Biden-Harris Administration Partners with agricultural producers to strengthen markets

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is making investments that will create new and better markets for agricultural producers and food businesses in 19 states across rural America.

“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are standing up for America’s farmers and ranchers by expanding processing capacity, creating fairer markets, more revenue streams and market opportunities which help bring down food costs for families at the grocery store,” Secretary Vilsack said. “We are partnering with entrepreneurs in rural areas to build brighter futures, connect business owners to new markets and create good jobs for generations to come. These investments reflect the goals of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and middle out and make our communities more resilient.”

USDA is making investments worth $320 million to strengthen food supply chains and create more opportunities for producers and entrepreneurs in 19 states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.… Continue reading

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EATS Act introduced to address interstate market concerns

On June 15, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), alongside Republican Senators Chuck Grassley (IA), John Cornyn (TX), Tom Cotton (AR), Deb Fischer (NE), Kevin Cramer (ND), Joni Ernst (IA), Eric Schmitt (MO), Ted Budd (NC) and Bill Hagerty (TN) introduced the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act to address concerns regarding interstate markets.

The legislation would preserve the exclusive right of states and local governments to regulate agricultural practices within their jurisdiction, free from interference from other states, ultimately preventing large states from regulating farmers and ranchers outside of their borders.

This would apply to situations such as California Proposition 12, which prohibits the sale of pork from hogs whose mothers were raised on farms — anywhere in the world — that does not comply with the state’s arbitrary standards. It applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether produced there or outside its borders.

The requirements of Prop 12 will increase consumer food prices and drive small farmers out of business.… Continue reading

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West Central Ohio Hay Day

Please join Ohio State University Extension and Channel Equipment on July 6 for the West Central Ohio Hay Day, sponsored by the Champaign and Clark County Farm Bureau’s, and Americas Trusted Insurance Group. The event will take place on the Southeast corner of South St. Rt. 68 and W. Dallas Rd. Or, go to Channel Equipment at 338 W Dallas Rd, Urbana, OH 43078 and follow the signs.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with talks from Extension personnel on various aspects of growing, making, storing, and feeding quality hay. Insurance representatives will also be speaking on some new offerings available to hay and forage producers. Lunch will be provided by Fresh Harvest food truck and will be free for those registered by July 1 thanks to the support of our sponsors.

The afternoon will be filled with equipment demonstrations from Krone and H&S company representatives. There will also be door prizes provided by generous donations from area vendors for those that register by July 1.… Continue reading

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Thomas family champions the small dairy farm

Step with us into the picturesque landscape of north Champaign County and witness the extraordinary journey of the Thomas family as they dedicate themselves to the small dairy farm.

Nathan and Jenny Thomas, along with their 35-cow herd at Triple-T Holsteins near North Lewisburg, have carved out a unique niche in the dairy industry. Focusing on show genetics and prize-winning cattle, they have earned a global reputation for their exceptional breeding program, all while participating in a unique milk market.

Join Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood to discover the relentless passion, hard work, and unwavering commitment of the Thomas family as they navigate the challenges of modern agriculture, showcase their cattle at prestigious events across the country, and uphold their deeply rooted values of cow care and sustainability.… Continue reading

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Prop 12 ruling leaves plenty to sort out for pork producers (and consumers)

By Matt Reese

The long-awaited May 11 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 groups initially petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take their case against California’s Prop 12 back in September of 2021.

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

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Mow pastures or not?

By Chris Penrose, Extension educator, Morgan County Extension 

A tough question developing on many farms right now is if we should start mowing pastures. Clipped pastures reduce eye irritation on the cows, makes for a less favorable environment for ticks, and stimulates new leaf growth. However, the pastures in my area are still green and if we mow them now without adequate moisture, I fear they will turn brown and go dormant sooner. Hay fields I have seen that were mowed last week are yet to initiate new growth and that could be the same case if we mowed pastures right now.

If we wait to mow, more vegetation on the surface will keep the soil cooler and hold moisture better and even have some mature forages that could still be grazed if needed. I am not sure what the right answer is for you but if the pastures have been heavily grazed and there are primarily weeds growing, I see an argument to mow pastures.… Continue reading

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Soybean meal powers swine diets to produce nutritious pork

By Matt Reese

While he enjoys most aspects of the farrow-to-finish and crop farm his family operates in Putnam County, Nathan Schroeder particularly loves the chance to work with baby pigs. 

