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Deadline for USDA Conservation Innovation Grant proposals Jan. 31

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reminded applicants that January 31, 2012, is the last day to submit project pre-proposals for fiscal year 2012 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Pre-proposals support large-scale demonstration projects that test and prove original approaches to conserving America’s private lands.

“These conservation grants continue to generate exciting new ideas that help farmers and ranchers run sustainable and profitable operations and address high-priority natural resource concerns,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are proud to encourage the advancement of innovative conservation methods that will benefit producers, the public and the economy for years to come.”

This year’s CIG projects focus on nutrient management, energy conservation, soil health, wildlife and CIG projects assessment. NRCS is especially interested in projects that demonstrate:

• Optimal combinations of nutrient source, application rate, placement and timing that improve nutrient recovery by crops.

• Procedures for refining the usefulness of the phosphorous index in reducing phosphorous losses.… Continue reading

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OEFFA Conference Feb. 18-19

Experts from Ohio State University will give a dozen of the 70-plus workshops at this year’s Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association annual conference.

Billed as the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, the program takes place Feb. 18-19 in Granville in central Ohio and will focus on “Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty.” More than 1,000 people are expected. The past two years have sold out.

Get full details — the schedule, all the speakers and registration information — at or contact OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt, 614-421-2022, ext. 205, or

“Farmers, businesses, chefs and consumers are working together to reclaim our food sovereignty,” Hunt said in a press release. “(They are) rebuilding local food systems and Ohio’s rural farming communities, demanding access to healthy organic food and information about how that food is produced, and relearning sustainable agriculture practices that nourish our bodies, our communities and the environment.”… Continue reading

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2012 beef prices will be demand driven

By Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist

Beef and cattle prices increased to new record levels in 2011 and are expected to push even higher in 2012. Several years of declining cattle inventories culminated in late 2011 with a projected 3% decrease in slaughter that combined with lighter carcass weights to result in a 3.8% less beef in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to a year earlier. For 2012, slaughter is forecast to drop another five plus percent and, even with an expected increase in carcass weights, will result in a nearly four percent drop in beef production for the year. Decreasing beef production ensures that wholesale and retail beef prices will be pushed even higher in 2012. Cattle supplies that are even tighter, on a relative basis, likewise ensure that fed and feeder prices will be pushed to the limit and maintain strong negative pressure on feedlot, packing and retail margins.… Continue reading

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Big gains in voluntary land conservation despite recession

The first census of land trusts in five years found 10 million new acres conserved nationwide since 2005, including 113,000 new acres in Ohio.

The National Land Trust Census, released by the Land Trust Alliance, shows that voluntarily protected land increased 27% between 2005 and 2010. In the same time period, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, a major federal conservation program, added just over 500,000 acres and saw a 38% funding cut. The census is online at

A total of 47 million acres — an area over twice the size of all the national parks in the contiguous United States — are now protected by land trusts. A greater percentage of the new acreage comes through local and state land trusts. In Ohio, land trusts conserved 113,146 acres between 2005 and 2010, a 132% increase in land protected.

“The people of Ohio value their land, and we are conserving it at the community level,” said Kevin Joyce, executive director of Black Swamp Conservancy.… Continue reading

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Less bedding can benefit in-transit market pigs

In a new study, funded by the Pork Checkoff, researchers at Texas Tech and Iowa State universities found that the pork industry can generally use less bedding year-round that it currently does while improving overall animal well-being — a breakthrough finding that could save the industry an estimated $10.1 million per year.

John McGlone, a swine researcher at Texas Tech University and principal researcher for the study, along with Anna Butters-Johnson an Iowa State University researcher, looked at various rates of bedding in semi-trailers at different times of year and in different locations throughout the Midwest. This approach provided data representing cold, mild and hot weather.

Specifically, the research trials showed that groups of pigs headed to market can experience lower mortality rates in warm weather and overall improved well-being year-round when less bedding is used in transport trailers. According to McGlone, the current standard in the industry is to use four bales of bedding per semi-trailer.… Continue reading

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Central Ohio Agronomy Day

The “The Nuts and Bolts About Corn & Soybean Production” is the theme for the 2012 Central Ohio Agronomy School is scheduled to begin on Monday evening Jan. 16 from 6:30 –9:00 p.m. This six-week program will provide the attendees with the most comprehensive, up-to-date crop production and agricultural technology information available. Here is the schedule:

Jan. 16 – Cover Crops – Jim Hoorman, OSU Extension

Jan. 23 – Weed Control – Mark Loux, OSU Extension

Jan. 30 – Precision Agriculture with Scott Shearer, The Ohio State University and Tim Norris, CEO AgInfoTech

Feb. 6 – Soil Fertility with Robert Mullen from the Potash Corp

Feb. 13 – Marketing & Outlook with Matt Roberts, The Ohio State University

Feb. 20 – Field Drainage with Larry Brown and Rob Clendening, Knox SWCD

This school provides 15 hours of continuing education credits (CEU’s) for Certified Crop Advisors and 2.5 hours of Commercial and 5 hours of Private pesticide recertification credits. … Continue reading

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Controversy Brewing over Poultry Cage Size

Several farm organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, have signed a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee calling for the rejection of additional, costly and unnecessary animal rights mandates proposed by the Humane Society of the United States. A bill is being prepared by Oregon Representative Kurt Schrader that would set federal standards for the welfare of egg-laying hens. 

