USDA now making Dairy Margin Coverage Program payments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program on June 17 and has started issuing payments to producers who purchased coverage. Producers can enroll through Sept. 20, 2019.

“Times have been especially tough for dairy farmers, and while we hope producers’ margins will increase, the Dairy Margin Coverage program is providing support at a critical time for many in the industry,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “With lower premiums and higher levels of assistance than previous programs, DMC is already proving to be a good option for a lot of dairy producers across the country.  USDA is committed to efficiently implementing the safety net programs in the 2018 Farm Bill and helping producers deal with the challenges of the ever-changing farm economy.”

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).… Continue reading

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Overcoming Ohio’s forage fiasco

By Matt Reese

Like most every sector of Ohio agriculture, those feeding livestock are faced with serious challenges after persistent wet weather swamped pastures, killed alfalfa stands, and severely limited and delayed quality hay making opportunities.

Most of Ohio suffered from too much rain this spring, but the northwestern part of the state has been hardest hit. Gary Wilson from Hancock County is an Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council board member and past president of the American Forage and Grassland Council. Like many others in northwest Ohio, he is scrambling to keep his livestock eating.

“Forages are really short. Last winter a lot of the alfalfa was winter killed. I think it was a combination of a wet fall, cold winter, lack of snow, and there was heaving. People could see their tile lines sticking out like a sore thumb in the spring once everything greened up and there was no alfalfa there between the tile lines — that is not a good sign.… Continue reading

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First DMC payments providing critical aid to dairy farmers

The National Milk Producers Federation thanked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for meeting the timeline Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue promised in February for dairy-program payments under the 2018 farm bill. Dairy farmers began receiving checks under the new Dairy Margin Coverage program last week, in keeping with USDA’s pledge.

“DMC aid represents significant improvement from previous programs, and with dairy farmers facing a fifth year of low prices, receiving better assistance in a timely fashion is a matter of survival for some family farms,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF. “The DMC program doesn’t replace a healthy market, but it is a crucial safety net in turbulent times. All dairy producers should strongly consider enrolling, and to look closely at coverage at the $9.50 maximum level.”

More than one-fourth of all U.S. dairy farms — nearly 10,000 — have signed up for DMC since signups began June 17, according to USDA.… Continue reading

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Dean’s Charity Steer Show pairs celebrities with 4-H members in the show ring

By Matt Reese

Many people understand the excitement and appeal as the judge strolls down the line looking over the cattle to make a decision that will change the life of a young, hopeful exhibitor with the slap of his hand.

Cattle shows are, for some, a highlight of their year, through a large portion of the state’s population does not know a halter from a show stick. That will change for a few Ohio celebrities on July 30 with the inaugural Dean’s Charity Steer Show at 2:00 p.m. in the Voinovich Building at the Ohio State Fair. For the event, celebrity exhibitors — including some who never set foot in a show ring — will be paired with Ohio 4-H members to try their hand at showing a steer and vying for the judge’s eye.

The idea got started in a meeting with Cathann Kress, Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University and Leslie Bumgarner who sits on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.… Continue reading

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Cattlemen’s Gala fundraiser to be held Aug. 24

The third annual Cattlemen’s Gala Celebration and Fundraiser will be held Saturday, Aug. 24 at Leeds Farm in Ostrander. The Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) tax deductible charity, and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will coordinate the event.

Ohio’s cattlemen have a lot to celebrate. Plan to join the celebration on Saturday, Aug. 24 to support the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation youth scholarship fund benefiting the next generation of beef industry leaders. The 2018 event raised $35,000 for scholarships, and the 2019 event will build off that success.

Gala attendees will gather in their boots and hats for dinner, drinks and dancing in the barn at Leeds Farm. Each registration includes 2 drink tickets, appetizers, a beef tenderloin dinner and entertainment. The celebration begins at 6 p.m. and will feature live music by the John D. Hale Band, a nationally known Red Dirt country music group from Missouri.

