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Local Food Systems on Town Hall Ohio

Ohio is a big food state, with a lot of farmers, processors and manufacturers and, lots and lots of hungry consumers. A sizable share of Ohio’s very diverse food chain is made up by what’s identified as local foods. What is local? How do folks all along the food chain benefit from it? What do the economics look like? Can it grow? Today, we talk with Ohio State economist Zoe Plakias, OSU and local foods advocate and entrepreneur Alice Chalmers to learn more, on Town Hall Ohio.

Subscribe to Town Hall Ohio‘s podcast on iTunes.

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#TakeOverTuesday: Jason’s Pumpkin Patch, Ottawa County

IssuesOhio’s top conservation farmers honored

2019 Conservation Farm Family Awards

IssuesLegal with Leah: The Michindoh Aquifer

News RoomCultivating a Cure sets attendance, fundraising records

Our OhioNine organizations receive Foundation grants

IssuesOhio manufacturers, ag producers need the USMCA

IssuesRural Legal Assistance on Town Hall Ohio

IssuesResources available to manage farm stress

StatewideOhio farmers rally to help Nebraska colleagues

StatewideWhere to Find Cover Crop Beer

Issues2019 State, National Priority Issues

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Walls named Ohio Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture winners

Kyle and Ashton Walls of Mt. Vernon have been named winners of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s 2019 Excellence in Agriculture Award. The award recognizes successful young agricultural professionals who are actively contributing and growing through their involvement with Farm Bureau and agriculture.

The Walls will receive an expense-paid trip to Austin, Texas, to compete in the national Excellence in Agriculture contest during the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in January. They also receive a John Deere Gator courtesy of Farm Credit Mid-America and a $1,000 cash prize sponsored by Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau.

Kyle is a regional agricultural and commercial business manager for a mid-size community bank. Ashton is employed with one of the top global agricultural equipment manufacturers. The Walls have built and manage a herd of cow-calf Mexican Corriente cattle, which are primarily used for competitive rodeo events. They also raise laying hens for egg production.

They are both active in Farm Bureau at the county, state and national levels: Ashton served for many years as a Knox County Farm Bureau board member and was recently accepted by American Farm Bureau to attend the Women’s Communication Boot Camp in Washington, D.C.

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Need for outdoor appreciation

School is back in full swing and so is volleyball season. I will not lie, it has been busy.

When I received my schedule this year of teaching, I was incredibly worried. I did not have my preparation period until the last period of the school day. This had happened my first year of teaching and it had been a rough year. I had felt like I was constantly behind, constantly running late, constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown not having a break, except a short lunch, during the day. My only bright spot was that occasionally I would get to cover our outdoor skills class.

I saw that my prep was seventh period, the last period of the day. It was not until the first week that I realized that my prep once again corresponded with the outdoor appreciation class.

Let me explain a bit about our outdoor appreciation class.

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Some trade wins for U.S. agriculture

Lately, American farmers have not been given much good news when it comes to trade. American Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton tells Ohio Farm Bureau Director of Media Relations Ty Higgins that big wins with the USMCA and Japan may get the ball rolling for more bilateral trade deals and could bring positive momentum to the upcoming trade talks with China.


Ty Higgins: This is the Ohio Farm Bureau podcast. I’m Ty Higgins along with Dr. John Newton. He’s the chief economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, and John on the economic side of agriculture so much to talk about. Let’s start with trade. We were hearing a lot about what might be happening with China in the near future but a big deal coming down the pike with one of our biggest trading partners in Japan.

Dr. John Newton: Well I think the administration sent the notice up to Congress that we’re going to see some details on the Japanese Trade Agreement very, very soon.

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Scheffler inducted into Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame

Milton Scheffler was inducted into the Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame Sept. 10 during the Crawford County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting held at the Trillium Event Center. Crawford County Farm Bureau partnered with other agriculture organizations to designate an inductee into the Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame, a recognition for outstanding contributions by an individual to agriculture. An honorary plaque was presented to honor Scheffler, and a permanent Hall of Fame plaque will be displayed in the Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Crawford Antique Farm Machinery Association nominated Scheffler to receive this award for his service as a Crawford County farmer, his many other accomplishments in Crawford County and the state of Ohio, and his volunteer work with Crawford County youth.

