Country Life

Senate passes USMCA

U.S. agriculture cheered today’s overwhelming support in Senate vote paving the way for the President’s signature of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“The Senate’s passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is a huge win for our farmers in Ohio and across the country as it ensures the viability of agriculture’s trade partnerships in the global marketplace,” said Frank Burkett, Ohio Farm Bureau president. “Trade is vital to U.S. agriculture, and we applaud Senators Brown and Portman for their bipartisan work to continue and improve our relationship with our North American trading partners.”

The agreement has tremendous implications for agricultural exports from U.S. farmers. The dairy industry, in particular, will benefit significantly.

“USMCA makes important strides to break down trade barriers, opening the door to new opportunities and supporting the flow of high-quality American dairy products to two valuable export markets,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.… Continue reading

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More land and bigger tractors: Can farmers produce enough to feed Phase One?

By Matt Reese

Can the farmers of the United States produce enough? That is a question being asked as the Trump Administration finalized the Phase One trade deal with China for purchase of $80 billion in agricultural products over the next 2 years and Congress works through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would also have huge export implications for U.S. agriculture.

President Donald Trump talked about this issue last fall at a rally in Louisiana.

“They said, can we make it 20 [billion dollars]? We don’t think our farmers can produce that much. I said, ‘Make it 50. Our farmers will buy more land and they’ll buy bigger tractors.’…They said to me, ‘We can’t produce that much wheat and corn and all the stuff.’ Because I want to tell you, I got China to order a lot,” Trump said to a cheering crowd of supporters last October as his Administration was in the process of negotiating Phase One.… Continue reading

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Phase One makes progress, still comes up short with Chinese trade

When President Donald Trump signed the first phase of a trade deal with China on Jan. 15, U.S. agriculture was pleased with the promise of nearly $40 billion in farm product purchases by China in 2020.

“The signing of a trade deal with China is a big step in the right direction as farmers in Ohio and across the country are eager to get back to business globally,” said Frank Burkett, Ohio Farm Bureau president. “Restoring our ability to be competitive in China is welcome news for U.S. agriculture and we encourage the Administration to continue building on its success in a Phase One deal and aggressively pursue a full trade agreement with China.”

Over the next two years U.S. trade officials said China will spend $80 billion purchases of agricultural products from the United States, with the amount projected to be slightly below $40 billion in 2020 and slightly above $40 billion in 2021.… Continue reading

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DeWine announces availability of first $30 million in H2Ohio funds

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda announced that $30 million in H2Ohio funding will be available for Ohio farmers in more than a dozen counties beginning in February. The funds will be awarded as part of Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio plan to reduce agricultural phosphorus runoff and prevent algal blooms in Lake Erie.

“Since announcing the details of my H2Ohio plan in November, we’ve had a great deal of interest from farmers in the Maumee River Watershed who want to do their part to improve the health of Lake Erie,” said Governor DeWine. “H2Ohio will provide farm-by-farm support to help farmers minimize phosphorus runoff while increasing profit over the long-run.”

Farmers living in the following 14 northwest Ohio counties will be eligible to apply for funds at their local Soil and Water Conservation Districts starting on Feb. 1, 2020: Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams, and Wood.… Continue reading

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CFAES dean addresses opportunities and challenges facing college

The legacy, impact, and people who make up The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) were celebrated Jan. 10 during the annual State of the College address.

Cathann A. Kress, vice president of agricultural administration and dean of CFAES, delivered the address at Ohio State’s Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center. She noted that while Ohio State is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year, CFAES is also celebrating its remarkable 150-year history.

“We belong to the college which originally gave our institution part of its name and has been a critical force in shaping our comprehensive university,” she said. “But just as our university has changed and evolved in its 150 years, so have we.”

Kress said CFAES plays a critical role in improving the state of Ohio and will continue to play an important role in confronting the challenges of the future.

