New look for dairy farmers online

To kick off the new year, the American Dairy Association Mideast (ADA Mideast), which represents Ohio and West Virginia dairy farmers, recently launched a new website — — to answer consumers’ questions about all things related to  milk and dairy foods. On the site, consumers can meet Ohio and West Virginia dairy farmers, learn about cow care and milk safety, get delicious recipe ideas, and understand more about the health benefits of dairy foods.

“Milk and dairy foods play a critical role in a nutrient-rich diet, and Ohio and West Virginia dairy farmers have a great story to tell,” said Scott Higgins, president and CEO of ADA Mideast. “As more and more consumers become generations removed from the farm, we understand the importance of telling that story and showing individuals where their food comes from and the farmers who provide wholesome, nutritious milk and dairy foods.”

The new features more robust content categorized in four easy-to-navigate sections focusing on farms, foods, health and schools.… Continue reading

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Project enrollment for 4-H and FFA members and showing animals at the Ohio State Fair

Heading into the 2016 show season, exhibitors need to be aware that in order to be eligible to show livestock at the Ohio State Fair, they need to be enrolled in the project regardless of whether the project is offered at their county fair.

“For example, they can’t show a breeding gilt at the State Fair if they are not enrolled in a breeding gilt project in their county, regardless if that county offers breeding gilt classes at the county fair. You can show at the State Fair if your county does not offer a certain class, but you have to be enrolled in the project,” said Lucinda Miller, Extension Specialist for the 4-H Youth Development Companion and Small Animal Programs.  “We have had some questions already this year about youth wanting to take market heifer projects as breeding heifers if they don’t work out as a market project or vice versa.… Continue reading

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More avian influenza cases in Indiana

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) is reporting several additional sites with avian influenza in Indiana.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the pathogenicity of eight of the nine H7N8 avian influenza detections announced on Jan. 16. The turkey flocks have been confirmed as low pathogenic avian influenza, with additional testing ongoing for the ninth flock.

These Jan. 16 detections were identified as part of surveillance testing in the control area surrounding the initial highly pathogenic H7N8 avian influenza (HPAI) case in that state, identified on Jan. 15.

Sam Custer, with Ohio State University in Darke County, is watching the situation closely on Ohio’s border with Indiana in the heart of Ohio’s poultry industry.

“This virus is different from last year virus and it is of North American lineage,” Custer said. “This particular combination is uncommon but is not unheard of. Only partial sequences have been obtained and the full sequence of the virus necessary for a better understanding of its origin will be obtained sometime this week.… Continue reading

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Ohio Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Conference Feb. 19

The Ohio Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Conference will be held February 19, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg. The program theme is “Fitting the Pieces Together in a Forage System.” The keynote speaker will be Dr. Stacey Hamilton, University of Missouri Extension State Dairy Specialist, who will discuss “Balancing risk and rewards of annual and perennial pastures” as well as “What we are learning about irrigating pastures,” based on his work with grass-based dairies in Missouri. Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, will speak on what he has learned from his on-farm research with “N-Inhibitors for grass production.” A highlight of the program is always the Producer Panel, and that tradition will continue with several producers highlighting their forage, dairy, sheep, and beef production systems.

Details of the program and a registration form will be available at or to go directly to the program go to reading

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Avian influenza found in Indiana

Today USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that avian influenza, which devastated poultry operations around the country in 2015, was discovered on an Indiana farm.

“Unfortunately we have had a reemergence of avian influenza in a facility in Indiana. We found out about it yesterday. We sent the lab sample and basically confirmed it as the North American variety. We are sending an emergency response team to the farm in question and we will begin the process of depopulation quickly,” he said. “We want to encourage folks to be ever vigilant on the biosecurity of their operations. We are hopeful to contain this as best we can. We were aware this could happen. We were hopeful that it wouldn’t. We want to be as responsive as we possibly can.”