Silent and live auctions will also be held during the evening to support youth scholarships and sponsorship opportunities are also available.… Continue reading

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Make sure manure is treated as a valuable resource

By Mary Wicks

Did you know that manure is a valuable resource? From applying it to cropland to creating compost, it can benefit crops and soil or generate additional income. Using manure is complex, which makes it interesting but challenging. There are many factors, such as nutrient availability, application methods, and application rules that need to be taken into account.


Soil benefits

A recent 2-year study by the University of Wisconsin compared the effects manure and inorganic fertilizers on soil health. Researchers demonstrated that manure was more effective in maintaining soil pH at a healthy range, while the fertilizer tended to increase acidity. Manure was also more effective in increasing total nitrogen in the soil. And, due the organic matter in manure, it helped increase water stable aggregates, which makes soil more resistant to erosion. However, the electrical conductivity of soils with manure application was higher, indicating that salt levels in manure need to be considered.… Continue reading

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Brisket prices heating up with summer weather

By David P. Anderson, Extension economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Brisket prices are heating up just like summer temperatures. One of the most interesting beef demand trends over the last few years has been the growth in demand for briskets. It’s not just new craft BBQ joints popping up everywhere in Texas, but even big chains like Arby’s jumping in and they all serve brisket.

Briskets used to be an inexpensive beef cut that benefited from long, slow cooking at low temperatures. They are no longer inexpensive. What used to be a very inexpensive cut, the primal brisket is now only behind the primal rib and loin in value. In the last week of May, the comprehensive cutout brisket value was $213.47 per hundredweight (cwt), up 19.4% from the same week the year before. Just during May brisket prices jumped from $194.39 to $213.47 by the end of the month.… Continue reading

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Oats could address forage shortage on prevented planting acres

By Allen Gahler and Stan Smith, Ohio State University Extension

Last week, USDA released the declaration that a cover crop planted onto prevented planting acres can now be harvested as a forage after Sept. 1, rather than the normal date of Nov. 1, which provides a small glimmer of hope for some livestock producers and those equipped to harvest forages. While Ohio is experiencing a severe shortage of forages for all classes of livestock, weed control on prevented planting acres is also a major concern. With USDA’s declaration, we can now address both problems in one action — seeding cover crops that will be harvestable as a forage after Sept. 1.

As with everything else this season, however, patience is the key. Although an ideal situation would be cover crops that can be put out immediately and reduce the need for tillage, chopping, or spraying of weeds already present, there are unfortunately not many species of cover crop that will accomplish this and still provide significant tonnage or feed quality as a forage in September.… Continue reading

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DFA and Kroger team up to provide milk for Mid-Ohio Foodbank

In celebration of June Dairy Month, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) — a national cooperative owned by dairy farm families — and The Kroger Co. announced a year-long commitment to donate milk to Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Grove City, Ohio.

Through the partnership, DFA farm families from Ohio will provide raw milk, which will be processed at Tamarack Farms Dairy, Kroger’s Newark, Ohio dairy processing facility. It will then be distributed to Mid-Ohio Foodbank, which provides enough food for 140,000 meals a day in 20 counties through 680 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs and senior housing sites across central and eastern Ohio. The donated milk will be delivered to the Foodbank daily through May 2020 and will total nearly 44,000 gallons, which equates to more than 700,000 eight-ounce servings.

“It’s been exciting to collaborate from farm-to-table on this partnership and provide farm-fresh milk to food insecure households across Ohio,” said Dana Zurcher, President, Kroger Columbus Division.… Continue reading

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USDA funding addresses feral swine populations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it was offering $75 million in funding — as part of the 2018 Farm Bill — for the eradication and control of feral swine through the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. The pilot program is a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

“We thank USDA for implementing this important Farm Bill program to reduce feral swine populations. Wild pigs are difficult to control and when in close proximity to domestic production, they are almost impossible to control,” said David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina.

