Country Life



Assistance now available to restore and protect Ohio’s privately-owned land for wetland habitat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encourages people and groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements.

This year, NRCS will invest in technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes and other groups protect these valuable lands. Efforts will be focused on restoring previously drained agricultural lands and protecting the restored wetlands with easements. Landowners are financially compensated for enrolling their land in easements.

“Protecting these lands preserves Ohio’s heritage, natural resources and open space,” said Barbara Baker, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist in Ohio. “Easements are an important tool for people who are trying to preserve the land for future generations.”

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) utilizes the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component of the program. Applications for ACEP-WRE are accepted on a continuous basis. Applications signed and submitted to NRCS by the ranking and funding deadline will be evaluated for fiscal year 2020 funding.… Continue reading

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OEFFA named 2020 recipients of its Stewardship and Service awards

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2020 recipients of its Stewardship and Service awards.

David Bell of Logan County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Alan Sundermeier of Wood County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture. The announcements were made February 14-15 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 41st annual conference, “A Climate for Change.”

2020 Stewardship Award Winner 
David Bell started a farming business with his brother Kevin in 1968, and has owned and operated Paul Bell & Sons, a 450 acre organic farm near Bellefontaine with his brother since 1972. He raises organic corn, beans, wheat, hay, oats, spelt, and beef. He started using organic practices in 1978 and has been certified organic since 1988.

A life-long Logan County resident, Bell was part of the family’s dairy farm business from a young age, until the dairy operation ended in 1998.… Continue reading

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Student denied opportunity to take bar exam due to debt level

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

Graduating from law school does not guarantee the graduate will be permitted to sit for the bar exam. In Ohio, prospective new lawyers who apply to take the bar exam must first pass a character and fitness evaluation. Ohio recently made the national news when the Ohio Board of Bar Commissioners denied a woman the opportunity to take the bar exam and indicated her student loans were a significant part of the reason for the denial. The Ohio Supreme Court has not ruled on the matter, although it heard oral arguments on Jan. 28, 2020.

Cynthia Marie Rodgers, 59, graduated from Capital Law School. She also has an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University. In addition, she began, but did not finish, a master’s program at the school. Rodgers has over $300,000 in student loan debt. Her husband is semi-retired and seeking disability.… Continue reading

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Deer hunter or Bambi lover: What you should know about chronic wasting disease

By Don “Doc” Sanders

I can still remember as a 12-year-old seeing live deer for the first time, in the field near my childhood home in Auglaize County. With his Super-8 movie camera my uncle captured four deer jumping a fence after they scouted the field for several minutes. It was an awesome experience for our whole family; none of us had ever seen deer in the wild.

Fast forward to today: We see deer everywhere. We also see the consequences of their presence, like damaged crops, deer-vehicle collisions and trampled flower beds. Deer seem to take a special liking to the security of residential areas, within city limits, safe from hunters. As a plus for the city deer, some people delight in putting out food, apparently in case the moochers are still hungry after plundering their neighbors’ gardens.

With deer as plentiful as they are, we’re constantly on edge as we drive on highways and country roads, especially at dusk, fearful one might run out at any moment into our path or the side of our car or truck.… Continue reading

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Technology and rural America

New technology holds promise for America’s small farms and rural businesses, but public-sector involvement — such as for expanding rural broadband access — is needed for that promise to be realized.

So said Doug Jackson-Smith, professor of water security and rural sociology in The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), in comments delivered Jan. 9 in Washington, D.C., to the U.S. House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development.

“New technology offers opportunities for small businesses, especially small farmers,” Jackson-Smith said at a hearing convened by the subcommittee titled “Farming in the 21st Century: The Impacts of Agriculture Technology in Rural America.” “But without a public investment and strategy, it probably won’t have that effect.”

Jackson-Smith is a faculty member with Ohio State’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) and CFAES’ School of Environment and Natural Resources.

U.S. Rep.… Continue reading

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Learn more about eFields at regional meetings

By Elizabeth Hawkins, Ohio State University Extension

Have you been enjoying the 2019 eFields Report and are excited to learn more? The Ohio State Digital Ag team is hosting six regional eFields meetings this winter. Join us to learn more about the eFields program and results we are seeing across the state. Each meeting will feature presentations highlighting local trials including seeding rate, nutrient management, and crop management. There will be a panel discussion featuring cooperating farmers who are conducting on-farm research with Ohio State Extension. We would also like to hear from you about what topics you are interested in seeing in eFields in the future.

