Country Life

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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LEBOR dead in the water

By Matt Reese

After contesting a late-February decision that the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) was invalid, the city of Toledo abandoned its appeal on May 5.

“The United States District Court found that LEBOR violated Drewes Farms’ constitutional rights and that it was not a close call for the Court. The District Court also found that LEBOR ‘flagrantly’ violated Ohio law,” said Tom Fusonie, with the law offices of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP. “After aggressively defending LEBOR and appealing the decision invalidating LEBOR, Toledo has now abandoned its appeal. On behalf of our client, Drewes Farms, we are pleased that Toledo has dropped its appeal that would only have caused more legal fees to be incurred. The District Court’s Order protecting Drewes Farms’ constitutional rights and defending the rule of law stands.”

On Feb. 27, 2019, Wood County farmer Mark Drewes filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality and legal status of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension to continue teleworking arrangements

By Cheryl Buck, Ohio State University Extension communication manager

Ohio State University Extension will continue operating via its teleworking plan for all employees and will keep physical OSU Extension offices closed to the public until further notice.

This remains in accordance with The Ohio State University’s decision that all university employees, with the exception of essential facilities workers, are to continue teleworking and remain off campus, physical distancing and taking all other precautions to stay safe.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton recently extended Ohio’s Stay Safe Ohio order through May 29. While some businesses and organizations in the state are starting to reopen as of early May, the guidelines for reopening offices via the governor’s office require personnel to work from home when possible.

OSU Extension has invested in technology that allows personnel to work from their homes. Programs intended to be held face-to-face have been adjusted to a virtual format, and personnel can still be contacted by phone or email.… Continue reading

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Crunch time for Ohio’s fair season

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

Howard Call, executive director of the Ohio Fair Managers Association (OFMA) testified before the Ohio Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee May 6, presenting a plan to hold Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs. According to Call, OFMA also presented the plan to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s staff on May 1. The plan lays out how fairs will be able to operate while abiding by social distancing and all other health department guidelines.

“That’s going to be a big job,” Call said. “It’s going to take some effort and some oversight to get people to do that.”

County fair season in Ohio is quickly approaching, with the Paulding County Fair set to start June 13.

“I am very concerned for that county, for its residents, and for those youth and participants,” Call said. “We are just trying to get them to hold on.”

On May 6, Harrison County announced an “abbreviated fair.”… Continue reading

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Cold weather continues into May

By Aaron Wilson, atmospheric scientist with Ohio State University Extension

Temperatures in April were about 2 to 5 degrees F below the long-term mean and included three major freeze events that brought some horticultural damage across southern counties and scattered minor reports of burned tips on alfalfa and wheat.

Precipitation varied significantly across the state. Unlike much of the spring of 2019, lighter amounts fell across northwest Ohio compared to southeast Ohio. Only about 1 inch of rain fell in southern Fulton/northwest Henry Counties for the month, with more than six inches in parts of Adams, Monroe, and Belmont Counties. These totals are about 1 to 2 inches below the long-term mean in the northwest, with most counties southeast of I-71 showing surpluses of 1 to 4 inches for the month.

This past weekend, many areas throughout Ohio hit 80 degrees F for the first time this season, but those conditions are gone and not likely to return for a while.… Continue reading

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Interested in soil health? Learn together with OSU Extension

By Steve Culman, John Fulton, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Elizabeth Hawkins, Eric Richer, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Improving soil health (SH) can provide a variety of benefits including improved water infiltration, increased water holding capacity, and increased nutrient availability. However, it can be challenging to quantify these benefits in the field.

In 2020, the eFields program is kicking off an effort to help better understand how management practices influence soil health and ultimately water quality. OSU Extension has worked to identify a few soil tests that can provide helpful indicators of improved soil health. Though several health tests exist, we focused on tests that are simple, economical, and repeatable. We are looking for farmers interested in soil health and who want to participate in a statewide field survey collecting soil health data from fields under various management practices, specifically conventional tillage, no-till, organic nutrient management, and cover cropping. The results from this effort will be used to guide recommendations for improving soil health on Ohio farms.… Continue reading

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USDA’s new CRP pilot program offers longer-term conservation benefits

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will open signup this summer for CLEAR30, a new pilot program that offers farmers and landowners an opportunity to enroll in a 30-year Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract. This pilot is available to farmers and landowners with expiring water-quality practice CRP contracts in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay regions. The program signup period is July 6 to Aug. 21, 2020.

