Country Life

Winners of “The Voice” support local effort

By Dusty Sonnenberg

The organization famous for giving farmers a voice joined forces with the winners of “The Voice” for a night of music and celebration, all to benefit the 1920s Farm Bureau Office at Historic Sauder Farm Village in Archbold. 

A concert featuring the group Girl Named Tom, made up of siblings Caleb, Josh and Bekah Liechty, was held in the 1920s Sauder Village Theater for a group of Ohio Farm Bureau leaders and members as well as employees of Ken-Feld Group (the event sponsor). Along with the concert, tours were given of the 1920s Farm Bureau office, and snacks were available from the vintage 1920s ice cream parlor. 

The fundraising event was the idea of Fulton County Farm Bureau president, Mark Ballmer, and John Torres, Executive Director of the Maryland Farm Bureau, (former Fulton County resident) at a meeting in Washington, D.C. when they were talking about fundraising ideas, and also the incredible success of Girl Named Tom.… Continue reading

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Heritage Cooperative expands grain storage at Upper Sandusky location

Heritage Cooperative is excited to announce the construction of a new grain bin providing an additional 750,000 bushels of grain storage at our Upper Sandusky location, 520 W. Wyandot Ave., Upper Sandusky. 

The $3.4 million project will consist of building a steel Chief grain storage bin on the west side of the property, increasing the grain storage capacity to just over 4 million bushels. 

This additional storage will benefit Heritage growers in the Upper Sandusky and northern Ohio area. In addition, an enhanced staggered conveyer system and recently acquired land provides space and better efficiencies for Heritage and farmers for unloading and storing grain. 

“We are really excited about this project. It will provide immediate grain storage solutions for our growers and allow us to take their grain when they need to unload it during the busy harvest season.” said Jeff Osentoski, president and CEO of Heritage Cooperative. “This storage capability also positions us well for the future.” … Continue reading

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Farm Credit Mid-America announces Board of Directors and Nominating Committee candidates

Farm Credit Mid-America announces the candidates running for its Board of Directors and 2023 Nominating Committee. Customers with voting stock in the financial services cooperative that serves farmers and rural residents in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee may cast their votes from May 5 at 12 a.m. through June 2, 2022 at 9 p.m. EDT. 

The eight candidates running for the Board of Directors are:

  • Kevin Cox – Brazil, Indiana
  • Stephanie Hopper – Macy, Indiana
  • V. Alan Meyer – Vincennes, Indiana 
  • Todd Clark – Lexington, Kentucky 
  • Chris Mitchell – Flemingsburg, Kentucky
  • Allen Armstrong – South Charleston, Ohio 
  • Lowell Hill – De Graff, Ohio  
  • Ellen Joslin – Conover, Ohio

“Voting in our elections is one of the most important ways our customer-owners can contribute to our overall strength and shape our future,” says Dan Wagner, Farm Credit Mid-America’s President and CEO.  “Our Board of Directors understands the challenges and opportunities that agriculture and rural communities face. Thanks to the guidance and direction set by the Board, we will continue to be a reliable source of credit for farmers and rural residents, today and tomorrow.” … Continue reading

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OABA Impact and Connection for women in AgriBusiness

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association is pleased to announce new leadership development and networking opportunities for the Women Leading in Ohio Agribusiness Program. Through the Impact podcast series and Connection networking events, Ohio’s female leaders will have the opportunity to dive into leadership topics while also networking with their peers.

Impact podcast
Through the new, 8-month podcast series, Ohio’s agribusiness women will be inspired by the stories of other women in agriculture who have been successful in their various roles. Each episode will be 45 to 60 minutes long and consist of an interview with one guest. The first episode will be available in May with subsequent episodes releasing the first week of every month.
The Impact podcast kicks off with Chasitie Euler as the first guest, diving into the critical need for intentionality in your work life and family life. As a working mom who has spent her career in agricultural sales and business, Chasitie shares her experiences evaluating priorities and modeling expectations for her team and for her kids.… Continue reading

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To arbitrate or not?

