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Wanted: 2020 Ohio FFA State Convention Student Reporters

The 2020 Ohio FFA State Convention is right around the corner and Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net is on the search for outstanding Ohio FFA members to help serve as student reporters for this year’s event.

In our tenth year of the student reporter program, selected FFA members will get the opportunity to help cover the convention and work alongside our news staff, including Matt Reese, Dale Minyo, and Kolt Buchenroth. Ever wonder what it’s like to do our job? This is your chance!

The live coverage of the Ohio FFA Convention will be posted on www.ocj.com and various social media outlets with reporters helping to host news coverage in addition to a couple veteran student reporters.

Students will assist in gathering information, shoot photos and video of newsworthy items and people, share their commentary of what happened in each session, and much more.

To be considered:

  • Applicants must be attending both days of the Ohio FFA State Convention April 30 and May 1, 2020.
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National FFA reaches milestone

The National FFA Organization’s GIVE THE GIFT OF THE BLUE program has reached a milestone. The program gifted it 10,000th jacket last week during National FFA Week when Allison Burns of North Miami High School in Indiana was presented with her own jacket.

The program was established in 2014 in response to a large number of members who do not own an FFA jacket. The FFA estimates more than half of its members do not have a FFA jacket to wear for official functions.

Individual donors and corporate sponsors fund the GIVE THE GIFT OF THE BLUE program.… Continue reading

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Farm State of Mind Campaign to expand impact in rural mental health

Bayer and the American Farm Bureau Federation announce the transition of Bayer’s Farm State of Mind campaign, an initiative to raise mental health awareness among the farming community, to Farm Bureau. The campaign aims to reduce stigma surrounding the topic of mental health in rural communities and to provide relevant information to farm families on this important topic. Farm Bureau plans to combine the Farm State of Mind assets with those of its ongoing Rural Resilience campaign, expanding the reach and effectiveness of its rural mental health initiatives.

Challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health. In addition, 48% of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago.… Continue reading

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LEBOR invalid: District judge rules in favor of farmer

By Matt Reese

On Feb. 27, 2019, Wood County farmer Mark Drewes filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality and legal status of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. The previous day, Toledo voters had approved creation of LEBOR during a special election. On Feb. 27, 2020, U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary ruled LEBOR as “invalid,” ruling in favor of Drewes.

LEBOR granted rights to Lake Erie and empowered any Toledo citizen to file lawsuits on behalf of Lake Erie. It gave Toledoans authority over nearly 5 million Ohioans, thousands of farms, more than 400,000 businesses and every level of government in 35 northern Ohio counties plus parts of Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. LEBOR was passed despite the prevailing legal opinion that many of its provisions were unconstitutional at the time. Those legal opinions were reiterated in Judge Zouhary’s conclusion: “Frustrated by the status quo, LEBOR supporters knocked on doors, engaged their fellow citizens, and used the democratic process to pursue a well-intentioned goal: the protection of Lake Erie.… Continue reading

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Movie magic or Hollywood rubbish?

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Recently, I coerced Paul into watching the Oscars. I love, absolutely love movies and watching the clips they show. To my dismay toward the end, the Joker climbed to the stage to accept his award and began to criticize agriculture. The joker continued and OMG! My thought was “this is not good”! Snuck a peek at my dairy farmer in the Lazyboy, he was in a trance. Rubbish! The war on agriculture seems to be thriving from politics to Hollywood. At some point you would think that people would remember the old saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

When Hollywood depicts farming, often it is either romanticized or turned into a horror movie. Maybe what we need are some good feature films that depict an authentic agriculture message. Get some actors/actresses sharing genuine agriculture points. The award-winning speech can include a thanks to all the farmers who feed America.… Continue reading

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Reducing food waste in Ohio

By Mary Wicks

Remember “waste not, want not” and “clean your plate’” from childhood dinner time? Feel guilty throwing away moldy leftovers? Food waste is a much larger problem than not eating your peas. The USDA estimated that in 2010, 130 billion tons of the food produced for human consumption in the U.S. was wasted at the retail or consumer level. That’s 31% of the total food supply and valued at $161 billion, plus additional costs for the water, fertilizer and other inputs needed to grow, process and transport food. Plus, a lot of wasted food ends up in landfills, where it accounts for about 21% of all solid waste.