Scheffler raised corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, hay, cattle and hogs in Crawford County. He served as a committee member of the Crawford County FSA, served on the Board of Directors for the former Zeigler Milling Company helping farmers to make decisions, and was a trustee for the Crawford Antique Farm Machinery Association.

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Legal with Leah: Motor Vehicle Sales Tax

There is nothing like the feeling of driving off the dealership lot in a brand new or new to you vehicle. Very few things can take that feeling away, but nothing could take that smile off your face like the tax bill on that car, truck or SUV.

On this Legal with Leah, Ty Higgins, Ohio Farm Bureau Director of Media Relations and Leah Curtis, Ohio Farm Bureau policy counsel discuss what the ag sales tax exemption covers and what it doesn’t.

Listen to Legal with Leah, a podcast featuring Ohio Farm Bureau’s Policy Counsel Leah Curtis discussing topics impacting farmers and landowners.


Ty Higgins: Leah I know that you and Joe covered that ag does have an exemption on sales tax, but the question then becomes does the tax break apply for motor vehicles and trailer purchases as well. The answer?

Leah Curtis: Well generally it doesn’t apply to motor vehicles in particular.

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Making safe farms a reality in northeast Ohio

First responders in rural communities across the state have an acute need for grain bin rescue training, but a finite amount of availability to take such training. That’s about to change.

From that knowledge came a vision that is taking shape at the Wayne County Regional Training Facility in Apple Creek, a nonprofit group formed to train first responders in a six-state area. The facility provides educational programs on firefighting, fire prevention, emergency squad and rescue work. In 2017, volunteers from Ashland, Holmes, Medina and Wayne County Farm Bureaus “started dreaming,” said Bob Hange, who was president of the Wayne County Farm Bureau at the time. The four counties had just donated grain bin rescue tubes to local fire departments, which was appreciated. Although, there was one challenge: First responders lacked the training to use the new piece of equipment.

Wayne County grain bin rescue project
Key partners on the Safe Farms project met last year to discuss its progress.
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Ohio’s top conservation farmers honored

The Ohio Department of Agriculture today recognized five families as winners of the 2019 Conservation Farm Family Awards at the Farm Science Review in London. Ohio Farm Bureau is a sponsor of the awards.

“It is one thing to talk about the importance of conservation on the farm, but it is quite another to practice it every day like these award-winning families,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda. “I am proud of each of them for being good neighbors, handling the land with care, and helping to responsibly keep food and agriculture a top-ranking industry in Ohio.”

The five families honored were: Kurt Farms of Hardin County; Rick and Janice Brill of Lorain County; Doug and Beth McConnell of Muskingum County; Timothy and Lynn Miller of Logan County; and Fred and Kristy Walters of Hocking County.

“Each of the five farm families we recognized operates in a different area of Ohio, with differing acreages, soils, and topography,” said Kirk Hines, chief of the department’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation.

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Weather has been wild card for farmers

Each spring farmers get geared up to go out in the fields and plant their corn and soybeans. They hope for good weather to allow them to get their seeds in the ground. Then they hope for a decent growing season that allows the crops to grow and reach maturity. At harvest time, they hope for dry weather that allows them to get their crops harvested without working in muddy conditions.

Unfortunately, few of these things happened this past spring and summer. Farmers were ready to plant, but the weather didn’t cooperate. They would be ready to get out in the field and go to work. But then another rain would come along and they would be delayed another week or more, depending on the amount of rain — and some dropped a lot of water.

Several farmers and some agriculture industry people say this has been the worst planting season they can remember…just too much rain at the wrong time.

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Growing our Generation: Our jump into the sheep industry

Levi and Krysti Morrow from Morgan County are the editors of the Sept. 23, 2019 Growing our Generation enewsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.

