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Chinese meat processor agrees to purchase Smithfield Foods, Inc.

Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., a Chinese meat processor, has agreed to purchase Smithfield Foods, Inc. for approximately $4.72 billion. China is a world leader in pork consumption and already an important market for U.S. pork.

Smithfield Foods, Inc. is the world’s largest pork producer with brands including Armour and Farmland. Smithfield shareholders will receive $34 per share, which is a 31% premium over the closing stock price of $25.97 yesterday. The boards of both companies unanimously approved the purchase that is pending approval from Smithfield shareholders. The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year and is valued $7.1 billion, including debt.… Continue reading

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Salamanders are ecological indicators

Ohio’s salamanders offer good signs — and red flags — on the quality of the state’s environment, said an Ohio State University wildlife specialist.

Twenty-four salamander species call Ohio home, said Marne Titchenell, who works in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). She’s a co-author of “Getting to Know Salamanders in Ohio: Life History and Management, a book aimed at woodland owners, nature lovers and others.

“Salamanders are silent and spend most of their lives hidden, so people rarely see them,” Titchenell said. “But they’re there. And they’re often quite abundant.”

Getting to Know Salamanders (22 pages, $7.50) gives details on Ohio’s common species, how to see them, where to see them and how to take care of the places they live. It’s published by Ohio State University Extension and can be bought through the organization’s county offices or its online eStore,

OSU Extension is CFAES’s statewide outreach arm.… Continue reading

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New disease forcasting model for wheat

Head scab is a perennial concern for Ohio wheat production and one of the most significant production challenges for the crop. To help address this challenge, Ohio State University Extension specialists have been improving forecasting models.

The crop in Ohio is nearing the critical flowering growth stage, and with rainfall and drastic temperature changes forecast for the next few days, some growers are concerned about disease development, according to a wheat expert from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

While wet, humid conditions during flowering can lead to head scab development, the cooler temperatures helped to slow down this disease, said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University Extension wheat researcher.

At this point, much of Ohio’s wheat is in good shape and likely to continue flowering during this last week of May, which is the critical stage when people are concerned about disease development, said Paul, who is also a plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress – May 28th, 2013

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Farmers in Ohio aren’t quite done planting corn, but as of Tuesday, 89% of the crop is planted. Soybeans aren’t far behind with 70% in the ground.

There were six days suitable for field work in Ohio during the week ending May 19 according to the USDA, NASS, Great Lakes Region. Farmers continue to make significant planting progress due to the warm weather and low precipitation, with a number of areas reporting near completion for planting of oats, corn, and soybeans. The lack of rain, however, has had a slightly negative effect on soil moisture. Several producers delayed further planting until after the next storm system moves through. Some showers began over the weekend but appear to be scattered and localized. The first cutting of hay is progressing in most areas, with a few farmers holding off due to rain. A freeze over the weekend caused some concern, with at least one report of damage to fruit crops.… Continue reading

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USDA issues final rule to amend COOL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a final rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle-cut commodities covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program.

The final rule modifies the labeling provisions for muscle-cut covered commodities to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps (i.e., born, raised, slaughtered) occurred and removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. For instance, a steer born in Canada, but raised and slaughtered in the United States would be labeled effectively in that manner, “Born in Canada, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States.” For all domestic animals, the label would change from “Product of the U.S.” to “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in the U.S.”

In June 2012, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) affirmed an earlier WTO panel decision finding that the United States’ COOL requirements for certain meat commodities discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports and thus, were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.… Continue reading

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Watch out for black cutworm

Black cutworm moths have been migrating back to Indiana, Ohio and other neighboring states as indicated by the pheromone traps. They do not overwinter in the Corn Belt and usually come up from the southwest. The moths have been laying eggs and they might hatch at about the same time our corn crop has germinated and is in the early seedling stage. Purdue Entomologists John Obermeyer and Christian Krupke recently issued advice concerning black cutworm.

• Many factors can determine if cutworm will attack your fields.

• Scout your corn often once it is up and apply foliar applications of insecticides if black cutworm reaches economic threshold levels. Your seedsman or agronomist can help you determine when the economic threshold level is reached.

