Country Life



Conference to discuss progress on NW Ohio water quality efforts

In 20 counties across northwest Ohio, a team of water quality specialists is working with farmers to evaluate practices that promote soil health and reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering waterways.

Part of the team’s work involves running field trials to determine the effects of applying varied rates of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium fertilizers to cropland. Extensive soil testing has been done on fields to see the how planting cover crops and minimally tilling the land affects soil health. And new water quality monitoring stations have been set up to show trends in nutrient runoff rates.

Farmers in northwest Ohio have been cooperative, said Heather Raymond, director of the Water Quality Initiative launched by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“Overall, there’s a desire to help,” Raymond said. “Farmers just want to make sure they’re not spending their money on something that doesn’t work.… Continue reading

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Agriculture Climate Alliance gaining momentum

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the increasing momentum behind an alliance co-founded by AFBF, the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, announced in a FACA news release.  

“We are encouraged that leaders in both the House and Senate are requesting more detailed guidance to achieve FACA’s climate goals and recommendations. It’s important that any new climate policies respect the people who will be impacted the most — farmers and ranchers. FACA’s 40-plus proposals demonstrate farmers and ranchers must be treated as partners as we work together to build on the impressive advances already achieved toward climate-smart farming.”

“We also welcome the 34 new members of FACA who represent farmers, agribusinesses, state governments and environmental advocates. The growth of alliance members from a wide range of industries shows we are on the right path toward protecting the environment while ensuring farmers and ranchers can continue growing healthy, affordable food for America’s families.” … Continue reading

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Ohio legislation moving forward

By Peggy Kirk Hall, OSU Ag and Resource Law Program (https://farmoffice.osu.edu/blog/mon-02152021-1154am/ohio-legislation-move)

The Ohio General Assembly is off and running in its new session. Many bills that affect agriculture in Ohio are already on the move. Here’s a summary of those that are gaining the most momentum or attention.

Tax Conformity Bill – S.B. 18 and H.B. 48 

The Senate has already passed its version of this bill, which conforms our state tax code with recent changes to the Internal Revenue Code made in the latest COVID-19 stimulus provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.  Both the Senate and the House will also exempt forgiven Paycheck Protection Program second-draw loan proceeds from the Commercial Activity Tax.  The Senate version additionally exempts Bureau of Workers Compensation dividend rebates from the Commercial Activity Tax beginning in 2020, but the House bill does not.  Both bills include “emergency” language that would make the provisions effective in time for 2020 tax returns.… Continue reading

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Ohio House moves forward on broadband

The Ohio House passed HB 2 on Feb. 18, sponsored by Representatives Carfanga (R-Genoa Twp.) and Stewart (R-Ashville). The bill creates the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, allowing internet service providers to apply for grants that will help fund the infrastructure needed to provide faster internet access to underserved rural Ohio communities. HB 2 was amended to increase funding to $210 million and to add an emergency clause, putting it in effect immediately.

“Broadband is a necessity that much of rural Ohio does not have access to, which has hurt economic development, education, and public health in those areas,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “HB 2 is an important beginning step to address the funding needed for additional broadband infrastructure in rural Ohio. We certainly appreciate the dramatic increase in funding to connect all Ohioans to reliable high-speed internet which will allow our farmers to use more precision agriculture practices for water quality and sustainability and will give all of rural Ohio access to telehealth services.”… Continue reading

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Josie and the stud

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Early in my veterinary career I became board-certified in the specialty of theriogenology. The study of reproduction in domestic animals, theriogenology is roughly the veterinary medicine equivalent of obstetrics and gynecology in human medicine. 

            One example of my expanded practice is the breeding soundness exam for male animals. This test determines whether a male — in the case of this story, a stallion — has what it takes to stand at stud. Customers of stud farms pay significant fees to have their mares serviced, so they’d like to know that there’s a decent chance they will earn a spindly-legged foal as a return on their investment.

One of my clients, J.D., whom I had known since Judy and I set up practice, was fascinated with horses. He kept four Quarter horse mares at his small farm. J.D. was married to Josie, a city gal who taught kindergarten and knew nothing about livestock.… Continue reading

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Broiler production able to move forward after lengthy court battle

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

This past December, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that affirmed the trial court and enabled Randy Essink to raise broilers for Lincoln Premium Poultry (LPP) who provides processed chickens to Costco. The decision hinged on a jurisdictional issue: standing. 

