Country Life

Trade assistance must help all affected farmers

Following the recent escalation of trade tensions between China and the United States that will likely exacerbate the erosion of agricultural export markets and further depress commodity prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to announce a trade assistance package to support struggling family farmers and ranchers.

In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, National Farmers Union (NFU) provided recommendations for how best to “craft a package that will adequately address the broad, long-term impacts to all of American agriculture.”

“Family farmers and ranchers have borne the brunt of the trade war with China, which has intentionally targeted American agricultural products with retaliatory tariffs. We appreciate the administration’s recent efforts to relieve the immense economic pressure those in the agriculture industry are feeling as a result,” said Roger Johnson, NFU President Roger Johnson. “Though China’s tariffs have specifically targeted soybeans, pork, and sorghum, many other commodities have been impacted, both directly and indirectly.… Continue reading

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Lake Erie water levels high

With the amount of rainfall that Ohio has received this spring, the Lake Erie water levels continue to rise. Lake Erie water levels are currently at near record highs, will remain high and are anticipated to peak in the month of June. Lake levels will then begin to subside due to a normal seasonal decline, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

All of the Great Lakes are at near record highs due to increased precipitation across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Region. Lake Erie is 2.5 feet above long-term average water level for the month of May. The May 10, 2019, water level is 4 inches above the record highest average level for May, which occurred in 1986.

High water levels increase the chance of flooding in low-lying coastal areas, especially during wind-driven seiche events. The combination of waves and high water can cause severe coastal erosion during these events.… Continue reading

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Diverse stakeholder group to benchmark nutrient management efforts and create farmer certification to improve water quality

A unique collaboration of stakeholders representing the agriculture, conservation, environmental, and research communities have joined forces to develop and deploy a statewide water quality initiative. This unprecedented partnership brings together diverse interests to establish a baseline understanding of current on-farm conservation and nutrient management efforts and to build farmer participation in a new certification program.

The Agriculture Conservation Working Group recently held a two-day retreat in Ostrander, Ohio, where sub-committees focusing on best management practices, education development, governance, data management, certification and public outreach engaged in robust dialogue around strategies for introduction and implementation of the program. Much of the conversation centered on identifying the path to healthy waterways in the state, and the complex approaches necessary to understand existing practices and successfully engage farmers in education and certification.

“A group with a farm-level focus and representation from across the environmental, academic and agricultural communities has never come together before with a commitment to the shared objective of improved water quality,” said Scott Higgins, CEO, Ohio Dairy Producers Association and co-chair of the working group.… Continue reading

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State budget clears house, moves to senate

By Kolt Buchenroth
The Ohio House of Representatives has placed their seal of approval on their version of the State’s operating budget totaling $69 billion. The bill, which passed 85-9 was massive in size and covers a lot of ground. Several pieces of the bill relate to agriculture.
“We are following some provisions dealing with water taxes, agricultural products, education that are really important under Farm Bureau policy,” said Jenna Beadle, Ohio Farm Bureau director of state policy.
It’s no surprise that the House’s version of the budget relates in large part to water quality and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Program. The bill’s language says in part that the initiative encourages cooperation among government, business, higher education, agriculture, and conservation organizations.
While Governor DeWine had proposed the program’s funding for the next decade in the budget, the legislature had other plans.
“The House has removed the mechanism for funding H2Ohio on an ongoing basis and has only funded it for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
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Vaccinate ‘em — It’s better than antibiotics or snake oil

By Don “Doc” Sanders

There’s an exciting world out there when it comes to vaccines and their ability to protect us and our animals from disease.

Most of you likely are aware that a vaccine, when given at the appropriate time and by the correct route, stimulates the immune systems of people and animals. We have vaccines for tetanus, whooping cough, polio, classical swine fever (hog cholera), many strains of salmonella (in animals), Rota virus, some Corona viruses in pigs and calves, distemper, rabies, Herpes I virus in cattle and horses…the list goes on and on.

