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EPA exempts milk from SPCC rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempted milk and milk product containers from the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, potentially saving the milk and dairy industries more than $140 million per year. This regulation has been in place since the 1970s, and with this action, EPA for the first time will ensure that all milk and milk products will be formally exempted.

In response to feedback from the agriculture community, EPA determined that this unintended result of the current regulations – which were designed to prevent oil spill damage to inland waters and shorelines – placed unjustifiable burdens on dairy farmers. To ensure that this outdated rule didn’t harm the agriculture community while the mandatory regulatory process proceeded, EPA had delayed SPCC compliance requirements for milk and milk product containers several times since the SPCC rule went into effect.

“After working closely with dairy farmers and other members of the agricultural community, we’re taking commonsense steps to exempt them from a provision in this rule that simply shouldn’t apply to them.… Continue reading

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Tax time is upon us

By Tim Reeves

It’s April, the month of showers and new growth. It’s the month when God reminds us that winters don’t last forever and that spring will chase away the cold and harshness of wintry times.

That’s what makes April the “best of times,” but since it’s also the month for paying taxes, it is also the “worst of times!”

As I write this column, the U.S. Congress is still trying to pass a budget for the year; a budget that SHOULD have been passed before the year started, nearly four months ago. I find it so interesting (and amazing!) that our federal government can just arbitrarily choose to ignore basic accounting and economic practices, seemingly at will. No state or business; no church or individual, for that matter, could get by with the kind of accounting ignorance the federal government shows time and again.

In 1980, the United States of America was the world’s largest lender nation.… Continue reading

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OSCF announces scholarship winners

The Ohio Soybean Council Foundation (OSCF) is pleased to announce the scholarship recipients of the OSCF Scholarship Program for the 2011-2012 academic year. Undergraduate scholarships of $3,000 each will be awarded to Dustin Homan, Andrew Klopfenstein, Rhiannon Schneider and Brent Stammen.  The first annual $3,000 Farmer, Lumpe + McClelland (FLM) Scholarship was awarded to Emily Krueger, and the annual $5,000 Bhima Vijayendran Scholarship was awarded to Rachel Yoho.  Graduate scholarships of $5,000 were awarded to Sasiwimon Buddhiranon and Andika Gunadi.

This is the fourth year for the OSCF Scholarship Program, which was created to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers in agriculture, as well as to support ongoing graduate-level research.  All OSCF scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to full-time students enrolled at an Ohio college or university.

“There were many scholarship applicants this year and they were all very impressive students to make it a tough competition,” said Tom Fontana, OSCF director of programs and development.… Continue reading

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Lima ethanol plant set to resume operations

By Matt Reese

The controversy and colorful history of the oft-discussed ethanol plant in Lima may be a thing of the past. Guardian Energy Holdings, LLC, headquartered in Janesville, Minn., purchased a majority stake in the 54-million gallon ethanol production facility and is planning on resuming controversy-free operations soon.

“We’ve been buying grain since the middle of February and we started dumping about the first week of March,” said Tyler Miller, commodity manager for Guardian Lima, LLC. “April 18 is the official opening date. We will have an open house sometime this summer once we are up and running.”

The facility originally began operations in 2008 as Greater Ohio Ethanol, but filed for bankruptcy protection later that year due to numerous operational challenges and adverse financial market conditions. The plant sat idle since November 2008 before it was re-acquired in March 2009.

“We invested about $30 million into reengineering the process deficiencies from the previous ownership.… Continue reading

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Weekly Crop Progress Report-April 11th

Temperatures were below normal throughout the state, and most areas were too wet for field activities. Producer field activities for the week include hauling grain, spreading fertilizer and manure on hay fields, top dressing application to wheat, and preparation of equipment and fields for planting. Producers in the Northwest and North Central districts have temporarily ceased top dressing applications due to wet field conditions.

