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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.

Still farming at 88 with no signs of stopping

It seems like an everyday occurrence that something is unveiled in agriculture that is the next greatest thing. Products that will boost yields, thwart diseases and insects and plant at twice the speed of sound are certainly steps forward in producing enough food, fiber and fuel for our ever-increasing world population.

Although we can never stop thinking about how agriculture needs to look in the future, I believe that some of the greatest assets of our industry have been around for awhile.

Recently, I stopped by a half-harvested soybean field in Shelby County and jumped in a John Deere combine that was being piloted by 88-year old Bernard Clinehens.

Clinehens is a true veteran, not only in the military sense, but also with his 8 plus decades of farming experience. I have always felt that one of the best ways to move agriculture forward is to take a look at the past.

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One picture of corn that almost broke the Internet

I’ll admit it, one of the things on my bucket list is for something I post to go “viral.” That is, to be shared a gazillion times on the internet and be known as that guy that did the worst belly smacker off of the high dive in history, or caught the ghost of Elvis during a selfie or witnessed a TRIPLE rainbow (what does it mean?!). Who wouldn’t want their 15 minutes of fame, which is more common in our online world, yet just as fleeting?

Michelle Gigger, a farmer and teacher of ag and biology, found herself in the likeness of other Internet stars when she posted a picture on social media of an ear of corn being gluttonously devoured by a few very hungry insects. The caption read “Here people, this is your organic, Non-GMO, pesticide free corn. Enjoy! Would you like salt?”

So far, Gigger’s picture has been shared 1,300 times alone on Twitter, made a jump to multiple Facebook pages where one page alone has had 500,000 engagements due to the quippy snapshot. 

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Farmers do business with a huge corporation

There is no doubt that farmers are becoming more productive and that is because they are doing big business with a big company.

With this one humongous company’s help, farmers are more efficient. This company helps farmers grow a bigger crop and do it on fewer acres with fewer chemicals and limited trips over the field.

Farmers pay loads of money to have these products as part of their operation. It helps them better manage what they do and it keeps track of everyone around them to make their system work as a whole.

It may sound like this company and their products are making our world better, but some critics would say this company and what they are selling to farmers will lead to this world’s demise. Does this big corporation force their products on farmers and punish them for not using what they have to offer? It might be a good idea to ask the same question back to you and many of your friends and neighbors too, because the company I am referring to is Apple.

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A not-so-scenic drive around northwest Ohio

Throughout the 2015 growing season, we have heard about the challenges farmers are dealing with when it comes to disease and pest pressures, the unforgiving onslaught of thunderstorm after thunderstorm and what seems to be endless amounts of rain flooding out would-be flourishing corn and bean fields across Ohio.

The weekly crop progress reports have pegged the northwest part of Ohio as the spot that was getting the brunt of the punishing weather and I have heard from farmers in that area about how bad things were. But, it wasn’t until a trip to that part of the state on July 21st that I truly understood the breadth of the unfortunate situation.

I considered this a warmup to what is yet to come for my trips on the Ohio and Pro Farmer Crop Tours. Here are just some of the pictures that were collected during our recent drive through Logan, Auglaize, Allen and Putnam counties.

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An Anthem for Agriculture

What would your theme song be? The Ohio State Buckeyes have “Across the Field” and “Buckeye Battle Cry” to get fired up to and “We Are The Champions” and “Don’t Stop Believing” are always very popular songs to the blood pumping at various sporting events. These songs are used to motivate, intimidate and eliminate the competition.

When it comes to Agriculture, we all find ourselves needing a kick in the butt every once in a while. Granted, we love what we do and we wouldn’t want to do anything else, but sometimes that 4 o’clock alarm comes way too soon and way too often. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up, stumble to the kitchen for that cup of java and have a song blaring just for you to get you out that door for another long day of hard work?

Country music is one of my true passions. It is part of my background, my heritage and my career and there are many songs to choose from in Country music that you may consider your Anthem.

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The Buckeye Cowboy — Kirby Hidy

If you have ever been around the Farm Science Review, The Ohio State Fair, The Sale of Champions, The Agriculture Hall of Fame Breakfast, Pork Congress, Power Show or a number of other events around Ohio and saw a salty-haired, mustached man sporting a cowboy hat and a smile, I can almost guarantee  that you met Kirby Hidy.

We lost our great friend and co-worker over the weekend and for a man who brought so much life to every conversation he had, it is hard to believe that he is gone. Kirby was in and around Ohio agriculture for decades. He worked at The Ohio Department of Agriculture, The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, WRFD Radio, with me years ago at The ABN, and over the last five years after he and I began working here at The Ohio Ag Net.

