Country Life

USDA offers assistance to protect privately-owned agricultural lands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications from landowners and organizations interested in protecting farmlands and grasslands with financial and technical assistance available through the Agricultural Land Easements program (ALE). Applications for ALE are taken on a continuous basis. The deadline to receive fiscal year 2024 funding is Dec. 15, 2023.

The ALE program provides funding to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands.  Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.

“Preserving Ohio’s farmlands is critical,” said John Wilson, NRCS State Conservationist in Ohio. “This program works to ensure the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses.” 

Land eligible for agricultural easements includes cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. NRCS will prioritize applications that protect agricultural uses and related conservation values of the land and those that maximize the protection of contiguous acres devoted to agricultural use.… Continue reading

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Turkey prices fall as Thanksgiving approaches

The cost of purchasing a turkey could be lower this Thanksgiving, thanks to a drop in avian influenza cases and a recovery of the turkey population in the United States. American Farm Bureau Federation economists analyzed turkey and egg prices in the latest Market Intel report, which states the average price for an 8-to-16 pound turkey typically served for Thanksgiving was $1.27 per pound in August 2023, 22% lower than the same time last year.

“The status of HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) is much different now than it was just a year ago,” the Market Intel states. “Migratory birds are a major vector of this virus, which naturally makes spring and fall migration high risk times. Detections from the current outbreak peaked during March 2022 with 20.96 million birds affected before gradually falling to just 540 birds in September 2023. This can be compared to 8.15 million birds affected in September 2022.… Continue reading

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The evolving equipment market

By Matt Reese

The equipment market continues to evolve through unprecedented prices and demand.

“Evolving is exactly the right word — I think we’re still continuing to see strong prices for agricultural and construction equipment. We are seeing a little bit of softening in some of the compact construction equipment, but the demand still is there. I think the big issue that many folks are looking at now is with the interest rates creeping up. As they go higher, how is that going to continue to affect the price and the availability of new equipment? Used equipment continues to be a great option for many folks too,” said Peter Gehres, chief operating officers for Jeff Martin Auctioneers, Inc. “The one area where we are seeing a lot of volatility is semi-trucks, your truck tractors or trailers, over the road kind of equipment. There has been a lot of volatility up and down over the last year and we’re continuing to see that as the overall economy begins to change.… Continue reading

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Acorn abundance

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

It’s no news to me that Ohio’s oak trees are offering an abundance of acorns this season. The red oaks that tower over our small, metal-roofed cabin have been letting us know since September by shedding their fruit, which sounds like a rifle shot when a premium acorn hits the “tin” roof. Official numbers back-up our own findings: the 2023 survey of acorn abundance on select Ohio wildlife areas shows an average of 40% of white oaks and 54% of red oaks bore fruit, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW). The long-term average for white oak production is 37%, and 54% for red oaks.

“The thousands of acorns a mature Ohio oak tree drops on the forest floor will feed about 90 wildlife species,” said Kendra Wecker, ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief. “Deer, turkeys, squirrels, ruffed grouse, blue jays, raccoons, woodpeckers, foxes, and more seek out and eat acorns throughout the fall and winter.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau well represented at national level

The American Farm Bureau Federation County Activities of Excellence awards celebrate unique, local, volunteer-driven programs that serve as models of innovation for local program development.

The winning counties, including 11 from Ohio, receive a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2024 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention & Trade Show Jan. 19-24, in Salt Lake City. AFBF received 151 entries across all membership categories, with only 24 activities nationwide being selected to present at the convention.


“Ohio having more CAE winners than any other state is becoming a regular occurrence,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director, leadership development. “Our members take great pride in their communities and these awards are truly a testament to the hard work Ohio Farm Bureau staff and volunteers put into county programs across the state.”
Here are Ohio’s winners.

