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Ohio responds to the initial look at the Farm Bill

By Matt Reese

Ohio agriculture is getting its first look at the initial form of the 2012 Farm Bill after the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed its proposal. The legislation is now being referred to the full Senate for consideration.

In general, there is fairly broad support for this first step.

“We like the new safety net, but it is a radically different change from the current safety net. We are encouraging farmers to look at this and understand it,” said Adam Sharp, with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “They are eliminating things like direct payments and consolidating down to a crop insurance-based option and a revenue-based option. These are two programs that have a lot of support from agriculture, especially in the Midwest. We think these are good options.”

OFBF, though, is closely review the support caps that were included in the initial farm bill proposal.

“They are looking to lower the caps of support that an individual farmer can get if there is a problem,” Sharp said.… Continue reading

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Beef market rebounding from BSE

On uncertainty over just what the information would be and concern of potential loss in consumer confidence in beef, futures prices fell by the one-day limit of $3 per hundredweight by closing bell on the day of the USDA’s BSE announcement. But by the close of trading two days later, the futures markets had recovered about 25% to 50% on nearby contracts, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue University economist.

“USDA has generally tried not to supply new information when the futures market is trading, but rather supply that before the day’s opening or after the day’s close,” Hurt said.

That policy allows USDA officials to make sure they have all of the necessary information before making an official announcement to the public. When the market got wind that an announcement was coming, however, traders made decisions based on worst-case scenarios.

But not only does Hurt expect little decline in domestic beef demand.… Continue reading

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Department of Labor withdrawls rule dealing with children working on farms

The U.S. Department of Labor today issued the following statement regarding the withdrawal of a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations:

“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.

“As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.

“The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.… Continue reading

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Ohio oil and gas interest moves westward

By Matt Reese

As the oil and gas boom is in full force in many parts of eastern Ohio, words like shale, Marcellus, directional drilling, seismic testing and deep wells have almost become part of the regular vocabulary in many of those communities. These terms may sound somewhat more foreign, though, to landowners in other parts of the state as Ohio’s energy resource boom marches westward.

“We are seeing this in the northwest part of the state now and not just the northeast,” said Dale Arnold, director of energy services for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “We have been seeing this movement quite a bit in the last year or two. A number of farmers have been calling from Delaware, Richland Crawford, Morrow, and Wyandot Counties. We’re seeing a tremendous amount of leasing activity in southwest Wood County as well. Williams, Fulton and Henry are seeing oil and gas land agents talking to farmers about leasing activity.… Continue reading

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Burger King to support cage-free systems

Burger King is the latest fast food giant to announce that it is responding to pressure from animal rights extremists by supporting only cage free facilities.

By the year 2017, Burger King will get all of its eggs and pork from cage-free chickens and pigs. The Humane Society of the United States has been pushing U.S. food corporations to consider animal welfare in purchasing policies. HSUS President Wayne Pacelle says the Burger King announcement is significant because the food chain is such a big purchaser of these products. Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork each year.

The National Pork Producers Council claims that it seems Burger King was bullied by an animal rights group whose ultimate goal is the elimination of food-animal production. NPPC says HSUS has no concern for the hog farmers who care for their pigs every day, for families struggling to purchase food or for the hog farms that likely will go out of business due to its campaign against America’s farmers and ranchers.… Continue reading

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OSU enterprise budgets available to help farmers with decision making

As farmers decide what resources to commit to achieving the most profitable enterprises on their farms, devising a budget can be one of the best ways to help streamline the decision-making process, said a pair of Ohio State University Extension experts.

OSU Extension has a long history of developing enterprise budgets that can be used as a starting point for producers in their budgeting process. Farmers can find enterprise budgets for 2012 at

The website is offered by Ohio State University’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics.

Budgeting helps guide farmers through the decision-making process and can help farmers begin to answer questions about raising livestock and growing crops, said Barry Ward, production business management leader for OSU Extension.

“Without some form of budgeting and some method to track your enterprise’s progress you’ll have difficulty determining your most profitable enterprise or enterprises and if you’ve met your goals for the farm,” Ward said.… Continue reading

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Clean Ohio Fund suffering from budget cuts

By Matt Reese

The popular programs of the Clean Ohio Fund are feeling the state’s budget crunch, as funding was not included in capital appropriations for the current biennium. Clean Ohio programs include the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program that has preserved more than 20,000 acres of Ohio farmland. In addition, Clean Ohio funds go to various brownfield restoration projects in urban areas and a number of recreational trails around the state.

Clean Ohio was initially passed in 2000 as a $400 million bond program. Voters overwhelmingly approved a Clean Ohio renewal in 2008 and it has the strong support of many Ohio organizations, including the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Nature Conservancy of Ohio.

“The money has dried up and projects are going to start going south unless the General Assembly steps up and funds this program as they have been doing.

