Featured News



WTO rules on COOL

The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced it has ruled in support of complaints by Canada and Mexico that U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) violates global trade rules and unjustly harms agricultural commerce. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall issued the following statement.

“This is a strong ruling from the World Trade Organization that proves COOL was not only a disservice to U.S. cattlemen and women but also contained far-reaching implications for two of the most important trade partners for U.S. agriculture. NCBA strongly advises the United States not to appeal this ruling. Instead, we urge U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to work with NCBA and other pro-trade organizations to apply pressure on Congress to bring the United States into WTO compliance across the board. We must act quickly before U.S. farmers and ranchers once again face unnecessary and unfortunate retaliatory tariffs on their products.

“This ruling solidifies our concerns that COOL would have extensive trade implications as NCBA expressed during 2008 Farm Bill deliberations.… Continue reading

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New Christmas tree checkoff stirs up controversy from misinformation

Conservative bloggers recently bashed President Obama for implementing a new Christmas tree “tax” and created quite a stir on the Internet. This “tax” is actually a checkoff that the Christmas tree industry has been working on getting implemented for quite some time.

The final rule regarding the Promotion and Research Program checkoff program was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 8. Two days later, the National Christmas Tree Assciation received word from the USDA that the program would be delayed, and on Nov. 17, this delay was published in the Federal Register. The reason for the delay

was cited as “to provide all interested persons, including the Christmas tree industry and the general public, an opportunity to become more familiar with the program.”

Tree farmers have spent more than three years studying checkoffs and preparing their petition. There has been a great deal of media attention on the program after it was mistakenly labeled as a “tax on Christmas Trees” on a blog.… Continue reading

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Congress restricts GIPSA

Congress voted Nov. 17 on a $19.8 billion 2012 agricultural spending bill that includes language blocking the U.S. Department of Agriculture from implementing controversial reforms to livestock and poultry marketing. The so-called GIPSA rule, proposed last year by the USDA’s Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyard’s Administration, would have wreaked havoc on the U.S. cattle industry causing livestock producers to lose an estimated $169 million, according to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall. He said Congress barred USDA from conducting any further work this year on sections of the rule not yet finalized.

“We stand firm behind those members of Congress who were willing to listen and understand the concerns of cattlemen, leading trade organizations, economists, consumers and others. This was a vote in favor of innovative family-owned farms and ranches,” said Woodall.

The agricultural appropriations bill is part of a $1.04 trillion bill adopted by both the U.S.… Continue reading

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FCS announces results of a profitable quarter

Agriculture lender Farm Credit Services of Mid-America announced the association generated $191.6 million in net earnings during the first nine months of 2011, an increase of $30.5 million over the same period last year. Total earning assets increased more than $1 billion compared to the 3rd Quarter 2010.

President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson said strong farm earnings continue to bolster the economy and that has had a positive impact on the earnings of the association. “The farm sector continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise unpredictable economy,” Johnson said. “That, coupled with the low interest rate environment, has allowed us to offer competitive interest rates to customer-members on loans so they are able to grow their operations.”

At the same time, the credit quality of the association’s portfolio is stable. Adversely classified loan volume was 4.1% of the loan portfolio compared to 4.2% at September 30, 2010.… Continue reading

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Craigslist ad for farm employment leads to murder

The Noble County sheriff reported to ONN that a case has been developing after a body was found in a remote part of the county earlier this week. The body was identified as a jobseeker from Florida responding to a Craigslist advertisemnt for a job on a cattle farm in Ohio. For more on this developing story, visit: http://www.onntv.com/content/stories/2011/11/17/story-craigslist-murder.html

and

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/11/17/noble-county-shooting.html.… Continue reading

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Biodiesel Board elects leaders

National Biodiesel Board members selected their trade association leadership this week as part of the organization’s membership meeting in Washington D.C. Members elected seven returning governing board members and one new member to serve on the leadership committee.

“Led by a robust and diverse trade association the biodiesel industry is well prepared to meet the opportunities of the future,” said National Biodiesel Board Chairman Gary Haer. “I am optimistic about what is in store for our industry as we join forces to fulfill federal alternative energy requirements and work together to continue to advance the industry.”

Officers elected to lead the board are: Gary Haer, chairman, Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (Producer);  Ed Ulch, vice chair, Iowa Soybean Board (Farmer); Ron Marr, secretary, Minnesota Soybean Processors, (Producer); Jim Conway, treasurer, Griffin Industries (Producer).

