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50 Groups Urge Congress to Reject $1 Billion in Cuts to USDA Conservation Programs

A coalition of more than 50 agriculture and conservation groups representing millions of Americans today are urging lawmakers to reject nearly $1 billion in proposed cuts to farm bill conservation programs.  The organizations are asking the House Appropriations Committee to “ensure that reasonable funding levels are continued”; $500 million already has been slashed from farm bill conservation programs in the FY2011 spending bill.

“These conservation programs are crucial to the health and viability of agriculture and rural America,” said a letter sent to committee members from the agriculture and conservation groups, including National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund and National Young Farmers’ Coalition. “The demand for enrollment in these programs routinely exceeds the funds available, even without any cuts.  Failure to support our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and natural resource base today will jeopardize our agricultural industry, drive up long term costs for environmental mitigation, and threaten our nation’s food security.”… Continue reading

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More corn produced with fewer nutrients

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) announced that between 1980 and 2010, U.S. farmers nearly doubled corn production using slightly fewer fertilizer nutrients than were used in 1980.  The announcement is based on fertilizer application rate data released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).  Specifically, in 1980, farmers grew 6.64 billion bushels of corn using 3.9 pounds of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) for each bushel and in 2010 they grew 12.45 billion bushels using 1.6 pounds of nutrients per bushel produced.  In total, this represents an 87.5% increase in production with 4% fewer nutrients during that same timeframe. Corn production accounts for half of U.S. fertilizer use and experts estimate that 40 to 60% of world food production is attributable to fertilizers.

“Through improvements in modern technology and old fashioned ingenuity, our farmers are using fertilizer with the greatest efficiency in history and have again shown why U.S.… Continue reading

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Managing dairy costs

While rising feed prices and other production costs, are putting pressure on the dairy industry, a Purdue Extension dairy specialist says there may be ways for dairy farmers to reduce their on-farm input expenses.

“The three biggest input costs for dairies are feed, labor, and replacement heifers,” said Mike Schutz. “Two out of the three are influenced dramatically by corn prices.”

With rising energy and grain prices, Schutz said the economic model for dairies is shifting back to diversification. Producing feeds such as hay and grains allows farmers to better control their input costs.

“The dairy economic crisis of 2009 showed record low milk prices and high feed costs, and farms that were diverse were positioned to weather that crisis,” Schutz said. “During that year, the average dairy lost between $350 and $1,000 per cow, but losses were absorbed better by those raising their own feed.”

Since 2009, the milk price has increased; however, the margin between milk price and feed cost remains small.… Continue reading

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Ohio Crop Progress Report- May 31st

OHIO CROP WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

The average temperature for the State was 68.5 degrees, 5.4 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, May 29, 2011. Precipitation averaged 2.37 inches, 1.32 inches above normal. There were 131 modified growing degree days, 32 days above normal.

Reporters rated 1.2 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, May 27, 2011. Topsoil moisture was rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 10 percent adequate, and 90 percent surplus.

FIELD ACTIVITIES AND CROP PROGRESS WEEK ENDING SUNDAY MAY 29, 2011

The weekly temperatures were slightly above normal throughout the state, and the majority of reporting districts received above normal rainfall for the week. Rainfall kept farmers out of the fields. Rainfall has been affecting everything from planting to hay harvest to fruit pollination.

As of Sunday May 29, corn was 19 percent planted, which was 74 percent behind both last year and the five-year average.… Continue reading

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Crop Insurance Question 5: Cover Crops

Question: How do cover crops that could not be properly managed in the wet weather figure in to crop insurance?

Answer: It is a long-standing RMA rule that if a crop reaches the headed/seeded stage or is harvested, then any crop following that crop in the same year is uninsurable.  Cover crops that were planted last fall are typically killed prior to heading, but with all the rain this year it wasn’t possible, and many fields have gone to seed.  RMA announced in January that you can do a “Written Agreement”, or special request, to RMA to insure a field following a cover crop that is headed or harvested, as long as the cover crop is killed by May 15th.  Due to the extreme wetness, RMA announced on May 26th that they have extended the May 15th deadline to June 1 for corn and June 10 for soybeans. … Continue reading

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Livestock producers concerned with wet spring

Ohio has experienced its wettest April in more than 100 years of record keeping with a rainfall of 7.7 inches. The previous record was 6.37 inches set in April 1893. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Soil & Water Resources also noted that it was Ohio’s wettest February to April period on record.

“The rains have caused a tremendous hardship on farmers who are unable to get into the fields to plant or safely apply fertilizer and manure,” said Ted Lozier, chief of the Division of Soil & Water Resources.

Lozier said that as a result of the heavy rains some manure storage facilities are near capacity. Recognizing that an overflow could have an environmental impact on waterways, the division is offering limited financial assistance to qualifying operators.