“Through our research, Extension, and teaching, our college is a contributor to our state’s economic development and social well-being.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension to offer Lunch and Learn webinars

By Chris Bruynis, Ohio State University Extension Educator

In the age of multi-tasking and convenience, OSU Extension is offering a lunch and learn webinar series for farmers. We have arranged for eight topic and speakers to provide a webinar every Wednesday starting on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 and concluding March 25, 2020. Join us for eight consecutive Wednesdays for this educational series starting at 11:45 am and lasting 1.5 hours. Learn important risk management information during this lunch and learn series from top industry, private sector, and university experts important to the success of farm businesses in 2020 and beyond.

The topics that will be covered include:

February 5: Using Financial Statements/Ratios to Make Informed Financial Decisions

February 12: Farm Law 101: Leasing and Financing Agreements

February 19: Grain Contracts and Markets: What to Use When

February 26: Where to Start with Workers Compensation Benefits

March 4: Meeting with a Lender: What Numbers are Important

March 11: Estate Planning: What are the Tools and Options

March 18: Grain Marketing Strategies for 2020

March 25: Tips for Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Farm Business Employees

Farmers interested in participating should register at reading

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Hillbilly hot tub a winter hit

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

We have been wearing out our homemade hot tub this hunting season, with the jerry-rigged, propane-heated stock tank getting plenty of use after frigid evenings of deer hunting chill Maria and me to our bones. Stretching out in 104-degree water with the stars overhead and the Kokosing River gurgling past below with a bourbon-spiked hot apple cider in hand is a welcome way to end a day afield. By floating a tablet of chlorine in a simple dispenser we can use the same water several weekends in a row and the lid I made from a sheet of plywood cut to fit and covered with hunter green Naugahyde looks

good and keeps the leaves (and mice…) out.

We even splurged on a small, portable electric clothes dryer, picked up for $20 at the Johnstown Sportsman’s Club Swappers Days over Labor Day weekend.… Continue reading

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A look back: Agricultural law in 2019

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

I often receive quizzical looks when someone asks me what kind of law I practice and I say “agricultural law.” A common response is “what in the world is that”? A look back at agricultural law in 2019 provides a pretty good answer to that question. Our review of major developments in the last year illustrates the diversity of legal issues that make up the world of agricultural law. It’s never dull, that’s certain.

Here are the highlights of what we saw in agricultural law in 2019:

  • The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR). Toledo citizens gained national attention when they passed a charter amendment granting legal rights to Lake Erie and its ecosystem to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.” The amendment also allowed Toledoans to sue corporations and governments that violate the lake’s legal rights.
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To outer Mongolia and back

By Don “Doc” Sanders

When I was a boy, my Dad would often use “outer Mongolia” to describe the location of anyone or anything that was a distance from us — including the closest fertilizer plant to our farm, about 40 miles away.

He’d be impressed that I recently returned from outer Mongolia — or rather, the real-life independent nation of Mongolia, situated north of China and east of Siberia, more than 6,000 miles further away from home than that fertilizer plant. I was invited by the Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM) to participate in their V.E.T. Net mission project in Mongolia.

About 25 years ago, Gerald and Francis Mitchem were called to create V.E.T. Net and bring the gospel to the people of Mongolia. They realized that to be successful in introducing the gospel it was important to help Mongols by improving the care of their horses, sheep and cows for a better quality of human life before they could evangelize.… Continue reading

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USMCA moves closer to reality

Taking another step to completing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Senate Finance Committee voted 25-3 this week to advance the trade deal to the full Senate.

“We are now one step away from unleashing the competitiveness of America’s farmers and ranchers with our two largest trading partners thanks to today’s Senate Finance Committee vote. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will protect our valuable trade relationships with our nearest neighbors and return certainty to our markets. We urge immediate approval by the full Senate to deliver a much-needed win for agriculture,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president. “The challenges farmers and ranchers faced in 2019 are no secret, but it’s a new year and we are eager for new opportunities to compete, building on the progress with Japan and the pending announcement of a new China agreement.”

