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Ohioan shares experience from the USFRA Food Dialogues

By Matt Reese

In an effort to address consumer concerns and reopen the damaged lines of communication between shoppers and farmers, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) recently held the “Food Dialogues” in Los Angeles last month. The event titled “Lights, camera, food: Perceptions and realities of farming and ranching in America” was comprised of four separate discussions held over two days with entertainment movers and shakers, chefs, academics, large restaurant operators, journalists, local leaders and farmers for in-depth conversations about food.

Included among all of the Hollywood big shots and farmers from around the country, was Ohioan Kristin Reese. Reese, who raises sheep, meat chickens and laying hens on a small Fairfield County farm and markets her products through a catering business, sat on a panel as a small-scale producer, chef and a mom who wants to feed her children safe, healthy food.

“I participated in the panel titled ‘Real Chef Challenge: Understanding how food is grown and raised.’… Continue reading

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Observations of ag from an East Coast farmer

This is a fascinating Q&A with Elizabeth (Altstaetter) Almeida, with Fat Moon at Meadowbrook Farm in Massachusetts. This East Coast organic farmer answers some questions about consumer trends she is seeing in her business.

OCJ: First, could you share some more about your background? Tell us more about your family’s farm in Ohio and how you ended up in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth: I grew up on a cow-calf farm in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I showed steers, hogs and chickens at our county fair and served as our local Beef Queen and Ohio’s Beef Ambassador for a year. In addition, I was active in 4-H and FFA locally and at the state level. My husband and I moved to Massachusetts nearly three years ago for his job and I launched a business offering classes on healthy living. Eating healthy food is such an essential component to living healthy that I decided a small farm would be the perfect context to offer classes on healthy food.… Continue reading

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NCGA sets new membership record

The National Corn Growers Association reached a new record high number of members, 37,447, at the end of June. The previous record of 37,231 was set in March 2012.

“The support for our work that this record demonstrates is inspiring,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “Increased membership makes it obvious that farmers value the activities and programs run by NCGA leadership and staff.  Now, we need to turn that membership into grassroots action that gets us to where we want to be as an industry.”

NCGA membership offers many benefits, including leadership opportunities, academic scholarships and discounts.  Members play an active role in organizational leadership by shaping the direction of activities and influencing public policy that affects all farmers.  Additionally, membership provides valuable discounts with companies such as Office Depot, Dell, Cabela’s, Ford and Enterprise, and special access to official NASCAR information, including discounted tickets and merchandise.

In addition to representing individual members, NCGA is part of a federation in cooperation with many state-level grower associations and checkoff boards. … Continue reading

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Morrill Act celebrates 150 years

Many are taking note of the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Public Land-Grant University System, established under the Morrill Act of 1862.

The legislation, better known as the Morrill Land Grant Act, named after its sponsor, Justin Morrill, founded the system of federal funding for public institutions that agreed to “teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts … in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes…”

“Tens of millions of Americans, many of whom are or have been Grange members, have benefited from the educational opportunities extended as a result of the Morrill Act,” said Ed Luttrell, National Grange President. “As we look forward to our own 150th anniversary in 2017, we understand the importance of celebrating roots, heritage, success and impact over a century and a half.”

Under the Morrill Act, each state received 30,000 acres of federal land for every member of Congress representing their state.… Continue reading

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Dairy Quiz Bowl challenges sharp young minds

By Bonnie Ayars, OSU Dairy Program Specialist, 4-H and Collegiate Dairy Coach

They make the journey to the Ohio 4-H Center from all areas of Ohio. The individuals and teams spend countless hours examining reproduction, milk marketing, bovine health and diseases, and even places and locations of major dairy events. Toss in all those acronyms and it is enough to test the genius of even the sharpest minds. It is the journey that challenges the competitors, but the destination promises rewards if luck is on their side.

On Monday, June 18, the Ohio 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl and Jeopardy was held at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H center on the campus of Ohio State. After a light breakfast, introductions of volunteers, and some orientation, junior and senior contestants went to separate rooms to complete a pre-test that would be evaluated for points and brackets. Questions such as what is another term for calving and who is the managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman were just two of the many answered correctly.… Continue reading

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NCBA responds to COOL ruling from WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) today, June 29, 2012, issued its final ruling on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), which was originally released in November of 2011 and appealed on March 23, 2012, by the U.S. Trade Representative. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association(NCBA) Vice President Bob McCan issued the following statement.

“The World Trade Organization has been extremely clear that mandatory Country of Origin Labeling is a clear WTO violation. This most recent decision is very similar to the initial ruling made three months ago. Instead of working diligently to bring the United States into WTO compliance, we wasted three months and taxpayer dollars on an appeal process. This did nothing more than jeopardize our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, the two largest importers of U.S. beef. The Obama Administration prolonged an issue that could have been resolved quickly.

