Country Life

Film showcases the need for farm safety

By Risë Labig, OCJ marketing specialist

Last weekend my husband and I, along with many others from the local agricultural community, were invited to a screening of the film SILO, a film inspired by true events. It focuses on grain entrapment — a serious safety risk on farms across the U.S.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of going to see this film. Yet, I knew we needed to. All of us in the ag community know that safety is a huge risk every single day on the farm. Yet, herein lies something we all know to be true: it’s very easy to get comfortable with the risks.

Please go see this film. Is it easy to watch? No. Yet, it was comforting to know that we were sitting amongst a very special group of people who would understand every conversation in this film. People need to understand the risks and need to be reminded that it is so easy for an accident to happen.… Continue reading

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OABA Industry Conference focused on 2020

The annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is underway, inspiring attendees to look forward into 2020 and beyond to the opportunities and challenges ahead.

To kick off the event on Jan. 30, Michael Swanson, an economist with Wells Fargo Bank, talked about how the three-point line changed the strategy of the game of basketball with the addition of an arbitrary line added to the court. Coaches, players and teams all had to adjust their game plans to account for the change and those who adapted most quickly and effectively had the advantage. Agriculture certainly has some similarities.

“Every day someone is drawing a new three point line on our court. It could be a regulatory three-point line. It could be a technology three-point line. Either way, it changes the game,” Swanson said. “Agriculture used to be a labor intensive industry and now it is an input driven industry. You used to be able to get up earlier, work later and out produce your neighbor.… Continue reading

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$30 million allocated to agriculture in the lower Maumee River Watershed

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Sign-up for farmers to participate in the H2Ohio initiative, and receive incentives for implementing approved nutrient management practices begins in February at the local Soil and Water Conservation District offices. A series of meeting have been scheduled in Northwest Ohio to explain the application process for farmers in the 14 county area of the lower Maumee River Watershed who wish to participate in the H2Ohio program. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has announced that $30 million of funding designated for Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio program is available and a total of eight meetings have been scheduled during the month of February to explain the application process for H2Ohio funds and answer questions about the program’s conservation practices.

“In conjunction with details about H2Ohio, these meetings will also introduce the brand-new Ohio Agricultural Conservation Initiative (OACI) Farmer Certification program. This program is focused on conservation.

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USDA reminds producers of Feb. 28 deadline for Conservation Reserve Program general signup

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup to enroll by Feb. 28, 2020. This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term.

“This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want producers and private landowners to know that we have just one month remaining,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA administrator. “It is critical that they make their final determinations and submit offers very soon to take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres.… Continue reading

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Growing women in agriculture event

Since 2007 the number of women in agriculture has increased by 7% in the United States. With this evolving statistic in the industry many new avenues for our community and state have developed and this event provides an opportunity for our community’s rising agriculture leaders.

The agriculture community in Shelby County is excited to support women in agriculture by holding their fifth annual “Growing Women in Agriculture, an Empowerment Celebration” event on March 26, 2020, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The event will be held for the first time in a new location, the Amos Press Building at 911 S. Vandemark Rd, in Sidney. The evening is a unique blend of educational and fun agriculture information that specifically targets women in our community. The cost is $20 per person, in which a portion of the fee will support the Agape Community Garden program. The registration deadline is March 6 with breakout sessions being filled on a first come first served basis as registrations are received.… Continue reading

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Long-awaited USMCA signed by Trump

By Matt Reese

President Trump today signed into law the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which, once implemented, will provide much-needed certainty for U.S. agriculture.

National Pork Producers Council board member Duane Stateler from McComb and Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association president Patty Mann attended today’s signing ceremony. Passage of the USMCA has been a top priority for the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, Mann said.