            Standing (locus standi) is the capacity of a party to bring suit in court. A state’s statutes will determine what constitutes standing in that particular state’s courts. These typically revolve around the requirement that plaintiffs have sustained or will sustain direct injury or harm and that this harm is redressable.

            At the federal level, legal actions cannot be brought simply on the ground that an individual or group is displeased with a government action or law. Federal courts only have constitutional authority, under Article III of the US Constitution, to resolve actual disputes.

            In 1992, the Supreme Court created a three-part test to determine whether a party has standing to sue: (1) The plaintiff must have suffered an “injury in fact,” meaning that the injury is of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent; (2) There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct brought before the court; and (3) It must be likely, rather than speculative, that a favorable decision by the court will redress the injury.… Continue reading

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Ohio agriculture pushes for guidance regarding 2021 fair season

This week, Ohio’s agriculture groups wrote a letter to Governor Mike DeWine asking him to release his plans for the safe operation of this year’s fairs as soon as possible. The letter, from Ohio Farm Bureau, The Ohio AgriBusiness Association, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Corn and Wheat, Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Poultry Association, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Soybean Association, also asked for $2 million in additional funding so the Ohio Expo Commission can effectively operate and prepare for a 2021 Ohio State Fair.

From the letter: 

We appreciate your recognition of the importance of our fairs and your love of

4-H, FFA, livestock shows and all the great educational opportunities that are part of our fairs.

While it is hard to imagine with snow still on the ground, our fair season is just around the corner and we are very concerned that the county, independent and Ohio State fairs will not have the adequate time needed to prepare and move forward without immediate guidance from the Governor’s Office.

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Ag Week sets tone for 2021 Ohio Farm Bureau policy work

Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual Ag Day at the Capital is typically a jam-packed one day event, when Farm Bureau county leaders visit with lawmakers in Columbus. This year, it is a full Ag Week, and those visits will be happening virtually or on the farms of Farm Bureau members.

“More than ever before, Ohio Farm Bureau is being looked to by state officials to help strengthen the food supply chain and provide guidance on how to recover economically from COVID,” said Frank Burkett, president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “As a grassroots organization, it is crucial for our message to legislators to begin with our members.”

On a call with county leaders prior to Ag Week, Burkett emphasized that Ohio Farm Bureau is considered experts not only regarding agriculture but also on many other topics that impact Ohio’s communities like property rights, broadband access and water quality. 

“We have built this trust by taking the time to meet face-to-face with our legislators and building relationships,” Burkett said.… Continue reading

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Over $50,000 in Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships available

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has more than $50,000 in scholarships available to Ohio students from rural, suburban and urban communities who are pursuing degrees connected in some way to agriculture.

Through 12 programs, approximately 50 scholarships will be awarded. The deadline to apply online at ofbf.org/foundation is Feb. 28, and all applications require letters of recommendation, an essay, school transcripts and photos.

The Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in honor of Yvonne Lesicko, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of public policy, who passed away in 2020. The Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Scholarship Fund was created to honor Yvonne and provide support for the next generation of student leaders. The income from this endowment will provide scholarship assistance in perpetuity to students majoring in agricultural and environmental policy or agriculture related fields, such as food production, scientific research, education/outreach, policymaking, advocacy, or leadership development for women.

In honor of the legacy of Dr.… Continue reading

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State budget proposal includes funding for ag priorities

By Matt Reese

Governor Mike DeWine recently released his proposed budget which includes funding for several Ohio agricultural priorities.

