Country Life

Budget, eminent domain addressed in Ag Day at the Capital

By Matt Reese

In February, Ohio Farm Bureau members left their farms for the day to make the trip to Columbus and meet with legislators for the 2023 Ag Day at the Capital. Jonathan Francis from Madison County Farm Bureau enjoyed the chance to share the story from his farm. 

Matt Reese talked with Jonathan Francis from Madison County at Ag Day at the Capital.

“So being in Madison County, right next to Franklin, we’ve had some districting changes and our new senator is very urban focused. We were really excited to get the opportunity to meet with her staff and show her the importance of agriculture. She’s not really familiar with Madison County, but we’re excited to show her what we’re about and remind her of the different agricultural issues we face,” Francis said. “We talked a lot about solar with her staff — there’s quite a bit of solar pressure in Madison County so we’re trying to share the good and bad and the ugly of that.… Continue reading

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Farmers’ Breakfast Series continues in Plain City

OSU Extension in Delaware, Madison and Union Counties, with support from the county Farm Bureaus presents the 2023 Farmers’ Breakfast Series at the Der Dutchman. 

Feb 28: 2023 Central Ohio Weather Outlook: 8:30am -Aaron Wilson, Assistant Professor, OSU Ag Weather and Climate Field Specialist. State Climatologist

Mar 28: Ag Law Update: 8:30am -Peggy Hall, Associate Professor, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Director and The Future of Rural Economies discussion on how development on and around farmland impacts the rural economy with Mark Partridge, Professor, OSU Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy.

The meetings are at Der Dutchman, 445 S Jefferson Ave, Plain City and are free to attend with pre-registration. To register go to or Call 937-644-8117 by the 22nd of each month.… Continue reading

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USDA announces grants to expand local food systems

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is now accepting applications for this year’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), with a total of $133 million available in competitive grant funds to expand and strengthen local and regional food systems and increase the availability of locally grown agricultural products.

The funding available for this year’s program includes $65 million in supplemental funding authorized by the American Rescue Plan, carry over funding from last year’s program and funds provided through the 2018 Farm Bill and annual appropriations. 

“Through LAMP, USDA is helping to maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Program Jenny Lester Moffitt. “Over the years, these grants have generated new income sources for small, beginning, and underserved farmers, increased local food access across rural and urban communities and provided platforms for value-added and new products to shine.” 

USDA’s LAMP is made up of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) and the Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) grant program, all administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).… Continue reading

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YAP 2023 grant recipients announced

Eight local Young Agricultural Professionals groups have been awarded $500 grants for educational programming or events.

The local grants are a part of Farm Credit Mid-America’s $100,000 donation to Farm Bureau young leader programs in their four-state region of Indiana, Kentucky, 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

The Ashland & Wayne County Young Ag Professionals and the Medina County Young Farmers hosted their 6th Annual Ag Toy Drive Nov. 29 at Lincoln Way Vineyards. After sponsorships and individual contributions were counted, over $11,000 in agricultural toys were donated to Associated Charities of Ashland County, Medina Toys for Tots and Wayne County Toys for Tots for the holiday season. Both local business and individual cash donations were used to purchase ag-themed toys within each county.… Continue reading

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OSU ACT club helps students “Become tomorrow’s leaders today” at Night for Young Professionals

By ​Kylie Ramirez, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Ohio State University

Night for Young Professionals is a long-time tradition for students at The Ohio State University in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow club organizes this event for an evening of networking and professional growth, thanks to its sponsors Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff. 

Seats were full at both the Columbus and Wooster campuses where students enjoyed a complimentary City Barbeque meal. 

Reagan Feldner, ACT leadership committee chair thanked everyone who showed up “dressed for success, and eager to learn,” during her welcome. Julia Brown, Ohio Soybean Council, and Bernadette Arehart, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net, took the stage for a conversation about the contributions of Ohio’s soybean farmers to the success of the event.

“We see a need to encourage young people to get involved in agriculture,” said Brown when asked why Ohio Soybean Council wants to support the program.… Continue reading

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Biofuels update

By Matt Reese

Biofuels are the subject of complex politics, controversy and confusion, but have, without a doubt, forever left their mark on crop markets and rural America. In this constantly evolving sector, what is next for biofuels? 

