Country Life

Growing Climate Solutions Act passes Senate

The U.S. Senate passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act.

The act has 55 co-sponsors, which makes it the first major piece of bipartisan legislation that would help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience through voluntary, market-driven programs. The Growing Climate Solutions Act passed by a vote of 92-8.

“We appreciate lawmakers putting aside their differences to work on bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing farmers and ranchers,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “The Growing Climate Solutions Act acknowledges the potential of climate-smart farming while ensuring farmers would be respected as partners who can build on our strong foundation of environmental stewardship.”

The Growing Climate Solutions Act is supported by more than 75 agriculture, food, forestry and environmental groups that are part of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA). The alliance advocates for responsible policies that build on voluntary, incentive-based programs, market-driven opportunities and science-based approaches.… Continue reading

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Farm Service Agency now accepting nominations for county committee members

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) began accepting nominations for county committee members on June 15. Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. All nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 2, 2021.

“We need enthusiastic, diverse leaders to serve other agricultural producers locally on FSA County Committees,” said Mark VanHoose Acting State Executive Director for FSA in Ohio. “Now’s your time to step up and truly make an impact on how federal programs are administered at the local level to reach all producers fairly and equitably.”

VanHoose said agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in a USDA program, and reside in the LAA that is up for election this year, may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. A cooperating producer is someone who has provided information about their farming or ranching operation to FSA, even if they have not applied or received program benefits.Individuals may… Continue reading

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Practicing good body mechanics

By Dee Jepsen, Leah Schwinn, and Laura Akgerman

Spring and summer are busy times for farmers, gardeners, and landscapers. On a smaller scale, home-owners can experience the same fatigue that comes with long hours of yard work. Paying attention to how you do the work can help alleviate some of the aches and pains.

Good body mechanics are an essential part of decreasing your risk of injury and muscle fatigue and increasing your muscle stamina and productivity. The term body mechanics is a technical term to describe how the body moves through different positions throughout the day. Having proper body mechanics–or being mindful of moving your body in the optimal positions that it was designed for–helps to ensure decreased risk of injury and muscle fatigue. 

The spine is made up of stacked bones that form a natural S-shaped curve when viewed from the side. These curves are designed to absorb shock, maintain balance, allow flexibility of the body, and keep the joints and muscles around it strong. These… Continue reading

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Ohio dealing with cleanup from several storms last weekend

By Aaron WilsonTony NyeDennis Riethman, Ohio State University Extension

Though not in the heart of Tornado Alley, Ohio certainly deals with its fair share of severe weather. The season typically ramps up during May and June, but severe weather so far in 2021 has been rather benign.

This changed in a big way this past weekend, with numerous reports of damaging winds and large hail. According to the National Weather Service, two tornadoes (first of the year) hit western and southwestern Ohio on Friday, June 18. An EF2 tornado, with winds to 115 mph and up to 200 yards wide, struck just north of Ft. Recovery in Mercer County, causing extensive damage to barns, livestock, and fields. Another, weaker EF1 tornado moved from southwest Montgomery County into northeast Butler County.  

A large swath of straight-line winds brought down numerous trees and lodged corn and wheat, while hail as big as 2.50 inches in diameter (tennis ball) combined with wind to shred some young crops across southwest Ohio.… Continue reading

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Turkey harvest down 19%

The top 10 counties for wild turkey harvest during the 2021 spring hunting season include: Columbiana (454), Belmont (444), Meigs (437), Tuscarawas (417), Jefferson (408), Monroe (408), Ashtabula (401), Washington (398), Guernsey (378), and Muskingum (373). 

 “Wild turkey populations appear to have declined in much of the eastern U.S., including Ohio,” said Kendra Wecker, Division of Wildlife Chief. “The Division of Wildlife, in consultation with the Ohio Wildlife Council, other state wildlife agencies, and our non-government wildlife partners will be examining if further conservation measures are needed to stabilize and improve Ohio’s wild turkey population.” 