 

What’s the solution?

The U.S. has set a goal of reducing food scraps going to landfills by 50% by 2030. Doing that will take many approaches. The USDA and EPA have created the food recovery hierarchy that illustrates the effectiveness of these approaches.… Continue reading

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USDA reminds producers of Feb. 28 deadline for Conservation Reserve Program general signup

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup must make an offer of acres or schedule an appointment to do so with their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) service center by Friday, February 28.

The general signup – which opened in December – is available to producers and private landowners who are either offering for the first time or re-offering acres for another 10- to 15-year term in the 35-year-old USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation program.

“Call your FSA county office today to make an appointment to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “As long as you have an appointment scheduled, your CRP offer will be able to compete in this general signup, even if the appointment is in the first week of March. This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want to make sure interested producers and landowners take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and landowners who enroll land in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.… Continue reading

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Phase One progress report

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced Feb. 25 that China has taken numerous actions to begin implementing its agriculture-related commitments under the landmark U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement on schedule.

“President Trump and this Administration negotiated a strong trade agreement with China that promises significant benefits for American agriculture,” Secretary Perdue said. “We look forward to realizing these benefits this year and are encouraged by progress made last week. We fully expect compliance with all elements of the deal.”

The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2020.

These actions include:

• Signing a protocol that allows the importation of U.S. fresh chipping potatoes (U.S. Chipping Potatoes Protocol Announcement);
• Lifting the ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including pet food containing poultry products (Poultry and Poultry Products Announcement);
• Lifting restrictions on imports of U.S. pet food containing ruminant material (Pet Food with Ruminant Ingredients Announcement);
• Updating lists of facilities approved for exporting animal protein, pet food, dairy, infant formula, and tallow for industry use to China;
• Updating the lists of products that can be exported to China as feed additives; and
• Updating an approved list of U.S.… Continue reading

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Ohio legislation on the move

By Ellen Essman, Ohio Law Blog, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University

The year is still fairly new, and 2020 has brought with it some newly-introduced legislation in the Ohio General Assembly. That being said, in 2020 the General Assembly also continues to consider legislation first introduced in 2019. From tax exemptions to CAUV changes, to watershed programs and local referendums on wind turbines, here is some notable ag-related legislation making its way through the state house.

House Bill 400 “To authorize a nonrefundable income tax credit for the retail sale of high-ethanol blend motor fuel.”

HB 400 was introduced after our last legislative update in November, so while it was first introduced in 2019, it still technically qualifies as “new” to us. Since its introduction, the bill has been discussed in two hearings in the House Ways & Means Committee. The bill would give owners and operators of gas stations a tax rebate of five cents per gallon for sales of ethanol.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Federation sponsors ExploreAg youth camps

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation is excited to be offering four STEM-based camps, ExploreAg. The ExploreAg program is a week-long experience where high school students interact with and learn from internationally known teachers, scientists, and researchers. Students are hosted on campus at The Ohio State University and Central State University and are introduced to various aspects of agriculture both in the classroom and through diverse hands-on learning experiences, both on and off campus.

Subject areas include food science, precision agriculture, animal science, natural resources, management skills, technology, and agricultural business.

In addition to the classroom experience, scholars will participate in field experiences that highlight cutting-edge research, and introduce industry partners, to provide scholars with a glimpse of innovative careers in related fields.

