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Ty Higgins

I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Licking County. Using the “its who you know” and “seize an opportunity” mantras, I started my farm broadcasting career right out of high school at WRFD-AM, thanks to my uncle Scott Higgins introducing me to then Farm Director Joe Cornely.

From there my radio path took me to Columbus country music station WHOK-FM, where I was known as Tyler Jacobs for over 12 years. Eventually I ended up right where I started and where I am most comfortable, back in farm broadcasting – using my real name!

I became a member of The Ohio Ag Net team in 2010 and I am proud to share the great stories about Ohio Agriculture, one broadcast at a time.

I currently live in Delaware County, where I am raising one boy and one girl, with my wife Angela. When I am not coaching my son’s baseball team or rehearsing for my role in my daughter’s dance recital (pictures if you want them), I am grilling, golfing and doing whatever may be on my “honey-do” list at any given moment.

A loss for agriculture on Election Day

When an election season includes a vote for President, the issues that are further down the ballot rarely get any attention. That is the case for a ballot initiative, “Question 3”, proposed in Massachusetts that will make it illegal to sell veal, pork or eggs from animals that have been confined to crates or cages of a certain size. The recent passage of that initiative is a blow to not only agriculture in that state, but around the country.

“The legislation not only banned those practices in Massachusetts, but it also bans any products from being sold in the state that came from operations that used those housing methods,” said Hannah Thomson-Weeman, communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “Massachusetts is not a big ag state and it only has one farm that has cages for their laying hens, which is why activists groups chose to put this type of legislation on the ballot there.”

The Humane Society of the United States was the main driver of this initiative investing over $2 million, over 90% of the funds raised for backing this plan, outspending the opposition by a rate of 10 to one.

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Reason for farmer’s arrest a pile of crap

Some events in the satire article below did actually happen. Read about it here. Now enjoy what should have happened.

A Warren County man, who normally delivers horse manure to others in the area as a fertilizer, made a special delivery recently.

About 6 yards of horse waste was piled high in front of one of the county’s Political Party Headquarters just days before the Presidential elections, causing quite a stink in the Lebanon area.

“The way I see it, some of these candidates are giving us a big pile of crap and I wanted to return the favor,” said the manure connoisseur. “I just can’t figure out what I did wrong.”

Surveillance cameras caught the man in the act, but the steaming heap of fertilizer was proof enough of the wrongdoing.

“If this man would have followed the new laws laid out in Ohio recently, none of this would have been a problem,” said an environmental representative.

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So God made a grain cart driver

A few years ago, a Super Bowl commercial put the American farmer at the forefront of many conversations the following morning as Ram Trucks put Paul Harvey’s reading of “So God Made a Farmer” with a montage of pictures of farmers doing what they do everyday.

But, even with the farmer getting this much deserved recognition, there is still one group of workers on the farm that need some thanks and praise this time of year. This post is for them.

So God made a grain cart driver

On the 8th day, God looked at his paradise and thought…

“I need a man that can be responsible for the mistakes that everyone makes. I need a man that is expected to read minds and a man that is to be everywhere he is expected twice as fast as possible.”

So God made a grain cart driver.

God said…

“This man will have to be patient, for he will get his butt chewed like he’s a dog, for simply not being able to see because of the glare of the Sun.

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If a farmer became President…

If a farmer became President
He’d still insist on paying rent
The only thing he wants for free
Is this Country that he’ll oversee

If a farmer became President
Not a single dime would be over spent
No pork escapes through the farm gate
And grass would be greener in every state

If a farmer became President
This Nation would be competent
A full days work would be a sample
Of how he leads by his example

If a farmer became President
He’d tend to every resident
Your color of iron would not command
Who he’d give a helping hand

If a farmer became President
Glory would only be heaven sent.
Nothing more than a pat on the back
Would keep his humble pride intact

If a farmer became President
He would be part of the one percent
But not the one that’s filled with greed
The one that has other mouths to feed

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Honey I shrunk the combine!

