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HSUS, Missouri and Ohio's new ag director: HumaneWatching with David Martosko

A conversation with … David Martosko, director of research, Center for Consumer Freedom

OCJ: What is the Center for Consumer Freedom and what interaction does CCF have with the Humane Society of the United States?

David: The Center is a nonprofit food-issues “action tank.” We weigh in on matters of public concern related to food and beverage production and marketing, and on all the various political issues that surround what we eat and drink. For too long, anti-agriculture and anti-industry activists have presumed to wear the white hats — mostly because nobody spoke up to challenge them. When they’re wrong (which is pretty often), we go on the offensive.

Our relationship with the Humane Society of the United States would best be described as “watchdog.” There’s no one else focusing with any serious energy on what this group is doing, who’s running it, and what its goals are.

Much of what HSUS does is, we would argue, wrong-headed in the same way that PETA’s endgame is wrong-headed.… Continue reading

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New Pioneer Web site

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, announced the launch of its newly redesigned web site,  www.pioneer.com . The site is designed to  quickly link growers to local, relevant and timely crop production-focused information. “Our goal is to provide growers access to Pioneer’s industry-leading expertise more quickly and easily,” said Terry Gardner, North American product marketing director for Pioneer.
The most significant change is the convergence of two Pioneer websites: www.pioneer.com and the Pioneer GrowingPoint web site.

“Growers now will be able to access the information that was on the GrowingPoint website without having to sign in,” Gardner said.

Personal data, such as account access, online payments and online recordkeeping remains secure and still requires the user to sign in. Pioneer gathered extensive feedback from growers, customers, Pioneer sales professionals, employees and media to drive the evolution of its Web strategy. The site features a new navigation menu that efficiently organizes information. A rollover feature displays a list of all the topics for each section, making it quicker and easier to locate content with fewer clicks.… Continue reading

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2010 corn harvest wrap-up

By Matt Reese

Stark County farmer Earl Wolf got an early start with harvest and finished early — Oct. 25, specifically. Wolf was not alone in his early finish. It was downright spooky with most of Ohio’s corn and soybean crop out of the fields before Halloween this year.

By Nov. 1, Ohio corn harvest was 91% complete, compared to the five-year average of 50%, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Soybeans were 97% harvested, with a five-year average for early November of 85%. Winter wheat emerged in Ohio was at 80%, with the average normally at 67%. The winter wheat crop rating for Ohio is 65% good to excellent, better than last year’s 61%.

Nationally, corn harvest was 91% complete compared to 24% last year and the 61% average, according to NASS. Soybeans were almost wrapped up at 96% harvested. Last year, soybeans were just half done by the same time.… Continue reading

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Ohio farms pay heavy toll for clean water violations

Last month, an Ohio pork producer received stiff fines and prison time, and a dairy owner and manure applicator also agreed to a heavy financial toll as a result of water pollution violations.

On Oct. 19, William H. Ringler, the owner and operator of Steamtown Farm, a 2,500-head pig-feeding operation in Ashley (Morrow and Delaware counties), was sentenced in U.S. District Court to three months imprisonment, three months of electronic monitoring, a fine of $51,750 and a restitution payment of $17,250 to Ohio EPA for allowing an unpermitted discharge that killed more than 36,700 fish and other small aquatic animals in June 2007.

Thousands of gallons of liquid whey, a dairy by-product used as a feed supplement for the pigs, leaked twice in eight days from a 26,000-gallon tank on Ringler’s farm, which is recognized as a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) and monitored by the state. The whey entered the farm’s drainage system and flowed into the west branch of

Alum Creek where it reduced dissolved oxygen levels.… Continue reading

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Ohio BioPreferred Rules progressing

After nearly 15 months of hard work on the legislation, the implementing rules for S. B. 131 (Gillmor) cleared their final hurdle today and will, along with the entire bioproducts purchasing program, become law in 30 days. The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) unanimously okayed the BioPreferred rules. Proferred by the Department of Administrative Services, the rules determine how the Ohio program will operate.