“The passage of USMCA is important for corn, wheat, and small grain growers in Ohio. Continuing to have solid trade relationships with our largest foreign markets — Mexico and Canada — cannot be overstated. Free trade agreements like this help us continue to feed and fuel the world,” she said. “Exports of corn, soft red winter wheat, ethanol, corn co-products, and small grains are vital to support a thriving Ohio economy. Therefore, developing and maintaining fair and open global trade practices remain an essential policy priority for our Association and we are happy that President Trump and Congress agree.”… Continue reading

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Warmer and wetter, Ohio’s climate is shifting

Little snow, warmer days — it’s been an unusual winter. Or has it?

For the past four decades, Ohio’s winters have been warming twice as fast as its summers. And the state is getting more rainfall as well. 2019 was the sixth wettest year in Ohio and the 12th warmest, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“It was certainly our wettest decade on record,” Wilson said.

On average, Ohio’s annual rainfall has increased 5% to 15% since the early 1900s, with the largest increases in areas such as north-central Ohio where fall rainfall has risen by 31%, Wilson said.

So far, this winter is proving to be warmer than average. December was Ohio’s 15th warmest on record and January, too, has been fairly mild, Wilson said. Despite the recent cold bite, average temperatures in January across Ohio are between 8 degrees and 12 degrees Fahrenheit balmier than average for the month.… Continue reading

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Ohio researchers to survey farmers

Extreme weather, trade tensions, declining prices, lack of access to health care, and urban sprawl.

To get a better handle on how Ohio farm families are adapting to these challenges, researchers at The Ohio State University will be asking farmers to share their experiences through a new statewide survey this February.

The 2020 Ohio Farm Poll will gather information about the current well-being of different types of farmers across the state, including any changes they might be seeing. The questionnaire will provide an opportunity for farmers to share their views with researchers at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and state policymakers about a range of issues. The survey will be mailed in early February to a random sample of 3,000 farmers.

“We know Ohio farmers often feel over-surveyed and have limited time. However, we also know that decisions are being made by local, state, and national policymakers without a good grounding in the realities farmers face,” said Doug Jackson-Smith, a CFAES professor.… Continue reading

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Is this the final word on WOTUS, or is the rule just being kicked downstream?

By Ellen Essman, Ohio Law Blog, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University

There’s always something going on with the waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Last September, we wrote about how the 1986/1988 WOTUS rule would replace the 2015 Obama rule until the Trump administration finalized its new rule. Well, the final rule was just announced by the EPA on January 24, 2020. So, what does the new rule categorize as “waters of the United States?” Are there any differences between the rule as it was proposed in February of 2019 and the final rule? Will this version of WOTUS stick?


What is (and isn’t) WOTUS now?

The Trump EPA’s WOTUS rewrite maps out which waters are and are not waters of the United States. The following are WOTUS in the new rule:

  • The territorial seas, and waters which are currently used, or were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;
  • Tributaries;
  • Lakes and ponds, and impoundments of jurisdictional waters; and
  • Adjacent wetlands.
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Two trade deals and a price drop

By Todd Hubbs, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

The signing of the Phase One trade deal with China and approval in the Senate of the USMCA saw two positive developments on the trade front. Despite some resolution on these trade issues, markets reacted negatively. The USMCA, while providing stability with two major trading partners, held limited short-term upside potential for corn and soybean exports. Significant skepticism on the ability of China to hit Phase One trade targets among many market participants provided no support for prices. The Phase One trade deal holds the most potential for more significant exports over the next year. The enforcement, timing, and magnitude of Chinese purchases remain unknown. To reach the $36.5 billion target for 2020 outlined in the trade deal, substantial Chinese buying must occur this year in U.S. corn and soybean markets.

