program

Area residents with aspirations of learning how to grow, maintain, harvest, store and distribute local produce and animal products will now have the opportunity to begin their educational journey at Owens Community College as the academic institution’s Department of Science unveils a new Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program. Beginning Fall Semester 2011, the new academic program will be offered on the Toledo-area Campus in Perrysburg Township and at The Source Learning Center in downtown Toledo.

“Owens Community College is excited to expand our academic curriculum specific to the urban agricultural concentration area and offer this region’s first Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program,” said Matthew Ross, Owens Faculty Member of Urban Agriculture. “The popularity of community gardening, especially within urban areas, has grown immensely within the last few years as result of increased awareness of our food systems and the desire of local residents to grow their own produce for economic and health reasons.… Continue reading

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Local food delivery service offers consumer convenience and market for farms

By Matt Reese

From bison and bacon to bok choy and baby food, consumers from around Ohio and the Midwest now have the chance to get quality, fresh, local foods delivered to their door courtesy of Green BEAN Delivery.

The BEAN acronym stands for Biodynamic, Education, Agriculture and Nutrition, but customers know the business better for its dependable delivery of local, often organic, foods to their door. Green BEAN owner Matt Ewer harnessed his passion for local and sustainable foods to find an effective and efficient way to help farmers capitalize on the true market value of their crops while conveniently providing customers in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Louisville and Ft. Wayne the local foods they want.

“We started our Midwest-based local food network in June of 2007 in Indianapolis and spread out since then. I grew up half in the city and half in the farm so I have always been connected to rural and urban areas,” Ewer said.… Continue reading

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Legal Lingo

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and an attorney

Many years ago, my Aunt Grace told me that if a cat sleeps with its nose in the air, then it would rain. Peanuts, my beautiful long-haired tortoise housecat, is more reliable than Doppler radar and more entertaining than the local weatherman. This has been one of the wettest springs on record, with old-timers recalling 1981 and 1967. And our barn cats have been sleeping with their noses in the air since February. Hoping to get a much-needed break from precipitation, I am now waking cats reclining with their noses pointing up.

Regarding felines, there’s a saying that you own a dog, but you feed a cat. Witty, but true. Recently, cats, which required a sitter to feed them when their owner went on vacation, led to an interesting case decided by Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals. This matter is worth discussing because it upheld the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure by the government and the state.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks applications for grants to help rural cooperatives and businesses create jobs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help rural businesses create jobs through cooperative development centers.

“Cooperative development centers are business and job incubators. They support President Obama’s goal to bring increased economic opportunities to rural communities by assisting new businesses as they create sustainable jobs,” Vilsack said. “The Obama Administration is helping create economic opportunities for rural Americans, and these centers further that effort.”

Under the USDA Rural Development Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program, grants of up to $225,000 may be awarded to colleges, universities and non-profit groups to create and operate centers that help individuals or groups establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives. Grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services.

Through this notice, USDA may award up to $7.4 million in grants. Funds may finance up to 75% of the cost of establishing and operating the cooperative centers.… Continue reading

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Silage techniques being research for the future of biomass

By Yebo Li, an assistant professor in the Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Silos for storing lignocellulosic biomass

Farmers are familiar with storing high moisture forage crops as silage. Tall silos, horizontal or bunker silos, and more recently “shrink-wrapped” round bales are common examples of storing crops “wet” instead of “dry.”

Today, scientists are looking at “silage” techniques as a way of preserving lignocellulosic biomass. The most common “lignocellulosic biomass” on Ohio farms is corn stover. Storing the crop for use year ‘round is essential to the future success of a bio-refinery. Wet storage has been used since the 1800s for preserving green crops for livestock. Now it is being considered as a storage method for a new industry: bio-refining.

Dry vs. wet storage

For dry storage, lignocellulosic biomass is typically harvested dry at 20% to 25% moisture. For instance, after corn harvest, stover is chopped with a flail shredder, field dried, raked and finally baled with a large round baler.… Continue reading

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Food prices on the rise

Retail food prices at the supermarket increased during the second quarter of 2011, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.17, up $2.10 or about 4% compared to the first quarter of 2011. Of the 16 items surveyed, 14 increased and two decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter. The total average price for the 16 items was up about 8% compared to one year ago.

“The effects of continued raw energy cost increases are reverberating throughout the food industry and consumers are bearing the brunt of it,” said AFBF Economist John Anderson. “After food leaves the farm, costs for transportation, marketing, processing and storage come into play. As energy prices continue to run up, shoppers are feeling the pinch at the supermarket.”