“This pilot allows us to work with farmers and landowners to maintain conservation practices for 30 years, underscoring farmers’ commitments to sound long term conservation stewardship on agricultural land,” said State Executive Director Leonard Hubert. “Through CLEAR30, we can decrease erosion, improve water quality and increase wildlife habitat on a much longer-term basis. We want to share this opportunity early, before the sign up period, so farmers and landowners have more time to consider if CLEAR30 or another program is right for their operation.”… Continue reading

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Marion County cancels 2020 fair amid COVID-19 concerns

Via Facebook, the Marion County Senior Fair Board announced a difficult decision to cancel the upcoming 2020 Marion County Fair  due to COVID-19 health concerns. The 170th Marion County Fair was planned for June 29 through July 4, 2020. There are plans to still showcase 4-H and FFA youth in single-day events tentatively scheduled for July 18 through July 25.

“The decision to not hold this year’s fair in normal capacity was not taken lightly as it impacts the livelihood of many individuals and businesses in our community as well as the fair industry. However, we believe we made the right decision at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our community,” said Keith Seckel, Marion County Senior Fair Board president in the Facebook post. “The silver lining of this unprecedented situation is that we are invested in doing what we can to recognize the heart of the Marion County Fair—the Junior Fair Exhibitor.”… Continue reading

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Ohio Agricultural Council announces 2020 Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees

Four Ohioans who have committed their lives to working in, promoting and advocating for Ohio’s farm community will be honored Friday, Aug. 7, by the Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC), when they are inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC) will induct Joe Cornely of Westerville, Tony Forshey of Hebron, Larry R. Gearhardt of Covington and Wendell Waters of West Lafayette, into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame. The 55th annual event normally attracts more than 600 guests to honor the four professionals for their lifetime of service and dedication to Ohio’s agriculture community.

“In an uncertain time, it’s more important than ever to recognize the outstanding individuals in the agriculture industry,” said Mike Bumgarner, president of the Ohio Agricultural Council and president and CEO of United Producers, Inc. “Our 2020 inductees have established enduring improvements to the industry, developing guidelines, procedures and organizations that have changed the landscape of Ohio agriculture; while also dedicating time to mentoring future generations of agriculturists.”… Continue reading

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Economic assistance for agriculture during COVID-19

By David Marrison, Ben Brown, Barry Ward, Peggy Hall, Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly altered all our lives. The impact is being felt by families, businesses, governmental agencies, and civic organizations. To help families and businesses alike, various levels of government have passed legislation to help lessen the economic blow of COVID-19. This article provides a brief overview of some of the assistance available. These include tax deadline provisions, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation rebates, unemployment compensation, and Wind and Hurricane Indemnity Program, Plus (WHIP+)


Tax deadline extensions

On March 21, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service extended the federal tax filing deadline for 2019 taxes from April 15 until July 15, 2020. The IRS encourages any taxpayer who is owed a refund to file as quickly as possible.… Continue reading

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Ethanol infrastructure legislation

The Clean Fuels Deployment Act of 2020 was introduced by Reps. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Don Bacon, R-Neb., to incentivize the deployment of fueling infrastructure for ethanol blends greater than 10% and biodiesel blends greater than 20%.

“The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the leadership of Reps. Finkenauer, Craig, Marshall and Bacon to help grow the market for higher blends of ethanol,” said Kevin Ross, NCGA president. “Expanding infrastructure for higher blends will help to increase future demand for farmers and ensure biofuels will continue to be included in federal efforts to provide consumers with cleaner, affordable fuels.”

The bill authorizes $500 million over five years to help retailers offer higher ethanol blends, expand the geographic area selling ethanol blends, support biodiesel fuel markets, and accelerate the deployment of fueling infrastructure. The legislation will work alongside the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to accelerate growth and open new economic opportunities for American farmers and biofuel producers.… Continue reading

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Ohio AgriBuisiness not quite business as usual

By Matt Reese

On April 27, Governor Mike DeWine announced a gradual plan for reopening Ohio’s economy after six weeks of a mandatory stay-at-home order that expires on May 1.

The Responsible Restart Ohio plan has three phases:

  • On May 1, medical procedures that do not require an overnight stay can proceed
  • On May 4, manufacturing, distribution, and construction businesses may reopen, provided they can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees
  • On May 4, general office environments may reopen, provided they can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees
  • On May 12, consumer, retail and services, may reopen, provided they can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees.

Agricultural businesses, of course, never closed, said Chris Henney, chief executive officer with the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.

