Country Life

Teens have conservation voice

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

Talk about a cool school program: the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will welcome 42 new students as members of the Conservation Teen Advisory Council (ConTAC) for the upcoming school year, members of which serve as a voice of Ohio’s youth to ODNR to help expand reach, impact, and conservation efforts.

“The future of Ohio’s natural resources is in the hands of young people like this group,” said Mary Mertz, ODNR Director. “I am inspired by their passion for nature and can’t wait to see the ideas they bring to the table.”

Members are responsible for developing and implementing strategies and campaigns that best represent Ohio’s young people. In the past, the students have helped with presentations for the Great Lakes Commission, participated in stream clean-ups/litter pick-ups, crafted social media posts, shadowed staff, and much more.… Continue reading

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Harvest weather outlook

By Jim Noel, NOAA

Summer saw hit and miss rains and warm temperatures so what will the harvest season bring?

As we close out summer and the growing season we expect some week-to-week swings in the climate pattern for September. This means expect a warm week followed by a cooler week followed by a warmer week. The same applies to rainfall. We expect dry and wet periods. Overall, September appears to favor normal temperatures and slightly wetter conditions especially in southern areas. The driest areas appear to favor northwest Ohio. The 16-day mean rainfall outlook calling for rainfall for through middle September to range from well under an inch in northwest Ohio to 3 or 4 inches in the far southeast part of the state.

The ocean patterns are similar to last year but not quite as extreme so we may see an autumn pattern somewhat similar to last year which is a whole lot of typical conditions. … Continue reading

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USDA to invest $50 million in new cooperative agreements for racial justice and equity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing up to $50 million in cooperative agreements to support historically underserved farmers and ranchers with climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The Racial Justice and Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements are available to entities and individuals for two-year projects that expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers.     

“Historically underserved producers face significant barriers in accessing USDA assistance for conservation and climate-smart agriculture,” said Lori Ziehr. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ohio Conservationist. “USDA is committed to revising programs to be more equitable, and these producers deserve our support as they contribute to our vibrant and diverse agricultural communities.” 

The projects should help historically underserved farmers and ranchers in implementing natural resources conservation practices that: improve soil health; improve water quality; provide habitat for local wildlife species of concern; improve the environmental and economic performance of working agricultural land; and build and strengthen local food projects that provide healthy food and economic opportunities.    … Continue reading

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Next Generation Fuels Act provides key piece of the clean energy solution

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) welcomed the reintroduction of The Next Generation Fuels Act (H.R. 5089), legislation to transition gasoline and vehicles to low-carbon, higher octane fuel to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meet future needs of more advanced vehicles by taking advantage of the benefits of higher ethanol blends. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill).

“Ethanol is uniquely positioned to immediately and affordably decarbonize transportation, including through paving the way to future vehicles with greater fuel efficiency and fewer emissions,” said John Linder, NCGA president. “The Renewable Fuel Standard was a game-changer for corn farmers, and the Next Generation Fuels Act builds on that success in advancing our commitment to providing the cleanest, most efficient and lowest cost energy solution.”

The bill would require that automakers phase in higher levels of clean, low-carbon octane by model year 2031. The higher the octane, the more efficiently the engine uses energy.… Continue reading

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Miami University Football game day with Apple Farm Service

Apple Farm Service is excited to be a game day sponsor for the Miami University Redhawks football team. Join the Redhawks and Apple Farm Service as they take on the Long Island University Sharks for their first home game on Saturday Sept. 18 at 3:30 p.m.  

Come early to enjoy the pregame activities presented by Apple Farm Service. Complete the zero-turn obstacle course, compete in the vertical tillage field goal challenge, or have your kids play in the corn play pit. Tractor and equipment displays will also be placed around Yager Stadium. Stick around for half time pedal tractor racing and special “Apple Farm Service” videos on the big screen.

Interested in discount tickets? Miami University is offering $10 tickets for this game only. Just visit and use promo code APPLEFARMS to claim your $10 tickets.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation accepting proposals for Youth Pathways grants

It is projected that 40% of jobs in agriculture could go unfulfilled within the next five years without efforts to attract young leaders to the industry.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation’s Youth Pathways to Careers in Agriculture grant program supports projects that introduce and train students for high-demand jobs in food, agricultural and environmental sciences. The program is open to nonprofit organizations or those with a fiscal sponsor. 

