Country Life

Census of Agriculture deadline approaching

By Hubert Hamer, administrator of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service

The USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture is officially underway across the United States and Puerto Rico. It is important for every farmer, rancher and producer to make sure they respond by the deadline on Feb. 6.
Every five years, America’s producers have the opportunity to take part in the nation’s only, most comprehensive and impartial data collection for agriculture. Since 1840, the ag census has played a significant role in showing the value of agriculture and informs decision-makers on how and where to allocate resources. The data collected impact everything from farm programs and funding, crop insurance rates, rural development, disaster assistance, the farm bill and more.
Producers, your voice needs to be represented in these important data. Who better to tell the story of American agriculture than the producers themselves? These statistics will directly impact our farming and ranching communities for years to come and without your input, your hard work to provide safe and abundant agricultural products to the world risks being underserved.… Continue reading

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Ohio county fair supporters recognized

Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Interim Director Tracy Intihar today addressed delegates from Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs at the 98th Ohio Fair Managers Association annual convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Other special attendees included: Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Ohio Treasurer of State Robert Sprague.

Honors were awarded to individuals and organizations for outstanding service to their local fairs. Of this group, nine received the Director’s Award for Innovation and Excellence for their progressive ideas and actions to improve and strengthen their fairs. ODA Interim Director Intihar presented each winner with a certificate. Those chosen for the special honor (denoted by an asterisk below) received plaques.

The award recipients were:

Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs and the Ohio State Fair support the local economy and help educate the public about the importance of agriculture and the many necessities it provides, including food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and energy.… Continue reading

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WOTUS weariness as the issue drags on (and on)

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

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made quite a splash when it released its final rule for defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) on Dec. 30. Immediate criticism and support for the new rule surfaced as many undertook the unenviable task of interpreting the rule’s 514 pages of text. Perhaps some enjoyed the challenge of deciphering the latest development in WOTUS. But I wonder how many responded with a bit of weariness, asking what this “new” rule really means for agriculture and, more importantly, does it really matter?

What does the new final WOTUS rule mean for ag?

There are several answers to this question. The first and most practical answer is that the rule changes which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Through its permit programs, the CWA aims to protect water quality by preventing discharges of pollutants, dredge, or fill into a water that fits within the rule’s definition of “waters of the United States.”… Continue reading

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Ag-LINK available in 2023

Ohio Treasurer Roberts Sprague is reminding Ohio farmers, agribusinesses, and agricultural cooperatives (co-ops) that the Ag-LINK program is available year-round as they plan for the 2023 growing season.

“With interest rates continuing to climb, Ag-LINK plays a critical role in keeping costs down for Ohio’s agriculture industry,” Sprague said. “Thanks to constructive feedback from ag leaders across the state, we’ve taken Ag-LINK to the next level and made it more useful than ever. After a record-setting year in 2022, we’re ready to once again put our balance sheet to work and support even more farmers across the state.”

Through Ag-LINK, farmers, agribusinesses, and co-ops can receive an interest rate reduction on new or existing operating loans. For more than 30 years, the program has helped Ohio’s agriculture community to finance the upfront costs for feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel, equipment, and other expenses.

An eligible borrower:

• Is either organized for profit or as an agricultural cooperative;

• Must have headquarters and 51% of operations maintained in Ohio;

• Must use the loan exclusively for agricultural purposes; and

• Must agree to comply with all program and financial institution regulations.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension Regional Agricultural Outlook and Policy Meetings

By Mike Estadt, Ohio State University Extension Educator

Ohio State University Extension will present its 2023 Regional Agricultural Outlook and Policy Meetings starting in late January and continuing into February. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and the main sponsor of the meetings. Economists from the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, Extension specialists in tax policy, ag law and meteorology, along with other college specialists and invited guests, will serve as speakers.

Held throughout the state, the six outlook meetings will address agricultural topics of interest not only in Ohio, but across the Corn Belt as well. Programs will include presentations on grain market outlook; the dairy industry; agricultural law updates; long-term healthcare; Ohio’s changing climate; energy outlook, international economic outlook, farm real estate values and cash rent trends; farmland preservation outlook; agricultural input price projections; and federal tax updates.

The outlook meetings will be hosted jointly by Union, Madison, and Champaign counties; Pickaway and Ross counties; Clinton and Fayette and individually by Defiance County; Wayne County; and Darke County. … Continue reading

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AFBF sets policy

Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 104th Convention today adopted policies to guide the organization’s work in 2023. Key topics ranged from expanding risk management programs and improving dairy pricing transparency to battling hunger.

Delegates were polled regarding their farms at the beginning of the voting session. The results show almost 99% (334 delegates) of those who cast votes operate family farms and almost 65% represent small- to mid-size farms as defined by USDA. 

“Delegates demonstrated the strength of Farm Bureau by coming together to represent hard-working farm families from all 50 states and Puerto Rico,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF President. “There’s a lot of work to do in 2023 as Congress drafts the next farm bill, and the policies set forth today will guide AFBF as we work to ensure farmers and ranchers can continue to meet the growing needs of families in America and around the world.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships available

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has multiple scholarships available to Ohio students from rural, suburban and urban communities who are pursuing degrees with a connection to the agricultural industry.
Through 14 scholarship funds, nearly 50 awards will be made to deserving students. The deadline to apply online at is March 31.

Newly established, the Mularcik Welding Scholarship for Summit County was established by Brad Mularcik, a long-standing member of Summit County Farm Bureau, who believes that there is too little attention paid to the skilled trades as a career choice for young people. By offering this scholarship, he wishes to help young people of Summit County, Ohio, who are seeking a career in welding.

The Bruce and Carlene Patterson Agricultural Scholarship was established to provide scholarship support to deserving individuals in perpetuity, opening the door to education by removing the financial barriers that may keep someone from pursuing a career in agriculture or related fields and/or obtaining the training needed to grow their skills within the agricultural workforce.… Continue reading

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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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