RINs part of a political battle of renewable fuels

RINs — Renewable Identification Numbers — have been in the news recently as a part of the ongoing political battle between oil companies and renewable fuel proponents.

“When the EPA put in place the Renewable Fuel Standard, they had to be sure the proper amounts of renewable fuels were being blended into the nation’s fuel supply. To account for that they created RINs. Every time a gallon of renewable fuel is created, a RIN is attached to it. It is an accounting system to make sure the RFS mandate is met. It is a tracking number for every gallon of biofuel created in the U.S.,” said John Torres, with Ohio Corn & Wheat. “RINs are bought and traded because not every fuel refinery in the country blends ethanol or biofuels. Those refiners that do not blend biofuels have to buy a RIN in order to offset the percent of the renewable fuels that is mandated.… Continue reading

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The raw deal with raw water: Fears of a few can lead to the doubts of many

I was recently in the midst of a battle with a broken water softener. I was made aware of the problem via an aggravating beeping sound coming from the basement — the “error” alarm on the water softener.

Within hours I discovered that my thrice-filtered well water had gone from clear to an unsettling iron orange color. I determined the problem, ordered the part and got the water softener issue resolved as quickly as possible. Filtered, treated, softened water is a very good thing that I really appreciate.

In the midst of the multiple-day water softening fiasco at my house, I read an article about the rise in popularity of a new, trendy beverage craze — raw water. According to the New York Times, raw water contains probiotics or “healthful bacteria” not found in city water or bottled water subjected to filtration that removes beneficial minerals. The “raw water” is said to be sourced from pristine natural springs and sells for staggering dollar figures of up to $60 a gallon.… Continue reading

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Dicamba training opportunities in Ohio

For those planning on planting dicamba tolerant crops next year, there is plenty of change coming in 2018 compared to last year.

The label requirements for spraying will be much different and training is being required for applicators.

“The new labels for Engenia, XtendiMax, and FeXapan have many new precautions that applicators need to be aware of,” said Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension herbicide specialist. “An additional requirement is that anyone applying these products must attend an annual dicamba or group 4 herbicide-specific training.”

In 2017, there were 27 official complaints of dicamba damage with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The U.S. EPA is monitoring complaint reports and the label changes in 2018 to determine whether to continue to allow post- application of dicamba.

The label changes will make the already narrow application window in 2017 even narrower in 2018. At Purdue University, Joe Ikley and Bill Johnson took a look at the potential window of opportunity for dicamba application last year based on 2017 label requirements.… Continue reading

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Mr. President, do not take farm vote for granted

I know that many people involved in agriculture, myself included, were thrilled to see President Donald Trump take time out of his very busy schedule to visit the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Nashville in January.

In that speech, we found out that the President is hearing about and working on so many issues that will affect farm country. From a new farm bill, to NAFTA, immigration reform, infrastructure, or countless regulations that are currently hindering progress in our industry, Mr. Trump mentioned the many woes facing agriculture as he spoke directly to thousands of farmers and ranchers from that stage in Music City.

The elephant in the room when it comes to rural America and politics at the highest levels of government is whether President Trump will truly take into account why he holds the title of Commander-In-Chief. If not for farm country, the oval office décor would have a completely different vibe.… Continue reading

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The benefits of selling options explained

Last week’s USDA report showed an increase of just over one bushel per acre in the average yield to 176.6 bushels per acre. Despite a slight decrease in the harvested acres in the report, there will likely need to be a supply disruption sometime in the next eight months for a significant rally to happen. It will probably need to be either a weather issue in Brazil over the next three months or in the U.S. this summer. Even a two million acre decrease in planted corn acres won’t likely be enough to get nearby corn back above $4 at this point. It will take five bushels below trend line yields too.

There is considerable fear that corn could slide down further over the next few months. While I think corn could test $3.30, I doubt farmers will sell that low which might help keep prices from staying at those values for long.… Continue reading

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Work ongoing to address unintended results of tax change that favors cooperatives

While many have suggested the recently passed tax law has numerous benefits for agriculture, there are some potential negative implications for private grain companies and other privately held purchasers of agricultural goods.

A provision affecting the qualified cooperative dividend was added to the tax bill late in the process last year in an effort to avoid a tax increase for farmers previously relying on the Section 199 Domestic Production Activities Deduction. The problem that has since surfaced, however, is that the provision may inadvertently favor cooperatives over private grain buyers due to potential tax deductions for farmers. In short, the change cuts farmer taxes on proceeds from agricultural products sold to cooperatives.

According to a statement from the Ohio AgriBusiness Association: “A provision in the new tax law gives growers a better deal at tax time if they sell their agricultural products to co-ops rather than other types of companies.… Continue reading

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Summary of the new tax law and its impact on Ohio agriculture

On Dec. 22, President Donald Trump signed HR 1 into law. This new law implements the most significant changes to our tax code in more than 30 years. This article provides a general overview of some of the provisions that most impact farmers.

