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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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Wind turbine design and placement can mitigate negative effect on birds

Wind energy is increasingly seen as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, as it contributes to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that by 2050, wind turbines will contribute more than 20% of the global electricity supply. However, the rapid expansion of wind farms has raised concerns about the impact of wind turbines on wildlife.

Research in that area has been limited and has yielded conflicting results. A new study, published in Energy Science, provides comprehensive data on how turbines affect bird populations.

While the study did find a negative effect on some breeding birds, it also suggests ways to mitigate that effect through wind turbine design and placement, explains Madhu Khanna, professor of agricultural and consumer economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. Khanna is co-author of the study.

“We found that there was a negative impact of three birds lost for every turbine within 400 meters of a bird habitat.… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau, partners unveil redesigned 2019 Land and Living exhibit at Ohio State Fair

One of this year’s must see attractions at the Ohio State Fair, July 24 to Aug. 4, will be the newly redesigned, highly interactive Land and Living exhibit featuring agriculture education activities the whole family can enjoy. Visitors to the Nationwide Donahey Land & Living Building will get in-depth, hands-on lessons about farming, food and high-tech agriculture.

Visitors to the exhibit will learn about how animals are cared for on the farm. They will also see how science and technology are helping farmers produce safe food while enhancing environmental resources, how scientists are researching solutions to the biggest food and farming challenges and how young people can have careers in agriculture. Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences will have a major presence at the building this year, where research and careers in agriculture will be featured messages.

Another new exhibit is a sow birthing center brought to the fair by the Ohio Pork Council.… Continue reading

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New data highlights continuing need to fight opioid addiction in rural communities

New data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shows that rural communities have the highest death rates nationwide from opioid prescriptions, more than three times the national average.

A previously unreleased database from DEA tracking prescription painkillers showed that the highest per-capita opioid death rates from 2006 to 2012 were in rural communities in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, with more than three times the national average of 4.6 deaths per 100,000 residents. Thirteen of those counties had an opioid death rate more than eight times the national rate.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau, said, “We have seen firsthand the destructive force of opioids in rural communities, and our research shows that three out of four farmers have been impacted. That’s why we stepped up to address this crisis. We stand with the families and communities that have been affected, and we continue the fight against opioid addiction in our partnership with National Farmers Union through our Farm Town Strong campaign.… Continue reading

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Keeping watch on the great French rooster battle

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

Allen Ginsberg, the American poet, philosopher and writer, offered the following observation about France: “You can’t escape the past in France, and yet what’s so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn’t seem to burden.” That statement pretty much describes how the French, at least many of them, value their rural heritage.

Saint-Pierre-D’Oleron, France, is a village of 6,000 on the island of Oleron, off the West Coast of the country. Research indicates that it is quaint, picturesque and agrarian. Fifteen years ago, Jean-Louis Biron and Joelle Andrieux, a couple from Limoges (city of 137,000 in Southwestern Central France known for its decorated porcelain) built a vacation home in Saint-Pierre-D’Oleron because of the tranquility the island offered.

Apparently Jean-Louis and Joelle did not get the memo about France valuing its agrarian roots.… Continue reading

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Gov. DeWine signs state budget

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) applauds the recent passage of the state budget that includes beneficial tax policy changes for farmers, as well as long-term, financial support for water quality and nutrient management programs. OSA’s farmer leaders have been working at the Statehouse throughout the process to ensure its members’ voices are heard.

“We thank the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and Gov. DeWine’s Administration for working with all stakeholders to address water quality,” said Trish Cunningham, OSA Policy Committee Chair. “Water quality has been a high priority for our organization for many years and we believe that H2Ohio is a step in the right direction. I’m also proud to see tax policies that will benefit family farmers who have been hit especially hard this year due to the weather and crop prices.”

