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What can ag learn from Food, Inc.?

By Matt Reese

The 2008 movie Food, Inc. has been critically acclaimed and reached millions of viewers at the theater and through movie rentals with its the half-truths and misinformation about food production. The movie, along with related films and books, has led the charge to undermine centuries of consumer trust and goodwill with regard to the origins of their food.

From the Web site for the film: “In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment.”

Regardless of what viewers think of the film, it has successfully created concerns among some consumers with regard to their food.… Continue reading

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“Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future” talk at OSU

Jewish environmental educator Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Bethesda, Md., and Rabbi Benjamin Berger of Ohio State University Hillel will present “Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future: Eco-Judaism from the Ground Up,” a free community forum, from 7-9 p.m. this Wednesday (3/30) in the Barbara Tootle Room of Ohio State’s Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St., Columbus.

Ohio State philosophy professor Tamar Rudavsky will moderate.

There will be free organic tapas and local food samples at 6:30 p.m. plus free tomato and lettuce plants for participating.

The program is the first in the three-part “Abrahamic Faiths and the Environment” series sponsored by Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), the Ohio Council of Churches, and Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.

For more information, contact Ohio State’s Greg Hitzhusen at 614-292-7739 or hitzhusen.3@osu.edu or go to http://go.osu.edu/CWn.

SENR is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.… Continue reading

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"Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future" talk at OSU

Jewish environmental educator Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Bethesda, Md., and Rabbi Benjamin Berger of Ohio State University Hillel will present “Food, Faith and a Sustainable Future: Eco-Judaism from the Ground Up,” a free community forum, from 7-9 p.m. this Wednesday (3/30) in the Barbara Tootle Room of Ohio State’s Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St., Columbus.

Ohio State philosophy professor Tamar Rudavsky will moderate.

There will be free organic tapas and local food samples at 6:30 p.m. plus free tomato and lettuce plants for participating.

The program is the first in the three-part “Abrahamic Faiths and the Environment” series sponsored by Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), the Ohio Council of Churches, and Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.

For more information, contact Ohio State’s Greg Hitzhusen at 614-292-7739 or hitzhusen.3@osu.edu or go to http://go.osu.edu/CWn.

SENR is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.… Continue reading

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Black Swamp Conservancy protects Fulton, Seneca County farms

Black Swamp Conservancy has entered into permanent farmland preservation agreements with four landowners in Fulton and Seneca counties.

Those agreements – known as agricultural easements – will ensure that 451 acres of prime farm ground are devoted exclusively to agriculture, forever. The easements will be co-held by the conservancy and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Black Swamp Conservancy preserves land mostly through perpetual land conservation agreements known as conservation or agricultural easements. Through such an agreement, the landowner gives up the right to develop the property – such as by constructing buildings, putting in roads or driveways or subdividing the land – in order to protect its conservation values, which includes its value as prime farmland or as habitat for native plants and animals.

“Agriculture is the #1 industry in northwest Ohio,“ said Kevin Joyce, the conservancy’s executive director. “In these tough times, it’s important to recognize that farm families’ commitment to keeping their land as farmland is essential to our community’s future economic prosperity.”

The two Fulton County farms, covering 179 acres, are located near Delta, Ohio.… Continue reading

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NOAA weather update

By Jim Noel

The weather pattern looks to turn not quite as wet but cool over the next week. We expect some rain especially in the northern half of Ohio later Tuesday into Wednesday with average amounts of 0.5 to 1.0 inches especially in the north half. After that system we expect only minor systems into next week. Temperatures will be above average early this week except in the far north and then turn colder than average into early next week. The next major weather system after early to mid week will not likely occur until late next week.

