Featured News



Bayer and BASF ordered to pay peach farm for damages

DTN — A federal jury has determined Bayer and BASF should pay $250 million in punitive damages and $15 million in actual damages to a Missouri peach farm in response to allegations that the orchard was damaged by off-target movement of dicamba herbicide.

The jury’s verdict came after three weeks of testimony in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Bader Farms filed the suit in 2016 — blaming Monsanto (which was purchased by Bayer in 2018) and BASF for the scenario that allowed dicamba herbicides to move from neighboring fields and damage peach trees. Bader Farms is the largest peach grower in Missouri, listing more than 1,000 acres of peaches and 110,000 trees. The farm also grows other specialty crops and row crops.

Bayer immediately responded with an announcement the verdict would be appealed. BASF spokesman Odessa Hines told DTN via email that BASF had not yet made decisions as to next steps. How the penalty would be split between the two companies should the verdict remain intact is also undecided.… Continue reading

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OEFFA named 2020 recipients of its Stewardship and Service awards

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2020 recipients of its Stewardship and Service awards.

David Bell of Logan County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Alan Sundermeier of Wood County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture. The announcements were made February 14-15 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 41st annual conference, “A Climate for Change.”

2020 Stewardship Award Winner 
David Bell started a farming business with his brother Kevin in 1968, and has owned and operated Paul Bell & Sons, a 450 acre organic farm near Bellefontaine with his brother since 1972. He raises organic corn, beans, wheat, hay, oats, spelt, and beef. He started using organic practices in 1978 and has been certified organic since 1988.

A life-long Logan County resident, Bell was part of the family’s dairy farm business from a young age, until the dairy operation ended in 1998.… Continue reading

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TMDL effort for Lake Erie to be led by Ohio EPA

Last week, Governor Mike DeWine announced the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (OEPA) intention to create a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Western Lake Erie.

Under the Clean Water Act, a TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a substance (in this case phosphorus) that is allowed to enter a body of water and meet water quality standards for that pollutant. The TMDL sets a reduction goal for that pollutant for each source, such as agriculture, municipal wastewater, developed land, and septic systems.The Clean Water Act directs the state to submit a 303(d) list to U.S. EPA every two years. A TMDL must be developed for all waters identified by a state on their 303(d) list of impaired waters, according to a priority ranking on the list.

In 2018, OEPA listed the open waters of the Western Lake Erie Basin as impaired but did not commit to developing a TMDL.… Continue reading

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Adopting technology and working together: The future is now for agriculture

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Farmers, agricultural retailers, equipment manufactures, and researchers all are faced with a multitude of fast changing dynamics in the agricultural industry. Technology and the associated data are two of the biggest. The development of new technology as well as its adoption and implementation are going to be keys to future success for all those involved in the industry.

“As technology continues to advance, machinery manufacturers will need to work closer with the companies that supply crop inputs to farmers,” said Scott Shearer, Chair of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the Ohio State University. “The question is not if a farmer is going to adopt technology, but how and when they are going to adopt technology.” Companies supplying new farm equipment and technologies will need to work closer with those that supply agricultural inputs and develop new seed, chemical and fertilizer technologies.… Continue reading

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Ohio shines in National Make It Yourself With Wool contest

By Melinda Stevens, Ohio Make It With Wool director

The National Make It Yourself With Wool competition was recently held in Scottsdale, Arizona. Forty-six contestants from across the country showcased their one-of-a-kind wool creations to a packed house during the grand finale banquet on Saturday, Jan. 25. The Junior category is for contestants up to the age of 17 and the Senior category covers up to age 25. Contestants must win their home state contest in order to proceed to the national level.

Ohio has long been the state to beat. In the past 5 years, Ohio contestants have been awarded multiple national placings and overall national ambassador awards. This year we are once again proud to announce that our Ohio representatives have been recognized with numerous awards.

Ohio Junior representative, Michaela Hahn, had her first experience on the national circuit. She placed fifth overall nationally as well as receiving second in handwork and second in machine embroidery.… Continue reading

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Student denied opportunity to take bar exam due to debt level

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

Graduating from law school does not guarantee the graduate will be permitted to sit for the bar exam. In Ohio, prospective new lawyers who apply to take the bar exam must first pass a character and fitness evaluation. Ohio recently made the national news when the Ohio Board of Bar Commissioners denied a woman the opportunity to take the bar exam and indicated her student loans were a significant part of the reason for the denial. The Ohio Supreme Court has not ruled on the matter, although it heard oral arguments on Jan. 28, 2020.

Cynthia Marie Rodgers, 59, graduated from Capital Law School. She also has an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University. In addition, she began, but did not finish, a master’s program at the school. Rodgers has over $300,000 in student loan debt. Her husband is semi-retired and seeking disability.… Continue reading

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USDA NASS discontinues county level estimates for selected crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will no longer publish county level estimates for dry edible beans, flaxseed, hay (alfalfa and other), potatoes, sugarbeets, sugarcane, sunflower (non-oil and oil varieties) and tobacco. In addition, NASS will discontinue county estimates based on irrigated/non-irrigated practices for all crops. These changes are effective beginning with the 2019 crop year.

