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OFU wants farmers to be part of Lake Erie solution

The Ohio Farmers Union will bring together scientists and agricultural experts in late September in a forum on seeking solutions for the annual algal blooms in the western basin of Lake Erie.

OFU President Joe Logan said it’s important for farmers to acknowledge their part in Lake Erie’s woes, and that OFU is trying to help spread the word on innovative farm management practices that assure that farmers are doing their part to protect Ohio’s waters.

“Farms dominate the landscape in the western Lake Erie watershed and farmers use many tons of phosphorus and nitrogen to grow crops – so people naturally look toward agriculture as a contributor to Lake Erie’s excess nutrient loads,” Logan said. “Farmers always try to keep nutrients on their land, but the increasing intensity of rain storms make doing so more challenging. Farmers may need to embrace new management practices and new technology.”

OFU’s forum will include speakers:

•    Jeffrey M.… Continue reading

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Coalition forming to end embargo with Cuba

Prominent members of the U.S. food and agriculture community, including the American Soybean Association, agreed to officially form a national coalition to address liberalizing trade between the United States and Cuba. The members of the coalition believe that it is time to end the embargo and allow open trade and investment to happen.

Under current sanctions, U.S. food and agriculture companies can legally export to Cuba under provisions providing for humanitarian exemptions. However, financing restrictions limit the ability of the U.S. industry to competitively serve the market. Foreign competitors such as Brazil and Argentina are increasingly taking market share from U.S. industry because those countries do not face the same restrictions on financing.

ASA will be actively involved in working towards the end of the embargo against Cuba and normalizing trade relations between the two countries that are only 90 miles apart and are natural trading partners. The coalition plans to actively engage in constructive dialogue with stakeholders through lobbying efforts, strategic communications, and a variety of other efforts to build momentum and drive historical change.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau invests $1 million in water quality

Ohio farmers will take measurable steps toward improving Ohio’s water resources with the launch of a $1 million water quality action plan announced by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF).

Ohio Farm Bureau’s board of trustees voted during a special meeting to commit significant resources to address agriculture’s role in Ohio’s water quality challenges. They placed special emphasis on the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB).

A component of the plan includes two aggressive goals: Farm Bureau will help all qualifying farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin obtain required fertilizer certification by Earth Day 2015. This April 22 target date would bring farmers into regulatory compliance a full 29 months ahead of the state required deadline.

Further, Farm Bureau will help farmers in the watershed create nutrient management plans, which detail responsible fertilizer use, by Earth Day 2016. These plans exceed state legal requirements.

With thousands of farms in the WLEB, reaching these aggressive goals will require a high degree of cooperation and collaboration with farmers.… Continue reading

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Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters kicks off next week

A first-ever workshop in Ohio is bringing together farmers, scientists and other stakeholders to discuss whole-system solutions to the Midwest’s nutrient runoff and water problems.

Organizers said the Sept. 14-16 program, called Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters, will focus on state-of-the-art best management practices for reducing fertilizer runoff into the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The two basins include all of Ohio and most of the Midwest.

“By synthesizing the wealth of knowledge that exists across these regions, we’ll be able to identify what it will take to prevent excess nutrients in our water resources while sustaining agricultural productivity and the economic viability of farming,” said co-organizer Andy Ward, professor of agricultural engineering in Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Experts say excess agricultural runoff of phosphorus, for example, is a cause of the harmful algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other water bodies. In August, a toxic bloom in western Lake Erie led to a two-day drinking water ban in Toledo.… Continue reading

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Railway woes growing for farm crop transportation

Railway issues, including shortage of cars, delays and the possible impact on farmers as a new crop harvest begins this season have been high priorities in Washington, D.C. agricultural discussions this fall.