Biodiesel board members also voted to fill eight board member spots. Board members elected to the Governing Board include the officer team and: Ed Hegland, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (Farmer); Kris Kappenman, Archer Daniels Midland (Producer); Bob Metz, South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion council (Farmer); Robert Stobaugh, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (Farmer).… Continue reading

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#FoodThanks returns for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving season, people throughout the food system will be using social media to show their thanks for food and raise awareness of agriculture through the AgChat Foundation’s #foodthanks campaign. Last year more than 800 people participated in the campaign by blogging, adding the #foodthanks twibbon to their avatar photo, and sharing more than 2,000 Twitter posts.

“For many of us, this month is when we take time to give thanks for the food on our tables,” says Darin Grimm, president of the AgChat Foundation, a 100 percent volunteer organization that aims to empower farmers and ranchers to “agvocate” via social media platforms. “The #foodthanks campaign provides tools and inspiration for people to take their personal expressions of gratitude beyond the dinner table to friends, family and followers within their social networks.”

Grimm encourages members of the ag and food communities to tweet, post and blog about #foodthanks this month, and especially on November 23, as Thanksgiving becomes top-of-mind for much of the country.… Continue reading

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Panama Canal improvements important to U.S. ag

National Corn Growers Association representatives last week traveled to the Panama Canal to explore improvements currently underway with a group of agricultural leaders organized by Informa Economics.

During this investigative tour, the group looked at efficiencies in the Panama Canal improvements, particularly those to the locks system, in an attempt to find successful approaches that could be emulated in the United States. Focusing on the critical need for improvements to the locks and dams on northern sections of the Mississippi River, the group looked at how the Panamanian Canal Authority is managing to accomplish such a large project for a reasonable price tag while remaining both on time and on budget. Analyzing the similarities and differences between the current situation in Panama and projections for the needed improvements on the Mississippi, the group noticed practices which could improve upon the current structure and system for waterway infrastructure upgrading in the United States.… Continue reading

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Organic forage option

With the help of a small business grant from the USDA, Wisconsin farmer-breeder Peter Pitts teamed up with Pure-Seed Testing, Inc., of Hubbard, Ore., to create a now widely popular variety of conventional grass forage that is also probably the first certified organic festulolium in North America.

Pitts worked with Michael Casler, who was at that time a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Today Casler is a grass breeder in Madison, at the Agricultural Research Service U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center.

Intrigued by Pitts’ success with festulolium (pronounced “fes-tu-lo-lium”), a ryegrass (Lolium genus) with a small number of meadow fescue (Festuca) genes, Casler bred the grass with festulolium growing in old university nursery plots throughout Wisconsin. These plants had survived many years of “get tough or die” conditions like those on Pitts’ old pasture on his 350-acre, mostly organic beef cattle farm.

Pure-Seed Testing’s breeder, Crystal Fricker, screened the plants in Oregon for stem rust resistance, yield, and other desired characteristics.… Continue reading

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USDA works to develop international markets

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing in approximately 70 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for their goods. Vilsack made the announcement during a conference call with reporters from Vietnam, where he is meeting with officials to help strengthen trade relations in the Asia Pacific region.

“Under the Obama Administration, USDA has continued to expand markets for American goods abroad, worked aggressively to break down barriers to trade, and assisted U.S. businesses with the resources needed to reach consumers around the world,” said Vilsack. “The funding announced today will ensure that U.S. agriculture remains a bright spot in America’s economy and a driving force behind export growth, job creation, and our nation’s competitiveness.”

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) allocated $213 million for export promotion activities through two USDA international market development programs: the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the Market Access Program (MAP).… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Crop Progress – November 14th

OHIO CROP WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

The average temperature for the State was 48.4 degrees, 6.0 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, November 13, 2011. Precipitation averaged 0.19 inches, 0.61 inches below normal. There were 38 modified growing degree days, 19 days above normal.

Reporters rated 4.9 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, November 12, 2011. Topsoil moisture was rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 64 percent adequate, and 36 percent surplus.

FIELD ACTIVITIES AND CROP PROGRESS WEEK ENDING SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13th 2011

Farmers were harvesting corn and soybeans and planting winter wheat when they could in between rain. The northeast part of the state had some fields that were hard to get into because they were saturated with water. They were also doing fall tillage.