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7N8 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana. … Continue reading

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Dairy industry voices pros and cons to TPP in front of U.S. International Trade Commission

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) continued to play an active role in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement process, as USDEC President Tom Suber testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) representing the U.S. dairy industry.

USITC held three days of hearings to gather information for an economic analysis of TPP as mandated by Trade Promotion Authority legislation. That analysis includes the pact’s impact on specific business sectors, such as agriculture. Suber, following detailed written comments to USITC submitted jointly by USDEC and NMPF in December, sought to outline issues and concerns of the U.S. dairy business.

“USDEC, working with NMPF and other organizations in the dairy industry, is still completing its overall analysis of TPP,” Suber said. “The deal falls short in providing the degree of market access we had been seeking, but it also avoids a disproportionate opening of the U.S.… Continue reading

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Return of poultry in 2016 and other changes for fair exhibitors

It was another successful fair season in 2015, despite the lack of live birds at the shows due to a ban based on concerns about avian influenza. Some fairs are even considering keeping the poultry show fill-in events and activities now that the poultry show ban has been lifted.

One of the featured speakers at the recent Ohio Fair Managers Convention was State Veterinarian Tony Forshey who talked about the learning opportunities for poultry exhibitors at 2015 fairs.

“Without the poultry last year, they implemented some really creative things that helped the exhibitors learn about poultry. I got a lot of calls from county fair boards saying that they really had a good time at the fair,” Forshey said. “Paulding County, for example, had poultry jeopardy. They are going to continue some of those things along with the poultry shows this year.”

Forshey also talked about some rule changes for showing livestock at 2016 fairs.… Continue reading

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South Africa partially lifts ban on U.S. pork

The Obama administration announced that South Africa will open its market to U.S. pork, a move praised by the National Pork Producers Council, which has been working for a number of years with the governments in the United States and in Pretoria to lift a de facto ban on U.S. pork.

NPPC has not yet seen the fine print of the agreement but understands that some restrictions may remain.

“While dropping the ban on U.S. pork is great progress,” said Dr. Ron Prestage, NPPC President and  a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C., “there is no scientific reason to restrict any of our pork, so we’ll continue to work with both governments to get complete access to the South African market.”

South Africa’s de facto ban on U.S. pork ostensibly was to prevent the spread of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) to South African livestock even though the risk of disease transmission from U.S.… Continue reading

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Ohio Pork Council seeking intern

The Ohio Pork Council is actively seeking candidates to apply for the 2016 OPC Summer Internship Program. The ideal candidate should be a college student majoring in the field of agriculture, communications, education, marketing or journalism; preferably going into their junior or senior year. Knowledge of swine and modern agriculture is useful, but not required.

While the focus of the program is highly communications based, the selected intern will also work in the areas of member services, event planning and program support. Applications, in the form of a cover letter and resume, must be submitted to the Ohio Pork Council by February 1, 2016.

Additional information on the 2015 Ohio Pork Council Summer Internship Program can be found online at, or by contacting Quinton Keeran at 614-882-5887 or… Continue reading

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OCA accepting bull consignments for Seedstock Improvement Sale

The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association is currently accepting bull consignments to the Seedstock Improvement Sale. The sale will be held April 9 at noon at the Union Stock Yards Company in Hillsboro, Ohio. This event offers an affordable way to market bulls from multiple breeds in one location and on one day. Buyers have the assurance of buying bulls with known genetics, a completed vaccination regimen and a breeding soundness exam.

The Seedstock Improvement Sale is open to consignments from all breeds. Consignors must be a current member of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association to participate. Bulls are required to be registered and to have expected progeny differences (EPDs). The bulls will be placed in sale order based on a within breed evaluation star system using EPDs for birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, milk, marbling and ribeye. Bulls consigned to the sale can be one to five years of age. History of the sale shows that bulls 18 months of age and older command a higher price.… Continue reading

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Bumgarner excited for new role at UPI

A conversation with…

Mike Bumgarner, Chief Operating Officer of United Producers Inc.