“NCBA worked with Canada and Mexico to prevent any retaliatory action that could have occurred from the unfortunate decision made by the U.S.… Continue reading

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On Target Application Academy coming to Ohio

As advanced crop protection products and spray technologies come to market — and weed resistance continues to challenge growers across the country — it’s simple to say that today’s weed management environment is becoming more complex.

Developed by Bob Wolf, Ph.D., of Wolf Consulting and Research, TeeJet Technologies and BASF, with insight from a grower roundtable, the On Target Application Academy is a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity to provide growers extensive hands-on training for better awareness of herbicide application best practices.

“State certification courses and exams are important steps in ensuring proper herbicide application,” Wolf said. “The On Target Application Academy supplements these efforts, offering more detail around best management practices and factors that affect proper application.”

The On Target Application Academy educates growers on new application technologies, plant biology and advancements in new product chemistries to help them achieve the most effective and sustainable weed control possible — and to help mitigate off target applications, which is a continuous area of focus for the agricultural industry.… Continue reading

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Adoption of advanced techniques could propel crop improvement

Scientists could take greater strides toward crop improvement if there were wider adoption of advanced techniques used to understand the mechanisms that allow plants to adapt to their environments, current and former Purdue University researchers said.

In a perspective for the journal Science, Brian Dilkes, a Purdue assistant professor of genetics, and Ivan Baxter, a research computational biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, argue that today’s technology could allow scientists to match physiological and genetic characteristics of plants with the soil characteristics that promote or inhibit their growth. Making those connections could reduce the time necessary to improve plants that are coping with changing environmental and climatic conditions.

“Evolution has solved the problems that we face in terms of adapting plants to grow in a multitude of environments,” Dilkes said. “If we understand these processes, we’ll be able to apply that knowledge to maintaining diversity in natural systems and improving and maintaining crop yield.”… Continue reading

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Hot, dry weather adding challenges to weed control

While the extended hot, dry weather in Ohio recently might mean that weeds aren’t growing as fast as they would in more moist conditions, the weather can still make weed management more challenging for corn and soybean growers, an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist says.

The abnormally dry conditions affect the germination, growth, hardiness and competitive ability of weeds, but they also complicate weed control efforts, Mark Loux said.

“The biggest thing that happens to weeds when the weather conditions continue to be hot and dry is that the weeds get tougher to control,” he said. “Under good moisture, weeds tend to be more sensitive to herbicides.

“Under extended dry conditions, weeds grow more slowly and also develop thicker cuticles on the leaf surfaces, which has the overall effect of reducing herbicide movement into and throughout the plant.”

While growers often wonder if they should wait for rain to treat weeds with herbicides, Loux said, the most important thing is to make sure they select the right herbicide treatment for the weeds they are trying to control.… Continue reading

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Financial burden a concern with health care ruling

Today’s Supreme Court decision regarding health care has many people talking about the potential implications down the road. This includes a number of agricultural organizations.

“Farmers, ranchers and rural residents need affordable and accessible health care. We remain concerned that mandating individuals and businesses to buy insurance will impose an expense that creates economic hardship, particularly for self-employed individuals and small businesses,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.  “We believe one of the primary goals of health care reform should be to reduce costs for participants. The plan reviewed by the Supreme Court would impose a new financial burden on our members. As the legal and political interpretation of this ruling is further analyzed and debated in the weeks and months ahead, it is important to remember that access to affordable health care eludes many American families across the country.”

There are a number of concerns about the costs of the health care mandates.… Continue reading

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Pest control an important part of livestock production

Successfully preventing and eliminating flies and mice in livestock and poultry operations is crucial to maintaining animal health and productivity, said a Purdue University entomologist.

Cattle in both pasture and confinement situations are affected by flies, as are poultry, said Ralph Williams. Bloodsucking flies literally drain animals’ lifeblood, and all flies can transmit diseases, cause discomfort and create a nuisance for neighbors.

Pastured cattle are mainly targeted by the face fly, which feeds on cattle’s mucous membranes and can transmit pink eye. Another pest in pastured cattle is the parasitic horn fly, which lives its entire adult life drinking the blood of one animal.

Control of pasture pests typically consists of self-application devices such as dust bags, oilers, pour-on products, and insecticide ear tags, Williams said. Ear tags have two types of ingredients — pyrethroid and organophosphate. Pyrethroid tags are most effective on face flies. Some horn flies have developed a genetic resistance to pyrethroid, and in this case, horn flies may respond better to organophosphate tags or to a pour-on insecticide.… Continue reading

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