The standards would allow for larger, enriched-colony cages and phase out smaller cages over 15 to 18 years at what the United Egg Producers has estimated to be a cost of 4-billion dollars. Opposing groups have estimated the cost to be 10-billion dollars. According to the letter, – the bill is based on an agreement between Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers and counters efforts to unshackle our economy from additional government regulation.

Speaking of the opposition, Chris Huckleberry, legislative director for Representative Schrader, says – this is pretty transformational so it will be a heavy lift regardless of the opposition.… Continue reading

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2012 Ohio county fair dates

Ohioans can start planning visits to all of their favorite fairs across the state. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has released the official dates for the 2012 fair season, which includes Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs and the Ohio State Fair.
The Paulding County Fair will kick off the 2012 fair season on June 11, and the season will wrap up on Oct. 13 with the Fairfield County Fair.
In addition to setting and approving the dates for the independent and county fairs, the department is responsible for helping to assure the safety of fair amusement rides, monitoring livestock shows to help assure honest competition and coordinating animal health efforts with local veterinarian.
View the complete 2012 Ohio fair schedule

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ASA looks back on successful 2011

American Soybean Association (ASA) farmer-leaders recently reviewed some of the key accomplishments from a year that saw ASA serve soybean farmers by protecting and increasing the market value and opportunities for U.S. soybeans.

“ASA members play an effective role in domestic and international policy development,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean producer from Syracuse, Neb. “Working with our state affiliates and industry partners, ASA advanced soybean farmer interests in numerous areas in 2011.”

The essential elements of ASA’s 2012 Farm Bill proposal that would help farmers manage risk were included in the Farm Bill developed by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in 2011.

“Even though the Super Committee process failed, ASA’s collaborative work with Ag Committee leadership and the progress made on a revenue program that complements crop insurance will be key to maintaining our forward momentum toward a Farm Bill next year,” said ASA Chairman Alan Kemper, a soybean producer from Lafayette, Ind.… Continue reading

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Trade potential in Vietnam

As the entrepreneurial spirit in Vietnam continues its rapid growth, U.S. farmers see increasing potential in this rapidly growing market. During a recent mission to the country, organized by the U.S. Grains Council, participants saw first-hand the opportunities in this market while also learning the importance of a carefully nuanced approach to the expansion of U.S. agricultural exports in this region.

The nine team members, all of which represent state corn marketing groups, met with international customers and key foreign government officials with whom they shared insight into the U.S. corn supply and quality in 2011. Vietnam, which has the fastest growing corn market in Asia, currently fills its corn needs with domestically grown crop and imports from nearby countries, but the group left meetings encouraged that this market has the potential to import U.S. corn.

“The dramatically changing consumer habits will increase grain demand in Vietnam. We need to continue to educate Vietnamese buyers and farmers on benefits of buying from the United States,” said Corn Marketing Program of Michigan President Pat Feldpausch, who participated in the mission.… Continue reading

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Winter preparations reduce headaches for beef producers

With La Niña’s arrival, the forecast is for another winter colder and wetter than normal, something a Purdue Extension beef specialist said livestock producers need to prepare for.

Taking simple steps to prepare equipment, facilities and feed supplies can help reduce headaches for cattle producers, Ron Lemenager said.

“When the blizzard hits or the wind chills are below zero, tempers might flare, but that won’t thaw water or get the tractor started to feed cows,” he said. “A little planning when the weather is mild could make things go a lot easier for both producers and the livestock.”

Part of that means taking the time to do simple things, such as winterizing water sources by insulating them and making sure heating elements are in working order. Lemenager also recommended checking tractor batteries to make sure they can handle cold weather and making sure diesel tractors needed to move feed or snow are plugged in and ready to go.… Continue reading

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Prepare for late gestation nutrition

By Rory Lewandowski, Extension educator, Athens County and Buckeye Hills EERA

Recently a first cutting hay test crossed my desk that had a crude protein value of 8% and a TDN level of 55%. This is similar to many first cutting hay quality results across the state. This hay will work for a mid-gestation cow under decent environmental conditions. It is certainly not going to meet the nutrient needs of a cow in late gestation. So, as a livestock manager, what is your plan to meet the late gestation nutritional needs? Now is the time to prepare for those nutritional requirements.

As I thought about this topic, I went back to the handout of Francis Fluharty’s presentation at last winter’s Ohio beef school that was titled “Late Gestation and Early Lactation: The Most Important Stages of Production.” One of the themes of this presentation was fetal programming. Essentially, late gestation nutrition sets up or programs to some extent how that developing calf will respond to its world after birth.… Continue reading

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SWCS meeting to focus on water quality

Several Ohio State University Extension experts in soil and water quality, agricultural production practices and nutrient management will present research and facilitate discussion on the issue of managing dissolved reactive phosphorus levels in Ohio’s fresh water bodies during the winter meeting of the All Ohio Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), Jan. 17 in Reynoldsburg.

