Country Life

The perfect crime — almost

By Don “Doc” Sanders

In 6 to 8 weeks one Northeastern U.S. dairy farm appeared to be set for the perfect crime — murder. But first let me lay a foundation of the spot for that perfect crime. This timeframe would be adequate as this is the amount of time needed to compost a cow or for that matter any large animal, but first let me fill you in with the background.

Dairy farms are microcosms of the world. Just like a village where babies are born nearly every day, people also die nearly every day, just as it occurs on a dairy farm. Cows die, calves are born, fortunately for most herds this isn’t every dairy in small herds but it often is multiple daily occurrences in big herds.

Years ago, there were entrepreneurs that operated businesses by picking up dead animals from livestock operations, transport them to a rendering plant where the hide and other remnants would be recovered for glue, gelatin, fertilizer, and if relatively fresh, even insulin.… Continue reading

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YAP 2024 grant recipients

Eight local Young Agricultural Professionals groups have been awarded $500 grants for educational programming or events they are planning or that have taken place already in 2024.  

The local grants are a part of Farm Credit Mid-America’s $100,000 donation to Farm Bureau young leader programs in its six-state region of Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Farm Credit Mid-America proudly supports these local grant programs, as well as Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual statewide Young Ag Professionals contests and the YAP Winter Leadership Experience.

Ag Toy Drive

After its inception in 2017, the Ag Toy Drive has been a cornerstone event for the Ashland and Wayne County Young Ag Professionals and the Medina County Young Farmers. The event has grown from 40 people attending and around $5,000 in toy donations to well over 100 attending and over $12,500 in toy donations made in 2023. The YAP committee will once again solicit donations from businesses (both cash and toys) as well as from attendees at the event, then take part in major toy shopping where they look for agricultural-themed toys to give to Toys for Tots and other local charities.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers at Wittler Family Farms in Van Wert County

Join Dale Minyo at Wittler Family Farms in Van Wert as he catches up with Jason Wittler to discuss the unique challenges and successes of this planting season. In this Feeding Farmers episode, hear directly from Jason about how they’re navigating this year’s planting hurdles and why they’re excited about their promising wheat crop. Jason discusses the diverse livestock side to their operations that keep Wittler Family Farms thriving.… Continue reading

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Clark County farmland preserved

More Ohio farmland will remain Ohio farmland. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is proud to announce 67 acres have been added to the Farmland Preservation Program. The Davidson family’s farm in Clark County becomes the third Ohio farm to join the program this year.

Agricultural land is a key part of Ohio’s landscape. Preserving this land is essential. An agricultural easement in Farmland Preservation is a voluntary agreement between the landowner and ODA, where the landowner agrees to perpetually maintain the land predominately in agricultural use. In exchange, the landowner is either compensated or may be entitled to a tax deduction.

In partnership with ODA, local sponsor Tecumseh Land Trust played a significant role in securing this agreement.

Since the Office of Farmland Preservation began in 1998, 712 farms totaling 106,064 acres have entered into agreements. This enables Ohio to continually be a top producer, aiding not just Ohioans, but all Americans.… Continue reading

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From greenhand to graduate: Allen East FFA senior reflections

By Morgan Anderson, OCJ FFA reporter

For over 29,000 Ohio FFA members, the end of each school year signifies a time of celebration, whether at the Ohio FFA Convention in Columbus or their local chapter banquet. But for senior members who are graduating, this celebration is particularly bittersweet, as it marks the end of their high school FFA career.

“One of the most important lessons I have learned is how crucial hard work is when it comes to taking your experience to the next level,” said Devan Foster, a graduating senior. “Through my time in the FFA, I have devoted my time, my energy, and certainly, my heart, to our chapter and the program itself.”

Both Foster and Delaney Jones, two class of 2024 graduating seniors from the Allen East FFA Chapter, said their time in the blue jacket has been instrumental in their development as young people.

“I have learned to not be scared to try a new challenge,” Jones said.… Continue reading

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Groundbreaking highlights early progress at Ohio Expo Center

By Matt Reese

On May 13, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and representatives from the Ohio Expo Center & State Fairgrounds broke ground on two buildings to revitalize the fairgrounds in Columbus, the Ohio Showcase Building and the new agriculture building. 

Angela Krile, Ohio Expositions Commission chair, was on hand for the event and pleased with the progress so far.