“A lot has changed but a lot hasn’t. Our agribusinesses include feed mills, grain elevators and ag retail facilities and they all continue to operate.… Continue reading

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Fox honored in a unique way

By Matt Reese

On April 27, during these unconventional times, family, local friends and the agricultural community gathered beneath a blue, Perry County sky to honor and celebrate the life of Dan Fox in an unconventional way.

The parking lot was well beyond capacity at Sheridan Middle School as a funeral procession that stretched to the horizon, including many types of tractors and farm equipment, drove a somber loop around the school and then parked in an adjacent field to honor Fox, co-founder of Seed Consultants, Inc. Fox passed away suddenly on April 21 from an apparent heart attack. Fox was 58 years old. He was a 1981 graduate of Sheridan High School and a graduate of Wilmington College who dedicated his professional career to the seed industry.


“He was an outstanding mentor, friend, and father to his kids. He loved his family more than anything in the world,” said Stuart Yensel, with Seed Consultants.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau 2020 membership campaign highlights

Thanks to the efforts of Ohio Farm Bureau volunteers and staff, the organization had an increase in its “active” membership for the 2020 campaign. Active members are farmers or other Ohioans whose jobs or livelihoods are directly impacted by the agricultural industry. As active members, they are eligible to vote on Farm Bureau policies and hold elective office in the organization.

“This has no doubt been one of the most challenging membership campaigns we have ever had and to be able to continue to grow the membership of this organization despite the unforeseen circumstances of a global pandemic is remarkable,” said Paul Lyons, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of membership. “Without the strong leadership of our county membership coordinators and the commitment of their dedicated teams of volunteers, gaining active membership would have been a much tougher task.”

Over half of the state’s county Farm Bureaus received the Milestone Award for achieving a gain in farmer and agribusiness members, and 18 volunteers won the Murray Lincoln Award for signing up at least 50 new members to Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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Out there

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

As is being experienced by many Ohio families, with a wife and a college-sophomore son working/studying from home and being underfoot with me these days, life is a bit different. During an average workday I’m used to sharing the house with no more than a part-time cat, and enjoy the solitude. In fact, I’ve realized that as a bit of a recluse I’ve have been practicing social distancing for years, so the isolation we are asked to practice during these anything-but-average times is less of a strain on me than, say, a librarian or a college student, who thrive on much more social interaction.

I won’t go into detail on how we are managing things in the Armitage household, beyond having hidden all the sharp objects. What I will share is that, like most of you interested enough to read a column about the outdoors, let alone likely enjoying a rural lifestyle, we family members agree that we are fortunate.… Continue reading

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Conservation Stewardship Program signup deadline announced

The next deadline for Ohio Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding this fiscal year is May 29, 2020. Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps Ohio farmers and forest landowners earn payments for expanding conservation activities while maintaining agricultural production on their land. CSP also encourages adoption of new technologies and management techniques.

“CSP is a legacy program for the next generation. It continues to assist private landowners in enhancing their natural resources and achieving their conservation and production goals,” said Jon Bourdon, NRCS acting state conservationist in Ohio. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled nationally.”

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 29, 2020, to ensure their applications are considered for 2020 funding.

CSP provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes.… Continue reading

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PPP funding falling short of demand

On March 27, President Donald J. Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) into law with provisions to provide financially distressed consumers and small businesses greater access to bankruptcy relief. The legislative package provides a $2 trillion economic stimulus for U.S. industries and citizens faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The CARES Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection program (PPP), the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency.

After the passage of the CARES Act, the U.S. Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) processed more than 14 years worth of loans in less than 14 days, many through the PPP. By law, the SBA is not able to issue new loan approvals once programs experience a lapse in appropriations.… Continue reading

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Farm, Food and Agribusiness COVID-19 Survey reveals impacts on Ohio’s food system

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation has released early results of a new survey finding that 65% of those involved in Ohio’s food supply system have been negatively or very negatively impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The statewide Farm, Food and Agribusiness COVID-19 Impact Survey, distributed by Ohio Farm Bureau and a number of other agriculture groups, collected data to pinpoint areas of concern for every aspect of agriculture, including producers, retailers and food processors. With over 1,000 surveys returned, statistics show:

  • Nearly half (45%) of respondents have had their market distribution channels disrupted.
  • 29% of those taking part in the survey have cash flow issues.
  • Almost 15% of people polled cannot access the sanitation and protective equipment items required to operate (masks, sanitizer, etc.)

“This is a real-time snapshot of what the state’s agriculture community is dealing with as we work through the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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