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Mature buck harvest on the rise

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

I hosted Kip Adams of the National Deer Association on Buckeye Sportsman earlier this month, and the organization’s Chief Conservation Officer had some interesting information to share. According to the organization’s 2021 Deer Report, hunters in the United States took more adult and mature bucks in the 2019-20 hunting season than ever reported, based on a near-record buck harvest of 2.9 million and a record 39% of those bucks estimated to be 3.5 years or older. 

“Hunters now shoot far more bucks that are at least 3.5 years old than 1.5 years,” said Adams, adding “This is very different from hunting seasons a decade or two ago.”

He explained that the steadily climbing percentage of 3.5-and-older bucks in the harvest is the result of steadily declining pressure nationwide on yearling bucks (1.5 years old). Only 28% of the 2019 antlered buck harvest was yearlings, the lowest rate ever reported.… Continue reading

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Growing the future of agriculture through Give FFA Day

Individuals in Ohio and across the country will make a difference in the lives of thousands of FFA members by participating in Give FFA Day during National FFA Week.
Ohio’s FFA community will have an opportunity to step up and support FFA and agricultural education through Give FFA Day on Thursday, Feb. 25. Funds raised will support various statewide programming including student award programs, the recruitment and retention of current and future agricultural educators, Ohio FFA Camp, the Ohio FFA officer team program and general activities and initiatives. Donors are able to designate their gift to whichever area matters to them most.
In addition, Sunrise Cooperative, an agricultural and energy cooperative located in Ohio, will match gifts, up to $25,000 total, to the Ohio FFA Foundation to help funds raised make twice the impact. For more than 90 years, the organization has strived to make a difference in students’ lives through agricultural education.… Continue reading

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Vilsack confirmed as Secretary of Ag


On Feb. 23 Tom Vilsack was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of Agriculture in a 92-7 vote. The confirmation demonstrated strong bipartisan support for President Joe Biden’s pick for the position. Vilsack previously held the position for eight years under President Barack Obama.

The news was welcomed by agricultural organizations ready to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture moving forward. 

“AFBF congratulates Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture. His strong track record of leadership and previous experience at USDA will serve rural America well,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Secretary Vilsack and I have spoken several times in recent weeks about opportunities and challenges facing America’s farmers and ranchers, and I look forward to close collaboration. We have a lot of work to do as we overcome obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must commit to resuming CARES Act programs and continue to build on advances made in trade.… Continue reading

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Digging into soil compaction

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Soil compaction is a problem that almost every farm has, and no one likes to admit. Soil compaction is simply reduced porosity from a reduction of void spaces in the soil.

“Voids in the soil are caused by roots and by the seasonal freeze/thaw cycle,” said Scott Shearer, professor and Chair of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University. “Ideal soils have 50% void space. Half of the void space should hold water, and half should be air space. Compacted soils lack these voids. If we don’t have that mix, that is when we see a negative impact to crop yield.”

Soil compaction can be caused by adverse weather conditions and heavy equipment. Operating smaller equipment and operating in dryer soil conditions reduces the chance of causing compaction.

“Compacted soils impact root growth.… Continue reading

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Conference to discuss progress on NW Ohio water quality efforts

In 20 counties across northwest Ohio, a team of water quality specialists is working with farmers to evaluate practices that promote soil health and reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering waterways.

Part of the team’s work involves running field trials to determine the effects of applying varied rates of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium fertilizers to cropland. Extensive soil testing has been done on fields to see the how planting cover crops and minimally tilling the land affects soil health. And new water quality monitoring stations have been set up to show trends in nutrient runoff rates.

Farmers in northwest Ohio have been cooperative, said Heather Raymond, director of the Water Quality Initiative launched by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“Overall, there’s a desire to help,” Raymond said. “Farmers just want to make sure they’re not spending their money on something that doesn’t work.… Continue reading

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Agriculture Climate Alliance gaining momentum

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the increasing momentum behind an alliance co-founded by AFBF, the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, announced in a FACA news release.  

