Country Life

Thankful for stuffing

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

The sun is shining and warming the last days of fall. It is hard to imagine Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Imagine there are supply chain issues and you are only able to choose one side dish shipped to you for your holiday meal. What would it be? Three of the four adulting Detwiler children responded in a resounding cheer with: STUFFING! 

My husband Paul recently told me he thinks “most stuffing I’ve ever had has been like a brick.” You can imagine the surprise on my face when I countered with “I have been making stuffing for you for over 30 years and I HAVE NEVER MADE A BRICK!” Backpedaling madly, hoping to avoid the doghouse with Tuck, he mumbled “Uhhhhh, I mean like at potlucks or the Detwiler Thanksgiving.” It was funny thinking about those days when 13 of his aunts, uncles and families gathered in a local church feeding close to 100 peeps.… Continue reading

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Infrastructure & Jobs Investment Act becomes law

The Infrastructure & Jobs Investment Act was approved in early November in a bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives, after being passed by the Senate in August. President Joe Biden signed the bill on Nov. 15. The bill had general agricultural support.   

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) was pleased to see investments in several soy-related areas contained in key parts of the bill, including $110 billion in funding for roads and bridges and $17 billion for ports and waterways. These investments will help update the multimodal transportation network on which the soybean industry relies. Importantly, the bill did not increase the tax burden on farmers, a key point of advocacy for OSA as Congress has considered funding bills over the past few months.    

“We recognize that this is not a perfect bill but we also acknowledge that the improvements to infrastructure this bill will bring are vital for our industry to remain globally competitive,” said Ryan Rhoades, OSA president and Marion County soybean farmer.… Continue reading

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Farmland preservation case moving forward

The Arno Renner farm, currently operated by Renner’s nephew Don Bailey and his family, will appear before Union County Pleas Court on Wednesday Nov. 17 at 9:30 a.m. to attempt to uphold its agricultural easements and prevent Columbia Gas from further plans to install a gas line through nine acres of the property. The hearing will determine whether or not there is a necessity to take the land, and whether the public benefit of farmland has priority. The Department of Agriculture currently holds the easements which have previously protected the farm from similar situations.

In 2003, Arno Renner and the Arno Renner Trust donated the Ag Easement to the Ohio Department of Agriculture to ensure that the land would remain forever in agriculture. Several terms of the easement, if enforced by ODA, would prevent the construction of the commercial/industrial natural gas pipeline proposed by Columbia Gas. On July 7, 2021, the landowners requested that ODA enforce the easement and issue a cease and desist letter to Columbia Gas of Ohio.… Continue reading

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USDA funding available to help Ohio wetlands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has opened enrollment for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Wetlands Reserve Easement Program (ACEP-WRE). The program provides financial and technical assistance to Ohio landowners wishing to protect and restore critical wetlands by enrolling property into conservation easements. Applications for ACEP-WRE are taken on a continuous basis. The deadline to receive fiscal year 2022 funding is Feb. 18, 2022.

Many of Ohio’s landowners can take advantage of this program, as eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored; croplands or grasslands subject to flooding; and previously restored wetlands and riparian areas that connect protected wetland areas. Since 2005, NRCS has worked with landowners to restore more than 25,000 acres of wetlands in Ohio. 

“For over 25 years, NRCS has been working with private landowners to protect and restore wetlands through wetland easement programs,” said Barbara Baker, Assistant State Conservationist for Natural Resources in Ohio.… Continue reading

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Two-day OSU Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference this week

Wondering what’s going to happen with the next U.S. Farm Bill? Want to know more about consumers, shopping, and local foods? Or do you have questions regarding the U.S. trade policy and what the prospects are for agricultural trade? 

