Country Life

No Christmas gifts for agriculture, but some Ohio legislation is moving

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

The weeks since Thanksgiving have been busy ones at the Statehouse, but not a creature is stirring now as the General Assembly recesses for Christmas. While agriculture didn’t receive any final legislative Christmas gifts, a few bills advanced and may pass early next year. Here’s a rundown of agricultural legislation in Ohio.

Newly introduced Ohio legislation

S.C.R. 13 – Repeal Individual Income Tax. Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) introduced a concurrent resolution on December 9, 2021 expressing an intention for the legislature to repeal the state personal income tax within ten years. The resolution cites disincentives to reside in Ohio, repeals by other states, and business climate impacts as justification for the intent to repeal the income tax. The Senate referred the measure to its Ways and Means Committee on December 15.

H.B. 484 — Walleye as Official State Fish.Continue reading

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Deadline extended to apply for pandemic support for certified organic and transitioning operations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the deadline for agricultural producers who are certified organic, or transitioning to organic, to apply for the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP). This program provides pandemic assistance to cover certification and education expenses. The deadline to apply for 2020 and 2021 eligible expenses is now Feb. 4, 2022, rather than the original deadline of Jan. 7, 2022.  

“We listened to feedback from our stakeholders and are happy to provide organic producers, and those transitioning their operations, enough time to learn about the program and complete the application,” said Zach Ducheneaux, FSA Administrator.  

Signup for OTECP, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), began Nov. 8.  

 Certified operations and transitional operations may apply for OTECP for eligible expenses paid during the 2020, 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. Signup for the 2022 fiscal year will be announced at a later date. 

For each year, OTECP covers 25% of a certified operation’s eligible certification expenses, up to $250 per certification category (crop, livestock, wild crop, handling and State Organic Program fee).… Continue reading

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Here are some blogs to get you in the holiday spirit:’t-look-a-gift-horse-in-the-mouth/

Draft Horses in Snow1

 … Continue reading

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A simple gift to bring some hope

By Matt Reese

Generations of children have hauled just about anything that can be hauled in the classic little red wagon which has never really gone out of style. Sadly, though, some children in Ohio will never get the simple pleasure of this special Christmas gift because of numerous challenging circumstances for Ohio families in poverty. To address this issue, over 750 volunteers gathered in Columbus in early December to build 1,500 wagons (each with a Christmas dinner for a family) through the Wagons Ho Ho Ho program. 

Donn Ditzhazy is co-founder and a board member of the 501c3 charity, founded on the goal of delivering Christmas hope to children and families in need during the holidays. Wagons Ho Ho Ho got its start as a charity project for Columbus-based RMD Advertising that focuses on food product promotion.

“Fourteen years ago we thought we’d take the money earmarked for client gifts and buy something nice.… Continue reading

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Winter off to a warm wet start

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Temperatures across Ohio have been running 2-6°F above average (1991-2010) during the month of December, almost guaranteeing another top 10 warmest year on record for the Buckeye State (1895-present). Daily average soil temperatures remain above freezing, with upper 30s to low 40s across the north and low to mid 40s across central and southern counties. 

Precipitation, mainly in the form of rain, has been plentiful as well with a large portion of the state picking up 2-4 inches of precipitation since Dec. 1. Pockets of heavier precipitation can be found across portions of southwest, north central, and southern Ohio.  Snowfall has been very light, even across the snowbelt areas of the northeast, with less than 1 inch statewide.


High pressure will remain anchored across the Ohio Valley for the next couple of days, with cool daytime highs in the upper 30s to mid 40s.… Continue reading

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Anglers’ auction benefits hospitalized children

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

Here’s a merry Christmas tale. Inspired by a little girl in his neighborhood named Sophia who was diagnosed with cancer and lost her battle, retired Brooklyn, Ohio, firefighter turned charter captain Michael Mochan and fellow Lake Erie fishermen organized an auction to help other kids in the hospital at Christmas time. The group auctioned off all sorts of fishing gear, including some of the most popular hand-painted walleye lures of the season, created by NFP Customs. Last year, the Auction for Sophia raised $4,800 for toys and gifts that went directly to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s. As of press time, three days into the five-day social media event, the auction had already raised over $6,300. 