• Consider the size of the larvae and the stage of feeding on your corn crop. The price of corn versus the cost of the insecticide application also enters the equation.… Continue reading

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Prevented planting deadlines

Heavy rainfall, floods and cool temperatures across the Midwest have slowed planting this spring. For crop insurance, the final planting date for corn in Ohio is June 5. The final planting date for soybeans is June 20, according the the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA).

Here are some basic guidelines for those unable to plant because of an insurable cause of loss by the final planting date. The RMA said the options include:

• Plant during the 25 day late planting period. There is a one percent reduction per day of yield guarantee.

• Not plant a crop and receive a prevented planting payment.

• After the late planting period ends, plant the acreage to another crop and receive a reduced prevented planting payment.

The most important thing to do if unable to plant the crop by the final planting date is contact a crop insurance agent to review your policy and options before you make a decision.… Continue reading

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Ohio pork producers talk pork at nutrition conference

Recently, the Ohio Pork Producers Council attended the 92nd Annual Ohio Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly Ohio Dietetic Association) Conference. OPPC went to the event to take part in the tradeshow and offer insight on how pigs are raised and pork is produced on modern farms. Approximately 260 total individuals attended this event; just over 200 of those were dieticians.

OPPC utilized a small; model pig barn to illustrate what goes on inside real barns and how the buildings can be used for the benefit and protection of the animals. This model is just one of nearly 30 models, originally developed by OPPC, that is utilized at events across the nation.

“The barn was a starting point to open conversations and show how pigs live in barns and how technology is changing farms,” said Jennifer Keller, Director of Marketing and Promotions, OPPC. “It’s still families that own and operate the farms, but technology has enabled one person to care for more animals.… Continue reading

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Meet the Staff – Ty Higgins

Excitement beams from Ty Higgins’ face when he starts to see dust flying across a farm field. Ty has over 16 years in the radio business under his belt, but still approaches each new season with curiosity to meet and track down the story of the person who is kicking up that dust. As Director of Broadcast Operations and Farm Broadcaster for Ohio Ag Net, Ty broadcasts the afternoon programs and market close, leads commercial production, shoots and edits video, and provides stories to Ohio’s Country Journal and He also provides about 15 programs for the Kentucky and Tennessee Ag Nets.

“I don’t always know who I will meet when I jump into a tractor, but after a Cab Cam or impromptu visit, I never forget any of the outstanding individuals whose stories I am honored to share,” Ty said.

Ty’s career has really come full circle in the last couple of years, and he couldn’t be happier.… Continue reading

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Grassland Reserve Program signup

The Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, announced today the 2013 deadline for accepting applications for the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP).  The deadline for submitting GRP applications is June 3, 2013 for applicants to submit offers for GRP rental contracts.

The GRP is a jointly administered program between FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  The GRP was revitalized as a part of the 2008 Farm Bill with a goal of enrolling 1.2 million acres nationwide.  The purpose of GRP is to assist landowners and operators to protect grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving and restoring grassland resources on eligible private lands.

Both agencies accept applications on a continuous basis; however, ranking dates are established to evaluate and select applications for current year funding.  Any applications received after June 3, 2013 shall be retained until the next ranking period.  Producers not accepted during previous GRP sign-ups must reapply to be considered for enrollment in 2013.… Continue reading

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International Maize Alliance addresses global concerns

Some of the world’s major corn producing countries are formally collaborating on major global issue affecting the crop and the future of agriculture.

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC), along with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), MAIZAR, representing Argentina producers and the maize supply chain and ABRAMILHO (Brazilian Association of Corn Producers) signed a memorandum of understanding to form an alliance of North and South American maize (corn) producers to collaborate on a global basis to address key issues concerning food security, biotechnology, stewardship, trade and producer image.