By Jeffrey K. Lewis, Esq., Program Coordinator Ohio State University Income Tax Schools & ANR Extension

One of the core principles of the American legal system is that people are free to enter into contracts and negotiate those terms as they see fit.  But sometimes the law prohibits certain rights from being “signed away.”  The interplay between state and federal law and the ability to contract freely can be a complex and overlapping web of regulations, laws, precedent, and even morals.  Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on a case that demonstrates the complex relationship between Ohio law and the ability of parties to negotiate certain terms within an oil and gas lease.  

The background  

Ascent Resources-Utica, L.L.C. (“Defendant”) acquired leases to the oil and gas rights of farmland located in Jefferson County, Ohio allowing it to physically occupy the land which included the right to explore the land for oil and gas, construct wells, erect telephone lines, powerlines, and pipelines, and to build roads.  The… Continue reading

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Wet weather continues before a pattern shift

By Jim Noel, NOAA

April was a challenging month. It was a cold month with most of Ohio -1F to -3F below normal for temperatures. We saw late freezes and snow events. Because of the cold, precipitation was generally around or slightly below normal in the 60% to 120% of normal range. However, with limited evaporation and evapotranspiration, soils did not dry much.

Looking forward, May will start off challenging but improvements are forecasted. The first week of May will see a wetter period across Ohio with temperatures generally below normal. Rainfall will range from just under an inch to over 2 inches in places. As we move into the middle and end of May, expect a pattern change to warmer and drier than normal which should open the rapid window for planting.

It appears the chances for a hard freeze are pretty much over. There is still a low chance for some patchy frost especially in northern and eastern Ohio like this weekend but the freeze risk has decreased significantly.… Continue reading

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Will interest rates slow land prices?

By Matt Reese

While officials with the Federal Reserve have kept interest rates near zero since 2020, they approved a .25 percentage point increase in March, the first increase in more than three years, with additional increases expected in 2022.

Bart Sheridan

With a long, continued stretch of very strong farmland values, will the increasing interest rates slow things down?

“This will affect those who are in the residential side of things, and this will have an effect on the land, but it is hard to say what it will be. It always lags after the interest hikes,” said Bart Sheridan, of Sheridans, LLC based in Cedarville. “Those 25 basis point jumps — we are expecting to have as many as four this year. The first increase may be an impetus to go out and buy more land before it goes higher. The first one was in March and might propel some people to get out and do it before it really hits.… Continue reading

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Is a recession coming?

By Jeff Fichtelman, partner in JP2 Risk Management

If you polled the average American, most would agree we are likely to enter a recession. Thanks to the loose monetary policy from the Fed and the White House, we are now dealing with rapid inflation. This inflation has increased corporate costs, reduced their margins and is hurting consumer’s ability to spend. What does this translate to? Lower revenue and income for many corporations and therefore lower stock prices. 

Jeff Fichtelman

Why should the U.S. farmer care about the stock market? In most cases, the price of corn and soybeans move independent to fluctuations in equities. However, in those rare circumstances that the equity market is “in free fall” all markets suddenly move together. In the 2008/09 recession, the stock market fell 20% while corn and bean prices actually went higher. Then, equities fell another 30%, which ended up dragging corn and bean prices down sharply.… Continue reading

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Walleye outlook is excellent for 2022

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

Based on Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) trawl surveys, it appears that another excellent Lake Erie walleye hatch may be underway as we speak. In research presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council, fisheries biologists reported the 2021 walleye hatch was the fifth largest recorded over the past 35 years and there’s every reason to think this spring’s may top that. 

The 2021 walleye hatch index was 90 fish per hectare (a standard measure of area), well above the rapidly increasing prior 20-year average of 34 fish per hectare. The young walleye averaged just over 4 inches long and were caught at every site sampled.

“Our fisheries biologists survey nearly 40 locations between Toledo and Huron by dragging a large, concave net along the bottom of the lake,” said Travis Hartman, Division of Wildlife Lake Erie Fisheries Program manager.… Continue reading

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USDA video showcases key partnerships driving conservation in Lake Erie

A new USDA video provides a closer look at the collaborative partnerships driving innovative water quality assessment and conservation in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The video, Science-Based Solutions: Leveraging Partnerships to Protect the Western Lake Erie Basin, shows how USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) watershed studies in the Western Lake Erie Basin bring researchers, farmers, government agencies and nonprofit organizations together to develop science-based solutions and strategically place them where they can deliver the greatest conservation benefits. 

