Country Life

Teens to advise ODNR youth outreach program

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

If only this were offered when I was a teen: the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is looking for highly motivated high school students to serve on the Conservation Teen Advisory Council (ConTAC), a statewide network of student leaders working together to enhance ODNR’s youth outreach and program efforts.

“This is a great opportunity for ambitious young people to jumpstart their future careers with skills that transfer to any profession,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz of the opportunity.

ConTAC members will develop innovative and practical ideas that empower young people to protect and preserve Ohio’s natural resources, provide feedback and make recommendations to enhance outdoor outreach. Council members will also get the chance to explore careers in the natural resources sector and develop valuable networking and leadership skills.

A new class of 30 teens will be selected to serve on ConTAC for the 2020-2021 academic year.… Continue reading

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State Fair canceled for 2020 ?

By Matt Reese

On May 21, the Ohio State Fair announced that the event will not be taking place in 2020 — rides, fair food, junior fair, Smokey Bear, open shows, friends in the show barn, everything is canceled.

In recent weeks, the Ohio State Fair’s management team and the Ohio Expositions Commission were evaluating all available information from state and local health officials, as well as the financial feasibility of a reduced capacity fair. With the available information, the Ohio Expositions Commission voted to cancel the Ohio State Fair in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the fair for the future.

 “Our commissioners love our State Fair and you know how much I do and this is hard on all of us. This is my 28th year with the Ohio State Fair and I’ve had a lot of challenges over the years and this is right up there.Continue reading

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Embracing young family workers and teaching farm safety during the COVID summer

By Dee Jepsen and Shoshanah Inwood

This spring and summer will be like no other in recent history during the COVID-19 outbreak. As you take stock of the goals you have for your farm this season, labor needs, and family dynamics, now is also the perfect time to create a plan for the role kids will have on the farm this season. As you formulate your plan, it will be important to take the age of your children and their farm interest into account. The following strategies and tips may be helpful as you come up with a plan for involving young family members in daily chores.

 

Designate safe play areas for toddlers and young children

A farm is a wonderful place to grow up. However, younger children also require more oversight. It will be helpful to have conversations as a family about how to keep kids safe while farm work is being done.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers program postponed

With the uncertainty of the COVID 19 crisis and the apprehension concerning gatherings of people, we have decided to postpone the spring 2020 Feeding Farmers program sponsored by AgriGold until later this year.

“The best part of this program is the neighbors coming together and sharing lunch and fellowship,” said Bart Johnson, owner of Ohio’s Country Journal. “We want to make sure we can continue the importance of getting together socially and celebrating the honor of being involved in agriculture.”

The hope is this fall will bring more relaxed social gathering guidelines and a return to more normal events. We will provide details when we know more.… Continue reading

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Coronavirus and COVID-19: What is this world coming to?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Sometimes I think my fellow Americans don’t use a bit of their “smarts.” In my April column I described the hysterical rush of consumers purchasing as much toilet paper as they could haul out in a shopping cart or two. Then, over spring break, college students flocked to Florida beaches in spite of calls to social distance and self-quarantine at home.

Florida officials made no effort to stem the tide of spring breakers and their lack of social distancing and their flouting of authority. Florida businesses raked in the bucks from students, with fully booked hotels, restaurants packed to the gills, and booze flowing like the Suwannee River.

The students’ attitude was “if I die of COVID-19, so be it. Eat, drink and be merry. You only live once.” But the students gave no thought about spreading the virus to their friends and families when they returned home.… Continue reading

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CFAP direct payment details announced

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.

Payments will go directly to farmers who have suffered a 5% or greater price loss and who are facing significant marketing costs due to the coronavirus. Eligible commodities include cattle, hog, dairy, specialty crops and row crops. Payments will be limited to $250,000 per person.

“This aid can’t arrive soon enough as many farmers file for bankruptcy, facing unprecedented losses.… Continue reading

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Farms to Foodbanks: Community foundations partner to supply foodbanks

Food chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in meat processing bottlenecks. Grocery and food pantry refrigerators and freezers are empty, despite increased need for healthy proteins.

Ohio Farm Bureau, Pickaway County Community Foundation (PCCF) and Delaware County Foundation are working with local farmers to supply local foodbanks with Ohio raised pork.

“We are always looking to generate win-win opportunities,” said Chris Baker, president and CEO of the Delaware County Foundation. “As the number of residents out of work and seeking assistance from food banks increases, some farmers have struggled due to disruptions at processing facilities. With a modest grant from the Foundation’s Community Crisis Fund we are pleased to be able to feed hundreds of people while supporting local businesses.”