As of Sunday April 10, winter wheat was 6 percent jointed, which was 5 percent behind last year and 2 percent behind the five-year average. Five percent of the oats were planted, compared to 26 percent last year and 19 percent for the five-year average. Peaches green tip or beyond were 16 percent, which was 23 percent behind last year and 12 percent behind the five- year average. Fifteen percent of the apples were green tip or beyond, compared to 44 percent last year and 29 percent for the five-year average.… Continue reading

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Between the Rows-April 11, 2011

“We had about an inch of rain on Friday. Yesterday I could start to see tile lines showing up and we got another two-tenths last night. Almost no fieldwork has been done in our neighborhood. We did chisel 60 acres of our good sandy loam a week ago that we had tiled last fall. If we had days like yesterday the way the wind blew, we’d be planting by Friday or Saturday for sure. But with the 60-degree days we have coming with lows of 40 at night, you just don’t gain much. It is pretty slow going and there is more rain in the forecast.
“We already tilled up the only wheat field we had, which was 70 acres, which goes to corn. We also switched 100 acres of beans to corn. We have a lot of manure available to us, so the economics really favor corn, as long as my son can reach the field with his 2 miles of dragline.… Continue reading

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Questions remain about demand

The USDA’s monthly update of prospective supply and demand for U.S. corn and soybeans released on April 8 contained some changes from the March report, but reaffirmed the tightness of supply, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“For corn, the USDA increased the projection of use for production of ethanol and byproducts by 50 million bushels, to a total of 5 billion bushels. The increase is consistent with the current pace of use and the strong economic incentive for ethanol consumption provided by high gasoline prices,” he said.

The projection of feed and residual use of corn during the current marketing year was reduced by 50 million bushels, so that the projection of year-ending stocks was unchanged at 675 million bushels. At 5.15 billion bushels, feed and residual use is expected to be about equal to use of last year, he added.

“The USDA will provide an estimate of feed and residual use during the second quarter of the marketing year in the Feed Outlook report to be released on April 12.… Continue reading

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Truck weight reform introduced in Senate

The U.S. Senate recently introduced the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2011 (SETA). The bill, S 747, sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), with co-sponsoring Senators Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would give any state the option to allow semi-trucks weighing up to 97,000 pounds access to its Interstate highways, provided owners equip trucks with a sixth axle, to preserve braking distances and pavement wear patterns, and agree to pay a supplemental user fee.

An identical bill, HR 763, introduced February 17 in the House by Reps. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), has already attracted 27 co-sponsors.

“The haulers of raw agricultural and forest products are pleased that a bipartisan group of Senators has recognized the importance of improving truck productivity and safety on our nation’s Interstate system, by introducing Senate Bill 747,” stated Richard Lewis, President of the Forest Resources Association. “We must now move quickly to ensure that the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill adopts the terms SETA sets forth.… Continue reading

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WASDE keeps supplies tight

Expectations for the April World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) released by the Agriculture Department were for a slight reduction in the corn supply from last month due to increasing use for ethanol, but USDA pegged the corn supply at 5% of total usage, the same as the March report.

“A 5% stocks-to-use ratio is still historically low,” explained Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “That represents just 18 days of supply, so we’re still going to need a big 2011 corn crop because we don’t expect any drop in total use this year.

“USDA released its prospective plantings report showing farmers intend to plant 92.2 million acres of corn this year, which would be the second largest corn acreage since 1944. This shows that farmers are going to step up to the plate and produce the corn that the market is calling for. The market needs corn this year and farmers will deliver.”… Continue reading

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Nine new AgrAbility fact sheets are now available online

The Ohio AgrAbility Program has produced nine new fact sheets designed to assist disabled farmers who may be dealing with paralysis, arthritis, diabetes or who have developed age-related issues.

“Once someone gets back to farming after experiencing an injury, they’re at higher risk because of issues regarding range of motion, mobility or reaction time,” said Kent McGuire, Ohio AgrAbility program coordinator. ” Most of the new fact sheets are designed to help those farmers prevent secondary injuries, although they include important safety information for any farmer.”