“We are encouraged that leaders in both the House and Senate are requesting more detailed guidance to achieve FACA’s climate goals and recommendations. It’s important that any new climate policies respect the people who will be impacted the most — farmers and ranchers. FACA’s 40-plus proposals demonstrate farmers and ranchers must be treated as partners as we work together to build on the impressive advances already achieved toward climate-smart farming.”

“We also welcome the 34 new members of FACA who represent farmers, agribusinesses, state governments and environmental advocates. The growth of alliance members from a wide range of industries shows we are on the right path toward protecting the environment while ensuring farmers and ranchers can continue growing healthy, affordable food for America’s families.” … Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast |Ep. 193 | National FFA Week 2021!

Happy National FFA Week everyone! This week Matt and Dusty hose with guest, Allison Engel, Ohio FFA State Treasurer. Allison talks about what’s in store of the week and what to expect from Ohio FFA! Featured audio this week includes two interviews from Dale at the Ohio Pork Council with Bryan Humphryes and Cheryl Day. Matt has audio with Megan Howard from Meyer Hatchery. And Madi Kregel has audio with Joe Helterbrand, Ohio FFA State Secretary. … Continue reading

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Hog industry update from Pork Congress

By Matt Reese

Like any other year, award winners were recognized, educational seminars were attended and industry networking took place at the 2021 Ohio Pork Congress — in person. It was a daunting task, but the Ohio Pork Council successfully hosted an in-person event in this month. 

Attendance was limited and there was an online component to the event as well, but Ohio pork industry leaders were very glad to have the chance to gather to learn from experts and each other. 

“It has been a challenge over the last couple of months. We didn’t know if we’d be able to have Pork Congress this year. We have been fortunate with masks and social distance in place that we have been able to get together as a pork industry,” said Ryan McClure, Ohio Pork Council president. “We are one of three states in the U.S this year that actually had a trade show.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance and farm bill decision

By Chris Bruynis, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

The 2021 decision for making the crop insurance and farm bill decisions is all about risk management. With the recent increased crop prices and the volatility in the markets, crop insurance is expected to increase by about 50% to 60% this year compared to last year. So, with crop insurance more expensive and the choice between Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) unclear, the strategy to protect risk exposure becomes more interesting. In this article different strategies are outlined looking at ARC/PLC with Revenue Protection (RP), Supplemental Crop Option (SCO) and Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO).

To illustrate the different decisions several corn scenarios from an example farm in Clermont County Ohio will be used for this article. Here is some background information pertinent to the examples.

  • Revenue Protection pays against the actual farm revenue using either the December futures for the month of February or the higher of the spring price or the harvest price depending on the product selected.
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Ohio legislation moving forward

By Peggy Kirk Hall, OSU Ag and Resource Law Program (

The Ohio General Assembly is off and running in its new session. Many bills that affect agriculture in Ohio are already on the move. Here’s a summary of those that are gaining the most momentum or attention.

Tax Conformity Bill – S.B. 18 and H.B. 48 

The Senate has already passed its version of this bill, which conforms our state tax code with recent changes to the Internal Revenue Code made in the latest COVID-19 stimulus provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.  Both the Senate and the House will also exempt forgiven Paycheck Protection Program second-draw loan proceeds from the Commercial Activity Tax.  The Senate version additionally exempts Bureau of Workers Compensation dividend rebates from the Commercial Activity Tax beginning in 2020, but the House bill does not.  Both bills include “emergency” language that would make the provisions effective in time for 2020 tax returns.… Continue reading

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Chick shipping catastrophe

By Matt Reese

Winter’s wrath is plaguing much of the country, causing shipping headaches nationwide and a first-ever challenge for Meyer Hatchery in Ashland County for delivering newborn chicks or “lives” throughout the country.