However, there isn’t a vaccine for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer. This disease causes a gradual wasting away of body reserves, drooling, stumbling and incoordination, swallowing difficulty and eventually death. CWD is not caused by a virus or bacteria, but rather what might appear to be a harmless protein, called a prion. Prions settle in the brain, where they multiply.… Continue reading

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USDA accepting applications to reduce costs for organic certification

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019.

“Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for up to 75% of the cost of organic certification,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator. “This also gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help them succeed. Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs from help with field buffers to routine operating expenses to storage and handling equipment.”

OCCSP received continued support through the 2018 Farm Bill. It provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program.… Continue reading

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Ohio industry leaders join together to denounce tariff increase

By Kolt Buchenroth, Zach Parrott and Joel Penhorwood

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland — the nationwide grassroots campaign against tariffs — in conjunction with the Council of the Great Lakes Region, hosted a town hall this week in Cleveland at the 2019 Great Lakes Economic Forum.

The event featured a discussion with Ohio business owners, manufacturers and farmers on the impact of tariffs on the state’s economy. The conversation came one day after President Trump announced that he will be increasing tariffs substantially this week.

The group released the following statement regarding the tweet announcement that tariffs on $200 billion of goods will increase from 10 to 25% on Friday.

“For 10 months, Americans have been paying the full cost of the trade war, not China. To be clear, tariffs are taxes that Americans pay, and this sudden increase with little notice will only punish U.S farmers, businesses and consumers,” Tariffs Hurt the Heartland said in the statement. … Continue reading

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Guidelines for employing youth on your farm

By Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR in Tuscarawas County

Students will be wrapping up their school year soon and you may have a young person contact you about a summer job. Young people often have an interest to work on a farm and many are excellent employees. However, as an employer, there are rules and regulations you must understand before hiring minors to do work on your farm.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has established certain provisions to protect the safety of minors. In 1967, the U.S. Secretary of Labor determined certain agricultural jobs as hazardous to youth less than 16 years of age. There are two exemptions to these regulations:

  1. The list of hazardous agricultural occupations does not apply to youth under 16 years of age working on a farm owned by their parents or guardians; and
  2. The list of hazardous agricultural occupations does not apply to youth under 16 years of age who have completed an approved Tractor and Machinery Certification course.
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Goals achieved in 2019 Ohio Farm Bureau membership campaign

The membership team of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and volunteers throughout the state set some lofty goals at the start of the 2019 membership campaign. After a full year of countless events, meetings, phone calls and contacts, those efforts culminated into goals being met and exceeded, as the final tally for membership gain came in at 107.2%, year over year.

“These accomplishments would not be possible without the leadership of our county membership coordinators and the commitment of their dedicated teams of volunteers that invite their family, friends, neighbors and local businesses to join them as a member of our organization,” said Paul Lyons, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of membership. “Achieving these goals has even greater meaning, as we celebrate 100 years of doing the important work of our organization.”

An impressive 81 counties received the Milestone Award for achieving a gain in farmer and ag professional members, and 14 volunteers won the Murray Lincoln Award for signing up at least 50 new members to Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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2019 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and its partners invite guests to stroll through organic vegetable fields, learn about pastured livestock production, consider a career in farming, savor farm-to-table feasts, and take advantage of other learning and networking opportunities during the 2019 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

In addition to OEFFA’s 20 summer farm tours, workshops, and special events in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, 26 other events are being presented by The Ohio State University, Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, Clintonville Farmers’ Market, and the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance.

“This year’s series is unique because we’re offering many special events celebrating OEFFA’s 40th anniversary — from field to fork meals, a craft beer social, and an OEFFA open house for members to stop in and get to know our staff and board a little better,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

OEFFA members and the public are invited to celebrate OEFFA’s 40th anniversary during these special events:

  • Sunday, August 4: The Farmers’ Table — Jorgensen Farms Oak Grove, Franklin Co.
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Ag groups weigh in on beginning farmer bill

By Matt Reese

Legislators heard from Ohio agriculture yesterday in a hearing for House Bill 183. The bill was recently introduced by state representatives Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) to create a tax credit program that would incentivize retiring farmers to sell or rent to beginning farmers in Ohio.

