Country Life

Agricultural viewpoints on Issue 1

A number of agricultural groups have come out in support of Issue 1, which will be part of a special election scheduled for Aug. 8.

The ballot initiative asks Ohio voters if the state should strengthen the petition process and raise the threshold to 60% for approving constitutional amendment proposals. If passed, the resolution will raise the bar for approving constitutional amendments to 60% and will modify the requirements for the petition process for proposals to change the constitution, requiring no less than 5% of the electors represented from every county of the state to sign a petition. Currently, signatures must be gathered for only 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Additionally, the initiative would eliminate a 10-day period that petitioners are granted to replace any invalid signatures. Importantly, Issue 1 only applies to constitutional changes, and the initiated petition process to amend Ohio law remains unchanged.

Many in Ohio agriculture support the measure because of the security and affordability of the state’s food supply resulting from having a more measured approach to amending the Ohio Constitution.… Continue reading

Read More »

Budget bill includes many non-budget changes for ag

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

While Ohio’s “budget bill” is important for funding our agencies and programs, it always contains many provisions that aren’t at all related to the state’s budget. The budget bill provides an opportunity for legislators to throw in interests of all sorts, which tends to add challenges to reaching consensus. Though many worried about having the current budget approved in time, Ohio lawmakers did pass the two-year budget bill, H.B. 33, just ahead of its deadline on June 30.

We’ve been digging through the bill’s 6,000+ pages of budget and non-budget provisions and the Governor’s 44-item veto. Some of the provisions are proposals we’ve seen in other legislation that made their way into the budget bill. Not included in the final package were Senate-approved changes to the Current Agricultural Use Valuation law that would have adjusted reappraisals in 2023, 2024, and 2025.… Continue reading

Read More »

Getting the most from a unique property

By Matt Reese

In the current market, Ohio farmland properties have the potential to derive value from a broad array of different sources, all of which come into play at an auction.

“When you’re looking into buying some of these more unique properties, you need to do your own due diligence. Check out all the print ads and the all the information that’s provided by the auction company,” said Matt Bowers, auctioneer, realtor and equipment specialist for Dye Real Estate and Land Company. “We try to leave no stone unturned. We try to make sure all the information about the property is available and we are very open to any kinds of phone calls or anything like that you may want to check on. If you’re looking at it as an investment property, you’ll want to know what kind of cash rents there are in the area. If you’re looking to farm it yourself, you’ll want to know the soil types and whether the property is tiled.… Continue reading

Read More »

Holmes County Steam & Engine Show Aug. 3-5

Steam engines, antique tractors, threshing machines and more will soon be rolling into Mt. Hope for the 31st annual Holmes County Steam & Engine Show.

“This may be our biggest show yet,” said Melvin Wengerd, Holmes County Steam & Engine Association president. “The $10,000 purse featured for our Thursday evening horse pull is the largest in the state and always attracts some of the greatest pulling teams around.”

The three-day event will be held on the Mt. Hope Auction Grounds/Holmes County Event Center, in Mt. Hope, Ohio. Dates are Thursday, Aug. 3 through Saturday, Aug. 5.

Highlights include Thursday’s horse pull. New this year is a mini pony pull starting at 2 p.m., and a draft pony pull starts at 4 p.m. Friday will feature a tractor pull and Saturday there will be a garden tractor and mini rod pull. Visitors won’t want to miss threshing and sawmill demonstrations, tractor games and Saturday’s finale drawing for the pedal tractor.… Continue reading

Read More »

Apply now for controlled hunts

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

Ohio hunters are fortunate to have special opportunities for pursuing popular game birds and animals on state land. Applications for Ohio’s public land controlled hunting opportunities are being accepted through July 31. The hunts provide special chances for people to pursue deer, waterfowl, doves, and more on public lands during the 2023-24 season. The Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) as well as the Division of Parks and Watercraft host controlled hunts on select areas around Ohio. Hunts for adults, youth, mobility impaired, and mentors with apprentices are available. Species-specific hunts include deer, waterfowl, dove, pheasant, squirrel, and quail. Firearm and archery opportunities are available for some species.