Adams County: Farm Bureau Day at the Fair
Adams County Farm Bureau partnered with the local hospital and OSU Extension to provide no cost health care screenings and breakfast to current members.… Continue reading

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EQIP funding to improve bird habitat in Ohio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a statewide effort focused on creating and improving upland bird habitat in Ohio. Private landowners and producers can apply for funding through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications for EQIP are taken on a continuous basis, however, interested landowners are encouraged to contact their local NRCS service center prior to the anticipated Feb. 16, 2024 sign-up deadline for fiscal year 2024 funding. 

“Private landowner involvement plays such an important role in preserving these species loved by hunters and other recreationalists,” said John Wilson, Ohio NRCS State Conservationist. “With the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, we can help landowners place conservation practices on their land that will make a measurable difference in upland gamebird habitats.” 

With upland bird populations declining, diverse quality habitats are critical, making private landowner actions key in creating and maintaining complex habitat requirements to help the birds thrive.… Continue reading

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BroadbandOhio awards Ohio State $125,000

BroadbandOhio has awarded $125,000 in grants to help establish high-speed internet connectivity to The Ohio State University’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London. 

The center is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and is home to the annual, three-day farm show, Farm Science Review.

The agricultural connectivity will ensure that the center can be used as a demonstration area and proving ground for autonomous farming equipment, which promises increased efficiencies, reductions in environmental impacts, and enhanced overall productivity in the agricultural sector. 

“As we continue through the digital agricultural revolution, reliable broadband is critical,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president of agricultural administration and CFAES dean. “We are grateful to BroadbandOhio for this investment, which will amplify our college’s research and delivery of cutting-edge technologies and practices to Ohio’s producers and agribusinesses through Ohio State University Extension,” which is CFAES’ statewide outreach arm.… Continue reading

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Farmer’s Guide to Trucking Regulations available to Ohio Farm Bureau members

Hauling grain and livestock over the roads can raise questions about state and federal transportation regulations. The Ohio Farm Bureau legal team has created the Farmer’s Guide to Trucking Regulations as a free resource, exclusively for members.

The newly revised guide includes a farm driver checklist, overview of both state and federal regulations and exemptions, details on CDL qualifications, details on inspections, load regulations, hazardous materials, emergency response information and more.

“Navigating through both state and federal laws, in addition to identifying any agricultural exemptions that may apply, can easily become a burdensome and confusing endeavor,” said Leah Hetrick, director of legal education and member engagement with Ohio Farm Bureau. “This guide was built with the intention to gather and organize information and resources that may help answer some of the common questions we receive, and to inform our members of important regulations they should be aware of.”

Also in the second edition of the guide, find updates related to the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Transportation Act (MAP-21), including federal exemptions that apply to “covered farm vehicles.”… Continue reading

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Ohio’s National FFA officer candidate advances to final phase

Morgan Anderson is Ohio’s candidate to be a national officer at the 2023 National FFA Convention. Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood visits with her on the first day of convention after she was named one of the 21 candidates advancing to the final phase of the selection process.

National FFA Convention coverage is sponsored by Wilmington College. More information at www.wilmington.edu.… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau hosts estate planning, tax program Nov. 13

Ohio Farm Bureau is hosting an estate planning and tax update program for farmers later this year. “Future Minded Farmer with Adam Sharp” will provide insights on upcoming changes to farm estate tax structures set to take effect in 2026.

The event will take place Nov. 13 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Delphos. A traditional German-style dinner will be served at 6 p.m., with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president, will share updates on the organization’s efforts to continue delivering value to members through advocacy, connection and on-farm business solutions. Attendees also will hear from farm attorney Evin Bachelor with Wright & Moore Law and financial advisor Bruce Jones on steps that can be taken now to protect farm interests in the future.