Answers to these questions and more can be found next week at the Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference Nov. 18–19 offered by agricultural economists at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The conference is a series of one-hour webinars focused on Ohio’s agricultural and food industry. It is hosted by experts with the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

The conference will be held virtually over two days, with experts covering issues important to producers, agribusinesses, and elected officials. CFAES agricultural economists will speak along with other experts from Washington, D.C., other leading land-grant institutions, and the Federal Reserve System. Each webinar begins at 9 a.m.… Continue reading

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Sunrise Cooperative and Mercer Landmark Feed partnership

In July, Sunrise Cooperative and Mercer Landmark Feed announced they were coming together into a single operating company. The new company will be called Heartland Feed Services. 
The Mercer Landmark and Sunrise Cooperative Feed teams have been jointly working to finalize this exciting opportunity on or before February 2022. All current Feed Division employees at Mercer Landmark and Sunrise Cooperative will be offered a position with Heartland Feed Services or with either Mercer Landmark or Sunrise Cooperative, the two cooperatives forming the partnership.
Managers from both companies have toured all facilities and have developed a plan that will enable Heartland Feed Services to offer increased value and services for our customers while maximizing operational efficiencies.
The Celina Feed Mill will become a single species facility focusing on supporting and growing Heartland Feed Services’ swine feed business. This includes transitioning all the production capabilities from the New Bremen plant to Celina. Likewise, beef and dairy feed production at the St.… Continue reading

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Grain silo murals of Toledo: When two friends asked “what if”?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Two years ago, when friends Brandi Wimberly and Nicole LeBoutillier were on a boat trip on the Maumee River in Toledo and saw the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) grain silos, they saw much more than just concrete structures to hold grain. They saw a canvas to tell the story of the region and of those who came before.

Putting an idea into action

It did not take long once the idea had been hatched, to set the wheels in motion. LeBoutillier called her friend Christina Kasper, who is an art consultant, while she was still on the boat trip. Kasper is President of Urban Sight, Inc. and serves as Project Manager for the Glass City River Wall. The three ladies met for coffee and to come up with a plan. 

“We initially approached the Toledo Arts Commission,” Kasper said.… Continue reading

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The dangers of farm gases

By Dee Jepsen, Haley Zynda, Jason Hartschuh

Agriculture is the third most hazardous industry in the U.S. While many hazards are apparent, agricultural gases are considered silent dangers. Oftentimes they go unnoticed. Yet in the right atmospheric conditions they have potential to do great harm.

Working in and around confined spaces are a necessity on grain and livestock operations. There are four factors to know when it comes to agricultural confined spaces: recognition, respect, entry and rescue techniques.  


Being able to recognize a confined space is a critical first step. Confined spaces are defined as areas large enough for a person to enter and perform work but have a limited or restricted means for entry or exit. These spaces have unfavorable ventilation and often contain or produce dangerous air contaminants.

Farm structures that meet the confined space definition include grain bins, upright silos, manure pits, wells, sewers and parlor waste holding pits.… Continue reading

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OABA Industry Conference to drive agribusinesses to new heights

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will provide education and networking opportunities for agribusiness professionals at its annual Industry Conference, Jan. 25, 26 and 27, 2022 at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris Hotel.

This will be the tenth year the Industry Conference has been held, with more than 400 industry professionals attending the last in-person event, held in 2020.

“Our members showed great resilience in adapting to a virtual conference in 2021, but we are excited for the opportunity to gather in person for this year’s conference,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO. “This year, we focus on how companies can push themselves to new heights, developing their business strategies and their workforce to meet the needs of an ever-evolving industry.”

Session topics include economic outlook, carbon markets, climate dynamics, supply chain implications, trade, workplace safety, hiring and retention during the Great Resignation Period, and much more. In addition, the conference will once again feature the Safety & Risk Management Day on Jan.… Continue reading

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Veterans feeding the communities they left to serve

By Natalie Monroe, communications director of Farmer Veteran Coalition

“I remember the moment, standing in Jim Cochran’s organic strawberry field overlooking the Pacific Ocean,” reflects the founder of Farmer Veteran Coalition, Michael O’Gorman.
“Jim had served during Vietnam. The three women standing with us — Mary Tillman, Dolores Kesterman and Nadia McCaffrey — all lost their sons in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Fatalities were high in 2007, and the country was deeply divided. Starting a campaign to create viable careers and places to heal on our nation’s farms for men and women returning from war felt electric. 
This idea sprouted roots in 2008 when O’Gorman, a lifelong farmer, started FVC in the back of his pick-up truck. Our plan was simple: find a way to help these veterans as they return to the communities they left to serve, and then tell their story. 
Now FVC has pioneered an entire military-to-agriculture movement.
Continue reading

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Ohio files suit challenging vaccine mandates

On Nov. 5, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and six other attorneys general sued the Biden administration in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, asserting that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lacks authority to force tens of millions of Americans in the private sector to get vaccinated.