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation invites proposals from organizations and innovative partnerships interested in delivering programming in the state of Ohio. The foundation intends to award up to $100,000 for these grants, which can last up to 12 months. The grant program was established through the foundation’s Fisher Fund for Lifelong Learning.

“Our signature Youth Pathways grant program serves as a powerful incentive to make careers in our industry appealing to young people,” said Luke Houghton, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation’s director of development. “We look forward to supporting innovative programs that inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to become problem solvers and leaders in agriculture.”… Continue reading

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Offering a little help to make life work

By Matt Reese

Sometimes, life just seems to work out. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t.

It is during those more challenging times where a program like LifeWorks can be very valuable.

The confidential program being offered by Farm Credit Mid-America is available free of charge to employees and customers. It is designed to help participants:

  • Resolve personal and emotional difficulties
  • Address marital and relationship issues
  • Strengthen relationships and improve communication
  • Deal with stress, anxiety and depression
  • Understand grief and bereavement
  • Find solutions for work-related issues
  • Work towards life goals
  • Find resources for family in the community
  • Address alcohol and drug misuse
  • Access crisis and trauma support
  • Find solutions relating to legal or financial issues
  • Obtain support for child/elder care.

“Our LifeWorks Resource Program is something we launched in March of 2020 for our employees and also our customers. It is available at no cost to customers across our 4-state territory of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee,” said Tara Durbin, senior vice president of agricultural lending for Farm Credit Mid-America.… Continue reading

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Hot weather to continue, hopefully with some rain

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

The last couple of weeks have been marked by precipitation extremes across the Buckeye State. A stalled boundary and repeated showers and storms brought 3 to 7 inches of rain across portions of Clark and Madison counties on Aug. 12. Last week, tropical moisture combined with a small mid-level trough to drop 4.96 inches of rain in Reynoldsburg in Franklin County. This was followed by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred, which dumped 2 to 6 inches of rain across many of our eastern and southeastern counties. Meanwhile, most of west received minimal rainfall, generally less than a half inch. Conditions over portions of Butler, Preble, Darke, and Mercer counties are drying rapidly. During this two-week stretch, temperatures have averaged 2 to 4 degrees F above normal (1991-2020), driven strongly by warm overnight lows due to increased humidity.  

Hot and humid conditions will stick around all week.… Continue reading

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Fireworks law veto

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

On July 2, 2021, Governor DeWine vetoed Senate Bill 113, “Revise the Fireworks Law.” Let me begin by saying I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I do, however, have a lab named George that is terrified of fireworks and a barn full of calves that are very agitated by the sounds associated with this activity…but I digress.
SB 113 would have made significant changes to Ohio fireworks safety laws. Under the vetoed legislation, Ohioans would have been allowed to set off fireworks on certain holidays, removing a decades long ban. The allowable square footage of fireworks stores would also have been expanded. In addition, local governments would have been given the ability to opt out of permitting the commercial use of fireworks by residents.
In his veto, Governor DeWine noted that SB 113 was “not in the best interest of Ohioans.” He specifically mentioned that the bill increased square footage of fireworks stores without requiring adequate safety features in stores with enhanced square footage.… Continue reading

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Farm Science Review ramping up for in-person event

The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review, which was held online last year because of the pandemic, will return this year to be live and in person for the 59th annual event.

The premier agricultural education and industry exposition is set for Sept. 21–23 at Ohio State’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center, 135 State Route 38, near London.

“While research, teaching, and serving communities throughout Ohio never stopped during the pandemic, we are grateful to once again be in person, working together, to advance our industry,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

CFAES is the host of Farm Science Review, which brings in more than 100,000 people annually. Kress called the event a “critical component of our land-grant mission to provide research-based information and practical education to the people of Ohio and beyond.”