Longer-range outlooks continue to show, as discussed last autumn, the trend for a cool spring with close to normal rainfall after the wet start. However, the frequency of rain will be quite active at least into the first half of April. It looks like the cooler than average temperatures will last into April with a gradual return to normal during later spring.… Continue reading

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USDA expands access to fresh fruits and vegetables for schools across the nation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that, as authorized by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill), USDA will expand assistance to state agencies for schools operating USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) in the 2011/2012 school year. The investment is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to improve the health of our children by providing access to nutritious meals in schools and also serves as a valuable resource to schools that continue working to improve the health and nutrition of the foods they serve. The assistance will provide free fresh fruit and vegetables to children throughout the school day.

“Improving the health and nutrition of our kids is a national imperative and by providing schools with fresh fruits and vegetables that expand their healthy options, we are helping our kids to have a brighter, healthier future,” said Vilsack. “Every time our kids eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable, they are learning healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.”

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, authorized and funded under Section 19 of the Richard B.… Continue reading

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OFBF presidents make a difference in D.C.

By Matt Reese

The American Farm Bureau once again proved to be among the more powerful forces in Washington, D.C. last year as a number of votes went the way of the grassroots decisions made by members around the country.

The power of Farm Bureau is its people and their efforts with legislators. For the 65th time, Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents congregated in Washington, D.C. to learn and teach, celebrate previous success and pave the way for a successful future in farm-related public policy.

“This is an opportunity for Ohio Farm Bureau to bring its county presidents to D.C. to have that direct one-on-one opportunity to impact and build relationships with not only those who we elect to represent us here but with the agencies that affect what happens on our farms,” said Brent Porteus, Ohio Farm Bureau president. “We had a lot of discussion on the estate tax here last year and we did get a two-year bill achieving our goals.… Continue reading

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Friends of Ohio Barns to hold 12th annual “Ohio Barn Conference” in Fairfield County

Come join barn enthusiasts, barn owners and maybe even a few barn “huggers” at Ohio’s only annual barn tour and conference to be held in the heart of beautiful Fairfield County Ohio on April 29 and 30.

Join Friends of Ohio Barns for another barn adventure starting Friday with a daylong bus tour through Fairfield County to see and explore many wonderful historic barns. One stop will be the recently restored Rock Mill, a gristmill originally built in 1824 located on the Hocking River gorge. Other stops include two working barns, unique double forebay barns and an example of adaptive re-use by converting a barn into a home. Rudy Christian, Larry Sulzer and other barn detectives will be there to explain the barn structures and the unique aspects of the barns chosen for the tour. Lunch will be prepared by the Bremen Area Historical Society and served at the Bremen Museum and Community Center.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Department given 8.8% cut in state budget

By Kyle Sharp

Ohio Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer and other Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) leaders discussed their plans to deal with an 8.8% budget cut in the coming year during a conference call held March 15 shortly after Gov. John Kasich announced his “Jobs Budget” proposal.

“We are going to be reduced in our general revenue funds by almost 9%, but we will continue to ensure the consumers of Ohio will have safe food,” Zehringer said. “The Ohio Department of Agriculture is about food, animal and plant safety, and there are a lot of companies in Ohio producing food. The one thing we never want them to do is have a recall or have someone get sick.”

ODA’s budget for Fiscal Year 2012 will be just under $48 million, with slightly more than $14 million of that coming from state General Revenue Funds. Federal funds, laboratory user fees and other sources make up the remainder of the budget.… Continue reading

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USDA releases study showing conservation practices protect water resources in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

America’s farmers and ranchers are being challenged by an onslaught of regulations, guidance and other requirements being issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

In testimony on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation before a House  Agriculture subcommittee, Shaffer said that nowhere is the impact of EPA activity more obvious than in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where EPA’s recently finalized Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) guidelines could push hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland out of production.

“EPA itself projects that roughly 20% of cropped land in the watershed (about 600,000 acres) will have to be removed from production and be converted to grassland or forest in order to achieve the required loading reductions,” said Shaffer, a member of the AFBF board and executive committee.

Shaffer said EPA’s over-reaching focus on agriculture is particularly troublesome because agriculture has worked successfully with the Agriculture Department to reduce its environmental impact on the Chesapeake Bay.… Continue reading

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OFBF Celebrates Ag Week In D.C.

