Trade Center photos put Ohio farm boy on world stage

By Matt Reese

The work of former Ohio farm boy Scott Lahmers has gone viral on the Internet as viewers from around the world clicked on his pictures of work being done in the One World Trade Center, Tower One, in Lower Manhattan.

The son of a 4-H agent, Lahmers grew up in Morgan County raising steers, chickens, pigs, sheep, and horses on the small farm for family consumption and 4-H and FFA projects. His sister, Beth, currently serves as an OCJ copy editor and oversees traffic for Ohio Ag Net. Lahmers and his wife currently live in Georgia, but he frequently returns home to Ohio, especially for Ohio State football games.

Lahmers started working as an elevator constructor helper in downtown Columbus. After years of work, he now serves as a technical specialist for ThyssenKrupp Americas. One of his projects now has Lahmers lofty in the rafters of the One World Trade Center project in New York, with ThyssenKrupp Americas installing 74 elevators and 9 escalators in the building.… Continue reading

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Crop input outlook for 2013

By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management
OSU Extension, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics

Crop profitability prospects for 2013 are positive for the three major row crops in Ohio. Input costs have increased from last year but high crop futures prices for 2013 crops will allow producers to plan for positive margins next year. OSU Extension Enterprise Budget projections show positive returns for corn, soybeans and wheat in 2013.

OSU Extension Budgets show projected variable (cash) costs for corn, soybean, and wheat production to be 4%, 6% and 2.5% higher, respectively in 2013 versus 2012. Higher commodity prices and higher costs point to another risky production year as the cash investment in an acre of corn will top $400 (excluding land, machinery and labor costs) and in some production scenarios be closer to $450 per acre. The cash investment in an acre of soybeans or wheat will be in the $200 to $260 range.… Continue reading

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Drainage, yields and the environment

By Kayla Weaver, OCJ field reporter

With solid market prices and steady land values, Ohio farmers are taking the opportunity to reinvest in their farms by making improvements or upgrading their equipment. Many are choosing to invest more in their land with the installation of new drainage systems that also allow them to take advantage of new technology.

Steve Gerten, owner and operator of Inbody Drainage in Leipsic serves as the chairman of the Ohio Land Improvement Contractors of America (OLICA) and has been very involved in the new trends in drainage in his business.

“The farm economy over the last four or five years has been successful as far as being able to finally make a decent profit margin. In turn, farmers are reinvesting into their farms. I think technology, such as a yield monitor, plays a role as they can see an impact in fields they’ve tiled and can quickly see the payback of having a drainage system,” he said.… Continue reading

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January 11th USDA Crop Report


USDA pegged corn production at 10.78 billion bushels, which is up 1% from November estimates but still down 13% from the 2011 crop. The average yield was 123.4 bushels per acre, which was at the high end of pre-report estimates. Corn yields were down 23.8 bushels per acre from 2011.

In hitting 10.78 billion bushels, USDA raised the average yield per acre in this report yet lowered the number of harvested acres to 87.4 million acres.


Soybean production was projected at just over 3 billion bushels, which was comparable to the average trade estimates. Soybean production is down 3% from 2011, but still the seventh-largest crop in U.S. history. The average yield was projected at 29.6 bushels per acre, which also was the same as pre-report estimates.


Wheat acres came in at 41.8 million, which was below average trade estimates. USDA projected 29.1 million Hard Red Winter Wheat acres, which fell below the range for pre-report estimates.… Continue reading

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Finding balance between stewardship and productivity

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Stewardship is a long-standing, core American value that has been a backbone of farms for generations.

John Tomke, Wildlife and the Hunting Heritage Conservation Council (WHHCC) Chairman, said it’s important to find a balance between land ethics and productivity.

“We need to move the dialogue from conservation or productivity to conservation and productivity,” Tomke said. “Farmers and sportsman play a key role in that because they have had a long partnership and they are really some of America’s first conservationists.”

