Featured News

Which USDA reports are the most important?

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

The upcoming March 31st USDA report is highly anticipated for several reasons:

  • It provides the estimated remaining stocks stored on farms and at commercial elevators.
  • It shows how tight stocks are and if price rationing is necessary.
  • It includes the first official planting intentions estimate for the upcoming year based upon surveys filled out by producers in early March.

Last month the USDA Economic Outlook Forum estimated 92 million corn acres and 90 million soybean acres would be planted in 2021. However, these are budgetary derived numbers and not based upon actual producer surveys. Therefore, the market will be comparing these estimates and other private estimates until the March 31streport. Prices will then adjust accordingly.

How important is each USDA report?

Many people say the end of March report day is important, and it is, but how does it compare with other reports throughout the year?… Continue reading

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USDA offers resources for Ohio maple producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers technical expertise and financial assistance to help Ohio maple producers fund their operations, conserve natural resources and recover from natural disasters. Maple producers are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center to learn about resources to support their operations both during the harvest season and throughout the year.

“We know this is a busy time for our maple producers,” said Mark VanHoose, acting State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Ohio. “Whether you’ve been a producer in our state for years or are just getting started, we encourage you to contact your local USDA Service Center to learn about programs and services to fit your business needs.” 

FSA offers funding opportunities to help maple producers start, expand and maintain their operations.

“I encourage Maple producers, especially operations interested in organic certification to reach out to NRCS,” said John Wilson, acting State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).… Continue reading

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Barn art legacy

By Matt Reese

It was a frigid February Saturday morning when the buzzing of a string of text messages on my phone led to a sick, sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. The old family barn at my brother’s home had caught fire overnight and was a total loss.

As children, the barn — likely built in the 1870s using some of the last old growth timber in the area — was an incredible castle for play, hay fort construction and exploration. As I got older it housed 4-H projects and was the location of many hours of labor side-by-side with family. It was a place to gather with friends and a lonely perch in the haymow offered an ideal setting for youthful daydreams. As an adult, a return to the confines of the barn where generations of my ancestors toiled offered a unique comfort and cemented a deep connection with the family legacy of the property.  … Continue reading

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The importance of accounting services to agribusiness professionals

By Brian Ravencraft

I am pretty sure I have mentioned before that I have a farming background. A handful of the team members I work with at Holbrook & Manter do as well. From growing up on farms, to managing them to this day, we truly understand the challenges those working in agribusiness face. For this article, I asked a few of my colleagues to share their thoughts on top accounting services those in farming and agribusiness should seek out, and why. First, I will share my thoughts just below, then read on for their thoughts we well. 

The top agribusiness accounting service needs I see are the following:

  1. Estate/retirement/ transition planning: Farmers approach this topic differently over other retirees. Retirement planning for farmers can look very different from retirement planning for others that have worked in just an employee setting. Typically, retiring farmers rely on a combination of income from farm assets, savings, and social security.
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Harold’s Equipment and Hills Supply collaborate for customer solutions

Picture four men sitting around a kitchen table. The discussion is serious, but the conversation isn’t strained. The topic is the challenge farmers in southern Ohio face when trying to find the equipment they need and knowledgeable people to service it. To the business owners having the conversation, the solution is fairly obvious, challenging as it may be. When the chairs slide back from the table the men shake hands and a unique relationship is formed with the goal of better serving southern Ohio’s agricultural community.

That is how Harold Neuenschwander and Marcus Miller of Harold’s Equipment and Mick Heiby and Frank Burkett of Hills Supply brought two of Ohio’s strongest agricultural service companies together to offer better customer service and more equipment options in Southern Ohio. Harold’s Equipment and Hills Supply began working together out of Washington Court House in January of this year. It’s not an acquisition and it’s not a buyout of any kind.… Continue reading

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Picking the right forage

 By Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County

The spring seeding window for the most popular forages in our region is quickly approaching. Producers looking for guidance on how to choose the best forage for their system should always start with a soil test rather than a seed catalog. Whether you have farmed your site for decades or days, soil testing is essential for success.

Once you know the characteristics of your soil, you can formulate a timeline to adjust fertility if needed, sow your selected seed, and set realistic expectations for production. Soil testing should be conducted when site history is unknown, when converting from a different cropping system (row crops, woodlands, turfgrass, etc.), or on a three-year schedule for maintenance.

Additional factors worthy of consideration prior to purchasing seed include site drainage, sunlight exposure, weed competition, forage harvest method, and feed value for the end user.… Continue reading

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Beef Expo recap

The 33rd Ohio Beef Expo was held March 18-21 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. This year’s event, hosted by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA), was a producer focused event to provide critical farm income for the cattle families and rural small businesses that participate in it. Despite this year’s challenges, the Expo successfully hosted breed shows and sales, a retail trade show and a youth cattle show. OCA followed an approved COVID plan for the Expo that required postponing many other traditional events and seminars. 