Hunters may apply for controlled hunts by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System or via phone by calling 1-800-703-1928. There is $5.50 service fee for the phone option. Each hunt requires payment of a non-refundable $3 application fee.… Continue reading

Read More »

Fulton County hosts successful Breakfast on the Farm event

Triple H Farms in Metamora opened its farm to nearly 3,000 guests on Saturday, June 24 for the 2023 Breakfast on the Farm event (BOTF). Guests of all ages enjoyed a free, locally produced breakfast and a self-guided tour of a modern grain, tomato, and beef farm.

“Breakfast on the Farm was a great way to showcase agriculture to people who have never had the opportunity to visit a farm,” said Amanda Podach, Fulton Soil and Water Education Specialist. “The feedback was so positive, people really enjoyed exploring the farm, and the breakfast was amazing. We owe a huge thanks to the Herr family, our sponsors and more than 350 volunteers who helped make this day such a great success.”

Podach shared that this type of event gives the general public a first-hand look at modern food production, especially as the gap between producer and consumer continues to grow. The goal was to offer the opportunity for the public to experience how farmers care for their animals, how they produce wholesome and safe food, and how they care for the land.… Continue reading

Read More »

Biotechnology advancing the agriculture classroom

By Jake Zajkowski, OCJ field reporter

Honeybees are a familiar sight for those in agriculture, and now more than ever in science classrooms. Teachers at the GrowNextGen Ag Biotech Graduate Academy are taking soybean plants, pests, and their pollinators to the next level by training teachers, who then pass the engaging and industry-relevant labs on to their students. Sponsored by Corteva and the Ohio Soybean Council, GrowNextGen’s mission is to make agricultural learning relevant for students in Ohio.

“One thing that is really beneficial from GrowNextGen is that we get the labs and the worksheets to go along with the lesson and we get the materials,” said Olivia Pflaumer, FFA Advisor and tenth grade environmental science teacher at Global Impact STEM Academy. “It’s a place to get started and we can modify it as we need so we can scale it up or down for our students as we see fit.… Continue reading

Read More »

Central State University named partner institution on $10 million agriculture award

Central State University (CSU) partners with three other universities to receive a $10 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to recruit, educate, train, and retain the next generation of diverse food and agriculture professionals.

The From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals (NEXTGEN) award was given to CSU and Lincoln University, two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), along with a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), Texas A&M University, and one Research University (RIU), Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“The goal is to train our undergraduate students to become the essential workforce for the future of agriculture in the United States,” said Hongmei Li-Byarlay, CSU’s principal investigator (PI) for the project, research associate professor of entomology at CSU, and project director for Pollinator Health, Agricultural Research Development Program. “The grant will provide a lot of training opportunities and research internships for students to explore a variety of topics in agriculture, especially in soil science, entomology, and life science.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio’s sweet heritage: Evolution of ice cream 

By Jake Zajkowski, OCJ field reporter

In just about every town in Ohio, where ice cream shops seem to dot each street corner, Ohioans share a special connection with this beloved frozen treat. As we celebrate National Ice Cream Month, it presents an opportunity not only to indulge in a weekly ice cream run but also to reflect upon the significant history of ice cream in the state.

“Ohio played a prominent role in ice cream manufacturing,” said John Lindamood, a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. “When I began working in Extension, there were 425 dairy plants in the state of Ohio, with specialty ice cream products leading the sales. “

Lindamood’s tenure at Ohio State University spanned 40 years during a pivotal era of innovation in the ice cream industry as a dairy foods Extension agent. Ohio proudly claims credit for several iconic ice cream inventions during this timeframe, including the ice cream drumstick, pioneered by Ohio State, the Klondike bar from Isaly’s Dairy Company in Mansfield, and the Good Humor brand, which initiated the first-ever treat delivery service across suburban America.… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA announces investment in wildlife conservation in rural America

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will expand its work on wildlife conservation by investing at least $500 million over the next five years and by leveraging all available conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), through its Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) effort.

“Working Lands for Wildlife is living proof that we can do better work when we work with our partners,” said Terry Cosby, NRCS Chief. “Partnerships have been the building blocks of success over the years, and we look forward to our continued work with partners to help grow and shape voluntary conservation on private lands.”   