Tomke said that is the reason the WHHCC was developed. WHHCC is an official advisory group established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Council advises the federal government — through the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture — about agency activities that benefit recreational hunting and wildlife resources, and activities that encourage partnership among the public, the sporting conservation community, the shooting and hunting sports industry, wildlife conservation organizations, and federal and state governments.… Continue reading

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Robotic milking boosts production while cutting labor cost

By Heather Hetterick and Matt Reese

Doug Horst got to take his family on a Disney trip away from the dairy farm this year, but chances are that they did not encounter anything much more magical then what they have at home. Doug’s newfound flexibility to travel somewhere other than the milking parlor on his family’s Legend Dairy, Ltd. in Wayne County is a result of the addition of two Lely Astronaut milking robots in September of 2011, which are pretty magical in their own right.

The cost of labor continues to rise and, even with a higher pay grade, finding the right person for the job on a dairy farm is challenging, particularly for small to mid-sized farms. Though they cost around $200,000, robots can make economic sense when looking at the labor savings and increased milk production they offer.

“Three or four years ago we went to the Farm Science Review and saw robotic milkers down there and it sparked an interest.… Continue reading

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ACRE payments not probable in Ohio for 2012

By Chris Bruynis, Assistant Professor and Ohio State University Extension Educator

Recently I read an article that suggested that an Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) payment might be possible for the corn crop in Illinois. So, I thought maybe it might be possible here in Ohio. We have relatively good estimates from the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) on the 2012 yield for Ohio. Corn yield is estimated at 123 bushels per acre and soybeans at 43 bushels per acre. Corn represents a decline of approximately 22% and soybeans are down 10% from the five-year Ohio Olympic average.

The ACRE revenue guarantee for corn in Ohio is $627. To calculate the actual crop revenue for the state, simply multiply the state average yield times the market average price for the year. The market year starts in September of 2012 and goes through August 2013. Since the market average price is not known, one can determine what the market price needs to be to generate an ACRE payment by dividing the ACRE revenue guaranty by the average yield.… Continue reading

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Friday marks new release time for USDA report

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

As announced back in September, USDA’s crop reports due on Friday will have a bit of a different twist to them. These reports will be the first major reports released at their new time of noon, which will take place while the markets are in an open outcry session. Previously the release time was 8:30 a.m. Eastern. This change comes with the markets being open 24 hours a day. So why is the new release time noon?

“Apparently that is a time that has fairly good liquidity in the market where many people are active in trading,” said Gerald Bange, USDA Chief Economist.

Bange’s staff certainly likes the change as before they had to get to work at midnight to get the 8:30 a.m. reports put together and released. The later release time means a little more sleep, but not much.

“We’re still going to have to get in here at a fairly early hour,” Bange said.… Continue reading

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Successful calving seasons depends on forage quality

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Feeding poor quality forages to cows in the late gestation or early lactation period can mean devastating results when it comes to conception rates in the following breeding season. That is why John Grimes, beef coordinator for Ohio State University Extension, recommends that producers check the nutrition values in their forage supplies.

“Sometimes we lose sight or simply forget the status of the hay when we made it back in May or June,” Grimes said. “Last year wasn’t a great year for forage production and while there may be decent quality out there we do get concerned this time of year when the cold weather hits and our livestock’s needs change.”

Animals tend to become more stressed when there is dampness and a chill in the air and, in turn, need more quality nutrition, especially with calving season approaching. If producers find they have poor quality forage, they may want to supplement the feed with higher quality corn for those cows, particularly with first-calf heifers.… Continue reading

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Kidron Auction celebrates 90 years of family tradition

By Heather Hetterick and Matt Reese

Tractors can practically drive themselves with satellite guidance, robots are milking cows and livestock can be monitored remotely via the Internet, but not every business is leaping into the technological boom that affects most aspects of agriculture. The Kidron Auction in Wayne County will be celebrating 90 years in the Sprunger family this year and, quite frankly, many aspects of the business are not much different from yesteryear.

“We do not really use computers. The system is all paper,” said Jedd Sprunger, the third generation of his family to work with the auction. “It may be a little more efficient with a computer system and we may need to look at that. That is one of the things we need to look at moving forward, but it is hard to mess with something that still works and has worked for a long time.”