2186b87Kirby was the most simple, yet complex man I have come to know.

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Hay isn’t just for horses anymore

For how much grief agriculture gets these days from those who don’t understand much about farming, it always cracks me up to see urbanites and hipsters drawing from rural culture for their building, decorating and dining styles.

It seems that on every show that my wife watches about home remodeling there has to be a barn door involved or furniture that is built from a century old structure from the farm.

Well there is something else from the farm that is being utilized these days in more metropolitan settings. Dishes are being prepared at upscale and even farm-to-table restaurants with hay as one of the main ingredients.

It seems this has been a culinary art since the mid-70’s, but it is making a comeback as consumers are looking for more rustic recipes.

Here is a link to an article that talks about the use of hay in dishes that include a hay-infused chicken and a hay-baked pork shoulder.

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The elephant NOT in the room

I am a consumer. I like to have choices and I am a certified meat-atarian. If you throw it on the grill I will eat it. Although I have never looked at a label when buying food for my family to enjoy, I do not belittle those that do. My farming background has given me the knowledge and the trust about what exactly my food is and exactly where it comes from. That is something that can’t be forced on someone who has never been on a farm, so consumer choice is paramount.

Lately, there has been a big hubbub about consumer choice and large food producing corporations are taking note. Just recently, companies like Dunkin Donuts, General Mills, Subway and even McDonald’s have all made major changes to items they produce and market because of some negative feedback about the additives, ingredients and meat they have on their menus.

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Agriculture and Budweiser, labeled with pride

As I write this, I am getting ready to wrap up my stay in Phoenix after covering Commodity Classic. Every time I come to Classic, I am inspired. I’m not sure if that’s because I see some great farmer-friends who make our industry the best in America, the shiny iron of all colors displayed throughout a trade show floor or the sunny and warm weather that gets me out of the doldrums of an Ohio winter, but this event always reiterates to me why I have the best gig in the world.

The thing that inspires me the most is that when thousands of American farmers get together, there is no hiding, talking around or making excuses for what they do and why they do it. There are open conversations about the use of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products and products that protect crops from diseases and pests throughout the growing season so harvest can be the most bountiful it can be.

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Winter can be exciting! See thundersnow electrify a weatherman

I am very lucky to be doing what I love. With being a farm broadcaster and covering the best industry and greatest people in America, I feel like I never actually work. (Don’t tell my boss that).

I have a feeling by the looks of this video that The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore feels the same way about covering the weather.

I met Cantore two years ago in Washington, D.C. while I was traveling with Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents. There was snow coming to the area that was looking to keep us in the Nation’s Capitol for a few days longer that we anticipated and I asked Cantore just how bad it was going to be. He looked at me and said “Well, I’m here!”. He went on to tell me that when people see him coming they go the other way. Very funny conversation and it made me appreciate this video even more.

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The REAL reason that farm barns are red

Well, you learn something new every day. I am not an expert on anything, but my head is filled with useless facts about a lot of things. I always say that I know a little about a lot and a lot about very little.

So, here is today’s tidbit that you can file away somewhere in the very depths of your mind for use as a trivia question down the road. Red barns have been a part of the countryside landscape for many, many years. Have you ever wondered why many of them are painted red?

The simple answer, that many of us have heard when asking the question as curious children, is because red paint was the least expensive. But, the answer goes a little bit deeper than that and the real reason is really “out there.”

According to a recent article by Smithsonian.com, it all has to do with the chemistry of dying stars.

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The real cost of $2 gas

When prices at the pump start to go down, there are always conspiracies as to why we are getting such a great deal to “fill ‘er up.”

“It must be an election year” or “the oil companies are trying to win us over” are commonly heard when the price of fuel gets to a relatively affordable level.

Just like you, I am thrilled to be able to drive off from the gas station without feeling like I need to mortgage my house to pay for it (plus, it’s easier to get to an even number at the pump when prices are this low). As American’s will pocket up to $700 per vehicle this year if prices stay around $2, many will not even wonder why we are getting the bargain for petrol. In all reality, some may not think it is worth it in the long run.

Although it is padding your pockets now, the energy sector is bleeding money.