“We had the official groundbreaking today, but we have broken ground here a while ago and there’s lots of ground being moved behind us as we speak. We are in the process of the first phase of the master plan for the Expo 2050 Task Force that the Governor commissioned to try to envision the fair of the future — a fairgrounds that could be used 365 days the year for amazing events,” Krile said. “We have three phases that we’re working on right now. One is infrastructure — the things under our feet that we don’t see but are needed to keep these fairgrounds running.… Continue reading

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Farm labor visa programs address poverty and undocumented migration

By Dr. Beau Brodbeck is assistant director for field operations, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University. Dr. Fernando Landini is a researcher at Universidad de la Cuenca del Plata

Alfredo lives in a rural Guatemalan village and travels to the U.S. with an H-2A visa each May to work in a nursery, returning each December, in time for Christmas, to spend a few months with family. Over the years, the money he earns has allowed his home to evolve from a mud-slat structure with dirt floors to a modern cement block home with tiled floors, glass windows and running water. In seven seasons he has saved to purchase an acre of land, install a small greenhouse and buy his first vehicle to haul vegetables to the local market. Prior to the visa, he grew corn on a half-acre of rented land to feed his family and worked seasonally on neighboring coffee farms, earning just enough to clothe his family.… Continue reading

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New Small-Scale Food Business Guide available from Ohio Farm Bureau

Ohio Farm Bureau’s legal team has created a new members-only resource for those looking for information about rules and regulations for small-scale food businesses.

The Small-Scale Food Business Guide covers both federal and state regulations for selling food products such as raw meat, dairy, eggs, baked goods, cottage foods, fruits and vegetables, honey and more.

The guide provides a breakdown of the registration, licensing, processing, food safety, inspection, labeling, and any other regulatory/legal standards to be considered when running a small-scale food business. Look at this guide when starting a food business to discern what you may need to do, starting at the farm and ending at the market/consumer.

“The laws and rules surrounding the production and sale of food products come from many different sources, both state and federal, often creating a confusing and hard to navigate regulatory space,” said Leah Hetrick, Ohio Farm Bureau director of legal education and member engagement.… Continue reading

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Ohio PR firms recognized nationally for work in agriculture

Two of Ohio’s agriculturally focused public relations firms were recognized nationally on the 2024 O’Dwyer’s list of top Agricultural PR Firms.

For the third consecutive year, Westerville-based Inspire PR Group was ranked among the top 100 PR firms by O’Dwyer’s Public Relations News — a leading PR industry publication. Inspire was also ranked the 6th agricultural PR firm in the nation and won some additional awards from the National Agri-Marketing Association. In addition, Springfield-based Shift•ology Communication was ranked 10th on the 2024 O’Dwyer’s list of top Agricultural PR Firms.

For 55 years, O’Dwyer’s has been conducting PR firm rankings, recognizing outstanding agencies focusing on factors such as strategic communications counsel, media relations and financial performance (excluding advertising or production expenses). The ranking system is widely considered one of the industry’s most reputable sources.

Both firms were recognized at the National Agri-Marketing Association Conference in Kansas City in April. Shift•ology and clients, American Dairy Association Indiana and San Joaquin County AgVentures, received Best of NAMA awards for Virtual Events featuring Indianapolis 500 Milk Person, Kerry Estes and Producer-Funded PR Campaign Element for a virtual experience on a California blueberry farm and apple orchard, respectively.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Net Podcast | Ep. 347 | Super Star Student Reporters

In this episode of the Ohio Ag Net Podcast, host Matt Reese of Ohio’s Country Journal and Joel Penhorwood of Ohio Ag Net talk with Aubree Topp of Botkins FFA and Alexis White of Fort Frye FFA who are serving as student reporters at the 96th State FFA Convention. They talk about their experience as student reporters and about their agricultural background.        

More in this week’s podcast:   

  • Tadd Nicholson, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association: Dusty talks with Tadd about sustainable aviation fuel tax credits.  
  • Tom Fontana, Ohio Soybean Council: Dusty visits with Tom talking about an update on biodiesel. 
  • Farm Credit Mid – America: Dale talks with the folks at Farm Credit Mid – America about the Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer county fair event. 

Time Stamp: 

Intro0:00
Tadd Nicholson3:44
Tom Fontana8:11
Farm Credit Mid – America16:28
Main Conversation, Aubree Topp and Alexis White23:54
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Consider using on-farm research to improve farm profitability

By Elizabeth Hawkins, Dara Barclay and John Fulton

The 2024 season has kicked off and you may be spending some of your time in the tractor reflecting on how to make the most of this crop. On-farm research is one of the best tools to help you improve profitability and now is a great time to plan some experiments to understand how you can improve your bottom line. Local trials can provide valuable insights at the farm level to use for future decision making, and conducting a high quality and informative experiment can be easier than you think. Here are some quick tips for on-farm research success:

  1. Carefully consider the question you want to answer. Having a clear vision of what you want to learn is important to ensure you plan the right treatments to compare and data to collect throughout the season.
  2. Select treatments that make it possible to compare the management practices that are most important for you to learn about.
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Statewide H2Ohio deadline extended

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is extending the H2Ohio enrollment deadline for row crop producers who farm in Ohio’s 64 counties outside of the Western Lake Erie Basin. Farmers will have until Friday, May 31, 2024, to enroll.

ODA will enroll 500,000 acres, and enrollment will be available on a first come, first served basis. For more information about the extended deadline and enrollment details, please contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District.

Governor DeWine launched H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive initiative aimed at addressing various threats to water quality, including harmful algal blooms caused by phosphorus runoff. H2Ohio’s agricultural program, which initially focused on northwest Ohio counties near Lake Erie, incentivizes farmers to implement science-based, proven best management practices to prevent nutrient runoff and improve water quality.