It has been very popular, but now it is languishing,” said Josh Knights, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Ohio. … Continue reading

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OSU Extension launches ask an expert

Ohioans who have questions — on everything from personal finance to agricultural enterprise budgets, from gardening to crop production, from nutrition to producing fruits and vegetables safely — have a new way to find answers.

County websites of Ohio State University Extension now have an “Ask a County Expert” tool where Ohioans can ask questions related to the educational programs Extension offers.

“The Ask an Expert tool makes it much easier for clientele to ask us questions directly,” said Jerry Thomas, leader for Innovation and Change for OSU Extension who helped develop the tool. “And, it will help speed up our response time and find the right person to answer their questions. If a county doesn’t have that particular expertise, we can access Extension personnel across the state and across the country. It will really help us leverage our resources.”

OSU Extension’s county websites are easy to find: Just type the name of the county in a browser, followed by “”… Continue reading

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E15 ready to clear final hurdle


The American ethanol industry stands on the brink of bridging the final federal hurdle to E15 availability after three years of concerted efforts. Ethanol producers have joined together to fund a nationwide fuel survey, which will satisfy the final requirement of the partial E15 waiver granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


“The National Corn Growers Association applauds the ethanol industry for this momentous accomplishment,” said Garry Niemeyer, NCGA President. “We have long understood the economic, environmental and national security benefits of this renewable, domestic fuel. Finally, the hard work invested in pushing to increase these benefits through increased ethanol usage can come to fruition.”


Ethanol producers stepped up to provide the vast majority of the funding for this survey despite owning only a handful of the 160,000 gas stations that participate in the survey.


“Ethanol producers have taken on a proactive role in this process and American consumers will benefit,” Niemeyer said.… Continue reading

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Buffett and ADM launch ‘Invest an Acre’

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Feeding America and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) established Invest An Acre, an innovative partnership that engages U.S. farmers in helping provide food to their neighbors.

Through Invest An Acre, farmers are able to invest the proceeds from one acre or more of their crops in Feeding America to support their local food bank. This is the first effort to mobilize farmers on a national scale to support hunger relief.

Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, providing food assistance to people in every county through a network of more than 200 food banks.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation brings resources to support this vital work by creating an opportunity for every U.S. farmer doing business with ADM to invest a portion of proceeds at the point of sale, either when the farmer signs a contract or delivers the crop.

ADM is one of the largest agricultural processors in the world.… Continue reading

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Buffett and ADM launch 'Invest an Acre'

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Feeding America and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) established Invest An Acre, an innovative partnership that engages U.S. farmers in helping provide food to their neighbors.

Through Invest An Acre, farmers are able to invest the proceeds from one acre or more of their crops in Feeding America to support their local food bank. This is the first effort to mobilize farmers on a national scale to support hunger relief.

Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, providing food assistance to people in every county through a network of more than 200 food banks.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation brings resources to support this vital work by creating an opportunity for every U.S. farmer doing business with ADM to invest a portion of proceeds at the point of sale, either when the farmer signs a contract or delivers the crop.

ADM is one of the largest agricultural processors in the world.… Continue reading

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Farm Bill markup delayed

Late last night, an announcement was made about a delay for today’s scheduled Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill markup.

“The National Corn Growers Association is disappointed with the delay in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s markup of the 2012 farm bill,” said Garry Niemeyer, National Corn Growers Association president. “Our organization is committed to working with members of Congress and other organizations on this vital piece of legislation.  The process needs to be done responsibly and judiciously but it needs to be done as soon as possible.”… Continue reading

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USDA announces assistance for 13 wetlands

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for 13 partnership agreements for high-priority wetland restoration and conservation work in 12 states, including the Ohio River Watershed Initiative. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and a network of partners have nearly $15 million in financial and technical assistance available for these projects in 2012 and will enter into long-term agreements to deliver additional assistance over the next four years.

“These projects were selected because of their significant contribution towards wetlands restoration, enhancement or protection,” Vilsack said. “This partnership effort combines Federal resources with the funding and expertise of others needed to improve water quality, prevent flooding, and enhance wildlife habitat on more than 16,500 acres of wetlands.”

The Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) is a special component of the NRCS’ Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Through WRP, private landowners can restore and permanently protect wetlands. WREP works differently — partners, such as nongovernmental organizations and state agencies, contribute technical and financial assistance to leverage NRCS’ funding.… Continue reading

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Warm weather pushes corn planting

Abnormally warm temperatures are being celebrated throughout the state but have grain farmers changing standard spring planting dates, though another record corn crop is slated.

Farming this season is a complete reversal of 2011’s severely rain-delayed planting season. Above-average temperatures motivated some farmers to get a head start in their fields while others have been hesitant to plant early in fear of unpredictable Ohio weather. Word-of-mouth news is that some Buckeye farmers have more than half of their acreage planted while others are still waiting to begin.