A cost share of up to $500 is potentially available to assist qualifying livestock facility operators to haul and dispose of liquid manure in a manner approved by the program.… Continue reading

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Vilsack will not withdraw proposed rule on buying livestock

According to an update from the National Pork Producers Council, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he will not withdraw a proposed rule on buying and selling livestock and poultry. The statement came following a letter the Secretary received from 147 House lawmakers asking that the proposed rule be withdrawn and that USDA propose a regulation — more consistent with the intent of Congress as outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Under the farm bill, USDA is to promulgate new regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act to address five specific areas related to livestock and poultry contracts. The bi-partisan letter highlighted concerns about the process and cited this as the reason the USDA should withdraw and re-propose.

A recent analysis of the proposed regulation conducted by Informa Economics found that it would cost the U.S. pork industry nearly 400-million dollars annually, resulting in 2,000 direct pork related job losses. NPPC — like the 147 bi-partisan House members – has strongly urged USDA to be open and transparent in its regulatory dealings with the U.S.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance question 4: Coverage for new acres

By Andrea Metz, Cargill

Question: What if I picked up additional acres this year? How does that play into my crop insurance options?

Answer: Your options for added land will be determined by the application you signed at sales closing date, where the added land is located, and how many acres you are adding.

For instance, I selected State coverage on my application and made Shelby County my designated county. I add 50 acres in a section I already farm in Shelby County. My coverage on the crops I plant on the added land would be the same as the coverage for the Shelby County crops that I elected to insure on the application at sales closing. For production purposes this added land would be added to the APH database of my existing unit and the production history of that unit by crop/practice/type will apply to this added land.

These added acres may be eligible for prevent plant if certain requirements are met. … Continue reading

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Crop Insurance Question 3: Prevented Planting and Crop Options

By Troy Ross, Williamson Insurance Agency

Troy Ross, Williamson Insurance AgencyQuestion: If corn cannot be planted and prevented planting is employed, what alternative crop options are available and when can they be planted?

Answer: Every county in the state of Ohio can have different special provisions. Each grower should refer to the policy; special provisions your agent and the adjustor to make an informed decision on the best way to proceed.

For RP and YP policies, the final plant date for corn is June 5th. The policy contains a late plant period of 25 days after the final plant date. The late plant period starts June 6th and extends through June 30th.

To receive the full prevented planting payment for corn, the prevented corn acres must lay fallow and no subsequent crop can be planted. Complying with this will have no adverse affect on your production history (APH).  If any crop is planted during the late plant period, the prevented planting claim is withdrawn/denied and no corn prevent plant payment will be made.… Continue reading

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Nine Students Become Ohio AgriGold Interns

AgriGold is proud to introduce a group of college students that will be sharing the AgriGold story, placing field signs and working closely with their local Corn Specialist as a part of the 2011 Sales Internship Program. AgriGold has hired a total of 80 interns across the Corn Belt with 9 of those being placed in Ohio. The Intern Orientation Meeting was held May 17-19th in Champaign, IL at the AgReliant Genetics Research Station.

This year’s interns and their Corn Specialists in Ohio are:

InternHometownCorn Specialist
Caitlyn DeverPataskala, OHGabe Medinger
Danny KnapkeRockford, OHNick Brackman
David ReifEast Lansing, MIMatt Kimerer
Dylan DobbsHillsboro, OHKyle Wilson
Kyle ImwalleSt. Marys, OHBen Bowsher
Nick RettigNapoleon, OHJessica George
Tom AlbanyWesterville, OHScott Bugg and Dave Kress
Tom ChristyAlvada, OHKent Miller
Bethany JohnsonBaltimore, OHHW Martin & Son – Hebron, OH

AgriGold is proud to invest in the future of agriculture and support college students pursuing careers in the food and fiber industry.… Continue reading

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Crop insurance questions Day 2: Cover crops and group plans

By Matt Reese

Most everyone knows of the water quality challenges being faced in the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed. Last summer and fall, farmers in the area decided to step up and do what they thought was best for improving water quality and soil conservation – plant cover crops.

“There are no silver bullets in the watershed but cover crops are as close to a silver bullet as there is. There are over 7000-plus acres of cover crops in Grand Lake St. Marys,” said Chris Gibbs, with the Mercer County Farm Service Agency. “But now it looks like there could be ramifications on the subsequent crop with regard to crop insurance. I would hate to see that get a black eye here with crop insurance.”

As soggy conditions have delayed field work this spring, cover crop management has not been possible in many situations, which can put preventative planting coverage in jeopardy in some situations.… Continue reading

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Ford partnering with OARDC on dandelion project

Ford Motor Co. is joining forces with Ohio State University to find new uses for an alternative source of rubber being developed by scientists at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster.


The U.S. automaker is interested in substituting synthetic rubber used in plastic parts such as cupholders, floor mats and interior trim with natural, domestically grown rubber from Taraxacum kok-saghyz, or TKS — a plant native to the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and commonly known as Russian dandelion.



OARDC crop scientists and engineers have been working during the past few years on developing a commercially viable crop from TKS seeds and an effective way to extract rubber from the plant’s fleshy roots — which can contain 15% or more of the sticky substance. The better-performing plants are now grown in greenhouses, high tunnels (plastic-covered structures) and a 2-acre field on the Wooster campus. … Continue reading

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Preserve the quality of your tower silo

A drive around the countryside this time of the year will enable one to see farmers out working in their fields. According to the International Silo Association (ISA), this is also the time of year to focus on preventative maintenance on the tower silos that will store the harvest.

