Country Life

USDA extends due date to March 7 for National Agricultural Classification Survey

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) wants recipients of the National Agricultural Classification Survey (NACS) to know that there is still time to respond. Mailed last December to more than a million potential U.S. agricultural producers, the NACS collects data on agricultural activity and basic farm information. These data will be used to build a survey recipient list for the 2022 Census of Agriculture. Response to the NACS is required by federal law for all who receive the questionnaire, even if the recipient is not an active farmer or rancher. Questionnaires can be completed securely online at, by mail or phone. The response deadline is extended to March 7. 

“Filling out the NACS is one of the most important steps to determining who should receive the Census of Agriculture questionnaire this fall,” said Barbara Rater, Census and Survey Division Director. “The influential Census of Agriculture dataset is used by many — from local and federal governments, to educators, researchers, agribusinesses, media and more — impacting decisions that affect producers, their farms, families, communities, industries, and the nation. … Continue reading

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Ohio NRCS seeks new proposals for Conservation Innovation grants

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking new proposals for cutting-edge projects that will provide new conservation opportunities through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. In fiscal year 2022, Ohio will invest up to $300,000 for new CIG projects.

Ohio priorities in fiscal year 2022 include urban agriculture, soil health, water quality, and forestry-based sustainable natural ecosystems. Projects may be farm-based, multi-county, small watershed or statewide in scope. For additional information, please contact Ohio CIG program manager Cheryl Rice at or search for the latest postings at An upcoming webinar for CIG applicants is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 18, 2022 at 3 p.m. ET. Interested attendees can join via the below link or phone number:

Meeting Link:

Phone number: +1 202-650-0123, 203371432# / Phone Conference ID: 203 371 432#

All non-federal entities and individuals are invited to apply, with the sole exception of federal agencies. Projects may be between one and three years in duration.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation names Youth Pathways grant recipient

Leveraging the resources of the Fisher Fund for Lifelong Learning, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation launched a Youth Pathways initiative in 2018, focused on introducing students to and training them for careers in food, agricultural and environmental sciences. Each year, organizations throughout the state are invited to submit proposals for innovative projects that would help to address the need to attract more young people to careers in these fields.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation is proud to announce that the Junior Achievement Virtual Inspire Career Exploration Fair is the 2022 recipient of the Youth Pathways for Careers in Agriculture Grant. A total of $100,000 will assist this nonprofit as it develops programming that will prepare students for post-secondary training or direct placement in food, agricultural and environmental sciences industries.

“You would be hard pressed to find an initiative that lines up as closely with the mission of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation as the Junior Achievement Virtual Inspire Career Exploration Fair does,” said Tara Durbin, senior vice president agricultural lending with Farm Credit Mid-America and president of the OFB Foundation.… Continue reading

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FACA applauds USDA investment in Climate-Smart Pilot Projects

The more than 80 member organizations of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) strongly commend USDA for advancing a voluntary, incentive-based approach to deploy climate-smart practices on working lands through its Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities. FACA includes American Farm Bureau.

“Farm Bureau commends efforts by USDA to address the challenges farmers and ranchers are facing in their attempts to adopt new and emerging climate-smart practices, as well as participate in developing climate marketing channels,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “Voluntary, incentive-based pilot projects are a great first step to identify barriers and ensure farmers and ranchers of all sizes can participate no matter where they are located or what they produce.  We look forward to working with the administration, Congress and our members to develop bipartisan solutions that provide adequate CCC funding while also ensuring the longevity of programs that build on our longstanding commitment to sustainability.”

Members of the Alliance welcome USDA’s plan to partner with farmers, ranchers, forest owners and nongovernmental organizations through pilot projects and are pleased to see the program structured in a manner consistent with FACA recommendations.… Continue reading

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Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference

Ohio State University (OSU) Extension will host the 7th Annual East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference. The conference is planned for Friday, March 25 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum, 3266 Dyewood Road SW, Carrollton, OH 44615. All women and young women (high school age) who are interested, involved in, or want to become involved with food, agricultural, or natural resources production or small business are encouraged to attend.