“This video demonstrates the importance of regional partnerships, both in developing and encouraging the adoption of conservation practices that have been scientifically proven to be effective.” said John Wilson, NRCS State Conservationist in Ohio, “This collaborative approach is informing our conservation strategies and making tangible improvements in the Western Lake Erie Basin watershed.” 

Under CEAP, a network of researchers, from government agencies to universities, work together to monitor the impact of conservation practices on the landscape.… Continue reading

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Weighing in on the future of the Ohio State Fair

By Matt Reese

To say it has been a challenging stretch for the Ohio State Fair and Ohio Expo Center in the last couple of years is probably an understatement. The extended period of having no events, or only partial events, labor shortages, supply chain issues, and skyrocketing costs has taken a very heavy toll.

Prior to these extensive hardships for the Ohio State Fair, in the summer of 2019, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the creation of a task force to develop and recommend a long-term vision for the Ohio Expo Center.
“At the Ohio State Fair and other events that occur here, there are countless ways to have fun. We need to find ways to keep that excitement going all year long,” DeWine said in 2019. “I am announcing the formation of a task force, called ‘Expo 2050,’ to take stock of all of the great things going on at the Ohio Expo Center, as well as the Ohio History Connection and Mapfre Stadium, and to develop a strategic vision for the entire area.”… Continue reading

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A look at the weather now that spring has sprung

By Matt Reese

Many months of preparation have gone into preparing for Ohio’s planting season that will finally be taking place throughout the next few weeks. Farmers will be working hard to make the most of planting opportunities in what has so far been a cold, soggy spring.

Ohio’s soils remain on the wet side after an unusual winter.

“The winter was kind of strange. There was a lot of variability,” said Aaron Wilson, Research Scientist with the Byrd Center and State Climate Office of Ohio and Ohio State University Extension climate specialist. “We had a very warm December with record highs on Christmas Day. Cincinnati hit 69 degrees for the warmest Christmas day ever back to 1871. We had soil temperatures in Central and Southern Ohio in the low to mid 50s by Jan. 2, but then January got really cold. It was the 35th coldest January on record. It was a fairly dry January as well.… Continue reading

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Career Fair at Farm Science Review

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will partner to hold the Career Exploration Fair at the 2022 Farm Science Review. The event will be held on Wednesday, September 21 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Tobin Building.

The FSR Career Exploration Fair is an opportunity for career seekers, from high school and college students to mid-career professionals, who are looking to start or change their career path to connect with agribusiness employers. All FSR attendees are invited to browse the event, which is included with show admission. 

Vendor booths are available to employers for the career fair. Free vendor space is an exclusive opportunity for current OABA members and FSR exhibitors. Any interested company can indicate their interest when registering as an FSR exhibitor or by contacting the Ohio AgriBusiness Association. 

For interested vendors, additional details and an interest form are available at reading

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Science continues to move food production forward

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Please allow me to enlighten you, in case you’re not aware of the great work of Norman Borlaug, the American Nobel Prize-winning plant scientist of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Borlaug was the scientist who developed rice with high vitamin A content to prevent hundreds of thousands of children from going blind in third world countries because of vitamin A deficiency. He also developed seed barley strains that required half of the usual amount of water to grow in semi-arid countries. He taught third world villagers to plant corn in rows for weed control, rather than casting the seed around randomly like you were feeding the birds.  

His list of accomplishments to improve food security go on and on (

In 1972 he and 18 other scientists founded the nonprofit Council for Agriculture, Science and Technology (CAST). Its mission is to disseminate information about new science and technology to Congress and governmental agencies, the mass media and the public.… Continue reading

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The animal rights elephant in the room

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

Once upon a time, nearly two decades ago, a puppy was dumped on our farm. 

Kent named him Barney, and he was a wonderful creature. With one exception. He had some hunting genes in his DNA which caused him to lose all sense of reason when his scent hound genetics took over. We had a difficult time keeping him safe. He was hit on the road during a snow storm one wintry morning.