“We had some guys bidding against each other, and the one guy wanted to win and said ‘When I win it, give the lures to the guy who lost,'” Mochan says of a recent bidding war for 10 NFP custom lures.… Continue reading

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Hydrothermal carbonization – Upgrading organic waste to char

By Ashish Manandhar (Research Scientist), Ajay Shah (Associate Professor)         

What is hydrothermal carbonization? 

Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) is a thermochemical conversion process for upgrading organic waste to hydrochar, which can be used as a solid fuel, absorbent or soil amendment. The process takes place in a closed reactor at temperatures between 350 and 480 degrees F and residence times between 0.5 and 8 hours. The advantage of the HTC process is it treats wet waste without pre-drying, and thus, can be used for a wide variety of feedstocks that have limited uses, such as industrial and animal waste, agricultural residues, and aquatic biomass. The high HTC temperatures and pressures play a vital role in lowering the hydrogen to carbon (H/C) and oxygen to carbon (O/C) ratios in biomass to produce the carbon-rich hydrochar, the primary product of HTC. In addition to hydrochar, gases (primarily CO2) and process liquid are also produced. … Continue reading

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Muskies thrive thanks to stocking efforts

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

The muskellunge, muskie, or the “fish of 10,000 casts,” is a gamefish that can grow to immense sizes in Ohio’s inland lakes but, as the latter moniker points to, can be tough to locate and entice to bite a bait. For example, I have caught only three “keepers” in a lifetime of trolling and casting Ohio’s waters, including several outings when I targeted muskies specifically. Those ‘ski’s that I did bring to net, however, made the effort well worth it.

Muskies are native to Ohio, are top aquatic predators and Ohio’s muskie fisheries are maintained through fish hatchery efforts. Nine Ohio reservoirs are stocked with muskie by the Division of Wildlife and one (Pymatuning Lake, on the Pennsylvania state line) is stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Staff from Ohio’s London and Kincaid state fish hatcheries stock approximately 20,000 muskies measuring 8 to 12 inches every autumn.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension Farm Financial Management School

Ohio State University Extension is pleased to offer the Farm Financial Management School once again in 2022. This six-session course will cover topics such as, but not limited to, mission statements, balance sheets, enterprise budgets and cost of production, family living expenses and financial ratios.

The course will meet every Tuesday beginning on Jan. 11 and concluding on Feb. 15. Each session will run from 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening at the Wayne County Administration Building (428 W. Liberty St., Wooster, OH 44691) in the second-floor meeting room. The cost to attend is $50 per person. Each person will receive a binder full of handouts and presentations and a light meal each evening. Please call 330-264-8722 to register by Jan. 4. … Continue reading

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Take the stress out of major late-year purchases

By Matt Reese

It does not take long to do the big picture math — good yields and strong prices made 2021 a solid financial year for many Ohio farms. Plentiful land sales and farm auctions offer options for farmers to spend their money in 2021, but the more detailed math regarding those major purchase decisions can get quite a bit trickier. 

Melanie Strait-Bok, regional vice president of ag lending for Farm Credit Mid-America, strongly encourages thoughtful consideration with ag lenders before making hasty year-end decisions impacting a farm operation for many years to come.

“I know this is not everyone’s favorite thing, but it is incredibly impactful to operations when we can compare balance sheets to tax returns and understand what is really happening,” Strait-Bok said. “The first thing we want to see from a farmer at year-end is updated inventory levels. We need to really dig into that balance sheet and say, ‘OK what changed from this time last year that we need to account for and make updates to the balance sheet.’… Continue reading

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2022 Ohio fair schedule

*Harness racing


Paulding County Fair (Paulding)* Pickaway County Fair (Circleville)* 


Harrison County Fair (Cadiz) Putnam County Fair (Ottawa)* 


Marion County Fair (Marion)* Clinton County Fair (Wilmington)* Lawrence County Fair (Proctorville) Madison County Fair (London) 


Adams County Fair (West Union) Logan County Fair (Bellefontaine)* Montgomery County Fair (Dayton)* Lucas County Fair (Maumee) Trumbull County Fair (Cortland)* Jackson County Fair (Wellston)* 


