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Hay and straw: Labor of love? Or love of labor?

By Matt Reese

Baling hay and straw is a labor of love for brothers Miles and Caleb von Stein that requires a love of labor they’ve had since high school.

“Growing up, Caleb and I loved baling. We did it for our FFA SAE project. We started with 20 or 40 acres of straw. Dad and my uncle said we’d never get it all baled,” Miles said. “That was in 2010 and it almost was a personal challenge and we tried to do more every year. Then they didn’t think we could do 50 or 60 acres and now we are doing 600 or 700 acres. The fact that they thought we couldn’t do it almost fueled us even more to grow.”

Small square bales of hay and straw have paved the way for the von Steins to take their Hancock County family farm in a new and innovative direction focused on soil health, high quality products and meeting unique customer demands.… Continue reading

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Challenges continue for pork producers in wake of Trump executive order

By Matt Reese

President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to extend federal support to the U.S. meat production and production systems. By triggering the DPA, the federal government will prioritize the continuity of meat processing plant operations.

The nation’s pork industry has been hit particularly hard with processing back-ups in recent weeks, said Cheryl Day, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Council.

“The executive order is taking real time action to ensure the safety of those workers in the plant but also to make sure our food supply chain for meat and poultry will continue,” Day said. “It declares that processing plants are critical infrastructure and seeks to safely keep those processing plants open so farmers can keep delivering hogs at some level and there will be pork delivered to the consumer. While this won’t financially fix what is going on in the industry at the farm level, it definitely will help them continue to deliver hogs and it is the right move in the right direction.”… Continue reading

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4-H events cancelled statewide through July 6

By Kolt Buchenroth

According to a letter penned by Dr. Kirk Bloir, Assistant Director of 4-H Youth Development with Ohio State University Extension, all Ohio 4-H events are cancelled through July 6, 2020. This closure does not include county fairs, which are governed by county agricultural societies. The letter reads:

It is with a heavy heart that I share this news with you. Due to ongoing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision has been made to cancel all Ohio State University Extension in-person programming through July 6.

This includes all 4-H programs, activities, and events. Additionally, we’ve made the very difficult decision to cancel all 4-H camps through August 31. Although in-person programming is canceled, we will continue to offer virtual 4-H experiences.

We know this is an incredible disappointment and recognize how much everyone looks forward to our cherished 4-H summer events. As 4-H professionals committed to providing positive youth development programming, we share your sense of loss.

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Is a wetter-than-average spring on the way?

Farmers anxiously awaiting spring rain forecasts might want to take several deep breaths and keep their rubber boots ready.

Above-average spring rainfall is expected in March, April, and May—which is exactly what happened last year.

However, recent forecasts call for warmer-than-average temperatures in March. If that happens, that could dry up some of the ground moisture, making it manageable for farmers to get into their fields to prep them for planting.

How much rain will this spring bring?

“It’s impossible to say,” said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Time will tell whether the rain levels will rival last year’s, when farmers across the state struggled to get into their saturated fields. An unprecedented number of fields across Ohio could never be planted. When farmers were able to get into their fields, they risked their tractors and other equipment getting mired in the mud and compacting the soil, making it less suitable for seed growth.… Continue reading

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Keeping your head in the agricultural game while the rules keep changing

A conversation with…

Michael Swanson, an economist with Wells Fargo Bank who spoke at the 2020 Ohio Agribusiness Association Industry Conference

 

OCJ: You talked about how the three-point line changed the strategy of the game of basketball with the addition of an arbitrary line added to the court. Coaches, players and teams all had to adjust their game plans to account for the change and those who adapted most quickly and effectively had the advantage. Agriculture certainly has some similarities. What are they?

Michael: Every day someone is drawing a new three-point line on our court. It could be a regulatory three-point line. It could be a technology three-point line. Either way, it changes the game. Agriculture used to be a labor-intensive industry and now it is an input driven industry. You used to be able to get up earlier, work later and out produce your neighbor. That is not always the case anymore.… Continue reading

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People, product and protocol — Biosecurity and African swine fever

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

The world is watching African swine fever (ASF) and it is a top concern for the U.S. pork industry.

“It would be devastating for our industry. Our industry depends on exports,” said Dave Pyburn, Vice President of Science and Technology at the National Pork Board. “Immediately in the face of an outbreak of any of the big three foreign animal diseases, (classical swine fever, foot and mouth disease, and ASF), we would see all exports stop.”

ASF is not harmful to humans, but is fatal to pigs. This particular swine disease has a near 100% fatality rate according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The ASF virus originated in sub-Saharan Africa, though most of the ASF headlines have come from China. According to a Purdue Agricultural Economics report, the USDA estimates that hog slaughter and pork production are falling sharply in China as ASF continues to devastate the Chinese pork industry.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Weather and Forecast – January 9, 2020

January 9, 2020 -- Rain begins overnight tonight with just general showers. Through tomorrow we see showers continue, spreading across the entire state. The Friday rain action will be steady, but generally light. Then a second wave is still on the way for  Saturday into early Sunday. We are keeping event rain totals this morning at 1-3" with coverage at 100%

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To outer Mongolia and back

By Don “Doc” Sanders

When I was a boy, my Dad would often use “outer Mongolia” to describe the location of anyone or anything that was a distance from us — including the closest fertilizer plant to our farm, about 40 miles away.