Essentially, Ohio’s program is identical to the federal BioPreferred purchasing program, with few differences:

* All state agencies, plus colleges and universities MUST purchase bioproducts in lieu of traditional products when the items are available, of similar quality and within 5% of the purchase price of the traditional item.
* Ohio has a voluntary purchasing program for 1,900 units of local government including cities, townships, counties, schools, fire departments, libraries, etc. This is a major plus for Ohio.
* Ohio will maintain the approved list of biopreferred products agencies may purchase.… Continue reading

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Harvest update from Between the Rows

Here in Ohio you have been very busy with harvest and wheat planting. Corn harvest jumped 11% during the week to 47% complete. Corn mature is 95% and average is 83%.

Soybeans are now 60% harvested that is up 17% from last week and well ahead of the average 40%.  Soybeans mature are said to be 89%, up from 80% last week.

Winter wheat planting is now 56% complete up from last week’s 30% and 12% ahead of the average pace.

Kevin Miller

Williams County

“There has been a lot of progress in the last two weeks. We’ve only had a half-inch of rain in that time and everything is dry. The ground is dry and the crops are dry. We have a 40% chance of rain tonight and another chance tomorrow.”

The wheat crop needs rain. “My wheat is all in. The wheat I planted right after fly free is really nice.… Continue reading

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The market for club pigs: This little piggy sold online

By Brian Roe and Tim Wyszynski, Ohio State University

The performance of brick and mortar institutions relative to Internet alternatives is of increasing interest for agriculture.  With Internet penetration rising steadily among US farm households (59% in 2009 vs. 29% in 1999), online markets hold great promise for increasing market efficiency, particularly for items where local markets are thin and search costs are high.  However, online markets must overcome issues of trust (Does the item meet its description? Will the seller actually send it?).  Furthermore, Internet markets are newer and need to attract enough buyers and sellers away from traditional markets in order to have a liquid market.  Once these barriers are overcome, questions still remain about whether online prices are comparable to prices in traditional markets.  For example, Ohio State research found that used tractor prices on eBay were 30% lower than similarly described tractors sold in traditional auctions.

One place where Internet sales have developed a foothold is in the club pig market. … Continue reading

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What can we learn for next year by analyzing potential 2010 corn crop losses?

By Eric Anderson, Syngenta agronomist, CPAg

With summer over and fall in full swing, most growers have turned their attention toward harvest, which has started in earnest in some areas throughout the Great Lakes District. Looking back, spring planting was ideal (at least early on) and environmental conditions were mostly satisfactory, leading the USDA to predict near-record yields for much of the area. However, some growers who have begun harvest are finding a little different story, with lower than expected yields, especially for corn. Let’s look at the year and examine probable causes for potential corn yield loss in 2010 as well as possible solutions for future reference.

2010 Corn Crop

1.) Too much rain – One obvious cause for overall yield loss in 2010 was too much rain early on. Most areas had an over abundance of rainfall from mid-May through mid-July. Many growers experienced some flooding, at least in low-lying areas, and consequently had drowned out areas where corn was completely killed.… Continue reading

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VeraSun attorneys retract demands for farmer payments

Corn growers who faced a legal deadline to repay money from corn sold in 2008 to the bankrupt ethanol producer VeraSun received some good news — the attorneys are dropping their questionable claims for payment.

“This is great news for farmers at a time when we need to focus on bringing in our crops,” said National Corn Growers Association President Darrin Ihnen. “We’re glad the lawyers saw the light and realized they had no legal justification to go after us. We had an excellent team working on this to make sure we had the right information, and to present our case.”

Because of bankruptcy law, attorneys representing VeraSun creditors were able to seek repayment from farmers and others who received money from VeraSun within 90 days prior to the bankruptcy filing.

In late August, hundreds of corn farmers received letters from attorneys threatening legal action. The letters offered to settle the matter with a payment equal to 80% of what the farmers received for their corn sales to VeraSun.… Continue reading

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Wineries work together for individual success

By Matt Reese

From sweet corn to pumpkins, farms that market directly to customers have long competed with their products for consumer dollars. The result of such competition, more often than not, tends to be detrimental for the farms involved and beneficial for the consumer.