“Most seriously, we are concerned about the spread of feral swine carrying diseases, including African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks. While outbreaks of ASF continue throughout China and other parts of Asia, there are no reported cases in the United States.… Continue reading

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Emergency forages for planting early to mid-summer

By Mark Sulc, Extension Forage Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Bill Weiss, Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Many dairy producers are facing a critical forage shortage to feed their herds. Forage stands were damaged across Ohio this past winter, and the wet spring has further deteriorated the few stands that initially appeared they might recover from winter damage. It is now too risky to try to establish new perennial forage stands, with the warmer summer weather coming on. We should wait until August to establish perennial stands. Meanwhile, what options can we consider for growing forage this year?

We are well past the time when cool-season species like oats, triticale, Italian ryegrass, and spring barley can be planted. Sudangrass, sorghum x sudangrass hybrids, pearl millet, and forage sorghum grow rapidly in summer and yield a total of 3.5 to 5 tons of DM with acceptable nutritive value.… Continue reading

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Fighting resistance with brains and brawn

By Don “Doc” Sanders

You can’t escape reading or hearing about disease-causing microorganisms — with exotic names like MRSA and E. coli OH:157 — that develop resistance to drugs. There are also plenty of reports about resistance to antibiotics in livestock and people or weeds’ resistance to crop chemicals.

There is another kind of resistance in cattle, swine, sheep and goats: internal worms that develop resistance to deworming agents. On this subject, I offer you this true story about a couple of cattlemen and their herd of 200 brood cows out on Cowpath Road.

Lowell was a retired local factory manager. His son, Jimmie, had returned home from Ohio State with a degree in animal science. I enjoyed talking with them and listening to their unconventional observations. And I was impressed by their astute management of their herd. They used frequent pasture rotations, a computerized heat detection system to determine when a cow was cycling, and artificial insemination, followed up with “natural cover” breeding with bulls for those cows that didn’t conceive and were back in heat.… Continue reading

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Plan now for the 2019 OCA Replacement Female Sale

By John F. Grimes, OCA Replacement Female Sale Manager

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) is announcing an event of potential interest for both the buyers and sellers of beef breeding cattle. On Friday evening, Nov. 29, the OCA will be hosting their seventh annual Replacement Female Sale. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock facility in Zanesville and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

The 2019 Ohio Cattlemen’s Association Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of Jan. 1, 2020 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory.… Continue reading

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Feed prices rising for 2019

By Brenda Boetel, professor and Extension economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

With stalled planting progress in much of the U.S., the July, September and December 2019 CME corn futures market contracts have increased an average of $0.59 from May 1 to early June. The average May change over the last 5 years has been a decrease of $0.11. Given the significant decrease in plantings and the percentage of corn that has been planted late, corn price may continue to increase. While the trade concerns with Mexico are the bearish indicators the decrease in acres will likely have a greater impact.

Over the last 5 years Mexico has taken an average of 24% of our exports. 24% of the average 5 years of exports is 522 million bushels of corn. If one assumes corn planting will be down 6 million acres to 86.8 million acres and we see a decrease of two bushels per acre to 174.6 bushels per acre yield we would see a decrease in corn production of 554 million bushels.… Continue reading

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Meat industry lawsuits

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

A recent class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois federal court by a number of cattle ranchers, including R-CALF, against the nation’s largest meatpacking companies. Now, another lawsuit has been filed in Minnesota federal court also alleging a price fixing conspiracy by the meatpackers. The second lawsuit is being brought by a cattle futures trader, rather than a rancher. After the second suit was filed, R-CALF voluntarily dismissed its case in Illinois to refile it in Minnesota. This refiling allows the lawsuits to be heard by the same court.

Tyson, which is named as a defendant in the class action suits, is a plaintiff in another case against the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The company alleges that a FSIS inspector falsified an inspection of 4,622 hogs, which were intermingled with another 8,000 carcasses, at one of its Iowa facilities in 2018.… Continue reading

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Pork Checkoff seeks 2019 #RealPigFarming
student social forces team

The National Pork Board is seeking applicants for the 2019 student social forces team. The applications are open now through July 8 at

The social forces team will advocate for pig farming through social media usage. Selected applicants who successfully complete all outlined milestones will be eligible for a $500 scholarship.

