Country Life

Pawpaw market growing in Ohio

The pawpaw is the largest edible fruit that is native to the United States, grown indigenous in some 26 states nationwide including Ohio. The majority of pawpaws are grown from the Great Lakes to the Florida Panhandle, with mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states being the primary growing region. Grown on trees, pawpaws ripen in the fall and are generally harvested from late August to mid-October.

Not to be confused with papayas, the skin color of ripe pawpaws can range from green to brown or black on the outside and is yellow on the inside, with a ripe pawpaw about the size of a large potato. The meat of the fruit, which is soft and mushy like an avocado, has been described as tasting a little like a rich, custardy tropical blend of banana, mango, and pineapple, according to Brad Bergefurd, a horticulture specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, (CFAES).… Continue reading

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Fake food: Is it better for you and the environment?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Many activists proselytize how bad animal agriculture is for the environment. Most of them operate on the premise that big is bad and that we should return to small family farms — or eliminate food animal agriculture altogether.

They also advocate a vegan diet. But I’m not concerned about people who choose that lifestyle for themselves, so long as they don’t mess with my getting a steak once in a while. Regardless of what they say, I’m convinced that we can’t rely solely on small family farms if agriculture has any chance of providing worldwide food security. This leads me to my topic for this month: the recent introduction of fake foods. Namely, the increasing presence and popularity of plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat. Are these fake foods based on good or bad nutrition? Well, it depends.

Promoters’ claims of health benefits are common for alternative foods.… Continue reading

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Changes in worker program has benefits for finding farm labor

Hiring migrant farm workers will become cheaper and easier as a result of several upcoming changes to the process, according to a labor economist with The Ohio State University.

The new rules on getting visas for temporary foreign workers will allow agricultural employers to pay migrant workers an hourly wage based on what other domestic workers employed in the same position in the area are paid.

“That should help keep costs down for farmers,” said Joyce Chen, an associate professor in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

The current formula for calculating wages requires farms to average the hourly wages of both U.S. supervisors and their field workers to generate an hourly wage for temporary foreign workers in a county.

So, if a domestic lettuce picker in Sandusky County is paid $10 an hour and a supervisor is paid $15 an hour, the temporary migrant worker not in a management position has to be paid at least $12.50 an hour, the average of those two hourly wages.… Continue reading

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“Partial” trade agreement reached with China

President Donald Trump announced on Oct. 11 the United States had reached a deal with China to put the brakes on a trade dispute between the two countries. The United States will delay additional tariffs on Chinese imports and, in exchange, China has agreed to what are thus far unspecified changes to intellectual property policies and currency guidelines. The country will also reportedly import between $40 billion to $50 billion worth of agricultural goods from the United States over an unspecified period of time.

This “Phase 1” trade deal with China is not yet written agreement, however, which will be drafted over the next several weeks.

President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He were scheduled to meet at the White House later in the day on Oct. 11 to discuss the “partial agreement.” Earlier in the week, Chinese trade representatives met with their U.S. counterparts in Washington, D.C. to lay the groundwork for a deal.… Continue reading

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Ohio Agri-Women Awards 2019 scholarships

The Ohio Agri-Women recently named the recipients of its 2019 scholarships. The recipients include McKenna Marshall, Meredith Oglesby, Abbygail Pitstick and Lauren Almasy. Ohio Agri- Women is part of American Agri-Women, a national coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business women. Here are more details about the scholarship winners:

McKenna Marshall is the $1,000 Graduate Scholarship winner. She is attending Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. She grew up working on her family dairy and crop farm, while experiencing Ohio Agri-Women with her mother. She hopes to stay involved with her family farm while working as a farm and small animal vet.

Meredith Oglesby is the $1,000 Undergraduate Scholarship winner. She is attending The Ohio State University majoring in agricultural communication with a minor in environment, economy, development, and sustainability. While maintaining a herd of cattle she hopes to work in communications for the non-profit sector focused in food security and hunger, increasing food access and healthy eating across the state of Ohio.… Continue reading

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Waterfowl hunting underway in Ohio

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

Ohio’s waterfowl hunting seasons are underway, or will be by month’s end, statewide. According to a study last spring, the duck population across North America declined, but most species remain above long-term averages, according to the 2019 Waterfowl Population Status Report released late last month, so biologists are calling for numbers that hunters are likely to see to be similar to the past few seasons across Ohio.