Sirloin tip roast, Russet potatoes, sliced deli ham and bacon increased the most in dollar value compared to the first quarter of 2011.… Continue reading

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A conversation with… Chris Henney, President/CEO – Ohio AgriBusiness Association

OCJ: First, could you tell us a little bit about your background, particularly with regard to agriculture?

Chris: I have a broad background, having spent time in urban, suburban and rural environments. Most of my youth was spent on a small family farm in southeastern Delaware County, Ohio. I was involved in 4-H and FFA and raised, trained and showed POA ponies as a teenager. After graduating from Big Walnut High School and spending a year in France as a Rotary foreign exchange student, I attended The Ohio State University where I majored in agricultural education with a minor in animal sciences. Following graduation I went to work for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation as an Organization Director in eastern Ohio. After almost six years working in the field, I moved into OFBF’s state office where I served as the director of agricultural ecology programs. I later served as director of policy development and director of legislative relations.… Continue reading

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Late planting could cost Ohio ag

Ohio farmers stand to lose close to $1 billion in income from late planting of corn and soybeans this spring.

Barry Ward, production business management leader with Ohio State University Extension, said he has roughly figured that lower yields due to late planting could cost corn growers $720 million and soybean growers $260 million in gross income at the farm gate. The estimates are based on the acres of each crop that farmers said in March they expected to plant, and on the lower yields expected because of the late planting.

However, the estimates are just ballpark figures based on certain assumptions made at “a snapshot in time,” he said. He expects the losses to grow. Although a recent break in Ohio’s rainfall has allowed many Ohio farmers to get in their fields, planting is still far behind average, and the economic impact “continues to grow daily,” said Ward, who is also an assistant professor in Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE).… Continue reading

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NW Ohio now home to a world class distribution hub

With more than 200 employees, 500 developed acres, and the capacity for handling nearly two million containers each year, CSX’s new intermodal facility in North Baltimore is an eye catcher. These containers have the capacity for transporting nearly anything that can be bought at a local retailer – from household electronic equipment to clothing to thousands of other consumer products. This world-class freight distribution hub is the nerve center of the nationwide intermodal network for CSX.

CSX terminal superintendent Peter Craig will present an insider’s view of the new facility in northwest Ohio, Thursday, June 16, from 7:30 – 9 a.m. at the monthly Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum. The program begins at 8 a.m. with informal networking prior, hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation, north of Bowling Green.

Like an air cargo hub, freight trains will arrive directly from across the nation and its ports, then quickly and efficiently redistribute to a network of double stack trains to speed final delivery across the eastern US.… Continue reading

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Farmers Market Promotion Program funding available

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced approximately $10 million in funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to help increase availability of local agricultural products in communities throughout the country.

“These grants will put resources into rural and urba n economies to create and support direct marketing opportunities for farmers” said Merrigan. “Consumer and farmer enthusiasm for direct marketing has never been greater. This year we will place emphasis on food deserts because America’s low income and underserved communities need greater access to healthy, fresh food.”

In fiscal year 2011, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will competitively award grants to projects that develop producer-to-consumer market outlets, including but not limited to farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and road-side stands. Priority status will be granted to those projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts. AMS will continue to target 10 percent of grant funding toward new electronic benefits transfer projects at farmers markets.… Continue reading

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E. Coli outbreak causing deaths in Europe

With 18 dead and 1,600 ill in Europe from an outbreak of what’s being called a “super-toxic” strain of E. coli bacteria, an Iowa State University professor who specializes in food-borne pathogens in livestock is stunned at the toll the rogue bacteria has taken.

“I don’t like to be alarmist, but this one’s off the charts,” said Dr. Scott Hurd, associate professor of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine. “I’m shocked and saddened by the deaths and serious illnesses that have resulted from this poisonous strain that frankly is surprising everyone.”

Hurd said the most notable E. coli outbreak in the U.S. occurred in the early ‘90s when four children died and hundreds of others became sick in western states after eating undercooked and contaminated meat from Jack in the Box restaurants. The European outbreak is remarkable in comparison, said Hurd, who believes this is a rare strain rather than new as some scientists believe.… Continue reading

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Ag is cool!

The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced its “Ag is Cool!” multi-media contest. Ohio school children can share their personal interpretation of why Ohio agriculture is cool for a chance to win free tickets to the Ohio State Fair, Brad Paisley concert tickets, and other prizes.

Video, photography, drawing, and painting entries will be judged in the following age categories, with one winner from each age group and category.