USMCA has been a priority for most agricultural groups as a way to provide some certainty on tariffs and trade with two of the country’s largest buyers of agricultural commodities.… Continue reading

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Food and nutrition trends to watch for in 2020

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

I am a numbers kind of gal so I am always fascinated by food and nutrition trends. It’s easy to get caught in our agriculture bubble and be amazed at the “outside world’s” thoughts about farming and food. Trends are kind of like the chicken and the egg, which came first but let’s take a peek at Amazon’s Whole Food’s (forecasted) trends for 2020 at

  1. Regenerative agriculture: Farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil, improve biodiversity and increase carbon capture to create long-lasting environmental benefits, such as positively impacting climate change.
  2. Flour power: New flours from teff, tigernut, seed blends, fruit and vegetable flours like banana, cauliflower as well as “super” flours blends packed with protein and fiber.
  3. Foods from West Africa: Food and beverages with a base of tomatoes, onions and chili peppers with add-ins depending on the region such as peanuts, ginger and lemongrass as well as moringa and tamarind, and lesser known cereal grains sorghum, fonio, teff and millet.
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The on-farm quandary of 2019’s 7.3

By Matt Reese

When looking at the last year in the debate over nutrient management and water quality, the number 7.3 stands out.

This number is the severity of the Microcystis cyanobacteria bloom in Lake Erie in 2019, indicating a relatively severe bloom. It was very close to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prediction of 7.5 made earlier in the summer. The incredible amount of rainfall in the spring of 2019 would suggest a much more severe algal bloom number, but the drastic reduction in planted acres and nutrient application on farms helped reign in the severity.

The 7.3 of 2019 is an indication that — due to necessity or proactive stewardship — spring farm nutrient application can directly impact the severity of the algal bloom in Lake Erie. The 7.3 also indicates though, to get to an average annual severity closer to a desired level of 3, there are many other factors (both farm and non-farm) at play that researchers have yet to quantify or understand.… Continue reading

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Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience sets stage for success

By Whitney Hill, Ohio Valley CTC FFA Reporter

The students of the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center (OVCTC) in the Agriculture Business Management program have been learning about agricultural cooperatives with Joy Bauman and Hannah Scott from the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives. Last fall, 16 11th and 12th grade students participated in the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience conducted by the Center for Cooperatives.

On this two-day trip, the students experienced several learning opportunities at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences on the Ohio State Campus. The students had the chance to tour The Ohio State University with CFAES student ambassadors and learn about college life from current students. They participated in classroom-style learning activities with meat science professor Lydia Garcia, agricultural communication professor Emily Buck, and Emily Wickham, the marketing and communications manager for the department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership. … Continue reading

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Ohio State University and Mid America Cooperative Council explore alignment

The Center for Cooperatives at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and the Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC) are exploring a potential arrangement for the Center for Cooperatives to provide educational and management services for MACC, which represents cooperative businesses in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan.

“The Mid America Cooperative Council is a multi-state, non-profit trade association that was founded in 2003 by a group of like-minded individuals with an understanding of the impact that cooperative principles have on the sustainability of co-ops,” said Rod Kelsay, the Executive Director of MACC, who expects to retire in the summer of 2020.

Ohio State and MACC are currently developing details of the arrangement and it is expected that the MACC Board of Directors will contract with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives to manage membership and conduct educational programs on its behalf.

“Our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives is excited about the opportunity to serve our region’s co-ops and to build the co-op community,” said Hannah Scott, Program Manager for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.… Continue reading

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Fair board members “Coming Together” for 2020 Ohio Fair Managers Association Convention

By Matt Reese

The 95th Anniversary of the Annual Ohio Fair Managers Association Convention themed “Coming Together” was held Jan. 2 though 5 and welcomed over 3,400 attendees.

Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo caught up with State Veterinarian Tony Forshey at the event to get an update on some changes for fairs and exhibitors in 2020.

“There are a couple of new rules for the sheep and goats. Fair boards will have to have an owner/hauler statement that goes with those terminal animals going straight to slaughter. We use the county fair number and the date to get those numbers assigned. That is the fair board’s responsibility and not the exhibitors,” Forshey said. “Paylean is going to be a big one for pig exhibitors this year. With the whole issue with China and shipping pork, they do not want any ractopamine, or Paylean. That will be a voluntary thing these kids will have to do and it is really going to put the onus on the buyers.… Continue reading

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Top videos of 2019

Check out some of the top videos from the Ohio Ag Net team from 2019.