East Ohio Women in Ag Conference 2022 Flyer

The conference program features a networking fair and sixteen breakout sessions presented by OSU Extension educators, producers, and partner agencies. Sessions this year are focused around four themes: Natural Resources, Plants & Animals, Home & Family, and Special Interest (includes break-out with Ohio FFA State Officers). The conference keynote will be led by Bridget Britton, OSU Extension Behavioral Health Field Specialist. She and her team will lead participants through “Stoic or Stressed?… Continue reading

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Farmland leasing webinar

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

Winter is a good time to review farm leases, for both economic and legal reasons.  We’ll provide you current information to help with the farmland leasing process in our Ohio Farmland Leasing Update webinar on February 9, 2022 from 7 to 9 p.m. Barry Ward, Leader of Production Business Management for OSU Extension, will address the economic issues and our legal team of Peggy Hall and Robert Moore will provide the legal information.  

Our agenda will include:

  • Current economic outlook for Ohio row crops
  • Research on cash rent markets for the Eastern Corn Belt
  • Rental market outlook fundamentals
  • Negotiating conservation practices
  • Using leases in farmland succession planning
  • Ohio’s proposed law on providing notice of termination
  • Ensuring legal enforceability of a lease

There is no fee for the webinar, but registration is necessary.  Register at reading

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How to stay healthy at home in the COVID-19 pandemic

By Lingying Zhao

We have been in the COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years. Because of the pandemic, we started a new mode of working from home and/or staying at home as a measure to control the virus’ spread and protect our health. Recently, as the new Omicron variant of Coronavirus spread in the U.S. and all over the world, many of our friends and family members became infected with the virus. When we are sick, the instructions issued from the workplaces, doctors, and/or schools are to stay at home. Consequently, in this winter during the pandemic, we are spending even more time in our homes. However, most of our homes are not designed and equipped to deal with the air-borne transmission of infectious diseases. One sick family member at home may affect the safety of the entire household. Staying healthy at home in the pandemic, especially when we have sick family members living at home, becomes a significant challenge.… Continue reading

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Hunting sheds, darters and fur auctions

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

It’s no secret that Ohio whitetails are well-known for the size and quality of their antlers — both on the animal and after the antlers have been shed. I learn quite a bit about the resident deer population in the areas I hunt by going out this time of the year in search of shed antlers, including the locations of bedding areas and discovering new travel routes. 

A whitetail buck grows its first set of antlers when it is one year old, when they begin growing in the early spring. The developing antler is covered with a thick velvety skin rich with blood vessels and nerves. Decreasing day length in the late summer and early fall triggers several physical changes in a buck, including termination of the blood supply to the antlers. The antlers begin to harden soon thereafter and by August or September, the velvet is shed as the buck rubs his antlers against trees and other solid objects in the fields and woods.… Continue reading

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Riding for farmers who cannot

By Alayna DeMartini, Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

After a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run, Austin Heil wanted more.

Not more on the actual day in 2016 he finished Ohio’s half Ironman race, the Ironman 70.3 Ohio. On that day, he needed sleep and a lot of food. But weeks after getting to the finish line, he wanted to do a group ride with some of the people he bonded with along the course. People who swam and biked and ran alongside him.

“You’re near death in the last leg of a triathlon, so you meet a lot of people,” he joked about the grueling experience.

A few months after the triathalon, Heil organized a bike ride near his northwest Ohio farm in Kenton. And just to make the ride really interesting, he mapped out a course that would form a handwritten “Ohio.”

Using a Garmin app, he clicked around.… Continue reading

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Carnival season time to eat, drink and be merry

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

New Orleans is the place to party this month! First, let’s clear up some confusion. Carnival season starts at epiphany and is a time to eat, drink and be merry that includes parades, balls and other merriment leading up to Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday) is the peak, the culmination, the last hurrah, the final tick of the Carnival season game clock before fasting and prayer begin with Lent. Now I’ve been to the Big Easy, the grand finale may be complete, but the energy, music and food live on yearlong. 

Believe it or not this party all started with a pancake. The story goes that a Pope in the time of 600 AD forbade eating all meat and animal products during Lent. It spread to Southern England where parishioners used up their eggs, milk and butter the day before Ash Wednesday in the form of pancakes.… Continue reading

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Biden Administration to increase H-2B visas

To address the country’s ongoing labor shortage, the Biden Administration this announced it will allow an additional 20,000 foreign workers into the country under the H-2B visa program. 

