Country Life


By Shelly Detwiler

Let us eat cake, morning, night and anytime we wish!

Cake for breakfast. It’s an absurd, ridiculous, even preposterous idea, right? Think about it for a second. Common breakfast foods…eggs, milk, butter, oil. I’ve got you thinking now, don’t I? Throw in the sugar and flour you have a recipe for breakfast deliciousness such as donuts, pancakes, and waffles. Now that I have gotten you outside your breakfast box, let’s talk cake.

“Cake really isn’t important at all nutritionally, but symbolically it seems to have had an enormous importance,” saidAlysa Levene, author of “Cake: A Slice of History.” 

History tells us we need to thank ancient civilizations of Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for our introductions to cake, cheesecake and fruitcake, respectively. The early Egyptian’s cake was enjoyed in celebrations and feasting, much like we do today. Unlike today, those first cakes were made more like round cakes of bread with bits of honey or special ingredients.… Continue reading

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Night for Young Professionals at OSU Feb. 9

By Matt Reese

Ohio State University student leaders are gearing up for the Night for Young Professionals — a free professional development event open to all students in the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. 

The over-arching theme of the event, taking place in two locations in Columbus and Wooster, is to “Prepare tomorrow’s leaders today” with the goal of answering questions students have about the transition to a real-world job after graduation. Student participants get a professional headshot photo, dinner, door prizes and an opportunity to connect with industry leaders and have real conversations about what to expect when launching their career after graduation. The event is being hosted by Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) in Columbus and Agricultural Communicators, Educators and Leaders of Tomorrow (ACELT) in Wooster. 

“Our goal is to really give them an opportunity and a space to ask questions and to help prepare themselves for what comes after graduation,” said Raegan Feldner, leadership chair of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow.… Continue reading

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Making use of food waste

There is money to be made — and potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — by finding a second life for the potato peels, fried dough particles, cheese whey and other industrial food-processing waste products that routinely end up in landfills, according to new research.

Scientists have taken the first step at estimating the best large-scale uses for food processing waste, first analyzing its contents and, based on those findings, proposing production opportunities ranging from sustainable fuels, biogas and electricity to useful chemicals and organic fertilizer.

This work is known as valorization, or determining the potential value of something “that is otherwise valueless or even a drain on resources for a company — when you have to spend money to get rid of it,” said Katrina Cornish, senior author of the study and professor of horticulture and crop science and food, agricultural and biological engineering at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). … Continue reading

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Protecting top end revenue and yield with crop insurance

By Michael Sweeney, Vice President of Bickle Farm Solutions

Over the last couple of years, federal crop insurance has brought us a couple of products that allow a producer to cover up to 95% of yield and revenue. Every crop insurance company also has a least one or maybe two products that also take you up as high as 95% protection. But which is the right fit for you? 

Michael Sweeney

Let’s start with the public products. Enhanced coverage option (ECO) and supplemental coverage option (SCO) are two relatively new programs that are available here in Ohio. These are both county-based plans, meaning that an entire county must show a loss for any payments to be made. Expected average yields are published for each county and crop. The same spring and fall prices used for crop insurance apply. ECO can be selected at a 90% or 95% trigger level and goes down to 86%.… Continue reading

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Plenty of moisture in January to recharge dry soils

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Did it feel like winter was largely absent during January? If so, you are not alone, and we have the climate statistics to prove it. Figure 1 shows that much of the state will end the month with temperatures about 10°F above the long-term average (1991-2020). This places January 2023 in the top 5 warmest Januarys on record for many cities across the state. It was also a wet month, with precipitation running 125-200% of normal. Frequent systems, typical of the La Niña weather pattern we are in, helped recharge soil moisture and elevate stream flows across the state. With the lack of cold weather and wet conditions, muddy conditions are now being felt by many across Ohio.      

This week will feature a much colder and overall drier pattern for Ohio. Chilly conditions will be in place for Tuesday and Wednesday with highs generally in the 20s and overnight lows in the teens.… Continue reading

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OABA recognizes winners of Industry Excellence Awards at Industry Conference

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Despite diverse and unexpected challenges in recent years, Ohio’s agribusinesses are strong in 2023 — strength well represented at the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference in early February.