The Expo kicked off with the retail trade show featuring many eager exhibitors selling everything from cattle chutes to farm insurance. Sullivan Supply was selected as the premier large booth exhibitor, Honey Creek Western Wear was the premier small booth exhibitor and Umbarger Show Feeds was awarded the premier outdoor booth exhibitor. The premier Genetic Pathway exhibitor was Breeder’s World. 

Four breeds hosted shows on Friday to display cattle being sold in the sales.… Continue reading

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Pre-season planter tips

By John Fulton

With planting upon us, it is important to ensure both your planter and associated technology is ready to go. With seed costs and the desire to maximize yield potential, placing seed and fertilizer accurately and a way to eliminate mistakes including generating compaction. Checking your planter can helps it plant more uniformly and place seed at the proper depth. Having errors during the planting operation can impact yield and ultimately profitability for a field and the crop. Yield potential has a season-long cumulative negative effect of yield limiting factors (YLF’s). We frequently state that corn hybrids or soybean varieties have the highest yield potential when in the bag. University research has noted that errors at planting can impact corn yield. For example, a 10-bushel per acre gain can occur from good seed-to-soil contact. Further, uneven emergence can lead to a 5% to 9% yield reduction in corn. Therefore, seeding depth and downforce management are critical for optimization of planter performance.… Continue reading

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Will price levels hold?

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

China’s purchasing of corn and beans is the biggest factor impacting the market right now. Everything else seems to be noise. If buying continues to outpace any potential cancellations, stocks will decrease, and prices should trend higher. If the reverse happens then the market will have difficulty remaining at these levels.

Soybean outlook

Most U.S. beans have already been shipped, and while some of the remaining ones could still be canceled, there is less opportunity every day for that to happen. This means old crop carryout is tight and its likely next year’s will be too pending planting intentions. Beans seem to have more upside potential than downside risk at this point. 

Corn outlook

China added more purchases this week, which suggests the USDA will likely need to increase export estimates and decrease carryout in upcoming reports. Unlike beans, a lot of corn has not been shipped out of the U.S.… Continue reading

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Practices that promote birds, bees, and butterflies

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

The birds are chirping while bees and butterflies will soon be flying as spring starts to blossom.  Pollinators are an important food source for over 4,000 species of wild native bees and 725 species of butterflies in North America.  The monarch butterfly population has declined dramatically and may soon be an  endangered species.  Many wild bees, flies, and butterflies pollinate many crops humans consume. Providing healthy pollinator habitat is a way to preserve these beneficial species.

The annual value of insect pollinated crops is $29 billion per year and about 80% of flowering plants need pollinators to survive according to a Cornell study. Domestic honey bees hive loss is estimated to be 30% annually but only a 15% loss is acceptable. USA honey sales are about $5 billion per year with Ohio pollinator services valued at 216 million. Most of the decline in pollinators is the result of a loss of pollinator habitat and pesticides which either kill or weaken certain species and makes them susceptible to diseases and mites.

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Ohio State ATI to pilot mikeroweWORKS Work Ethic Certification

The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute is one of the first post-secondary schools nationwide selected to pilot a work ethic certification based on the mikeroweWORKS Foundation’s work ethic curriculum.

It is the first and only institution in Ohio to offer the certification. The certification is accredited by NC3, the National Coalition of Certification Centers, which has partnered with Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation to expand the program across the U.S. 

Known as the MRW Work Ethic Certification, the program is an extension of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation’s S.W.E.A.T. Pledge and examines the importance of work ethic, personal responsibility, delayed gratification, and a positive attitude. Students who successfully complete the program will receive an industry-recognized NC3 certificate.

The program is a natural fit for Ohio State ATI, which was named one of five top trade/career schools in the U.S. by Niche.com. Niche is an education ranking and review site, which compiles student reviews and data from the U.S.… Continue reading

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Nutrien Ag Solutions Leipsic/Ottawa achieves Year Three Certification in 4R Nutrient Stewardship

Continuing its commitment to improving water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Nutrien Ag Solutions Leipsic/Ottawa has achieved certified status for year three through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program.

The voluntary certification program is a concentrated effort by the agriculture industry to significantly reduce and prevent applied nutrients from running off fields, which has contributed to water quality issues in Lake Erie. Facilities are required to meet certain program goals each year to retain certified status. 

With the program in its seventh year, Nutrien Ag Solutions Leipsic/Ottawa joins a long list of retailers to achieve year three certification.

“The 4R Certification has helped us transition more growers to grid soil sampling,” said Logan Kaufman, Certified Crop Adviser and crop consultant for Nutrien Ag Solutions. “We are able to assure our growers that the nutrients being applied are being placed where they are needed, in hopes of improving water quality.”… Continue reading

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Investing below the surface

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff.

Just because a farmer has raised cover crops for a few years, it does not mean they have all the answers. Sometimes the experience leads to more questions. The more experience they gain, the more questions they have, but also the more new things they will try.

