Country Life

A look at ag-gag laws

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

The legislative branch of government writes the laws. The executive branch of government enforces the laws, and the judicial branch of government interprets the laws. This is known as our balance of power.

Just because a legislature passes a law doesn’t mean it will be found to be valid or enforceable if litigation ensues. An excellent example of this happened just several months ago in Iowa, a state synonymous with farming. In 2019, the Iowa Legislature sought to protect their agricultural interests from undercover reporting and surreptitious investigative journalistic methods so they amended their “ag-gag” law. These are statutes that are anti-whistle blower laws that apply within the agriculture industry. The term “ag-gag” typically refers to state laws in the U.S. that forbid undercover filming or photography of activity on farms without the consent of their owner — particularly targeting animal rights activists of animal rights abuses at these facilities.… Continue reading

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Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference March 11

Ohio State Extension announced plans to host a Small Farm Conference in Mansfield Ohio on March 11, 2023. The theme for this year’s Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference is “Sowing Seeds for Success.” 

Conference session topics are geared to beginning and small farm owners as well as to farms looking to diversify their operation. There will be five different conference tracks including: Farm Office, Horticulture and Produce Production, Livestock, Agritourism/ Marketing, Natural Resources. 

Some conference topic highlights include: How to purchase our family farm, food animal processing, bee keeping, sweet corn, blueberry and pumpkin production, small ruminant nutrition, agritourism laws, fruit tree pruning and cut flower diseases. 

Anyone interested in developing, growing or diversifying their small farm is invited to attend including market gardeners, farmers market vendors, and anyone interested in small farm living. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to browse a trade show featuring the newest and most innovative ideas and services for their farming operation.… Continue reading

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Chocoholics may be at risk

By Don “Doc” Sanders

If you are like me, your consumption of chocolates goes up maybe 200% during the Christmas season. Truffles, Marie’s (a local favorite of mine, if you’re still in the gift-giving mood), Ghirardelli’s, chocolate turtles, chocolate drops, white chocolate, Belgium chocolates — how many more of them can I name? 

But other than putting on a few pounds or messing up my complexion, why worry?

Here’s why (at the risk of bringing you down from your chocolate high): Chocolates contain relatively high levels of toxic heavy metals. Especially worrisome are cadmium and lead. Consumer Reports found that 23 of the 28 brands of dark chocolate candy bars they tested contained levels of cadmium and lead considered toxic to humans. 

Brands checked included Dove, Ghirardelli, and lesser-known labels such as Alter Eco and Mast. Milk chocolates also have a heavy metal contamination issue, though not quite as high. 

At the same time, chocolate contains health-promoting flavanols, molecules that accumulate in the skin and leaves of many plants, such as fruits and vegetables.… Continue reading

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Applications open for 2023 ExPloreAg STEM camps

Ohio Farm Bureau’s signature ag literacy and workforce development program, ExploreAg, will once again be offering free weeklong camps and one-day experiences for high school students in 2023.

In ExploreAg, teens learn about agriculture and related STEM fields from industry experts, scientists, and educators. Participants visit locations like Kroger and Bob Evans, manufacturers like John Deere and Certified Angus Beef, and research laboratories at Ohio State, Wilmington and Findlay. Youths are able to develop their leadership and collaboration skills and prepare for college and further careers during these multiday and daylong immersion programs

“Providing students with opportunities to explore the variety of educational and career opportunities open to them is always a struggle,” said Jana Mussard, ExploreAg and ag literacy specialist with Ohio Farm Bureau. “At the same time, our society is faced with the great challenge of feeding a growing world population while doing so sustainably. It is going to take this generation of students to get the job done.”… Continue reading

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Farmers and hunters are still teaming up to feed the hungry

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

One of my favorite conservation programs got a financial boost recently. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife contributed $25,000 in a grant to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to support local food banks with donated venison. The organization will use the funding to pay for white-tailed deer harvested by hunters to be processed and distributed to charitable organizations in Ohio. Additional funding will be secured by the organization with a goal to match or exceed the amount provided by the grant.