As the backlog of rail cars in the upper Midwest continues, and elevators are still full of 2013-crop grain ahead a record 2014 harvest, both farmers and lawmakers worry the backlog will create a grain storage crisis as a new crop harvest begins.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in September and discussed the railway issues. Vilsack said he is “deeply concerned with the record harvest underway,” and described the problem to the president, telling him while BNSF Railway is taking steps in the right direction, the Canadian Pacific still has a ways to go. Vilsack also said Agriculture Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Services Ed Avalos wrote a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) underscoring USDA’s concerns.… Continue reading

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Ohio receives $8.3 million for farmland protection and wetland restoration

Earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Department of Agriculture’s investment of $328 million to help private landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands. The 2014 Farm Bill created the new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP, to protect critical wetlands and keep lands in farming for the future.

“Conservation easements help farmers protect valuable agricultural lands from development while enhancing lands best suited for grazing and wetlands to their natural conditions,” said Terry Cosby, Ohio State Conservationist. “These easements have a dramatic and positive impact on food supply, rural communities, and wildlife habitat.”

Through ACEP, private landowners and eligible conservation partners can request assistance from USDA to protect and restore agricultural land through an agricultural or wetland easement.

Ohio landowners and farmland protection organizations submitted 93 applications requesting $18 million in ACEP funding for conservation easements and wetland restorations. Ohio received $8.3 million for purchasing 17 high quality conservation easements through ACEP, which will protect and restore about 4,500 acres of Ohio’s prime farmland and wetlands.… Continue reading

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SE Ohio bypass project makes the 2014 America’s Transportation Awards top 10 projects

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) announced the $200 million U.S. Route 33 Nelsonville Bypass project made the 2014 America’s Transportation Awards competition top 10 projects.

Since making America’s Top 10 Transportation Projects, the project is now up for the Grand Prize and People’s Choice award. A panel of experts will select the Grand Prize winner. However, the nation will decide through online voting which of the projects will receive the People’s Choice Award.

To vote for the Nelsonville Bypass as the People’s Choice Awards, visit  http://nominate.americastransportationawards.org/Voting.aspx. Online voting will continue through Friday, Oct. 24. Individuals can vote up to 10 times per day.

The Grand Prize and People’s Choice award winners will each earn a $10,000 donation from AASHTO on behalf of the winning state DOT to a charity or scholarship fund of its choosing. Both awards will be presented Nov. 23 at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Charlotte.… Continue reading

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Is it time to buy or sell cattle?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the proper strategy to investing in a business or commodity is to “buy low and sell high!” I have heard that phrase for years and would agree that it is sound advice. However, the current outlook for the beef industry might put a different spin on the traditional investment advice.

There is little doubt that there is plenty to be excited about in the beef cattle industry. Nearly every class of beef animals is receiving historically high prices. The portion of the country experiencing drought has been reduced significantly over the past two or three years. Feed costs are trending downward on the expectations of a second consecutive large corn crop and improved forage production across much of the country.

Nearly all the market signals are in place for cattle producers to expand their herds. Yet, the U.S. beef cow producer fully realizes that expanding the herd is a long-term investment and commitment.… Continue reading

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House votes to halt water rule

The U.S. House this week voted 262-152 to approve legislation that would prevent the development and implementation of a regulation expanding the scope of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) to cover most of the country’s water bodies, ditches and gullies, a rule that would be particularly detrimental to agriculture. Numerous agricultural organizations hailed the bill’s passage and will be urging the Senate to take similar action.

“The House of Representatives today stood with farmers and ranchers and against the regulatory overreach of the EPA,” said Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “Passage of H.R. 5078 isn’t just a clear rejection of the overreach that lies in the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. Today’s action is an unmistakable signal that the tide is turning against those who ignore the constitutional separation of powers in the United States. We will ditch this rule.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S.… Continue reading

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Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association internship opportunity

The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association has a one-year paid internship opportunity for sophomores, juniors
 or seniors enrolled in any agricultural program. The Intern will receive practical work experience, assisting with programs centered on education, communication
and policy. Opportunities exist to gain experience with student initiatives, teacher professional development
workshops, political coordination and membership programs, communication and press activities, exhibit design
and development and other experiences based on the intern’s interests and skills.

The Intern will have the opportunity to experience various job responsibilities in a professional environment and
 provide leadership for resume-building initiative. Attendance at various professional events such as regular board 
meetings, Farm Science Review, Grain Symposium and National Corn Congress (July 2015, Washington, DC) will 
also be an important part of this experience.

