Country Life

Ohio barns (and barn paintings) featured on Hancock County tour

While staying at a bed and breakfast in Licking County in the early 2000s, a deteriorating barn captivated the eye of Cincinnati artist and retired dentist, Robert Kroeger. This first barn would ignite Kroeger’s “Ohio Barn Project,” which has taken the artist to more than half of Ohio’s 88 counties to paint, research, and write about historic barns. In nearly every county, Kroeger has donated the proceeds from the sale of his paintings to a local historical organization.

In 2018, Robert Kroeger approached the Hancock Historical Museum in Findlay about painting Hancock County barns. The museum provided historical information for dozens of barns that have appeared on the museum’s Historic Barn Tour since its inception in 2013. Kroeger reviewed the information and chose several barns to visit, in person, on a day-trip to the area. Ultimately, he painted 13 Hancock County barns in 2018 using the impasto oil technique. He applies the paint quickly and in very thick layers with a palette knife, creating texture and dimension.… Continue reading

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Minor details can lead to major issues when offering employee benefits

By Matt Reese

At first it can seem like a very minor (yet complicated and costly) detail that may be better off ignored by employers. And, in many cases it can be inconsequential, until it is not.

The potential for problems with this detail start, very simply, when an employer hires an employee and offers benefits, such as health insurance. When employees receive benefits, the employer is legally required to provide a Summary Plan Description (SPD) through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

On Oct. 1 of 2013 a notice went out through the Affordable Care Act to every employee in the U.S. informing them of the new options available. To be better informed, the notice instructed employees to consult their legally required SPD of workplace benefits. Guess what most employers did not have or had never even heard of before?

In short, if an employee requests an SPD or the business is audited and the employer does not have it, this minor detail gets very consequential very quickly.… Continue reading

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Honey sweet recipes for this fall

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

I have a love-hate relationship with bees. I love the bees at my farm! It is a symbiotic relationship farm to bee. The bees especially love the red raspberries. Not much beats a warm fall day with a breeze, listening to the bees at work. It is Zen-like. And let me tell you, my customers love honey!

I have however, had quite a few funniest home video adventures with bees, with one last week being among the most memorable. I’ve mowed around the hives, weekly for 13 years with only one incident. But somehow last week some bees got caught in my hair. I was wearing ear plugs but I’m sure I was screaming. They began to sting my scalp because they couldn’t get out of (as Paul says) my mass of hair! I high-tailed it, pedal to the floor to my mom’s next door about 800 feet away.… Continue reading

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Soil Health Social in Defiance

A free Soil Health Social Sept. 4 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. targets any farmer interested in improving their soil health. The event will be held at the Defiance Ag Service Center 06879 Evansport Rd. Defiance.

The featured speaker, Rick Clark, is a Williamsport, Ind. farmer who uses no-till with diverse cover crop blends on his 7,000 acre operation. He has 20 years of data to help tell his story.

Other speakers include Bruce Clevenger (OSU Extension), Tyler Miller (Defiance SWCD), Steve Snyder (NRCS) and Jim Hoorman (NRCS). Equipment dealers will be on hand with cover crop seeding tools, crimpers and fertilizer placement tools. The evening meal and Ice cream are complementary.

Please click Register or call 419-782-1794.… Continue reading

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ODNR Division of Forestry announces 2019 Ohio Tree Farm Tour

The annual Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour is slated for Saturday, Sept. 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Snowy Oak Tree Farm in Ashtabula County, according to the Ohio Division of Forestry. Dr. Paul and Joanne Mechling will host the event, which is free and open to the public.
“The Mechlings are strong advocates for sustainable, well-managed woodlands,” said Dan Balser, chief of the Ohio Division of Forestry. “They are being recognized by their woodland-owner peers in the Ohio Tree Farm System for their outstanding example of private land stewardship to achieve many forest and wildlife benefits.”

Visitors can explore the 365-acre Snowy Oak Tree Farm to view forest management practices, pollinator habitat, and wildlife food plots. The Mechling family produces maple syrup on Snowy Oak Tree Farm, and maple tubing and sap production will be one of the many displays featured, along with invasive plant species control, bridge construction, wetland design, and tree planting.… Continue reading

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Puppy staycation

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

When we learned in April that our English setter “Tailer” was pregnant (good job “Goober”) I realized with some remorse that the Armitage clan would be taking a Staycation this summer in order to remain at home to tend to the puppies. As with most families, summer is prime vacation travel time for us, so it was disappointing. At first…

Eight setter pups later, we haven’t had a second thought about sticking around town this summer, for every day the little guys offer entertainment that rivals anything a theme park can offer. In the middle of the day when I need to step away from the computer and drain my brain, I let the puppies out of their fenced enclosure in the back yard, sit down and simply watch them roam. They’re hunters, bred to point pheasants, grouse and woodcock, and they’re already displaying signs of their bird dog heritage.… Continue reading

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Will the growing season last through September?

By Jim Noel, NOAA

There is good news as it appears we will not have an early freeze in Ohio in September.

