Country Life

Ag groups weigh in on beginning farmer bill

By Matt Reese

Legislators heard from Ohio agriculture yesterday in a hearing for House Bill 183. The bill was recently introduced by state representatives Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) to create a tax credit program that would incentivize retiring farmers to sell or rent to beginning farmers in Ohio.

Nathan Brown, Highland County, and Rose Hartschuh, Crawford County, representing Ohio Farm Bureau, testified as proponents of the bill. Bennett and Liza Musselman, part owners/operators of Musselman Farms in Pickaway County, also testified on behalf of the bill.

“The agriculture industry is extremely difficult to break into if you or your family do not have a background in farming. High amounts of capital are needed to invest in land, equipment, labor, crops or livestock, financial management plans, and compliance with regulations just to get started. New farmland is not readily available, so there is restricted access to the ground required, adding yet another barrier to individuals who are looking to start a career in farming,” Brown said in his testimony on April 30.… Continue reading

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Updated “Bringing Biotechnology to Life” resource available for educators

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and the International Food Information Council Foundation have launched an updated version of “Bringing Biotechnology to Life.” This free educational resource for educators follows the principles of project-based learning to teach about plant biotechnology and its role in food production through eight sequential lessons and a culminating research and public presentation module. The updated resource addresses national learning standards for seventh through 10th grade students and asks the following questions:

  • What is DNA?
  • How can we examine DNA?
  • What is selective breeding?
  • What is biotechnology?
  • How is biotechnology used?
  • How do researchers compare DNA?
  • Where would we be without GMOs?
  • Where is biotechnology headed?

“Using advancements in technology, agriculturalists are striving to feed more people with fewer resources,” said Christy Lilja, executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “Biotechnology is one of these advancements. It’s important that our resources continue to reflect these advancements in technology, which is why we are excited to launch the third version of Bringing Biotechnology to Life.… Continue reading

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Tackling human resource management challenges in Ohio’s agribusinesses

By Matt Reese

Whether it is a small farm business with a handful of employees or a large corporation with many, human resource management has become a significant issue for Ohio’s agribusinesses.

“This may be the No. 1 challenge for Ohio’s agribusinesses. Every business is a little different and there might be a few issues that rise above human resource issues, but it is a major issue. Not only is it important in filling the positions, but the human resource aspect of business also includes the opioid epidemic and drug issues. As a business, how do you provide the resources for employees to deal with that? What about workers comp claims? How do you make sure you are providing a safe and secure work environment for your employees? There is a whole slew of things our HR professionals deal with on a regular basis,” said Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.… Continue reading

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Job growth strong in rural Ohio

Since 2010, job growth in Ohio’s rural areas has been strong, nearly comparable to the growth in the state’s major cities, according to an economist at The Ohio State University.

Between 2010 and 2017, only six states had better rural job growth than Ohio, said Mark Partridge, an economics professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“As long as this economic expansion continues, rural Ohio is going to fare pretty well compared to the rest of the U.S.,” said Partridge, who is also chair of the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at CFAES.

Between 2010 and 2018, Ohio’s nonmetropolitan areas with populations less than 50,000 and not within commuting distance of major cities had a 7.6% increase in the number of jobs — nearly 10 times the national average. During the same period, the growth of jobs in Ohio’s major cities was only slightly higher — a 9.2% increase.… Continue reading

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Workshops give youth experience in the construction and AutoTech trades

By Amanda Forquer, 4-H Educator

Thirty-five youth participated in the Career Exploration Workshop for Construction and Automotive Technology on April 13 at the Tri-Rivers Career Center. The participants learned valuable life skills and skills they could potentially use in a career in the construction or automotive technology (AutoTech) career paths.

A number of skills taught at the workshop presented challenges many adults struggle to complete. For example, in AutoTech the participants rotated and balanced tires, changed automotive oil, completed a multi-point inspection, studied auto electronics, changed belts, and many more related tasks. The workshop was challenging, but enjoyable for those involved.