“Preventative maintenance on a tower silo helps ensure proper feed storage and is necessary for safety issues, as well as to preserve the quality of the tower silo,” said Leroy Shefchik, spokesperson for ISA. “If a common sense approach to silo maintenance is used, similar to how one cares for other equipment used on the farm, the result will be many years of trouble-free feed storage.”

Many of the tower silos that owners are anticipating to use for their crop storage have been on the farm for many years. The tower silo may appear to be sturdy, strong and in good condition but with time and usage, maintenance is essential.… Continue reading

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ODA planting season assessment meeting

By Matt Reese

After another round of showers soaked the state, the Ohio Department of Agriculture called together an expert panel to assess the impact of the extreme wet spring weather.

At the top of the agenda was assessing how wet it really has been. In the last three months, Ohio has received half of its normal annual precipitation. So far in May, rainfall totals are 177% of normal for the month. The wet May followed the wettest April since Ohio has been keeping records. Ohio got 215% of normal rainfall for April. In addition, March had 150% of the normal rainfall and February got 205% of the normal rainfall.

James Ramey, the director of the Ohio Field Office for the National Agricultural Statistics Service, said the numbers regarding the corn planting progress are a clear reflection of the wet spring.

“In the history of the Ohio progress report, corn planting has never been this far behind. … Continue reading

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Grow Forward Program Partnership Between Ohio Agriculture & Ohio State Athletics

The Ohio State Athletic Department’s Buckeye Club has initiated a new program to engage one of Ohio State’s most loyal and passionate fan bases: Ohio Farmers. The “Grow Forward” program is a partnership between Ohio Agriculture and the Buckeye Club with an ultimate goal of fully supporting Ohio State’s student-athlete scholarship fund.

“The Buckeyes are Ohio’s team and we want to make sure rural communities are represented in the Horseshoe,” Jordan Birkemeier, Director of the Buckeye Club, said. “With our tremendous fan base inside the state, we want to make sure supporters know how they can make an impact on Ohio State student-athletes and receive access to season tickets. This initiative hopefully will educate people on how they can do both by joining the Buckeye Club.”

The Buckeye Club has partnered with four key organizations in Ohio to raise awareness of the Grow Forward program: the Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA), the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corngrowers Association and the Ohio Farmers Union.… Continue reading

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Grow Forward Program Partnership Between Ohio Agriculture & Ohio State Athletics

The Ohio State Athletic Department’s Buckeye Club has initiated a new program to engage one of Ohio State’s most loyal and passionate fan bases: Ohio Farmers. The “Grow Forward” program is a partnership between Ohio Agriculture and the Buckeye Club with an ultimate goal of fully supporting Ohio State’s student-athlete scholarship fund.

“The Buckeyes are Ohio’s team and we want to make sure rural communities are represented in the Horseshoe,” Jordan Birkemeier, Director of the Buckeye Club, said. “With our tremendous fan base inside the state, we want to make sure supporters know how they can make an impact on Ohio State student-athletes and receive access to season tickets. This initiative hopefully will educate people on how they can do both by joining the Buckeye Club.”

The Buckeye Club has partnered with four key organizations in Ohio to raise awareness of the Grow Forward program: the Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA), the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corngrowers Association and the Ohio Farmers Union.… Continue reading

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Funds to restore Great Lakes available to Lake Erie Watershed farmers

Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin have the chance to sign up for a special program to improve water quality in the Great Lakes.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will pay a portion of the cost of conservation practices that keep sediment and nutrients on the land and out of the Lake.

“Impacts on Lake Erie water quality from harmful algal blooms and excessive sedimentation are a real issue to Ohio residents,” says Terry Cosby, NRCS State Conservationist.  “Water in the Lake Erie watershed provides drinking water for 11 million people. Over $10 billion is spent on recreation and tourism in the Lake Erie region every year.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding will be available to Ohio farmers through existing NRCS conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Through these programs, landowners receive technical and financial assistance to implement conservation activities on their land that conserve soil, water, air, and wildlife resources.… Continue reading

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Summer gas prices will likely stay under $4

Drivers have something worth honking their horns over: Summer gasoline prices likely will remain below $4 a gallon, a Purdue University agricultural economist says.

Market conditions that caused oil prices to shoot past $110 a barrel have improved in recent weeks, pushing oil back under $100 a barrel, said Wally Tyner, an energy policy specialist. He cautioned that pump prices could rise again if oil production is interrupted.

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the summer driving season.

“If crude oil stays below $100 — meaning that there are no further production disruptions in the Middle East or elsewhere and we have no further weather conditions or other factors that cause refining outages — we have seen the worst,” Tyner said. “We can hope for steady or even somewhat falling prices over the next few months.”

Motorists have experienced severe gas pains this spring, with pump prices in some places topping $4.25 a gallon.… Continue reading

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