The program permits employers to temporarily hire such workers for non-agricultural labor or services, including meatpacking. Employers requesting H-2B visas must attest to the U.S. Department of Labor that they will offer a wage that equals or exceeds the higher of the prevailing wage, applicable federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage or local minimum wage. Most of the visas will be available only to workers who received H-2B visas in the last three fiscal years, but 6,500 will go to laborers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras. Farm groups continue to ask congressional lawmakers to expand the current H-2A visa program to year-round agricultural laborers, including meatpacking workers.… Continue reading

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EPA is muddying the waters once again

By Courtney Briggs, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation

No one knows the benefits of clean water better than our nation’s farmers and ranchers. The food, fiber, and fuel we produce to support the needs of all Americans requires clean water. The health of our most valuable asset — our land, requires clean water. And the well-being of our families and communities also requires clean water. However, new regulatory proposals by the Biden Administration will impose incredible burdens that will have unintended, yet lasting, consequences.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a new regulation that would, once again, change the definition of “waters of the United States.” This regulation would repeal the successful Navigable Waters Protection Rule and reinstate the troubling pre-2015 WOTUS rule. If finalized, this rule would erase all of the clarity and certainty that we have spent years working for, and give the agencies the ability to assert jurisdiction over dry land that is located many miles from a federally regulated water.… Continue reading

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USDA announces inaugural Federal Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack selected 12 members to serve on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) inaugural Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture to provide input on policy development and to help identify barriers to urban agriculture as USDA works to promote urban farming and the economic opportunities it provides in cities across the country. 

The new Secretary’s Advisory Committee is part of USDA’s efforts to support urban agriculture, creating a network for feedback. Urban agriculture plays an important role in producing fresh, healthy food in areas where grocery stores are scarce, and also provides jobs and beautifies neighborhoods.   

“Urban agriculture has been growing in impact and importance, and we are taking bold actions to build a support structure,” Vilsack said. “I look forward to learning how we can better serve urban agricultural producers, which will complement our efforts focusing on equity, local food systems, access to safe and nutritional food and new ways to address climate change.”  

The Committee is made up of agricultural producers, and representatives from the areas of higher education or extension programs, non-profits, business and economic development, supply chains and financing. Carl… Continue reading

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H2Ohio deadline approaching

Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP) are due soon in the 10-county expansion area of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative. Producers enrolled in H2Ohio need to submit a VNMP by March 31 to apply for the next phase of program incentives.

Approximately 800 producers in the expansion area enrolled more than 600,000 acres of cropland into the H2Ohio program last fall. This represents more than 38% of the cropland in the project area — Crawford, Erie, Huron, Marion, Ottawa, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, and Wyandot counties.

All enrolled producers must submit a completed VNMP, which is the base best management practice (BMP), to their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to receive incentive payments before signing up for additional practices in the spring.  A VNMP tells producers where to place fertilizer, how much, and when.

H2Ohio participants in the expansion area are also reminded to submit required documentation if they are enrolled in the overwintering cover crop and conservation crop rotation/small grains practices. … Continue reading

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USDA partners with Port of Oakland

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans to increase capacity at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California and improve service for shippers of U.S. grown agricultural commodities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with the Port of Oakland to set up a new 25-acre “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities. Fewer containers have been made available for U.S. agricultural commodities, as ocean carriers have circumvented traditional marketing channels and rushed containers back to be exported empty and as a result, many of these carriers have suspended service to the Port of Oakland. USDA is now taking action to reduce these shipping disruptions that have prevented U.S. agricultural products from reaching their markets.

“COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities across our supply system, both at our ports and in the agricultural sector,” Vilsack said. “As the economy has made an historic recovery, it has put additional strain on the supply chain.… Continue reading

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OABA welcomes OSHA vaccine mandate withdraw

By Matt Reese
On Jan. 25, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) withdrew its emergency vaccine mandate order for businesses with 100 or more employees that was issued on Nov. 5, 2021.
Chris Henney, president/CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, was pleased to hear the news.
“This was big news for our industry. As you can imagine we have a lot of companies and co-ops that have more than 100 employees across the state serving Ohio’s farmers. We also have a fair number of smaller companies that employ less than 100 employees. There was the potential for larger employers to lose employees to their competitors that are smaller than 100 employees. Essentially the government was picking winners and losers here,” Henney said. “We’re very thankful this rule is not going to move forward at this time. Long term, I think there is still an opportunity for OSHA to look at other pathways to accomplish what they want to accomplish.… Continue reading

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USDA Rural Development investing in rural Ohio

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh announced that USDA is investing $1 billion to build and improve critical community facilities in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Guam. This infrastructure funding will increase access to health care, education and public safety while spurring community development and building sound infrastructure for people living in rural communities.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has made investing in infrastructure improvements a top priority,” Bronaugh said. “These loans and grants will help rural communities invest in facilities and services that are vital to all communities, such as health care facilities, schools, libraries, and first responder vehicles and equipment. When we invest in essential services in rural America, we build opportunity and prosperity for the people who call rural communities home.”

USDA is investing $43.4 million in rural Ohio to build and improve critical community facilities. USDA is making funds available to 13 projects through two programs that will fund essential community services to help rural Ohio, the Community Facilities Loan Guarantees and Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants.… Continue reading

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OABA Conference drives agribusinesses to new heights

More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and networking at the organization’s annual Industry Conference, January 25-27 at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville. Through a variety of sessions presented by well-respected speakers from across the country, the conference pushed attendees to reach for new heights in their agribusiness endeavors. 

“OABA members displayed great resiliency and flexibility over the past two years in adapting to virtual events,” said Christopher Henney, OABA president and CEO. “It was energizing to once again bring our membership together in person for this year’s Industry Conference.”

The conference addressed key topics in today’s agriculture industry, including economic outlook, carbon markets, climate dynamics, supply chain implications, trade, workplace safety, hiring and retention during the Great Resignation Period, and much more. Notable speakers at the three-day event included Robert Fox, CoBank Knowledge Exchange; Dan Hanson, Marsh McLennan Agency, LLC; Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University; and Mark Worner, Agoro Carbon Alliance. … Continue reading

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USDA announces Conservation Reserve Program signups for 2022

Agricultural producers and landowners can sign up soon for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a cornerstone conservation program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a key tool in the Biden-Harris Administration effort to address climate change and achieve other natural resource benefits. The General CRP signup will run from Jan. 31 to March 11, and the Grassland CRP signup will run from April 4 to May 13. 

“We highly encourage farmers, ranchers and private landowners to consider the enrollment options available through CRP,” said Zach Ducheneaux, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “Last year, we rolled out a better, bolder program, and we highly encourage you to consider its higher payment rates and other incentives. CRP is another way that we’re putting producers and landowners at the center of climate-smart solutions that generate revenue and benefit our planet.”  

Producers and landowners enrolled 4.6 million acres into CRP signups in 2021, including 2.5 million acres in the largest Grassland CRP signup in history. There are currently 22.1 million acres enrolled, and FSA is aiming to reach the 25.5-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2022. … Continue reading

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OABA Industry Conference highlights award winners

The 2022 Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is underway and members from around the state heard a wide array of diverse presentations. 

In addition, OABA presented 2022 Industry Excellence Awards:

  • 2022 Excellence in Customer Service — Holly Cotter, Centerra Co-op  
  • 2022 Achievement as an Emerging Leader — Brian Spangler, Centerra Co-op  
  • 2022 Excellence in Safety & Stewardship — Tim Flock, Central Ohio Farmers Co-op, Inc.

Winners received a plaque and $1,000 cash award, sponsored by Assured Partners — J.H. Ward Agency. OABA has a distinguished history of serving the agricultural industry and its members through advocacy, policy leadership and educational programs. The Industry Excellence Awards honor excellence, professionalism and achievement among OABA member companies and their employees, and thereby encourage that same excellence in others.

“Now more than ever, it is important to take time to recognize outstanding individuals in our industry,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO. “These leaders set a high standard that agribusiness employees across all levels should aspire to achieve.” … Continue reading

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