Country Life



COVID-19 makes for a different trip to D.C.

By Dave Russell, Ohio Ag Net

So, I’ve been coming on the Ohio Farm Bureau’s County Presidents’ trip to Washington, D.C. since, gosh I don’t remember the exact year, but it was the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. What I do know is that I’ve been coming on this trip longer than some of this year’s participants have been alive.

This year’s trip, though, was a little different. Well, I mean other than all of the talk about coronavirus it seemed to me that it was pretty much business as usual in our nation’s capital. There were still plenty of people walking the halls of Congress, cab drivers waiting for their next fare, Uber drivers pulling up and taking said fare.

But then, of course you should probably consider the numerous conversations about running out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. That’s definitely different from previous trips. Evidently this is a big deal when you go to the store and the shelves are bare and Johnny just used the last roll.… Continue reading

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Ohio agricultural events postponed and cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

On March 12, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH gave an update on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio when there were five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state (as of around 2:00 p.m. EST). The fourth case involved a hospitalized man, age 53, in Stark County who has no travel history outside of the United States. Because this individual has had no known contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, this is the first instance of “community spread” in Ohio —meaning there is no known source of infection. The local health department is investigating the individual’s contacts.

During his news conference on March 12, DeWine said the state will be ordering that no mass gatherings of more than 100 people will be allowed in the state. The order will include auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large conference rooms, meeting halls, cafeterias, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.… Continue reading

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Changing climate a hot topic on 74th Ohio Farm Bureau County Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

By Dave Russell and Matt Reese

The climate is changing and it is evident on farms in Ohio and the streets of Washington, D.C. The political discussions on this hot topic continue in the halls of Congress and on this year’s 74th Ohio Farm Bureau County Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

“There is renewed focus in Congress on the issue of climate,” said Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for American Farm Bureau. “There is a recognition that at some point, either this Congress, next Congress or three congresses down the road, something is going to happen with climate change in Congress and we need to be involved.”

With that in mind, American Farm Bureau teamed up with a broad collation of agricultural organizations to tell the story of food production and climate.

Farmers for a Sustainable Future is a fairly new group here in Washington, D.C. to come around the table and discuss the issues of sustainability and climate and really try to stake out a place in these discussions for agriculture to play a role,” Walmsley said.… Continue reading

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Update from NRCS

A conversation with…

Matt Lohr, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service who recently spoke at the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts 2020 Annual Partnership Meeting

 

OCJ: You have a farm and agricultural background right?

Matt: I do. I’m a fifth generation farmer from Virginia. We raise about three quarters of a million broiler chickens a year, feeder cattle, corn and bean rotation, and 20 acres of sweet corn. My wife, Beth, and I have six children who are all very involved in our farm. So it’s been very exciting for me to continue that tradition of farming with this next generation. And we’ll see — they’re still young so I’m not sure if I’ve got a full time farmer in the family or not. But we’ve done a good job of trying to instill a love of conservation in each of them.

 

OCJ: Now what are some of the key comments and topics you are talking about with some of the folks from Ohio?… Continue reading

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Gov. DeWine creates BroadbandOhio to support expansion of high-speed Internet

Governor Mike DeWine recently announced the creation of BroadbandOhio, an office dedicated to improving access to high-speed internet across Ohio. Establishing an office committed to increasing high-speed internet access across the state was a pillar of the Ohio Broadband Strategy that was released in December 2019.

“BroadbandOhio will implement our strategy for increasing high-speed internet access to underserved and unserved Ohioans across the state,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “We know there are more than 300,000 households in Ohio without broadband access. We need to increase access and establishing the office is a first step.”

BroadbandOhio will implement the Ohio Broadband Strategy and be the point of contact for all broadband projects in Ohio. The office will be charged with identifying high-priority initiatives and ensure their completion, as well as serve as a liaison among state agencies in order to implement the goals of the state in expanding access and supporting Ohioans who have been left without access to the modern economy, education system, and healthcare system due to their lack of high-speed connectivity.… Continue reading

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Youth Capital Challenge kicks off in Columbus

Public policy, fellowship and interaction with state representatives were all part of the opening session for 2020 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge participants.