This is a one-year paid internship position starting on Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015. Intern will
receive $1,000 monthly and be expected to work 15 to 20 hours per week with flexibility to attend college classes as
required.… Continue reading

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CCAs working to improve water quality

With a vast knowledge of the crops that are planted and the soil they’re planted in, Certified Crop Advisers, more commonly known as CCAs, have taken an active role in the research and program implementation that will be key to improving water quality in Lake Erie’s Western Basin in the long run.

The CCA program was established in 1992 with both farmers and their environmental impact in mind. When consulting a grower on nutrient management, it’s the adviser’s responsibility to make recommendations on what’s best for the crops and for the soil in which they’re rooted, and other surrounding natural resources. With the continuous evolution of seed corn, soybeans and the fertilizer nutrients that help crops grow, the CCA program ensures that advisers stay abreast on current issues and trends in agriculture.

“Ohio’s CCAs are trained with the latest, available information through the continuing education requirements of the program,” said Tim Berning, chairman of the Ohio CCA board.… Continue reading

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July held record pace for exports

U.S. red meat exports slowed in July, the first time this year that year-over-year export volumes were lower for both beef and pork. But 2014 exports remain on a strong pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

July beef exports fell 15% in volume to 101,799 metric tons (mt), although this was in comparison to large totals in July 2013. July export value was steady at $621.7 million. For January through July, beef exports were still 4% higher in volume (687,752 mt) and remained on a record pace in value ($3.89 billion, +13%).

Pork export volume was down 3% in July to 173,270 mt, while value was up 14% to $573.5 million. For January-July, exports established a record pace in both volume (1.32 million mt, +7%) and value ($4.0 billion) — marking the first time pork export value has exceeded $4 billion before August.… Continue reading

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How to prevent N leaching

Even though it appears that we are headed for a record corn crop, some farmers have noticed signs of nitrogen deficiency showing up in their crops. According to some of the Seed Consultant professionals, these growers applied the nitrogen fertilizers by splitting application and side-dressed as late as possible. However, the drenching rains that followed a week after caused nitrogen to leach down and, later in the season, fields showed up with N-deficiency symptoms. It is too late for this year’s crop but what can you do for the growing crop to compensate for N loss due to too much water and what may be done to reduce nitrogen leaching for future?

Consider the following approaches to nitrogen management:

• If it happens again, to rescue a growing crop in the field, you might consider reapplying up to half your N fertilizer if it rained three to six inches over a day or two, or if you have field ponding lasting three days or more.… Continue reading

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Top pork countries want tariffs eliminated in TPP

In an open letter to negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, organizations representing hog farmers in Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States called for a “comprehensive, high-quality” agreement that eliminates tariffs on nearly all products, including pork.

The TPP is a regional negotiation that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40% of global GDP.

Australian Pork Limited, the Canadian Pork Council, the Asociación Gremial de Productores de Cerdos de Chile, the Confederacion de Porcicultores Mexicanos and the National Pork Producers Council pointed out that the agreed-upon objectives of the TPP are: that it include trade in goods — including agricultural ones — services, investment, e-commerce, competition policy and intellectual property; that there be no product or sector exclusions, especially in agriculture; that all tariffs and other market access barriers such as Japan’s Gate Price be eliminated by the end of the negotiated transition period; and that all transition periods have “commercially meaningful” timeframes, which should be short and not back-loaded.… Continue reading

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Agricultural revolution in Africa could increase global carbon emissions

Productivity-boosting agricultural innovations in Africa could lead to an increase in global deforestation rates and carbon emissions, a Purdue University study finds.

Historically, improvements in agricultural technology have conserved land and decreased carbon emissions at the global level: Gaining better yields in one area lessens the need to clear other areas for crops, sidestepping a land conversion process that can significantly raise the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

Agricultural advances in Africa, however, could have the reverse effect, increasing globally the amount of undeveloped land converted to cropland and raising greenhouse gas emissions, said Thomas Hertel, a distinguished professor of agricultural economics.