While computers could add some efficiency, the paper trail would still be needed for data back up for weight slips, buyers and numerous other things, anyway.… Continue reading

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No-till, cover crops and drought

By Randall Reeder, Faculty Emeritus, Ohio State University Extension

You’ve probably seen the commercial for gold that asks, “If I offered you $5,000 in either gold or paper money, which would you take?”

The commercial implies that gold is better, but if I’m going to use the money tomorrow as a down payment on a truck, I’ll take the cash. Otherwise, I’ll have the expense of selling the gold first.

Cover crops may present a similar question for you. If you knew the 2013 growing season would be just as dry as 2012, would you want to have cover crops in your fields today? Your ground may be covered with snow, so you won’t see any difference between a dormant cover crop and bare ground. But dormant cover crops have living roots (the same as winter wheat), and those roots provide sustenance to the biology in the soil, and continue to take up nutrients.… Continue reading

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Ten food predictions in a changing 2013

By David White, Ohio Livestock Coalition

Supermarket guru Phil Lempert recently released his top 10 food predictions for 2013. If these predictions come true, what impact will they have on the livestock industry and consumers in both the short and long term?

Snacking and mini-meals: Think smaller bites and more frequent eating patterns that reduce overall portion size and increase variety. Restaurants will add more small plates and appetizers to the menu while grocery stores and food companies will offer new snacks with appropriate pre-portioned options to take the guesswork out of portion sizes. According to the NPD Group, more than half of Americans snack two to three times per day, while one in five eating occasions is a snack.

Men in the supermarket and kitchen: Men and dads are getting more comfortable and powerful in the kitchen. Look for supermarkets to increase their focus on men in 2013 as they’ve become more active in shopping, meal planning and cooking.… Continue reading

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I think my jacket’s sexy: Behind the scenes

In one of the more unusual and bizarre projects ever undertaken by Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net staff, our latest video production has been wildly popular on the Internet. “I still think my jacket’s sexy” is set to a popular country tune that is among the most widely viewed videos we’ve ever posted. This is well worth watching just to see Dale Minyo squeeze into an FFA jacket from yesteryear.

We did the video to promote the first ever Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net

FFA Week Video Contest. The theme of the contest is “Rocking Out With FFA!” We are looking for videos that change the lyrics of a song to promote agriculture and FFA in general as well as what makes your chapter special.

Although they are well past their FFA prime, these past members put together a…well…entertaining example of what we are looking for and they set the bar very high.… Continue reading

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Unicorns for sale on craigslist

Most of you know by now that I’m a big craiglister. I buy and sell through it, and generally, I just enjoy glancing through the farm and garden category.

Even if I don’t find something to buy, I’m often entertained by the advertisements. Not much of anything is off limits, but even though I look at craiglist all the time, even I was astounded by the following ad that one of my Facebook friends shared:

“2 Unicorns for Sale – $930000 (Hartford)
We are selling 2 purebred unicorns. Male is 3 years old named Pagasus. Female is 5 years old and named Daisy. Price of $930,000 USD is per unicorn.

Unicorns are hand fed from birth, and require just as much attention if you do decide to welcome a unicorn into your home.

We are the only fully licensed unicorn breeder in North America, and are NUBAA certified. Call now to be put on the waiting list, on which wait times start at 9 months out


We also offer unicorn eggs for purchase.”… Continue reading

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Political lessons from a cookie and the fiscal cliff

By Matt Reese

The other day, I was working at home and the children were finishing up their lunches. My wife was out running errands, so I was in charge of cleanup.

My son asked to be excused and then asked very politely if he could have a cookie.

“I’ll tell you what buddy,” I said. “If you help me clean up lunch, you can have a cookie.”

I grabbed a couple of dishes and took them to the sink and grinned as I heard the three-year-old scrambling to pick up his plate behind me. He must have really wanted a cookie. Then, however, I grew concerned as I heard water running from somewhere other than the kitchen sink where I was standing.