Paul Bertels is an Illinois-based agricultural leader and consultant at FarmGate Insights who closely follows ever-changing developments with biofuels.

“We’ve seen a number of advances in the last couple of years. We’ve largely hit a blend wall in ethanol with E10 blends, so the way around that is E15 or to work with the auto industry to where they’re designing engines that need a higher ethanol blend,” he said. “On the bio-based diesel side, most people think of biodiesel, which is a blend. What we’ve seen in the last few years is really a ramp up in renewable diesel. With renewable diesel, you’re actually making the exact equivalent of diesel fuel, you’re just doing it with biomass — soybean oil, used cooking oil, things like that.… Continue reading

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A century of conservation

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) marked 100 years of conservation in 2022, celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the Roosevelt Game Preserve. Known today as Shawnee State Park and Shawnee State Forest, the property was established in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1922. The area, now displaying a historic marker, was created to encourage the replenishment of natural resources and wildlife that had been depleted in Ohio’s past. 

From preserving the past to investing in the future, Shawnee State Forest was expanded by more than 1,200 acres thanks to a federal grant through the Forest Legacy Program. Visitors at Shawnee State Park will soon enjoy a new state-of-the-art campground, new bike trails, a splash pad, and dog park at the Shawnee Ohio River Park, Campground and Marina. The new and improved attraction is expected to be complete next year. 

Boaters and paddlers at Alum Creek State Park can now enjoy a brand-new marina building.… Continue reading

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Farm income expected to decline

While America’s families continue to deal with record-high grocery prices,farm familiescan expect to see a drop in income in 2023. American Farm Bureau Federation economists analyzed USDA’s Farm Sector Income Forecast in their latest Market Intel report. U.S. net farm income is forecast to fall almost 16% from last year, while costs are expected to increase more than 4%, on top of a record increase in production expenses last year.

Increased operating costs, lower prices for livestock and crops, and the end of pandemic-related assistance are among the factors that will contribute to a loss in farm income, down to $136.9 billion. While fuel and fertilizer costs are expected to decline somewhat from record highs, marketing, storage and transportation costs are forecast to increase 11%. Labor costs are projected to increase 7%. 

“The farm income forecast is a stark reminder that America’s farmers and ranchers are not reaping big benefits from higher prices at the grocery store,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president.… Continue reading

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CAUV changes in Lorain County

After several meetings with Lorain County Farm Bureau members, County Auditor Craig Snodgrass will be making some major changes in how his office applies Ohio’s Current Agricultural Use Value program.

CAUV allows farmland devoted exclusively to commercial agriculture to be valued based on its value in agriculture, rather than the full market value, resulting in a lower tax bill for farmers and property owners.

At issue was a “residual” designation, which is given to uncultivated land that could potentially be cultivated. Land given that designation is given a higher tax rate than typical CAUV designations.

The changes mean that land previously classified as residual, such as areas with structures, waterways and fence lines, will now receive CAUV crop designations. Farmers and landowners will experience lower tax values for much more of their property used for crop production, pastureland and woods.

The auditor’s adjustments are being attributed in large part to a letter that was sent from the Lorain County Farm Bureau board to over 2,000 CAUV landowners in the county, creating a “Call to Action” to inquire with the auditor’s office about how CAUV acreage and values were being made.… Continue reading

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Carbon credit market assistance program through USDA

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Sometimes a legislative proposal stalls, appears dead, then emerges in another piece of legislation in a slightly different form. That’s exactly what happened with the Growing Climate Solutions Act and its plan to help farmers with carbon and environmental credit markets. First introduced in 2020, the bill gained some momentum and passed the U.S. Senate before coming to a standstill in the House. But Congress added the bill, with some negotiated changes, into the Consolidated Appropriations Act it passed in the final days of 2022. The USDA is now charged with implementing its provisions.