“Increasing productivity in Africa — a carbon-rich region with low agricultural yields — could have negative effects on the environment, especially if agricultural markets are highly integrated,” he said. “This study highlights the importance of understanding the interplay between globalization and the environmental impacts of agricultural technology.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension looking for Amaranth

OSU weed science is once again looking for seed from populations of Amaranth species – waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, and redroot/smooth pigweed – to screen for herbicide resistance this winter.  We will be collecting seed from infested fields we encounter during our annual survey of the state next month.  We would also encourage readers to submit seed from problem Amaranth populations in their fields.  Amaranth seed are mature when small black seeds fall out of the seedhead when it is shaken or rapped against something.  Seedheads should be cut off and stored in open paper bags to allow further drying, until arrangements can be made to get them to us.  Seed samples should be accompanied by a sample submission form, which is available on our website –http://u.osu.edu/osuweeds/.  The goals of this effort are to:

1) characterize current infestations of herbicide-resistant waterhemp and Palmer amaranth to be able to provide guidance on herbicide programs in infested fields.… Continue reading

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Will the late increase in soybean aphid hurt yield?

Over the last two weeks, many growers have seen rapid increases in soybean aphid populations.  This is similar to the late outbreak seen last year, when aphids infested during the R5-R6 growth stage transition.  As a reminder, it takes a lot of soybean aphid to impact yield after the R6 growth stage, likely above 1,000 aphids per plant.  Even at R5 and below, aphids do not hurt yield until ~500-600 aphids per plant.  Then why the 250 aphids/plant threshold?  The 250 threshold allows for the time it takes for an application, such that by the time a spray could occur, aphids are close to the 500-600 aphids per plant level.  Given the late planting season some growers had, here are some suggestions to follow if your soybeans are at the R5-R6 transition and you have 250 aphids per plant:

1) Check again in 3-4 days, are the aphids increasing (remember the threshold is a RISING population of 250 per plant)?… Continue reading

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Maps show reach of proposed “water rule”

NPPC, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural groups, has developed an online interactive tool that details the full impact of a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand their authority over “Waters of the United States.” Detailed maps of 17 states, including many pork-producing ones – using the same U.S. Geological Survey database that EPA has relied on for more than 30 years to implement the Clean Water Act – provide a better understanding of the scope of the agencies’ proposed rule. The regulation, which NPPC strongly opposes, would redefine “Waters of the United States” to include, among other water bodies, intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. The current definition is “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. NPPC will be submitting comments on the proposed rule by the Oct.… Continue reading

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More farmers considering solar energy

More Ohio farms are plugging into the sun to meet their energy needs. And Ohio State University Extension is helping promote this renewable energy trend, organizing workshops and offering information on the technology and issues regarding feasibility and financing.

“More than 100 Ohio farms have installed on-site photovoltaic solar systems to generate their own electricity,” said Eric Romich, a field specialist in energy development and leader of OSU Extension’s Energize Ohio signature program. “Many more are interested in learning about this technology and what it can do to improve their operations.”

In the past, high costs limited the widespread adoption of on-farm solar systems connected to the grid, Romich said. However, in recent years, costs have gone down due to technology advancements and the scale of market development.

According to a U.S. Department of Energy’s Sun Shot Report, the average installed photovoltaic solar price for midsized systems (between 10 kW and 100 kW) has dropped by 6% to 7% annually from an average installed cost of more than $10 per watt in 2000 to $4.62 per watt in 2012.… Continue reading

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OSU involved with new dairy decision tool launched by USDA

A new online tool designed to assist dairy producers in understanding coverage options under the new farm bill was developed in part by a dairy economist with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency recently announced the launch of the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers, which is a voluntary dairy safety net program that replaces the farm bill’s previous milk price and revenue support programs.

Cameron Thraen, an associate professor in the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics and a member of the National Program on Dairy Markets and Policy, recently worked with a team of researchers from the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Cornell University and The Pennsylvania State University to develop the web-based decision support tool for MPP.

The MPP online tool can be accessed on the following websites: www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptoolContinue reading

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