Adult male turkeys (gobblers) made up 82% of the total 2021 harvest with 11,976 turkeys taken. Hunters checked 2,397 juvenile male turkeys (jakes) represented 16% of the harvest, and 173 bearded female turkeys (hens) were checked. The Division of Wildlife sold and distributed 61,135 wild turkey permits during the spring hunting season. The 2021 spring turkey season limit was two bearded wild turkeys and hunters could harvest one bearded turkey per day using a shotgun or archery equipment.  … Continue reading

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Darke County native heading to the Olympics (again)

By Matt Reese

In another stunning come-from-behind victory, Ohio native and former Darke County Fair hog exhibitor Clayton Murphy won the 800 meter at the USA Olympic Team Trials in Oregon on June 21. With about 200 meters to go, Murphy kicked into another gear and blew by the highly touted field, setting the pace with the fastest time in the world so far in 2021 at 1:43.17.

Murphy won the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics. After the incredible success there, he struggled with injuries, including leading up to what would have been the 2020 Summer Olympics. The delay of the event to this year allowed for training and recovery time.  Most recently Murphy has been dealing with a hamstring injury, which has affected his training.

“It is a joy and an honor to go to the Olympic games and try to bring home another medal for us,” Murphy said in the press conference after his recent qualifying victory.… Continue reading

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Farming for Cleaner Water — Upper Scioto gets EPA funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of “Farmer to Farmer” grants around the country totaling over $9.9 million to 11 organizations. This includes $853,866 to the American Farmland Trust for Farming for Cleaner Water in the Upper Scioto River Watershed. This includes areas north of Columbus and Marysville to Kenton, Marion and Bucyrus.

“Half of this money will go directly to farmers,” said Mark Wilson, Farming for Cleaner Water project manager. “To date we have secured $1.5 million and have our fingers crossed for a recently submitted $5.5 million USDA grant.”

The collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders and organizations across an entire watershed is vital to reducing nutrient pollution to our water. Farmers can play an important leadership role in these efforts when they get involved and engage with their State governments, farm organizations, conservation groups, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and community groups.

The Farmer to Farmer grant funding is available to develop innovative practices within farming communities, measure the results of those practices, and identify how the practices will be incorporated into farming operations.… Continue reading

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Ohio Department of Agriculture awarded $2 million grant through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has been awarded a $2 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) program grant from the United State Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to help administer Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative across the Maumee River Watershed.

The grant project will run through October 2024 to support H2Ohio’s long-term work to improve water quality across the Maumee Watershed. After the initial signup period for H2Ohio agriculture best management practices, there was considerable interest from farmers in the 14 counties of the Maumee Watershed with over 1,800 farmers signing up and over 1 million acres of farmland enrolled. With such great interest in the H2Ohio program from farmers, ODA will use the funds to provide more assistance to Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the Maumee River Watershed to implement H2Ohio practices and to track program progress and completed practices. The USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office offered this grant opportunity to support ODA efforts toward meeting Ohio’s commitments to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.… Continue reading

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Tax proposal impacts tough on farms

Texas A&M University released a new study analyzing the potential impacts of two Democratic-led tax proposals introduced in the Senate. The first, the STEP Act, is led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and would repeal the “step up” from basis calculations while also instituting a capital gains tax at death.

The second, “For the 99.5 Percent Act” from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would significantly reduce the estate tax exemption. The study, produced at the requests of House and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Members Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Rep. GT Thompson (R-Pa.), found that the step-up/capital gains proposal would cost the average farm over $726,000, while the estate tax proposal would cost the average farm in excess of $2.1 million — each of the proposals likely to impact over 97% of farm operations. Researchers with Texas A&M noted that the overwhelming majority of farms subject to these new tax liabilities would need to debt-fund their repayments.… Continue reading

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Agriculture cannot afford to be neutral on carbon

By Matt Reese

It is very clear the Biden Administration is putting emphasis on climate change and plans to move forward with, or without, the cooperation of U.S. agriculture.

“President Biden announced a major goal –— for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half over the next decade as compared to 2005 levels,” said Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program. “Several bills introduced in Congress recently could help agriculture fulfill that key role. The proposals offer incentives and assistance for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to engage in carbon sequestration practices.”

The most noteworthy for agriculture is the Growing Climate Solutions Act. 

