Country Life

Where are we going with U.S. and global trade?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Agricultural trade was the topic of the first in a series of winter outlook meetings hosted by the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Developmental Economics (AEDE) at The Ohio State University’s College of Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (FAES). Dr. Ian Sheldon, Ohio State’s Andersons Chair of Agricultural Marketing, Trade and Policy, led the discussion examining the effects of the pandemic on global trade and U.S. agricultural trade, including an evaluation of the Phase 1 Trade Agreement with China.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an impact on international trade.

“Global trade was forecast to decline by 9.2% in 2020, but then rise 7.2% in 2021 according to the World Trade Organization,” Sheldon said. “Those forecasts were originally made in late October and November of 2020. Forecast estimates initially looked much worse as their April forecast was for a decline of anywhere from 13% to 32%.”… Continue reading

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Organic production winter webinar series

By Cassandra Brown, Ohio State University Extension

Ohio State will host a series of organic production webinars on Wednesdays this winter, from 11-11:45 a.m. The series will provide opportunities for Ohio’s organic community to learn about Ohio State research and resources. Each session includes time for questions and discussion. We hope participating organic farmers and those interested in organic production will share their own experience, observations, questions, and ideas. Farmers considering organic certification or seeking ways to lower their farm inputs will also benefit from the presentations, as will educators and researchers interested in organic issues and management. A range of topics are planned. Some sessions of interest to agronomic crop producers are listed below.

According to the 2019 USDA Census of Agriculture, Ohio ranks 5th among U.S. states in the number of certified organic farms. Since the 2016 organic census, Ohio’s organic sales and cropland acres have both increased by more than 35%.… Continue reading

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Farmers gain improved access to small business support as PPP reopens

Farmers who run their operations as sole proprietors, independent contractors, or otherwise self-employed individuals will have newly expanded access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under changes made in the COVID stimulus package Congress approved. 

Producers who were denied PPP loans or whose loan amounts did not consider self-employment compensation may now be eligible for the vital federal small business support. Eligibility information and more details can be found here. Those wanting to apply for a PPP loan should contact lenders directly for more information on when PPP will be open for that specific lender.

“NMPF is pleased that many of our dairy farmers will have fewer restrictions and limitations on the PPP support available to them as the program reopens this week,” said Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation’s president and CEO. “We have been grateful for the support already extended to dairy through PPP, and we deeply appreciate the improved access found in the latest stimulus package.” … Continue reading

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Right-to farm win after a long and costly battle

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

Right-To-Farm (RTF) laws deny nuisance lawsuits against farmers who use accepted and standard farming practices and have been in prior operation, even if these practices harm or bother adjacent property owners or the general public. On Oct. 5, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition for certiorari in Himsel v. Himsel. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that the plaintiffs’ nuisance and trespass claims are barred by the RTF laws stands as the final decision.

            Samuel Himsel has farmed in rural Hendricks County, Indiana his entire life. His sons, Cory and Clinton, also make their living farming in the county. In 2012, the three decided to start a hog-raising operation at 3042 North 425 West in Danville. This property had been in their family for more than two decades. Samuel’s parents acquired this farmland in the early 1990s, and the land had been used for agricultural purposes since at least 1941.… Continue reading

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There is something to be said for cooking low and slow

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Hot to trot for Instapot! I feel like that is the mantra these days! It seems you can make anything from eggs to rice to desserts perfecto in a matter of minutes. We are definitely in an Instapot craze! My Japanese friends have been on me to get an Instapot. They look super cool, but I am dragging my feet. I am still old-school and have a Crockpot. Do I really need another gadget to clean and store? This month we are going to slow things down a bit with my old-school friend, the slow cooker.

 The story goes that in Lithuania in the 1800s Jewish wives would mix up a stew called cholent and take to bakeries on Friday night. Bakery ovens would be cooling down from the workday, so the smart women they were, would use them to cook the stew overnight so it would be ready for the Sabbath.… Continue reading

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Ohio colleges and universities invited to submit pre-proposals for armful algal bloom research initiative

Ohio Sea Grant, The Ohio State University, and The University of Toledo are requesting pre-proposals for one- to two-year research projects from Ohio colleges and universities as part of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI). 

Pre-proposals must be submitted online by Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at 5 p.m. EST.
The funding focuses on agency priorities aimed at reducing nutrient loading to Lake Erie via wetland design, identifying agricultural management practices that are both efficient and cost-effective, learning about algal toxin formation and human health impacts, and informing water treatment technologies.

Addressing these priorities will help support agencies’ management decisions and Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative. Specific detailed priorities can be found online at go.osu.edu/habripriorities. Approximately $3.8 million is available for this grant competition, likely funding 15 to 20 projects.
The application and use of research results, as well as their societal and economic impacts, are important considerations for this funding opportunity.… Continue reading

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Ohio mound country

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

Scattered across southern Ohio are many American Indian archaeological sites of great significance. Taking the form of earthworks, mounds, and effigies, these sites bear witness to the last physical remnants of the Hopewell people, whose culture emerged and thrived in Ohio and other parts of eastern North America from 200 BC to 500 AD, at the beginning of what is called the Middle Woodland period. The moniker Hopewell does not refer to a specific tribe, but rather a culture that is linked through shared artifacts (often found at and in their earthworks) and a shared way of life that developed across the Midwest at the same time.