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

Grades 2-12: Video as a group project

All entries will be judged by representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Governor, the Ohio Expo Center, and professional consultants in the areas of video production, photography, drawing, painting and other visual arts.

Judging will be based on the visual representation of the “Ag is Cool” theme, if it accurately reflects 21st Century agriculture, creativity and use of Ohio images, and quality of work.… Continue reading

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Aquaculture field day

Ohio State University’s South Centers at Piketon, located off State Route 32 in Pike County, may not look like the ideal place for yellow perch, lake sturgeon, largemouth bass and blue gill. But it’s full of surprises. The facility boasts the only aquaculture genetics lab in the Midwest and is the cornerstone of research and education for Ohio’s $6 million aquaculture industry.

Farmers, businesses, fish enthusiasts or just the plain curious are invited to OSU South Centers Aquaculture Field Day on Saturday, June 25, to learn more about the aquaculture program and how its research benefits the industry, and gain knowledge about aquaculture species from the popular (yellow perch) to the new (baitfish) to the unique (shrimp).

“The field day gives visitors the chance to see what we are all about and what we are doing in the aquaculture industry,” said Laura Tiu, an Ohio State University aquaculture senior research associate.… Continue reading

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4-H is preparing a workforce

Ohio 4-H isn’t billed as a workforce preparation program. But in many important ways, the youth development program helps Ohio’s children and teens build the skills they’ll need once they enter the working world.

“The 4-H program is designed to develop life skills that people really do need in today’s workforce,” said Tom Archer, Ohio State University Extension’s assistant director in charge of 4-H Youth Development. “As a result, 4-H members become more independent workers, and they tend to care about others they work with.”

In 2010, 317,286 young people in Ohio ages 5 through 19 were involved in 4-H activities in urban, suburban and rural communities statewide. Whether they participate in clubs, camps, or in-school or after-school programs, 4-H members take part in hands-on, experiential learning that emphasizes “learning by doing.” Along the way, they learn leadership, citizenship and life skills that stay with them for a lifetime.

Such characteristics are becoming more recognized as essential qualities in today’s workforce.… Continue reading

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50 Groups Urge Congress to Reject $1 Billion in Cuts to USDA Conservation Programs

A coalition of more than 50 agriculture and conservation groups representing millions of Americans today are urging lawmakers to reject nearly $1 billion in proposed cuts to farm bill conservation programs.  The organizations are asking the House Appropriations Committee to “ensure that reasonable funding levels are continued”; $500 million already has been slashed from farm bill conservation programs in the FY2011 spending bill.

“These conservation programs are crucial to the health and viability of agriculture and rural America,” said a letter sent to committee members from the agriculture and conservation groups, including National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund and National Young Farmers’ Coalition. “The demand for enrollment in these programs routinely exceeds the funds available, even without any cuts.  Failure to support our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and natural resource base today will jeopardize our agricultural industry, drive up long term costs for environmental mitigation, and threaten our nation’s food security.”… Continue reading

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Funds to restore Great Lakes available to Lake Erie Watershed farmers

Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin have the chance to sign up for a special program to improve water quality in the Great Lakes.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will pay a portion of the cost of conservation practices that keep sediment and nutrients on the land and out of the Lake.

“Impacts on Lake Erie water quality from harmful algal blooms and excessive sedimentation are a real issue to Ohio residents,” says Terry Cosby, NRCS State Conservationist.  “Water in the Lake Erie watershed provides drinking water for 11 million people. Over $10 billion is spent on recreation and tourism in the Lake Erie region every year.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding will be available to Ohio farmers through existing NRCS conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Through these programs, landowners receive technical and financial assistance to implement conservation activities on their land that conserve soil, water, air, and wildlife resources.… Continue reading

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Summer gas prices will likely stay under $4

Drivers have something worth honking their horns over: Summer gasoline prices likely will remain below $4 a gallon, a Purdue University agricultural economist says.

Market conditions that caused oil prices to shoot past $110 a barrel have improved in recent weeks, pushing oil back under $100 a barrel, said Wally Tyner, an energy policy specialist. He cautioned that pump prices could rise again if oil production is interrupted.

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the summer driving season.

“If crude oil stays below $100 — meaning that there are no further production disruptions in the Middle East or elsewhere and we have no further weather conditions or other factors that cause refining outages — we have seen the worst,” Tyner said. “We can hope for steady or even somewhat falling prices over the next few months.”

Motorists have experienced severe gas pains this spring, with pump prices in some places topping $4.25 a gallon.… Continue reading

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