Low milk prices sending some dairy farmers out of business

Nervous about the dramatic drop in milk prices, Ohio’s dairy farmers are leaving the business at a higher than usual rate.

Every year, some farmers retire and give up their dairy licenses, but there’s been an uptick recently. In March 2018, there were 2,253 licensed dairy farms in Ohio — a drop of 59 farms in five months.

“Farmers are deciding they can no longer dig any deeper into their equity to pay for what I call ‘the privilege of milking cows,’ ” said Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension field specialist in dairy production economics.

Profits for milk are low because the price that dairy farmers get paid for their milk has dipped in recent years. In 2014, dairy farmers nationwide basked in high prices. Worldwide demand was high, and the number of cows producing milk was comparatively low. Since then, milk prices have been steadily sliding, as have dairy farmers’ profits.… Continue reading

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Breeding for faster-growing bluegills and yellow perch

Inside cool water-filled tanks in southern Ohio, the laws of nature are being defied. Female yellow perch mate with other female yellow perch; male bluegills with other male bluegills.

This might make one wonder, unless, of course, your profession is selective breeding of fish, and your goal is to get them to grow faster. Hanping Wang, who manages The Ohio State University’s Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development, has succeeded in raising faster-growing fish by artificially mating them in a not so typical way.

On average, the resulting offspring reach market size six months faster than bluegills or yellow perch bred out of standard male-female mating. That’s because among yellow perch, females grow quicker than males. Among bluegills, males grow faster than females.

For an Ohio fish farmer, having fish that mature faster than average could be a significant savings in fish food and in time waiting to sell them, said Wang, whose center in Piketon is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).… Continue reading

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Pork-A-Palooza May 19

On Saturday, May 19, 2018, the Ohio Pork Council will be hosting the Pork-a-Palooza, featuring: bacon, BBQ and beer at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The event will be held from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., and will feature pork products and sides from local food trucks and restaurants.
Pork producers and consumers are invited to enjoy a fun-filled afternoon with music, food, beverages, children’s inflatables and educational opportunities.
Tickets are $10 per person and children 12 and under are free.  Tickets can be purchased online at or on the day of the event.  
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Farmers provide pork for 100,000 meals for Ohioans

Ohio pork farmers, through the Ohio Pork Council’s (OPC) Pork Power program, have partnered with generous supporters, including the Ohio Corn & Wheat, to provide the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank and Central College Presbyterian Church Food Pantry with a combined 20,300 pounds of lean ground pork. The protein-packed donation will provide roughly 100,00 meals to those in need.

“Food is a basic need that should be readily available to all Ohioans, especially in a state where agriculture is a leading industry,” said Brad Heimerl, Heimerl Family Farms. “It is a pleasure to work alongside fellow pork farmers, and members of the Ohio Corn & Wheat, who share the commitment and compassion to serving their communities each year through OPC’s Pork Power program.”

Since the program’s inception, more than 1.6 million fresh, wholesome meals have been donated to local foodbanks in Ohio.

“Ohio Corn & Wheat is pleased to join with the Ohio Pork Council to demonstrate that Ohio farmers are committed to feeding the world, including Ohioans who need may need assistance,” said Tadd Nicholson, Executive Director of Ohio Corn & Wheat.… Continue reading

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Argentine market now open to U.S. pork

The United States and Argentina last week finalized an export certificate that allows the U.S. pork industry to ship product to the South American country.

“Argentina has tremendous potential for U.S. pork exports,” said Jim Heimerl, National Pork Producers Council President and a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This is great news for America’s pork producers, who last year exported almost $6.5 billion of pork around the world.”

Argentina, which had a de facto ban on U.S. pork, has a population of more than 44 million and a per capita income of $17,250 — higher than Mexico’s — making it an attractive market for U.S. pork. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes has noted that fresh pork consumption in the country has increased from about 2 pounds in 2005 to 22 to 26 pounds today. The Argentine pork industry estimates that by 2020 consumption will increase to 35 to 44 pounds.… Continue reading

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Dairy groups support Trump Administration examination of India, Indonesia compliance under generalized system of preferences

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) accepted a petition from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) to examine India’s failure to follow through on its obligations to provide “equitable and reasonable access to its market” for dairy products. In addition, Indonesia, which has also been pursuing dairy trade distorting policies, will be included in USTR’s review to assess that country’s compliance with its market access obligations.