Fact sheet topics came from the organization’s work with farmers who have asked for information on these issues.

This group is the first in a series of 40 new fact sheets the Ohio AgrAbility Program plans to produce over the next year. This first set is available for download now as PDF files at http://ohioline.osu.edu/lines/farm.html#FSAFE.

Fact sheet topics are:

* Secondary Injury Caused by Lifting, AEX-981.1-10: About 25 percent of Ohio work-related injuries are caused by overexertion when lifting objects.… Continue reading

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Think twice about planting soybeans in cold ground

By Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist (from the OSU CORN Newsletter)

One of these weeks it will actually warm up and we will get to plant the 2011 crop! If you start getting anxious and want to put soybeans into cold soil, you may want to rethink this option. A very nice study was just published by Iowa State Researcher, Leonor Leandro, which compared inoculations of soybean seed with the sudden death syndrome pathogen, Fusarium virguliforme. Seeds which were inoculated at the day of planting developed symptoms at all of the temperatures tested. Seedlings that were three and seven days old developed more root rot and greater severity of foliar symptoms at cooler temperatures (62 and 73) than those inoculated at warmer temperatures (82).

Their conclusions were that soybean seeds are more vulnerable to infection than seedlings, but seedlings grown in cold soils are also vulnerable. For Ohio producers that must manage sudden death syndrome, this study indicates that it may be best to wait until the soils are warmer and plant at optimum conditions for seed germination.… Continue reading

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OSC Foundation offers technical assistance to the bioproducts industry

The Ohio Soybean Council Foundation (the Foundation) announces a technical-assistance opportunity for select small businesses in northern Ohio that manufacture or distribute soy-based bioproducts.

As a result of the recently passed Senate Bill 131 and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred Program, an increasing number of government entities are seeking bio-based options to replace the chemical-based products that they currently use, creating market opportunities for bioproduct manufacturers and distributors in Ohio.

In response, the Foundation is hosting a series of workshops to help bioproducts companies and distributors in rural northern Ohio grow their businesses and workforces by better marketing and selling their products to federal, state and local governments. This workshop series will assist bioproducts companies and distributors to expand their marketing and sales efforts to include government markets, ultimately growing their respective businesses and creating more jobs for state and local economies. The project is supported in part by USDA Rural Development.… Continue reading

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State, Ohio Fresh Eggs settle violations and contempt charges

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) announced that the State of Ohio has entered into a proposed consent order with Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC (OFE) of 11212 Croton Road in Croton, Ohio.

The consent order was lodged on April 6, 2011, with the Licking County Common Pleas Court that resolves 71 allegations of violations of ODA and Ohio EPA laws, regulations and permits for OFE’s facilities in Licking, Hardin and Wyandot counties issued by each Agency.

The charges in contempt include failure to comply with required barn renovation schedules and were based on the 2001 Buckeye Egg Farm consent order in Licking County, which was applicable to OFE as the entity that bought the former Buckeye Egg Farm in 2003.

The new proposed consent order will replace the Buckeye Egg Farm consent order and resolves both the complaint and charges in contempt.… Continue reading

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Rising plant populations for corn

Today’s generation of corn hybrids can withstand more stress — and therefore more crowding — than farmers have ever seen. And that means farmers often can plant more seeds per acre and have a good expectation of high yields, at least up to a point, says an Ohio State University Extension agronomist.

“Just 10 years ago in Ohio, we were looking at final stands of about 24,000 plants per acre,” said Peter Thomison, corn specialist for OSU Extension. “There’s been a steady trend toward higher plant populations. Now, many Ohio farmers are planting more than 30,000 seeds per acre, and seed companies are asking us to test up to 42-50,000 plants per acre — if only to see how the plants handle the stress.”