            We were sad and experienced the unbearable silence when a beloved pet has gone. A few weeks after the accident, Kent went to K&L in Fort Recovery, for their annual March Chopper School. I went to a nearby humane society and brought home the perfect companion for Kent (never mind the plan was to find the ultimate dog for me). Chopper was part Blue Heeler and part Labrador Retriever and completely adorable. For over 10 years, he spent every waking moment he could by Kent’s side.… Continue reading

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USDA watershed infrastructure funding brings $7.4 million investment to Ohio

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $420 million in 132 infrastructure projects in 31 states, including Ohio. These projects include rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects, and they are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), building on a $166 million nationwide investment announced earlier this year. In total, more than $7.4 million will be invested in five Ohio watershed infrastructure projects through the USDA Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) and the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program. 

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our infrastructure, create good-paying jobs and build new economic opportunity here in Ohio,” said John Wilson, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “Our watershed programs help communities rebuild after natural disasters and prepare for future events. These projects exemplify why this historic investment in our watersheds was needed and the adeptness of our agency to act swiftly.” … Continue reading

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Ohio’s Victory Garden program returns for 2022

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio State University Extension offices are kicking off the third year of the Ohio Victory Gardens program. Due to high demand, the program is expanding to include 42 counties, up from 25 counties last year. Thousands of seed sample kits will be available for free to the public to get people planting.

“In the third year of our Victory Gardens program, we are proud of the ground we have covered in reigniting Ohioans’ love for backyard gardening, while lifting people’s spirits and re-teaching an important life skill of growing your own food,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “We’ve gone from distributing 3,000 seed kits in six counties in 2020 to distributing more than 20,000 free seed kits in 42 counties across the state this year. Next year, we plan to expand again to reach even more Ohioans who want to grow a Victory Garden.”… Continue reading

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Ethanol against the world!

By Matt Reese and Dusty Sonnenberg

Those reading this likely have more interest in bushels per acre than grams of CO2 per megajoule. But, when applied to biofuels, the number attached to this unit of measure has the potential to make or break massive domestic biofuels markets for corn and soybeans. 

Jan tenBensel, a Nebraska farmer and president of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, has spent a fair amount of time looking at grams of CO2 per megajoule because it is an important standard in the ongoing debate about the sustainability of biofuels. 

“In a life cycle analysis of ethanol and electric vehicles, you have to look at the base load of carbon intensity. Right now, that number is 114 grams of CO2 per megajoule for the U.S. on average. If you took a Tesla 3, you’d be at about 144 grams of carbon per mile. If you were to take an E98 vehicle that was ethanol optimized you would have 114 grams of carbon per mile,”  tenBensel said.… Continue reading

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NEPA changes signal return to outdated, cumbersome regulations

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the final phase 1 revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“AFBF is disappointed that the Biden administration has decided to reverse commonsense reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Farmers and ranchers share the goal of caring for the natural resources they’ve been entrusted with and were pleased that the updated 2020 regulations allowed them to protect the environment while meeting the demands of a growing nation,” he said. “Continued challenges from the pandemic, supply chain issues and the drought in the West are impacting farmers, ranchers and the American public in the form of increased food and fuel prices. The situation will now be made worse by the return to a slow and cumbersome NEPA review process that, in many cases, takes years to complete.”

NEPA also can impact the vital infrastructure system of the country.

“President Biden has also made improving the nation’s infrastructure a priority, and a modernized NEPA review process would help deliver projects to communities across the country.… Continue reading

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Beginning farmer tax credit signed into law

On April 18, HB 95 was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine. The law establishes an income tax credit for beginning farmers who participate in a financial management program, administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. It also constructs an income tax credit for established farmers who sell or rent agricultural assets to beginning farmers. 
“The idea for HB 95 all started because younger Ohio Farm Bureau members who were working their way into agriculture, along with more experienced members looking to step away from the industry, were facing many obstacles when it came to working on a transition plan,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “Through their recommendations, our organization worked through the policy development process to successfully add incentives for new and beginning farmers to the list of important issues Farm Bureau advocates for every day. Those grassroots efforts have now come to fruition and we appreciate Governor DeWine signing this legislation into law to allow a path forward for the next generation of agriculturalists in Ohio.”… Continue reading

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