India has for many years maintained unjustified market access barriers to U.S. dairy products, despite receiving preferential access to the U.S. market under a special duty-free trade arrangement called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). India abruptly began denying dairy exports in 2003, citing safety concerns and demanding revised government-issued health certificates. The U.S. industry and U.S. government have worked in good faith over the last 15 years to remove this intractable barrier, but have been met with a shifting litany of demands not founded on sound science.… Continue reading

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It’s better to feed more hay than graze too soon!

Nobody is short of moisture. I look forward to just having firm footing again. When you can’t walk across the yard without splashing water up on you, it’s wet.

The livestock are also getting tired of the wet conditions and continuous showers. I’ve had several calls from people looking for hay. This is a really bad time to be running out. The latest call was someone who had just fed their last bales and did not want to turn out on pasture yet until they had enough forage growth. That is exactly what I like to hear. If you turn out too early, the grass never gets much of a chance to get good leaf cover. Grazing too early in the spring does nothing but remove that solar panel the plants need to start building sugar and growing new roots. The forages really need to be able to canopy and get a good start before animals begin removing the top growth otherwise production will be reduced.… Continue reading

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Ohio Poultry Association highlights award winners and looks at proactive measures for avian influenza

As always the Ohio Poultry Association Annual Celebration Banquet was an event not to be missed. The 33rd annual banquet featured great food and the chance to recognize award winners.

The Ohio Poultry Association’s Golden Feather Award is given to an individual who has distinguished themselves as a champion of poultry, livestock or other agriculture issues. The 2018 Golden Feather

Award went to Kevin Elder.  As a technician for the Fairfield Soil and Water Conservation District in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Elder helped introduce farmers to no-till practices. He then served as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Conservation, Engineering Section administrator and as an agricultural pollution abatement specialist and was instrumental in rewriting Ohio’s agricultural pollution abatement law and developing the state’s manure management program. In addition, he worked with local soil and water conservation districts and USDA agencies to design and inspect the construction of natural resource conservation practices.… Continue reading

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Red meat exports continue to outpace 2017

February exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb were higher than a year ago in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports totaled 205,466 metric tons (mt) in February, up 4% from last year’s large total, while export value increased 12% to $547.2 million. Through February, pork exports were 2% ahead of last year’s pace at 408,934 mt, while export value climbed 10% to $1.09 billion.

February exports accounted for 27.8% of total pork production and 24% for muscle cuts only — up from 27.6% and 22.9%, respectively, a year ago. Through February, the percentage of total pork production exported was slightly lower year-over-year at 26.1%, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported edged higher to 22.7%. February export value averaged $56.78 per head slaughtered, up 9% from a year ago. Through February, per-head export value was $53.70, up 5%.… Continue reading

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Will Dean Foods’ Dairy announcement affect the beef cattle industry?

A few weeks ago, Dean Foods announced they were discontinuing milk contracts with 100 or so dairies which included a dozen or so operations in Tennessee. Essentially, the dairies impacted have until the end of May to find a new outlet for their milk or they will be forced to exit the industry due to having no method to market milk. This has brought several questions across my email and through personal communication.

From the beef sector side, this could have an implication on beef markets if all of these dairy operations are forced to sell out. One would imagine these dairy operations would be able to market heifers and some of the young fresh cows. However, there would likely also be a short-term glut of slaughter cows in the region.

From another standpoint, some of these dairies might consider beef cattle production as an alternative. The resources these dairies have could lend itself to backgrounding feeder cattle or a confined beef cattle operation.… Continue reading

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Spring Dairy Expo highlights success, challenges and opportunities

Though dairy prices continue to be serious concern, it did not slow down participants and exhibitors at the 2018 Spring Dairy Expo at the soggy/chilly/sunny/cloudy end of March.

“At the beginning of March, entries were well over 670 head entered with an additional 200-plus sale animals featuring all breeds. We were pleased to see numbers holding steady with some increases in some of the breeds,” said Angi Kaverman, Spring Dairy Expo show manager. “It has not been intolerable weather this year. The rain has not been the best but we’ve at least had decent temperatures. We started our event the morning of March 29 with the youth judging contest and we had 190 youth at the contest, which was an increase from previous years. We feel by moving that to kick off our event we generated a little more traffic flow as well as excitement from being involved.”

