Good grazing starts with the soil

By Matt Reese

Getting the most out of each bite in the pasture taken by livestock means many hours of management behind the scenes, but the investment offers ample return for the bottom line and long-term future of the farm. 

Stuart Heavilin has poured significant time, money and know-how into his rotational grazing operation to maximize the potential of the family’s Harrison County farm, working alongside his wife, children, and parents.

“You know a cow’s mouth is maybe 4, 5 inches wide. Take a pair of scissors that wide and try to cut a daily amount of dry forage for that cow. How long is that going to take you? If you have grass that’s a foot tall, it’s not going to take you very long at all to do it. But if your grass is two inches, three inches tall, it’s going to take you awhile,” he said. “They can only eat so long.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s pig farmers donate to Mid-Ohio Food Collective

On behalf of all the state’s pork producers, the Ohio Pork Council is again partnering with a community-based nonprofit to further demonstrate how much its members are dedicated to bringing high-quality, nutrient-dense protein to those in need. A $5,000 donation to the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, which will be used to purchase pork, will serve thousands of people through the organization’s Mid-Ohio Kitchen based in the south side of Columbus. 

“Mid-Ohio Food Collective’s work toward hunger-free, healthier communities is made possible by partnerships to serve our neighbors,” said Matt Habash, President, and CEO. “We are grateful to the Ohio Pork Council whose generous support will provide high-quality, Ohio-raised pork for meals distributed by our Mid-Ohio Kitchen team.”

While giving back to the state’s rural and urban communities is a regular part of the Ohio Pork Council’s Pork Power initiative, it’s even more critical during uncertain economic times that are affecting so many Ohioans.… Continue reading

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USDA offers Livestock Disaster Program flexibilities

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has provided additional flexibilities and further enhanced disaster recovery assistance provided by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) in response to needs expressed by livestock producers across the U.S. who have experienced significant feed, forage and animal losses from natural disasters. These livestock disaster program policy enhancements include an extended June 2, 2023, deadline to submit notices of loss and applications for payment for 2022 losses. The deadline extension and program flexibilities are available to eligible producers nationwide who incurred losses from a qualifying natural disaster event.  

LIP and ELAP reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died because of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed, and forage. 


New program applications for 2022  

FSA is accepting 2022 LIP notices of loss and applications for payment through June 2, 2023, for all covered livestock that may have been eligible in 2022.   … Continue reading

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Animal health bill introduced

The U.S. Senate recently introduced the Foreign Animal Disease Prevention, Surveillance and Rapid Response Act of 2023. The legislation reauthorizes animal disease prevention and management programs.

“We appreciate Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Representatives Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Don Bacon (R-NE), Jim Costa (D-CA), Angie Craig (D-MN) and Don Davis (D-NC) for introducing this critical legislation to protect animal health,” said Scott Hays, National Pork Producers Council president and Missouri pork producer. “With threats of African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases to livestock and poultry industries, having these provisions in the farm bill will ensure the U.S. remains positioned to deliver safe and affordable food to consumers worldwide.”

NPPC is advocating for a farm bill that fully funds critical programs safeguarding the nation’s food supply against threats posed by foreign animal diseases (FAD). These include the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program.… Continue reading

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Pork exports picking up, beef rebounding

March exports of U.S. pork were the largest since May 2021, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). While below last year’s high volume, March beef exports were the largest since October.

Mexico is the pacesetter, but pork exports strengthen in several regions

March pork exports totaled 260,195 metric tons (mt), up 17% year-over-year and the ninth largest volume on record. Export value was also ninth largest at $724 million, up 18% from a year ago. These results capped a strong first quarter for U.S. pork as exports reached 716,691 mt, up 14% from a year ago, valued at $1.96 billion (up 15%).

For Mexico, March pork exports were the second largest on record, while shipments to the Dominican Republic and Malaysia were record-large. Exports also increased to South Korea, Japan, China/Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia and Taiwan.

“It’s great to see U.S.… Continue reading

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Pasture repair after a muddy winter

By Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Licking County

By now hay feeding is complete and animals are enjoying the green grass instead of trying to find a way to get to the other side of the fence. How much damage was done in the areas hay was being fed this winter?

Pugging is the damage to sod created by animals’ hooves. Studies have shown that pugging damage can reduce forage productivity by up to 80% or more in severely damaged areas. For those who like to be scientific, there is a published system of scoring the damage based on Australian research and described by the University of Kentucky. A chart is available online. With that system, you can look at the percent of damage within one square foot along with the depth of the damage from zero to over 4 inches. These measurements should be repeated in several locations to find an average.… Continue reading

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SCOTUS upholds Prop 12

By Matt Reese

The long-awaited ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on California’s Proposition 12 animal confinement law was not in favor of the arguments made by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s opinion,” said Scott Hays, NPPC president, and Missouri pork producer. “Allowing state overreach will increase prices for consumers and drive small farms out of business, leading to more consolidation. We are still evaluating the Court’s full opinion to understand all the implications. NPPC will continue to fight for our nation’s pork farmers and American families against misguided regulations.” 

