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New, free mobile app helps farmers protect Ohio’s waterways

This fall, the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) announced the launch of its mobile app to enroll farmers in its new certification program. 

“OACI was created to bring together new partnerships to create a certification program that’s valuable to farmers and protects Ohio’s water quality,” said Kris Swartz, northwest Ohio farmer and OACI chair. “Enrolling only takes a few minutes and the mobile app makes it easy for farmers to enroll when it is most convenient for them. After enrolling, farmers will be part of the OACI Certification Program and will be eligible to become certified in 2021.”

The OACI Certification Program will allow farmers to voluntarily self-report information about their farm’s soil testing, nutrient application, nutrient placement, on-field management and structural practices, with the number of acres in each category. Participants will be given a score for each category and an aggregated overall score to determine their certification level. Enrollment is the first step in engaging with the OACI certification program and takes just minutes to complete.… Continue reading

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The most used crop insurance product

By Gary SchnitkeyNick Paulson, and Krista Swanson, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at University of Illinois and Carl Zulauf, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University

There has been a great deal of innovation in the crop insurance industry since the early 1990s. New products have been introduced, subsidy rates have been increased, and farmers have increased crop insurance use. We summarize trends in crop insurance use for corn, soybeans, and wheat in Illinois with a focus on the multi-peril products that are Federally subsidized and administered through the Risk Management Agency (RMA). In Illinois, over 85% of the corn and soybean acres are insured in recent years. The most popular product is Revenue Protection (RP), a revenue product with a guarantee increase.

Crop Insurance Plans Available for Multi-peril Coverage

In 2011, RMA introduced the COMBO product, which consolidated predecessor plans for providing crop insurance based on farm yields.… Continue reading

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Fennig Equipment adds location

Fennig Equipment’s main location is just outside of Coldwater and has added a second location in Norwalk, Ohio.

The Norwalk location is managed by Seth Reisinger and his wife Tammy. Seth came to Fennig Equipment after working seven years in sales at a tractor dealership where he sold the Salford line of equipment as well as tractors and hay equipment. Prior to working for the dealership, Seth managed a fuel bulk plant that served a large farm community. Seth has farmed with his father for most of his life. Tammy graduated college with a degree in accounting. She worked in the accounting field for eleven years. The last six years she worked at a tractor dealership as the Service Writer and eventually moved up to Service Manager. Fennig Equipment is very excited to have the two of them join our team at the Norwalk location.

Fennig Equipment is known for delivering exceptional customer service our customers can rely on based on in-depth product knowledge and hands-on experience.… Continue reading

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New year, new business?

By Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA, Partner at Holbrook & Manter, CPAs

Does the approaching new year have you thinking of starting a new business? New businesses with impressive, innovative ideas and products enter the marketplace all the time, but they are often short-lived and end up closing their physical or digital doors. According to the SBA (The U. S. Small Business Administration), almost 80% of new businesses started will survive their first year. That sounds wonderful until you research further and find that only about half of new businesses survive for 5 years, and only about one-third last 10 years or more. Those numbers can seem daunting when considering whether or not to start a new business.

There are several reasons why new businesses fail — failure to research the market, business plan problems, not enough capital, etc. To lessen the risk of closing prematurely, there are several steps that a potential new business owner can take.… Continue reading

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Agricultural plastic in the U.S. and China: A blessing or a curse?

By Karen Mancl

Surprisingly, 90% of the world’s plastic greenhouses are in China, covering 8 million acres, about the area of Maryland. Using greenhouses doubles yield and extends the growing season, so farmers are able to produce more food on less land. The thick plastic greenhouse sheeting, however, does not work forever. Long exposure to UV light starts to break down the plastic. After 3 years it needs to be replaced. So, what happens to all that waste? 