The Stark County Senior Team won the Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Contest at the event.… Continue reading

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Milk production of Ohio dairy herds

It is always important to monitor the yield of milk and the composition of milk, especially for the individual farmer, because the income of the dairy farm depends on this source of revenue. The yields of fat and protein are the primary determinants of the price received by farmers. The proportions of fat and protein are useful in monitoring cow health and feeding practices within a farm. The income over feed costs (IOFC) and feed costs per hundred of milk are important monitors of costs of milk production.

The average production of milk, fat, and protein by breed for Ohio dairy herds in 2016 and 2017 using the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI; program are provided in Table 1. Not all herds on DHI are included in the table below because of the different testing options offered by DHI, some herds opt for no release of records, lack of sufficient number of test dates, and given that some of the herds consist of other breeds than the ones shown.… Continue reading

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China announces 25% duty on U.S. pork

China has announced new tariffs on American agricultural exports as retaliation for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

“We regret the Chinese government’s decision to impose an additional 25% duty on imports of U.S. pork and pork variety meat. The United States is a reliable supplier of pork products to China, and this decision will have an immediate impact on U.S. producers and exporters, as well as our customers in China. We are hopeful that the additional duties can be rescinded quickly, so that U.S. pork can again compete on a level playing field with pork from other exporting countries,” said Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO. “Exports have been a key driver of growth in the U.S. pork industry, and with nearly 27% of U.S. pork production exported last year, international trade is critical to the continued success and profitability of the U.S. industry. China is a leading destination for U.S.… Continue reading

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Milk marketing opportunities a topic at Spring Dairy Expo


Though dairy prices continue to be serious concern, it did not slow down participants and exhibitors at the 2018 Spring Dairy Expo this weekend. Dale Minyo caught up Scott Higgins and Jenny Hubble with the American Dairy Association Mideast to get an update on efforts to continue expanding markets.

“It was a little chilly but a good weekend for dairy farmers to be at Spring Dairy Expo,” Hubble said. “There are three days of events and exhibit numbers are up this year.”

The Spring Dairy Expo provides an opportunity for ADA Mideast to update dairy farmers of the work being done to market the continually expanding dairy production in Ohio and around the country.

“We have been working hard to increase demand and trust for dairy foods. We don’t do what we traditionally used to do. We aren’t doing television advertising like we did back in the ‘Got Milk’ days.… Continue reading

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Dairy groups applaud U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) applauded the Trump Administration’s swift and effective negotiation with South Korea regarding the terms and implementation of the U.S.-Korea free trade Agreement (KORUS).

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the two dairy groups expressed appreciation that trade officials were able to secure a result with South Korea that addressed certain dairy industry concerns while preserving the overall agreement.

South Korea is the fourth-largest U.S. dairy export market. Last year, it accounted for over $230 million in U.S. dairy sales. It is also the second-largest cheese market in the world.

“Preserving free trade agreements (FTAs) like this one is essential to strengthening our economy and expanding opportunities for America’s dairy producers and processors,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

With KORUS, the U.S. dairy industry will remain a competitive dairy exporter to South Korea in a world in which most other major dairy exporters have access to the South Korean market through a trade agreement.… Continue reading

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What are you calving priorities?

Calving season is underway to some degree for many producers. If you have not started your calving season, you likely will soon. Calving time is an exciting period for producers as they are seeing the results of their genetic choices and management decisions coming to reality. Warmer weather and green pastures will develop in the coming weeks. The calf crop will grow and develop quickly through the spring and summer months. While this is taking place, the producer will set the 2019 calf crop motion with the onset of the breeding season.

Before the start of this breeding season, I would encourage producers to critically evaluate the production goals for your herd. Do the type of cattle that you produce adequately target your chosen market? If you sell your calves as feeder calves in the fall, your goal should be to sell as many healthy feeder calves with excellent weaning weights as possible.… Continue reading

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Omnibus bill addressed milk labeling concerns

The massive congressional spending bill signed into law last week  expresses Congress’ concern that many plant-based foods and beverages are not properly labeled. It builds on language from the DAIRY PRIDE Act (DPA), a bipartisan bill introduced last year in both chambers of Congress, to compel the Food and Drug Administration to act against misbranded imitations.

