Country Life

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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Addressing agal blooms

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

Lake Erie anglers, boaters and environmentalists are among those in favor of a landmark proposed consent decree that will serve as a roadmap for federal and state regulators to address western Lake Erie’s chronic algal blooms.

This case was brought against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the Environmental Law Policy Center on the grounds that the EPA has failed to live up to the goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act by not exerting pressure on Ohio for repeated violations of the act. U.S. District Judge James Carr has been hearing arguments in the case, filed on Feb. 7, 2019.

“While we believe the timelines in the proposed settlement should be tighter as the provisions should have been realistically completed a long time ago,” said Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association. “We are in favor of Judge Carr’s actions and the prospect that this will finally lead to the necessary corrective actions to protect our lake.”… Continue reading

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A look at “greenwashing”

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

Greenwashing occurs when a company misrepresents its sustainability or eco-friendly policies. Consumer activists are filing legal actions, greenwashing litigation, against the company. These lawsuits often involve allegations based on state and federal claims of unfair and deceptive trade practices, fraud and false advertising.

There is a federal case pending in Texas, Usler v. Vital Farms, Inc., that illustrates greenwashing litigation in agriculture. Nicholas A. Ulser is the lead plaintiff, a resident of Michigan, and a consumer. In the 40-page complaint, filed on May 20, 2021, Ulser states that he purchased Vital eggs on a regular basis because he believed Vital employed unique humane and ethical farming practices. Ulser and other named plaintiffs are represented by an animal rights organization and several civil litigation firms.

Vital Farms, Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Austin, Texas. The company’s website,, describes how Vital Farms began “with a husband and wife, 20 Rhode Island Reds, an Austin pasture and a commitment to animal welfare.… Continue reading

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Fort Wayne Farm Show this month

The Fort Wayne Farm Show is back in full force for its 34th year!  The Tradexpos team works diligently every year to meet the evolving needs of America’s livestock producers, row crop farmers, and other agricultural professionals. The Fort Wayne Farm Show has been distinctively curated to provide real time value and opportunity to the industry. Whether it’s the first time attending the Fort Wayne Farm Show or the thirtieth, you’re certain to love the fantastic variety of exhibitors and educational seminars that the Fort Wayne Farm Show provides as Indiana’s largest indoor agricultural expo. 

With free admission, attendees can expect to enjoy the innovations and wares of over 1,000 booths as well as ample opportunities to attend seminars to learn more about current topics in agriculture from our partners and trusted experts, Purdue Cooperative Extension, and Northeastern Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

The Fort Wayne Farm Show in Fort Wayne, Ind.Continue reading

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ODA rolls out long-awaited Beginning Farmer Tax Credit

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is helping to ensure the next crop of Ohio producers has the resources to provide for their families and those across the state.

The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit is now available to those who’ve recently entered the field and those who help beginning farmers.

“Agriculture and food is Ohio’s number one industry,” said Tracy Intihar, ODA Interim Director. “The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit will help keep costs down for new producers and encourage others to help them. This incentive ensures that our state will continue to provide for local communities, the country, and even the world.”

To qualify, a beginning farmer is someone who:

  • Is a resident of Ohio.
  • Is seeking entry to or has entered farming within the last 10 years.
  • Farms or intends to farm on land in Ohio.
  • Is not a partner, member, shareholder, or trustee of the assets the individual is seeking to purchase or rent.
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Bane-Welker hosts successful toy drive

Bane-Welker Equipment’s 2022 toy drive was a major success. The entire Bane-Welker complex with 9 stores in Indiana and 6 stores in Ohio collected 5,556 toys for children in their communities. This is a significant increase from the 1,800 collected last year. 

It was a shared labor of love. Everyone from friends to employees and customers got into the spirit. 

“This was such a rewarding project for everyone,” said Jason Bane, president of Bane-Welker Equipment. “We had so much community support this year. And for the second year in a row, we even had customers and employees use their Red Zone Rewards points to buy more toys for the children.” 

This type of project aligns well with the Bane-Welker mission of making a positive impact on the communities they serve. The Toys for Tots project was initiated by Bane-Welker employee Justin Butler, a former Marine, who benefitted from the program himself as a child. … Continue reading

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WOTUS rule disappointing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released a final rule on Dec. 30 that determines what constitutes Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, under the Clean Water Act.

The rule was released as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to decide a case, Sackett vs. EPA, which will provide more clarity on the issue.  