“The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee passed S. 1251. The bipartisan proposal led by sponsors Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) already has the backing of over half of the Senate as co-sponsors, including Ohio’s Sen.… Continue reading

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WOTUS re-do (again)

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it plans to revise the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Specifically, the Department of Justice is filing a motion requesting remand of the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), issued by the Trump administration to replace the Obama administration-finalized Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 

EPA said it plans to initiate a new rulemaking process, and anticipates developing a new rule that defines WOTUS “and is informed by a robust engagement process.” 

“The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is disappointed in the EPA’s announcement of its intention to revise the Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” said John Linder, NCGA president from Edison in Morrow County. “The current rule provided long-overdue certainty and clarity for farmers about their obligations under the Clean Water Act. Clean water is important to America’s corn farmers, and we are committed to protecting our environment and the communities where we live and work.… Continue reading

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4-H camp is back!

By Sally McClaskey, Ohio 4-H Youth Development

2020 saw the cancellation of 4-H camps due to COVID-19 restrictions and while camps will operate a bit differently to keep campers safe and follow recommended guidelines, many of the same activities will take place. 

The Ohio 4-H Camping Design Team spent the winter developing plans for different camp scenarios. “We looked at guidelines from the American Camp Association (ACA), Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health,” said France Foos, design team leader and the 4-H educator in Madison County. 

The team also reviewed research that examined the importance of camping experiences. 

“The ACA has extensive data that shows how camp contributes to the mental and physical well-being of youth,” Foos said. “And with all kids have been through over the past 18 months, going to camp could make a positive difference.” 

OSU approved the Ohio 4-H camp plan in April. Health requirements will be followed with detailed guidelines for keeping youth and counselors safe at overnight camps.… Continue reading

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Ticks on the move, Lyme disease increasing

Ticks are easy to miss—that is, until they bite.

With steadily increasing reports of illnesses from ticks biting people and pets in Ohio, ticks are concerning especially in the late spring and summer. During the warmest months, these tiny creatures are most active and most likely to pass on diseases.

A warmer winter triggered an earlier start this spring, so ticks will be active for more of this year, said Risa Pesapane, a tick researcher and assistant professor with the colleges of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at The Ohio State University.

“Likely every year will be a bit worse, at least for the next few foreseeable years as ticks continue to expand in Ohio and become established in new counties,” Pesapane said.

In some parts of the state, up to 60% of the blacklegged ticks are believed to be carrying Lyme disease, Pesapane said.

Although found in most counties in Ohio, blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks, are most abundant on the eastern side of the state.… Continue reading

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Ohio NRCS announces second round of Conservation Stewardship Program Funding for conventional and organic producers

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Ohio is accepting applications for a second round of funding for the Classic Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply by the July 9, 2021 deadline.

Through CSP, conventional and organic agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat — all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land.

“Ohio producers have a unique opportunity to achieve higher levels of conservation through this second round of funding,” said Lori Ziehr, Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting State Conservationist. “By taking advantage of the program, they can utilize NRCS technical and financial resources to enhance both their business operations and natural resources.”

CSP encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rates, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.… Continue reading

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POET reaching out to communities through grant program

POET Biorefining – Leipsic awarded five organizations a total of $2,500 through the 2021 Never Satisfied Community Grant Program. 

  • The Putnam County Goat and Sheep Committee was awarded $500 to purchase a new wash rack at the Putnam County Fairgrounds.
  • The Putnam Country Agriculture Society was awarded $500 to repair gates and roads at the fairgrounds.
  • The Putnam County Swine Improvement Committee & County Calf Keepers was awarded $500 to enhance barn conditions at the fairgrounds. 
  • The Project Lifesaver Committee’s was awarded $500 for their Project Lifesaver program, which provides search and rescue devices for those with special needs.
  • The Miller City FFA Alumni was awarded $500 to develop an education courtyard at the Miller City school district for students to grow produce as part of their coursework.