Given the existing definition of milk as a product of a dairy animal, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said that Congress’ instructions to FDA in the omnibus bill should restrict the ability of beverages made from plant foods from using the term “milk” on their labels. This will also affect products misusing other dairy food names such as “cheese” and “yogurt” that are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations and cited in the congressional bill.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, expressed appreciation for the support of congressional members in both parties to ensure the spending bill included these and other priority issues of importance to dairy producers.… Continue reading

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Understanding corn protein variability is important for feed rations

Agriculture in general is highly variable due to the fact that living plants and animals are a part of production systems. As such, all parts of the production chain must adjust to the variability accordingly.

With reports of potentially wider than normal variations in corn protein levels in recent years, adjustments may need to be made to livestock feed.

“You’re always going to have variability in ingredients. Every year is different,” said Paul Kalmbach, Jr. with Kalmbach Feeds, Inc. “We deal with it first by performing extensive testing of our ingredients, especially around harvest, and also by formulating diets based on the results. We test many ingredients before we allow them into the plant. The protein testing is done onsite with a Near Infrared Reflectance spectroscopy (NIR) machine and we get results back in less than 10 minutes which allows us to adapt quickly to changes and saves significant cost. We also confirm our results with third party labs which costs more and takes longer.… Continue reading

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The Ohio Pork Council partners with Brookside Laboratories to provide discounted soil and manure samples

The Ohio Pork Council is pleased to announce its partnership with Brookside Laboratories to provide discounted soil and manure samples for all Ohio pig farmers. To help farmers better utilize their resources, Brookside Laboratories has generously offered to provide soil samples for $3 per sample and manure samples for $20 per sample for all Ohio pig farmers.

To qualify for the discount, farmers must complete a survey at

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Ohio’s pork farmers as they work towards continual improvement of water quality and best nutrient management practices,” said Luke Baker, Brookside Laboratories.

Once completed, farmers will be provided an email with further instructions, a unique identifying code and an order form to be submitted with their soil and manure samples. Special soil sample bags and manure containers will be provided though select integrators and county extension offices for farmers to use in this process.… Continue reading

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2018 Ohio Beef Expo Junior Show champions

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) Junior Show was held Sunday, March 18 during the 2018 Ohio Beef Expo at the Ohio Expo Center, Columbus, Ohio. The annual show spotlighted nearly 900 steers and heifers. Mark Johnson, Oklahoma, evaluated the breeding heifers while Amanda Schnoor, California, assessed the market animals. For a complete list of sponsors, visit The champions of the event were as follows:


Breeding Heifers


Grand Champion                                 Addison Jones, Allen County – Champion Angus

Reserve Champion                             Caitlin Schaub, Auglaize County – Champion % Simmental

3rd Overall                                              Paige Pence, Clark County – Reserve Champion Angus

4th Overall                                              Samantha VanVorhis, Wood County – Champion Purebred Simmental

5th Overall                                              Hailee Carter, Holmes County – Champion MaineTainer

6th Overall                                              Kathy Lehman, Richland County – Champion Chianina

7th Overall                                              Karlie Kennedy, Adams County – Champion Crossbred

8th Overall                                              Hanna Schroeder, Putnam County – Champion ShorthornPlus

9th Overall                                              Olivia Wood, Clinton County – Champion Shorthorn

10th Overall                                            Chris Tooms, Muskingum County – Reserve Champion MaineTainer


Champion Angus                                 Addison Jones, Allen County

Reserve Angus                                     Paige Pence, Clark County

Champion Chianina                           Kathy Lehman, Richland County

Reserve Chianina                                Abbie Collins, Preble County


Champion Hereford                            Jenna Phelps, Union County

Reserve Hereford                                Maddox Cupp, Fairfield County


Champion High % Maine-Anjou     Samantha VanVorhis, Wood County

Reserve High % Maine-Anjou         Lori Millenbaugh, Crawford County


Champion MaineTainer                     Hailee Carter, Holmes County

Reserve MaineTainer                         Chris Tooms, Muskingum County


Champion Shorthorn                          Olivia Wood, Clinton County

Reserve Shorthorn                               Caroline Winter, Pickaway County
Champion ShorthornPlus                   Hanna Schroeder, Putnam County
Reserve ShorthornPlus                       Reed Hanes, Mercer County