Jacqueline Kirby Wilkins, a CFAES associate dean, said Farm Science Review gives a “wonderful opportunity” to explore the latest CFAES research. … Continue reading

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Manure pit fatalities spur awareness

By Alayna DeMartini, OSU CFAES

Among farmers, one family’s tragedy can feel like every family’s tragedy.  

On Aug. 10, three brothers died from the toxic fumes of an underground manure pit on their family’s farm, sending shock waves across the agricultural community well beyond St. Henry.  

The eldest brother stepped into the underground tank first. He went in to fix a problem with a pump. When he was overcome by a toxic mix of gases and passed out, another brother called for help before rushing in to try rescue his brother. Then a third brother went in to try to save the other two. 

One by one, they all succumbed to the gases. One by one, they passed out, landing in the standing liquid, a tragic domino effect: Gary Wuebker, 37, Brad Wuebker, 35, and Todd Wuebker, 31.

Three brothers dying on the very same afternoon has many asking what can be done to prevent future deaths from the not-so-obvious invisible risk of poisonous gases that can build up on a farm. … Continue reading

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Cultivating a Cure breaks fundraising record

The 11th annual Cultivating a Cure, an event created to support cancer treatment and prevention research, welcomed nearly 450 attendees and collected over $130,000 for the OSUCCC James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, an all-time record for the annual event.
Cultivating a Cure was started in 2011 by former Ohio Farm Bureau president Brent Porteus and his daughters to support their passion for breast cancer research, cancer prevention and to remember Debbie Porteus, beloved wife and mother, and all of those who have or who are battling cancer. Since its inception, Cultivating a Cure has raised almost $900,000.
This year’s event, held back where it began at Porteus Farms in Coshocton, once again brought the agricultural community together to support efforts to find a cure to a disease that has impacted many lives and families.
Guests also heard from Ohio State University President Dr. Kristina M. Johnson and Kirt Walker, CEO of Nationwide.… Continue reading

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The biodiesel (r)evolution

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Biodiesel has its roots deeply planted in soybean fields around the United States, but the industry continues to evolve in new ways to make it more revolutionary than ever in today’s current climate change culture. 

“Today’s biodiesel is about 85 production plants across the country using waste or surplus fats and oils. Back 25 years ago when the industry was first conceived, it was a way to add value and find a use for excess vegetable oil, primarily soybean oil as a result of the soybean crush process,” said Kurt Kovarik, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs. “Soybean farmers grow soybeans for their protein, which is 80% of the bean. The other 20% is oil. As the demand for protein continues to go up we have to find a home for that surplus oil. Biodiesel is that home. For every bushel of soybeans, the demand for the soybean oil for biodiesel adds about 13% to the value of that bushel.… Continue reading

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Rural health care grants

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $500 million available in emergency rural health care grants as part of the American Rescue Plan. The awards will be made available for rural health care facilities, and communities to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, health care services and nutrition assistance. Applicants may apply for assistance through Recovery Grants and Impact Grants.

 “Communities across Ohio have stepped up to meet the challenges of this pandemic, and today the government is reaffirming its support of this efforts,” Brown said. 

Recovery Grants are available to help public bodies, nonprofit organizations, and tribes provide immediate COVID-19 relief to support rural hospitals, health care clinics and local communities. These funds may be used to:

  • Increase COVID-19 vaccine distribution and telehealth capabilities; purchase medical supplies;
  • Replace revenue lost during the pandemic;
  • Build and rehabilitate temporary or permanent structures for health care services; and
  • Support staffing needs for vaccine administration and testing; and support facility and operations expenses associated with food banks and food distribution facilities.
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Funds for Muskingum River Parkway

State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) recently announced the state’s Controlling Board approval of over $13 million for professional engineering services along the Locks and Dams of the Muskingum River.
“The Muskingum River and surrounding State Park draws thousands of campers and boaters each year in addition to its function as a major transportation route though the area,” Schaffer said. “These locks and dams must be well maintained for the safety and security of the region.”… Continue reading

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2021 Ohio Wine Competition official results

Michael Angelo Winery’s 2020 Pinot Grigio won Overall Best of Show at the 2021 Ohio Wine Competition. The competition was held August 2-4 at the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. There were 300 total entries this year with 229 receiving medals: 29 double gold, 35 gold, 96 silver and 69 bronze.

