Country Life

Truth in food labeling for plant based beverages

America’s families deserve to know what they’re buying when shopping in the dairy aisle. The American Farm Bureau Federation recently filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration calling on the agency to enforce food labeling standards for dairy substitute products and enforce existing prohibitions on the misleading labeling of nut- and other plant-based beverage products as “milk.” The FDA requested comments on its draft Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements: Guidance for Industry.

AFBF supports a consumer’s right to access dairy-free products, but one in four Americans, 83 million people, are confused or have been misled about whether dairy alternatives contain milk, according to a survey used by FDA. Non-dairy beverages are sold in the milk case alongside traditional milk, very often with labeling that implies they are dairy products. Nut- and plant-based beverages do not include several important nutrients that are found in cow’s milk, however.… Continue reading

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AgriPOWER program accepting applications

In 2023, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation will select individuals to participate in AgriPOWER, a leadership and advocacy development program, which will consist of seven multi-day institutes (17 total days). AgriPOWER is a program of Ohio Farm Bureau and designed for farmers and agribusiness professionals. It focuses on public issues that are relevant to the food industry such as consumer relations, regulations, energy and trade policies. In AgriPOWER, individuals develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders and advocates for agriculture by learning from experts in these fields.
Two of the institute sessions will be held out of state (one in Washington, D.C., and the other location will be decided at a later date) to help class members gain a valuable understanding of national and global issues.
Individuals may nominate themselves or have their nomination sponsored by their respective county Farm Bureau, other agricultural organization, or employer. All applicants must be Farm Bureau members. … Continue reading

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Ohio’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit now available

By Matt Reese

Of numerous challenges for the future of Ohio’s farms, one continues to be the barriers of entry for young farmers with extremely high startup costs, need for an extensive knowledge base and limited on-farm opportunities. 

“It’s been difficult for younger people to get into the industry, especially if they have not come from a farm,” said Evan Callicoat, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “We all know that farming is a very capital-intensive industry and that often comes with a very large price tag, so it can often be hard to get passed that barrier of entry.”

After years of debate in the legislature, Ohio now has a Beginning Farmer Tax Credit available to help address this challenge. In April of 2022, House Bill 95 was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine. The law establishes an income tax credit for beginning farmers who participate in a financial management program.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Fair scholarships available

In an effort to recognize the quality youth of Ohio, and to help those interested in furthering their education, the Ohio Expositions Commission has established a Scholarship Program for Ohio State Fair participants. The Ohio State Fair Scholarship Application deadline is May 1.

The purpose of these scholarships is to assist high school juniors and seniors and graduates who are continuing their education at an accredited institution in an under graduate course of study in any field.

Those interested can find the information and apply online at Scholarships (… Continue reading

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Brown introduces Local Farms and Food Act

By Dusty Sonnenberg, Ohio Ag Net

Based on feedback from Ohio farmers, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is pushing for legislation to make it easier to sell farm products locally, improving and updating existing farm bill programs. 

“Leading up to every farm bill we hold roundtables around the state to hear what Ohio farmers need and in ‘17 and ‘18 at every event I heard a similar message: Ohio’s farmers want to find new markets for their products. They have trouble connecting with Ohio families who always prefer buying fresh, locally grown food,” Brown said in a press conference. “So we fought to include the Local Farms Act in the 2018 farm bill to make it easier for farmers to feed their communities and for customers to buy local food and farm products. We’ve also created the Local Agriculture Market Program(LAMP) program which provides permanent funding to help farmers sell their products direct to consumers to create rural jobs and to invest in local and regional food economies.… Continue reading

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Camp Canopy schedule released for 2023

The Ohio Forestry Association Foundation has released its Camp Canopy schedule for June 11-16, 2023, at Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum. Registration is open to students who have completed eighth grade through graduating high school seniors.

“We are excited to teach our campers wildlife management tools like trapping and banding this year,” said Marne Titchenell, wildlife program director for OSU Extension and camp co-director. “Wildlife biologists have historically used these tools to study wildlife, and they are still critical for managing species and habitat.” 

Campers will also explore forestry and wildlife topics like Ohio tree identification, insects, silviculture, amphibians, and how the first native residents of Ohio hunted and managed forests. See the detailed schedule here.

Nearly $8,000 in scholarships were awarded to campers pursuing a degree in forestry, wildlife, or environmental science in 2022. Many campers have discovered their passion at Camp Canopy and pursued degrees and careers in these areas.… Continue reading

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Students learn about making Soy Biodiesel through GrowNextGen

Rachel Sanders, Science Instructor, Senior Capstone Advisor and FFA Advisor at Global Impact STEM Academy, taught her 11th grade students about making Soy Biodiesel through the GrowNextGen program. Pictured are two of her 11th grade students – Riley Champ and Bridget Capper. This is part of the GrowNextGen program is funded by Ohio Soybean Farmers and their checkoff. Learn more at… Continue reading

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Wetlands habitat stamp a winner

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

Sam Timm’s painting of an American wigeon pair was selected as the winner of the recent 2023 Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp Design Competition. Timm’s painting will be displayed on the Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp that is issued in 2024. A panel of five judges selected Timm’s artwork from a field of nine original pieces of art. Timm, from Wisconsin, is a two-time winner of the competition, most recently in 1992. Second place was awarded to Diane Ford of Maryland for a painting of gadwalls.

The Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp program has raised more than $11 million for wetland conservation since 1982. Proceeds from stamp sales help fund vital wetland habitat restoration projects in Ohio. Those projects have restored or enhanced thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat. These habitats are important to many resident wildlife species, including state-endangered trumpeter swans, wetland birds, amphibians, and migratory species.

The Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp is $15 and is required for anyone 18 years or older hunting waterfowl and migratory birds in the Buckeye State.… Continue reading

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EPA proposes new vehicle standards for cleaner air

In an effort to accelerate the ongoing transition to a clean vehicles, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposed federal vehicle emissions standards in April. The proposed standards seek to improve air quality for communities across the nation, especially communities that have borne the burden of polluted air. 

“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” said Michael S. Regan, EPA Administrator. “These ambitious standards are readily achievable thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is already driving historic progress to build more American-made electric cars and secure America’s global competitiveness.” 

The first set of proposed standards announced, the “Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles,” builds on EPA’s existing emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks for MYs 2023 through 2026.… Continue reading

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Foreign-owned food price fixing

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

Congress is preoccupied with perceived safety concerns regarding a Chinese-owned ap, TikTok. The general public was transfixed with the alleged Chinese spy balloons that floated across the country. On the other hand, I think we should spend more time considering what is happening in Minneapolis at the U.S. District Court in the District of Minnesota. In re Pork Antitrust Litigation, No. 18-01776, is the case to review. The class action complaint was filed on Jan. 15, 2020, under antitrust laws of the United States, and includes the following Defendants: Clemens, Hormel, Indiana Packers, JBS (settled all claims but denied any liability), Seaboard, Smithfield, Triumph, Tyson, and Agri Stats (data service that monitors pricing and production).

The pork integrator defendants represent $20 billion in annual commerce. The complaint asserts that in the U.S. pork industry, a small number of large companies control supply. The defendants in the lawsuit collectively control over 80% of the pork integrated market.… Continue reading

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Legacy Cooperative locations earn multi-year certified status in 4R Nutrient Stewardship

Continuing its commitment to improving water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Legacy Farmers Cooperative has achieved multi-year certified status at five of its Ohio locations through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program.

• Custar Agronomy – Year Eight Certified 

• Arcadia Agronomy – Year Seven Certified 

• Arlington Agronomy – Year Seven Certified 

• McComb Agronomy – Year Seven Certified 

• Pandora Agronomy – Year Seven Certified 

In its ninth year, the voluntary certification program is a concentrated effort by the agriculture industry to significantly reduce and prevent applied nutrients from running off fields, which has contributed to water quality issues in Lake Erie. Facilities are required to meet certain program goals each year to retain certified status. 

“Having all five of our agronomy locations 4R certified in my opinion speaks volumes about Legacy Farmers Cooperative as a company and where our values lie,” said Paige Fitzwater, Legacy Farmers Cooperative precision services manager.… Continue reading

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Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer aiming for record-breaking year

In this featured audio, Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo sits down with Farm Credit Mid-America Loan Officer Jennie Schultice and Rural 1st Loan Officer Jennifer Kroft to discuss the wildly successful Fight the Hunger, Stock the Trailer program. The food drive is expanding its reach in Ohio for 2023 and has big goals for its impact this year.… Continue reading

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Farm On financial management course now available

A new online farm management course offered by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will help Ohio’s beginning farmers qualify for the requirements of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program.

Called Farm On, the self-paced, on-demand farm financial management course was created by Ohio State University Extension professionals and is offered through OSU Extension’s new Farm Financial Management and Policy Institute (FFMPI), said Eric Richer, assistant professor and OSU Extension field specialist in farm management. 

“The Farm On financial management course was created to address the needs of Ohio’s new and beginning farmers who want to better prepare themselves to operate a commercial farm in Ohio and do that with a high level of economic stability while remaining profitable and responsible at every step along the way,” said Richer, who is the lead instructor for the Farm On course. “We believe Farm On will be a great deliverable to Ohio’s agriculture industry because it is on-demand, self-paced, and taught by Ohio State’s expert farm management instructors.”… Continue reading

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AFBF says Biden let farmers down

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on President Biden’s decision to veto the Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution that would have overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s overreaching Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The CRA was a bipartisan, bicameral effort by Congress to halt implementation of the flawed rule. 