The wine industry, however, has done quite the opposite. As the number of wineries around Ohio has exploded like an uncorked bottle of Champagne in recent years, many of the individual businesses have thrived rather than suffered from the increased competition

“The only way this industry got off of the ground in Ohio was all of the cooperation,” said Lee Wyse, who owns Rainbow Hills Winery in Coshocton County with his wife, Joy.

Wyse was the 36th licensed winery in the state and the first one in his region of the state when he started his business 23 years ago. As new wineries have come to the area, his business has benefited significantly.… Continue reading

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Don't jump the gun on fall N

After last year, no producer wanted to be late getting into the fields this fall. While it’s great to get the crop out early, collect soil samples while it’s still nice outside, and perform tillage while soil conditions are adequate, Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, said no one should be applying nitrogen yet.

“Last year’s harvest made it nearly impossible for many to properly fertilize their fields,” Fernandez said.

Every fall, producers who apply nitrogen worry that if they wait too long for temperatures to drop sufficiently, soils might become too wet to do the application. While the window of opportunity is small, it’s important to exercise good judgment to realize the benefit of such application.”

The management of nitrogen is important because this nutrient is both one of the most expensive inputs in today’s farming operations and one that can pose environmental concerns.… Continue reading

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Don’t jump the gun on fall N

After last year, no producer wanted to be late getting into the fields this fall. While it’s great to get the crop out early, collect soil samples while it’s still nice outside, and perform tillage while soil conditions are adequate, Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, said no one should be applying nitrogen yet.

“Last year’s harvest made it nearly impossible for many to properly fertilize their fields,” Fernandez said.

Every fall, producers who apply nitrogen worry that if they wait too long for temperatures to drop sufficiently, soils might become too wet to do the application. While the window of opportunity is small, it’s important to exercise good judgment to realize the benefit of such application.”

The management of nitrogen is important because this nutrient is both one of the most expensive inputs in today’s farming operations and one that can pose environmental concerns.… Continue reading

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Wooster Campus Damaged by Storm; OARDC, ATI Closed Sept. 17

WOOSTER, Ohio – At about 5:30 p.m on Sept. 16, a severe storm went through the Wooster campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. One minor injury has been reported. One greenhouse and at least three buildings, including Research Services, Agricultural Engineering, and Stone House, were damaged.

Trees are down across the campus, including in Secrest Arboretum. The adjacent Agricultural Technical Institute did not sustain damage. Both OARDC and ATI are a part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences in The Ohio State University. All OARDC-Wooster and ATI offices will be closed Friday, Sept. 17.

Trees are down across the campus, including in Secrest Arboretum. Both OARDC and ATI are a part of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

It has not been confirmed that the storm was caused by a tornado. Officials continue to assess damages. “We are grateful that our faculty, staff and graduate students are safe,” said Bill Ravlin, OARDC associate director.… Continue reading

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Land Improvement Contractors return to FSR

The organization, an affiliate of the Land Improvement Contractors of America, will showcase the latest in cutting edge field drainage technology, combining improved production practices with conservation water management.

The group, which strives to protect land and water resources, will be designing and installing drainage structures on 50 acres of the Molly Caren Agricultural Center during Farm Science Review, Sept. 21-23. Show participants will have the opportunity to see the installation process of the drainage structures, how they work and the opportunities that exist to improve water quality while potentially making crop production more profitable.

The installation of the drainage structures will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily just north of I-70 in the field demonstration area.

“Our ultimate goal with the drainage is to be able to get a return on our investment. We can measure this through increased yield,” said Matt Sullivan, Farm Science Review assistant manager.… Continue reading

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Control Aquatic Vegetation in Your Pond. Get Tips at Farm Science Review

Come to Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review and learn what a fish management specialist would do to manage his own private pond.

Bill Lynch, an Ohio State University Extension associate in aquatic ecosystem management, will present, “If It Were My Pond, I Would&hellip.” at the Gwynne Conservation Area Sept. 21 from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and Sept. 22 from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. Farm Science Review will take place Sept. 21-23 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Attendees can get to the Gwynne by catching the free shuttles at the west end of the exhibitor grounds.

“Excessive aquatic vegetation is what causes all of the headaches for pond owners,” said Lynch. “It’s the most challenging aspect of pond management because of all of the excess nutrients that end up in the water.”