Nathan Brown, Highland County, and Rose Hartschuh, Crawford County, representing Ohio Farm Bureau, testified as proponents of the bill. Bennett and Liza Musselman, part owners/operators of Musselman Farms in Pickaway County, also testified on behalf of the bill.

“The agriculture industry is extremely difficult to break into if you or your family do not have a background in farming. High amounts of capital are needed to invest in land, equipment, labor, crops or livestock, financial management plans, and compliance with regulations just to get started. New farmland is not readily available, so there is restricted access to the ground required, adding yet another barrier to individuals who are looking to start a career in farming,” Brown said in his testimony on April 30.… Continue reading

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Updated “Bringing Biotechnology to Life” resource available for educators

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and the International Food Information Council Foundation have launched an updated version of “Bringing Biotechnology to Life.” This free educational resource for educators follows the principles of project-based learning to teach about plant biotechnology and its role in food production through eight sequential lessons and a culminating research and public presentation module. The updated resource addresses national learning standards for seventh through 10th grade students and asks the following questions:

  • What is DNA?
  • How can we examine DNA?
  • What is selective breeding?
  • What is biotechnology?
  • How is biotechnology used?
  • How do researchers compare DNA?
  • Where would we be without GMOs?
  • Where is biotechnology headed?

“Using advancements in technology, agriculturalists are striving to feed more people with fewer resources,” said Christy Lilja, executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “Biotechnology is one of these advancements. It’s important that our resources continue to reflect these advancements in technology, which is why we are excited to launch the third version of Bringing Biotechnology to Life.… Continue reading

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Tackling human resource management challenges in Ohio’s agribusinesses

By Matt Reese

Whether it is a small farm business with a handful of employees or a large corporation with many, human resource management has become a significant issue for Ohio’s agribusinesses.

“This may be the No. 1 challenge for Ohio’s agribusinesses. Every business is a little different and there might be a few issues that rise above human resource issues, but it is a major issue. Not only is it important in filling the positions, but the human resource aspect of business also includes the opioid epidemic and drug issues. As a business, how do you provide the resources for employees to deal with that? What about workers comp claims? How do you make sure you are providing a safe and secure work environment for your employees? There is a whole slew of things our HR professionals deal with on a regular basis,” said Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.… Continue reading

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Job growth strong in rural Ohio

Since 2010, job growth in Ohio’s rural areas has been strong, nearly comparable to the growth in the state’s major cities, according to an economist at The Ohio State University.

Between 2010 and 2017, only six states had better rural job growth than Ohio, said Mark Partridge, an economics professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“As long as this economic expansion continues, rural Ohio is going to fare pretty well compared to the rest of the U.S.,” said Partridge, who is also chair of the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at CFAES.

Between 2010 and 2018, Ohio’s nonmetropolitan areas with populations less than 50,000 and not within commuting distance of major cities had a 7.6% increase in the number of jobs — nearly 10 times the national average. During the same period, the growth of jobs in Ohio’s major cities was only slightly higher — a 9.2% increase.… Continue reading

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Workshops give youth experience in the construction and AutoTech trades

By Amanda Forquer, 4-H Educator

Thirty-five youth participated in the Career Exploration Workshop for Construction and Automotive Technology on April 13 at the Tri-Rivers Career Center. The participants learned valuable life skills and skills they could potentially use in a career in the construction or automotive technology (AutoTech) career paths.

A number of skills taught at the workshop presented challenges many adults struggle to complete. For example, in AutoTech the participants rotated and balanced tires, changed automotive oil, completed a multi-point inspection, studied auto electronics, changed belts, and many more related tasks. The workshop was challenging, but enjoyable for those involved.

“Overall, I really, really liked the workshop,” said Cole Perkins, an 11-year-old participant of the AutoTech workshop.