Below normal temperatures will be with us to end August and possibly into the first half of September per the NOAA/Climate Prediction Center Week 2 early September temperatures.

Rainfall will likely be normal or above normal in August, but the trend will be normal to below normal to start September.

You can keep up with the two week freeze risk at:

You need to select the minimum temperature for 0C and push your end date 16 days into the future.

Looking further ahead, models continue to support a switch to wetter weather in harvest season. It is not clear whether that occurs in October or November, but like last year the timing could challenge later harvested crops. Since crops went in late, harvest season could become a challenge.… Continue reading

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Ohio Hemp Farm Summit

The Ohio Hemp Farm Summit will be held September 28, at 10 a.m. at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds — 415 Lancaster Pike, Circleville, OH 43113.

Attendees can learn the ins and outs of the hemp industry at this event covering topics from legality, planting, harvesting, processing, packaging, and marketing from industry experts. There will be many vendors present as well. Admission is $4o with pre-registration at Eventbrite, $45 at the door. Lunch will be provided.… Continue reading

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OABA seeking emerging leaders for eighth LAUNCH class

Tomorrow’s agribusiness leader will need to be nimble and lead change in addressing workforce pressures, consumer demands, and governmental challenges, all while fostering networks and collaborative work styles. Emerging agribusiness leaders can build their skills through LAUNCH — Leaders Achieving Unexpected New Career Heights — to rise to the challenges and opportunities facing agribusinesses today and tomorrow.

Hosted by the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, in partnership with Shift-ology Communication, the LAUNCH program is geared to help Ohio agribusinesses Elevate People, Elevate Ideas and Elevate the Industry. The program is designed for emerging leaders with a desire to meet higher level goals than the scope of their current position. The course is designed for leaders with all levels of experience — from entry level to seasoned employees — who seek to rise within their company.

“Agribusinesses continually compete with all industries to recruit and retain the best talent, but there is also a need to invest in those who are already passionate about agriculture,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO.… Continue reading

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New guide helps farmland owners considering solar leasing

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

Large “utility-scale” solar energy development is on the rise in Ohio. In the past two years, the Ohio Power Siting Board has approved six large-scale solar projects with generating capacities of 50MW or more, and three more projects are pending approval. These “solar farms” require a large land base, and in Ohio that land base is predominantly farmland. Nine new Ohio solar energy facilities will cover about 16,500 acres in Brown, Clermont, Hardin, Highland, and Vinton counties. About 12,300 of those acres were previously used for agriculture.

With solar energy development, then, comes a new demand for farmland: solar leasing. Many Ohio farmland owners have received post cards and letters about the potential of leasing land to a solar energy developer. This prospect might sound appealing at first, particularly in a difficult farming year like this one.… Continue reading

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Farm Service Agency expands payment options

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is expanding its payment options to now accept debit cards and Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit. These paperless payment options enable FSA customers to pay farm loan payments, measurement service fees, farm program debt repayments and administrative service fees, as well as to purchase aerial maps.

“Our customers have spoken, and we’ve listened,” said Bill Northey, USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “Finding ways to improve customer service and efficiency is important for our farmers, ranchers, producers, and forest landowners who work hard for our nation every day. Now, our customers can make electronic payments instantly by stopping in our offices or calling over the phone.”

Previously, only cash, check, money orders and wires were accepted. By using debit cards and ACH debit, transactions are securely processed from the customer’s financial institution through, the U.S. Treasury’s online payment hub.… Continue reading

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National farm bankruptcies on the rise while Ohio holds steady

Farm bankruptcies across the nation are up, but Ohio’s rate remains among the lowest in the Midwest, according to a new analysis by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Ohio had nine new farm bankruptcy filings from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. That’s compared to 45 in Wisconsin, 39 in Kansas, and 32 in Minnesota — the three states in the nation with the highest number of new filings during that period.

Farm bankruptcies in Ohio have been stable in recent years, with a total of under 10 annually since 2017, said Robert Dinterman, a post-doctoral researcher in agribusiness at CFAES. Dinterman and Ani Katchova, associate professor, analyzed farm bankruptcy trends in the past decade.

Currently, Ohio has 1.2 farm bankruptcies for every 10,000 farms. That’s less than half of the national rate of 2.6 for every 10,000 farms, Dinterman said.… Continue reading

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The skillful employer of men

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

An interesting case arose in California. And I hate to discuss California cases because they occur in California, which is sometimes more like the Twilight Zone than the rest of the US. Moreno v. Visser Ranch, Inc., however, raises some important issues for any farm that has employees.

The trouble all began when Passenger Moreno was heading back to work at 11:45 pm in the passenger seat of a pickup truck, driven by his father, when their vehicle was involved in an accident. Following the accident, the son filed a complaint against his father based on the premise that his father was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident because he was driving a company vehicle. The son claimed his father’s employers were vicariously liable under the respondeat superior doctrine, that an employer is responsible for acts of their employees.… Continue reading

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Germinate Film Fest offers unique way to share and learn about agriculture

By Matt Reese

Some may be curious why Ohio, or anywhere for that matter, would host a film festival around the topic of agriculture. Yet, it is not difficult to see how influential video and other media can be in today’s society and there is no question agriculture needs to find new ways to reach out in informative and entertaining ways. With this in mind, Ohio State University Extension is hosting a truly unique event this month with the Germinate International Film Fest in Hillsboro, Aug. 16 and 17.