The annual survey, conducted jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service since 1955, puts the breeding duck population at 38.90 million, a 6% decrease from last year’s population of 41.19 million, but still 10% above the long-term average. The 2019 survey marks the first time since 2008 that the estimated breeding duck population has fallen below 40 million.

There is good news to be found in the survey, however: Ohio waterfowl hunters’ most popular targets — mallards — increased 2% to 9.42 million, 19% above the long-term average.… Continue reading

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Happy Porktober! Celebrate with great pork recipes

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

This little piggy went to market. Traditionally, pigs went to market this time of year. October became National Pork Month. Today every month is pork month with pigs going to market continually throughout the year. We take time in October to thank pork producers as well as sit at the table to talk about the safe, healthy, delicious products with consumers being produced on Ohio farms today.

There is more to Ohio’s pork industry than bacon alone! Ohio ranks eighth in pork production. Stats say there are almost 3 million pigs in the state, producing over $580 million in revenue. Pigs are big pig business! Animal emissions get a lot of PR these days. No problem, pigs are earth friendly! The National Pork Checkoff states that pigs are only responsible for .33% of U.S. emissions. Manure goes back to the dirt to turn it into rich soil for crop production.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension tax schools and webinar coming soon

By Barry Ward and Julie Strawser, Ohio State University Income Tax Schools

How to deal with the new tax law (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) for both individuals and businesses are among the topics to be discussed during the upcoming Tax School workshop series offered throughout Ohio in late October, November and December.

The annual series is designed to help tax preparers learn about federal tax law changes and updates for this year as well as learn more about issues they may encounter when filing individual and small business 2019 tax returns.

The tax schools are intermediate-level courses that focus on interpreting tax regulations and changes in tax laws to help tax preparers, accountants, financial planners and attorneys advise their clients. The schools offer continuing education credit for certified public accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys, annual filing season preparers and certified financial planners.

This is another important year for tax education as the new tax law continues to create some challenges for tax practitioners to prepare tax returns.… Continue reading

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Ohio county Farm Bureau efforts win national recognition

Ohio’s county Farm Bureaus won eight of the 24 County Activities of Excellence awards presented by the American Farm Bureau.

The awards celebrate unique, local, volunteer-driven programming and serve as models of innovation for local program development. The winning counties receive a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2020 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in Austin, Texas in January. AFBF received more than 100 entries across all membership categories.
“For Ohio to lead the way again with CAE winners speaks to the hard work and commitment of our county Farm Bureaus,” said Paul Lyons, vice president of membership for Ohio Farm Bureau. “These award-winning local community efforts being recognized on a national level is quite an accomplishment and we couldn’t be more proud of our 12 county winners.”
Ohio winners were:
Ashland, Wayne, Medina, Holmes: Safe Farms Facility

Current agricultural safety training sites in the state are limited due to inclement weather, size restrictions and high demand.… Continue reading

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Cooler weather coming

By Jim Noel, NOAA

After another hot week (until late this week), a cool down to normal temperatures is expected starting either Oct. 3 or 4 that will last through Oct. 15. Temperatures are expected to return to above normal (but no where near current levels) from Oct. 15-31.

Rainfall will be above normal in northern Ohio this week. The week of Oct. 7 will be normal or below normal but confidence is next week’s rainfall pattern is low to moderate. Above normal rainfall is in the outlook for the second half of October which could slow harvest after Oct. 15.

The hot and drier pattern for a good part of September was caused in part by tropical activity. The remnants of Dorian created a big low pressure system not far from Greenland while a typhoon called Lingling in the western Pacific created a big low pressure near Alaska. This resulted in a hot and dry dome of high pressure over the Southeast U.S.… Continue reading

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NOAA awards $10.2 million for harmful algal bloom research

NOAA will fund 12 new research projects around the country to better understand and predict harmful algal blooms (HABs) and improve our collective response to them.