H2Ohio is Governor DeWine’s initiative to ensure safe and clean water in Ohio. It is a comprehensive, data-driven approach to improving water quality over the long term.… Continue reading

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Auction or private treaty?

By Matt Reese

While the excitement and competition among bidders at a farmland auction cannot be matched, sometimes it is not the right option for selling land.

“The decision whether to choose to sell at an auction boils down to the seller and what their desire is. The general public only sees about half of the transactions that Dye Real Estate and Land Co. does on a yearly basis. About half of our business comes from private sales — private treaty sales or listings like you would see with the normal home or a commercial building,” said Devin Dye, auctioneer, broker and owner of Dye Real Estate and Land Co. “Sometimes the client comes to us and says, ‘Hey we’re not interested in an auction.’ There’s a number of reasons why. Some of that is the desire to sell a farm and then continue renting it. If someone wants to sell a farm, but they’d like to continue renting the farm and farming it themselves, it doesn’t really go well with an auction format.… Continue reading

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Timber Talk: An introduction to Ohio’s forest products industry

By Jenna Reese, Executive Director of the Ohio Forestry Association, Inc.

There are nearly 8 million acres of forests in Ohio, which account for 31% of total land use in the state. As recently as the 1890s, only 10% of Ohio’s landscape was forested. There have been significant conservation and reforestation efforts since that time to bring about the 31% Ohio enjoys now. Prior to European-American settlement, it is rumored that a squirrel could travel from the Ohio River to Lake Erie without ever touching the ground, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Due to the slopes and poor soil quality in large portions of eastern Ohio, it is not suitable for croplands, so that is where the bulk of Ohio’s forests are found today.  The majority of those 8 million acres, 86%, are privately owned family farms. Of those forests, 96.3% are hardwood due to the native species that thrive here.… Continue reading

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Good advice and common sense

By Barb Lumley

Common sense is defined as the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions. There are times when individuals are chosen to be in charge and to manage a large area that involves a huge amount of responsibility and contains many different types of inhabitants and activities.

Much knowledge is needed and many difficult decisions have to be made in order to manage successfully and to gain the best benefits for the entire area. It is vital to the situation that “common sense” be used in planning and making decisions.
A good example of someone who uses common sense as they manage and make the necessary decisions is the dairy farmer. It must be applied in order to achieve success. One of the biggest responsibilities is the “herd”. The decisions that are made must be best for them.

If the herd tears down the fence, escapes, and is wandering in all directions, they must first be found, then rounded up, and put back where they came from.… Continue reading

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Feeding the community in more ways than one

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

One of the core principles of a cooperative is concern for the well-being of the community — a sentiment on clear display through the Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer program from Farm Credit Mid America (FCMA) and Rural 1st.

With county fair season almost here, the program is kicking off its fourth year of uniquely building up Ohio’s rural communities in several different ways.

“It’s very important to us that we are committed to strengthening our rural communities where our customers live. They’re our owners. We want to make sure we are helping them in any way we can, so we do that through investments and programs which includes scholarships, programs and partnerships that sustain those communities and prepare the next generation of ag leaders,” said Rudi Pitzer Perry, regional vice president of ag lending for FCMA. “Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer is a contest we first launched in 2021.… Continue reading

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Lake Erie continues to please anglers

By Dan Armitage, outdoors writer

Ohio anglers testing the waters of Lake Erie this season can expect 2024 to again offer world-class ‘catching’ opportunities, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW), as after years of strong walleye hatches, Lake Erie continues to affirm that it is The Walleye Capital of the World. What’s more, a stable yellow perch population in Lake Erie’s west zone will provide good fishing in 2024 while, on the flip side, low perch catch rates are expected to continue in the central and east zones of Ohio’s Great Lake.

“Lake Erie is known worldwide as a top fishing destination for a variety of species,” said Travis Hartman, Lake Erie Fisheries Program Administrator for the Division. “Lake Erie’s sustainable high performance is due in part to science-based management which guides regulations and ensures long-term angling opportunities.”

Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system.… Continue reading

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H2Ohio moves statewide, plus other updates

By Matt Reese and Dusty Sonnenberg

Since Governor DeWine initially launched H2Ohio in 2019 there have been some ups and downs, but ultimately the program has made positive impacts in farm efficiency, funding opportunities and water quality.

H2Ohio began as a comprehensive initiative aimed at addressing various threats to water quality, including harmful algal blooms caused by phosphorus runoff. H2Ohio’s agricultural program, which first focused solely on farms located in northwest Ohio counties in the Lake Erie watershed, incentivizes farmers to implement science-based, proven best management practices to prevent nutrient runoff and improve water quality. 

On April 19, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Brian Baldridge announced that H2Ohio’s agriculture incentive program is now being offered to producers across Ohio. The brief statewide enrollment for row-crop producers who farm in Ohio’s 64 counties outside of northwest Ohio’s Western Lake Erie Basin is from April 22 through May 6 seeking to enroll 500,000 acres into the program.… Continue reading

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