A total of 36 students ages 14-18 and 10 mentors gathered March 3 in Columbus to discuss agricultural issues and policy as part of the annual program, which is a collaboration among Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio FFA and Ohio State University Extension. The interactive education program engages youths in the civic life of their community. The students team up in groups to identify issues and problems facing their community. After researching a specific topic, they develop a public policy plan to propose to appropriate government leaders.

Kelsey Turner, Ohio Farm Bureau program specialist, leadership development, said the initial policy proposals ranged from re-evaluating school lunch programs and requiring mental health first aid classes in high schools to using 4-H and FFA as a part of re-entry programs for troubled youths.… Continue reading

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Heritage Cooperative to purchase Performance brand and other assets from Hanby Farms Inc.

Heritage Cooperative, Inc. announced they have exercised the option to purchase the feed, grain, trucking and agronomy assets of Hanby Farms Inc. of Nashport, Ohio. This includes the Performance Feed brand established in 1983.

“This proposed acquisition aligns with our goal of continued diversification of the business, while specifically enhancing feed production and operations throughout Ohio and in surrounding states,” said Jeff Osentoski, president and CEO of Heritage Cooperative. “The Hanby Farms management team runs a terrific business and the company’s employees operate it superbly. I am confident that the addition of the feed, grain, trucking and agronomy operations will benefit Heritage and Hanby customers immediately.”

The acquisition is expected to close on March 31, 2020.

“As a member of the Heritage Cooperative team, I am personally excited to continue to serve Hanby Farms customers and to provide additional opportunities for employees,” said David Hanby. “Our vision and values align well with Heritage and together we will provide superior customer service and efficiencies with this strategic alignment.”… Continue reading

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Federal broadband legislation moving forward

On March 4, the House of Representatives passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act (S. 1822). The bill, approved by the Senate last year, will now go to President Trump for his signature.

“Reliable access to broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “This legislation will create a more accurate National Broadband Map, which will help ensure resources are targeted to the areas that need it most. Farm Bureau thanks members of both chambers who diligently worked to pass this legislation and are committed to ensuring all Americans, including those in rural communities, have broadband in their homes, at their businesses, and on their farms.”

The DATA Act requires broadband providers to report more specific data to create a significantly more accurate and granular National Broadband Map. With more precise data, federal agencies can target funding to areas that need it most.… Continue reading

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USDA opens signup March 23 for added causes of loss under WHIP+

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced additional disaster assistance available to agricultural producers, including producers impacted by drought and excess moisture as well as sugar beet growers. Through WHIP+, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is helping producers recover from losses related to 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will open signup on March 23 for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought (D3 or above) and excess moisture. USDA is also entering into agreements with six sugar beet processing cooperatives to distribute $285 million to grower members of those cooperatives who experienced loss.

“It’s true that farmers and ranchers are no strangers to the impact natural disasters have on their operations, but disaster events the past two years have been atypically widespread, relentless and unforgiving,” Secretary Perdue said. “In some instances, producers have suffered multiple disaster events in one year or in several years back-to-back.… Continue reading

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Ohio FFA celebrated National FFA Week in unique ways

By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter

Each year during the week of George Washington’s birthday, middle school and high school students across the nation celebrate how the FFA organization is making an impact in their state and local communities. FFA week serves as a time for students to share the impact of agricultural education, interact with alumni and celebrate the organization.

The first national FFA week took place in 1948 and was chosen during the week of the first president’s birthday to honor the impact he had on agriculture. This year FFA week was Feb. 22 to 29 and Ohio FFA members were busy executing events and activities to share the story of agriculture and agricultural education.