Champion Purebred Simmental        Samantha VanVorhis, Wood County

Reserve Purebred Simmental            Justin Reed, Sandusky County


Champion % Simmental                    Caitlin Schaub, Auglaize County

Reserve % Simmental                        Reed Hanes, Mercer County


Champion Miniature Hereford         Isaac Wiley, Morrow County

Reserve Miniature Hereford              Andrew Johnson, Preble County


Champion High % AOB                     Hudson Drake, Ross County

Reserve High % AOB                         Brooke Egbert, Auglaize County


Champion Low % AOB                     Morgan Neill, Huron County

Reserve Low % AOB                         Kathy Lehman, Richland County


Champion Crossbred                          Karlie Kennedy, Adams County

Reserve Crossbred                               Kathy Lehman, Richland County


Market Animals


Grand Champion                                 Brooke Egbert, Auglaize County – Champion Crossbred, Division III Champion

Reserve Champion                             Brady Turnes, Perry County – Reserve Champion Crossbred, Division II Champion

3rd Overall                                              3rd Overall                                             Elizabeth Heintz, Auglaize County – Third Overall Crossbred, Division II Reserve Champion

4th Overall                                              4th Overall                                             Elizabeth Heintz, Auglaize County – Champion Chianina

5th Overall                                              5th Overall                                             Micayla McClure, Hamilton County – Champion Maine-Anjou

6th Overall                                              6th Overall                                             Addie Shaffer, Lake County – Fourth Overall Crossbred, Division III Reserve Champion

7th Overall                                              7th Overall                                             Kassidy Thompson, Miami County – Champion ShorthornPlus

8th Overall8th Over                              8th Overall                                             Fox Morgan, Perry County – Fifth Overall Crossbred, Division I Champion

9th Overall                                              9th Overall                                             Hudson Drake, Ross County – Reserve Chianina

10th Overall                                            10th Overall                                           Harrison Blay, Portage County – Reserve Maine-Anjou


Champion Angus                                 Carly Sanders, Highland County

Reserve Angus                                     Avery Wood, Clinton County


Champion Chianina                           Elizabeth Heintz, Auglaize County

Reserve Chianina                                Hudson Drake, Ross County


Champion Hereford                            Ross Michael, Montgomery County

Reserve Hereford                                Ashton Bain, Highland County


Champion Maine-Anjou                    Micayla McClure, Hamilton County

Reserve Maine-Anjou                        Harrison Blay, Portage County


Champion Shorthorn                          Abigail Thornton, Fairfield County

Reserve Shorthorn                               Taylor Muhlenkamp, Mercer County


Champion ShorthornPlus                   Kassidy Thompson, Miami County

Reserve ShorthornPlus                       Delaney Chester, Warren County


Champion Simmental                        Carter McCauley, Guernsey County

Reserve Simmental                             Grant Belleville, Wood County


Champion Miniature Hereford         Noah Smith, Sandusky County

Reserve Champion Miniature           Seamus Bly, Lake County


Champion AOB                                   Sydney Sanders, Highland County

Reserve AOB                                        Wally Minges, Butler County


Champion Market Heifer                   Josh Champer, Madison County

Reserve Market Heifer                       Payton Freed, Muskingum County


Champion Division I Crossbred       Fox Morgan, Perry County

Reserve Division I Crossbred            Hayden Belleville, Wood County


Champion Division II Crossbred      Brady Turnes, Perry County

Reserve Division II Crossbred          Elizabeth Heintz, Auglaize County


Champion Division III Crossbred    Brooke Egbert, Auglaize County

Reserve Division III Crossbred        Addie Shaffer, Lake County


Champion Division IV Crossbred    Amelia Willis, Pike County

Reserve Division IV Crossbred        Kade Gowitzka, Richland County


Champion Division V Crossbred      Samantha Augustine, Ashland County

Reserve Division V Crossbred          Adam Kinsman, Fulton County


Champion Crossbred                          Brooke Egbert, Auglaize County – Division III Champion

Reserve Crossbred                               Brady Turnes, Perry County – Divsion II Champion

3rd Overall Crossbred                           Elizabeth Heintz, Auglaize County – Division II Reserve Champion

4th Overall Crossbred                           Addie Shaffer, Lake County – Division III Reserve Champion

5th Overall Crossbred                           Fox Morgan, Perry County – Division I Champion

 … Continue reading

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