“We are disappointed that EPA moved ahead with its final rule when the Supreme Court will soon render a decision on this matter,” said Tom Haag. National Corn Growers Association president. “The Court’s ruling could negate major elements of this WOTUS rule and will create even more uncertainty for farmers.”
This year, NCGA submitted comments to EPA and encouraged corn growers to do the same as the rule was being considered. The group also participated in regional hearings held by EPA.

NCGA has made it clear that farmers are committed to the objectives of the Clean Water Act and the protection of water quality around agricultural operations and downstream.… Continue reading

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Top 10 of 2022

By Matt Reese

Per tradition, I love to take a look at the top posts online from the previous year. It offers many insights into the hot topics, concerns and interests of Ohio agriculture. Top videos for the year were the National FFA Proficiency Awards, Cab Cams and Ohio State Fair interviews. 

Here are the top web stories from 2022.

  1. Grand champion steer shatters all Sale of Champions records

I have been attending the Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions for more than 20 years and auctioneer Johnny Regula has said it every year. He wants $100,000 for the Grand Champion Steer. Going into Sunday, Aug. 7, the record sale for the Grand Champion Steer at the Ohio State Fair was $85,000 from 2011. Every year Regula has said it, and every year he has come up short. The 2022 Sale, though, was different. 

“I’m going to get this out the way early,” Regula said as he took the microphone after Ryleigh Egbert from Auglaize County entered the sale ring with her Grand Champion Steer. “He… Continue reading

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McKalip appointed Chief Ag Negotiator

Late in 2023, the Senate confirmed of Doug McKalip to serve as Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Many agricultural groups were pleased with the announcement.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased that, after several months of delay, Doug McKalip was finally confirmed as chief agricultural negotiator for USTR. Doug has proven he is more than qualified for the position with more than three decades of agricultural experience,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president. “There is much work to be done. Current disagreements over exports to Mexico and potential new trade relationships with the European Union and Great Britain require the leadership Doug brings to the position. We look forward to working with him to create more opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers to feed families around the globe.”… Continue reading

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What Ohio legislation didn’t pass?

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

Since we’re at the end of the two-year session of the 134th General Assembly, any proposed legislation that did not pass is now dead. Some of those proposals will be reintroduced next session, but we might never see others again. The two most notable ag-related bills that died include:

Community solar – H.B. 450

Many solar developers were hoping this bill would pass, as it provides incentives for smaller scale subscription-based solar projects and solar projects on brownfield sites. Landowners considering leases with solar developers who stated they were doing community solar projects must note that, because the bill did not pass, there is currently no legal authority to construct a community solar project in Ohio.

Eminent domain — H.B. 698

This proposal would have streamlined the process for landowners challenging compensation for property taken by eminent domain, increased the burden of proof by an agency using eminent domain, and expanded attorney fee and expense rewards for property owners.… Continue reading

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End of year a busy time for Ohio legislators with solar and ag measures

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

A new law giving local governments zoning authority over small-scale solar facilities may feel like a just-before-Christmas gift to counties and townships dealing with solar development conflicts. The late amendment was one of a few surprises from the legislature as it wrapped up its lame duck session in mid-December. 

Several other pieces of legislation affecting agriculture and natural resources that passed include local preemption of pesticides, loosening oil and gas drilling reviews on state lands, and new knowledge requirements for environmental health specialists that inspect retail food establishments. Here’s a summary of the agricultural related bills that passed and now await the Governor’s action.

Zoning authority over small scale solar — H.B. 501

An amendment to a township bill will grant counties, townships, and municipalities regulatory authority over “the location, erection, construction, reconstruction, change, alteration, maintenance, removal, use, or enlargement of any small solar facility, whether publicly or privately owned, or the use of land for that purpose.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Soybean Council Foundation offers $64,000 in scholarships

The Ohio Soybean Council Foundation (OSCF) is pleased to offer scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The scholarship program encourages undergraduate and graduate students at Ohio colleges and universities to pursue degrees in one of the many academic fields that support the future of the soybean industry, including agriculture, business, communication, economics, education, engineering, science and technology.

The OSCF scholarship program has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships since 2008.