OCJ: At the start of 2016 you moved into a new role with UPI. How will you tackle your new responsibilities and how has the transition been from COO to CEO?

Mike: Fortunately, I’ve been able to transition into this role over time because our board made the decision about succession fairy early in the year. So, that means I will be hitting the ground running. Obviously, there will be things associated with being the CEO that will be different from my role as COO, but there won’t be a learning curve about the cooperative and meeting our members expectations — that is something that has been ingrained in my way of doing business since day one with UPI — and one that was reinforced when I was with the Farm Bureau. The transition has been extremely smooth and well planned out.… Continue reading

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Hypocrisy is all around us

Hypocrisy can be defined as the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. In other words, a hypocrite says one thing and does another. I’m sure all of you reading this article can think of examples of hypocrisy in our everyday lives. I will offer a few examples that tend to hit a nerve with me.

Hypocrisy in society

1. The general public complains frequently and loudly about legislation and other policies enacted by local, state, and national government. However, when given the chance to express their opinions about politicians and issues, the general public typically shows up to vote in low numbers.

2. The national restaurant chain Chipotle proudly promises that they source their food ingredients from farms rather than factories and try to source responsibly raised meats and produce for the benefit of their customers. Unfortunately, these lofty goals have not extended to food safety as they’ve failed to prevent dozens of customers from experiencing food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses.… Continue reading

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Ohioan wins CME Beef Industry scholarship

Ten top-notch college students, who are pursuing careers in the beef industry, have been chosen for the 2016 – 2017 $1,500 CME Beef Industry Scholarships, including Sierra Jepsen, Ohio State University, from Amanda, Ohio.

The scholarship is sponsored by the CME Group and administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF).
“NCF has been a critical partner in advancing education to future beef industry leaders through these scholarships,” said Tim Andriesen, CME Group Managing Director of Agricultural Products. “We’re pleased to partner with NCF once again this year to invest in students who represent the next generation of our nation’s food producers.”

The CME Beef Industry Scholarship was introduced in 1989 in partnership with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Today this scholarship tradition remains strong by recognizing and encouraging talented college students who will one day be industry leaders.  

“We cannot emphasize enough how grateful we are for the continuous support from CME for Beef Industry Scholarships to provide financial assistance for future beef leaders,” said John Lacey, Chair NCF Board of Trustees.… Continue reading

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Cattle producers getting a market rally for Christmas

You might have seen a picture floating around the internet with a cattle producer asking Santa for market prices to make a comeback this year and it looks as though jolly old St. Nick might have come through.

According to USDA’s cattle-on-feed numbers last week, there was an 11% drop on cattle placement numbers compared to a year ago. That has provided some support in the cattle markets this week but the reason for the decline may make the new numbers deceiving.

“These figures may imply that some cattle may have simply stayed out of feedlots and remained on grass or winter wheat pastures,” said Shayle Shagam, USDA livestock analyst. “Those cattle may be coming in to feedlots later which will put the pressure back on the more distance contracts.”

The livestock markets have been put through the wringer lately and fed steers have recently averaged about $116 per hundredweight.

“That, of course, causes very significant losses for cattle feeders,” Shagam said.… Continue reading

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Is 2016 the year of the marketer and risk manager?

A year ago I suggested that 2015 might just turn out to be “The year of the grass manager?!” For those who had grass to manage, and converted it to lean muscle in the form of beef or perhaps lamb, indeed it has been a profitable year . . . especially for cattlemen who sold early! Will 2016 become the year of the marketer and risk manager?

Despite the plunge in prices during the past few months, margins, particularly for those who utilize grass as the basis of their feeding program, remain good. Consider the comments offered by University of Tennessee economist Dr. Andrew P. Griffith in his weekly comments:

. . . Prices are still higher than they were the first week of December 2013! Making that statement may seem like a stretch to some producers, but in the fall of 2013 producers considered calf and feeder cattle prices to be extremely strong.Continue reading

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Animal ag issues take center stage at Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

Ohio sheep producers recently came together in Wooster for the 2015 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium. Attendees came away from the meeting with industry updates on state and national issues.