“Overall, I really, really liked the workshop,” said Cole Perkins, an 11-year-old participant of the AutoTech workshop.

In the construction workshop the participants built frames for pouring concrete walls, framed wood walls for a storage shed, built their own toolbox with nameplate, operated large equipment (e.g., skid-steer or excavator), among other things.… Continue reading

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Contest seeks Ohio’s future food products

With an emphasis on new and innovative food products, Ohioans have the opportunity to land their product on store shelves with the Ohio Signature Food Contest, running now through May 31, 2019.

Sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), the contest helps facilitate economic growth and job creation in the Ohio food/agriculture industry — the number one industry in the state that already contributes more than $107 billion to the economy.

Contestants complete a simple online form outlining the basic details of their product, and food industry experts will judge based on viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, marketability and overall appeal to the marketplace. Finalists will be invited to present their business concept and product to a panel of judges. The winner will be announced during a special ceremony in late July at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

Following the announcement, the winner will receive:
• Technical and business development assistance to help advance a product to the marketplace
• Production of product to be used for consumer feedback
• Nutritional analysis
• Shelf life/stability testing
• Review of trademark and copyright components
• Coordination with Ohio Department of Agriculture for label approval
• Label design, packaging, and ingredient source consultation
• Attendance to training seminars for free.… Continue reading

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A new Lake Erie battle: Lucas County sues U.S. EPA over western basin water quality

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

Disagreements over how to improve the health of Lake Erie have led to yet another federal lawsuit in Ohio. This time the plaintiff is the Board of Lucas County Commissioners, who filed a lawsuit in federal court in April against the U.S. EPA. The lawsuit accuses the U.S. EPA of failing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act, which the county believes has led to an “alarming” decline in the water quality of western Lake Erie.

The Clean Water Act requires states to monitor and evaluate water quality and establish water quality criteria, and also to designate a water body as “impaired” if it does not meet the criteria. Once a water body is on the impaired waters list, the state must create Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the water body. TMDLs determine the maximum amounts of each pollutant that can enter a water body and still allow the water to meet the established water quality criteria.… Continue reading

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Experiences from life on a Demonstration Farm

By Duane Stateler, Stateler Family Farms, Hancock County

It has been quite interesting being a part of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms in ways that I would not have originally imagined.

To set the stage, we had a visitor last week who had been contacted to visit the farm after he was quoted in a recent local newspaper article with some information that upset quite a few members of the agricultural community. We were asked if we were open to him coming to visit and, of course, we agreed because we have found over the past 3 years that the 98% of the population that are removed from the farm have no idea of today’s farm is compared to the Charlotte’s Web storybook. My son Anthony and I enjoy being an open book and answering every question they pose while looking into their eyes and witnessing as they are seeing, realizing and experiencing something completely different than what they have been told.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s urban school districts outperforming rural ones

By Alayna DeMartini

Even with higher rates of poverty in Ohio’s major cities, urban school districts are outperforming rural districts, a recent study by The Ohio State University shows.

Rural schools, particularly in Appalachia, tend to have lower average test scores than schools in urban areas, despite city districts having higher poverty rates and a larger proportion of students with limited English proficiency, said Mark Partridge, a professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and one of the study’s authors.

On average, school districts with more minority students and more poverty require additional money to achieve the same academic standards as districts with larger shares of white and affluent student populations, Partridge said.

“Given the characteristics of their student body, urban schools are doing really well. Rural areas could be doing better,” said Partridge, who is also chair of the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy within CFAES.… Continue reading

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Improving conditions for May

By Jim Noel, NOAA

After a cool and wet period for April as expected we still expect a turn toward warmer weather for May along with more normal rainfall.

The outlook for the next two weeks going into early May, rainfall is forecast to average 1 to 3 inches with normal being 1.75 to 2.00 inches so we are expecting near normal rainfall on average. There will be periods of dry weather and wet weather over the next two weeks.