There is no cost to attend; for more information or to register for a meeting, visit go.osu.edu/eFieldsMeeting. Please plan to join us for the meeting nearest you:

Northwest Region: February 26th, 9AM-12PM, Bryan

Central Region: February 27th, 9AM-12PM,

South Central Region: March 9th, 9AM-12PM, Circleville

East Region: March 10th, 6-9PM, Coshocton

West Central Region: March 16th, 9AM-12PM, Piqua… Continue reading

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Fertilizer applied years ago still affects Lake Erie

By Alayna DeMartini, Greg LaBarge and Laura Johnson

Although corn or soybeans could not be planted on 1.6 million acres of Ohio farmland last year and little to no fertilizer was applied to those fields, the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie still was high.

That might seem odd. After all, many of those unplanted acres were in northwest Ohio, the region that feeds into the Maumee River and ultimately into Lake Erie.

But a lot of phosphorus was already present in fields from fertilizer applied years before, and older phosphorus is another contributor to the level of phosphorus in Lake Erie, said Greg LaBarge, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist.

Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension Field Specialist

Phosphorus runoff from farm fields is a cause of the harmful algal blooms plaguing the lake.

“Phosphorus was already in fields, ditches, rivers, and tributaries, and it just moved downstream,” LaBarge said.

The rain added momentum — 2019 was the sixth wettest year on record in Ohio, which increased the chances that phosphorus, an ingredient in fertilizers and manure, would travel downstream with the rainwater, said LaBarge, an agronomist involved in a statewide phosphorus water quality monitoring effort.

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It’s the month of love and pizza

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

It’s the month of love and all things hearts, both in health and holiday. I have a love affair with pizza, which at first thought doesn’t really fly with healthy eating. But with a few tweaks, pizza can fit into a heart healthy diet. Pizza.com states that over 5 billion pizzas are sold every year worldwide, with 3 billion in the U.S. It’s big business! Pizza is a great slice of American agriculture! Pizzerias in 2010 purchased more than $4 billion worth of cheese, that doesn’t even count homemade and frozen pizzas!

Pizza’s early roots began along the waterfront in Naples, Italy. “Tiny houses” or one-room homes were so small, early pizzas were baked outside. Judgmental Italians thought the early pizzas were disgusting. Queen Margherita, while visiting Naples in 1889, became bored with her uptight French diet and requested some pizza. Even with a pizza named after the queen, pizza remained associated with the lower class until around 1940.… Continue reading

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Ag-gag laws continue to crumble under legal scrutiny

By Ellen Essman and Peggy Hall, Ohio Law Blog, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University

Last year, we wrote a post on recent developments in ag-gag litigation. In that post, we discussed a few ag-gag laws that had been struck down on First Amendment grounds. Court actions and decisions in recent months show that this trend is continuing. Namely, decisions in Iowa and Kansas have not been favorable to ag-gag laws.

 

What is an ag-gag law?

“Ag-gag” is the term for state laws that prevent undercover journalists, investigators, animal rights advocates, and other whistleblowers from secretly filming or recording at livestock facilities. “Ag-gag” also describes laws, which make it illegal for undercover persons to use deception to obtain employment at livestock facilities. Many times, the laws were actually passed in response to undercover investigations which illuminated conditions for animals raised at large industrial farms. Some of the videos and reports produced were questionable in nature — they either set-up the employees and the farms, or they were released without a broader context of farm operations.… Continue reading

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A million dollar response: H2Ohio meetings

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Last week, three H2Ohio informational meetings were conducted by representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio Agricultural Conservation Initiative (OACI) and local county soil and water conservation district offices. Over 1,000 farmers and agribusiness people have attended so far according to organizers. The meetings were held in Perrysburg, Delphos, and Defiance, with every venue at capacity.