It seems like every farm show across the U.S. this year has helped in unveiling the biggest and best technology and machinery agriculture has to offer, but at some of these shows farmers and farm enthusiasts alike are getting a glimpse at something a little bit tinier. Kansas farmer Alan VanNahmen has built one-quarter and one-third scale replicas of a John Deere combine.

The idea came to VanNahmen as he was working at Machinery Link, a company that started as a combine leasing business to help reduce farmers’ operating expenses.

“The company I was working for was trying to shrink the cost of combines and harvesting, so I decided to create a quarter-scale John Deere combine to help get that message out,” VanNahmen said.

13873217_10207030192981471_7729270023118682628_nThe FarmBuddy combine was born. His prototype began with a John Deere front-mount lawn mower.

“They basically look like a combine from the get-go with the big wheels up front and the steering wheels in the back,” VanNahmen said.

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Connecting farmers and consumers with country music

The best compliment I can receive is when someone tells me that they can see that I have a passion for what I do through my work. Nothing could be truer. I wake every morning chomping at the bit to head to a farm for a “Cab Cam” video or call up an agronomist to get an update on crops or meet the young superstars of Ohio agriculture at livestock shows.

10 years ago when I was a country music DJ in Columbus, if you would have told me that I would be back doing the type of radio that I started doing when I was 17 as a farm broadcaster, I would have told you that you were crazy. But, here I am and I couldn’t be happier.

Do I miss my days on country radio? Not as much as you might think. Sure I love country music and meeting the stars and getting free concert tickets was pretty alright, but I wouldn’t trade all that stuff for what I am doing now.

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An open letter to Wood County Fair youth exhibitors

Welcome to the real world. For many of you, the past Wood County Fairs have been full of long days in the barn, fun nights outside the camper, lessons learned and lessons taught. This year, however, you may find some things to be not so status quo.

As you very well know, the county fair is where many people get as close to the farm as they ever will. The week always provides a great opportunity to share your family’s story and your farm’s history and leave those that may wonder how their food is grown and raised with a sense of confidence that your farm is doing things to the best of its ability in terms of ethics and sustainability.

I read the recent article about activists that have petitioned to end a 50-year tradition, your annual Catch A Pig event, alleging that the act of catching a pig is animal cruelty.

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Predator control: Eyes on the backs of cows?

In Africa, there is an effort underway to minimize the lion attacks on cattle. Now, in that region of the world the initiative isn’t to save the cattle, but to stop the farmers from shooting the lions that are preying on the livestock. Nevertheless, I found this particular study very interesting and something that some Ohio livestock producers may want to look into.

According to ScienceAlert.com, scientists have come up with a solution that will reduce the number of lions being shot by farmers in Africa…painting eyes on the butts of cows.

It sounds a little crazy, but early trials suggest that lions are less likely to attack livestock when they think they’re being watched and less livestock attacks could help farmers and lions co-exist more peacefully.

The new technique is being tested by scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, after they noticed that lions tended to back off when their prey, such as impala, looked at them.

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Helping farmers become better versions of themselves

It is often said that farmers are eternal optimists. But sometimes (okay many times) in a farming career, that optimism is overshadowed by higher input costs, lower crop prices and days when it feels like nothing can go your way. Yes, even farmers need a good, swift kick in the pants every now and again to keep trudging forward when that proverbial towel would be so easy to throw in.

Farmers across the country are getting that pants kicking from fellow farmer Andy Johnson, founder of FarmStrong Coaching, who farms alfalfa in Colorado.

“FarmStrong Coaching is a passion project that was born out of my need to belong to something,” Johnson said. “You know as farmers we sit in our tractors and it looks really glamorous to some, but it’s a lot of time just sitting there by yourself and I wanted a way to connect with something else out there.