“My favorite part is the nurseries. I enjoy getting a new group of weaned pigs in. I enjoy spending the extra time in there getting them going when they’re small,” Schroeder said. “We are contract growers for Hord Livestock, and we have 4,800 finishing spaces, so that’s two double-wide barns. We also have two nurseries, each holding 5,200 head. We are celebrating our tenth year with hogs. We are just the first generation with the hog farm and the fourth generation of the overall farm.”

Schroeder and his family had been renting their farm ground to a neighbor but decided to get back into crop production several years ago and expand with the contract hog operation.

“We decided we wanted to expand.… Continue reading

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LegenDairy milk

By Emmy Powell, communications specialist at Texas Farm Bureau 

Milk is the ultimate drink. It helps your body rehydrate, repair and replenish. It is full of nutrients and helps your body build strong bones and supports your immune system.
Milk contains 13 essential nutrients and minerals: protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin A, riboflavin, phosphorus, niacin, zinc, iodine, selenium and pantothenic acid. Holy cow! That’s impressive.
Compared to alternatives, milk has the least amount of ingredients. It has none of the stabilizers or flavorings often found in the ingredient list of non-dairy alternatives.
Milk is not only is the top food source of calcium in the American diet, but it also has a lower carbon footprint than most foods.
For centuries, dairy farmers have been good stewards of the environment, and they continue to look for ways to improve and learn more sustainable practices each day.
Tasty, nutritious and sustainable…milk will always be my first choice in the morning!… Continue reading

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BEST Banquet awards

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association’s (OCA) Beef Exhibitor Show Total (BEST) program wrapped up the 2022-2023 BEST season on May 6 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus at an awards banquet attended by over 750 participants and their families. Over 350 BEST exhibitors were awarded for their show success, cattle industry knowledge, photography skills, community service efforts and more.

This year’s BEST program featured seven weekends of sanctioned shows held throughout the state. Over 700 youth participants showed 1,000 head of market animals and heifers throughout the season.

This year’s sponsoring partners were Evans Family Ranch, Ag-Pro Companies, Bob Evans Farms, Diamond T Land and Cattle Co., Dickson Cattle Co., D&E Electric – The Young Family, M.H. EBY, Inc., The Folks Printing, Jones Show Cattle, R.D. Jones Excavating, Ricer Equipment, 6R Farms, Shepard Cattle Company and Weaver Livestock.

BEST Committee

The OCA BEST program is coordinated through the leadership of the BEST Committee.… Continue reading

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USDA program helps organic dairy producers cover rising costs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces assistance for dairy producers with the new Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP). ODMAP is established to help mitigate market volatility, higher input and transportation costs, and unstable feed supply and prices that have created unique hardships in the organic dairy industry. Specifically, under the ODMAP, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is making $104 million available to organic dairy operations to assist with projected marketing costs in 2023, calculated using their marketing costs in 2022.  

Organic dairy producers have faced significant and unique increases in their marketing costs, compounded by increases in feed and transportation costs and the limited availability of organic grain and forage commodities,” said Zach Ducheneaux, FSA Administrator. “Without assistance, many organic dairies, particularly small organic dairies, will cease production, which not only impacts the domestic supply and consumption of organic milk but also the well-being of many rural communities across the country.… Continue reading

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A look at the dairy barn fire in Texas

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth

On Monday, April 10, 2023, at around 7 p.m., South Fork Dairy suffered an explosion and fire that seriously injured one female worker and killed around 18,000 dairy cows. It was likely the deadliest dairy fire in our nation’s history, according to several news reports. South Fork Dairy had only been operating at this elevated level for about three years. It is located just southeast of Dimmitt, in Castro County, in the Texas Panhandle. I cannot imagine the shock and pain the owners and employees are experiencing.

            I’ve been to Dimmitt, Texas, more than once. This was years ago when I worked for the Texas Department of Agriculture. I will never forget driving towards Dimmitt. The land is flat, open prairie. Population is sparse. You could see the lights of Dimmitt 40 miles away. And Dimmitt is not a big town, population of approximately 4,300.

            At that time, Dimmitt and all of Castro County were known for fertile soil and lush, irrigated crops.… Continue reading

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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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