The Franklin Monroe Chapter, located in Darke County, hosted several events throughout the week for FFA members, school staff and students. FFA members participated in theme days throughout the school week, which included hat day, western day, FFA Wednesday, camo day, and agriculture occupation day.… Continue reading

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Mental health first aid training offered by OSU Extension

The wet weather of 2019 caused a great deal of stress for farmers and Ohio’s agricultural industry. While we don’t know what Spring 2020 will bring, there are indications that we may have another delayed start to the planting season. Ohio State University Extension educators and specialists responded last year with the creation of a website (https://u.osu.edu/2019farmassistance/home/) to address Ohio’s agricultural challenges. This website continues to be maintained with resources that address agronomic crops, financial management, and stress management.

Ohio State University Extension, with funding assistance from the USDA Farm Stress and Rural Assistance Network, is able to offer Mental Health First Aid Trainings for agricultural professionals.Within rural communities, there are many professionals that interact with the farm community, including agricultural businesses and service providers, financial planners and lenders, veterinarians, clergy, educators and others. Sometimes the best first aid is knowing how to connect people in a crisis with the appropriate professional, peer, social or self-help care.… Continue reading

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Wanted: 2020 Ohio FFA State Convention Student Reporters

The 2020 Ohio FFA State Convention is right around the corner and Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net is on the search for outstanding Ohio FFA members to help serve as student reporters for this year’s event.

In our tenth year of the student reporter program, selected FFA members will get the opportunity to help cover the convention and work alongside our news staff, including Matt Reese, Dale Minyo, and Kolt Buchenroth. Ever wonder what it’s like to do our job? This is your chance!

The live coverage of the Ohio FFA Convention will be posted on www.ocj.com and various social media outlets with reporters helping to host news coverage in addition to a couple veteran student reporters.

Students will assist in gathering information, shoot photos and video of newsworthy items and people, share their commentary of what happened in each session, and much more.

To be considered:

  • Applicants must be attending both days of the Ohio FFA State Convention April 30 and May 1, 2020.
Continue reading

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National FFA reaches milestone

The National FFA Organization’s GIVE THE GIFT OF THE BLUE program has reached a milestone. The program gifted it 10,000th jacket last week during National FFA Week when Allison Burns of North Miami High School in Indiana was presented with her own jacket.

The program was established in 2014 in response to a large number of members who do not own an FFA jacket. The FFA estimates more than half of its members do not have a FFA jacket to wear for official functions.

Individual donors and corporate sponsors fund the GIVE THE GIFT OF THE BLUE program.… Continue reading

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Farm State of Mind Campaign to expand impact in rural mental health

Bayer and the American Farm Bureau Federation announce the transition of Bayer’s Farm State of Mind campaign, an initiative to raise mental health awareness among the farming community, to Farm Bureau. The campaign aims to reduce stigma surrounding the topic of mental health in rural communities and to provide relevant information to farm families on this important topic. Farm Bureau plans to combine the Farm State of Mind assets with those of its ongoing Rural Resilience campaign, expanding the reach and effectiveness of its rural mental health initiatives.

Challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health. In addition, 48% of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago.… Continue reading

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LEBOR invalid: District judge rules in favor of farmer

By Matt Reese

On Feb. 27, 2019, Wood County farmer Mark Drewes filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality and legal status of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. The previous day, Toledo voters had approved creation of LEBOR during a special election. On Feb. 27, 2020, U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary ruled LEBOR as “invalid,” ruling in favor of Drewes.

LEBOR granted rights to Lake Erie and empowered any Toledo citizen to file lawsuits on behalf of Lake Erie. It gave Toledoans authority over nearly 5 million Ohioans, thousands of farms, more than 400,000 businesses and every level of government in 35 northern Ohio counties plus parts of Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. LEBOR was passed despite the prevailing legal opinion that many of its provisions were unconstitutional at the time. Those legal opinions were reiterated in Judge Zouhary’s conclusion: “Frustrated by the status quo, LEBOR supporters knocked on doors, engaged their fellow citizens, and used the democratic process to pursue a well-intentioned goal: the protection of Lake Erie.… Continue reading

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Movie magic or Hollywood rubbish?