Levi and Krysti Morrow's sonHi! We’re Levi and Krysti Morrow, your guest editors for the Growing Our Generation e-Newsletter this week! With the “help” of our 15-month-old son, Charlie, we own and operate Rocky Knob Farms in McConnelsville.  We are the u-pick strawberry and pumpkin source in Morgan County and now are dipping our feet into the commercial hair sheep business. Krysti spends her time split between mom life and farm life managing the day to day chores, marketing and planning for our u-pick operations and farmers markets. Levi is an agriculture education teacher at Morgan Local Schools in our county and does all the cropping and haying for the farm.

In our 2017 edition, we discussed the importance of business planning, knowing your resources as a beginning farmer and what exactly we do with our leftover pumpkins.

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Fun at the Farm Science Review

Wow! What a fun Farm Science Review! The weather was the best we have had in recent years and we really enjoyed the chance to talk with so many of you who dropped in to see us. We got to lament the challenges of a difficult 2019 but celebrate the bright future of agriculture in Ohio too. We also had the chance to talk with many great guests who will be featured in upcoming broadcasts, podcasts, videos, and OCJ stories.

This year’s late harvest boosted attendance at the farm show, which attracted 114,590 people over three days. Typically at this time of the year, many farmers are driving combines. Instead, some were eyeing brand-new combines and tractors displayed at the show, taking pictures of their children and grandchildren behind the wheel at the Farm Science Review.

Under sunny skies and welcoming mild temperatures, visitors learned about the economics of producing malting barley, legal issues associated with growing hemp, the most common mistakes made by family-run farms, and tactics to reduce the risks of producing corn and soybeans, among other topics.… Continue reading

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When we get what we ask for, will we like what we see?

By Matt Reese

There is a line from the 1989 baseball movie Field of Dreams I thought of on a summer tour of the incredible MVP Dairy near Celina in Mercer County: If you build it, they will come.

For all of the folks out there who have been demanding ever-increasing transparency of the processes required to get their favorite foods in convenient packaging to the shelves of their handy grocery store at astonishingly low prices, they built it. Now, will you come see it? Will you appreciate the amazing lengths MVP Dairy (and the food industry in general) has gone to not only provide an incredible level of transparency but also showcase it in an easy to enjoy way? I hope so, but I’m not sure.

In this era of more specific demands of each end of the food supply chain, I am not sure many consumers really know what they are asking.… Continue reading

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State Fair gives fodder for proud parents

By Matt Reese

For me, the Ohio State Fair is a very busy stretch with my work schedule and two children showing a variety of livestock projects, but those long hours are quickly forgotten when replaced by proud parent moments that will last a lifetime. There were certainly plenty of those for mothers and fathers around the state at this year’s Ohio State Fair.

At an event bursting with proud parents, auctioneer Kevin Wendt had to be right up there as the proudest papa in the building as he watched his daughter Riley parade her Reserve Champion Market Barrow around the ring in the Sale of Champions. For the last several years, Kevin has been the Sale of Champions auctioneer for the cheese, turkey and goat sales that kick off the event. This year, though, Kevin stayed off the auction block to focus on just being a dad. Seeing the look of the purest joy as he stood ringside and watched his daughter’s barrow sell for a record-setting $35,000 in the Sale of Champions made it apparent his decision was the correct one.… Continue reading

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Will the Lake Erie algae bloom forecast come to fruition in 2019?

By Matt Reese

Last year I hopped on the boat and made the trek to the fantastic Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie for the announcement about the predictions regarding the 2018 algal bloom.

The boat ride was quite pleasant, the presentations at the event were very sciencey and impressive, the folks doing the research being presented were extremely intelligent — and the forecast was totally wrong.

In July of 2018, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its research partners predicted western Lake Erie would experience a harmful algal bloom (HAB) of cyanobacteria of a 6 on the severity index, with a range between 5 and 7.5. In late fall, NOAA reported back that the actual harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie for 2018 had a severity index of 3.6, indicating a relatively mild bloom far short of the predicted severity.