When partners learned the meat processing plant in Orient was reopening after temporary closure they sprung to action and purchased 30 hogs from Ohio producers to process for local foodbanks.… Continue reading

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First round of U.S.-UK trade talks

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and United Kingdom International Trade Secretary Liz Truss began meeting in May via video conference to formally begin trade talks between the two nations.

“Both parties agree that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would contribute to the long-term health of our economies, which is vitally important as we recover from the challenges posed by COVID-19. An FTA is a priority for both countries and we share a commitment to secure an ambitious agreement that significantly boosts trade and investment. We will undertake negotiations at an accelerated pace and have committed the resources necessary to progress at a fast pace,” according to a joint statement..

The first round of trade negotiations continued through May 15. In October 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K.… Continue reading

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H2Ohio funds survive COVID-19

Though February featured H2Ohio informational meetings with robust farmer attendance and venues bursting at maximum capacity, March and April brought about tremendous uncertainty with regard to the water-quality focused program as Ohio’s financial situation had to be re-evaluated due to the coronavirus. May is bringing a bit more clarity.

“Governor DeWine’s commitment to clean water in Ohio through his H2Ohio Initiative has remained a priority. Although the economic impact of COVID-19 was unforeseen and required a reevaluation of Ohio Department of Agriculture’s budget, ODA is pleased to be able to move forward with $50 million in funds — $30 million in H2Ohio funds plus $20 million primarily allotted from SB 299 — that will be available to farmers currently enrolled in H2Ohio programs,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director. “This exceeds ODA’s expectations and positions the department to continue building valuable, conservation-based relationships with producers. Although details are yet to be worked out, we plan to move forward quickly to meet with the 2,000 farmers who have enrolled more than 1.1 million acres, in addition to working closely with the 14 SWCDs to help them achieve necessary staffing levels.”… Continue reading

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USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County and Mike Estadt, Extension Educator, ANR, Pickaway County

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other USDA authorities to provide $16 billion in support to farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The program is available to all farmers, regardless of size, who suffered an eligible loss. Included in the program is $3 billion that will go toward purchases of commodities for distribution by food banks and faith-based programs through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA announced $1.2 billion in contracts for that program.

CFAP will provide direct support based on actual losses where markets & supply chains have been impacted.  The program is also designed to assist farmers with additional adjustment and marketing costs from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.… Continue reading

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New Clean Water Act interpretations make waves

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

Even with most of the country shut down, the U.S. EPA and the Supreme Court recently released an important rulemaking and a decision, respectively, regarding how parts of the Clean Water Act will be interpreted going forward. On April 21, 2020, the EPA and the Department of the Army published the Trump administration’s final rule on the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Then, on April 23, the Supreme Court released its long awaited opinion determining whether or not pollutants from a point source, which are released and then carried by groundwater into a navigable water, must be permitted under the CWA.

 

Trump’s new WOTUS

If you recall, we explained this final rule in January when the draft version was released. Basically, the Trump administration wanted to repeal and replace the Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule because the administration felt that it was overreaching in the waters it protected.… Continue reading

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Farmers and 1099 filers might qualify for new COVID-19 unemployment benefits program

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

Farmers aren’t traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, but that won’t be the case when Ohio’s newest unemployment program opens. We’ve been keeping an eye out for the opening of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to persons affected by COVID-19. The program is targeted to persons who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, such as self-employed and 1099 filers. PUA is yet another economic assistance program generated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress.

PUA will provide regular unemployment benefit amounts to qualifying individuals, plus an additional $600 per week for the period of March 29 to July 25, 2020. Qualification doesn’t include a minimum income requirement, but a person must not be eligible for Ohio’s regular unemployment benefits and must not be currently receiving vacation, sick or other paid leave.… Continue reading

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Big as all outdoors

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

As I write this in mid-April I see a glimmer of light way down the gun barrel after noting that Governor DeWine this week did not extend our stay-at-home orders past the first of this month. We’ll all know more by the time you read this, but hopes are for a gradual return to a new norm in life at home, work and in the outdoors. Hopes also hang on the possibility that some of the lessons learned and practices engaged in will carry over and allow us to derive something positive from these weeks of isolation. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I hope you all are weathering these times well and enjoying what finally feels like spring. When I am done here I head to our turkey hunting grounds, where wife Maria and I planted our pop-up hunting blind back on Easter Sunday in anticipation of the opener of the gobbler season now underway.… Continue reading

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Ohio beekeeping

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

Perhaps one of the most significant and overlooked species of farmed livestock in Ohio is the honeybee. Much like any other livestock species, honeybees require food, water, protection from the elements, parasite management and general health care. At the same time, these vital “livestock” are essential to the production of many fruit and vegetable crops in Ohio.