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) is allocating $10.2 million in FY 2019 to fund HAB research across the nation. Approximately $8.4 million of that will cover the first year of new 3- to 5-year projects, and $1.78 million will go to 3-year projects already in process. Funded under NOAA’s ECOHAB and MERHAB programs, new projects will begin in Alaska, California, Chesapeake Bay, Florida, the Great Lakes, New England and the Pacific Northwest. A full list of the new grant awards is available online.

Award recipients will conduct research to identify conditions that increase bloom toxicity; model toxin movement from the water into shellfish, fish and marine mammals; and improve toxin monitoring and forecasts. NCCOS research programs help states and regions around the nation mitigate the effects of HABs, which can include contaminated drinking water, fisheries closures and disruption to recreation and tourism.… Continue reading

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Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 signed into law

By Peggy Kirk Hall and Evin Bachelor, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

With the President’s signature, the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 has passed. The new law increases the debt limit for family farmers seeking to reorganize under Chapter 12 bankruptcy to $10 million from an adjusted $4.4 million.

The bill languished in Congress since March, but recently gained traction and passed through both houses quickly. The Senate approved it in early August.  The House passed the change to Chapter 12 on July 25.

Chapter 12 allows eligible family farmers and fishermen to stay in business and reorganize their debts through a repayment plan.  The recent action by Congress more than doubles the debt limit for Chapter 12 eligibility from its current amount of $4.4 million, adjusted for inflation from the original $1.5 million limit established when Congress created Chapter 12 in 1986.  If the President signs the current bill, a family farmer or fisherman with an aggregate debt of no more than $10 million will be eligible to use the special protections of the Chapter 12 bankruptcy process.… Continue reading

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State corn grower leaders to Trump: Uphold commitment to farmers and RFS

State leaders of corn grower organizations in 23 states sent a letter to President Trump, calling on him to follow the law and keep the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) whole. The letter to the President comes on the heels of the Trump Administration’s most recent approval of 31 new RFS waivers to big oil companies. The 85 total waivers approved under the Trump Administration amount to 4.04 billion gallons, resulting in reduced corn demand due to lower ethanol blending and consumption and a rising number of ethanol producers slowing or idling production.

The state corn grower leaders urge the President to stop the harm caused by waivers and restore integrity to the RFS by directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to account for projected waivers beginning with the pending 2020 RFS volume rule.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear President Trump,

We are writing on behalf of the more than 300,000 corn farmers across the country who are being negatively impacted by a perfect storm of challenges in rural America.… Continue reading

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Farm safety: Time to shift into high gear

By Dee Jepsen

This year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week commemorated the hard work, diligence, and sacrifices made by our nation’s farmers and ranchers.

The 2019 theme is “Shift farm safety into high gear.” The national theme reminds us that harvest is one of the highest seasons for unexpected deaths and serious injury. In Ohio, our state rates increase in the summer months and continue to rise through October.

During harvest season, it’s important to shift our minds towards safety. Each day of the national campaign, there will a focus on different topics.


Tractor safety and rural roadway safety

There is no surprise that the tractor is the most common injury agent on Ohio farms. In the past 10 years, tractors and towed machinery represent 61% of all Ohio farm deaths. Common reasons for injury include rollovers, runovers, PTO and roadway crashes.


Farmer health and suicide prevention

Several factors have increased the overall stress level for the 2019 farming season.… Continue reading

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Leslie Century Farm grounded in faith and perseverance

By Matt Reese

Jim Leslie was born in 1928, the youngest of six and 14 years younger than his next oldest brother. Being so much younger, as a boy Jim learned, mostly on his own, the hardships, joys and constant change of life on the Wyandot County farm purchased by his grandparents in 1882.

Jim still has scars on his foot from when he disobediently scooted his tricycle through the kitchen and put his foot in the hot, fresh apple butter his mother was making with neighbors. He can remember the community gathering on the farm and butchering for the winter.

“We used to butcher here at this farm for the neighborhood. We had a Model A Ford. We’d jack up the rear wheel and put a belt on the spokes of the wheel. We’d start the car, the wheel would turn and that would run the meat grinder,” Jim said.… Continue reading

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Faith, family and the future of Newcomer Century Farm

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The original mallet used to drive pegs into the posts when the old barn was built on the farm almost 150 years ago sits in a glass display case near Glen Newcomer’s desk. The cabinet in the corner of his office is made from the logs that were a part of the first log cabin on the farm originally homesteaded in 1866 by Nathaniel Newcomer, Glen’s great-great-grandfather.