  1. Overcoming challenges during planting with Andy Detwiler, Champaign Co.

Andy Detwiler of Champaign County has a story and background in agriculture more unique than most. He has spent a life in farming without the use of his arms after losing them in a farming accident at a very young age. He has since become an inspiration to others in his local community and around the world by not letting anything get in his way, including a difficult planting season. Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood caught up with Detwiler Thursday evening ahead of the overnight rain storms as he was rushing to get in corn in the well-drained soils near Urbana.

  1. 2019 soybean harvest kicks off with a Cab Cam at the Clark Farm in Warren County

In this Cab Cam, sponsored by Homan Inc., Dave Clark from Warren County joins Ohio Ag Net’s Bart Johnson as they discuss some of the first soybeans being harvested in the state of Ohio.… Continue reading

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Taking a look at the 2018 Farm Bill a year later

By Jonathan Coppess and Nick Paulson, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics University of Illinois

It has been a year since Congress passed and the President signed into law the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill). In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress reauthorized the basic farm programs, Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), with minor modifications. Farmers have until March 15, 2020, to sign up for the program, a decision that will cover the 2019 and 2020 crop years. In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized the conservation programs in Title II but with some significant changes.

Net cash income for farmers has fallen significantly since peaking in 2012 and 2013, according to the Economic Research Service (ERS) at USDA. It is into this decline in net cash income that the federal government payments — both for farm programs and conservation programs — provide income-based assistance.… Continue reading

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Add a farm lease in writing to your holiday wish list

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

Christmas is a good time to make wishes for the peace and well-being of others. One of our top wishes this year does that: we hope for all farmers in Ohio to have written farmland leases. It’s an odd wish, we know. But putting leases in writing can help landowners and farm tenants live in peace, and we like that.

Farm leases have always been prone to being verbal agreements, sealed with a handshake. Simplicity and trust are two plausible reasons we’ve done business that way. But a written farm lease can be simple, and using one doesn’t have to mean that the parties don’t trust each another. Instead, a lease can keep distrust from arising between the parties by anticipating needs and foreclosing uncertainties and disagreements.

One of the strongest disagreements we hear about verbal farm leases is whether one party can terminate the lease without giving the other much notice of that termination.… Continue reading

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Final reminder: 2019 Yield Survey

By Elizabeth Hawkins, Ohio State University Extension

Normal planting dates for Ohio range from mid-April to the end of May. This season was quite different when planting for both crops was delayed until late May and stretched into June and even July across many parts of Ohio. We found ourselves grasping for any information we could find including 1) how much of an effect late planting dates would have on yield, and 2) what, if anything, we should change in management of these late planted crops. The historical planting date information we did have was somewhat helpful, but we did not have any data on what could happen when planting is delayed into the second half of June nor July.

While it may be tempting to write off this year as a fluke from which there are no real lessons to be learned, there is a growing body of data from climatologists that suggest that this is a beginning of a trend.… Continue reading

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It’s time to respond to Census of Horticultural Specialties and Organic Survey

The 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties and the 2019 Organic Survey are both underway now and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is asking those who receive questionnaires to respond quickly and online if possible. Responding online is user friendly, accessible on most electronic devices, and saves valuable time by calculating totals and automatically skipping questions not applicable to an operation.

“Horticulture and organic agriculture are important segments of U.S. agriculture and our economy,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “When producers respond to these surveys they are helping associations, businesses, and policymakers advocate for their industry, influence program decisions, and educate others about the importance of these parts of agriculture.”

2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties is conducted once every 5 years to provide a comprehensive picture of U.S. horticulture. NASS mailed unique survey codes earlier in December to more than 40,000 producers who self-reported horticultural activity in the 2017 Census of Agriculture.… Continue reading

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