“Basically the U.S. Postal Service put an embargo on air shipments for ‘lives’ last week that basically made it so we couldn’t ship orders for this week. USPS is the only carrier for ‘lives’ and birds have to be shipped in 72 hours or they are not viable any more. The Postal Service ended up extending it to the end of next week, which makes 2 weeks in a row where we are unable to ship anything,” said Meghan Howard with Meyer Hatchery. “I understand why they did it this week. There were double-digit negative temperatures in a huge part of the country and we had hundreds of thousands of people without power. There was ice and devastation in Texas, so we understand.… Continue reading

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Virtual 2021 Commodity Classic coming in early March

With his pending return to the position of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack may also be returning to Commodity Classic as the keynote speaker during one of its 2021 General Sessions.

Commodity Classic has extended an official invitation to Secretary-nominee Vilsack to speak with attendees during the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic during the Closing General Session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Central on Friday, March 5.  

Vilsack has spoken at several Commodity Classic events over the years while he served with USDA under the Obama Administration. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Commodity Classic is being delivered digitally online March 2 to March 5, 2021. 

Registration for the 2021 Special Edition is available at Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, the first 5,000 farmers who register can do so at no charge. All other attendees can register for $20. Registration includes access to the entire week’s program as well as access to archived sessions through April 30, 2021.… Continue reading

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Bring the outside up

By Matt Reese

We knew going into this basketball season that it was going to be a tough year for my daughter’s 7th grade team. They were stepping up in the level of competition in their league and the wins were not going to come as easily as they had the previous season, if they came at all. 

There were a handful of wins, but also some losses by substantive margins. As a former coach and dad watching from the stands, I couldn’t help but notice a trend develop as the season of tough losses played out. Our girls would play well for a quarter or so, then start to make a few mistakes. A few errant passes in a row would lead to sudden panic, which would lead to more mistakes, a run from the opposition and, within a few moments, the whole team would collectively lose hope and fall far behind.… Continue reading

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Summary of multi-state research on soybean planting

By Laura Lindsey, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2021-04, Ohio State University Extension

With funding from the United Soybean Board, soybean agronomists across the U.S. came together to summarize soybean row width, planting date, and seeding rate research trials. (Ohio-specific research trials were funded by Ohio Soybean Council.) Here’s what we found:

Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension Soybean and Small Grains specialist


Row width Soybean row width varies across the U.S. In Ohio, most farmers plant soybean in 7.5-, 15-, or 30-inch row widths. Across the U.S., narrow rows (7- to 15-inch) out-yielded wide rows (≥ 30 inches) 69% of the time. Narrow rows tend to out-yield wide rows due to earlier canopy closure which facilitates light interception and drives photosynthesis. For the full report on row spacing:

Planting date 

The date of planting has more effect on soybean grain yield than any other production practice. In many instances, this means planting soybean as early as field conditions allow, but generally at or after the Risk Management Agency (RMA) replant crop insurance dates begin.… Continue reading

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Ohio House moves forward on broadband

The Ohio House passed HB 2 on Feb. 18, sponsored by Representatives Carfanga (R-Genoa Twp.) and Stewart (R-Ashville). The bill creates the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, allowing internet service providers to apply for grants that will help fund the infrastructure needed to provide faster internet access to underserved rural Ohio communities. HB 2 was amended to increase funding to $210 million and to add an emergency clause, putting it in effect immediately.

“Broadband is a necessity that much of rural Ohio does not have access to, which has hurt economic development, education, and public health in those areas,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “HB 2 is an important beginning step to address the funding needed for additional broadband infrastructure in rural Ohio. We certainly appreciate the dramatic increase in funding to connect all Ohioans to reliable high-speed internet which will allow our farmers to use more precision agriculture practices for water quality and sustainability and will give all of rural Ohio access to telehealth services.”… Continue reading

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Josie and the stud

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Early in my veterinary career I became board-certified in the specialty of theriogenology. The study of reproduction in domestic animals, theriogenology is roughly the veterinary medicine equivalent of obstetrics and gynecology in human medicine. 