The program is free for Farm Bureau members and $15 per person for non-members. Space is limited and registration is requested by Nov.… Continue reading

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Agriculture “at an inflection point”

By Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to building consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system

“December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy.” This memorable quote from President Franklin Roosevelt memorialized the bombing of Pearl Harbor and marked the United States’ entry into World War II. Prior to the surprise attack in Hawaii on that Sunday morning some 82 years ago, the U.S. had avoided active participation in the conflict. We were happy to serve as the “armory to the allies,” but nationalistic sentiment was strong and the scars from World War I were still raw. Public sentiment was divided, and we lacked the political will to enter another global conflict — until Pearl Harbor was attacked. The bombing of a U.S. military base fueled the fire of patriotism and the United States responded with full force, ultimately prevailing with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945. … Continue reading

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FCMA gleaning provided Farms to Food banks in 2023

Since 2016, volunteers from Farm Credit Mid-America have supplemented more than 4.4 million meals to those in need through the Farms to Food Banks program. Farms to Food Banks connects farmers and their products to local food banks. Throughout September and October, team members visited local customers’ farms where they gleaned fresh produce to donate to area food banks. The goal is for communities have access to fresh produce and protein to supplement shelf-stable meals.

In Ohio, Farm Credit Mid-America visited Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala in October. In total, FCMA team members gathered and donated 33,674 pounds of produce in 2023. In addition, FCMA team members volunteered at 29 food banks in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee, including partnering with nearly 100 farmers, growers and producers in Ohio through the Agricultural Clearance Program.… Continue reading

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A focus on farm stress

By Dee Jepsen

This time of year, it’s possible to look back with different outlooks about how the past year has treated us, especially if we’re involved with agriculture. The year 2023 has served us with many fluctuations, whether it be the weather, the markets, supply chain delays, labor shortages or any combination of other stressors.

Yet, rural people continue to be resilient in the unique way they face each day and each season. Old timers’ quotes portray resilience in phrases like “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or “look for the rainbow beyond the clouds.” These words can add optimism to those daily tasks that appear impossible for us to complete, especially if we are lacking in faith and motivation in our own abilities. It is through this lens, that we take time to recognize and highlight farm resilience during several mental well-being activities that occur in November.

Farm stress awareness campaign

The Ohio Agricultural Mental Health Alliance was formed to support the mental well-being of farmers, agricultural workers, and their families.… Continue reading

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Farm girl, pre-vet, military plumber relishing her role as Ohio Fairs’ Queen

By Matt Reese

She is a farm girl, pre-vet, plumber in the Army National Guard who can pull off the tierra-clad elegance of royalty. It seems, well beyond the crown currently on her head, 2023 Ohio Fairs’ Queen Rebekah Hardacre is a young lady who wears many hats.

Hardacre, now a junior at the University of Findlay, grew up in Clark County with a farm background and was very active in 4-H and FFA at Global Impact STEM Academy.

“I grew up on a farm and my grandparents had a dairy farm, so I’ve always been around cattle and they also had grain as well. I have always had an interest in agriculture,” Hardacre said. “When I was old enough, I did pretty much every animal project that I could, except for dogs, horses and goats. I did everything else. I also did a lot of sewing, cooking, baking, and poetry projects too.… Continue reading

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Connecting with consumers through agritourism

By Matt Reese

Ohio’s agritourism operations straddle the line between urban and rural, filling an important niche for agriculture by entertaining, educating and connecting consumers with farms.

“It gives people an opportunity to drive out of the driveway and turn left instead of right and see what else is in their community. They like to go out and be in the open space. I think that’s the biggest thing. It just gives them a chance to get out and see a new way of life,” said Rob Leeds, with Ohio State University Extension in Delaware County and owner of Leeds Farm in Ostrander. “The idea is you bring people out with activities and a little bit of ambiance, then you talk to them about livestock and how we treat the animals or hay bales versus straw bales and get them out there doing the fun activities that we did growing up on the farm.… Continue reading

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Teaching students where food comes from

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

GrowNextGen is partnering with The Ohio State University to bring more outdoor learning opportunities to students in Ohio, including a visit from three groups of students in September. Patrick Nightingale is a high school science teacher from Kipp Academy in Columbus. He also helps write and uses GrowNextGen curriculum.