• Tax Bracket Changes: Most farm businesses are taxed as sole proprietorships, partnerships or S corporations. This means business income is passed through to the owners, who pay taxes based upon individual income tax rates. HR 1 lowers individual income tax rates across the board, starting in 2018. The total number of brackets remains at seven, but the top rate will fall from 39.6% to 37%, and the amount of income covered by the lower brackets has been adjusted upward. The new law leaves the maximum rates on net capital gains and qualified dividends unchanged.

• Standard deductions: HR 1 increases the standard deduction from $12,000 to $24,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers and from $6,500 to $12,000 for single taxpayers.… Continue reading

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Neutral report, South America weather still huge factor

The long awaited USDA report day is finally here. Some consider this day one of the biggest days for USDA reports for the entire year. Before the report came out corn was unchanged and soybeans were down 4 cents. Just after the report was released corn was down a half-cent while soybeans were up 5 cents.

Corn ending stocks were raised 40 million bushels to 2.437 billion bushels. Corn yield for 2017 was put at 176.6 bushels per acre. Corn production was up 26 million bushels at 14.604 billion bushels. Corn exports were unchanged, corn for ethanol was unchanged. No surprises for corn.

Soybean yield was lowered to 49.1 bushels per acre, with production at 4.392 billion bushels, down 33 million bushels. Exports were cut 65 million bushels to 2.160 billion bushels. The trade was expecting
soybean exports to cut.

Brazil soybean production was increased to 110 million tons, up from108 million tons last month.… Continue reading

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Bells and whistles are few, but quality is elite at Ravenhurst Champagne Cellars

Chuck and Nina Harris like Champagne, really good Champagne.

“The reason we’re here is that I married a woman who liked to drink Champagne. That is how we met, over Champagne. We promised one another we’d learn more about it. She is a chemist and I am a chef so we looked at it in completely different ways,” said Chuck Harris, the winemaker and owner of Ravenhurst Champagne Cellars in Union County. “We are both originally from Van Wert. We went to high school together. We got together later in life after we’d tried a few careers and we started a pursuit of Champagne. Could we do this in Ohio? We looked all over the country and decided Ohio would be the best place, all things considered. We were pioneering here, especially with vinifera grapes. All of the other places we’d be just another face in the crowd.”

Along with being unique to the area, Harris picked a very specific location for very specific reasons.… Continue reading

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2018 OFMA Convention highlights

Each January the Ohio Fair Managers Association gathers for it annual convention to discuss exhibitions in warmer days ahead.

“The purpose of the convention is to be educational and it allows directors, especially newer directors, to come and rub shoulders with other fairs around the state. That is how you learn,” said Tom Stocksdale from Wayne County who serves as the District 5 representative on the Ohio Fair Managers Association Board of Directors. “People do not really understand the number of volunteer hours that even local fairs have. If fairs had to pay for everything that happens, they couldn’t afford to operate. So much depends on volunteer hours.”

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels was on hand this year to discuss some of the highlights expected during the upcoming Ohio fair season.

“We continue to look at the youth development opportunities that grow stronger every year. There are 94 different county and independent fairs out there and they tell us that exhibitorship is up.… Continue reading

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Controversial breezes…

As an outdoor writer and radio show host, I get the opportunity to “field test” new gear on a regular basis. I did just that during the recent deer firearms season with a product called Stand-Guard offered by Cleveland-based Spencer Gear LLC ( Stand-Guard is a collapsible dummy designed to be placed in a treestand when it’s not occupied by a hunter. The intention is to offer the appearance of a hunter-sized-and-shaped object “manning” the stand 24/7 to allow the local whitetail population to become used to seeing something up there, and not suffering any adverse consequence — such as an arrow through the lungs. At least until a real hunter shows up to replace the fake form.

The Stand-Guard also serves as a distant visual warning to other hunters that the stand is “occupied.” At least to those not bold enough to walk close enough to identify it as a fake — and hunters carrying binoculars who can see from afar that the form is made of fabric and doesn’t actually resemble a hunter much when viewed up close.… Continue reading

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Lettuce Work helping young people with autism serve others through agriculture

Doug and Julie Sharp of New Albany have devoted countless hours to working with youth and young adults that fall on the autism spectrum. Besides being the parents of an autistic child, Julie is a teacher at a school that specializes in working with students that have autism and Doug served on the school board.

Although there are many programs for youth that fall on the autism spectrum while they are in school, the Sharps noticed a distinct problem: after graduating from high school it is hard for youth with autism to receive support from external programs.

Seeing the need, the Sharps worked diligently to create the Lettuce Work Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 organization that serves young adults with autism and trains them for the future. The idea for Lettuce Work began in 2007. After construction of a 15,000 square foot greenhouse, partnering with a local high school, and plentiful paperwork, the first batch of lettuce was harvested in 2014.… Continue reading

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What’s next for Midwest land values?