Six generations later, located just south of Bryan, Newcomer Farms is a cash grain operation that has diversified to include a seed dealership and crop insurance agency as a part of their business. The family does not need to look far to find history to help guide its future.

Nathaniel Newcomer was the second son born to Christian Newcomer, a minister who moved to Williams County from Lancaster, Pa. in 1840.

“Nathaniel purchased the land, cleared the timber, and built a log cabin, and then the barn, and a little later a brick house,” Glen said.… Continue reading

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Trade deal reached with Japan

The United States and Japan have reached a trade agreement on agricultural and industrial tariffs and digital commerce, signed by President Trump and Japanese Prime Minster Abe Sept. 25.

Under the agreement, Japan will place the same level of agricultural tariffs on U.S. goods as it places on other countries through trade agreements. By way of example, the 38.5% tariff on U.S. beef will fall to the 26% placed on beef from Australia, Canada and the European Union. Some other foods such as duck, geese, turkey peaches, melons and more would enter duty-free.

“Japan is a top export destination for Ohio grains and meat and we are encouraged that a deal has been made to expand access to their market,” said Jon Miller, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “Japan is also an important market for future ethanol exports and we look forward to providing them a clean-burning, high-octane fuel.”… Continue reading

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State approves funding for Grand Lake St. Marys

The State Controlling Board has approved the release of $584,186 for work at Grand Lake St. Marys, State Representative Susan Manchester (R-Lakeview) announced.

The funding is being used to contract with DLZ Ohio to provide design and construction administration services for rehabilitation of the west dam embankment, located near Celina. The contract also calls for an engineering assessment of the east dam spillway, located near St. Marys.

“I appreciate the support of the State Controlling Board for these important projects,” Rep. Manchester said. “Grand Lake St. Marys is a signature of the 84th District and valuable to our local economy. It is imperative that we continue to strive to address the state of the watershed with hope of restoration. Rehabilitation projects, such as the DLZ Ohio contract, support jobs, tourism and recreation.”

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the scope of work at the west dam embankment will include embankment fill placement, grading, tree removal, utility decommissioning and/or relocation, construction debris removal, topsoil placement and vegetation establishment.… Continue reading

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Ohio House of Representatives recognizes Hills Supply’s 40th anniversary

Ohio House of Representatives District 38 Representative Bill Roemer (R) visited Hills Supply on Sept. 9, 2019 to present a commendation recognizing the 40th anniversary of Hills Supply. The proclamation reads:

On behalf of the House of Representatives of the 133 General Assembly of Ohio, we are pleased to extend special recognition to: Hills Supply, Inc. on the auspicious occasion of its Fortieth Anniversary.

Hills Supply is deserving of high praise, for throughout forty years of operation, it has attained a remarkable record of accomplishment. This exemplary dairy supply company has earned the gratitude and appreciation of many satisfied customers, and its success is a justifiable source of pride and a fine reflection not only on the business itself but also on the astute management of its owners Frank Burkett and Mick Heiby, on its hard-working employees, and on the Canal Fulton community.

Since its establishment in 1979, Hills Supply has enhanced the quality of life within the surrounding area.Continue reading

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Veteran farming program offers heroes help

Bob Udeck gingerly uses his hands and feet to slowly steer his four-wheeled walker carefully through the dirt- and grass-covered field, adeptly maneuvering through the ruts, divets, mounds of dirt, rocks, and plants that line the path leading to the Heroes Garden.

The 74-year-old Vietnam veteran pulls up to a section of raised garden beds filled with rows of radish and pepper plants and smiles as he admires his handy work. Many of the plants have already begun bearing fruit, some of which were ripe and ready for picking.

“I used to farm when I was younger,” Udeck said, as he wistfully looked out over the plot that houses the Veteran Farming Program. “It feels really good to get your hands dirty again — planting something, nurturing it, and watching it produce.

“Not only does this garden keep me active, it’s also therapeutic — it keeps your mind busy, gets you outside, gives you a goal, and something to focus on.… Continue reading

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