The over $200 million H2Ohio fund will be used for agricultural, community and nature water projects to address water quality.… Continue reading

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Farmer without arms an inspiration for others

By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag Net

Andy Detwiler farms corn, soybeans and livestock alongside his family in Champaign County. He goes about daily work in all four seasons in what is an otherwise normal scene, except for one thing — Andy does all the things a normal farmer does without the use of arms.

“When I was two years old, I fell into a grain auger, I reached in for some wheat and it took my arms off,” he said, recounting the origin of his current situation. “About two weeks after that they said I started using my feet for stuff in the hospital. Now that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been using my feet for 45 years now.”

And use them he does. Earlier this year, Detwiler was featured in an Ohio Ag Net planting cab cam video. He easily opened the door to his tractor and planted the field with the full-sized machine.… Continue reading

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Are we being poisoned by glyphosate or is this an attorney-get-rich scheme?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

You probably have seen the television commercials of the law firm Moose & Moose (name changed to protect the guilty), encouraging you to sign up to get a payout for a family member who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), allegedly caused by Roundup. You know them, I’m sure. One has a cheap toupee. The other is like me — with his own hair, but old.

This seems to be another get-rich-quick scheme that law firms are leeching onto, to reach families who have a loved one newly-diagnosed with NHL cancer. Roundup, aka glyphosate, is a chemical herbicide that efficiently kills broadleaf weeds in crops. It has an unparalleled safety record.

It did, anyway, until 2015, when the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that even though there was no evidence that glysophate was carcinogenic, it “might” cause cancer. This set the news media off, spreading the scare. Naturally, it also set off California regulators, who developed new rules for glyphosate, not because there was cancer evidence, but as a “precautionary principle.”

Nonetheless, glyphosate has been cleared of causing cancer by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German BfR, an agency dedicated to strengthening consumer health protection.… Continue reading

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USMCA waiting on a House vote

This month, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said the administration will not submit the formal text of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement for Congressional approval until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) approves of a vote.

“I remain optimistic that she [Pelosi] will provide a vote. It will happen sometime this summer, hopefully. It could stretch on to the autumn, but I think it will be sooner than that. It’s up to her, not me,” Kudlow told CNBC.

CNBC reported that the White House plans to send the official text to Congress after Sept. 1. Agricultural organizations continue to urge ratification of USMCA and will closely monitor congressional votes on USMCA and continues to urge the administration to complete a trade agreement with Japan and resolve the trade dispute with China.… Continue reading

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Ohio budget passed by legislators

The Ohio House and Senate passed a state budget bill July 17.

After a 17-day extension, the conference committee sorted out the House and Senate versions of the budget, finally agreeing to 4% income tax cut and funding for Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative.

“Farm Bureau applauds the Ohio House and Senate for including two of our highest priority issues, preservation of the business income deduction and a collaborative plan to address water quality challenges through Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative, in the state’s operating budget,” said Adam Sharp, Executive Vice President, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “Farm Bureau also appreciates the funding increases for our partners at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Extension Services, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts, all of whom deliver critical information to our farmers regarding best practices.”

The budget now goes to Gov. DeWine for a signature.… Continue reading

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The importance of a well-maintained machine: now apply this to you!

By Dee Jepsen

Regular equipment maintenance is an important part of good work practices. Without proper equipment, our work performance suffers. Equipment maintenance includes many activities, including inspections, replacements and adjustments. Learning how to apply these principles to our own lifestyle is also important for sustainability and improves our quality of life. For without a well-prepared body, we are not ready to face the workday.

This article addresses the health side of agricultural safety and health. A healthy workforce is an important aspect towards total workplace safety.


Two types of maintenance

The two types of equipment maintenance are routine maintenance and corrective maintenance. During routine maintenance activities we focus on preventing future problems. Several of these good practices include getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, participating in the right type of exercise, and knowing a few stress control strategies.

Corrective maintenance is reacting to a faulty system, where things go wrong within the system or where parts need replaced.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s ever-changing climate, and its impact on farmers

By Zach Parrott, OCJ field reporter

Many farmers in the state have been struggling with incredibly wet conditions over the past couple of years driven by a changing climate. Both crop and livestock operations are having to make changes to adapt accordingly.

Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences atmospheric scientist Aaron Wilson pointed out that over the past 60 years, moisture levels in Ohio have been on the rise. The increased moisture in the atmosphere has caused Ohio’s temperatures to also change. Ohio’s temperature has increased roughly 2 degrees overall. From 1986 to 2016, summers in Ohio have become increasingly cooler and the winters are warmer. These changes have significant impacts on the state’s ag sector, resulting in rising human and livestock stress levels, pollination decreases, lower productivity and quality, increased weed pressure, increase in disease, and a higher potential risk of crop failure.

“When you have more moisture in the atmosphere it does three things,” Wilson said.… Continue reading

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USDA offers low-interest loans for Ohio agricultural producers impacted by natural disasters

Ohio agricultural producers who lost property due to recent natural disasters may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) physical loss loans. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers these low-interest loans to agricultural producers in 21 Ohio counties, the primary damaged area, who incurred losses due excessive rain, flash flooding, flooding, hail, high winds, lightning and tornadoes that occurred between Nov. 1, 2018 and June 13, 2019. Approval is limited to applicants who suffered severe physical losses only, including the loss of buildings and livestock. Applications are due March 2, 2020.

“Ohio’s hardworking ag producers feed our neighbors, the nation and the world,” said Leonard Hubert, state executive director. “When they suffer losses because of extreme weather, helping them get back on their feet is important. We encourage those affected to reach out to their local USDA Service Center to apply for these emergency loans.”

The 21 Ohio counties in the primary damaged areas include Athens, Auglaize, Belmont, Crawford, Darke, Greene, Guernsey, Henry, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Mercer, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Noble, Pickaway, Preble, Richland, Shelby, and Stark.… Continue reading

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Ohio farm featured on PBS series

Ohio’s Laurel Valley Creamery will be featured nationwide with the broadcast premiere of Farmsteaders on POV on Sept. 2, an award-winning PBS series.

Farmsteaders brings to light various factors related to dairy farm management, livestock and challenges to farming practices. Director Shaena Mallett documents the intimate experiences and continuing struggle of the Nolan family farm, operating at the mercy of the “unknown.”

Farmsteaders follows Nick Nolan and his young family on a journey to resurrect his late grandfather’s dairy farm. Nick and his wife Celeste fight to keep their farm from “drying up and blowing away,” something that has happened to about 4.7 million farms in the U.S. Through beauty and hardship, Farmsteaders points an honest and tender lens at everyday life in rural America, offering an unexpected voice for a forsaken people: those who grow the food that sustains us.

Farmsteaders will premiere on POV on Sept. 2 at 10 p.m.… Continue reading

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Large algae bloom in Lake Erie predicted for 2019

NOAA and its research partners are forecasting that western Lake Erie will experience a significant harmful algal bloom (HAB) this summer.

This year’s bloom is expected to measure 7.5 on the severity index, but could possibly range between 6 and 9. An index above 5 indicates blooms having greater impact. The severity index is based on bloom’s biomass — the amount of algae — over a sustained period. The largest blooms occurred in 2011, with a severity index of 10, and 2015, at 10.5. Last year’s bloom had a severity index of 3.6, while 2017‘s was 8.0.

Lake Erie blooms consist of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, that are capable of producing the liver toxin microcystin that poses a risk to human and wildlife health. Such blooms may result in higher costs for cities and local governments that need to treat drinking water, prevent people from enjoying fishing, swimming, boating and visiting the shoreline, and harm the region’s vital summer tourism economy.… Continue reading

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Ticks close to home

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

I know first-hand that the odds of getting bit by a tick and contracting a disease are getting higher each year in Ohio. Last month my wife had what she thought was a bruise on her stomach which, at the sight of the classic bullseye-shaped rash, I identified as the bite of a tick. I had interviewed Dr. Timothy McDermott, a veterinarian and Ohio State University extension educator in Franklin County, on my radio show and learned the signs.