Ohio is home to some of the largest and most impressive Hopewell sites in the world, as the Archaeological Institute of America explains.

“The most spectacular earthworks are in southern Ohio and Indiana, especially in the valleys of the Great and Little Miami, Scioto, and Muskingum rivers.… Continue reading

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NFU responds to violence in D.C.

As Congress prepared to verify the results of the 2020 presidential election today, a group of far-right insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol building, vandalizing and stealing federal property, assaulting Capitol police officers, and threatening lawmakers with violence.

The event, which occurred mere blocks from National Farmers Union’s (NFU) D.C. office, is a disturbing attempt to undermine the will of American voters and the very democracy that guarantees our freedoms and protections.

“National Farmers Union and its members support all Americans’ right to free speech and peaceful protest, but these acts of intimidation and terror have no place in this country, and they cannot be condoned or brushed aside,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “More than that, this event demonstrates just how fragile democracy truly is. It doesn’t exist simply because it is written in the Constitution; it requires action of the part of every American. Every day, we must commit anew to upholding its core tenets of social equality, personal liberty, sovereignty, and a peaceful transfer of power.… Continue reading

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Grain bin safety contest continues in 2021

Every year, thousands of farmers and commercial grain handlers risk their lives by entering grain bins to remove clumped or rotted grain. As rural communities have come to know all too well, an accident in a grain bin can quickly turn deadly. In just seconds, adults can sink to their waist in flowing grain, rendering them completely trapped without the proper rescue devices. These accidents result in dozens of lost lives each year, and deaths have spiked in 2019 and early 2020 due to the wet harvest.

To lead the fight against these all-too-common accidents, Nationwide, is once again teaming up with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) in Iowa and other partners to hold the Nominate Your Fire Department Contest as part of annual Grain Bin Safety Week, which runs Feb. 21 to 27, 2021.

Now in its eighth year, the contest awards grain rescue tubes and hands-on rescue training to first responders to help save lives.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau purchases Ohio Ag Net, Ohio’s Country Journal

With the start of 2021, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net are beginning a new chapter.

At its November meeting, Ohio Farm Bureau’s board of trustees voted to pursue the purchase of Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net radio and digital assets from owners Bart and Sheryl Johnson. After extensive due diligence, the sale closed Dec. 28, 2020.

“Both of these farm media outlets have a rich history of getting the most important, up-to-date news stories and information to Ohio’s agricultural community,” said Adam Sharp, OFBF executive vice president. “Bart, his wife, Sheryl, and their talented team have continued to grow the company into a trusted resource for their readers and listeners. We look forward to continuing that almost 50-year legacy.”

With the creation of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Strategic Partnerships department in 2019, Ohio Farm Bureau positioned itself to pursue new business opportunities such as this to allow the organization to bring in additional revenue outside of traditional memberships and partnerships to become an even stronger asset to those they serve for many years to come.… Continue reading

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Time is running out to apply for H2Ohio’s Water Quality Incentive Program

There is less than one month left to apply for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Water Quality Incentive Program (WQIP).  The new program, under Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, is designed to encourage farmers to aid in conservation and improve water quality. ODNR is accepting applications through Jan. 29, 2021.

“Every step toward improving the quality of water in Ohio is crucial,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “I encourage farmers to take advantage of this incentive program as a way to contribute to clean water for future generations of Ohioans.”

The new program is being offered in combination with the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). CREP is a USDA conservation program that offers farmers and landowners financial compensation for taking cropland out of production and establishing conservation practices. The H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program will offer a one-time payment of $2,000 per acre for new Lake Erie CREP wetlands and forested riparian buffers (buffer strip with trees) to help improve water quality in the Lake Erie watershed.… Continue reading

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Short film raises awareness

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

Warning: This story (and the video it’s about) portrays a fictional plotline about farmer suicide. It’s intended to raise awareness. I will do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but they are in the story.

My phone buzzed with a message from one of my friends on Facebook.

“Hey Kolt,” the message read. “I was wondering if you’d seen the short film about small farmers and suicide.”

Farm stress is a topic that I have been passionate about covering since I started in the business. I’ve interviewed experts from Ohio State, advocates from Ohio Farm Bureau, and farmers about the issue. It’s something that happens too often and doesn’t get near the attention it deserves in my opinion.

Anyway — back to the story. I went about my evening and returned to my computer later that night to watch the short film.… Continue reading

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Conservation Reserve Program general signup ends Feb. 12

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) could sign up for the popular program beginning Jan. 4, 2021. Signup goes through Feb. 12, 2021. The competitive program, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.

“This signup for the Conservation Reserve Program gives producers and landowners an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA administrator. “This program encourages conservation on sensitive lands or low-yielding acres, which provides tremendous benefits for stewardship of our natural resources and wildlife.”

Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to their local region and the nation’s environment and economy.… Continue reading

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Dealing with the threat of intentional harm to farm property

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

Whether from trespassers, thieves, vandals, disgruntled employees, drug makers, activists, or extremists, farm security threats are a risk farmers face. Unfortunately, current social and political conditions have added new dimensions to that risk. Intruders can harm property in many ways: releasing or injuring livestock, stealing anhydrous or chemicals, destroying crops, contaminating water, introducing disease, setting fires, or committing other acts of theft, vandalism or destruction.

Recent suspicious activities on Ohio farms have reminded us of the need for constant awareness of farm security and intentional harms to farm property. Our newest publication, Intentional Harm to Farm Property: Legal Options and Strategies for Farm Owners aims to meet this need by addressing the following.

What to do when a farm security issue occurs

Three immediate actions can be helpful to ensuring a clear-headed reaction to an incident:

  • Call local law enforcement.
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Keeping poinsettias through the winter

Bold when purchased, poinsettias can wither as winter goes on. 

It might be because of how they were treated. If they were exposed to cold drafts or perched by a heat vent, or if they sat in a cold car through too many errands, the leaves could turn yellow and fall off—even before the holidays or not long after. 

Native to Mexico, poinsettias favor bright light and warm conditions.

“You need to find a location in your house that provides good light. Six hours of bright light are necessary every day,” said Uttara Samarakoon, an assistant professor at Ohio State ATI in The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). 

The biggest mistakes people typically make are not providing enough light, watering them too much or too little, and keeping them near heating or air conditioning vents, said Samarakoon, coordinator of the Greenhouse and Nursery Management Program at ATI.… Continue reading

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The new COVID relief bill: What’s in it for USDA?

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

Just in time for Christmas, Congress delivered quite a package by passing new COVID-19 relief legislation. President Trump signed the bill on Dec. 27. Buried in the 5,593 pages of the legislation is an allocation of nearly $11.2 billion dollars to the USDA. A large portion of the USDA funds will provide additional payments for agricultural producers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Benefits for food processors, energy producers and timber harvesters are also in the bill, as well as funding for several other USDA programs and studies. We’ve categorized, compiled and summarized where the USDA funds are to go below.

Crops

  • Supplemental CFAP payments of $20 per eligible acre for the 2020 crop year, for eligible “price trigger crops,” which includes barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, upland cotton and wheat, and eligible “flat rate crops,” which includes alfalfa, amaranth grain, buckwheat, canola, cotton, crambe, einkorn, emmer, flax, guar, hemp, indigo, industrial rice, kenaf, khorasan, millet, mustard, oats, peanuts, quinoa, rapeseed, rice, rice, sweet, rice, wild, rye, safflower, sesame, speltz, sugar beets, sugarcane, teff, and triticale but excludes hay, except alfalfa, and crops intended for grazing, green manure, or left standing.
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Ohio legislation updates laws for agricultural societies

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

Ohio’s past fair season was mayhem thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some help is on the way.  The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation on Dec. 22 aimed at updating laws and regulations governing agricultural societies and local fairs.  Major highlights of the bill include increasing the amount that a county or independent agricultural society receives for operation expenses from a county, removing the cap on the amounts that a county may transfer to an agricultural society for junior club expenses associated with operating fairgrounds, and increasing the total amount of debt that a society may incur. Here’s a more detailed summary of the provisions contained within House Bill 665.

County payments to county or independent agricultural societies

For county and independent agricultural societies, H.B. 665 increases, from $800 to $1,600, the max amount that a county treasurer must annually transfer to a society operating within the county.… Continue reading

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Farm Office Live winter edition!

By Barry Ward, David Marrison, Peggy Hall, Dianne Shoemaker – Ohio State University Extension

“Farm Office Live” returns virtually this winter as an opportunity for you to get the latest outlook and updates on ag law, farm management, ag economics, farm business analysis and other related issues from faculty and educators with the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Each Farm Office Live will start off with presentations on select ag law and farm management topics from our experts and then we’ll open it up for questions from attendees on other topics of interest. Viewers can attend “Farm Office Live” online each month on Wednesday evening or Friday morning, or can catch a recording of each program. The full slate of offerings for this winter are

Jan. 13 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Jan. 15 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Feb. 107:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Feb. 12 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.… Continue reading

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H2Ohio year of progress

In the first year of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative, Ohio agriculture has gained an incredible amount of ground in implementing agriculture’s portion of this unprecedented statewide water quality program. 

Ohio farmers in the targeted 14 counties in the Maumee River Watershed showed overwhelming participation. In the first program year, 1,815 farmers enrolled 1,092,852 acres, or approximately 44% of the cropland in the targeted project area, in six proven, science-based conservation practices: voluntary nutrient management plans, variable rate application, sub-surface nutrient application, manure incorporation, conservation crop rotation, and overwintering cover crops.

In addition to these best practices to be implemented on cropland, producers have signed up for 681 drainage water management structures, which will be installed over the next calendar year in 13 of the 14 targeted counties, with the largest number in Wood, Henry, Putnam, Paulding, and Williams. Approximately 10,000 acres of cropland will be controlled by drainage water management structures.… Continue reading

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