The organizations will function under the name, MAIZALL — The International Maize Alliance.
Signatories to the memorandum representing the producer organizations included: Don Fast, Chairman, USGC; Pam Johnson, President, NCGA; Alberto Morelli, Chairman, MAIZAR; and Sergio Luiz Bortolozzo, 2nd Vice President, ABRAMILHO. The MAIZALL alliance was launched as part of the MAIZAR 2013 Congress meeting in Buenos Aires. Argentina

“Food Security is a priority for every country,” said Pam Johnson, NCGA President.… Continue reading

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Ohio Certified Crop Adviser Board celebrates 20 Years

The Certified Crop Adviser Program is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. The U.S. agricultural industry designed and implemented the CCA Program in response to an increased need for agronomic expertise to address environmental concerns

The program was developed around professional training, certification and self-regulation. In 1993, testing for the certification began for any crop adviser or consultant who spends the majority of their time advising growers on agronomic practices and can meet the standards of the program. The program operates in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and India.

“CCAs are more important than ever before,” said Tim Berning, Ohio CCA board chairman. “The CCA program has respect and credibility from government agencies and private agricultural industry, and we are being looked upon to provide answers and help educate our growers on better nutrient management.”

The International Certified Crop Adviser Program is the largest voluntary agricultural certification program in North America. More than 13,000 agronomy professionals across the world have met the standards set by the American Society of Agronomy to become certified, and 576 of those are certified through the Ohio CCA Program.… Continue reading

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Tough corn planting season in China could affect markets

Farmers in the U.S. were not the only ones facing challenging spring weather this year.

An unseasonably cold and wet planting season causing farmers in Northeast China to delay planting by as much as two weeks in the country’s largest corn production region.

The planting delays are expected to cause farmers to shift acreage out of corn to soybeans according to China’s JCI Intelligence and, two agricultural market reporting firms.

However, JCI reports that corn acreage is expanding in Inner Mongolia, and this partly offsets the reduced acreage in Heilongjiang. Delayed planting may also affect yields as farmers turn to shorter-season and lower-yielding varieties, and make the region more vulnerable to an early frost.

The possible reduction of corn sown area in Northeast China may be mitigated by expanded corn sown area in North China.

“Peanut area expanded last year and this reduced corn sown area expansion on the North China Plain.… Continue reading

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Sheep industry looking for leaders

The sheep industry is looking for new leaders at the national level for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC) and the American Lamb Board.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking nominations for individuals to serve on the NSIIC board of directors. Nominations are due to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) by Friday, June 7.
The board will have two vacancies. Members whose appointments will expire are Clark Willis (Utah), representing producers, and Joan Snyder (N.Y.), representing expertise in finance and management. Both members are eligible to be re-nominated to their current position.
ASI is certified to nominate members to the NSIIC board. The ASI executive board will meet via a conference call in June to make nominations; therefore, anyone interested in having their name put forward as a NSIIC board member should contact ASI before Friday, June 7.
The board is appointed by the secretary of agriculture and is composed of seven voting members, of whom four are active producers of sheep or goats in the United States, two have expertise in finance and management and one has expertise in lamb, wool, goat or goat-product marketing.… Continue reading

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Ohioan participating in USB’s “See for yourself” program

Farmer-leaders of the soy checkoff recently informed 10 U.S. soybean farmers of their selection for the 2013 See for Yourself program, an intensive, weeklong educational experience that helps soybean farmers learn more about their checkoff and industry.

“We at the national soy checkoff are thrilled with the interest we’ve seen this year in this important program,” said David Hartke, a soybean farmer from Teutopolis, Ill., and chair of the United Soybean Board (USB) Audit and Evaluation program, which sponsors See for Yourself. “I think we have an outstanding group of participants this year, all of whom I see as having great leadership potential for the ag industry going forward.”

The group includes Jeff Heimerl, from Licking County near Johnstown. The participants were selected through an application process and represent soybean-growing states around the country.

Participants will gather July 18-26 and learn about checkoff and soy industry activities in St. Louis and the countries of Panama and Colombia.… Continue reading

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2013 Ohio Sheep Day

The 2013 Ohio Sheep Day is scheduled for Sat., July 13, 2013. It will be held at the OARDC Sheep Research Unit. The farm is located in scenic Wayne County, at 5743 Fredericksburg Rd., Wooster, Ohio 44691.