The data collection cost for the surveys used to gather the data used for county level estimates had been partially funded through a cooperative agreement, which was not renewed. As a result, NASS is adjusting its county estimates program to reflect the lower funding availability. Before making this decision, NASS published the details of these intended changes in a Federal Register Notice which allowed public comment. All feedback was carefully reviewed and considered before making the decision to discontinue these estimates.

All NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov/Publications.… Continue reading

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2020 Overholt Drainage School coming in March

The 2020 Overholt Drainage School will be held in Lancaster at the Fairfield Agricultural Center March 9 though 12.

The intensive 4-day program will provide continuing education for land improvement contractors, soil and water conservation technicians, farmers, engineers, consultants, sanitarians, and others interested in advancing their knowledge of basic concepts, principles, and skills related to the purpose, design, layout, construction, and management of soil and water conservation systems with an emphasis on water management and water quality. Instructors include land grant university faculty/staff, Natural Resources Conservation Service/Ohio Department of Agriculture/Soil and Water Conservation District engineers and technicians, Agricultural Research Service engineers and scientists, and experienced Ohio Land Improvement Contractors and Association contractors and associates. Topics will include:

  • Agricultural subsurface drainage: System design, layout and installation
  • Drainage water management: Controlled drainage system design, layout and installation
  • Applications for water management, drainage water harvesting
  • Water quality improvement practices for Midwest agricultural drainage
  • Issues with nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Benefits for water quality and crop yields
  • Water management zones, mains, lateral spacing
  • Layout examples and exercises
  • WTC structure installation
  • Wood-chip bioreactors, phosphate filters
  • Blind surface inlets and
  • Buffers with controlled drainage.
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Corn market history

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

The world continues to watch the development of the coronavirus. Many are wondering if it will delay the Phase One deal or impact demand in China or other parts of the world. On a positive note, basis values among end users throughout the U.S. are staying firm, and in many cases are increasing for both corn and beans.

There are so many variables impacting the market that no two marketing years are ever the same. Weather arguably has the biggest impact on the market, and it can’t be forecasted accurately more than two weeks out. So, it’s impossible for anyone to correctly predict the market consistently.

Despite so much uncertainty, farmers still need to make grain marketing decisions every day. And while nothing is ever guaranteed, looking at historical trends can provide some insight on averages and tendencies that can help guide decision-making.

Below are some historical values for December corn futures over the past 3 decades.… Continue reading

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Deer hunter or Bambi lover: What you should know about chronic wasting disease

By Don “Doc” Sanders

I can still remember as a 12-year-old seeing live deer for the first time, in the field near my childhood home in Auglaize County. With his Super-8 movie camera my uncle captured four deer jumping a fence after they scouted the field for several minutes. It was an awesome experience for our whole family; none of us had ever seen deer in the wild.

Fast forward to today: We see deer everywhere. We also see the consequences of their presence, like damaged crops, deer-vehicle collisions and trampled flower beds. Deer seem to take a special liking to the security of residential areas, within city limits, safe from hunters. As a plus for the city deer, some people delight in putting out food, apparently in case the moochers are still hungry after plundering their neighbors’ gardens.

With deer as plentiful as they are, we’re constantly on edge as we drive on highways and country roads, especially at dusk, fearful one might run out at any moment into our path or the side of our car or truck.… Continue reading

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Technology and rural America

New technology holds promise for America’s small farms and rural businesses, but public-sector involvement — such as for expanding rural broadband access — is needed for that promise to be realized.

So said Doug Jackson-Smith, professor of water security and rural sociology in The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), in comments delivered Jan. 9 in Washington, D.C., to the U.S. House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development.

“New technology offers opportunities for small businesses, especially small farmers,” Jackson-Smith said at a hearing convened by the subcommittee titled “Farming in the 21st Century: The Impacts of Agriculture Technology in Rural America.” “But without a public investment and strategy, it probably won’t have that effect.”

Jackson-Smith is a faculty member with Ohio State’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) and CFAES’ School of Environment and Natural Resources.

U.S. Rep.… Continue reading

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Learn more about eFields at regional meetings

By Elizabeth Hawkins, Ohio State University Extension

Have you been enjoying the 2019 eFields Report and are excited to learn more? The Ohio State Digital Ag team is hosting six regional eFields meetings this winter. Join us to learn more about the eFields program and results we are seeing across the state. Each meeting will feature presentations highlighting local trials including seeding rate, nutrient management, and crop management. There will be a panel discussion featuring cooperating farmers who are conducting on-farm research with Ohio State Extension. We would also like to hear from you about what topics you are interested in seeing in eFields in the future.