He’d be impressed that I recently returned from outer Mongolia — or rather, the real-life independent nation of Mongolia, situated north of China and east of Siberia, more than 6,000 miles further away from home than that fertilizer plant. I was invited by the Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM) to participate in their V.E.T. Net mission project in Mongolia.

About 25 years ago, Gerald and Francis Mitchem were called to create V.E.T. Net and bring the gospel to the people of Mongolia. They realized that to be successful in introducing the gospel it was important to help Mongols by improving the care of their horses, sheep and cows for a better quality of human life before they could evangelize.… Continue reading

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A large increase in historic family farms recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Historic Family Farms Program registered 975 historic farms between 2010-2019. That’s a 26% increase in historic farms during the decade. In comparison, during the program’s first 16 years (1993-2009), 749 farms were registered. The top registering counties in the last decade were: Putnam County, 122 farms, Mercer County, 65 farms and Hancock County, 33 farms.

Ohio’s Historic Family Farms program was developed in 1993 to honor Ohio’s founding farm families for their contributions to agriculture in Ohio. Farms under same-family ownership for 100 years or more qualify to be designated as a historic family farm.

“In 26 years, we’ve seen this program grow from eight recipients in its inaugural year to nearly 1,800 registered farms today. The level of enthusiasm from farm families receiving their historic designations is indisputable,” said Erin Dillon, program administrator for the Ohio Historic Family Farms Program. “The successes of the Historic Family Farms Program can be solely attributed to families who proudly continue their farming heritage — it’s our duty and honor to acknowledge that perseverance.”… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2019: #1

  1. $65 hay bales a sign of the times

It was tough for hay production in 2018-2019. That truth came to a fever pitch in June at the LaRue Horse and Tack Sale.

“We usually have an average of 300 to 500 bales a month that people bring in,” said Janeen Heilman, sale organizer. “In April, of this year, we had 439 bales of hay of all different kinds and cuttings. The average per bale for April was $5.64. In May, we only had 195 bales for sale. The average for those was $6.91 per bale.”

The situation, which has slowly been increasing in desperation, hit its peak on Saturday, June 1.

“This month, we only had 15 bales and we had two people hurting for hay. It ended up at $65 a bale,” she said. “We talked to make sure they knew how they were bidding and they did.”

You read that correctly — $65 for small square bales of fourth cutting alfalfa mix.… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2019: #2

  1. Citizens of Toledo approve the Lake Erie Bill of Rights

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) was passed by the citizens of Toledo in a special election held on Tuesday, Feb. 26. The passage of LEBOR opened up the possibility of thousands of lawsuits against any entity that could be doing harm to Lake Erie, including agricultural operations. This was immediately followed up with a lawsuit from Wood County farmer Mark Drewes challenging the constitutionality and legal status of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. This case has been moving in Drewes’ favor since then, but has not yet been resolved.… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2019: #3

  1. Hemp bill signed into law at the Ohio State Fair

Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 57 into law, decriminalizing hemp and paving the way for the development of a new hemp industry in our state. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will administer the newly created hemp program.

Hemp is a cannabis plant that does not produce intoxicating effects. Hemp contains a fiber, a grain, and oil that can be extracted for CBD, which is now being used in food and dietary supplements.

The hemp program sets up a licensing structure for farmers who are interested in growing the crop and those interested in processing it. It also allows for universities to grow and cultivate the crop for research purposes.… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2019: #4

  1. “Deal or No Deal” appearance yields big win and lasting memories for an Ohio family

In March of 2018, the Anderson family got more bad news. Randy Anderson, who had been fighting cancer for several years, found out it had spread. His daughter, Casey Heath, wanted to do something to help her father focus on something other than his pain and health issues. At the same time, Casey and her husband were contemplating selling their home in Sandusky so she could move closer to Bluffton to work at Anderson Tractor Supply, the family’s agribusiness in northwest Ohio.

The situation prompted Casey to do an unusual Google search to find out about the television game show “Deal or No Deal” — her father’s favorite game show. That led to the family being featured on the episode that first aired on Dec. 5, 2018. When the show was over, Casey had $133,000 — enough to make the financial leap for Casey to return to the family business.… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2019: #6

  1. June 11 brings bullish news for corn

Doug Tenney, with Leist Mercantile, has been a long time contributor and, in recent years, has been offering his insights immediately following the monthly USDA reports that often have tremendous implications for the crop markets. In June, after what had been the most challenging planting season in history that led to record setting prevented planting acres, there was clearly huge interest in the bullish numbers from USDA.… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2019: #8

  1. Ohio FFA’s Kolesen McCoy elected National FFA President

Heading into the 2019 National FFA Convention, the organization announced a record-high student membership of 700,170 and, in the next year, Kolesen McCoy, from the Global Impact STEM Academy Chapter, will be representing each of those members as only the third National FFA President from Ohio. The other National FFA presidents from Ohio were Bobby Jones in in 1933-1934 and Mark Sanborn in 1978-1979. McCoy is looking forward to building upon that heritage.… Continue reading

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