As the Nation pays tribute to agriculture today for National Ag Day, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s County Presidents are in Washington D.C. meeting with lawmakers about issues important to farmers in Ohio and around the Country.

Ohio’s Country Journal’s Matt Reese and The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins are there to hear the message the OFBF is delivering to the Hill this week. The topics that are top of mind are energy and the environment, state and national budgets, estate tax and free trade agreements just to name a few.

Ohio Farm Bureau President Brent Porteus tells Ty why this trip is so important and what impact past trips have made.

The Senior Director of Legislative Policy for The Ohio Farm Bureau, Adam Sharp, talks to Ty about the issues that will be focussed on this week.

U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs from Ohio’s 18 talks about EPA’s overreach and other issues that he is tackling during his freshman year.Continue reading

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ODA celebrates agribusiness during Ag Week

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director James Zehringer, in celebration of National Agriculture Week, announced the department’s commitment to promoting economic development in the state by declaring “Ohio’s doors are wide open for agribusiness.”

Director Zehringer also announced the release of a new video designed to showcase the department’s commitment to agribusiness in Ohio. The video, which can be downloaded on the department’s website at http://www.agri.ohio.gov/videos/kasich-zehringer.htm or viewed on our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/OhioDeptofAg, features Governor Kasich and Director Zehringer discussing the state’s pledge to foster agribusiness growth in Ohio.

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Kasich signs bill designating Ohio Ag Week

Gov. John R. Kasich signed House Bill 89 to designate the second full week of March as “Ohio Agriculture Week.” Gov. Kasich was joined by bill sponsor Rep. Timothy Derickson (R-Oxford), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Rep. David Hall (R-Killbuck), Director of the Department of Agriculture Jim Zehringer, and representatives from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Future Farmers of America (FFA).

House Bill 89 was passed unanimously by the General Assembly and is intended to increase public recognition of the vitally important role agriculture plays in Ohio. Generating $98 billion per year and employing one out of every seven Ohioans, agriculture is the state’s leading industry. The 1,100 processing facilities across the state employ more than 60,000 workers, and each family farm in Ohio indirectly creates job opportunities for neighbors in and around their communities.… Continue reading

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Bob Evans to move company headquarters


Bob Evans Farms Inc. said Thursday that it would move its corporate headquarters to New Albany, Ohio, from its long-time location in Columbus.

The new location is about 25 miles northeast of Columbus.

The new corporate campus is expected to be done in 2013, the company said in a news release. “We’re pleased to announce our plans to remain in Central  Ohio. We have been a major part of the Ohio economy for decades, employing nearly 14,000 Ohioans, and contributing more than $1 million annually to philanthropic community-based efforts across the state,” CEO Steve Davis says in the release. “Ohio is where our company was founded … and we’re committed to growing our company here.”

The new location offered an abundance of available land, infrastructure, ease of development, and a convenient location near major transportation routes and the airport, according to the company. The company had moved to its Columbus location from Gallipolis, Ohio in 1968.… Continue reading

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Broadband loan program at USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA issued a Notice of Solicitations of Applications and regulations implementing the 2008 Farm Bill for the broadband loan program. Building out broadband infrastructure remains an important Obama Administration priority to help lay a new foundation for economic opportunity to help rural America win the future.

“Broadband investments are an essential part of the Obama Administration’s effort to ‘win the future’ by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competitors,” Vilsack said.  “Investments in rural broadband networks create jobs and economic opportunity for rural America.  Broadband is critical communications infrastructure of the 21st century, and it is vital to building vibrant rural communities.”

The interim regulation for the Broadband Program requires that certain definitions affecting eligibility be revised and published annually by the agency in the Federal Register. For the purpose of this interim regulation, the agency has amended two definitions: Broadband Service and Broadband Lending Speed and Incumbent Service Provider.… Continue reading

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OSU students, urban first-graders both get a hands-on education

By Kyle Sharp

Thirty-one first-graders from the Columbus School for Girls (CSG) had a “magnificent experience” on March 9, said Linda Ostrander, a CSG teacher, when they traveled to the Ohio State University Sheep Center in Columbus for the fourth annual Food and Fiber Day.