ExploreAg will offer four camp sessions:
Session 1 – June 14-19 on the Ohio State University Main Campus
Session 2 – June 21-26 on the Ohio State University Main Campus
Session 3 – July 5-10 on the Central State University Campus
Session 4 – July 12-17 on the Ohio State University ATI Campus

Program costs, which include on-campus accommodations, meals, staffing, course supplies, program materials, and transportation, have been generously sponsored by the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation as a part of their vision to create a strong farm and food community for all Ohioans.… Continue reading

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Eight Ohio teens explore careers in Denver

By Amanda Forquer, 4-H Educator

Eight teens from Knox, Morrow, and Richland Counties traveled to Denver January 8 to 12, 2020. They explored 12 businesses while on a career exploration trip that was coordinated by OSU Extension — Morrow County.

This trip was a chance to take youth out of their comfort zone to experience a new city, people, ideas, and open their eyes to career opportunities they may not have thought of before. Many of the places visited were similar to businesses in Ohio, but run a bit differently in Colorado or on a much larger scale. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was one of the youth’s favorite stops.

“More goes into running the NCBA than you think. They monitor the media constantly, try recipes in the culinary kitchen, advocate for the farmers and ranchers, and so much more. The best part was they talked to us like people who were going to achieve something someday,” said Taylor Rush, who went on the trip.… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau’s Ag Day filled with Ohio’s leading legislators

By Matt Reese

It was a who’s who of Ohio legislators at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Ag Day at the Capital. Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, and president of the Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, and many others, were among the leaders in attendance.

Farm Bureau members were out in force on the sunny streets of Columbus to meet with those legislators and share their thoughts on the pertinent issues. Water quality was at the top of the list.

“Water quality is certainly our top issue. We are looking at H2Ohio and the impact it has and the dollars it is bringing into the western basin of Lake Erie. Every program has to have a starting point and H2Ohio is a great starting point to take some dollars to put behind practices that farmers can incorporate into their operations and make the best environmental decisions for their farm.… Continue reading

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Farmers join forces for sustainability and responsible climate policy

Twenty-one farm and ranch groups representing millions of U.S. farmers and ranchers are launching Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF), a coalition committed to environmental and economic sustainability. This coalition will serve as a primary resource for lawmakers and policymakers as they consider climate policies.

The coalition will share with elected officials, media and the public U.S. agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and the incredible strides already made to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint. As policy proposals are developed and considered, the goal is for the coalition and its guiding principles to serve as a foundation to ensure the adoption of meaningful and constructive policies and programs affecting agriculture.

Farmers and ranchers are committed stewards of the land, leading the way to climate-smart farming by promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, using nutrients efficiently, and caring for their animals. For decades, they have pushed past the boundaries of innovation thanks to investments in agricultural research and the adoption of practices that improve productivity, provide clean and renewable energy, enhance sustainability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon.… Continue reading

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Still time to complete your Census of Agriculture special study

United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) continues to collect responses to the 2019 Organic Survey and the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties, both once-every-five-year special studies to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Response windows are open through March. NASS encourages the producers who received these questionnaires to respond online, by mail, or telephone.
“We are extending the deadlines for response since we still have a steady stream of completed questionnaires coming in,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “NASS produces the most comprehensive agricultural data about U.S. agriculture. Our record of accuracy is why NASS data continue to be used throughout the industry. The better the response, the stronger the data. Responding to NASS surveys and censuses means contributing to the future.”

The resulting data will be used by commodity associations, agribusinesses, policymakers, researchers, Extension, USDA agencies, and more.

Producers who did not respond by the original deadline will receive a second questionnaire this month.… Continue reading

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Proposed coyote trapping changes put on hold

By Matt Reese

When coyote predation becomes a problem for a livestock operation, it can be a major issue that requires extensive measures to address. For this reason, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife proposal to designated coyotes as furbearers generated concerns from Ohio’s agriculture and hunters and trappers.

“There are a fair amount of hunters that don’t agree with it,” said Mike Rex, who sits on the Ohio Wildlife Council. “They see coyotes as vermin and not a furbearing animal like a fox, and they don’t think there should be any additional regulation.”

With the furbearer designation, coyote trapping by any person (including landowners) would be limited to the existing trapping season for fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, and weasel which is Nov. 10 to Jan. 31. The current “landowner exemption” for fur taker permits and legal year-round nuisance trapping would remain in place.