Crawford County Fair (Bucyrus)* Fayette County Fair (Washington C.H.)* Perry County Fair (New Lexington) Warren County Fair (Lebanon)*
Carroll County Fair (Carrollton)* Franklin County Fair (Hilliard)*
Ottawa County Fair (Oak Harbor)* Clark County Fair (Springfield) 


Butler County Fair (Hamilton) Clermont County Fair (Owensville) Knox County Fair (Mt. Vernon)* Shelby County Fair (Sidney)* Union County Fair (Marysville)* Vinton County Fair (McArthur) Seneca County Fair (Tiffin)*
Lake County Fair (Painesville)* Summit County Fair (Tallmadge)* Ohio State Fair (Columbus)*
Pike County Fair (Piketon)*
Preble County Fair (Eaton)* 


Auglaize County Fair (Wapakoneta)* Greene County Fair (Xenia)*
Gallia County Fair (Gallipolis) Columbiana County Fair (Lisbon)* Medina County Fair (Medina) 

Wood County Fair (Bowling Green)* Champaign County Fair (Urbana)* Athens County Fair (Athens)*
Ross County Fair (Chillicothe)* 


Hartford Independent Fair (Licking Co.)*… Continue reading

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EQIP signup for 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering a number of conservation opportunities to private landowners through Ohio’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications for EQIP are taken on a continuous basis, however, interested landowners are encouraged to contact their local NRCS service center prior to the Jan. 14, 2022 signup deadline for fiscal year 2022 funding.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program which helps producers make conservation work for them. NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat. Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations. 

Financial assistance is now available through a number of categories that are listed below:

General: Conservation opportunities exist in cropland, forestry, pasture operations, seasonal high tunnels, socially disadvantaged producers, conservation activity plans, on-farm energy and organic. Several… Continue reading

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A look at the ins and outs of Washington headed into 2022

By Brooke Appleton, Vice President of Public Policy for the National Corn Growers Association

This has been an incredibly busy year in the nation’s capital. We swore in a new president, welcomed new cabinet members and worked with policymakers, both old and new, as they’ve considered some of the biggest legislation since the late 1960s.
Since there has been a political sea change over the last year, my staff and I have compiled the following list of what’s “In” and what’s “Out” in Washington in 2021. We hope you find this list informative. 

Here’s what’s in…

Fighting monopolies 

Farmers have been struggling to secure and pay for exorbitantly expensive inputs, including seed, crop protection and fertilizer. This problem was exacerbated in March when the International Trade Commission, acting on a petition by Mosaic Co., placed tariffs on phosphorous fertilizers imported from Morocco and Russia. To make matters worse, the U.S.… Continue reading

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Targeted conservation programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a national investment of $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability, including three projects in Ohio: The Rocky Fork Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the H2Ohio Expansion RCPP, and the Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Collaboration RCPP.

Producers are encouraged to apply for RCPP project funding at their local NRCS office. Applications are taken on a continuous basis, however, interested parties are encouraged to contact their local NRCS service center prior to the January 14, 2022 signup deadline for fiscal year 2022 funding.

RCPP is a voluntary conservation program which helps producers make conservation work for them. NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices.

Producers must meet project eligibility requirements, including location:

Rocky Fork RCPP: Highland Soil and Water Conservation District and five local state and federal partners are working with producers and landowners to protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed.… Continue reading

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CSP signup underway

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Ohio is accepting applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  While applications for CSP are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by Jan. 14, 2022, to be considered for the 2022 ranking funding period.

CSP helps build on existing conservation efforts while strengthening operations.  Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions or increase wildlife habitat, your Ohio NRCS team can help you identify natural resource problems and provide technical and financial assistance to solve those problems or attain higher stewardship through a custom designed CSP plan.

“CSP is designed to help farmers achieve more robust conservation activities,” said Jon Bourdon, Acting State Conservationist for Ohio. “Through the voluntary adoption of conservation practices, producers and landowners can attain their conservation goals while improving their operations.”