In the construction workshop the participants built frames for pouring concrete walls, framed wood walls for a storage shed, built their own toolbox with nameplate, operated large equipment (e.g., skid-steer or excavator), among other things.… Continue reading

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Contest seeks Ohio’s future food products

With an emphasis on new and innovative food products, Ohioans have the opportunity to land their product on store shelves with the Ohio Signature Food Contest, running now through May 31, 2019.

Sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), the contest helps facilitate economic growth and job creation in the Ohio food/agriculture industry — the number one industry in the state that already contributes more than $107 billion to the economy.

Contestants complete a simple online form outlining the basic details of their product, and food industry experts will judge based on viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, marketability and overall appeal to the marketplace. Finalists will be invited to present their business concept and product to a panel of judges. The winner will be announced during a special ceremony in late July at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

Following the announcement, the winner will receive:
• Technical and business development assistance to help advance a product to the marketplace
• Production of product to be used for consumer feedback
• Nutritional analysis
• Shelf life/stability testing
• Review of trademark and copyright components
• Coordination with Ohio Department of Agriculture for label approval
• Label design, packaging, and ingredient source consultation
• Attendance to training seminars for free.… Continue reading

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A new Lake Erie battle: Lucas County sues U.S. EPA over western basin water quality

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

Disagreements over how to improve the health of Lake Erie have led to yet another federal lawsuit in Ohio. This time the plaintiff is the Board of Lucas County Commissioners, who filed a lawsuit in federal court in April against the U.S. EPA. The lawsuit accuses the U.S. EPA of failing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act, which the county believes has led to an “alarming” decline in the water quality of western Lake Erie.

The Clean Water Act requires states to monitor and evaluate water quality and establish water quality criteria, and also to designate a water body as “impaired” if it does not meet the criteria. Once a water body is on the impaired waters list, the state must create Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the water body. TMDLs determine the maximum amounts of each pollutant that can enter a water body and still allow the water to meet the established water quality criteria.… Continue reading

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Experiences from life on a Demonstration Farm

By Duane Stateler, Stateler Family Farms, Hancock County

It has been quite interesting being a part of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms in ways that I would not have originally imagined.

To set the stage, we had a visitor last week who had been contacted to visit the farm after he was quoted in a recent local newspaper article with some information that upset quite a few members of the agricultural community. We were asked if we were open to him coming to visit and, of course, we agreed because we have found over the past 3 years that the 98% of the population that are removed from the farm have no idea of today’s farm is compared to the Charlotte’s Web storybook. My son Anthony and I enjoy being an open book and answering every question they pose while looking into their eyes and witnessing as they are seeing, realizing and experiencing something completely different than what they have been told.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s urban school districts outperforming rural ones

By Alayna DeMartini

Even with higher rates of poverty in Ohio’s major cities, urban school districts are outperforming rural districts, a recent study by The Ohio State University shows.

Rural schools, particularly in Appalachia, tend to have lower average test scores than schools in urban areas, despite city districts having higher poverty rates and a larger proportion of students with limited English proficiency, said Mark Partridge, a professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and one of the study’s authors.

On average, school districts with more minority students and more poverty require additional money to achieve the same academic standards as districts with larger shares of white and affluent student populations, Partridge said.

“Given the characteristics of their student body, urban schools are doing really well. Rural areas could be doing better,” said Partridge, who is also chair of the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy within CFAES.… Continue reading

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Improving conditions for May

By Jim Noel, NOAA

After a cool and wet period for April as expected we still expect a turn toward warmer weather for May along with more normal rainfall.

The outlook for the next two weeks going into early May, rainfall is forecast to average 1 to 3 inches with normal being 1.75 to 2.00 inches so we are expecting near normal rainfall on average. There will be periods of dry weather and wet weather over the next two weeks.

The outlook for May calls for warmer than normal weather with rainfall near normal. We do not see any additional significant freezes going forward at this time.… Continue reading

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