In addition, agricultural plastic mulch use started in the 1980s. China is the world’s largest user of plastic film mulch as well. Current use in China is over 2 million tons of plastic covering 77,200 square miles, like covering every inch of Nebraska with plastic mulch. The mulch blocks weed growth, reducing the need for herbicides and protecting the soil from erosion. The plastic also helps warm the soil and conserve water. The benefits of plastic mulch are significant, increasing yield and water use efficiency by about 25%, and benefitting farming in areas that would otherwise be too dry or cold to grow food.… Continue reading

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Dec. 11 deadline for 2021 dairy safety-net enrollment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds dairy producers that the deadline to enroll in Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) for calendar year 2021 is Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened DMC signup in October to help producers manage economic risk brought on by milk price and feed cost disparities.

“2020 has been a challenging year for agricultural producers, and we don’t know yet what the next year will bring,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator. “Dairy producers should definitely consider coverage for 2021 as even the slightest drop in the margin can trigger payments.”

The DMC program, created by the 2018 Farm Bill, offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Complete 2021 enrollment/evaluate coverage options

For DMC enrollment, producers must certify with FSA that the operation is commercially marketing milk, sign all required forms, and pay the $100 administrative fee unless the dairy operation qualifies for a limited resource, beginning, socially disadvantaged, or military veteran farmers and ranchers waiver.… Continue reading

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Helping meat workers get used to wearing masks

A study done at Ohio meat-processing plants found very few employees were wearing required face masks. 

Among the 37 workers interviewed at five meat-processing plants across the state, only nine wore face masks when surveyed at their job sites, according to the study by researchers with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). 

“What we found is they’re not seeing other people wearing masks, and they’re not seeing the advantage of wearing them,” said Joy Rumble, an assistant professor in CFAES and one of the lead researchers of the study. 

The point of the study, done in June and July, was to determine why many meat-processing facility workers don’t wear masks, so that new measures can be put in place to encourage them to do so.

Face masks, along with other personal protective equipment such as hairnets, safety glasses, gloves, and frocks are commonly used at meat-processing plants.… Continue reading

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Alliance unveils unprecedented climate policy recommendations

An alliance of groups representing farmers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates today unveiled an unprecedented set of recommendations to guide the development of federal climate policy. 

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) was formed in February 2020 by four groups that now co-chair the alliance: American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and National Farmers Union. The alliance has since expanded to include FMI The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and The Nature Conservancy.

Together, the group developed more than 40 recommendations based on three principles: agricultural and forestry climate policies must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities; they must promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities; and they must be science-based. These recommendations share an overarching goal to do no harm. Climate policies will impact farmers, forest owners, ranchers, rural and limited-resources communities, wildlife and natural resources and must be thoughtfully crafted to account for any potential inequities, consequences and tradeoffs.… Continue reading

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The truth is free

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

This past May 6, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a merit decision in Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company v. Pusser. While this is not an agricultural case, everyone who has an insurance policy should be aware of the ruling. And farmers tend to have their share of insurance policies. The case deals with misstatements made by applicants when applying for insurance and the serious problems that can result.

The question before the Ohio Supreme Court was whether the specific language in an insurance policy was sufficient to warn the insured that misstatements as to warranties in her application for the policy rendered the policy void from the beginning (void ab initio). The Ohio Supreme Court ultimately held that the insurance policy involved in the case plainly stated that a breach of warranty in the application for the policy rendered the policy void ab initio. … Continue reading

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Watch vomitoxin levels in feed

By Erika Lyon, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Ohio State University Extension

High vomitoxin levels are leading to the rejection of some corn at grain elevators this year. Vomitoxin detected in corn so far is enough that at some elevators, trucks are not permitted to leave scales until a vomitoxin quick test is completed. One central Ohio elevator has been rejecting corn at 5 parts per million (ppm), with estimates of 10% of corn being rejected this season. The average level of vomitoxin in corn passing through central Ohio elevators is estimated at 2 ppm. What exactly does this mean for livestock owners who use this corn as a source of feed?