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Recently, I coerced Paul into watching the Oscars. I love, absolutely love movies and watching the clips they show. To my dismay toward the end, the Joker climbed to the stage to accept his award and began to criticize agriculture. The joker continued and OMG! My thought was “this is not good”! Snuck a peek at my dairy farmer in the Lazyboy, he was in a trance. Rubbish! The war on agriculture seems to be thriving from politics to Hollywood. At some point you would think that people would remember the old saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

When Hollywood depicts farming, often it is either romanticized or turned into a horror movie. Maybe what we need are some good feature films that depict an authentic agriculture message. Get some actors/actresses sharing genuine agriculture points. The award-winning speech can include a thanks to all the farmers who feed America.… Continue reading

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Reducing food waste in Ohio

By Mary Wicks

Remember “waste not, want not” and “clean your plate’” from childhood dinner time? Feel guilty throwing away moldy leftovers? Food waste is a much larger problem than not eating your peas. The USDA estimated that in 2010, 130 billion tons of the food produced for human consumption in the U.S. was wasted at the retail or consumer level. That’s 31% of the total food supply and valued at $161 billion, plus additional costs for the water, fertilizer and other inputs needed to grow, process and transport food. Plus, a lot of wasted food ends up in landfills, where it accounts for about 21% of all solid waste.

 

What’s the solution?

The U.S. has set a goal of reducing food scraps going to landfills by 50% by 2030. Doing that will take many approaches. The USDA and EPA have created the food recovery hierarchy that illustrates the effectiveness of these approaches.… Continue reading

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USDA reminds producers of Feb. 28 deadline for Conservation Reserve Program general signup

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup must make an offer of acres or schedule an appointment to do so with their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) service center by Friday, February 28.

The general signup – which opened in December – is available to producers and private landowners who are either offering for the first time or re-offering acres for another 10- to 15-year term in the 35-year-old USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation program.

“Call your FSA county office today to make an appointment to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “As long as you have an appointment scheduled, your CRP offer will be able to compete in this general signup, even if the appointment is in the first week of March. This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want to make sure interested producers and landowners take advantage of this popular conservation program.”… Continue reading

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Phase One progress report

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced Feb. 25 that China has taken numerous actions to begin implementing its agriculture-related commitments under the landmark U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement on schedule.

“President Trump and this Administration negotiated a strong trade agreement with China that promises significant benefits for American agriculture,” Secretary Perdue said. “We look forward to realizing these benefits this year and are encouraged by progress made last week. We fully expect compliance with all elements of the deal.”

The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2020.

These actions include:

• Signing a protocol that allows the importation of U.S. fresh chipping potatoes (U.S. Chipping Potatoes Protocol Announcement);
• Lifting the ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including pet food containing poultry products (Poultry and Poultry Products Announcement);
• Lifting restrictions on imports of U.S. pet food containing ruminant material (Pet Food with Ruminant Ingredients Announcement);
• Updating lists of facilities approved for exporting animal protein, pet food, dairy, infant formula, and tallow for industry use to China;
• Updating the lists of products that can be exported to China as feed additives; and
• Updating an approved list of U.S.… Continue reading

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Ohio legislation on the move

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

The year is still fairly new, and 2020 has brought with it some newly-introduced legislation in the Ohio General Assembly. That being said, in 2020 the General Assembly also continues to consider legislation first introduced in 2019. From tax exemptions to CAUV changes, to watershed programs and local referendums on wind turbines, here is some notable ag-related legislation making its way through the state house.

House Bill 400 “To authorize a nonrefundable income tax credit for the retail sale of high-ethanol blend motor fuel.”

HB 400 was introduced after our last legislative update in November, so while it was first introduced in 2019, it still technically qualifies as “new” to us. Since its introduction, the bill has been discussed in two hearings in the House Ways & Means Committee. The bill would give owners and operators of gas stations a tax rebate of five cents per gallon for sales of ethanol.… Continue reading

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