“The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s budget increased overall and individual line items have also increased. One of them is H2Ohio funding. Overall, $240 million was set aside for H2Ohio funds over the biennium and $49.3 million of that goes to agriculture each fiscal year. The rest of that funding is split up between Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources,” said Jenna Reese, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “We also saw a significant increase in funding to farmland preservation. That line item increased by about $7 million for just fiscal year 2022. We are excited to see the DeWine Administration continuing to support farmland preservation. The coronavirus relief for county fairs line item was created last year to get $4.7 million to county fairs and this fiscal year it has allocated $1 million to the Ohio State Fair under that line item.”… Continue reading

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Rural broadband making progress in Ohio

Legislative progress is being made in Ohio for rural broadband. The Ohio Senate passed SB 8 this week, allocating $20 million to build the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, allowing for internet service providers to apply for grants that will help fund the infrastructure needed to provide faster internet access to underserved rural Ohio communities. There are also extensive measures for broadband included in Governor Mike DeWine’s proposed budget.

“The necessity for reliable broadband in rural Ohio has been one of the top priority issues for Ohio Farm Bureau for years and the challenges that come with inadequate internet connections have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “Senate passage of SB 8 is a great first step in making a meaningful investment to put all Ohioans on a level playing field in a world that relies on broadband access to succeed.”… Continue reading

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Program to protect privately-owned agricultural grasslands

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 $77 million in financial assistance to help private landowners, land trusts, and other groups protect these valuable working lands.

Through Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE), NRCS provides funds to partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep agricultural viability in areas experiencing development pressure.

“This valuable program helps keep working lands working,” said John Wilson, NRCS Acting State Conservationist in Ohio. “Easements are an important tool for people who want to preserve the land for future generations.”

Through ACEP-ALE, landowners continue to own their property, but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this program.… Continue reading

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When life gives you carp, make…Dog food?

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

A Montreal-based company released a new dog food formula that includes Asian carp, an invasive species in North American waters. Philippe Poirier, a co-founder of Wilder Harrier (wildharrier.com), said the company started experimenting with adding Asian carp into the food because it saw the environmental threats the fish posed.

“We use insect and plant protein, which releases less greenhouse gases [than meat], but we knew there was more we could do for the environment,” explained Poirier “More recently we started looking at invasive species because they are harming the local ecosystem and killing off native fish populations.”

There are four species of invasive Asian carp — grass carp, bighead carp, silver carp and black carp. Each impacts wildlife differently, and are an immediate threat to Ohio’s inland waters and Lake Erie. The carp have actually been a problem in the U.S.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s drainage law updates

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

Ohio’s “petition ditch laws” are at last receiving a major revision. The Ohio General Assembly has passed H.B. 340, updating the laws that address the installation and maintenance of drainage works of improvement through the petition process. Some of Ohio’s oldest laws, the drainage laws play a critical role in maintaining surface water drainage on Ohio lands but were in serious need of updating.

An updating process began over seven years ago with the Ohio Drainage Law Task Force convened by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO). CCAO charged the Task Force with the goals of clarifying ambiguous provisions in the law and embracing new technology and processes that would result in greater efficiencies, fewer misunderstandings and reduced legal costs for taxpayers. Task Force members included county commissioners, county engineers and staff, county auditors, Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) professionals, Ohio Farm Bureau staff, and Ohio State University faculty.… Continue reading

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Whole farm planning

By David Marrison, Ohio State University Extension Educator

We have all heard the saying “plan your work and work your plan.” 

Planning is one of the most important aspects of managing any business. This is especially true for farms and agribusinesses due to their complexity and the inherent uncertainties associated with agriculture.

Ohio State University Extension encourages farm families to adopt a whole farm planning approach as they develop strategies for the future success of their business. The whole farm approach allows families to examine the internal structure of their business and then develop business, retirement, transition, estate, and investment plans that work in harmony.

The farm business

At the center of most farms and agricultural businesses is the family unit. Each family, individually and collectively, has its own history, values, and goals. It is valuable for the business to begin the planning process by reflecting on family and farm history.… Continue reading

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U.S. farm profits projected to fall in 2021

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator, ANR in Tuscarawas County

The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS) on February 5th released their projection for U.S. farm income in 2021. Farm income is projected to fall this year primarily because government payments received by farmers are expected to decline $21.8 billion (46.3%) after increasing $24 billion (104%) in 2020.