The OARDC Sheep Research Unit is a primary sheep research unit for the Ohio State University, concentrating on may facets of sheep research by OSU faculty, staff, and students. The farm is located in Northeastern Ohio where the terrain is gently rolling, making it an ideal location for grain crop and livestock production, but more importantly an exceptional place to grow forages and grain for sheep production.

This year’s Ohio Sheep Day will focus on programming which will increase and improve the profitability of sheep operations. Francis Fluharty, Research Professor, OSU Animal Sciences will be the keynote speaker.

Below is a partial list of the programs that attendees will see at the 2013 Ohio Sheep Day includes:


  • Key components to starting a small ruminant farm
  • Successful pasture and barn lambing strategies
  • Successful pasture and barn weaning strategies
  • Basic sheep management practices for the beginner or novice shepherd
  • Internal parasite programs
  • Minerals for small ruminants
  • Basics of small ruminant pasture and grazing management
  • Dealing with a drought-alternative feeds
  • Use of small ruminants to control weeds and build fertility.
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National Pork Board statement on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV)

The USDA has confirmed that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has been identified in the United States for the first time through testing at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. This is not a new virus, nor is it a regulatory/reportable disease. Since PEDV is widespread in many countries, it is not a trade-restricting disease, but rather a production-related disease. PEDV may appear clinically to be the same as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus with acute diarrhea. Producers will need to work with their herd veterinarian with if any TGE-like symptoms appear and as always, maintain strict biosecurity protocols.

  • Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is a virus similar to transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), another disease only affecting pigs. It is not zoonotic, so therefore it poses no risk to other animals or humans. Also, it poses no risk to food safety.
  • PEDV has been identified in the United States in a small number of herds.
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Great Lakes Fiber Show

Spinning, weaving and felting tips and techniques are just a few of the topics on the agenda for the 2013 Great Lakes Fiber Show. This year, the show will be held May 25 and 26 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, Wooster, Ohio, in conjunction with the Great Lakes Sheep Show and Sale and the eastern Angora Goat Show.

The fiber show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Now in its 18th year, the Fiber Show has attracted interest from over 90 vendors, selling raw and processed fiber from sheep, alpacas, llamas, angora goats, angora rabbits, and buffalo. Several fiber processors will be on hand to take your fiber back to the mills to be processed into batting, roving or yarn for your projects. Many vendors will have finished items for sale as well as sheep related art and pottery.… Continue reading

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OSU livestock and crop budgets available

Budgeting helps guide you through your decision making process as you attempt to commit resources to the most profitable enterprises on the farm. Crops or Livestock? Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Hay? We can begin to answer these questions with well thought out budgets that include all revenue and costs. Without some form of budgeting and some method to track your enterprises’ progress you’ll have difficulty determining your most profitable enterprise(s) and if you’ve met your goals for the farm.

Budgeting is often described as “penciling it out” before committing resources to a plan. Ohio State University Extension has had a long history of developing “Enterprise Budgets” that can be used as a starting point for producers in their budgeting process.

Newly updated Enterprise Budgets for 2013 have been completed and posted to the Farm Management Website of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. Updated Enterprise Budgets can be viewed and downloaded from the following website: reading

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Summer gas prices likely lower than 2012

Consumers should enjoy a summer driving season without unusually high gasoline prices and probably lower than they were last summer, says a Purdue University agricultural economist.

Wally Tyner, who specializes in energy economics and policy, expects prices in the Midwest to be between $3.50 and $3.90 a gallon, with prices in the South and Southeast in the range of $3.15 to $3.55.

“That certainly could change if something unforeseen happens, but I don’t expect prices over $4, except on the West Coast,” he said.

Gas prices usually climb in the summer as motorists log more driving miles for vacations and weekend getaways, and fill their tanks with more expensive summer blend fuels. Those factors are being canceled out by increased oil production by non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries nations and the move to cars with greater fuel efficiency.

As a result, crude oil prices are projected to be slightly lower this summer than in 2012, Tyner said.… Continue reading

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