April 15 was the average last-freeze date and crop insurance policies do not protect potential replanting costs if farmers plant before the earliest seeding date — April 6. April 20 is the unofficial planting start date being recognized by a majority of Ohio farmers.

“There will be a huge volume of corn in the ground regardless of differing planting timeframes,” said Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) Executive Director Tadd Nicholson.… Continue reading

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Detection of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in CA

USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford today released the following statement on the detection of BSE in the United States:

“As part of our targeted surveillance system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California. The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed. It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE.

“The United States has had longstanding interlocking safeguards to protect human and animal health against BSE. For public health, these measures include the USDA ban on specified risk materials, or SRMs, from the food supply. SRMs are parts of the animal that are most likely to contain the BSE agent if it is present in an animal.… Continue reading

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April a great time for planting alfalfa

April is a good month to plant and establish a new stand of alfalfa. In fact, the sooner, the better, says an Ohio State University Extension educator.

Once an alfalfa plant has germinated, that new plant needs 6-8 weeks to establish a good root system that enables it to handle warmer and drier summer weather, said Rory Lewandowski, an OSU Extension educator in Wayne County. Planting too late in spring can result in plants that can’t tolerate summer weather, possibly causing stand loss.

At about 8-10 weeks after emergence, the plant pulls the growing point below the soil surface, a process called contractile growth.

“Once contractile growth occurs, the alfalfa plant is considered a true perennial,” Lewandowski said. “The protected growing point below the soil surface is the reason why the alfalfa plant can survive winter temperatures, close cutting and grazing.”

Some of the most common questions regarding successful alfalfa establishment include soil fertility, planting depth and weed control, he said.… Continue reading

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Ohio weekly crop progress report, April 23, 2012

As of Sunday April 22nd, corn planted for grain was 34 percent complete, compared to 1 percent last year and 8 percent for the five-year average. Corn emerged was at 2 percent. Seven percent of soybeans were planted, 6 percent ahead of the five- year average. Winter wheat jointed was rated at 57 percent, ahead of both last year and the five-year average by 33 and 30 percent, respectively. Eighty percent of Oats acreage has been planted throughout the State, 65 percent ahead of last year and 41 percent ahead of the five-year average. Oats emerged were rated at 36 percent, compared to 3 percent last year and 9 percent for the five-year average. Intended potato acreage was 33 percent planted, 31 points ahead of last year and 15 percent ahead of the five-year average. Apples at green tip or beyond were rated at 94 percent, compared to 50 percent last year and 67 percent for the five-year average.

Continue reading

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2012 Farm Bill Committee Draft

Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts released their co-authored mark for the 2012 Farm Bill Friday. A summary released by Stabenow’s office says the Committee Print reforms farm policy, consolidates and streamlines programs, and will reduce the deficit by 23-billion dollars. They state the bill saves taxpayers money while strengthening initiatives that help farmers, ranchers and small business owners create jobs.

According to the Chairwoman’s summary – the proposal eliminates direct payments while strengthening risk management; consolidates and streamlines programs; improves program integrity and accountability; and grows America’s agricultural economy. Stabenow says the full committee will meet Wednesday at eight o’clock Central for purposes of considering and marking up the 2012 Farm Bill.

The full details of the Chairwoman’s summary follow:

Eliminates Direct Payments while Strengthening Risk Management

Farmers face unique risks unlike other businesses. Weather and market conditions outside a producer’s control can have devastating effects.… Continue reading

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Energy audits can lead to significant farm savings

By Matt Reese

When it comes to energy use on the farm, there is always a better way of doing something with newer technology, changing practices or taking a different approach. And, as costs continue to climb, saving energy on the farm means saving money.

With this end goal in mind, the 2008 Farm Bill included provisions for the use of Environmental Quality Incentives Program to assist producers with addressing energy conservation through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The last sign up period for the year, and maybe for the current farm bill, ends on June 1.

The NRCS EQIP On-Farm Energy Initiative offers assistance to producers in two ways: it enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP) conservation activity plan (CAP), also known as an on-farm energy audit, and provides financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices recommended in the energy audit, such as residue and tillage management, and Farmstead Energy Improvement.… Continue reading

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Biodiesel car giveaway kicks off

This week, the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff launched the “Biodiesel Car Giveaway” as part of their ongoing effort to raise consumer awareness and enthusiasm for biodiesel — America’s advanced biofuel.

Ohioans who register for the promotion will be eligible to win a one-year lease for a new fuel-efficient, diesel-engine Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of Ohio. To enter the contest, participants must visit the OSC Facebook page (, “like” the page and enroll.

The promotion ends May 27, 2012.

“OSC is very excited about this promotion and the chance to tell Ohioans about the benefits of biodiesel,” said John Motter, OSC chairman and soybean farmer from Hancock County. “Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning, environmentally friendly fuel and is commonly made from soybeans grown and processed right here in Ohio. That offers significant value to consumers, brings revenue to our local and state economies and reduces our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”… Continue reading

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