Genetic improvements in hybrids have bettered corn in a number of ways, including stabilizing yields across a range of environmental conditions; increasing plants’ tolerance to drought and higher plant populations; enhancing stalk and root strength; and increasing resistance to disease and insects.… Continue reading

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Columbia FTA progresses

There are three free trade agreements that, if implemented, would represent nearly $2.5 billion in additional U.S. exports. The stalling trade agreements with Panama, Columbia and South Korea are costing U.S. agriculture huge losses in potential exports and lost market share. For this reason, there was cause for celebration with the recent progress in the FTA with Columbia.

President Barack Obama and his team of negotiators successfully completed an Action Plan to resolve the issues that have been holding up the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This will now allow Congress to move forward with consideration for approval. The FTA will create new opportunities for American farmers and ranchers in the Colombian market.

“U.S. farmers and ranchers have been losing market share in Colombia to our competitors who have trade agreements with the country. It’s time to turn the tide and recoup our losses. Colombia has duty-free access to the U.S.… Continue reading

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Maximizing wheat yield potential

By Jerron T. Schmoll, Agronomy Research Manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred

Much of the wheat in the state has been topdressed at this point, though applications were made a little later in the season than many producers would have liked. As long as the wheat was in the early stages of green-up there should not be any yield loss.

Actually, in many years we apply nitrogen (N) much earlier in the season than is ideal (January and February) in order to avoid rutting fields and to spread out the spring workload. Research indicates that March N applications are often the highest yielding as there is less time for leaching and run-off losses that may occur with early spring rains. Late N applications can still be made in early April, though yields may be reduced relative to March applications, especially if the wheat has already entered the stem extension phase of growth. The appropriate nitrogen rate can be calculated as follows: N rate = 40 + [1.75 x (yield potential – 50)].… Continue reading

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Get ready for scouting soybeans in 2011

It is important to be aware of the pests that will be working against plans for record-breaking yield this season. Each year, soybean yields are threatened by various insect pests that can cause significant damage and yield loss. Insect pests like soybean aphid, bean leaf beetle and stinkbugs are just a few of the pests that can quickly take over fields and reduce crop yields and quality as well as profits. For this reason, it is crucial for soybean growers to regularly scout and properly identify these destructive insects.

Soybean aphids have quickly become one of the greatest potential threats to soybean fields. According to the Ohio State University Extension, aphids can have up to 12 generations per year. When populations become large in size, a winged generation of female aphids occurs, which will spread across fields, counties and even states on wind currents. Researchers from the Midwest have established an action threshold of 250 soybean aphids per plant for when an insecticide treatment is warranted.… Continue reading

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Ag Credit borrowers celebrate record $14.5 million return

Ag Credit is distributing a record $14.5 million in profit sharing to stockholding borrowers.

The refunds amount to about 27 cents on every dollar of loan interest accrued last year. At an average rate of 5.29 percent, that would reduce a borrower’s interest for 2010 to 3.86 percent.

Ag Credit, part of the national Farm Credit System, is a financial co-op that provides loans to farmers, agricultural businesses and rural communities. As a cooperative, Ag Credit’s borrowers are its stockholders. When the cooperative earns a profit, it puts a portion back into the pockets of its stockholders. Each receives a check twice a year containing their share of annual profits.

“Profit sharing is a key part of the value proposition of our cooperative,” said Ag Credit President Neil Jordan. “By focusing on sound lending and strong capital we continue to be a reliable financial partner to farmers and agricultural community in 18 Ohio counties.”… Continue reading

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Volunteers needed for milk study

More people are choosing to drink raw milk these days, and Ohio State University researchers are hoping to find out why.

They are looking for people who live on farms who drink either raw or pasteurized milk to take part in a study. Volunteers will be asked to meet with researchers to complete a written survey, and take part in a 1.5-hour-long focus group session. They will be paid $25 for their time and trouble.

“We truly do not know very much about how farmers make the choice to drink raw or pasteurized milk — there’s just nothing in the literature,” said Lydia Medeiros, a scientist with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and Ohio State University Extension, and a professor of human nutrition in the College of Education and Human Ecology. The study of farm families is part of a broader project on raw milk consumption in Ohio.… Continue reading

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