The May 11 decision by the court was 5-4 with dissention from Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson and Chief Justice John Roberts.

“Companies that choose to sell products in various states must normally comply with the laws of those various states,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch in the court ruling.… Continue reading

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Lessons learned from HPAI

By Joel Penhorwood and Matt Reese

Ohio continues to face concerns regarding high path avian influenza (HPAI) after dealing with some devastating losses last year in the state’s poultry industry. 

The virus is still causing problems around the country with 15 states dealing with HPAI issues in February and March in commercial and backyard poultry flocks. Pennsylvania has been the worst hit with over 75,000 birds affected in late February and early March, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This winter, though, Ohio has been in the clear in terms of commercial and backyard poultry flocks after facing some tough situations last summer and fall. A wild, deceased bald eagle was found in Clermont County with HPAI in Clairmont County in November of 2022 and some additional wild waterfowl tested positive in Lake County in March.

While they were challenging, Ohio’s HPAI issues with poultry last year did serve as examples in the event of the future arrival of HPAI or other foreign animal diseases in the future.… Continue reading

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Act now to keep pastures growing all season

By Chris Penrose, Professor and Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Morgan Co.

It’s never too early to consider which fields could be stockpiled for fall and winter grazing.

The warm February temperatures caused some of our forages to break dormancy early but the cooler March temperatures slowed down progress. We are now at a stage where our forage management decisions can affect forage availability for the entire season. Depending on the season and your location, perennial forages typically go through the reproductive stage in late April into May. After they set seed, these plants quickly transition from the reproductive stage into the vegetative stage. Up to this transition, energy of the plant moves up from the roots to the seeds, but with the transition, energy movement will primarily move from the leaves to the roots. As we move through summer this will help build up root reserves to help the plant survive the winter.… Continue reading

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Ag groups continue to push back on SEC rules

The National Pork Producers Council, together with six other agricultural organizations, submitted supplemental comments to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laying out a clear case for why agriculture, and the food supply chain, should be exempt from reporting under the SEC’s proposed climate change disclosure rules.

 The letter, which follows a series of meetings between agricultural representatives and the SEC as well as repeated concerns raised by members of Congress, supplements earlier comments the coalition submitted in June 2022. It highlights several problems with the proposed disclosure rule, and how it will inadvertently be used to create obligations for farmers to report emissions. The letter provided the SEC additional legal analysis highlighting why the Commission cannot conclude a final disclosure rule that subjects farmers to reporting, and it lays out a path for the SEC to utilize in order to exempt agriculture entirely from any obligation to report under the proposed rule.… Continue reading

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Wool cooperative closing its doors after over a century of service

By Matt Reese

In 1918 a small group of wool producers had a vision of cooperatively marketing their product to command better market prices for individual farms. The idea grew into Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative with, at one point, 10,000 farmer owners marketing 6 million pounds of wool from 23 states.  

In May, though, after more than a century of service to the nation’s sheep producers, Mid-States Wool Growers in Fairfield County — the last location of the cooperative — will be closing its doors.

“We’re going to quit taking in wool the first of May and then we’ve got to get the rest of it out of here throughout the summer — get it bailed and then get it sold,” said David Rowe, general manager of Mid-States Wool Growers. “We’re going into the fourth straight year with no future, no hope for the coarse wool market. Last year we only sold a third of the wool that we would normally sell.… Continue reading

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Early season pasture management

 By Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension

Most pastures are looking lush and green again. Thanks to some perfect temperature days, our cool-season pasture grasses are growing well. Grazing animals seem pleased to have some fresh greens and managers certainly are relieved to see the landscape change from dreary to dreamy again.

With the good that the spring flush of growth brings, there are also some concerns that we shouldn’t forget in the midst of the joy. Now is the time that grass tetany may become a problem and bloat can be an issue too in some circumstances. We also need to continue to consider the health of our forage and soils.


  • Actively growing pastures still need rest between grazing cycles. Allowing pastures to rest can help decrease damage to the plant roots from over grazing and reduce pugging of the field due to heavy animal traffic when the ground is still soft.
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Beekman named CFO of Ohio Farm Bureau

Jodi Beekman of Centerburg has been named chief financial officer for Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

In her role, Beekman will be responsible for coordinating the accounting and finance of the organization, subsidiary companies and management contracts. She will provide oversight for the organization as it relates to tax filing on federal, state and local levels and oversee the financial resources of the organization as it relates to investments and daily cash management. 

Beekman will work with the organization’s current CFO Irene Messmer for a period of time before taking sole responsibility for her new position. Messmer plans to retire at the end of May 2024.

Prior to joining Farm Bureau, Beekman spent the previous two years as senior vice president finance and operations at Children’s Hunger Alliance and 13 years as vice president of finance and administration at Experience Columbus. 