Dr. Hans Kok, Program Director of the Conservation Technology Information Center in Indiana, and Eric Neimeyer, a farmer from Delaware County, led a discussion tackling the FAQ’s about cover crop management during a “Dirt on Soil Health” program this winter.

Some of the common questions Dr. Kok encounters include: When is the best time to plant cover crops? When is the best time to terminate the cover crop? What are the best cover crops to plant?

Dr. Hans Kok

What about using wheat or cereal rye as a cover crop?

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What is a drought?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

When the National Drought Mitigation Center constructed the latest U.S. Drought Monitor on March 16, much of the northern half of Ohio was considered D0 “Abnormally Dry”, with a portion of extreme Northwest Ohio being classified as a D1 “Moderate Drought.” The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Drought Monitor summary map identifies general areas of drought and labels them by intensity. D1 is the least intense level and D4 the most intense. Drought is defined as a moisture deficit bad enough to have social, environmental or economic effects. D0 areas are not in drought, but are experiencing abnormally dry conditions that could turn into drought or are recovering from drought but are not yet back to normal.

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NMPF urges more balanced dairy purchases in USDA listening session

 National Milk Producers Federation Senior Vice President for Policy Strategy and International Trade Jaime Castaneda urged federal officials to effectively allocate dairy products as a source of high-quality, cost-effective nutrition in any successor to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program at a USDA listening session

“Dairy foods, including milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, and many other dairy products are staples of our diet. No single food contains as much nutritional bang for the buck as milk,” said Castaneda during the session, hosted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. “Additional USDA purchases of milk and milk products, to then be donated to food banks and other charitable feeding organizations, would deliver a wide range of healthy nutrients to people at a relatively low federal cost. The cost-benefit equation for providing milk’s nutrition to the nutrient-insecure is enormous.”

USDA is soliciting feedback on how it should overhaul or restructure the Food Box program, implemented last year as part of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.… Continue reading

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USDA announces COVID-19 aid expanded to include more producers

USDA announced its plans to distribute more than $12 billion under a program called Pandemic Assistance for Producers, which includes aid that had been put on hold as well as funds newly allocated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The program assists farmers and ranchers who previously did not qualify for COVID-19 aid and expands assistance to farmers helped by existing programs. Farmers will need to sign-up only if they are applying for new programs or if they are eligible for CFAP assistance and did not previously apply.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shared details of the new plan during a virtual meeting.

“We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit hard by the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “USDA’s decision to distribute aid based upon previous applications will help deliver assistance quickly. It was good to hear directly from the Secretary today about this program and his priorities going forward.”… Continue reading

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Agriculture must be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine

The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the Biden administration to prioritize agriculture for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a letter sent to the administration, AFBF President Zippy Duvall called for the elimination of barriers to vaccine access for America’s farmers and farmworkers.

“We fully appreciate and support that our nation’s heroic first responders, medical professionals, the elderly and caretakers, along with other vulnerable individuals, clearly have the highest priority for vaccination,” President Duvall wrote. “As new COVID-19 vaccines are approved and ready for distribution, we encourage the administration to support granting priority vaccine access to employees across the food and agriculture supply chain. This prioritization would ensure that planting, harvesting, processing, and distribution of human and animal food can continue to ensure our grocery shelves and food pantries remain stocked.”

The administration recently directed states to prioritize vaccines for teachers. AFBF’s request that similar action be taken for agriculture is consistent with the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations.… Continue reading

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Growing a crop for a specialty market

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

When farmers look for new markets, and ways to receive a premium for their crop production, one option is growing an identity preserved (I.P.) crop. 

“If you are growing a non-patented seed, you are actually raising an I.P. product that you could be paid a premium for,” said Fred Pond, of Pond Seeds in Van Wert County. “Seed production for larger companies is typically in the ‘I’ states (Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana) and already established, however smaller companies may be interested in contracting with local growers.”

If starting a contractual agreement for an I.P. crop, it is important for farmers to understand the expectations. 

“When farmers consider business agreements to contract the production of I.P. crops, it is important to understand why the buyer is paying a premium for the product they are raising,” Pond said.… Continue reading

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SCN management: Seed treatments and sampling

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Soybean Cyst Nematodes are one of the leading yield robbers for Ohio soybean producers every year.

“Real damage is being caused by Soybean Cyst Nematodes (SCN),” said Kaitlyn Bissonnette, researcher from the University of Missouri.

Ongoing research is being conducted by the SCN Coalition, which is a multi-state public-private partnership between universities and industry partners.

Kaitlyn Bissionnette, University of Missouri

The lifecycle of SCN begins with the adult female cyst nematode in the soil. One female SCN can produce up to 250 eggs per generation. There can be 5 to 6 generations of SCN per year depending on the location.

There are multiple stages in the SCN life cycle. The adult female nematode produces eggs. Once the eggs are in the soil, the eggs transition from an unhatched juvenile in the egg, to a hatching juvenile, to a penetrating juvenile (penetrating into the soybean root).

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