“At POET, investing in our communities is a top priority,” said Ken Miceli, POET Biorefining – Leipsic general manager. “Each of these organizations is dedicated to making our communities a better place.… Continue reading

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USDA to begin payments for producers impacted by 2018 and 2019 natural disasters

More than $1 billion in payments will be released over the next several weeks starting June 15 for agricultural producers with approved applications for the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program and for producers who have already received payments through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). These U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs provide disaster assistance to producers who suffered losses to 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.

Producers weathered some significant natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) provided support for crop value and production losses through QLA and crop quantity losses through WHIP+. 

“From massive floods to winter storms, and from extreme drought to excess moisture, natural disaster events in 2018 and 2019 were exceptionally catastrophic for agricultural producers nationwide – many suffered the impacts of multiple events in not just one but both years,” said Zach Ducheneaux, FSA Administrator. “FSA staff worked tirelessly for many months to develop and implement comprehensive disaster programs that meet the varying and unique needs of a large cross-section of U.S.… Continue reading

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Hard to beat radishes

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Dwight Schrute loves his beets but let us talk about another root veggie. Radishes and beets both have roots but that is where the similarities end. Sweet and sassy spring radishes are splashing colors and spice this spring. These colorful little gems are some of the first edible bites of color after Ohio winter shades of white, grays and brown. Radishes are easy to grow and take up small garden space. Most are quick to go from seed to tastebuds in less than 30 days. Radishes pop up in a rainbow of hues of red, purples, pinks, white as well as bunch of different shapes and sizes. 

Paul loves radishes. He loves them so much I have been known to get him a couple of bundles tied with a bow as an exquisite, vibrant, and spicy radish bouquet! Perfect for a guy who does not believe in Valentine’s Day.… Continue reading

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Culinary cicadas could be on the menu in 2021

For those who may be wondering (and there actually really are people wondering), cicadas are among those insects that are safe to eat.

For those culinary adventurers who want to give them a try, this is the summer to do it in Ohio. The periodical cicada known as Brood X has already started to arrive in the millions in in different areas of the Midwest, including parts of Ohio. Brood X is one of 12 periodical cicadas that emerge every 17 years, from mid-May to late June. Another three broods emerge every 13 years, primarily in southern states.

Brood X includes three species of cicada — Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini, and Magicicada septendecula — each of which will come up at different times during the spring, said David Shetlar, a professor emeritus of entomology with Ohio State University Extension, and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

The Brood X female cicadas lay hundreds of eggs in tree branches.… Continue reading

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Fishing for bluegill: A classic for kids of all ages

By Mike Ryan, OCJ Field Reporter

When introducing a youngster to fishing, a mentor wants to find a body of water with easy access and an aggressive population of feeding fish. This is because there is no better way to get a kid turned on to fishing like some fast-action catching. And this is why many an experienced angler’s first and finest memories of fishing often involve the common bluegill.

With their deep blue/purple face and gill covers, dark-olive-colored lateral bands, and fiery orange-yellow underbelly, bluegill are colorful, beautiful fish to catch. Fishermen admiringly marvel about the power of this undersized dynamo, which is pound-for-pound one of the strongest freshwater fish, the old adage being “if they were the size of a bass, you couldn’t catch ‘em.” 

Averaging only 6 to 10 inches at maturity, the bluegill is exceptionally strong for its size and has a bold character. The deep, slab-sided fish is all-muscle and is an aggressive feeder and protector of nests.… Continue reading

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Federal court vacates prior administration’s small refinery exemptions

By Jeffrey K Lewis, Research Specialist, Ohio State University Agricultural & Resource Law Program

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order vacating the EPA’s January 2021 small refinery exemptions issued under the Trump administration and sent the case back to the EPA for further proceedings that are consistent with the Tenth Circuit’s holding in Renewable Fuels Association v. EPA.  The Tenth Circuit held that the EPA may only grant a small refinery exemption if “disproportionate economic hardship” is caused by complying with Renewable Fuel Standards.

The EPA admitted that such economic hardship may not have existed with a few of the exemptions granted and asked the court to send the case back to them for further review.  The order granted by the Tenth Circuit acknowledged the agency’s concession and noted that the EPA’s motion to vacate was unopposed by the plaintiff refineries.  … Continue reading

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