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The Christmas Guest

It happened one day near December’s end,
Two neighbors called on an old friend.
And they found his shop so meager and lean
Made gay with thousand bows of green
And Conrad was sitting with face a-shine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine
And he said “Old friends, at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said “I’m coming your guest to be.”
So I’ve been busy with feet astir and
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
The table is spread and the kettle is shined.
And over the rafters the holly is twined.
Now I’ll wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear
His step as He nears my humble place.
And I’ll open the door and look on His face.
So his friends went home and left Conrad alone
For this was the happiest day he had known,
For long since, his family had passed away
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day.

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Only 60 years of farming left, UN reports

I have never heard of a farmer being forced into retirement. In fact, I don’t ofter hear of farmers retiring at all! But according to a UN official, younger farmers may have to get out of their lifelong careers, for good, at some point.

According to a Reuters article, Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.

About a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded, Semedo told a forum marking World Soil Day.

Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960, the FAO reported, due to growing populations and soil degradation. Soils play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, the FAO reported.

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A “sweetheart” of an FFA jacket

Anyone who has been a part of the FFA over the years knows the feeling of putting on that classic blue corduroy jacket. From the pride felt from being a part of agriculture, to the skills learned for use not just on the farm, but in all facets of life, the FFA organization has helped to form some of America’s great leaders and innovators that keep our country’s agriculture on the forefront of the industry’s advancements.

In a sea of millions of blue jackets from years gone by, the one worn by Mary Louise Reynnells, who now works for USDA as a technological information specialist, would be easy to spot.

Back in 1977, Reynnells (Rogers back then) was a part of an FFA chapter at Pacific High School in San Bernardino, California, as the Chapter Sweetheart. As a part of that position, Reynnells was given a very special white FFA jacket.

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Ohio, your Thanksgiving will likely be miserable

Ah the Holidays! A time when families are forced….I mean, beckoned home to celebrate all that we have and to give thanks to be together again or ,in some cases, to be thankful that we only gather on these few occasions each year.

I, by no means, am speaking for myself here. I will run to the turkey and fixings buffet as soon as it is my turn (we get the kids plates ready first, then Grandma and Grandpa get their prime spot in line, followed by the next generation on down the line and finally it is time for my cousins and I to get pretty much what is left). Then after dinner, I will walk gingerly to find a spot on the couch until somebody from the kitchen yells “Dessert”!

Our family gatherings are quite enjoyable. So much so that we have them all year round. But according to an article from Estately.com, Ohio ranks the highest on a list that may put you in the holiday hum drums before the turkey even thaws.

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Flashback: The race to 100 bushel corn

One of the things that makes my job great (and quite honestly a bit easier) is when a story comes to me. The ones that end up in my email inbox are ones that I would have never found in a million years, simply because I wasn’t looking for them. Frankly, those stories work out to be the best ones.

Not long ago I received an email from Bill Mullen from Seed Consultants and it was a lead to a story that fits the above criteria. Bill and I have worked together for a few years and get along famously.

Bill wrote:

Good morning Ty.  Recently I visited with a friend of mine and longtime SCI customer by the name of Paul Kill.  Paul resides outside of Kossuth, OH just north of St. Mary’s, OH.  Paul farms as well as having a custom spray business. The Kills are some of the nicest people to work with. 

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Diapers on cows: A water quality solution?

Here in Ohio, we are talking about water quality and nutrient management on the farm on a daily basis. Farmers are making a very conscious effort to better their practices on the farm to tackle an issue that affects the quality of the water that their own families and their neighbors downstream drink. Although the topic is one of importance for the state’s ag industry, it is also a topic that is being addressed in Europe.

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, a Bavarian farmer has gone to great lengths to prove a point. According to The Telegraph, Bavarian farmers are angry that their famous Alpine dairy cows will apparently have to wear nappies (diapers) under European Union environmental laws.

Johann Huber, whose family has farmed on the mountain slopes of Gmund am Tegernsee for over 400 years, has begun putting home made nappies on his 18 diary cows to avoid falling afoul of an EU fertilizer ban.

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A trillion meals later, the GMO debate is over

I am a man of few opinions. I could never do a radio show where I actually had to choose an opinion on everything from politics to sports. I would fail miserably.

Since I was a kid, I always noticed that the truth to all matters is somewhere in the middle. I have found that to be true the older I get and the more polarized our world becomes.

In the case of a recent Facebook conversation I had, I became a bit more opinionated than I normally do. The topic of conversation that lead me out of my comfort zone was GMO’s.

I don’t know why I get so worked up about the subject, but I do. I live my life with no nonsense and common sense, so when I see the false reports on GMO’s and the absurdities being spread about our kids growing a third eye because of them, I get fired up like a preacher on Sunday morning…not my normal style.

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