FHFH, assisted by the Division of Wildlife’s grant, covers the processing cost for deer donated by hunters for the program. FHFH expects to pay the processing cost for 350 deer with the grant each of which yields approximately 50 pounds of venison and 200 meals. Hunters who harvest a deer and would like to donate the venison can bring it to one of approximately 30 certified deer processing shops in Ohio, which will process the deer and donate it to a verified charitable organization that offers food assistance for underprivileged individuals and families.   … Continue reading

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Check out the new eFields report!

By Elizabeth Hawkins and John Fulton

Now that 2022 has wrapped up, it is time to look forward and make decisions to set our farms up for success in 2022. Each year, Ohio State University Extension partners with Ohio farmers to bring local research results to you through the eFields program. The 2021 eFields Research Report highlights 292 on-farm, field scale trials conducted across Ohio. Research topics included nutrient management, precision crop management, cover crops, technology and forages. Other information about crop production budgets, planting progress, and farm business analysis was also included. 

The 2022 report is now available in both a print and e-version. To receive a printed copy, contact your local OSU Extension office or email The e-version can be viewed and downloaded at with the online version readable using a smartphone or tablet device.

Jan. 31 there will be a webinar focused on eFields research projects and will provide the opportunity to discuss results and gather information about research interests for 2023.… Continue reading

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WOTUS rule challenged in court (again)

American Farm Bureau Federation is legally challenging the new Waters of the United States rule. AFBF joined 17 other organizations representing agriculture, infrastructure and housing, as well as county and state Farm Bureaus in filing suit.

“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources we’re entrusted with. Clean water is important to all of us,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “Unfortunately, the new WOTUS rule once again gives the federal government sweeping authority over private lands. This isn’t what clean water regulations were intended to do. Farmers and ranchers should not have to hire a team of lawyers and consultants to determine how we can farm our land.”

There is broad agricultural and landowner concern about the lack of clarity in the rule.

“The new rule is vague and creates uncertainty for America’s farmers, even if they’re miles from the nearest navigable water,” Duvall said. “We believe a judge will recognize these regulations exceed the scope of the Clean Water Act, and direct EPA to develop rules that enable farmers to protect natural resources while ensuring they can continue stocking America’s pantries.”… Continue reading

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Ohio frontier battles in the Northwest Indian War

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

The Northwest Indian War (~1785-1795), also known as Little Turtle’s War, was fought to establish European dominance and control of the Northwest Territory north of the Ohio River in what is now the state of Ohio. The Northwest Indian War played a significant role in the white settlement of the United States frontier and the displacement of the area’s indigenous tribal peoples. The lands of Ohio hosted the largest and most consequential battles of this often small-scale and tit-for-tat series of armed skirmishes that pitted confederated Native American tribes against white settlers and the United States military.

After the Revolutionary War, the British-ceded land of the Northwest Territories had yet to be fully settled and governed. Following a series of tribal attacks against pioneer settlements such as the Big Bottom Massacre in 1791 that left around 11 settlers dead and the attempted Shawnee/Wyandotte siege on Dunlap’s Station in that same year, it became clear from the European perspective that settlement north of the Ohio River would only occur with a significant defeat and vanquishing of the native population. … Continue reading

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Ohio leaves its mark on AFBF policy

At the 104th American Farm Bureau Annual Convention earlier this month, Ohio Farm Bureau member-approved policies were shared with AFBF delegates for consideration.

“We had several policies that came from Ohio and were adopted as part of the delegate session,” said Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy with Ohio Farm Bureau. “More importantly, the issues we brought to the table were substantive policy, based on experiences that we have had in Ohio.”

One of those issues included approvals of ag technologies through the Environmental Protection Agency. In spring 2022, Ohio farmers in 12 counties were suddenly prohibited from using Enlist One and Enlist Duo herbicides as a result of label changes from EPA, catching them off guard after most had already made planting decisions for the year.

“New policy offered by Ohio Farm Bureau members tells the EPA to give growers more lead time to be able to adapt,” Kern said.… Continue reading

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Census of Agriculture deadline approaching

By Hubert Hamer, administrator of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service

The USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture is officially underway across the United States and Puerto Rico. It is important for every farmer, rancher and producer to make sure they respond by the deadline on Feb. 6.
Every five years, America’s producers have the opportunity to take part in the nation’s only, most comprehensive and impartial data collection for agriculture. Since 1840, the ag census has played a significant role in showing the value of agriculture and informs decision-makers on how and where to allocate resources. The data collected impact everything from farm programs and funding, crop insurance rates, rural development, disaster assistance, the farm bill and more.
Producers, your voice needs to be represented in these important data. Who better to tell the story of American agriculture than the producers themselves? These statistics will directly impact our farming and ranching communities for years to come and without your input, your hard work to provide safe and abundant agricultural products to the world risks being underserved.… Continue reading

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Ohio county fair supporters recognized

Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Interim Director Tracy Intihar today addressed delegates from Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs at the 98th Ohio Fair Managers Association annual convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Other special attendees included: Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Ohio Treasurer of State Robert Sprague.