Best of Show and Best of Ohio Awards

Overall Best of Show:2020 Michael Angelo Pinot Grigio
Best of Show White:Maize Valley Riesling
Best of Ohio White:2019 Ferrante Grand River Valley Signature Chardonnay
Best of Show Red:2017 Burnet Ridge Purple Trillium
Best of Ohio Red:2020 Crooked River Cabernet Franc
Best of Show and Best of Ohio Blush/Rosé:Kosicek Vineyards Emma’s Blush
Best of Show Fruit/Specialty:Maize Valley Blackberry
Best of Show Sparkling:Ferrante Star Seeker Moscato

The Best of Ohio designations are awarded to the Best of Show wines that are made from a minimum of 90% Ohio-grown American/Labrusca, Hybrid or Vinifera grape varieties, and have received the Ohio Quality Wine seal designation.… Continue reading

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ODA asking for help to spot the spotted lanternfly

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) needs help in keeping an eye out for the spotted lanternfly (SLF), an invasive insect that can cause significant damage to some plants and crops. The insect was spotted in Mingo Junction, Jefferson County, Ohio in 2020. There have also been sightings of it in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

SLF is a great concern to the grape and wine industry. The insect is fond of grape and fruit trees, hops, blueberry, oak, pine, poplar, and walnut. Adult SLF mainly feed on grapevines and tree of heaven, while nymphs feed on a wide range of hosts. Both adults and nymphs feed on stems and leaves, causing sap bleeding and reduced photosynthesis, which can eventually kill the plant.

Now through November is the best time to identify the SLF because it is in its most recognizable stages as a nymph and a moth. After hatching in the late spring, the SLF goes through four nymph stages. By midsummer, the nymph SLF can be identified by its red body, roughly a half-inch in size, with black stripes and white dots.… Continue reading

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Agriculture on display at Field of Dreams baseball game

Actor Kevin Costner leads players through the corn on Thursday night’s “Field of Dreams” baseball game in the style of the 1989 film.

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

They built it. And they came. Originally slated for 2020, Major League Baseball’s “Field of Dreams” between the White Sox and Yankees took place Thursday night in the middle of a cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa, just miles from the set of the 1989 Kevin Costner flick.

The venue held 8,000 people. Tickets were only available to those with an Iowa zip code.

While some online were curious about the yield of the crop, players sampled the crop.

The National Corn Growers Association was a part of the evening’s festivities as a sponsor. Releasing a statement before the game, “This is the first time two professional sports franchises will play a game in a field of corn.… Continue reading

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Microcystis cyanobacteria bloom monitoring in western Lake Erie

By the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides forecasts for seasonal blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in Lake Erie, typically from July to October when warmer water creates favorable bloom conditions. Western Lake Erie has been plagued by an increase of Hazardous Algal Blooms (HABs) intensity over the past decade. These blooms consist of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, which are capable of producing toxins that pose a risk to human and animal health, foul coastlines, and impact communities and businesses that depend on the lake. A combination of satellite image (for bloom location and extent), a forecasting and mixing model provide information on the current status of the bloom, forecasted position both at the surface and at depth, and toxicity from field samples.

The Microcystis cyanobacteria bloom in western Lake Erie has an approximate area of 120 square miles, which is a decrease in area since Aug 04.

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USDA investing $67 million to help heirs resolve land ownership and succession issues

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $67 million in competitive loans through the new Heirs’ Property Relending Program (HPRP), which aims to help agricultural producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Intermediary lenders — cooperatives, credit unions, and nonprofit organizations — can apply for loans up to $5 million at 1% interest once the Farm Service Agency (FSA) opens the two-month signup window in late August. 

After FSA selects lenders, heirs can apply directly to those lenders for loans and assistance. Heirs’ property issues have long been a barrier for many producers and landowners to access USDA programs and services, and this relending program provides access to capital to help producers find a resolution to these issues. 

“While those affected are in all geographic and cultural areas, many black farmers and other groups who have experienced historic discrimination have inherited heirs’ property,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to revising policies to be more equitable and examining barriers faced by heirs’ property owners is part of that effort.… Continue reading

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