The outlook for May calls for warmer than normal weather with rainfall near normal. We do not see any additional significant freezes going forward at this time.… Continue reading

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Secrest Arboretum opening welcome center at this year’s plant sale

A cardinal has been pecking at the windows of the new but not yet open Secrest Arboretum Welcome and Education Center.

“It wants to be the first one in,” Jason Veil, curator of the arboretum in Wooster, said with a laugh.

With spring unfolding around them, Veil, his staff, and arboretum volunteers are preparing for two big events on May 11. There’s an open house slated at the welcome center, which is the public’s first chance to tour the $2 million facility.

And there’s the annual Plant Discovery Day plant sale, which will be at the center, too.

The open house is a “chance for people to come in, check things out, ask questions, and help us celebrate that the center is finally open,” Veil said.

The 100-plus-acre arboretum has “never had a brick-and-mortar identity before,” he said.

Created by refurbishing what had been the Research Operations farm shop at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), the 10,000-square-foot welcome center has a large orientation space for visitors, an even larger multipurpose classroom, public restrooms, gallery space, and offices for Veil and his staff.… Continue reading

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Annual Lake Erie Watersnake census brings volunteers back to the islands

By Christina Dierkes, Ohio Sea Grant

It’s a hot summer day on Ohio’s South Bass Island. Near Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve, a small group of people are walking along the water, lifting rocks and looking intently at sunny spots. At a shout from one person, they converge and grab at a clump of writhing, black-and-gray scaled bodies, lifting the snakes up to stick them carefully into waiting pillowcases.

For most people, a day like that would prompt at least mild discomfort, if not a sigh of “why did it have to be snakes?” For The Ohio State University Stone Laboratory’s Education and Outreach Coordinator Kristin Stanford, PhD, and her team of dedicated volunteers, it’s just another day of “Nerodio.” Nerodio is a play on the Latin name for Lake Erie Watersnakes, Nerodia sipedon insularum, and refers to an annual census of watersnakes on the Lake Erie islands. First started as part of the recovery program for the federally threatened snake in 2001, the researchers continue to collect data on the islands’ snake populations today, despite gradual reductions in funding following their removal from the threatened species list in 2011.… Continue reading

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Tariffs are bait and switch economics paid by consumers

By Christopher R. Gibbs

Sometimes those teachable moments just fall right into your lap. I recently watched with pride while my son and his young family signed a purchase contract on their first piece of brand new farm equipment. A shiny new aluminum livestock trailer ready for service in their cattle business. Trying not to hover, I milled around the showroom and caught a glimpse of the television hanging on the wall. It was the Saturday afternoon when the president was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Although the sound was muted, the FOX chyron at the bottom of the screen boasted, “President Trump: Billions of dollars are pouring into the treasury from China.” Say what? He really didn’t say or imply that did he? He can’t really be making trade policy supported by a fake alternate fact like that can he? The raucous crowd can’t be that gullible can they?… Continue reading

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Friends stepping up to help after tornado rips through Richland County

By Dale Minyo and Matt Reese

On Sunday, April 14 an EF-2 tornado with winds up to 125 miles per hour hit Richland County leaving a half-mile wide swath of destruction over 17 miles.

Included in the area hit by the tornado was the home of James Bly.

Bly has been quick to help others in the past — particularly in his role as a superintendent of the Richland County Fair hog barn — and he found out that others were quick to help him too, even from a county away. Around 100 people showed up in the hours and days following the storm to help with cleanup.

Jason Snyder, who serves on the Richland County Fair Board, was among the group helping out.