Vomitoxin, or deoxynivalenol (DON), is a secondary metabolite or mycotoxin produced by Fusarium molds that can cause health and productivity issues in livestock. The common source of DON in corn is the species F. graminearum, which is also occurs in other small grains such as wheat, barley and oats.… Continue reading

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CFAES food safety center to research food safety in Kenya

The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) at The Ohio State University has been awarded a $770,000 grant to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses in Kenya.

The initiative is one of four new research projects announced by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

The 3.5-year project, “Chakula salama: a risk-based approach to reducing foodborne diseases and increasing production of safe foods in Kenya,” includes a team of researchers from The Ohio State University, the University of Florida, Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the University of Nairobi, who will work to develop and test food-safety interventions to support Kenya’s small-scale poultry producers.

“This project will use a systems-based approach to answer important food safety questions and build an enabling environment that fosters the implementation of risk-based approaches to food safety in Kenya and, eventually, other African countries,” said Barbara Kowalcyk, director of CFI.… Continue reading

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Dry weather keeps harvest progressing

Dry weather and warmer than normal temperatures gave farmers favorable conditions to harvest corn and soybeans throughout most the week, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. Topsoil moisture conditions were rated 88% adequate to surplus by week’s end. Average temperatures for the week were 8.1 degrees above historical normals and the entire State averaged 0.67 inches of precipitation. There were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Nov. 15.

Soybeans were 93% harvested by week’s end, one percentage point behind the five-year average of 94%, while soybeans moisture content was at 13%. Corn harvested was at 79%, 5 percentage points behind the five-year average of 84%. Corn moisture content was at 19 percent, down 1 percentage point from the previous week. Winter wheat emerged was 96%. Seventy- three percent of winter wheat was rated good to excellent condition compared to 68 percent the previous week.… Continue reading

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Mann faced challenges of 2020 in term as first female Ohio Corn & Wheat president

By Matt Reese

In the very male-dominated world of agricultural leadership, multiple women in top leadership positions generates a fair amount of attention from the outside looking in, even if it may not from the inside looking out. Tadd Nicholson, executive director of Ohio Corn & Wheat, has often been asked about the current number of women in leadership positions within the organization, including Patty Mann who is serving as the organization’s first female president.

“To be honest, it didn’t really occur to me that we were promoting females up through the leadership chain, they just happened to be some of our best leaders,” Nicholson said. “Patty Mann is our current president and Kelly Harsh is coming in as our vice president to be president right behind her. For these two years, our organization will be led by females who just happen to be great leaders on our board.”

In addition, Gail Lierer from Butler County is the current chair of the Corn Checkoff Board.… Continue reading

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Ohio soybean production and research in 2020

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

Each spring, farmers plant roughly 4.8 million acres of soybeans in Ohio.  Looking back at the past planting season, conditions were vastly different between 2019 and 2020.

“For 2020, planting was much better than it was in 2019,” said Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension state soybean and small grains specialist. “Many areas had very good planting dates, and our soybean trials, that are conducted in six counties, were planted very timely for the most part. Some parts of the state did struggle with wet weather during planting. Some areas in southern Ohio had fields that were flooded after planting, and parts of eastern Ohio struggled as well, but compared to 2019, planting conditions were much more favorable.

“There were definitely areas of the state that struggled with dry weather after planting. That continued in some areas through August and September.

Continue reading

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2020 Farm Service Agency county committee elections underway

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has mailed ballots for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee elections to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country. To be counted, ballots must be returned to the local FSA county office or postmarked by Dec. 7. 

“FSA has over 7,000 county committee members nationwide who serve their communities by providing input on our programs at the local level,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator. “We value their knowledge and judgment as decisions are made about the services we provide, including disaster and safety-net programs.”

Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office, and at least one seat is up for election each year. Newly elected committee members will take office January 1, 2021. County committee members help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility. 

Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election.… Continue reading

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Ohio State Agriculture Policy and Outlook Conference – Day Three Recap

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

Trade and Macroeconomy Outlooks were the topics for Day three of the 2020 Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference sponsored and hosted by The Ohio State University Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics.

Dr. Ian Sheldon, Professor and Chair of Agricultural Marketing, Trade, and Policy, in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics began the program by discussing the impact of the pandemic on global and U.S. Trade.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), global trade is forecast to decline by 9.2% in 2020, followed by a 7.2% rise in 2021. “Things could have been worse,” said Sheldon. “The April forecast was for a 13% decline optimistically, and 32% decline pessimistically. There is still considerable uncertainty about the trajectory of trade for the rest of 2020 and into 2021, especially now as we see a resurgence of COVID-19.”… Continue reading

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Upland hunting ups and downs

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

Nathan Stricker is a wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife and for a decade and a half has served as my primary source of information about Ohio’s upland game birds and animals to share with listeners on my weekly radio show, Buckeye Sportsman. During a recent interview, he offered us his annual upland game forecast, primarily of pheasants, rabbits and quail, for the start of those popular hunting seasons. Stricker, a farm boy from western Ohio, runs beagles, primarily pursuing cottontails, and I hunt with an English setter, targeting wild pheasants.  

A week ago that would have been plural, as in setters, but the pup I kept from a litter last summer was struck by a car ten minutes into his first ever “real” hunt. We were in northern Michigan, where I hoped to break-in 14-month-old “Henry” on hard-holding, highly scented woodcock.… Continue reading

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Farmer and Farmland Owner Income Tax Webinar

Do you know how the COVID legislation may affect your tax return? Do you know how equipment trade-ins may affect your federal and state tax returns? Farmers and farmland owners who wish to increase their tax knowledge should consider attending this webinar that will address tax issues specific to this industry. Content focuses on important tax issues and will offer insight into new COVID related legislation.

Mark your calendars for December 3, 2020 to participate in this live webinar from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The event is a joint offering from OSU Income Tax Schools which are a part of OSU Extension and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Purdue University Income Tax Schools.  If you are not able to attend the live webinar, all registered participants will receive a link to view the recorded webinar at a time of their convenience. This link will be available through the tax filing season.… Continue reading

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CSU Seed to Bloom Botanical and Community Gardens officially opens

A “Virtual” Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Central State University Seed to Bloom Botanical and Community Garden was held Friday, Nov. 6, at the gardens located across from the university at the corner of Wilberforce-Switch Road and US 42, Wilberforce.

The garden is now open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days per week.

The CSU Seed to Bloom Botanical Garden was the vision of former Central State University President Emeritus Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, who envisioned an inviting space where members of the community could relax and people of all ages could learn.


As part of the Agricultural Production Area, the CSU Seed to Bloom Botanical Garden is part of the Botanical and Community Garden Project and provides an inviting space to interact with its natural beauty. Providing a unique stage for horticultural education in a collegiate atmosphere, the garden offers learning opportunities for CSU students, local schools, and the greater community.… Continue reading

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Central State University Extension Hosted Aquaponics Field Day with tilapia harvest

Nearly 200 tilapia fish weighing approximately two pounds each were ready for harvest at the Central State University Extension (CSUE) Aquaponics Field held last week at its CSUE Aquaponics Demonstration Facility.

Participants attending were able to take home fresh fish at the end of the field day’s presentations with CSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator Marc Amante. The last of the season’s lettuce and cucumbers were also distributed as the facility will be closing for the 2020 season.

Participants viewed progress on a different demonstration system being built in the same greenhouse and learned more about the self-sustaining system.

“Aquaponics is a closed loop system that combines conventional aquaculture (the raising of aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a mutually symbiotic environment. The aquaponics system utilizes the waste of one element for the benefit of another other. In this case, the waste produced by the fish benefits the growing plants,” said Cindy Folck, CSUE Program Leader for Agricultural and Natural Resources.… Continue reading

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