Now, I don’t know what the total budget is for this forecasting system, but I would guess it is not a small price tag over the years of developing models, conducting extensive research, paying numerous staff members and researchers at various agencies and entities, and hauling curious farm reporters to the island on boats.… Continue reading

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A heartbreaking early June wedding…

By Matt Reese

It was an early June wedding in central Ohio. The brother of the beautiful bride was, of course, in attendance, though his troubled mind was a couple of hours away. He was thinking about his still unplanted farm fields at home.

He had been fortunate last fall that he and his parents had been able to get the crop out of the fields in a fairly timely manner. Since then, though, the precipitation had been relentless. The window to plant will always come, his father had said. This year, though, it hadn’t. Other than a few test passes with soybeans in early April (none of which emerged) no crops had been planted. No hay had been baled. No fieldwork had been done in his northwest Ohio fields of his family’s farm. He had waited. He had hoped, prayed, prepared, planned, and re-planned. None of it had worked out.… Continue reading

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Quorum sensing and it’s impact on your soil health: Plant diversity is the key

By Matt Reese

OCJ publisher Bart Johnson once asked the staff during an office lunch: if you could only drink one thing for the rest of your life what would it be? His answer: root beer. I think mine would be water. This led to a long debate of the merits of root beer versus water.

The discussion then turned to food. I think I could eat pizza just about every day. I am guessing that most of you (other than Dale Minyo who really does not care for pizza) may feel the same way. Now, if you just had one pizza ingredient to eat every day, what would that be? For me I think it would have to be the cheese (it is dairy month, after all).

Christine Jones, who served as the keynote speaker at this spring’s Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada, is a retired soil ecologist from the University of New England in Australia.… Continue reading

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Transparency, care for animals and honesty one-sided in undercover animal rights video release

By Matt Reese

Whether they are specifically written down or not, most farms and agribusinesses operate on the foundation of a code of ethics or principles. The core values of one of the nation’s top agritourism destinations recently came under intense scrutiny when an undercover video was released.

Indiana-based Fair Oaks Farms has been all over the news after Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) released a video depicting animal abuse on the large dairy farm. In the aftermath of the video release retailers pulled Fair Oaks’ Fairlife products from their shelves, three people from the video were charged with animal cruelty and Fair Oaks temporarily suspended delivery service to protect delivery service drivers who have been harassed. Fair Oaks Farms is also being sued for fraud citing the Fairlife milk labels promoting “extraordinary care and comfort” of the cows.

Going into this, Fair Oaks had clear standards for animal care, but employees featured in the video did not adhere to those standards.… Continue reading

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20 years??

By Matt Reese

I recently had a rare couple of free hours and some jobs to do around the house. I got my laptop out and clicked on my music list to enjoy some tunes while I worked. Things were going great. I was rocking out and getting stuff done for about three songs before it happened.

I am not especially tech savvy, and a few weeks prior I had plugged my phone into my computer to transfer a file and I unknowingly transferred many of the audio interviews I have done in my career over to my laptop. They intermingled with my music. As a result, my randomly selected mix of songs now includes randomly selected interviews I had conducted with countless farmers and agribusiness professionals from years gone by.

The first interview started playing over my laptop speaker and I sort of groaned. I stopped what I was doing (I think it was caulking the shower) and went to skip to the next song so I could resume rocking out and tackling more chores.… Continue reading

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Farm takes proactive steps to address undercover activists

By Matt Reese

On these wild weather spring days we’ve had, if I see the western sky darkening and the winds start picking up, I’ll run out and close the west-facing barn door, secure anything that might be prone to blowing away and put items under cover that I do not want to get wet. The coming storm is out of my control, but I can be proactive by taking measures to try to mitigate the damage it may cause.

The same strategy should be used with an impending public relations storm.

Animal agriculture is once again bracing for a storm in the form of possible fallout from an undercover video effort seeking to portray livestock production in a negative way. This time, the deceptive work of animal rights activists recently took place at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, one of the top agritourism destinations in the country. The working farm was designed with transparency in mind to showcase modern dairy production to curious consumers.… Continue reading

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