            One example of my expanded practice is the breeding soundness exam for male animals. This test determines whether a male — in the case of this story, a stallion — has what it takes to stand at stud. Customers of stud farms pay significant fees to have their mares serviced, so they’d like to know that there’s a decent chance they will earn a spindly-legged foal as a return on their investment.

One of my clients, J.D., whom I had known since Judy and I set up practice, was fascinated with horses. He kept four Quarter horse mares at his small farm. J.D. was married to Josie, a city gal who taught kindergarten and knew nothing about livestock.… Continue reading

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Broiler production able to move forward after lengthy court battle

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

This past December, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that affirmed the trial court and enabled Randy Essink to raise broilers for Lincoln Premium Poultry (LPP) who provides processed chickens to Costco. The decision hinged on a jurisdictional issue: standing. 

            Standing (locus standi) is the capacity of a party to bring suit in court. A state’s statutes will determine what constitutes standing in that particular state’s courts. These typically revolve around the requirement that plaintiffs have sustained or will sustain direct injury or harm and that this harm is redressable.

            At the federal level, legal actions cannot be brought simply on the ground that an individual or group is displeased with a government action or law. Federal courts only have constitutional authority, under Article III of the US Constitution, to resolve actual disputes.

            In 1992, the Supreme Court created a three-part test to determine whether a party has standing to sue: (1) The plaintiff must have suffered an “injury in fact,” meaning that the injury is of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent; (2) There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct brought before the court; and (3) It must be likely, rather than speculative, that a favorable decision by the court will redress the injury.… Continue reading

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Communicating about stress with youth: Knowing when to ask for help

It has been a tough, stressful few years for the farming, and our youth are not immune to the stressors affecting their families. Living through a pandemic has also changed the way our youth our being asked to live, adding many unknowns to their lives.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio State University Extension want to reach out to our FFA members and their families to get the conversation started about how stress affects how we live, love, laugh, and play and offer available resources for mental wellness. Jami Dellifield, a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator and an experienced mental health educator, and Katie Boyer, a communications specialist, designed a 40- to 80-minute program for youth and would welcome the opportunity to present it to FFA chapters (during the school day or for an evening event).

The discussion-based presentation will cover:

  • Identifying signs and symptoms of stress  
  • How to speak to a friend or family member 
  • Resources available for help.
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Resource kit available for those exploring meat processing business

A team of Ohio State business and meat science specialists have compiled a Meat Processing Business Tool Kit for people who are exploring the meat processing business. Designed as a decision-making aid for people exploring investing in or expanding a meat processing facility, this online tool kit can help entrepreneurs evaluate the business and navigate business planning. The Meat Processing Business Tool Kit is available in the Business section at the OSU South Centers webpage and at the OSU Extension Meat Science webpage. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers saw shortages of meat in large supermarkets caused by disruptions in large packing plant operations. 

“As a result, consumers started shopping at smaller, local meat shops, that didn’t have shortages of meat,” said Lynn Knipe, PhD, associate professor of food science and technology at Ohio State who worked with the team to develop the meat processing business tool kit. “This, in turn, increased business for the smaller meat processors to a point that people who were used to taking animals to their local slaughterhouse, had to schedule their animals much farther out than normal.” … Continue reading

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Soy farmers seek to protect phosphate choices

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has filed joint comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) regarding a petition by the Mosaic Company to enforce countervailing duties on Russian and Moroccan imports of phosphate fertilizer.

“We believe countervailing duties on these imports will have a negative impact on the availability of phosphate fertilizer in the United States and, in turn, adversely affect crop production and farmer livelihoods,” said Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota.

Phosphorus is one of several main macronutrients necessary for plant growth and is vital to crop production. Adequate levels of phosphorus in the soil benefit early season root development and help provide the energy crops need to maximize growth and production. Phosphate fertilizers are widely used by soybean, corn, cotton and other crop producers throughout the United States.

Mosaic’s petition in support of countervailing duties is not in the best interest of a healthy U.S.… Continue reading

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