Purpose of the bill

The bill aims to reduce barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters who want to enter into voluntary markets that establish environmental credits for greenhouse gas emission reductions resulting from agricultural or forestry practices (also known as carbon credits).… Continue reading

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Agricultural guestworkers in Ohio

Please join Ohio State University Extension, with support from the Farm Financial Management and Policy Institute, and the Ohio Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs (OCHLA) on Feb. 15 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. to learn more about agricultural guest workers in our state.

Each year, OCHLA publishes Latino Community Reports designed to educate and facilitate discussion on particular challenges and opportunities facing Hispanic Ohioans. This season’s publication focuses on the H-2A guest worker population in Ohio. During this event, Anisa Kline, author of the report, will present original research results from her survey of 285 H-2A workers across Ohio.  Following her presentation stakeholders from across sectors will respond to her findings.  These panelists will include: Silvia Hernandez (Starting Point Outreach Center), Dr. José Salinas (Ohio Migrant Education Center), Phil Riehm (Riehm’s Produce), and Dr. Margaret Jodlowski (Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Developmental Economics, OSU). This panel will be moderated by OCHLA’s Executive Director, Lilleana Cavanaugh.… Continue reading

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Government leadership and impacts on Ohio ag

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

A new year always brings new leadership appointments. Sometimes those appointments result in a change, but sometimes they bring back previous leaders. As we settle into 2023, we’re following what has changed and what remains the same and considering how leadership will impact agriculture in the coming year. Here’s a summary of what we’re seeing in the leadership landscape.

Ohio ODA and EPA

Here in Ohio, two of the agencies we commonly deal with will have new leaders. Governor DeWine has nominated Brian Baldridge to head the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Anne Vogel as director of the Ohio EPA. Baldridge is from a livestock and crop operation in Adams County, and previously served as a Representative, county commissioner, and township trustee. Vogel was previously DeWine’s Policy Director and Energy Advisor. She has a background in the energy industry and helped the governor establish the H2Ohio program.… Continue reading

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Farmers needed for national study about balancing work and children

All parents know how challenging it is to balance children and work, especially when childcare options are limited. One group of parents in particular, farm and ranch parents, are being sought for a national study into their experiences. 
Researchers at the National Farm Medicine Center and The Ohio State University are looking to better understand farm and ranch families operating in rural, urban, or suburban areas and their lived realities of balancing children and work. 

“Childcare challenges (paid or unpaid) can have consequences for the farm business, the safety of children, and the well-being of the family as a whole,” said Shoshanah Inwood, an associate professor of community, food and economic development at Ohio State. “This is the first nationwide comprehensive survey focused on the realities of farmers and ranchers raising children.”
Because this is a farm bill year, the survey is especially timely, said Florence Becot, an associate research scientist at the National Farm Medicine Center and affiliate of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. … Continue reading

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By Shelly Detwiler

Let us eat cake, morning, night and anytime we wish!

Cake for breakfast. It’s an absurd, ridiculous, even preposterous idea, right? Think about it for a second. Common breakfast foods…eggs, milk, butter, oil. I’ve got you thinking now, don’t I? Throw in the sugar and flour you have a recipe for breakfast deliciousness such as donuts, pancakes, and waffles. Now that I have gotten you outside your breakfast box, let’s talk cake.

“Cake really isn’t important at all nutritionally, but symbolically it seems to have had an enormous importance,” saidAlysa Levene, author of “Cake: A Slice of History.” 

History tells us we need to thank ancient civilizations of Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for our introductions to cake, cheesecake and fruitcake, respectively. The early Egyptian’s cake was enjoyed in celebrations and feasting, much like we do today. Unlike today, those first cakes were made more like round cakes of bread with bits of honey or special ingredients.… Continue reading

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Night for Young Professionals at OSU Feb. 9

By Matt Reese

Ohio State University student leaders are gearing up for the Night for Young Professionals — a free professional development event open to all students in the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. 

The over-arching theme of the event, taking place in two locations in Columbus and Wooster, is to “Prepare tomorrow’s leaders today” with the goal of answering questions students have about the transition to a real-world job after graduation. Student participants get a professional headshot photo, dinner, door prizes and an opportunity to connect with industry leaders and have real conversations about what to expect when launching their career after graduation. The event is being hosted by Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) in Columbus and Agricultural Communicators, Educators and Leaders of Tomorrow (ACELT) in Wooster. 