Honors were awarded to individuals and organizations for outstanding service to their local fairs. Of this group, nine received the Director’s Award for Innovation and Excellence for their progressive ideas and actions to improve and strengthen their fairs. ODA Interim Director Intihar presented each winner with a certificate. Those chosen for the special honor (denoted by an asterisk below) received plaques.

The award recipients were:

Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs and the Ohio State Fair support the local economy and help educate the public about the importance of agriculture and the many necessities it provides, including food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and energy.… Continue reading

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WOTUS weariness as the issue drags on (and on)

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

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made quite a splash when it released its final rule for defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) on Dec. 30. Immediate criticism and support for the new rule surfaced as many undertook the unenviable task of interpreting the rule’s 514 pages of text. Perhaps some enjoyed the challenge of deciphering the latest development in WOTUS. But I wonder how many responded with a bit of weariness, asking what this “new” rule really means for agriculture and, more importantly, does it really matter?

What does the new final WOTUS rule mean for ag?

There are several answers to this question. The first and most practical answer is that the rule changes which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Through its permit programs, the CWA aims to protect water quality by preventing discharges of pollutants, dredge, or fill into a water that fits within the rule’s definition of “waters of the United States.”… Continue reading

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Ag-LINK available in 2023

Ohio Treasurer Roberts Sprague is reminding Ohio farmers, agribusinesses, and agricultural cooperatives (co-ops) that the Ag-LINK program is available year-round as they plan for the 2023 growing season.

“With interest rates continuing to climb, Ag-LINK plays a critical role in keeping costs down for Ohio’s agriculture industry,” Sprague said. “Thanks to constructive feedback from ag leaders across the state, we’ve taken Ag-LINK to the next level and made it more useful than ever. After a record-setting year in 2022, we’re ready to once again put our balance sheet to work and support even more farmers across the state.”

Through Ag-LINK, farmers, agribusinesses, and co-ops can receive an interest rate reduction on new or existing operating loans. For more than 30 years, the program has helped Ohio’s agriculture community to finance the upfront costs for feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel, equipment, and other expenses.

An eligible borrower:

• Is either organized for profit or as an agricultural cooperative;

• Must have headquarters and 51% of operations maintained in Ohio;

• Must use the loan exclusively for agricultural purposes; and

• Must agree to comply with all program and financial institution regulations.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension Regional Agricultural Outlook and Policy Meetings

By Mike Estadt, Ohio State University Extension Educator

Ohio State University Extension will present its 2023 Regional Agricultural Outlook and Policy Meetings starting in late January and continuing into February. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and the main sponsor of the meetings. Economists from the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, Extension specialists in tax policy, ag law and meteorology, along with other college specialists and invited guests, will serve as speakers.

Held throughout the state, the six outlook meetings will address agricultural topics of interest not only in Ohio, but across the Corn Belt as well. Programs will include presentations on grain market outlook; the dairy industry; agricultural law updates; long-term healthcare; Ohio’s changing climate; energy outlook, international economic outlook, farm real estate values and cash rent trends; farmland preservation outlook; agricultural input price projections; and federal tax updates.

The outlook meetings will be hosted jointly by Union, Madison, and Champaign counties; Pickaway and Ross counties; Clinton and Fayette and individually by Defiance County; Wayne County; and Darke County. … Continue reading

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AFBF sets policy

Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 104th Convention today adopted policies to guide the organization’s work in 2023. Key topics ranged from expanding risk management programs and improving dairy pricing transparency to battling hunger.

Delegates were polled regarding their farms at the beginning of the voting session. The results show almost 99% (334 delegates) of those who cast votes operate family farms and almost 65% represent small- to mid-size farms as defined by USDA. 