“I’ve been able to use a lot of those materials on GrowNextGen’s website in my own classroom and they’ve been amazing materials. GrowNextGen actually merged my passion with a purpose. I was able to use a lot of my passion in writing the curriculum that was aligned with the purpose of students learning about agriculture. That was one thing I’ve been looking for,” Nightingale said. “One of the reasons I’ve always loved teaching environmental science is because agriculture is embedded into one of our units. I find agriculture to be one of the most accessible forms of science that students can get into.”… Continue reading

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Donations support wounded veterans

If over the years a collection of used cars, boats, and tractors have taken up valuable space in the yard or barn, consider donating them to a worthy cause. One to consider is the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF), dedicated to positively affecting the lives of combat-wounded veterans.

Donors and supporters make the mission of MWSF possible and help significantly change the lives of combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star families. Contributions go toward housing, vehicles, and support that are all part of each unique MWSF program. These programs go on to help our heroes in different ways.

One program that the Foundation offers is the Skills4Life program, which provides recreational outings and peer-to-peer mentorship through hunting, fishing, and golfing adventures. The program provides a great opportunity for combat-wounded veterans to connect and find camaraderie through outdoor activities. More details about this program and the other programs can be found at MilitaryWarriors.org.… Continue reading

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Artificial intelligence: It’s not about bluffing my way through vet school

Artificial intelligence (AI) offers nearly every manufacturing and production industry in the U.S. the potential to increase productivity. A major segment of the economy that is behind in utilizing AI and big data to its advantage, however, is our food supply — from the farm to the grocery.

A key part of the problem is that rural America lacks adequate Internet service. In the hinterlands, we’re limited to receiving and sending low numbers of megabytes of data. I recently came to a crossroads with my own Internet service. My staff computer techy guy measured my office Internet connectivity at 0.6 megabytes per second. Yet, six miles east of my home, in Urbana, every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants it can get 200 to 300 megabytes per second service, to watch movies or the gadflies who opine on TV!

“The Internet of Things (IOT)” describes the ability to connect devices, through high-speed internet, to sense, collect, share and process data to fulfill necessary tasks — like milking cows, robotically.… Continue reading

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A look at legal standing

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

I’ve had dogs all of my life, but the Border Collie puppies that Kent and I acquired in 2019 add a whole new twist on canine companionship. Ranger and Tonto are workaholics. When I first started training them as puppies, I had little jerky treats I would give them for learning commands. I soon figured out that our Border Collies are not motivated by food. They would look me in the eye as if to say, “did I say I was hungry?” All these two litter mates want is praise, especially if it is praise for them working. They don’t even comprehend the concept of play. If you toss a ball for them they just stare at you like you are crazy. “What is the purpose of the round thing bouncing?” We thought a tug rope might entertain them but they just glared at it as if to ask, “How do you herd that?… Continue reading

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Funding for USDA Wetland Reserve Easements now available to Ohio landowners

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a special set-aside funding pool for  landowners interested in restoring, enhancing, and protecting wetlands through the Wetlands Reserve Easement Program (WRE). This year, Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding has provided additional financial opportunities for the program, as wetlands play a critical role in climate mitigation. The first application cutoff date to receive fiscal year 2024 funding for both the WRE and WRE-IRA program is November 15, 2023.  

Wetland Reserve Easements can help landowners protect land from climate impacts by reducing, capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Additional benefits include land development protection, critical wildlife habitat preservation and water quality improvement

“Wetlands are one of nature’s most productive ecosystems and provide improved water quality and improved wildlife habitat,” said John Wilson, NRCS State Conservationist in Ohio. “We hope to reap these benefits and more by assisting landowners with creating and restoring these critical habitats.” … Continue reading

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