Changes in the 2018 Farm Bill authorize NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments through 2023 and make additional improvements to the program, including higher payment rates for specific conservation activities on working lands.… Continue reading

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Ag labor must be exempt from travel restrictions

The American Farm Bureau Federation, along with more than 60 other agriculture groups, sent a letter today to the Biden administration requesting that agricultural workers be exempted from travel restrictions from South Africa. The “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019” prohibits travel for individuals from several countries, including South Africa, due to concerns over the omicron variant. The letter also requests flexibility in regard to the “Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which limits entry into the United States to only those fully vaccinated with a CDC-approved vaccine with limited exceptions.

The letter, addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, requests that the agencies ensure access to these essential members of the agricultural workforce by giving National Interest Exceptions to H-2A workers coming to the United States as outlined in the proclamations as an exception to the travel restrictions. The… Continue reading

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USDA invests $1.2 million with Ohio State University to support climate-smart ag

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $1.2 million investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in an innovative project with Ohio State University to advance climate-smart agriculture as it relates to efficiently irrigating and applying nutrients to crops. This project is one of 19 new Conservation Innovation Grants nationwide and one of two in Ohio announced by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Secretary Vilsack announced the investment while at Ohio State University with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. The Secretary underscored how the Build Back Better agenda will support the development and promotion of climate-smart agriculture practices and conservation measures.  

“Innovation is key to addressing the climate crisis and conserving the natural resources we all depend on,” Vilsack said. “We know we cannot do it alone, and through Conservation Innovation Grants, we bring partners to the table who are using the latest science and research to come up with solutions that work for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners and help ensure the longevity of American agriculture.”  … Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau sets policy, elects leaders at annual meeting

Landowner rights, energy development and the Ohio State Fair were among the topics discussed by delegates at Ohio Farm Bureau’s 103rd annual meeting. A record 385 delegates representing all county Farm Bureaus participated in the debate and discussion.

“The policy work that our delegates do during our annual meeting is what being a grassroots organization is all about,” said Jack Irvin, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of public policy. “Now that their work is done, our work begins with lawmakers in Columbus and Washington, D.C. as we continue to act on the issues important to our members and all of Ohio agriculture.”

Members supported transparency for landowner energy lease holders, including proper notification of lease transfers and a requirement of well inspection reports to landowners. Delegates also voted in favor of protecting the Ohio State Fair. They encouraged a strategic review to enhance the fair as an event, as well as protecting the current location and addressing the needs of the facilities of the Ohio Exposition Center.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation awards first Y Prize for mental health initiatives

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation recognized Jami Dellifield with the first ever Yvonne Lesicko Perseverance Prize, or Y Prize for short, for her innovative work on farmer mental health initiatives.

Dellifield serves as a Family and Consumer Sciences educator with Ohio State University Extension’s Hardin County office. After seeing the stress effects of farm life on producers in her area, Dellifield led the charge of bringing farmer mental health to the forefront of her efforts. Dellifield took it upon herself to find training and resources — not just for herself, but for others in OSU Extension to address farm stress issues.

The Y Prize is a new award created by the Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Fund. The fund was created in 2020 to honor Yvonne Lesicko, former vice president of public policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. The fund, within the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, was established to support the causes and initiatives that were important to Lesicko. … Continue reading

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OFBF honors and awards announced at annual meeting

Four individuals who have made significant contributions to agriculture and Farm Bureau were honored by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Dec. 9 in Columbus at the 103rd annual meeting of Ohio Farm Bureau.  

The 2021 Distinguished Service Award recipients are Dr. Tony Forshey of Licking County, Belinda Jones of Franklin County, Randy Leis of Montgomery County and Keith Stimpert of Franklin County. Each honoree was recognized for lifetime achievements that benefited Ohio’s farming community. 

Dr. Tony Forshey

Throughout his 27 years as a practicing veterinarian, Tony Forshey made invaluable contributions to the betterment of the swine industry. He focused on herd health and disease prevention, rather than simply treating sick animals. He was so well respected in his profession that he was named Ohio’s state veterinarian and chief of the Division of Animal Health for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Through his leadership in that position, Forshey, in partnership with Ohio Farm Bureau, helped create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and was a charter member.… Continue reading

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