There is no cost to attend; for more information or to register for a meeting, visit go.osu.edu/eFieldsMeeting. Please plan to join us for the meeting nearest you:

Northwest Region: February 26th, 9AM-12PM, Bryan

Central Region: February 27th, 9AM-12PM,

South Central Region: March 9th, 9AM-12PM, Circleville

East Region: March 10th, 6-9PM, Coshocton

West Central Region: March 16th, 9AM-12PM, Piqua… Continue reading

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Getting involved to share the story of agriculture

By Matt Reese

With fewer voices than ever before, trade wars, plant based meats, terrifying disease outbreaks, escalating animal rights concerns, and fickle consumer demands are just a few items on an increasingly lengthy list of challenges facing animal agriculture. The obstacles can seem overwhelming, but the 2020 Ohio Pork Industry Excellence award winner has some advice about how those in agriculture can address the challenges facing farms.

“You have to be involved,” said Jim Heimerl of Licking County who was recognized at the Ohio Pork Congress this week. “There are fewer people in our industry and we have to speak up. There are so many people out there trying to run our industry into the ground and we have to focus on our grassroots efforts and speak louder. The consumers trust us and they want to hear from us, but for our voices to be heard you have to be involved.”… Continue reading

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Pork Congress highlights

By Matt Reese

This week’s Ohio Pork Congress offered the opportunity to reflect on accomplishments, review lessons learned in the past year, and look to the future for opportunities to enhance Ohio’s pork industry. Important pork industry topics covered at the event ranged from watershed-local to international in scale, said Dave Shoup, Ohio Pork Council president.

“The governor’s H2Ohio plan has allocated money to farmers to allow them to adopt different practices to clean up the water in Lake Erie through the Maumee Watershed. We also talked about the Ohio Agricultural Conservation Initiative, a voluntary program where environmental groups and farmers came together and are working on a plan on how to implement that money in the best possible way. We are trying to understand the practices farmers are using through an app that is being developed so that at the end of the next 2 or 3 years we can see what advancements have been made,” Shoup said.… Continue reading

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Adapting to extreme weather

By James J. Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services 

Extreme weather appears to have become “normal.” Actually, maybe the last 50 years (1960-2010) may have been “abnormal” when you look at long-term climate records. What is considered extreme weather today was more normal several hundred years ago. What should we expect and how can we adapt in the future?  Yearly average moisture for Northern Ohio has been 32-36 inches with 42-50 inches in Southern Ohio. The last four years have been among the top 10 wettest on record and Northern Ohio averaged 50 inches (excluding Lake Erie affected counties), possibly going to 60 inches. Northern Ohio weather today is more like Southern Indiana weather 30 years ago.

Extreme weather events will change your future farming operation. During wet springs, farmers use large equipment and additional hired help to plant in a shorter time period. Growing winter cover crops with evapotranspiration may dry the soil quicker.… Continue reading

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FDA stall tactics hurting U.S. agriculture on gene editing research

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) misrepresentation of a gene edited livestock research project is its latest stall tactic designed to rationalize a regulatory grasp on an emerging technology that must be regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) if the United States is to maintain its global leadership position in agriculture.

“While countries like China, Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly on this advancement to gain competitive advantage, the United States is falling far behind because of the FDA’s precautionary regulatory approach,” said David Herring, National Pork Producers Council president. “Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process. Unless we move oversight to the USDA, we are ceding a technology that promises significant animal health benefits, including immunity to disease and reduction in the need for antibiotic use, to other countries and jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of American jobs.”

A published FDA analysis of the research project involving two gene edited calves omitted important information, including the following:

  • As noted in the FDA analysis, unintended alterations materialized in the gene edited calves.
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Fertilizer applied years ago still affects Lake Erie

By Alayna DeMartini, Greg LaBarge and Laura Johnson

Although corn or soybeans could not be planted on 1.6 million acres of Ohio farmland last year and little to no fertilizer was applied to those fields, the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie still was high.

That might seem odd. After all, many of those unplanted acres were in northwest Ohio, the region that feeds into the Maumee River and ultimately into Lake Erie.

But a lot of phosphorus was already present in fields from fertilizer applied years before, and older phosphorus is another contributor to the level of phosphorus in Lake Erie, said Greg LaBarge, an Ohio State University Extension field specialist.

Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension Field Specialist

Phosphorus runoff from farm fields is a cause of the harmful algal blooms plaguing the lake.

“Phosphorus was already in fields, ditches, rivers, and tributaries, and it just moved downstream,” LaBarge said.

The rain added momentum — 2019 was the sixth wettest year on record in Ohio, which increased the chances that phosphorus, an ingredient in fertilizers and manure, would travel downstream with the rainwater, said LaBarge, an agronomist involved in a statewide phosphorus water quality monitoring effort.

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China announces cuts to U.S. tariffs

China announced in early February it would cut tariffs in half on $75 billion of U.S. imports. Beginning Feb. 14, the country plans to drop tariffs on some U.S. goods from 5% to 10%, while levies on some other items will be reduced to 2.5% from 5%. Punitive tariffs on U.S pork will be reduced by 5%, leaving the total duty at 63%.

The National Pork Producers Council continues to urge China to remove all punitive tariffs on U.S. pork to get to a level playing with international competitors that are at 8%. If all restrictions on exports to China were removed, in 10 years, U.S. pork would double sales, create 184,000 new American jobs and reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China by nearly 6%.

 … Continue reading

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