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The worst joke I’ve ever heard

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the kind of guy to really speak my mind…unless I am truly compelled to. It isn’t that my views are all that different or that I care about what others think. It may be because what seems to be right in my head may be too much common sense for the world we live in. Simple will always be better for me and in that respect society and our government have passed me by. With that said I am not an economist and politics aren’t my strong suit. Now on with the blog…

As I have mentioned before I live in Suburbia, USA. It is a great neighborhood and everyone gets along just fine. We watch after each other’s homes when someone goes out of town, we mow each other’s yards when someone can’t get to it and so on. We feel safe and it is a wonderful place to raise a family.

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Despite being generations removed, the city has farm envy

Within the city limits, you may find more weathered wood, barn doors and farm décor these days. For some it may be a way to go back in time to simpler days and for others it may be a trend they saw on HGTV. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that those that dwell in the city have a major case of farm envy.

rustic-living-room

You might have read about a friend of ours that makes his living taking down old barns that have been sitting empty for decades. Removing these structures is at the request of the landowners, mostly because they no longer have a use on the farm and after years of sun, rain, hail and wind have become an historic eyesore.

What you may not know is that once these old heaps of rotten wood are taken down, they go from a nuisance to a novelty in a matter of seconds, as “reclaimed” barn wood is being utilized in brand new homes in an upscale subdivision near you.

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Being an ordinary farmer is what made Grandpa extraordinary

As I write this, there is a greasy DeKalb hat and a pair of Liberty overalls hanging on the wall of my office. Yellow work gloves are tucked into the back pocket of those overalls and a big pair of pliers is nestled in the side pocket. The front pocket of those bibs is filled with a blue handkerchief, a pouch of Half & Half tobacco and a corn cob pipe that has been charred by a thousand matches and smells like most of my childhood memories.

These items and those memories are what I have left from my Grandpa “Popeye” Thompson, who recently passed away, leaving a gaping void in the Licking County agriculture community.

Some of my greatest childhood moments happened when someone would connect the dots and figure out that I was Popeye’s grandson. The smiles on their faces made me realize that they had, in one way or another, been impacted by knowing my Grandpa.

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Farmers are more valuable than their CAUV

There was recently an article in The Columbus Dispatch about concerns that cutting farmers’ property taxes in Ohio could cost homeowners and schools millions of dollars.

The topic at hand is CAUV, or Current Agricultural Use Value, that lawmakers in Columbus are once again debating.

From 2008 to 2014, farmers were burdened with a 307% increase in taxes due to higher crop prices. In comparison, the jump in crop prices was a mere 100% increase within the same time period.

Using more updated data just last year, CAUV was adjusted lower to an average of $1,279 an acre.

The argument has been made for decades that when taxes are lowered on one aspect of the economy, that another segment will have to pick up the tab. That is the argument being made by advocates for public education groups in Ohio, who fear that the drop in farmland taxes will become a problem in the form of higher taxes for homeowners and less money divvied out in school funding from the state.

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You’re teaching my daughter WHAT in health class???

What started out as a nice family meal out at one of our favorite fried chicken stops, turned into a conversation that had me boiling like the oil that cooked our supper that night.

My 6th grade daughter began telling us about her day. Part of her studies for this quarter included a health class. I have to admit as a protective father the thought of what she might learn in health class scares me just a tad, but never in my wildest imagination did I think she would learn something like what she was about to tell me.

Her health teacher loaded up a video that was called “Food, Inc.”! My heart literally stopped for a second, although that might have been a bit of the fried chicken’s fault too, but that’s beside the point.

She went on to tell me, muffled by a chicken leg between her teeth, that many of the girls after class said that they would never eat meat again and felt so bad for the animals in the film.

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What if agriculture communicated like “The Donald”?

I am one to rarely talk about politics. In fact, I won’t let anyone even put a sign in my front yard before election day. I just feel that my opinions are mine and your opinions are yours. We will be much better friends and neighbors if we just talked about anything else.