I dropped what I was doing and hurried around the corner to the bathroom to the source of the running water. I found that, within seconds, my well-intentioned son had dumped his half eaten plateful of deli turkey and cottage cheese down the drain of the bathroom sink (no garbage disposal in there).… Continue reading

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Kicking the milk jug down the road

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

For the dairy industry, 2013 will be the same old, same old as far as policies from last year. The farm bill has been extended through September and the dairy price support program is now good through the end of December.

For groups like the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) that were hoping for a fresh five-year farm bill including the Dairy Security Act, the actions made by Congress to avoid the Fiscal Cliff were not even close to what the dairy industry needs moving forward.

“The real issue for dairy farmers is that we don’t have a meaningful safety net as we start 2013,” said Chris Galen, Senior Vice President of Communications for NMPF. “Yes, Congress extended the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, but that really doesn’t help as many people as we would like in the way that we would like.”

Congress also extended the price support program, not at the 1949 level but at the existing level, which is much lower.… Continue reading

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Sorting facts, half-truths and fiction of antibiotics

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Antibiotic resistance continues to be a major topic of discussion in the press. Unfortunately, accurate information is hard to come by, thanks to do-gooder activists who cloud the issue with their agenda. Here, I offer you my take on antibiotic resistance and the implications of antibiotic use for livestock.

First, please understand that there are two major categories of antibiotics for food animals: therapeutic antibiotics and sub-therapeutic antibiotics.

Therapeutic antibiotics

Used to treat sick animals, some of these drugs also are used to treat humans. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates withdrawal times to help prevent therapeutic antibiotics from entering the food chain. The U.S. has one of the most regulated food systems in the world. Milk and meat from treated animals must be tested multiple times to ensure no residue is present when these food products enter the market. The FDA also tightly regulates the classes of antibiotics designated to fight major diseases in humans.… Continue reading

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Farm bill extension falls short of ag expectations

By Matt Reese

As part of the scramble for fiscal cliff legislation that was passed by Congress to kick off the New Year, the majority of the 2008 Farm Bill will be extended through September 30 of this year. Many in agriculture have expressed disappointment that Congress could not put together a comprehensive farm bill.

“America’s farmers have clearly made known the importance and need of a new farm bill in 2012. Once again Congress’ failure to act pushes agriculture aside hampering farmers’ ability to make sound business decisions for the next five years. The National Corn Growers Association is tired of the endless excuses and lack of accountability. The system is clearly broken,” said Pam Johnson, National Corn Growers Association President. “We hope the 113th Congress proves to be more fruitful and that the leaders in Congress can place petty partisanship aside to create a bill that benefits all of America.”… Continue reading

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McPheron settling in as dean at Ohio State

A conversation with…

Bruce McPheron, the new dean of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

OCJ: You came to Ohio State University from Penn State, but you have plenty of Ohio connections. Could you tell us about your background in the Buckeye State?

Bruce: I grew up in Ohio — first in Union County and later in Hardin County. Both my mother’s and father’s families came from the Hardin and Allen County areas, so when my father’s Navy career ended and he brought the family back to Ohio, it was a return home for us. When I later met my future wife, Marilyn Turner, at the Hardin County Fair, I reinforced that Ohio connection through her family. In later years, when I returned to Ohio between work on my Masters and PhD programs, we lived for a short time in Scioto County and then, during my OSU Extension agent days, in Clermont County.… Continue reading

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Top videos of 2012

Videos are becoming more popular on our web site and 2012 was a big year for popular videos. From the champion livestock at the Ohio State Fair to bird’s eye footage of 100 bushel soybeans, video viewers were tuning in more than ever before.

The most popular videos on our site in 2012 were:

1. 2012 Ohio State Fair Grand Champion Market Beef

2. Cab Cam-Louie Rehm’s 100-bushel soybeans

3. 2012 Ohio State Fair Grand Champion Barrow

4. Cab Cam with John Wilson

5. Riding a draft horse bareback on a warm January day in Ohio Continue reading

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