“We have a lot of different agencies and organizations working on this issue,” said Jim Hoorman, an assistant professor with OSU Extension and one of the conference’s organizers. “A report of recommendations on how to manage this dissolved phosphorus situation is due to Gov. Kasich in early February, so all of these stakeholders will be represented at this meeting.”

Hoorman said Extension personnel have been involved in the multi-agency working group from its inception, along with experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), among others.… Continue reading

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Federal Judge favors ethanol with California ruling

A judge in Federal District Court in Fresno, California sided with America’s ethanol industry in ruling that the State of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is unconstitutional.  Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill agreed with the arguments that the LCFS is in violation of the Commerce Clause the U.S. Constitution.

In a joint statement, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said: “The state of California overreached in creating its low carbon fuel standard by making it unconstitutionally punitive for farmers and ethanol producers outside of the state’s border. With this ruling, it is our hope that the California regulators will come back to the table to work on a thoughtful, fair, and ultimately achievable strategy for improving our environment by incenting the growth and evolution of American renewable fuels.”

The groups filed their suit on December 24, 2009 and asserted that the California LCFS violates the Commerce Clause by seeking to regulate farming and ethanol production practices in other states. … Continue reading

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Lorain County 4-H saved

By Matt Reese

There will be Extension for another year in Lorain County thanks to some financial support from less-than-conventional sources.

A county probate judge decided to allocate $55,400 of the revenue from the sale of the former Green Acres orphanage to help fund the program. The donor of the property requested that the funds be used to support youth in the county. The $55,400, when combined with funding from a nonprofit group and a local recycling program, was enough to keep Extension for another year.

“It is wonderful and exciting here in Lorain County,” said Minnie Taylor, the 4-H educator in the county. “We’re alive and well and we are not going to let up. We’re already working on 2013.”

Taylor said the 4-H program in the northeast Ohio county is a blend of traditional rural youth and urban youth as well.

“We have a really good mix in this county and, through 4-H, we can work on a lot of partnerships between rural and urban areas,” she said.… Continue reading

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EPA finalizes RFS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). EPA continues to support greater use of renewable fuels within the transportation sector every year through the RFS2   program, which encourages innovation, strengthens American energy security, and decreases greenhouse gas pollution.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the RFS2 program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.

The final 2012 overall volumes and standards are:

Biomass-based diesel (1.0 billion gallons; 0.91%)

Advanced biofuels (2.0 billion gallons; 1.21%)

Cellulosic biofuels (8.65 million gallons; 0.006%)

Total renewable fuels (15.2 billion gallons; 9.23%)

Last spring EPA had proposed a volume requirement of 1.28 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel for 2013.… Continue reading

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American Angus Association to introduce PathfinderPlus

The American Angus Association will soon introduce a voluntary, inventory-based reporting system designed to capture additional reproductive trait data and to ultimately expand reproductive and lifetime productivity tools, such as longevity measures.

The new program, known as PathfinderPlus, will debut in early 2012 and provide Angus breeders and their customers with additional information to make effective selection decisions.

“The PathfinderPlus program is a unique system that will allow us to more effectively capture reproductive trait data while providing participants with additional information at weaning processing time, such as calving ease, birth weight and weaning weight EPDs for calves out of inventoried cows,” says Bill Bowman, Association chief operating officer (COO) and director of performance programs.

Breeders interested in participating in PathfinderPlus can enroll in the program through AAA Login, available at, beginning early 2012.

To begin, breeders provide an online inventory of breeding heifers and cows in their herd.… Continue reading

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Environmental lawsuits could make a difference in 2012

The National Corn Growers Association is currently involved in two major pieces of environmental litigation that will likely be decided in federal court in 2012. This could have major implications for future environmental regulations.

Earlier this year, NCGA joined with the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural organizations to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay. The farm groups stated the Chesapeake Bay TMDL goes beyond the scope of Clean Water Act authority, that the science used by the Agency is flawed and that the regulatory process lacked transparency. The case has been filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania.

The outcome of this lawsuit could establish significant precedent for future water quality regulations throughout the country. Many corn growers are concerned that the Chesapeake Bay TMDL could be used as a blueprint for addressing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff in the Mississippi River Basin and other watersheds.… Continue reading

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International Program Internship Announced

The Office of Export Assistance of The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) is seeking an International Program Intern to work closely with the Global Agricultural Program Manager. The intern will promote and recruit companies to participate in event-based programs through the Food Export Association-Midwest.

The intern may be an undergraduate student, recent graduate (six months or less) or graduate student who wants a challenging internship to prepare them for a full-time position in international business and marketing. The duration of this internship will be full-time or part-time from January 2012 to September 2012. The scheduled hours will be flexible according to school calendar.

This is a paid internship with an hourly range of $10-$13 based on year in school and experience. The successful candidate will be paid under contract by Food Export Association, however, will report to and be supervised by the Ohio Department of Development.

 Coordinate with ODOD staff to organize Food Export Association export seminars, buyers missions, and
other events for Ohio companies
 Develop communication tools for recruiting (i.e.… Continue reading

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