“Our goal is to really give them an opportunity and a space to ask questions and to help prepare themselves for what comes after graduation,” said Raegan Feldner, leadership chair of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow.… Continue reading

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Making use of food waste

There is money to be made — and potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — by finding a second life for the potato peels, fried dough particles, cheese whey and other industrial food-processing waste products that routinely end up in landfills, according to new research.

Scientists have taken the first step at estimating the best large-scale uses for food processing waste, first analyzing its contents and, based on those findings, proposing production opportunities ranging from sustainable fuels, biogas and electricity to useful chemicals and organic fertilizer.

This work is known as valorization, or determining the potential value of something “that is otherwise valueless or even a drain on resources for a company — when you have to spend money to get rid of it,” said Katrina Cornish, senior author of the study and professor of horticulture and crop science and food, agricultural and biological engineering at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). … Continue reading

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Protecting top end revenue and yield with crop insurance

By Michael Sweeney, Vice President of Bickle Farm Solutions

Over the last couple of years, federal crop insurance has brought us a couple of products that allow a producer to cover up to 95% of yield and revenue. Every crop insurance company also has a least one or maybe two products that also take you up as high as 95% protection. But which is the right fit for you? 

Michael Sweeney

Let’s start with the public products. Enhanced coverage option (ECO) and supplemental coverage option (SCO) are two relatively new programs that are available here in Ohio. These are both county-based plans, meaning that an entire county must show a loss for any payments to be made. Expected average yields are published for each county and crop. The same spring and fall prices used for crop insurance apply. ECO can be selected at a 90% or 95% trigger level and goes down to 86%.… Continue reading

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Plenty of moisture in January to recharge dry soils

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Did it feel like winter was largely absent during January? If so, you are not alone, and we have the climate statistics to prove it. Figure 1 shows that much of the state will end the month with temperatures about 10°F above the long-term average (1991-2020). This places January 2023 in the top 5 warmest Januarys on record for many cities across the state. It was also a wet month, with precipitation running 125-200% of normal. Frequent systems, typical of the La Niña weather pattern we are in, helped recharge soil moisture and elevate stream flows across the state. With the lack of cold weather and wet conditions, muddy conditions are now being felt by many across Ohio.      

This week will feature a much colder and overall drier pattern for Ohio. Chilly conditions will be in place for Tuesday and Wednesday with highs generally in the 20s and overnight lows in the teens.… Continue reading

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OABA recognizes winners of Industry Excellence Awards at Industry Conference

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Despite diverse and unexpected challenges in recent years, Ohio’s agribusinesses are strong in 2023 — strength well represented at the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference in early February.

“Our numbers are up over last year and we’re excited about that. Since the pandemic we’ve slowly been bringing people back to our in-person events and activities. We’re not without our challenges, but I tell you what, the industry is strong,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO. “There are plenty of issues right now, but the No. 1 is probably labor. Our companies are continually telling me that they’re having trouble finding people to work. The theme of our conference this year is Resiliency, so that that’s what it’s all about. How do we continue to move forward in the environment we’re in right now?”

The Conference had a heavy focus on technology and how changes can play a role in building agribusiness resiliency. … Continue reading

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Chef to chef strategy keeps farm at the culinary forefront

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

The displays of Farmer Jones Farm Market and The Chef’s Garden are stocked with an array of colors. Purple carrots, red apples, orange sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables. It’s like a rainbow inside the market, directly across the street from fields of various plants. For most people, produce shopping is simply that: you need a carrot, so you buy a carrot. But Farmer Lee Jones, owner of The Chef’s Garden says that isn’t so. 

“Some carrots taste like cardboard, but some carrots taste wonderful and have great texture. We’re always striving to grow the tastiest, most nutritious, sexiest vegetables you’ve ever had,” Jones said. 

Chef Jamie Simpson was drawn to The Chef’s Garden for that very reason. Hailing from Charleston, SC, Simpson had studied culinary arts and was working as a chef for a high-end hotel prior to joining the team at The Chef’s Garden. … Continue reading

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