“We had an excellent day and had a lot of very positive comments about it. We had over 200 sheep producers here that got to hear a variety of topics,” said Roger High, executive director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, the organization in charge of the event. “It was just a very diverse day and I think everybody enjoyed it.

“Not only have I said over the years that these type of programs are good from an education standpoint, but they’re good from the social aspect of the industry for sheep producers to get together and visit and learn from one another. They not only learn from the speakers that we have, but also learn from what other people are doing on their farms — what’s successful not successful — and it’s one of the largest sheep social events in the state as well.”… Continue reading

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Poultry show ban lifted

With no confirmed cases in Ohio and no immediate threat of a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (avian flu) outbreak, Ohio Agriculture Director David T. Daniels and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey today rescinded the order prohibiting bird shows in Ohio. Officials urge poultry and bird owners, however, to remain vigilant and cautious in order to protect the health of their flocks during migration seasons. Please see the department’s fact sheet on precautions that can be done to prevent the spread of avian flu.

The order, issued on June 2, 2015, was originally intended to remain in place until April 2016. The ban included county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair, and all other gatherings of birds for show or for sale, including auctions and swap meets. Throughout the nationwide outbreak, the department worked closely with Ohio’s poultry producers and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to provide training and to closely monitor the health of poultry in the state.… Continue reading

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An off-farm perspective brings on-farm success for 2015 Master Shepherd

It isn’t very often that a successful farm story begins off of the farm, but for the 2015 Charles Boyles Master Shepherd of the Year, it does.

Cynthia Koonce of Blue Heron Farm in Lisbon began with a small flock in Maryland with no agriculture background to speak of and eventually moved her operation of 35 sheep to the rugged terrain in the northeast part of the Buckeye State in Columbiana County.

“We bought this place 25 years ago,” Koonce said. “It was my dream farm with 225 acres on a lake.”

Blue Heron Farm now has 350 ewes, including replacements and the farm is mainly used for lamb production.

“I pride myself on my lamb,” Koonce said. “I think we produce the best carcass in the state.”

Getting to that level of production didn’t just happen. Koonce has taken many opportunities to educate herself on the industry trends and is always willing to learn something new to make her farm better.… Continue reading

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Preparing for winter with pastured poultry

Producers who raise pastured poultry and want to maintain egg production this winter should keep their birds as warm and dry as possible, according to experts from the Purdue University College of Agriculture.

A good first step is to provide indoor accommodations for the flock.

“Producers should insulate housing, provide heat, make sure water is kept unfrozen and keep hens inside on extremely cold days to avoid frostbitten combs and wattles,” said Patricia Hester, professor of animal sciences.

Providing shelter has a number of benefits, said Delaware County Extension educator Michael O’Donnell, a pastured poultry producer.

“The most important thing for laying birds when it’s cold out is to have an area where the birds can get out of the elements so they can get to dry bedding, be able to roost up and not have a draft running through their area,” he said.

A small coop, shed or barn are housing options that allow birds to get out of the elements and provide space for them to move around, Hester said.… Continue reading

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PRRS resistance discovered in hogs

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1987. Pigs that contract the disease have extreme difficulty reproducing, don’t gain weight and have a high mortality rate. To date, no vaccine has been effective, and the disease costs North American farmers more than $660 million annually. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Missouri, Kansas State University, and Genus plc have bred pigs that are not harmed by the disease.

“Once inside the pigs, PRRS needs some help to spread; it gets that help from a protein called CD163,” said Randall Prather, distinguished professor of animal sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “We were able to breed a litter of pigs that do not produce this protein, and as a result, the virus doesn’t spread. When we exposed the pigs to PRRS, they did not get sick and continued to gain weight normally.”… Continue reading

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