2023-2024 undergraduate scholarships

  • Seven undergraduate scholarships of up to $3,000 each will be awarded.
  • One $3,000 Robinson W. Joslin Scholarship, which was established in memory of Rob Joslin, a soybean farmer and long-time leader in the soybean industry, to recognize a student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership potential.
  • One $5,000 Bhima Vijayendran Scholarship, named to honor Dr. Vijayendran’s contributions to the soybean industry through his scientific research and commercialization activities at Battelle.
  • New to the OSCF program this year are two $10,000 Richard Cocks Scholarships, to be distributed across three years ($3,333 per year), for students who are current freshman and entering their sophomore year of college in Fall 2023.
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Ohio renews commitment to USDA CREP projects

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) renewed their commitment to the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) projects. ODA and ODNR are offering incentives to farmers and landowners to enroll new acres, or maintain existing acres, into conservation practices.

CREP aims to reduce sediment and nutrient loading into the Lake Erie Watershed and the Scioto River Watershed. The program’s goals complement Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, focused on improving water quality statewide.

“The administration, ODA, and ODNR know how important the CREP program is to Ohio in meeting statewide water quality and conservation goals, said Dorothy Pelanda, ODA Director. “The incentives provided are effective ways to help boost proven conservation initiatives in our state.”

Under the new agreements, ODA is offering a $500 per acre one-time incentive payment for newly enrolled filter strips and grassland practices.… Continue reading

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Steubenville Nutcracker Village brings holiday cheer

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

‘Twas the night before Christmas decorations arrived, 

And groups of volunteers buzzed like a beehive. 

Life-sized nutcrackers were loaded with care, 

In hopes visitors would soon be there. 

The town was yearning for their beloved statue dolls, 

In cozy homes all the way to the city hall. 

So the nutcrackers were propped up one by one, 

To prepare Steubenville for some holiday fun. 

While nutcrackers have been synonymous with Christmas for hundreds of years, Steubenville takes the traditional holiday dolls to a whole new level. 

Therese Fedoryka has been a part of the Downtown Steubenville Revitalization Committee for the last 10 years. One of the committee’s activities is an annual Christmas parade. In 2015 the parade had a nutcracker theme. Fedoryka’s father, Mark Nelson, owns a woodworking and manufacturing business and thought it would be fun to create some life-sized nutcrackers to fit the theme. Nelson and his team created 37 nutcrackers that year which he placed on display.… Continue reading

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Junior fairs step up to Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

The “Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer” program from Farm Credit Mid-America and Rural 1st has officially wrapped up its second year with major increases, both in the amount donated and the counties involved.

“Farm Credit Mid-America (FCMA) and Rural 1st came together for this last year in 2021. A couple of team members put their heads together and found a new way to inspire and engage our local youth leaders. The idea was to involve county fairs and they went straight to the junior fair boards and got the youth leaders involved to collect food donations throughout the duration of their county fair and award prizes based on the total amount of food donated,” said Lindy McLaughlin, associate financial officer for FCMA in the Norwalk office. “This year the Perry County Junior Fair ran around the campgrounds at the end of the fair asking campers to donate items.… Continue reading

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Climate measures included in omnibus

The 2023 omnibus appropriations legislation released just days before Christmas from Congress contains several pieces of legislation that many in agriculture feel will help farmers meet sustainability goals. The omnibus legislation includes the Growing Climate Solutions Act and SUSTAINS Act, two critical pieces of legislation that will support the agriculture and forestry sectors’ work to advance climate solutions, in the FY23 omnibus.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act seeks to accelerate voluntary carbon markets. The bill will ensure producers looking to explore these voluntary opportunities are met with resources at USDA. The SUSTAINS Act will facilitate private sector contributions to further support and bolster USDA conservation programs.

The American Farm Bureau was among the supporters of the legislation.

“AFBF commends lawmakers for including several important pieces of legislation in the 2023 omnibus bill to support the role farmers and ranchers play in sustainability and recognize the hardships caused by natural disasters,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “The… Continue reading

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Farm prices holding steady into 2023

By Matt Reese

For many, a noteworthy discussion topic in 2022 has been the aggressive increases in interest rates. While this surely has impacted some markets, Doug Walton, with United Country Walton Real Estate & Auction Co., LLC has not seen it. 

Doug Walton

“It has brought up a lot of questions, but interest rates really have not affected the land market because we’re continuing to see it stay steady to higher as we move right along going into 2023. There still seems to be a lot of guys out there hunting for land and if they want it and have some cash down, they’re definitely going for it. There’s so much demand out there and there’s still old money in some of these farming communities. Farmers are still buying the land as opposed to investors. Not that investors aren’t buying some of it, but not at the pace of what farmers are.… Continue reading

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