Data released by land grant universities and industry organizations point out that there has been less farm and ranch land for sale than usual the past few years. Despite today’s slow land market, Farmers National Company is experiencing a 50% increase in the land it has for sale over its previous high volume.

The historic run-up in land prices during the decade leading up to and including 2013 faded in to the background as the past four years instead witnessed a steady and measured decline in values for crop and grazing land throughout the Midwest. Some regions experienced the decline sooner with a larger drop-off in land prices, whereas other regions saw less of a decline. Good quality land generally declined less while lower quality tracts saw weak demand and a bigger price decline. At this time, the market for quality land is steady to slightly stronger. So, what’s next for land values, up or down?… Continue reading

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Bouncing back from a worst case marketing scenario

While it’s a new year, there is nothing new for corn prices. A sideways market for the next three months seems likely.

There are indications that farmers would be willing to start selling as futures approach $3.60 to $3.70, but many seem to be refusing to sell below $3.50. On the flip side, end users indicate they don’t have much coverage and will buy during any market dips.

Bean prices are now largely driven by rain in South America. As the South American mid-summer approaches, they have had perfect growing conditions so far; however, mid-February is when moisture levels are most critical. Add to that, exports here are not pacing as planned to meet USDA estimates, and higher prices than the current upper $9s might be difficult.


Options — Straddle — Beans

As a part of my marketing strategy, I always understand all possible outcomes of each trade I do, and I make sure I’m willing to accept all potential scenarios.… Continue reading

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President Trump talks directly to Rural America at AFBF Convention

For the first time in over 25 years, a sitting President visited and addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. At this year’s event in Nashville, President Trump highlighted many items on his agenda that have Rural America in mind, including infrastructure, immigration reform, broadband access and much more.

He also touted some of his accomplishments throughout his first year in office that have already benefited America’s farmers and ranchers.

“We have been working every day to deliver for America’s farmers, just as they work every single day to deliver for us,” President Trump said. “We know that our nation was founded by farmers. Our independence was won by farmers. Our continent was tamed by farmers. Our armies have been fed by farmers and made of farmers and throughout our history farmers have always led the way.”

The first of many standing ovations for President Trump came when he mentioned new tax regulations and one tax, in particular, that has weighed heavily on agriculture.… Continue reading

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Ohio farm couple wins American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award

The 99th American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention brought big news for an Ohio farm couple.

Greg and Rose Hartschuh of Sycamore were named winners of American Farm Bureau’s Excellence in Agriculture Award. They will receive a new Ford truck, courtesy of Country Financial, and will also receive paid registration to the AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Reno, Nevada, Feb. 16-19.

“It was a really unique opportunity to compete and meet the other farmers from around the United States. It was definitely unexpected. We hoped that our Farm Bureau involvement and the things we have done in our community stood out in our applications. We were definitely pleasantly surprised to be named the winners,” Rose said. “Greg and I have been really active with Young Ag Professionals and we are starting to get to the end of the age group for that. It is nice to wrap up our involvement in YAP winning an award like this.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Net Podcast | Episode 39 | Hot Topics on a Cold Day

After driving in the snow and freezing rain on a cold January morning, Matt Reese and Ty Higgins hoped to thaw things a bit by covering some hot topics in agriculture for the 1st Ohio Ag Net Podcast if 2018, brought to you by AgriGold. Matt highlights his conversations with Dr. Tony Forshey and Director David Daniels with the Ohio Department of Agriculture about the upcoming County Fair season. Matt also talks water quality with Dr. Kevin King with USDA. Ty recently caught up with Dr. Carl Zulauf about the prospects of a 2018 Farm Bill actually happening in 2018.

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Unqualified federal judge candidates lead to long-term concerns

Did you hear about the nominee for the federal judge position in DC who could not answer basic questions about trial law when he was quizzed by the Senate Committee? Let me preface this by saying I try to avoid partisan politics in this column. And this complies because a Republican nominee was grilled by a Republican senator. To be specific, the nominee was Matthew Spencer Peterson, currently a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission. The questions were posed by Louisiana Senator John Neely Kennedy. And these questions were so basic that any fan of Law and Order could have knocked them out of the park.

Before the quiz began, Sen. Kennedy established that Matthew Spencer Peterson had never tried a case to verdict in a courtroom, never tried a jury trial (civil or criminal), never tried a bench trial, never tried anything in federal or state court and had never conducted a deposition by himself.… Continue reading

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Farm bill outlook for 2018

The farm bill debate has already started in farm shops and in Congress. With a tough agricultural economy and the fear of rising federal budget deficits after the recently signed tax bill, tensions will be running high on both sides of spending decisions.

“I think there is every reason to believe that we will do a farm bill next year, certainly at least an extension and the odds are that it will be re-written. The current tone is for limited change in all farm bill titles. A constrained budget is the key reason,” said Carl Zulauf, with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University. “It will depend on how things evolve from here. I think there is a lot of political momentum and economic momentum for a new farm bill. It probably won’t get done until close to the election if not after, but I do expect us to get a new farm bill.… Continue reading

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