“The incidence of Lyme disease locally has increased every year and is projected to continue to increase every year,” he explained, adding that in the past four years, the number of cases of Lyme disease nearly doubled, with 293 cases reported in 2018, according to Ohio Department of Public Health data. As of press time, there already were 27 cases statewide this year.… Continue reading

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Gov. DeWine creates “Expo 2050” Task Force

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a new task force to develop and recommend a long-term vision for the Ohio Expo Center, an event venue in Columbus that is home to the Ohio State Fair, as well as nearby attractions including the Ohio History Connection and the current Mapfre Stadium.

“At the Ohio State Fair and other events that occur here, there are countless ways to have fun. We need to find ways to keep that excitement going all year long,” Governor DeWine said. “Today, I am announcing the formation of a task force, called ‘Expo 2050,’ to take stock of all of the great things going on at the Ohio Expo Center, as well as the Ohio History Connection and Mapfre Stadium, and to develop a strategic vision for the entire area.”

Governor DeWine made the announcement during a meeting of the Ohio Expositions Commission. Expo 2050 is tasked with reviewing the Expo experience, including the assets and activities of the Ohio Expo Center, the Ohio History Connection, and Mapfre Stadium, and developing ideas for getting the most use and enjoyment out of this state land in the future.… Continue reading

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Tools for training and keeping good employees increasingly important in agribusiness

By Matt Reese

It is not an uncommon story. A young employee starts at the lowest levels of a company, works in every facet of the business and one day ends up running it.

“Our CEO is in his early 40s. He hired on at a local ag center as an applicator, which is a technical job driving big machines. He was willing to do anything. He would tie feed sacks at the mill, sweep shop floors, check out customers at the counter — that man now is our CEO,” said Lindsay Sankey, communications manager for Harvest Land Cooperative with locations in western Ohio and Indiana. “He has worked in every department of our business. He is a prime example that if you are willing to learn and take on responsibility, there is so much opportunity in a farmer owned cooperative. We have several examples of this. He started on the lowest rung and now he is leading the cooperative.”

Unfortunately, for a number of different reasons, this type of ground up experience and long-term company loyalty seems to be less common in the modern pool of employees.… Continue reading

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Financial workshops planned throughout Ohio

Ohio’s agricultural economy is experiencing a number of stresses in 2019. Challenging weather and uncertain market conditions are leaving many farmers across the state under considerable financial stress. The reality is no one is immune to financial stress. Managing the day-to-day challenges of cash flow are tough. Layer in long-term planning, such as a business succession and retirement, and it can often feel overwhelming.

Ohio Farm Bureau Financial Essentials program aims to alleviate these concerns through a series of workshops and online resources developed to help answer important financial questions. In collaboration with Nationwide, AgCredit, OSU Extension, Farm Credit Mid-America and Wright & Moore Law Co. LPA, these resources can help guide the path to financial security for a family, farm and business.

County Farm Bureaus are hosting workshops in several locations during August and September. Each session will include a meal provided by the county Farm Bureau. … Continue reading

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2019 Agriculture Challenges FAQ Webpage now live from OSU Extension

By Elizabeth Hawkins, Ohio State University Extension

The unrelenting rains this spring and summer have created many challenges that the farming community is now sorting through. In order to help with decisions, Ohio State University Extension has created a Frequently Asked Questions webpage. This page provides the most up-to-date answers to questions about topics ranging from the Market Facilitation Program and disaster payments to cover crops, forages, livestock concerns, management of crops that are out of sync with normal planting dates, as well as answers to more questions as information becomes available. There is also an option to submit questions that you would like answered. Webinars with more detailed information will also be shared at this site as well. The page is available at go.osu.edu/AgCrisis. Since the situation we are facing is constantly evolving, be sure to check back for the latest information available to help you.… Continue reading

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