Beekman received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and is a certified public accountant.… Continue reading

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Pork industry economic update

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) released its second quarter pork industry economic update that provides a snapshot of top pork industry issues, current trends, and market conditions impacting pig farmers. 
2023 Q2 key takeaways include:

  • Pork production increased 2.3% through the first quarter, with the USDA now projecting a 1.4% annual increase in pork production in 2023.
  • Retail, wholesale, and farm level prices show year-over-year decline.
  • Pork and variety meat exports gained momentum in Q1.
  • From September 2021 to 2022, the total value of wages paid to workers on U.S. pig farms increased 12.1%, while the number of workers declined by 0.4%.
  • Pork producer returns for the remainder of 2023 will be influenced by various factors, including domestic and export pork demand and input prices.

“The United States is a worldwide leader in pork production and a significant contributor to the U.S. economy,” said Duane Stateler, NPPC vice president and pork producer from Ohio.… Continue reading

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Nominations open for American Egg Board

The Ohio Poultry Association (OPA) is accepting suggestions for nominations to serve on the 2024-2025 American Egg Board (AEB), which is U.S. egg farmer’s link to consumers in communicating the value of the incredible egg. AEB is seeking an ethnically diverse group of candidates. Appointed members will serve a two-year term. 

“It is a prestigious honor to serve as a board member on the national level to help guide the egg farming community and further our commitment to provide a safe, wholesome egg supply,” said Jim Chakeres, OPA executive vice president. “These individuals will work directly with AEB and U.S. egg farmers to increase the demand for eggs and to provide eggs to not only Ohioans, but also those across the country.” 

To be eligible for nomination, individuals must be producers or representatives of producers and they must own 75,000 or more laying hens. Producers who own less than 75,000 hens are eligible provided they have not applied for exemption and are paying assessments to AEB. … Continue reading

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Cooper Farms celebrates history, emphasizes animal care

By Matt Reese

In 1938, Cooper Farms started with 300 turkeys in Oakwood, Ohio when Virgil Cooper took over the farm after his mother’s passing. By 1948, a hatchery had been built where the Cooper Farms Corporate Office now resides. Over 85 years, Cooper Farms has evolved into a diversified, vertically integrated turkey, hog and egg company that has stood the test of time in an ever-changing industry. 

Cooper Farms prides itself on forming lasting customer relationships and producing high quality meat and egg products for private label retail and foodservice companies.  

“Our company was founded on a handshake mentality, with a focus on doing the right thing all the time,” said Jim Cooper, CEO. “It’s humbling to see the growth of Cooper Farms and all that we’ve accomplished, with the help of great partners, leaders and team members. I am pleased to see these next generations, both Cooper family and team members, stepping up to leadership roles and seeing us through these next phases of growth.” … Continue reading

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Can I start grazing?

By Victor Shelton, retired NRCS agronomist/grazing specialist

I have already heard the question, “When can we start grazing?” That question came up a bit earlier this year than normal because we had enough warm days in between the cold ones to provide the energy to really see some early green up.

I’ve seen a lot of livestock already out grazing fields. That is OK if they are still grazing stockpiled forages left from last year’s growth, but if they are consuming only new growth and chasing after each new green blade of grass like a chicken after a bug, then you’re usually doing more harm than good.

Fields that were grazed hard last fall, especially prior to dormancy, and fields that were grazed early this year because the cows needed someplace to go, could absolutely use a longer deferment prior to grazing again this spring. Those fields will need to first try to grow or regrow their new solar panel off the reserves that are left, and then spend valuable time rebuilding roots and root reserves before allocating energy and resources on growing forage.… Continue reading

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Farmers seeking reform to milk pricing

The American Farm Bureau Federation told USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that requests to increase make allowances — which are used in part to calculate how much a processor pays for milk — fall short of fairly supporting dairy farmers.

According to 2021 USDA milk cost of production estimates, dairy farmers on average, lose $6.72 per hundredweight of milk produced. The loss for dairy farms with less than 50 cows was even greater at $21.58 per hundredweight.

Two dairy processor associations requested a federal milk marketing order hearing to increase make allowances. While AFBF is not opposed to updating make allowances, the proposals to USDA do not address the wider need for changes to milk pricing regulations. For example, the requests call for the continued use of voluntary data to set make allowances. In a letter to Secretary Vilsack, AFBF President Zippy Duvall argued for mandatory reporting. The letter states, “Large efficient processors may decline to participate [if data is voluntarily collected], which would skew the cost survey results upward.… Continue reading

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Xylazine classified as a Schedule III controlled substance

In March, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order directing the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy to immediately classify xylazine as a Schedule III controlled substance. The move makes Ohio one of the first states in the nation to schedule xylazine as a controlled substance drug.

Xylazine is a widely used sedative in veterinary medicine, particularly with cattle. It has been increasingly discovered in combination with illicit drug use in Ohio. Prior to the governor’s executive order, Ohio Farm Bureau, along with the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and Ohio Dairy Producers Association worked with the DeWine administration on the situation. In addition, Farm Bureau has also been working with the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and American Veterinary Medical Association to help the Food and Drug Administration and Congress find pathways to reduce the illicit use of xylazine while also ensuring accessibility in veterinary medicine.

With the new order, veterinary practices must obtain an Ohio Board of Pharmacy Category 3 Terminal Distributor of Dangerous Drugs license by June 30, 2023. … Continue reading

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