“This is a tremendous outpouring of farmers and the farming community who believe with all their hearts in the power of voluntary conservation efforts. It is a shame the general public cannot see everyone here tonight, this is tremendous,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, addressing members of the agriculture community in attendance at the Defiance meeting last Wednesday evening.

Earlier in January, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and ODA Director Pelanda announced that $30 million in H2Ohio funding would be available to Ohio farmers in a 14-county area of the Maumee River Watershed to implement select conservation practices.

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Property protection program payout increases to $5,000

The Ohio Farm Bureau Property Protection Program, more commonly known as the $2,500 Reward Program, has been increased to $5,000.

The program started in 1971 with the purpose of deterring crime in rural areas. It initially began by offering a $500 reward. In recent years, there have been requests by members to consider another increase along with other updates to this popular program.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Board recently approved the following program updates:

  • Increase reward to $5,000
  • Expand the list of eligible property crimes to include arson, aggravated burglary, burglary, breaking and entering, criminal damaging or endangering, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, aggravated trespass, theft, vandalism, vehicular vandalism (all as defined in Ohio Revised Code)
  • Six-month deadline to apply for reward (after conviction or final disposition of appeal)

This new list includes both felonies and misdemeanors, and the list can be updated or expanded in the future as needed.

A $5,000 reward will be paid to anyone providing information to law enforcement that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons for eligible property crimes committed against a Farm Bureau member’s property.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation offering over $70,000 in scholarships

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has more than $70,000 in scholarships available to Ohio students from rural, suburban and urban communities who are pursuing degrees connected in some way to agriculture.

Through 10 programs, approximately 50 scholarships will be awarded. The deadline to apply online at ofbf.org/foundation is Feb. 28 and all applications require letters of recommendation, an essay, school transcripts and photos.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Scholar award recognizes students for academic effort, community service and career interests that use agriculture to enhance the partnership between producers and consumers in rural, suburban and/or urban settings.

The foundation’s Women’s Leadership in Agriculture Scholarship Program is awarded to applicants who may not be majoring in agriculture directly, but whose chosen career field will benefit a field related to agriculture or community development such as food production, scientific research, education/outreach, marketing, policymaking, advocacy or leadership development. The program was established by an endowment from the Charlotte R.… Continue reading

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Mensing wins Farm Bureau Discussion Meet

Micah Mensing of Millersburg is the winner of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals 2020 Discussion Meet competition. He won the contest’s final round Jan. 31 during the YAP Winter Leadership Experience in Columbus.

The Discussion Meet tests participants’ subject knowledge, problem solving abilities and personal and small group communications skills. It is designed for young agricultural professionals to work together to find solutions around issues facing agriculture today.

Mensing is a Wayne County Farm Bureau member. He is an Ohio State University graduate, where he studied production agriculture at OSU-ATI and agriscience education at the Columbus campus. He was named an Ohio State Department of Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership (ACEL) Distinguished Senior in 2019. Mensing is a Growing Forward Specialist with Farm Credit Mid-America and is an active member of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals program.

He receives a $1,000 cash award from Nationwide, an expense-paid trip to the Ohio Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in December 2020 and an expense-paid trip to represent Ohio at the national competition during the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in San Diego in January 2021.… Continue reading

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OABA conference focuses on opportunities of 2020 and beyond

More than 400 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and networking at the organization’s annual Industry Conference, January 29-31 at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville.

Through a variety of sessions presented by well-respected speakers from across the country, the conference allowed attendees to focus on the opportunities available in 2020 and beyond.

“After a challenging 2019, industry professionals came together to focus on the issues impacting Ohio agriculture and discover innovative solutions,” said Christopher Henney, OABA president and CEO. “It was energizing to be surrounded by our members and other industry professionals who have such great vision and passion for investing in a successful agricultural industry.”

The conference addressed key topics in today’s agriculture industry, such as crop and pest management, economic and trade outlook, workforce challenges, changing industry trends, crisis management and more. Attendees were also able to take advantage of two conference enhancements the Safety & Risk Management Pre-event Day on Jan.… Continue reading

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2020 Ohio agricultural fair dates

Ohioans can start planning visits to all of their favorite fairs across the state. The Ohio Department of Agriculture released the official dates for the 2020 fair season, which includes Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs and the Ohio State Fair.