As of Sunday November 13th, corn harvested for grain was 51 percent complete, compared to 99 percent last year and 79 percent for the five-year average.… Continue reading

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Ohio's Crop Progress – November 14th

OHIO CROP WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

The average temperature for the State was 48.4 degrees, 6.0 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, November 13, 2011. Precipitation averaged 0.19 inches, 0.61 inches below normal. There were 38 modified growing degree days, 19 days above normal.

Reporters rated 4.9 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, November 12, 2011. Topsoil moisture was rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 64 percent adequate, and 36 percent surplus.

FIELD ACTIVITIES AND CROP PROGRESS WEEK ENDING SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13th 2011

Farmers were harvesting corn and soybeans and planting winter wheat when they could in between rain. The northeast part of the state had some fields that were hard to get into because they were saturated with water. They were also doing fall tillage.

As of Sunday November 13th, corn harvested for grain was 51 percent complete, compared to 99 percent last year and 79 percent for the five-year average.… Continue reading

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AUDIO – NAFB Trade Talk 2011

The 68th Annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting Annual Meeting took place in Kansas City, Missouri this week. Dale, Heather and Ty were all there to not only attend many of the events of the week, but to also cover Trade Talk. This event corrals many major players in American agriculture so broadcasters from around the country can get the latest happenings from each organization.

Here are some of the interviews collected by The Ohio Ag Net crew.

Mike Hofer, BASF’s Corn Marketing Manager, talks about his company’s advantages for growers in 2012.

BASF Mike Hofer

BASF Fungicides Technical Market Manager, Nick Fassler, talks about Xemium. Xemium is a new ingredient found in both Priaxor and Merivon which expects EPA registration in 2012.

BASF Nick Fassler

Nate Weinkauf is the Marketing Manager for Case IH’s Axial-Flow Combines and Heads. The new 30 Series combines was his topic of discussion.

Case IH Nate Weinkauf

Case IH’s Mitch Kaiser shares how the Steiger 600 delivers the total tractor solutions.… Continue reading

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Biochars can benefit soils

ARS scientists are leading the way in learning more about “biochar,” the charred biomass created from wood, other plant material, and manure.

Soil scientist Jeff Novak in Florence, S.C., is coordinating the multi-location effort. In one project, he led a laboratory study to see if different biochars could improve the sandy soils found on the Carolina coastal plain, and Pacific Northwest silt loam soils derived from volcanic ash.

Novak’s team used peanut hulls, pecan shells, poultry litter, switchgrass and hardwood waste products to produce nine different types of biochars. All the feedstocks were pyrolysed at two different temperatures to produce the biochars. Pyrolysis is a process of chemical decomposition that results from rapid heating of the raw feedstocks in the absence of oxygen. Then the biochars were mixed into one type of sandy soil and two silt loam soils at the rate of about 20 tons per acre.

After four months, the team found that biochars produced from switchgrass and hardwoods increased soil moisture storage in all three soils.… Continue reading

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Sheep parasite research

Genetic resistance to a parasitic nematode that infects sheep has been discovered by a team of scientists with the USDA and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The researchers are the first to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL), genetic locations on chromosomes, for resistance to gastrointestinal nematode parasites in a double-backcross population derived from African native sheep. The parasites, common in tropical regions, cause significant economic and production losses in Africa each year. Sheep infected with parasites suffer from diarrhea, anemia, weight loss and sometimes death.

ARS geneticist Tad Sonstegard and researchers at ILRI in Kenya hope to identify genes that increase tolerance to parasites and improve production of grazing animals. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports USDA’s priority of promoting international food security.

In one study, researchers mapped the regions of the genome that control resistance to gastrointestinal nematode parasites in a sheep population bred by ILRI.… Continue reading

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U.S. exports face increasing global competition

While the U.S. has been the traditional powerhouse in terms of global crop commodity exports, there is more competition popping u around the world every year.

In the near future, U.S. exports are likely to face strong competition from Ukrainian corn and feed wheat exports, according to Cary Sifferath, a U.S. Grains Council regional director. 



“With a record corn crop this year and plenty of feed quality wheat to sell, I would now say Ukraine will have 10 million metric tons (394 million bushels) to as much as 12 million metric tons (473 million bushels) of corn and 7 million metric tons (257 million bushels) of feed wheat available for export,” he said.


Ukrainian farmers are using fertilizer and other inputs more aggressively to increase yields. Capital spending on port facilities and export capacity is also increasing as multinational exporters invest in the region, but Sifferath feels that rail and export facilities could still prove a bottleneck for moving such grain volumes.

… Continue reading

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