Ohio has a long history in the beekeeping industry. Two notable members of beekeeping history called Ohio their home. Amos Root, inventor of a beehive that allowed apiarists to harvest honey without destroying the hive, was from Medina. His business still exists there today. L.L. Langstroth, who lived in Oxford and Dayton for periods of his life, invented the Langstroth hive, a vertical hive that remains extremely popular.

Today career apiarists have been replaced by hobbyists and sideliners as the art of beekeeping has been more commercialized. Ron Zickefoose , owner of Grandpa’s Farm, a 100-colony apiary in Creston has been beekeeping for over 20 years.… Continue reading

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Building a resilient farm

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

The word “resilience” is used often in the agricultural press. What does this mean? Merriam-Webster defines resilience as: The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.
An ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change.

We often see resilience used in agriculture when discussing climate and weather. There is documented evidence of weather changes that have impacted agriculture, and farmers have done their best to adapt to these changes. Examples include building soil health, managed grazing, the use of cover crops, water management strategies, technology adoption, and more.

Resilience can also be used when discussing the economics of agriculture and the resulting effects. It is no surprise to anyone in agriculture that people are strained, are experiencing stress, and are trying to adjust to new and different ways of operating.… Continue reading

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CFAES ag weather system near-surface soil temperatures

By Aaron Wilson, Greg LaBarge, CPAg/CCA, Elizabeth Hawkins, Sam Custer, Ohio State University Extension

With the calendar now turning to mid-May and much warmer weather expected ahead, this will be the last edition of this year’s soil temperature series in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter. Thanks especially to Elizabeth Hawkins and Sam Custer for persistently supplying daily soil temperatures records from their locations this spring.

Figure 1 shows that two- and four-inch soil temperatures cooled once again after spending the first part of May recovering from April’s chill. Air temperatures were 8 to 12 degrees F below average for the week which sent soil temperatures in the wrong direction. Generally, average soil temperatures are starting this week in the mid to upper 40s across northern Ohio (Northwestern, North Central, and Wooster) and in the mid-50s across the south (Piketon and Western). With a significant warm-up anticipated this weekend, with high temperatures into the 70s across the state, soil temperatures should respond nicely.… Continue reading

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Paulding County fair closes gates for 2020

Another fair in Ohio’s 94-fair county and independent fair lineup has pulled the plug on it’s 2020 event.

West Bend News reported that the Paulding County Fair board, county commissioners, and health department made a mutual decision to not hold the 2020 fair in a virtual meeting Monday. Paulding is the first fair on the 2020 fair season schedule. It was scheduled to begin June 15.

“It was decided by all parties that for the safety and well-being of the Paulding County residents, the 2020 Paulding County Fair cannot happen this year,” the report said.

The fair board is exploring the possibility of holding a virtual add-on-style livestock auction to support their youth exhibitors. The report did note that the board has packers coordinated for all market animals, should the youth decide to utilize that market. The board hopes to host a fun day in the fall for 4-H and FFA youth exhibitors.… Continue reading

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Meristem gears up to help American farmers compete

Improved crop performance, high-quality inputs, and cost-cutting are the key drivers behind Meristem Crop Performance Group, LLC, a new start-up officially launched in Columbus by crop input channel veterans Mitch Eviston and Rob McClelland, principals of the new company.

After a year of pilot-testing on more than a half-million acres with hundreds of Corn Belt growers, Meristem Crop Performance is ramping up to provide their unique high-quality, no-frills approach to select American farmers.

“Top farm businesses clearly understand the need to reduce costs if they are to successfully compete in today’s global grain trade,” said Eviston, Meristem founder and former senior vice president of WinField. “We’ve set up Meristem to be the lean provider of high-quality crop input additives to help these global players cut costs and increase yields.”

Eviston said nearly 200 such growers have already experienced the Meristem advantage.

“We are building the most efficient, direct-to-farm system which allows us to provide high-quality products that can save farmers up to 30% compared to conventional suppliers,” he said.… Continue reading

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