With that said, this whole Donald Trump running for President deal has had my attention (and obviously the attention of everyone else) for the past six months. I really thought that his campaign might last for a few months and he would implode by saying something or doing something that the American public couldn’t forgive.

Just the opposite has happened, as “The Donald” has used his years of experience in the business world and a brand that is synonymous with success, to garner millions of votes for the most powerful office in the civilized World. I am beginning to wonder if his rough and abstractly artistic way of talking about major issues our country faces could be used in other ways, like for issues in the agriculture sector.

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Even the biggest football game depends on agriculture

For those of us in agriculture, it is easy to see all of the ways that farmers, and what they produce, make our lives a bit easier to live. From the jeans we wear to the food we eat, there are an unlimited amount of products we use everyday that are taken for granted.

Heck, even the Big Game on Sunday wouldn’t be the same if not for agriculture. I’m not talking about the nachos and cheese or hot dogs served up at the game’s concession stand, or even the “pigskin” that is actually made of cowhide (right here in Ohio by the way). I am referring to the beautiful, lush natural-grass field that will take more hits than any one player will on Sunday night.

According to an ESPN The Magazine, on a remote piece of farmland east of San Francisco, sometime in the fall, a buyer arrives to inspect the product.

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New Campbell’s soup labels are GMmm-mmmO good for agriculture

When I first heard about Campbell’s soup voluntarily putting the Genetically Modified ingredients they use on their labels, I wasn’t quite sure what to think, in all honesty. Would this be a positive change to make for one of the nation’s largest food companies, or would it be a slippery slope toward making such labels mandatory for every other company out there?

The way I see it, almost every household, including my own, always has a red and white can of soup in the cupboard. I am a pro at mixing a can of water or milk to any condensed soup for my daughter to dip her grilled cheese in or for my son to warm up with after a feisty snowball fight that more than likely was won by his old man.

Campbell’s standing firmly behind their use of GMOs may very well be the most ringing endorsement given to biotechnology.

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Ten reasons why Santa could have been a farmer

10. He takes care of the needs of the world.

9. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry when the pressure is on.

8. He’s used to getting in and out of tight places.

7. His wife is an excellent cook.

6. He could stand to lose a few pounds (see reason #7).

5. He’s good with kids.

4. He works outside, even in bad weather.

3. He knows how to get by with the same equipment season after season.

2. He’s good with livestock.

1. He works all year, just to give his stuff away.

Merry Christmas! -Ty

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A possible record white-tail deer taken in Ohio

We all have that buddy that says they saw the biggest buck ever. For all we know all that guy probably saw in the woods on a crisp, fall early morning was the backs of his eyelids.

But for Junction City, Ohio hunter Dan Coffman, this picture is all the proof he needs!

According to FieldAndStream.com, Coffman reportedly harvested one of the largest whitetail deer ever taken by a hunter, which has inadvertently launched a social-media firestorm that has people questioning the deer’s authenticity.

It’s believed that Coffman was hunting in Fairfield County the evening he shot the deer, on October 27th. Rumors about the size and legitimacy of the buck are already scattered across the Internet.

Is the “Coffman Buck” large enough to best Pope & Young’s current world-record non-typical “Beatty Buck” (2000) of 294 inches?

Find out more about it here and good luck topping this one this year.

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The connection between bacon and the crime rate

When I first read the headline on our website, “Prisons Pull Pork”, I thought that was a great way to keep the prisoners busy, by having them prepare pork in one of my favorite ways. Then, I realized that they weren’t actually pulling pork for a juicy barbecue sandwich, but getting rid of pork products as a whole from the prison system.

That’s right! Last week, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) decided to remove pork from the menu at its 122 facilities, effective Oct. 1, the start of their new fiscal year.

At first, this might seem like a terrible idea. In fact, The National Pork Producers Council is asking the BOP for a more detailed explanation for their decision to do away with pork products, as it will not only have an small impact on the demand of pork, but more importantly it could set a precedent for other government agencies to follow suit.

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