“Our numbers are up over last year and we’re excited about that. Since the pandemic we’ve slowly been bringing people back to our in-person events and activities. We’re not without our challenges, but I tell you what, the industry is strong,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO. “There are plenty of issues right now, but the No. 1 is probably labor. Our companies are continually telling me that they’re having trouble finding people to work. The theme of our conference this year is Resiliency, so that that’s what it’s all about. How do we continue to move forward in the environment we’re in right now?”

The Conference had a heavy focus on technology and how changes can play a role in building agribusiness resiliency. … Continue reading

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Chef to chef strategy keeps farm at the culinary forefront

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

The displays of Farmer Jones Farm Market and The Chef’s Garden are stocked with an array of colors. Purple carrots, red apples, orange sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables. It’s like a rainbow inside the market, directly across the street from fields of various plants. For most people, produce shopping is simply that: you need a carrot, so you buy a carrot. But Farmer Lee Jones, owner of The Chef’s Garden says that isn’t so. 

“Some carrots taste like cardboard, but some carrots taste wonderful and have great texture. We’re always striving to grow the tastiest, most nutritious, sexiest vegetables you’ve ever had,” Jones said. 

Chef Jamie Simpson was drawn to The Chef’s Garden for that very reason. Hailing from Charleston, SC, Simpson had studied culinary arts and was working as a chef for a high-end hotel prior to joining the team at The Chef’s Garden. … Continue reading

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Trade dispute settlement proceeding a positive move for USMCA

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) commended tthe announcement that the U.S. Trade Representative has formally moved to advance a U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dispute settlement proceeding and establish a second panel to determine whether Canada has been in violation of its market access obligations under the agreement.

Canada’s unwillingness to abide by the tariff-rate quota provisions of USMCA has been an issue since the agreement’s implementation began. The United States won its first dispute panel on the matter in Dec. 2021, which found that Canada was reserving most of its preferential dairy TRQs for Canadian processors that have little incentive to import product. Canada’s revised approach to USMCA TRQs, released in May, also provided inequitable advantages to Canadian processors.

“Canada’s TRQ allocation system is not only a violation of USMCA — it directly harms American dairy farmers, processors, and other workers by unfairly restricting access to their market,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.… Continue reading

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Census of Agriculture response due next week

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reminds our nation’s farmers and ranchers that the deadline to respond to the 2022 Census of Agriculture is Feb. 6. Producers can respond online at or by mail.

Last month, NASS mailed the Census of Agriculture questionnaires to every known ag producer in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Conducted just once every five years, the ag census provides a complete account of the nation’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by federal law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all individual operations’ information confidential, use the data for statistical purposes only, and publish the data in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.

“By participating in the 2022 Census of Agriculture, producers show the value and importance of American agriculture,” said Hubert Hamer, NASS Administrator.… Continue reading

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Renewable energy grants and low interest loans

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

This USDA Rural Development program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers can also apply for new energy-efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. Applications are due no later than March 31, 2023.

How can funds be used?

Funds can be used for renewable energy systems such as:

  • Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
  • Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
  • Hydropower below 30 megawatts
  • Hydrogen
  • Small and large wind generation
  • Small and large solar generation

Funds also can be used to buy, build, and install energy efficiency improvements such as:

  • High-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
  • Insulation
  • Lighting
  • Cooling or refrigeration units
  • Doors and windows
  • Electric, solar, or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots
  • Switching from a diesel to an electric irrigation motor
  • Replacement of energy-inefficient equipment

Who is eligible to apply?… Continue reading

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Tax strategy for excess fertilizer

By Robert Moore, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Recently, there has been renewed interest in a tax strategy involving excess fertilizer in farmland. The idea behind this strategy is to allocate a value to any residual fertilizer in farmland that was recently purchased or inherited. The value of the fertilizer is then deducted to offset income. While this strategy does have merit, it is considered by some tax professionals to be an aggressive tax strategy and caution should be used when implementing.

This strategy is centered on excess fertilizer being in the soil when farmland is acquired. Excess fertilizer is that amount of fertilizer over and above the base nutrient levels. The excess fertilizer is treated as a separate asset that can be distinguished from the soil. A value is attributed to the excess fertilizer and that value is amortized based on the depletion rate of the fertilizer.… Continue reading

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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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