The states are asking the Sixth Circuit to stop implementation of the vaccine mandate while the case is litigated.

“A nationwide vaccine mandate that has nothing to do with workplace risk is a dangerous and unlawful use of executive power,” Yost said. “Congress has not given the president the power to make personal health-care decisions for all Americans who just so happen to work at a company with at least 100 employees.”

The vaccine mandate is a serious concern for many Ohio agribusinesses already struggling to find enough labor.

“This brought shockwaves to our industry. I heard a lot of concern from our companies’ CEOs about that.… Continue reading

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Weather roller coaster to continue

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

After the warmest October on record (1895-present), a flurry of frosty of mornings have officially brought the 2021 growing season to a close. Many areas have experienced low temperatures in the low to mid 20s, with the coldest temperature of 19 degrees F occurring near DeGraff in Logan County on Nov. 5. Precipitation has varied widely across the state, with the heaviest occurring across Ottawa County and south-central Ohio. Wet conditions there have continue to hamper harvest and manure activities. Outside of these areas, precipitation has been a bit below average. We have also seen our first reports of snowfall across northeast Ohio. For more climate information, check out the State Climate Office of Ohio.


High pressure will remain anchored southeast of the region over the next couple of days. A weak cold front could bring a few widely scattered showers across the northwest counties.… Continue reading

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Infrastructure bill investments bring necessary updates for agriculture

The Infrastructure & Jobs Investment Act was approved Friday in a bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives, after being passed by the Senate in August, and now goes to the President’s desk for his signature. The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) was pleased to see investments in several soy-related areas contained in key parts of the bill, including $110 billion in funding for roads and bridges and $17 billion for ports and waterways. These investments will help update the multimodal transportation network on which the soybean industry relies. Importantly, the bill did not increase the tax burden on farmers, a key point of advocacy for OSA as Congress has considered funding bills over the past few months.    

“We recognize that this is not a perfect bill but we also acknowledge that the improvements to infrastructure this bill will bring are vital for our industry to remain globally competitive,” said Ryan Rhoades, OSA president and Marion County soybean farmer.… Continue reading

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USDA awards Conservation Innovation Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is awarding $25 million to conservation partners across the country for 18 new projects under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials program.

On-Farm Trials projects support widespread adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches in partnership with agricultural producers. This year’s awarded projects increase the adoption of new approaches and technologies to help agricultural producers mitigate the effects of climate change, increase the resilience of their operations and boost soil health.

“Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners play a crucial role in charting the course towards a climate-smart future,” said Terry Cosby, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “On-Farm Trials enable partners to work with producers to test and adopt new climate-smart systems on their operations that support agricultural production and conserve natural resources, while also building climate resilience.”

Awarded projects include “Diversifying Appalachia’s Pastures to Improve Soil Health (West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania)WVU Research Corporation will promote and evaluate pasture diversification through reseeding as an innovative conservation strategy.… Continue reading

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The little guy wins out in legal dispute

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

I’m pretty sure our Border Collies know the Old Testament story of David and Goliath. Why else would two dogs, who each weigh maybe 60 pounds dripping wet, herd a farm full of cows weighing over 1,800 pounds a piece?

            David was the youngest son of Jesse’s 12 boys. He was kept behind when the other brothers went to fight the Philistine army that had gathered for battle. David ended up at the battlefield when his father sent him to get an update from the front line. David found the two armies gathered on opposite sides of a deep valley. For 40 days, the Philistine giant, Goliath, who was over nine feet tall, had ridiculed the Israelis and their God and called them to fight. Because of his size and demeanor, the Israelis, including King Saul, were afraid. In fact, King Saul thought Goliath was too big to fight.… Continue reading

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The milk of the “eastern cowboys” of ancient Eurasia

By Don “Doc” Sanders

More than 6,000 years ago, tribes wandered the prairies of what is now Russia and Ukraine. They settled across Eurasia, the earth’s largest continental land mass, encompassing all of Europe and Asia.