“Last year, the team generated over 670 positive posts about pig farming in a five-month period,” said Claire Masker, director of sustainability communications for the National Pork Board. “This year, we anticipate more discussion about pig farming while the students expand their professional network.”

The Checkoff’s #RealPigFarming social media campaign gives pig farmers, academics, youth, veterinarians and allied industry members an opportunity to discuss today’s pork production across social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Applications are open to students, age 18 to 23, who are involved in the swine industry and who are pursuing a post-secondary degree.… Continue reading

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Cultivating customers by building a brand

By Matt Reese

Visitors to Carroll Creek Farms are first greeted by a just-rustic-enough farm sign at the end of the long, tree-lined gravel drive bordered by green, flowing springtime pastures. Cattle and sheep chew contentedly on their forage as vehicles turn in the drive.

Visitors are typically welcomed by a couple of friendly dogs, and maybe a free-roaming sheep, as their cars pull to a stop. Atop the gentle rise from the road sits a most pleasant farmhouse and charming shop coined the “Meat Retreat” where customers can peruse the farm’s offerings that include a full array of cuts from their homegrown livestock raised in the surrounding fields. The production methods, scale and farm story at Adam and Jess Campbell’s Warren County farm check all the buzzwords off the wish lists of urban customers looking for a connection to a farm and their food.

“The production methods we use allow us quench our customers thirst for full transparency around the meat they consume,” Jess Campbell said.… Continue reading

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EPA finalizes farm exemption from EPCRA reporting requirements

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently finalized a rule exempting livestock producers from unnecessary reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Created in 1986, EPCRA was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. It requires industry to report on the storage, use and releases of hazardous substances to federal, state, and local governments to help prepare for potential risks. In March of 2018, Congress addressed this issue with the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act exempting livestock operations from reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The recent action from the EPA was the implementation of this measure.

“Farmers, ranchers, and emergency response officials all agree: routine emissions from agricultural operations are not a threat to local communities. Congress made a common-sense decision to exempt livestock producers from frivolous reporting requirements at the federal level with its passage of the FARM Act, and we are glad to see EPA fully implement the law by providing relief from burdensome state and local reporting requirements,” said Jennifer Houston, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.… Continue reading

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$65 hay bales a sign of the times

By Joel Penhorwood

Because it has been such a bad year for row crop farmers, it can be easy to overlook the terrible hay baling conditions much of the state has experienced so far with extremely short windows of dry weather. That truth came to a fever pitch at the most recent LaRue Horse and Tack Sale.

“We usually have an average of 300 to 500 bales a month that people bring in,” said Janeen Heilman, sale organizer. “In April, of this year, we had 439 bales of hay of all different kinds and cuttings. The average per bale for April was $5.64. In May, we only had 195 bales for sale. The average for those was $6.91 per bale.”

The situation, which has slowly been increasing in desperation, hit its peak on Saturday, June 1.

“This month, we only had 15 bales and we had two people hurting for hay.… Continue reading

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Dairy facts for dairy month

The National Milk Producers Federation is pointing out some key facts about U.S. dairy in observance of National Dairy Month in June.


The state of the industry

  • Total domestic consumption of milk has risen four of the past five years and reached a record in 2018.
  • While per-capita milk U.S. consumption has declined, consumption of non-fluid dairy products such as cheese have increased, with butter last year at its highest per-capita consumption in more than 50 years.
  • U.S. dairy export volumes reached a record in 2018, increasing 9% over the prior year despite stiff trade winds. The value of U.S. exports was $5.59 billion, 2% more than the prior year, despite trade disturbances that to date have cost farmers at least $2.3 billion in revenues.


Sustainability and animal welfare

  • The U.S. dairy industry contributes approximately two percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — the lowest average GHG intensity of milk production worldwide.
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