Net cash farm income (NCFI) is calculated by subtracting cash expenses from gross income. This figure is expected to grow 23.7% in 2020 but drop $10.4 billion (7.5%) in 2021. Net Farm Income (NFI) is considered a broader measure of profitability that includes changes in inventories, depreciation, and gross imputed rental income. Like NCFI, the U.S. NFI is expected to increase in 2020 and decline 9.7% to $111.4 billion in 2021. If this happens, it will be the first time since 2016 that NFI has fallen. However, NCFI and NFI would remain above their respective averages during the 2000 – 2019 period.… Continue reading

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Heritage Cooperative, Inc. offering TruCarbon Program

Heritage Cooperative is now offering growers in Ohio access to TruCarbon, a transformational new carbon program that will help farmers generate and sell carbon credits. As the first and only farmer-driven carbon opportunity, TruCarbon focuses on maximizing farmer value of stewardship practices while maintaining an on-farm profitability focus.

Farmers can begin the information and enrollment process by visiting

https://www.truterraag.com/CarbonSurvey.

TruCarbon is available through a partnership between Heritage Cooperative, Inc. and Truterra, the sustainability business and subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives. Through Truterra’s best-in-class sustainability data platform, the Truterra Insights Engine, TruCarbon provides farmers a powerful soil health planning suite of tools to help determine what is best for their business while optimizing their fields’ carbon credit potential. TruCarbon also maximizes the value and return for farmers with premium carbon credit value.

“We are excited about the additional revenue opportunity TruCarbon can provide to our members for their stewardship effort,” said Greg Spears, Heritage Cooperative’s Chief Operating Officer.… Continue reading

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Take-out trends in food

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

We Americans love to eat out! Simpledollar.com states the average American eats out over four times a week. I’m betting that doesn’t even include takeout and delivery.   Pandemic chaos has hit the restaurant industries like an unpredicted blizzard in the Carolinas. Many panicked consumers were mandated to stop dining out. Amongst the chaos and the fear of the unknown, consumers also stopped takeout and delivery in the first few months. In the state of Ohio thousands of restaurants have gone out of business. Local eateries are still struggling but with confidence and fear improving, drive-thru, delivery and take out, sales have recovered and surged. 

  History.com states that takeout and delivery service originated in the 1920s in Los Angeles. The fascinating story goes that the visionary Kin-Chu Café placed an ad proclaiming how it was “the only place on the West coast making and delivering real Chinese dishes.”… Continue reading

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Farmers receive first H2Ohio incentive payments

Initial payments are going out to farmers enrolled in Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative for improved water quality. The first incentive payments will be distributed to 154 farmers for completed and approved Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP).

“The Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans are an important component of our H2Ohio initiative because they lay the groundwork to begin to reverse the serious water quality issues in Lake Erie,” said Governor Mike DeWine.  “It is great to see farmers’ commitment and enthusiasm about reducing phosphorus runoff into Ohio’s waterways through this science-based approach.”

Through the H2Ohio program, farmers are incentivized for implementing proven conservation practices to help reduce phosphorus runoff. A completed and approved VNMP is one of the seven identified practices and is required for all farmers enrolled in the program.

Local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Boards must review and approve VNMPs before incentive payments are distributed. Of the 14 counties involved in H2Ohio, Putnam, Hancock and Auglaize SWCD Boards have approved 154 VNMPs which include 98,000 acres, totaling approximately $197,000 in payments.… Continue reading

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Ohio Fairs’ Queen Contest transitions for 2021

By Madi Kregel, OCJ field reporter

Every year in January, around 80 of Ohio’s finest young junior and independent fair queens gather in Columbus for a chance to win the ultimate title of the Ohio Fairs’ Queen at the Ohio Fair Managers Association (OFMA) Convention. While the 2020 Ohio Fairs’ Queen Contest went on just as previous years had (three months before the pandemic hit), the 2021 Ohio Fairs’ Queen contest is going to look fairly different than years past and feature changes allowing the candidates to participate in person, all while optimizing social distancing requirements. 

The 2021 OFMA Virtual Convention went on as planned, starting in early January with a variety of events on Zoom. Virtual OFMA workshops and seminars continue through February and into March. For a schedule see the OFMA December Newsletter at ohiofairs.org/newsletters/2020-12-newsletter.pdf. While most of the convention is being held virtually, for the safety of the queen candidates and an effort to provide an in-person event, the OFMA pushed back the to contest closer to spring.… Continue reading

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