“This veto flies in the face of President Biden’s promise to support farmers and ranchers. This rule is a clear case of government overreach that leaves farmers wondering whether they can farm their own land. It’s a shame the President is standing with bureaucrats instead of with the people who stock America’s pantries,” Duvall said. “The President’s decision to disregard the bipartisan will of Congress also causes farmers, ranchers and all Americans to doubt his often-repeated commitment to work with Congress when Members come together on a bipartisan basis. They did so and he rejected their will with the stroke of a pen.… Continue reading

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Fruit and veggies from a different perspective

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

This winter I joined a writers’ group — a huge step out of my dietitian-farmer comfort zone. Each week the group is given two prompts for a 10-minute write about, NO google, NO preparation and NO THESARAUS!!! Yikes! A FREAK OUT began when I found the protocol involved sharing. Out. Loud. My blood pressure began to rise as David Bowie crooned in my ear “Pressure pushing down on me.” 

As the cell timer began to chime, I had changed directions more than Siri in three consecutive traffic circles in a construction zone. 

“Under pressure” was full chorus while my blood pressure was about to jet my head into the heavens. Not good, as this was a group of Midwesterners, New Yorkers, New Jersians, and Californians young at heart. How could I share when I couldn’t even follow my train of thought. At the first prompt I shook my head with absolute certainty that this was not happening. … Continue reading

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OSU and ODA team up to give out free garden seeds for Ohio Victory Gardens

Ohio’s movement to promote urban and rural gardening is back and bigger than ever. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio State University Extension are partnering once again to encourage Ohioans to cultivate their own produce.

At the Franklin County OSU Extension facility April 9, Ohio Victory Gardens officially kicked off with a special appearance from Brutus Buckeye, who helped plant a few seeds to start the season.

The popular Ohio Victory Gardens program is back for its fourth year and due to high demand, the program is expanding to include 50 counties. OSU Extension offices will be handing out the free seed sample kits to the public to get people planting. Specific days and times for each office are available on the Ohio Victory Gardens website, as well as planting resources and information.

“The Ohio Victory Gardens program is helping to revitalize the art of growing your own fresh food and helping to reconnect people back to agriculture,” said Brian Baldridge, Director of ODA.… Continue reading

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Eminent domain reform started then stalled

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

An eminent domain revisions bill appears to be on hold after its removal from the committee agenda that would have provided the bill a third hearing. House Bill 64 was introduced by sponsors Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) and Rep. Rodney Creech (R-W. Alexandria) on February 21. The bill had two hearings before the House Civil Justice Committee on March 7 and 14, but was removed from the committee’s March 21 meeting agenda. 

House Bill 64 proposes quite a few major changes to Ohio eminent domain law:

  • Voids an appropriation of property if the agency does not follow statutory procedures for the appropriation, such as procedures for appraisal of value, good faith offers of compensation, and negotiation with the landowner. Under the proposal, a landowner could bring a claim against the agency for violating any of these procedures and the appropriation would be invalid.
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USDA to aid distressed farmers facing financial risk

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

Beginning in April, USDA will provide approximately $123 million in additional, automatic financial assistance for qualifying farm loan program borrowers who are facing financial risk. Funding is through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and builds on the same program announced in October 2022.

Like the program announced in October 2022, qualifying borrowers will receive an individual letter detailing the assistance as payments are made. Distressed borrowers’ eligibility for these new categories of automatic payments will be determined based on their present circumstances. More information about the new categories that make up the $123 million in assistance and the specific amount of assistance a distressed borrower receives can be found in this fact sheet, IRA Section 22006: Additional Automatic Payments, Improved Procedures, and Policy Recommendations.

USDA will provide information and training to program participants about the potential tax consequences of the funding program. … Continue reading

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Congress calls for WOTUS repeal

The Senate passage of a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval of the 2023 Waters of the U.S. Rule.

“AFBF applauds Senators for coming together to repeal the 2023 WOTUS rule,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president. “Farmers and ranchers are committed to protecting the land and water they rely on to grow food for America’s families. Unfortunately, the 2023 WOTUS threatens the progress made to responsibly manage natural resources. We urge President Biden to recognize the concerns from members of both parties and rescind this troubled rule.”

The bipartisan vote under the Congressional Review Act follows a similar effort in the House earlier in March.

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Farm bill a focus of Farm Bureau trip to D.C.

By Joel Penhorwood

There was no shortage of policy to discuss during this year’s Ohio Farm Bureau County President’s Trip to Washington D.C. It took a group of Ohio farmers and ag professionals to the nation’s capital in early March to talk not only the latest issues in agriculture, but also give real-world perspective to lawmakers about policies important on the farm.

The farm bill is set for its five-year update in 2023 and dominated discussion over the three-day trip with a projected price tag of $1.5 trillion. Several other issues were also top of mind, including updates to Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), ag input availability, tax policies, energy sources, market access, and much more.

Brandon Kern is the senior director of state and national policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau and helped to facilitate discussions around key ag topics.

“It’s really important for Congress to come together and get a farm bill done.… Continue reading

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