The students spent the day at the farm learning about the food and fiber industry in the state of Ohio through a series of seven educational stations — ruminant digestion, the needs of sheep as they grow, the body parts of a sheep and how they are used to find food, byproducts, plants from seed to food, the food web, and making ice cream. Fifteen OSU agricultural education students developed the stations and organized the day as a project for their “Methods of Teaching Agriculture” course. The stations are designed to meet science standards for kindergarten through second-grade students in the state of Ohio.

“This is non-formal education, so it helps those who have an Extension emphasis or are agricultural education minors,” said Caryn Filson, an OSU doctoral student in agricultural education who does laboratory work for the course.… Continue reading

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Kasich praises agriculture in State of the State

In his 2011 State of the State Address in early March, Gov. John Kasich had positive things to say about agriculture and its role in the future of the state.

“I’ve asked Jim Zehringer to think about agriculture in a completely different way. How many agribusinesses can we get? How many 21st Century products can we develop? And how do we think about ethanol when we have increasing dependence on countries like Libya and Venezuela to provide us our fuel? So we’re thinking about agriculture in an entirely different way,” he said. “It can be great prosperity. And here’s the thing about agriculture, it’s not your old man’s tractor anymore. It’s technology. It’s GPS. It’s weather patterns. It’s you’re your own boss and you fall in love with the good earth. There’s something about it that’s soulful and spiritual. And we need to recognize our farmers for the great work they have done.… Continue reading

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USDA reminds landowners and producers of CRP general sign-up

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reminded landowners and producers that a general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will begin on March 14, 2011, and continue through April 15, 2011. During the sign-up period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to maintain CRP enrollment up to 32 million acres. The Secretary announced the sign-up recently in Omaha, Neb., at Pheasant Fest.

“For 25 years, CRP has generated significant environmental improvements,” said Vilsack. “Sound conservation practices encouraged through CRP enrollment preserve the soil, clean our water and restore habitat for wildlife. I encourage all interested farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn more about this opportunity.”

CRP is a voluntary program that assists farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers to use their environmentally-sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolling in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers in exchange for rental payments, cost-share and technical assistance.… Continue reading

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Ohio State receives USAID grant to boost agriculture, food security in Tanzania

Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has been awarded a $24 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve agricultural productivity and food security in the East African nation of Tanzania.

The “Tanzania Agricultural Research and Capacity Building Project” involves a consortium of four other U.S. land-grant universities under Ohio State’s leadership: Michigan State University, Tuskegee University, the University of Florida and Virginia Tech. The grant was announced in late February.

The project is part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, which seeks to address the root causes of global hunger by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and advancing global stability and prosperity. A nation of 35 million people, half of whom live in poverty, Tanzania — whose economy is largely dependent on agriculture — has been identified as a priority country for the FTF initiative.

“With global population exploding, and new uses for the crops we grow, this grant is critical for addressing poverty and hunger in this part of the world,” said Bobby Moser, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES.

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Mexican/U.S. truck dispute settled

The United States and Mexico have reached an agreement to end the trucking dispute between the two neighbors. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon unveiled a deal resolving a longstanding dispute over cross-border trucking that has subjected the U.S. to billions of dollars in punitive tariffs. The plan will allow for half of those tariffs to be lifted immediately.

The U.S. Pork Industry is certainly pleased with the U.S./Mexico trucking deal. Pork exports to Mexico have been hit hard by Mexican retaliatory tariffs. In August, 2010, Mexico put a 5 percent tariff on U.S. bone-in hams – a big export item – and 20 percent on cooked pork skins in retaliation for the United States not complying with the trucking provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement . The provision was supposed to become effective in December 1995.… Continue reading

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