“Back in September, the Wayne County Fairgrounds was potentially going to flood and they were going to evacuate all of their hogs. We offered up our buildings to house the hogs and let them have their hog show.… Continue reading

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Spring weather roller coaster to continue

By Jim Noel, NoAA

We are in a more active weather pattern now that will last the rest of April. We expect a storm system every 3 or 4 days. Overall, rainfall events will be classified as moderate in nature. But with the high frequency we expect rain for the rest of April to be slightly above normal.  Expect 1.5 to 3 inches of rain for the most part for the rest of April. Isolated totals to 4 inches can’t be ruled out. Normal rainfall is 1.5 to 2.0 inches.

As for temperatures, expect typical spring big swings. Highs will range for the most part from the 50s to 70s and lows 30s to 50s. Normal highs are now mostly in the 60s and lows near 40. A few mornings of frost or marginal freeze conditions are still possible for the rest of April but no hard freezes in the mid 20s or below are expected.… Continue reading

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ODA announces Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program and other updates of WLEB programs

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is announcing an additional assistance program for producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin funded by the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299.

The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program is a voluntary program that will encourage producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin to plant small grains such as wheat, barley, oats, or cereal rye on eligible cropland. As the “working lands” name implies, participants must plant and harvest small grains, land apply manure, and plant a cover crop to receive a cost-share payment to help offset operating costs. The program benefits the planting of small grains not only for the conservation benefits, but to provide livestock producers with a longer application window to land apply manure and nutrients.

“We are committed to working with farmers to achieve shared goals,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “This is a program that both supports farmers and helps protect Lake Erie.… Continue reading

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Motorcade for Trade

Farmers generally support the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Farmers for Free Trade, the bipartisan coalition supported by commodity groups from across the agricultural industry, is on the Motorcade for Trade tour — an 11-state, 3,500 mile RV tour across the country in support of the USMCA. The initial two-week leg of the tour takes place over the April Congressional recess and includes stops across the Midwest at farms, coffee shops, ag equipment dealers, and small businesses.

The tour included a stop in Canton/Massillon, Ohio on April 15 at Klick’s Cattle Company. The tour kicked off at Kreider Farms in Harrisburg, Pa. on April 12 and concludes on April 26 at Gooseneck Farm, Broadview, Mont. Events along the tour will highlight American farmer’s reliance on trade with Canada and Mexico, which supports millions of jobs and nearly $40 billion in American exports each year.… Continue reading

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Insights from the 2017 Census of Agriculture

In April the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture, spanning some 6.4 million new points of information about America’s farms and ranches and those who operate them, including new data about on-farm decision making, down to the county level.

Information collected by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) directly from farmers and ranchers reveals both farm numbers and land in farms have ongoing small percentage declines since the last Census in 2012. At the same time, there continue to be more of the largest and smallest operations and fewer middle-sized farms. The average age of all farmers and ranchers continues to rise.

“We are pleased to deliver Census of Agriculture results to America, and especially to the farmers and ranchers who participated,” said Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “We can all use the Census to tell the tremendous story of U.S. agriculture and how it is changing.… Continue reading

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Last day for WOTUS comments

On Tuesday, December 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers released a new proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule which redefines the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act more narrowly and provides clarity to what is required of landowners. The proposed rule can be found in the Federal Register (FR) with supporting resources located on the EPA’s site here. The 60-Day public comment period will close on April 15, 2019.… Continue reading

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HB 183 would offer tax credits to incentivize helping young farmers get started

By Matt Reese

House Bill 183 was recently introduced by state representatives Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) to create a tax credit program that would incentivize retiring farmers to sell or rent to beginning farmers in Ohio.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce this legislation with Rep. Patterson who will help bring the next generation of Ohio farmers into the agricultural industry and ease the financial burden for retiring farmers,” Manchester said in an April 10 press conference. “I’ve seen this scenario played out first hand in my own district where retiring farmers without family successors are looking for someone to take over their operation but face tough financial barriers when selling their land or assets. This program would incentivize retiring farmers to look to beginning farmers to take over their operations by decreasing their tax burden on selling or renting their land and assets. It would also set beginning farmers up for success by giving them the opportunity to farm and learn best practices through a financial management program.”… Continue reading

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