These wandering tribes, the Yamnaya, traveled with heavy ox-drawn wagons and left their genetic fingerprint from Hungary to Mongolia. They’ve been referred to as “eastern cowboys,” as they also traveled on horseback.

A news story about the Yamnaya recently caught my eye because I have traveled and consulted in Mongolia, which I’ve previously written about. 

The Yamnaya tribes were on the scene before the exploits of Genghis Kahn and the Mongol Horde. Genghis Kahn conquered the descendants of the Yamnaya after he became the major Mongol general in 1105 A.D. 

As a dairy management specialist, what really piqued my interest about the Yamnaya is a recent report that a DNA analysis of plaque in the fossilized teeth of 50 Yamnaya nomads suggested that they drank milk.… Continue reading

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Extension Farm Office Live (fall and winter edition)

By Barry Ward, David Marrison, Peggy Hall, Dianne Shoemaker, Julie Strawser, Ohio State University Extension 

“Farm Office Live” returns virtually this fall and winter as an opportunity for you to get the latest outlook and updates on ag law, farm management, ag economics, farm business analysis and other related issues from faculty and educators with the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Each Farm Office Live will include presentations on select ag law and farm management topics from our experts. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and interact with presenters via webinar features. Viewers can attend “Farm Office Live” online each month on Wednesday evening or Friday morning, or can catch a recording of each program. The full slate of offerings for this fall and winter:

Nov. 17, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Nov. 19, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Dec. 15, 7 – 8:30 p.m.… Continue reading

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Removing iron from drinking water

By Karen Mancl

A metallic taste in the water and stains on fixtures and clothing are all signs of iron in well water. While not a health issue, even a small amount of iron can make water unpleasant to use.

Iron is naturally occurring in much of Ohio’s well water. Iron is in the rocks, sands and gravels that rural homeowners drill down to so they can pump up ground water. A confusing array of options awaits those trying to decide how best to remove iron. The best option depends on the amount and chemical form of the iron.  

Iron can be in the household plumbing in the form of iron bacteria, that forms a slime layer inside pipes and water tanks. Shock chlorination of the well and plumbing will kill iron bacteria. Unfortunately, the iron bacteria will grow back, so continuing to chlorinate the well every few months to few years will be necessary to keep the nuisance growth under control.… Continue reading

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USDA offers assistance to protect privately-owned agricultural lands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages people and groups wanting to protect agricultural lands, and grasslands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements. This year, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $76 million in financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts, and other groups protect these valuable working lands.

Through USDA’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Agricultural Land Easements, NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep agricultural viability for future generations especially in areas experiencing development pressure.

“Agricultural Land Easements prevent conversion of valuable productive working lands to non-agricultural uses,” said Lori Ziehr, Ohio Acting State Conservationist. “Land protected by ALEs supports the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply in addition to historic and wildlife habitat preservation.” 

Partners include State or local agencies, non-profits, and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property, but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement.… Continue reading

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Big picture tax and estate planning amid the political uncertainly of 2021

By Matt Reese

The current confusing mess of tax proposals and discussions in Washington, D.C., paired with strong crop prices, astounding increases in input costs, and an undependable supply chain has many farmers looking at big picture decisions for the farm for the remainder of 2021. With so many unclear and competing factors, it can be hard to know what to do both long term and short term for farms.

Mike Weasel is the director of business development for Wilson National, LLC and has seen continued strong prices for farmland, but also a confounding list of challenges for the farm sector. 

“John Stevenson was a good friend of mine who always told me, ‘Mike, you need to remember agriculture is a long term business,’ to which I’d say, ‘John you have to survive the short run or it doesn’t matter,’ and I think I’d say the same thing today,” Weasel said.… Continue reading

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