These commitments ramp up the conservation assistance for farmers, ranchers, private forest owners and tribes with a focus on working lands in key geographies across the country as well as hiring for key conservation positions. The funding will help deliver a series of cohesive Frameworks for Conservation Action, which establish a common vision across the partnership of public and private interests and goals for delivering conservation resources in a given ecosystem, combining cutting-edge science with local knowledge. … Continue reading

Read More »

Hot summer weather increases risk of heat illness

Farmers, producers, and anyone who works outdoors should beware: When the weather is warmer, you’re at a higher risk for heat illness, which can come on suddenly with many people unaware they’re in danger. 

Even experienced workers are vulnerable to heat-related illness, said Dee Jepsen, state leader, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Program. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

One reason is that, often, some are unwilling to admit that heat affects them. Or they don’t recognize the symptoms. 

In fact, almost half of heat-related deaths occur on a worker’s first day on the job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 70% of heat-related deaths occur during a worker’s first week. 

“There seems to be a stigma associated with being affected by heat illness,” Jepsen said. “Some of the typical responses from some as to why they’re unwilling to acknowledge the risk of heat illness include, ‘I don’t need a break,’ ‘I need to prove I can work hard,’ or I don’t usually need to drink a lot of water.” … Continue reading

Read More »

Walleye getting no respect

Ohio does not officially have a state fish to complement the long list of official animal symbols that even include a state fish fossil. Potential state fish candidates have been debated through the years, as residents and legislators have suggested a wide range of native fish species to formally represent the state, including yellow perch, smallmouth bass, bluegill and walleye.

When the Columbus, Ohio-based news outlet, NBC4, held a poll to narrow down official fish options to propose to state legislators in 2021, the walleye received 27.5% of the votes. During NBC4’s initial survey where they asked readers and watchers to suggest species for the eventual poll, walleye also made up around one-third of the feedback. Ohio has struggled with deciding on its official state fish since at least the 1980s, as various state fish bills have been proposed, with every one failing to get passed — including that most recent effort.… Continue reading

Read More »

Governor DeWine requests Presidential Disaster Declaration for East Palestine

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine requested that President Joseph R. Biden issue a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration relating to the Norfolk Southern train derailment and release of hazardous chemicals that occurred in East Palestine.

“The possibility remains that the voluntary support provided by Norfolk Southern could at some point in the future cease, and this Declaration is needed to ensure that the State and Federal government use all resources available to step in and provide the community with needed assistance.,” DeWine stated in his letter to President Biden.

Since the derailment in East Palestine on February 3, 2023, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency has maintained frequent contact with FEMA on numerous fronts, including the potential provision of aid through FEMA. FEMA has consistently advised that such assistance would likely not be granted because of no unmet needs reported to the state. The voluntary actions of Norfolk Southern have to date reimbursed citizens and state and local governments for costs associated with damage incurred due to the train derailment.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ohio Farm Bureau unveils farm labor resources

As competition for available skilled farm workers intensifies and wages for those workers increase, finding and retaining farm labor remains one of the greatest challenges for Ohio agriculture. That’s why Ohio Farm Bureau, in a partnership with Nationwide, has released a first-of-its-kind Labor Intelligence Report and Guide to Finding, Hiring and Retaining Farm Employees through their new Ag Intelligence Service.

The report, titled “Farm Employees. Where are they? Strategies and Solutions for Your Farm,” outlines current farm labor challenges and explores how farmers are considering alternative staffing solutions and strategies to find, recruit and retain farm employees. The report is being offered as a free download for anyone interested in the valuable information.

“A Guide to Finding, Hiring and Retaining Farm Employees,” available exclusively for Ohio Farm Bureau members, is designed to help position farm businesses as an employer of choice in this tough labor market. It will help farmers attract and retain quality labor and reduce the chance of a key employee leaving, causing a business disruption.… Continue reading

Read More »

Growing crops and social media followers

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

What do content creation, grain farming and cheerleading have in common? To most, the answer may seem elusive, but for Zoe Kent, these seemingly disparate elements have defined her life and career. From the fields to the vibrant screens of social media, Zoe has transitioned from her role as a farmer into an influential online persona.

As the eighth generation on her family’s Crawford County farm, Kent can’t recall a time when she wanted to be anything but a farmer.

“Maybe when I was in fifth grade, I thought about being a hairdresser, but I got over that pretty quickly,” Kent said with a smile.