Concerns about the proposed changes, though, led to a Feb.… Continue reading

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Assistance now available to restore and protect Ohio’s privately-owned land for wetland habitat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encourages people and groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements.

This year, NRCS will invest in technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes and other groups protect these valuable lands. Efforts will be focused on restoring previously drained agricultural lands and protecting the restored wetlands with easements. Landowners are financially compensated for enrolling their land in easements.

“Protecting these lands preserves Ohio’s heritage, natural resources and open space,” said Barbara Baker, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist in Ohio. “Easements are an important tool for people who are trying to preserve the land for future generations.”

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) utilizes the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) component of the program. Applications for ACEP-WRE are accepted on a continuous basis. Applications signed and submitted to NRCS by the ranking and funding deadline will be evaluated for fiscal year 2020 funding.… Continue reading

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OEFFA named 2020 recipients of its Stewardship and Service awards

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2020 recipients of its Stewardship and Service awards.

David Bell of Logan County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Alan Sundermeier of Wood County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture. The announcements were made February 14-15 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 41st annual conference, “A Climate for Change.”

2020 Stewardship Award Winner 
David Bell started a farming business with his brother Kevin in 1968, and has owned and operated Paul Bell & Sons, a 450 acre organic farm near Bellefontaine with his brother since 1972. He raises organic corn, beans, wheat, hay, oats, spelt, and beef. He started using organic practices in 1978 and has been certified organic since 1988.

A life-long Logan County resident, Bell was part of the family’s dairy farm business from a young age, until the dairy operation ended in 1998.… Continue reading

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Student denied opportunity to take bar exam due to debt level

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

Graduating from law school does not guarantee the graduate will be permitted to sit for the bar exam. In Ohio, prospective new lawyers who apply to take the bar exam must first pass a character and fitness evaluation. Ohio recently made the national news when the Ohio Board of Bar Commissioners denied a woman the opportunity to take the bar exam and indicated her student loans were a significant part of the reason for the denial. The Ohio Supreme Court has not ruled on the matter, although it heard oral arguments on Jan. 28, 2020.

Cynthia Marie Rodgers, 59, graduated from Capital Law School. She also has an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University. In addition, she began, but did not finish, a master’s program at the school. Rodgers has over $300,000 in student loan debt. Her husband is semi-retired and seeking disability.… Continue reading

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Deer hunter or Bambi lover: What you should know about chronic wasting disease

By Don “Doc” Sanders

I can still remember as a 12-year-old seeing live deer for the first time, in the field near my childhood home in Auglaize County. With his Super-8 movie camera my uncle captured four deer jumping a fence after they scouted the field for several minutes. It was an awesome experience for our whole family; none of us had ever seen deer in the wild.

Fast forward to today: We see deer everywhere. We also see the consequences of their presence, like damaged crops, deer-vehicle collisions and trampled flower beds. Deer seem to take a special liking to the security of residential areas, within city limits, safe from hunters. As a plus for the city deer, some people delight in putting out food, apparently in case the moochers are still hungry after plundering their neighbors’ gardens.

With deer as plentiful as they are, we’re constantly on edge as we drive on highways and country roads, especially at dusk, fearful one might run out at any moment into our path or the side of our car or truck.… Continue reading

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Technology and rural America

New technology holds promise for America’s small farms and rural businesses, but public-sector involvement — such as for expanding rural broadband access — is needed for that promise to be realized.

So said Doug Jackson-Smith, professor of water security and rural sociology in The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), in comments delivered Jan. 9 in Washington, D.C., to the U.S. House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development.

“New technology offers opportunities for small businesses, especially small farmers,” Jackson-Smith said at a hearing convened by the subcommittee titled “Farming in the 21st Century: The Impacts of Agriculture Technology in Rural America.” “But without a public investment and strategy, it probably won’t have that effect.”

Jackson-Smith is a faculty member with Ohio State’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) and CFAES’ School of Environment and Natural Resources.

U.S. Rep.… Continue reading

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