The Paulding County Fair will kick off the 2020 fair season on June 13, and the season will wrap up on Oct. 17 with the Fairfield County Fair.

 … Continue reading

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Winter is a great time to complete the farm balance sheet

By Eric Richer, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County

The balance sheet is a “snap shot” in time of your farm’s financial position, including what assets you own and how they are financed. The balance sheet is also known as the net worth statement. When completed precisely and timely, the balance sheet and corresponding ratios can be a very valuable tool to determine farm financial health. The balance sheet objectively measures farm business growth, liquidity, solvency, and risk capacity.

 

Categorizing balance sheet items

The assets and liabilities on the balance sheet (including the financing of the assets) are used to determine the equity, or net worth, of the farm owner. The owner’s equity is used by lenders and insurers to determine a farm business’ value.  There are two ways to calculate the owner’s equity, or net worth. The first simply subtracts the liabilities from the assets:

Assets – Liabilities = Owner’s Equity

The second calculation adds the owner’s equity with liabilities to determine the assets:

Liabilities + Owner’s Equity = Assets

 

Terms of assets and liabilities

Beyond the broad categories of either an asset or liability, a balance sheet categorizes items into “time compartments” or terms of useful life.… Continue reading

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USDA issues third tranche of 2019 MFP payments

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the third and final tranche of 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. The payments will begin to show up in farmers’ bank accounts by the end of this week.

“It’s been a great start to 2020 for American Agriculture with the signing of the historic Phase One Deal with China and the signing of USMCA,” said Secretary Perdue. “While these agreements are welcome news, we must not forget that 2019 was a tough year for farmers as they were the tip of the spear when it came to unfair trade retaliation. President Trump has shown time and again that he is fighting for America’s farmers and ranchers and this third tranche of 2019 MFP payments is proof. President Trump is following through on his promise to help and support farmers as he continues to fight for fair market access just like he did with China.”… Continue reading

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500th farm signed into Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program

Farm number 500 will be preserved through the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Farmland Preservation Program on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. The Anderson-Douglas farm, located in Big Prairie, received the distinction of the 500th farm to be signed into the Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).

“Ohio’s farmland is a resource we must protect,” said ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda. “By putting properties like the Anderson-Douglas farm into Farmland Preservation, farmers are guaranteeing that future generations will have access to productive farmland where they can continue feeding people around the world.”

The Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP) provides funding to farmland owners for placing an agricultural easement on their property. Monies are issued for up to 75% of the appraised value of a farm’s development rights. All easement transactions are recorded on the property deed and transfer with the land to successive owners.

“Agriculture is vital to Ohio, the state’s largest economic engine generating billions of dollars annually and employing one in eight workers statewide,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy.… Continue reading

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Film showcases the need for farm safety

By Risë Labig, OCJ marketing specialist

Last weekend my husband and I, along with many others from the local agricultural community, were invited to a screening of the film SILO, a film inspired by true events. It focuses on grain entrapment — a serious safety risk on farms across the U.S.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of going to see this film. Yet, I knew we needed to. All of us in the ag community know that safety is a huge risk every single day on the farm. Yet, herein lies something we all know to be true: it’s very easy to get comfortable with the risks.

Please go see this film. Is it easy to watch? No. Yet, it was comforting to know that we were sitting amongst a very special group of people who would understand every conversation in this film. People need to understand the risks and need to be reminded that it is so easy for an accident to happen.… Continue reading

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OABA Industry Conference focused on 2020

The annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is underway, inspiring attendees to look forward into 2020 and beyond to the opportunities and challenges ahead.

To kick off the event on Jan. 30, Michael Swanson, an economist with Wells Fargo Bank, talked about how the three-point line changed the strategy of the game of basketball with the addition of an arbitrary line added to the court. Coaches, players and teams all had to adjust their game plans to account for the change and those who adapted most quickly and effectively had the advantage. Agriculture certainly has some similarities.

“Every day someone is drawing a new three point line on our court. It could be a regulatory three-point line. It could be a technology three-point line. Either way, it changes the game,” Swanson said. “Agriculture used to be a labor intensive industry and now it is an input driven industry. You used to be able to get up earlier, work later and out produce your neighbor.… Continue reading

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