As a child and a teenager, Kent was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities including 4-H, FFA and cheerleading. Her high school cheerleading career followed her into college, where she participated on the Ohio State University team while pursuing a degree in agricultural business.… Continue reading

Read More »

Maumee TMDL plan moving forward

Ohio EPA has sent its plan for a Total Maximum Daily Load for the Maumee River Watershed to the U.S. EPA for consideration. The TMDL would create a blueprint for officials to develop and implement programs and policies to improve the quality of water within the designated area. The finalized proposal devised by Ohio EPA properly acknowledges the efforts already underway in Ohio, including the H2Ohio water quality initiative and federal conservation programs funded through the farm bill.

“Although a TMDL isn’t necessary in order for Ohio agriculture to move the needle on water quality, this plan does recognize the emphasis farmers in northwest Ohio are currently putting on nutrient management as a major factor in reaching the goal of a healthier Maumee River,” said Jack Irvin, vice president of public policy with Ohio Farm Bureau. “Equally as important, it points out that this TMDL will not be successful unless all sources of pollution do their part to reach the desired targets for clean water.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Cheesecake – a super delicious food

By Shelly Detwiler

Early June it’s grad party central and like many other Ohioans Paul and I headed off for a day of grazing. First up, Julia’s. Julia’s party food spoke to my foodie heart with 11 flavors of the most delicious four bite Cheesecake Girl cheesecakes. Big mistake! My friend had to hold me back as I wanted to try them all, however 11 was even a little much for me. I selected four and headed back to share with Paul. Our favorite of the day was the banana pudding. Cheesecake Girl has taken central Ohio by storm since opening up her first storefront in Hilliard in 2020. Another has opened in Dublin, New Albany, Budd Dairy-Columbus and as of the first of this year Cheesecake Girl ships nationwide with over 40 flavors. Note to self…when I have a party and choose cheesecakes, choose only three flavors, four max. Otherwise you’ll run out of the tasty treats when everyone has to try every flavor.… Continue reading

Read More »

Foundation golf outing outdrives fundraising goal

The 2023 Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Golf Invitational raised over $100,000 for foundation scholarships, grants and programs that help enhance agricultural communities and support careers in agriculture.

“The annual golf invitational serves as great exposure for the work of the foundation. We had a great day connecting with new and loyal supporters while creating awareness around careers in agriculture. Raising over $100,000 allows the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation to continue our focus to inspire and educate the next generation of agricultural professionals through scholarships, innovative programming and grants,” said Jenny Cox, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation board president.

The event was held June 26 at Pinnacle Golf Club in Grove City and hosted 156 golfers.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation offers a special thank you to the event sponsors, especially Nationwide, who served as the title sponsor for the event. This successful day would not have been possible without the generous support of sponsors and participants.… Continue reading

Read More »

Cost of Fourth of July cookout up 17%

U.S. consumers will pay $69.68 for their favorite Independence Day cookout foods, including cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream, based on a new American Farm Bureau Federation marketbasket survey.

The average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $69.68, which breaks down to less than $7 per person. The overall cost for the cookout is up 17% or about $10 from last year, a result of ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation and the war in Ukraine.

Farmers are feeling the price-point pain too, like the people they grow food for, according to AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan.

“Despite higher food prices, the supply chain disruptions and inflation have made farm supplies more expensive; like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,” Cryan said. He added, “Bottom line, in many cases the higher prices farmers are being paid aren’t covering the increase in their farm expenses.… Continue reading

Read More »

State budget includes tax savings, funding for ag priorities

The state’s main operating budget for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 was passed by the Ohio Legislature Friday, June 30, just before the constitutional deadline.

Of importance to Ohio Farm Bureau members, the budget includes major savings on income taxes and the Commercial Activity Tax, or CAT.

The legislation reduces the number of income tax brackets for individuals. Phased in over the biennium, the marginal rates will be 2.75% on income over $26,050 and 3.5% on income over $100,000. Ohioans making less $26,050 will pay no income tax.

The new state budget also eliminates the Commercial Activity Tax for 90% of Ohio businesses, which will pay no taxes on the first $3 million of gross receipts in tax year 2024 and will pay no taxes on the first $6 million of gross receipts in tax year 2025.

“Farm Bureau applauds the Ohio House and Senate for working on provisions in this budget to help alleviate tax implications for our members,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

Read More »