The potential for corn exports reaching or eclipsing current marketing year projections depends on follow-through in Chinese buying and the U.S.… Continue reading

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New coronavirus likely spreading between humans

Scientists with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) can offer insight into the new coronavirus that is being blamed for at least 26 deaths and more than 830 confirmed illnesses internationally since December 2019, with at least two cases of coronavirus reported this week in the United States—in Washington state and Chicago. And at least an additional 50 people in the United States are under observation in 22 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that include the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), all of which can infect both humans and animals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Thus far, the United States, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and China all have confirmed cases of coronavirus, which was first reported in December in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province, China.… Continue reading

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New federal rule replaces WOTUS, seeks to add clarity

By Matt Reese

In what has been a long, confusing and lawsuit-laden debate regarding government oversight of the Waters of the United States, the Trump Administration announced replacement regulation for WOTUS, which was repealed in fall of 2019.

The new Navigable Waters Rule was announced on Jan. 23 and garnered broad support from agriculture.

“The Navigable Waters Rule gives farmers clarity and certainty about what waters fall under federal and state jurisdiction the old WOTUS rule was unable to provide,” said Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president. “Ohio farmers go above and beyond to be good stewards of land and water and this new rule will help them put innovative and sustainable conservation practices in place to insure water quality and a healthy environment for themselves and fellow Ohioans.”

In the rule, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked together with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove unnecessary regulatory burden regarding navigable waters.… Continue reading

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Young Ag Professionals awards 10 grants

Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals program has awarded $500 grants to eight local YAP groups and two Collegiate Farm Bureau groups.

The grants are courtesy of Farm Credit Mid-America and fund YAP-focused educational programming or events. Winning groups will be acknowledged at the upcoming Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

Here are the recipients and their programming.


Ashland and Wayne counties YAP

The Ashland/Wayne Young Ag Professionals are planning the 4th annual Ag Toy Drive, which is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 3, 2020. New goals for 2020 include an online outreach video, increased attendance and improving relationships with Ag Toy Drive sponsors and strategic partners.


Clinton, Greene, Fayette, Warren counties YAP

Plans are underway for the Crop to Cup Bus Tour. This multicounty YAP event is intended to increase Farm Bureau membership while also providing educational tours of a brewery, cider house, winery and a distillery.… Continue reading

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Get a farm business boost with the OSU Extension Farm Business Analysis Program

By Dianne Shoemaker and Haley Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension

How well do you know your farm? Sure, you could probably drive your fields blindfolded and you could name without a doubt the cow that will always come in the parlor last; but what about your farm as a business? If this question made you stop and think, then it’s time to become more familiar with your cost of production and other financial measures that make the rest of your farming operation possible.

The Ohio Farm Business Analysis Program is focused on working with farmers across Ohio to better understand the numbers behind their farm business in order to make more informed production, marketing and financial management decisions that will impact the farm’s overall profitability.

Farm business analysis is a tool that can be applied to any farm, regardless of size, crop, or livestock enterprise. Financial management is critical to the success of every farm business, and with analysis, farms are able to better understand the numbers behind their profits or losses.… Continue reading

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OABA members, industry professionals to attend annual conference

The annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is set to take place Jan. 29-31, inspiring attendees to look forward into 2020 and beyond to the opportunities and challenges ahead.

OABA members, along with other industry professionals, will hear from leading experts, educators and researchers during the two-day event, which features the Industry Networking Dinner and Annual Meeting on Jan. 30 with keynote speaker Shirley Brooks-Jones, who will inspire attendees to look for ways to give back in their own communities.

Two conference enhancements are available to attendees this year: the Safety & Risk Management Pre-event Day on January 29 and the AMP’T leadership program on January 31. The conference features four general session speakers: Michael Swanson – Wells Fargo Bank; Janette Barnard – Entrepreneur; Jim Canterucci – Constituent Hub; and Scott Caine – Aimpoint Research. Breakout sessions represent a wide array of agribusinesses, higher education institutions and organizations from Ohio and across the country, including University of Illinois, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, GROWMARK and Bayer CropScience.… Continue reading

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Early indications point to a wetter spring

By Jim Noel, NOAA

It is that time of the year where winter is here but spring is just around the corner.

The weather, climate and hydrology patterns still remain wet across the region. This makes Ohio vulnerable to wet conditions.