“Delegates demonstrated the strength of Farm Bureau by coming together to represent hard-working farm families from all 50 states and Puerto Rico,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF President. “There’s a lot of work to do in 2023 as Congress drafts the next farm bill, and the policies set forth today will guide AFBF as we work to ensure farmers and ranchers can continue to meet the growing needs of families in America and around the world.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships available

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has multiple scholarships available to Ohio students from rural, suburban and urban communities who are pursuing degrees with a connection to the agricultural industry.
Through 14 scholarship funds, nearly 50 awards will be made to deserving students. The deadline to apply online at is March 31.

Newly established, the Mularcik Welding Scholarship for Summit County was established by Brad Mularcik, a long-standing member of Summit County Farm Bureau, who believes that there is too little attention paid to the skilled trades as a career choice for young people. By offering this scholarship, he wishes to help young people of Summit County, Ohio, who are seeking a career in welding.

The Bruce and Carlene Patterson Agricultural Scholarship was established to provide scholarship support to deserving individuals in perpetuity, opening the door to education by removing the financial barriers that may keep someone from pursuing a career in agriculture or related fields and/or obtaining the training needed to grow their skills within the agricultural workforce.… Continue reading

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Vilsack provides USDA update

At the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several major developments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will benefit farmers, ranchers and producers across the nation. 

“At USDA, our goal is to provide all farmers, including new and underserved producers, with the opportunity to receive the assistance they need to continue farming, to build and maintain their competitive-edge, and to access more, new, and better markets,” Vilsack said. “Working together we can ensure American agriculture is as resilient as ever and will do so by implementing a holistic approach to emergency assistance, by lowering input costs through investments in domestic fertilizer production, and by promoting competition in agricultural markets.” 

Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA continues to make progress in the following areas: 

  • Assisting producers facing high input costs to access domestic, innovative fertilizer capacity. 
  • Improving risk protection for underserved producers. 
  • Investing in new choices and meat processing capacity for livestock producers. 
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Japanese food in Ohio

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Honda of America’s first car rolled off the line in Marysville in 1982. Japanese engineers and executives have arrived and embraced central Ohio ever since. My first intro with the Honda wives was through edamame sales at the farm. The JNN, Japanese News Network as I like to call them, soon took over and our edamame business took off like a bonfire in high winds. These women were hesitant to speak English but full of smiles and gratitude for a familiar food. Five years ago, I got involved in “teaching” English at our church. These ladies are a sponge, soaking up not just English but everything they can about American food, culture and travel. 

Ayane, my Japanese friend, and I go on all kinds of foodie adventures from Fox in the Snow bakery to a robot ramen restaurant. Our most recent adventure was to the Japanese Marketplace to pick up some things for Japanese New Year.… Continue reading

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Climate collaboration with USDA and Central State University

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is highlighting a new partnership with Central State University, part of a $325 million investment in 71 projects under the second funding pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities effort. In total, the investment from both funding pools is over $3.1 billion for 141 tentatively selected projects. Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is working to expand markets for American producers who produce climate-smart commodities, leverage greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart production, and provide meaningful benefits to producers, including small and underserved producers. 

“Expanding opportunities for small and underserved producers is a key goal of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities,” said Terry Cosby, Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief. “Small and underserved producers, including those here in Ohio, are facing the impacts of climate change head on, with limited resources, and have the most to gain from leveraging the growing market demand for agricultural goods produced in a sustainable, climate-smart way.… Continue reading

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Farmland preservation event in Navarre

On Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., the Village of Navarre is hosting a public talk, “Preserving Our Farms.” Farmers, rural landowners, and local citizens are invited to learn more about preserving our rural landscape for future generations. Andy McDowell from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy will give a presentation on program areas of interest: donated and purchased conservation easements, related tax benefits and land acquisitions. We will also hear from a representative of the Wilderness Center, who will join us to talk about the role their organization plays in local land preservation. The event will take place at Navarre Village Hall (21 Canal St W, Navarre, OH 44662).
The Western Reserve Land Conservancy is the largest local land trust in Ohio, and has preserved working farms and natural areas in 29 counties across the state. The Wilderness Center is a nonprofit nature center encompassing 3,380 acres of agricultural land, forest, meadows, wetlands and prairie in seven counties.… Continue reading

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