“The Germinate International Film Fest is entirely focused on agriculture, rural communities and our natural resources. This is really the first film festival of its kind anywhere that is truly focused on this type of content,” said Brooke Beam, with Ohio State University Extension in Highland County. “We’ve had a great turnout of individuals who wanted to apply and submit to the film festival.… Continue reading

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A legal look at wind farm setbacks

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural and Resource Law Program

The Ohio Power Siting Board’s approval of new wind-turbine models in facility’s certificate does not constitute an amendment to the certificate for the purposes of triggering current turbine-setback requirements. In 2014, the Ohio Power Siting Board approved an application by Greenwich Windpark to construct a wind farm in Huron County with up to 25 wind turbines. In the initial application, all of the wind turbines would have used the same model of turbine. Just over a year after the application was approved, the wind farm developer applied for an amendment to add three additional models to the approved wind turbine model list, noting that the technology had advanced since its initial application. Two of the three newer models would be larger than the originally planned model, but would occupy the same locations and would comply with the minimum setback requirements at the time the application was approved.… Continue reading

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USDA designates 16 Ohio counties as primary natural disaster areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 16 Ohio counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers who suffered losses due to five separate disaster events may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.


Excessive Precipitation, Flooding and Ponding – March 1 – June 6, 2019

Producers in Fulton, Henry and Lucas counties who suffered losses caused by excessive precipitation, flooding and ponding that occurred between March 1 and June 6, 2019, are eligible to apply for emergency loans.

Producers in the contiguous Ohio counties of Defiance, Hancock, Ottawa, Putnam, Williams and Wood, along with Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties in Michigan, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.… Continue reading

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Taking property without just compensation

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural and Resource Law Program

A property owner may bring a claim in federal court under the Fifth Amendment when the government has violated the Takings Clause by taking property without just compensation. This case involved a township ordinance requiring all cemeteries to be held open and accessible to the general public during daylight hours. A property owner with a small family graveyard was notified that she was violating the ordinance. The property owner filed suit in state court arguing that the ordinance constituted a taking of her property, but did not seek compensation. The township responded by saying it would withdraw the notice of violation and not enforce the ordinance against her. The state court said that the matter was therefore resolved, but the property owner was not satisfied with that decision. She decided to bring a takings claim in federal court.… Continue reading

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Good benefits can be a great benefit to employee retention

By Matt Reese

Becky Worley was a single parent in search of the right job for her skill set and her situation. She saw Nachurs Alpine Solutions in Marion had a position open at their corporate office in Marion.

“I inquired about the benefits at Nachurs. I knew a couple of people who worked there. They told me the benefits were top notch, better than most employers. It made employment there more desirable,” Worley said. “That was a real positive for me coming in the door. It made me feel a lot more comfortable and more at ease. I have since had other people ask me and that is something I tell them — the benefits at Nachurs are just amazing.”

Worley has now been with Nachurs for seven years and serves as the marketing coordinator for the company. She said the great benefits the job provides for her and her daughter have been extremely valuable for her situation.… Continue reading

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2019 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge winners announced

A team of three Ohio high school students took first place in the 2019 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge finals for their policy proposal about biosecurity at Ohio fairs.

Sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio 4-H and Ohio FFA, the challenge brings together youths ages 14 to 18 from around the state to discuss community concerns and then work together to propose policies and programs to solve the issues.

The 2019 winning team members are Caleb Durheim and Dustin Hill of Delaware County and Samantha Hinton of Seneca County. The team members share a $1500 prize for finishing first in the competition.

The challenge started in the spring when groups met to learn about public policy issues and began planning their proposals. A preliminary contest narrowed the field down to four teams, which competed in the finals during the Ohio State Fair.

The teams were judged on their public policy proposals dealing with a specific issue or problem.… Continue reading

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Qualified business income deduction for sales to cooperatives: Proposed regulations

By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management, Director, Ohio State University Income Tax Schools

Soon after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law in December of 2017 it became evident that cooperatives had been granted a significant advantage under the new tax law. Sales to cooperatives would be allowed a Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBID) of 20% of gross income and not of net income. Sales to businesses other than cooperatives would be eligible only for the QBID of net income, which was a significant disadvantage. Suddenly cooperatives had an advantage that non-cooperative businesses couldn’t match and most of the farm sector scrambled to position themselves to take advantage of this tax advantage. Some farmers directed larger portions of their sales or prospective sales toward cooperatives. Non-cooperative businesses lobbied for a change to this piece of the new tax law while looking for ways to add a cooperative model to their own businesses to stay competitive.… Continue reading

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