The outlook for February calls for normal to slightly below normal temperatures with not too far from normal rainfall. There is a chance February could be drier than normal but the chances are not high.

The jet stream remains active from Japan across the North Pacific Ocean into North America but not as active as last year. Therefore, the spring outlook is for a chilly start but a warmer than normal finish. At the same time, above normal rainfall is forecast so we are likely to see spring planting challenges again into 2020 like many of the last 10+ years. However, it does not look as bad as 2019 at this time.… Continue reading

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OAC to recognize outstanding individuals in agriculture

The Ohio Agricultural Council is accepting applications for two opportunities to recognize outstanding individuals in agriculture: the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame and the OAC scholarship program. Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame Created by the OAC in 1966, the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame has now honored more than 200 agriculturalists who have dedicated their lives of outstanding work to Ohio’s number-one industry, agriculture. Induction in the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame is Ohio’s highest recognition of an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the agricultural industry.

Each year up to four prominent agricultural leaders are honored and inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame for their superior service, dedication, leadership and plentiful contributions to agriculture. Persons wishing to nominate an individual who he or she believes is deserving of consideration for induction into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame may download a nomination form at

Nomination forms, along with three letters of recommendation, must be submitted by March 15, 2020, in order to be eligible for consideration in 2020.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau’s ExploreAg wins national honors

The American Farm Bureau Federation presented awards to state Farm Bureaus at the organization’s 101st Annual Convention in Austin, Texas. The awards recognize excellence in implementation of outstanding outreach programs in 2019.

Ohio Farm Bureau was the recipient of the New Horizon Award, honoring states with the most innovative new programs. This year’s award recognizes the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation’s ExploreAg initiative, a weeklong experience for high school students, where scholars are introduced to careers in food and agriculture both in the classroom and through hands-on learning.

“Creating a future workforce for agriculture is vital to the industry,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “ExploreAg addresses that need by encouraging young people to think critically about the food and farm industry and the issues associated with providing safe and sustainable food and fiber.”

To accomplish the ExploreAg program, Ohio Farm Bureau worked with numerous community partners. In two years, more than 30 Ohio agricultural businesses and operations have been highlighted in the program.… Continue reading

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Heritage Cooperative recognized for excellence

When it comes to stewardship, farmers, in partnership with their local ag retailers, are leading the way. Driving stewardship is more than individual practices – it also takes innovation at the farm level and consistent storytelling and advocacy at the local, state and federal levels.

Each year at the Land O’ Lakes Partners in Excellence Summit, an inspiring group of farmers and ag retailers are recognized for driving stewardship on the farm, to the benefit of their operations, local communities, their states and our nation. At this year’s summit, Land O’ Lakes awarded the top farmers and ag retailers in four categories: Outstanding Retailer Award, Outstanding Sustainability Award, Advocacy Award and Innovation Award.

Ohio-based Heritage Cooperative was the recipient of the 2019 Partners In Excellence Outstanding Retailer Award. Heritage Cooperative is a key partner, along with local farmers, in the landmark initiative with global ingredients supplier Tate & Lyle to assess and accelerate sustainability on 1.5 million acres of U.S.-grown… Continue reading

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Is the third time the charm for farmer fair practice rules?

By Ellen Essman, Ohio Law Blog, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University

A new rule proposed by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) covers a topic that has been up in the air for more than a decade. The 2008 Farm Bill called on the Secretary of Agriculture to create regulations meant to guide the USDA in determining whether or not a packer, swine contractor, or live poultry dealer gave a person or locality “any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage” when purchasing livestock and meat products. The Secretary of Agriculture entrusted the rulemaking to USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). GIPSA did propose versions of the rule in 2010 and 2016, but neither ever went into effect due to congressional prohibitions on such rulemaking and a presidential transition, respectively. (The anticipated regulations have long been referred to as the “Farmer Fair Practice Rules.”)… Continue reading

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