Lynch said that cattails, filamentous algae and harmful algal blooms are some of the more common aquatic surface vegetation found in ponds.… Continue reading

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Biomass and Cover Crops Showcased at Farm Science

From poplar and willow trees to sweet sorghum and switchgrass, visitors to Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review can learn more about the potential for producing bioenergy crops in Ohio.

Nearly two dozen biomass crops will be part of the demonstration plots exhibited at the east end of Friday Avenue of the Farm Science Review exhibitor grounds. Farm Science Review will be held Sept. 21-23 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Visitors making their way to Gates A-E from the parking area can tour not only biomass crops, but also cover crops, antique corn, soybean trials, manure application plots, weed control demonstrations, corn hybrids, forage plots, and popcorn trials.

Ohio State University Extension educators will be on-hand to give details of the plots and answer any questions.

“Farmers are always interested in maximum production environments and the economics of creating those environments,” said Chuck Gamble, Farm Science Review manager.… Continue reading

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Certified Crop Advisors Can Earn Continuing Education Credit at Farm Science Review

The Certified Crop Adviser program at Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review is one way crop consultants can receive their yearly complement of continuing education credits.

The CCA College will be held on Sept. 23 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and will cover a wide variety of topics related to conservation programs, corn hybrids, fungicide applications, and nitrogen fertilizer management. Farm Science Review will take place Sept. 21-23 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Registration is $80 and includes breakfast, lunch, program materials, an entry ticket to Farm Science Review and a parking pass. Registration deadline is Sep. 10. Registration is limited and there will be no registration the day of the event.

Harold Watters, an Ohio State University Extension educator, said that the CCA College is specifically tailored to CCAs not only in Ohio, but also across the Midwest.

“Things in agriculture are constantly changing. What new information was introduced five years ago may no longer be valid,” said Watters.… Continue reading

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Test Finds E. coli in Beef Faster, Could Better Trace Outbreaks

Infrared spectroscopy can detect E. coli faster than current testing methods and can cut days off investigations of outbreaks, according to a study at Purdue University.

Lisa Mauer, an associate professor of food science, detected E. coli in ground beef in one hour using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, much less than the 48 hours required for conventional plating technology, which requires culturing cells in a laboratory. Mauer said spectroscopy could be done in the same laboratories, just in much less time.

The spectroscopy method also differentiates between strains of E. coli 0157:H7, meaning outbreaks could be tracked more effectively and quickly. Current tests are multistep and take almost one week to get results.

“Even with all the other bacteria present in ground beef, we could still detect E. coli and recognize different strains,” said Mauer, whose findings were reported in the August issue of the Journal of Food Science.

Mauer demonstrated two methods for separating bacteria from ground beef for testing.… Continue reading

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Digester That Turns Manure into Methane Demonstrated at Farm Science Review

Farmers interested in alternative energy technologies for the farm can learn more about the small-scale biodigester developed by Ohio State University ecological engineers. The technology will be demonstrated at Farm Science Review, Sept. 21-23 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Jay Martin, a researcher with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, has developed a modified fixed-dome digester that can make methane from manure, which can either be burned as an alternative to natural gas or propane, or converted to electricity using a generator. The 300-gallon biodigester, installed at Waterman Agriculture and Natural Resources Laboratory in Columbus, is designed specifically to cater to average-sized and smaller livestock farms – around 150 dairy cows on average.

“There are less than 200 digesters working on livestock farms in the United States, and those digesters are designed for large-scale industrial dairy operations in the range of 10,000 or 15,000 head.

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Corn and soybean harvest expectations

By Brian Essinger, Monsanto Territory Manager, Northern Ohio

Harvest is rapidly approaching and overall in 2010 we will all have a lot in which to look forward. But before I get to that, let’s start off with the most important harvest message: Be safe. Each spring and fall I e-mail my growers this same message because it holds the most importance. Please take that little extra time to do whatever your doing the safe way. Walk around not over, turn it off even when you are just taking a look, slow down or stop when your tired, and think about who you get to come home to so it stays first and foremost in your mind. We have all had to visit those who lost loved ones or who were injured during the fall. So be safe, I always enjoy sitting down and visiting with you, and I would like to keep it that way this fall!… Continue reading

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