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The State Fair’s quiet side

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman

One of my favorite mid-summer destinations, the Ohio State Fair gets underway July 25 though Aug. 5 at the Ohio Expositions Center in Columbus, where the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) offers a welcome quiet space that for decades has served as a great place for taking a break from the midway and other traditional fair attractions. Located at the Natural Resources Park on the fairground’s southeast corner, the area is a popular “green space” with outdoors-minded families looking to “take five” or to take part in some hook and bullet activities. The channel cats that used to prowl the popular kiddie fishing ponds have been replaced with easier-to-catch sunfish and the portable kayaking pond has become a permanent fixture. Kids can try their hand at several shooting sports, and there are ongoing wildlife programs and demonstrations, as well as displays of live birds and animals, to entertain and educate all.… Continue reading

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A small state with big farmland preservation efforts

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

Care to guess where the most expensive farmland in the country is located? Hint — it’s the smallest state in the union at 48 miles long and 37 miles wide: Rhode Island.

Any guesses as to which state has the most beginning farmers? Hint — the second most densely populated. More than a million call this tiny state home: Rhode Island.

Can you guess which state has lost the most farmland? Hint—the state has lost 80% of its farmland since 1940: Rhode Island.

According to the 2014 Census of Agriculture, Rhode Island had 1,243 farms on 69,589 acres and 71% of these farms are 10 acres or less. And 30.8% of the farmers are new.

It’s worth looking at Rhode Island’s current support of agriculture. In the midst of trade wars, tariffs, low commodity prices, and farmer suicides, Rhode Island is encouraging the local food movement where restaurants, grocers, caterers and consumers purchase directly from local farms.… Continue reading

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Western Ohio cropland values and cash rents 2017-18

By Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management, Director, Ohio State University Income Tax Schools  OSU Extension, Agriculture & Natural Resources

Ohio cropland values and cash rental rates are projected to decrease in 2018. According to the Western Ohio Cropland Values and Cash Rents Survey, bare cropland values in western Ohio are expected to decrease anywhere from 1.7 to 3.6% in 2018 depending on the region and land class. Cash rents are expected to decline anywhere from 1.2% to 3.0% depending on the region and land class.


Ohio cropland values and cash rent

Ohio cropland varies significantly in its production capabilities and, consequently, cropland values and cash rents vary widely throughout the state. Generally speaking, western Ohio cropland values and cash rents differ from much of southern and eastern Ohio cropland values and cash rents. The primary factors affecting these values and rates are land productivity and potential crop return, and the variability of those crop returns.… Continue reading

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Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission sends watershed decision to subcommittee

By Matt Reese and Ty Higgins

There was another round of water drama ’18 today when, at their scheduled meeting, the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission had their first official look at the watersheds that were to be considered “Watersheds in Distress” through an executive order signed by Gov. John Kasich last week.

The executive order targets eight watersheds in the western basin of Lake Erie to be considered for designation under state law as “Watersheds in Distress,” based on their high nutrient levels, especially phosphorous. These include:

  • Platter Creek
  • Little Flat Rock Creek
  • Little Auglaize River
  • Eagle Creek
  • Auglaize River
  • Blanchard River
  • St. Marys River
  • Ottawa River.

In today’s meeting, the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission decided to refer the Distressed Watershed Designation decision to a subcommittee for further study.

“We are going to move it to a subcommittee and we are expecting a great deal of stakeholder influence, which we have not had as much as we could have, then move forward with it.… Continue reading

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Legislators and ag leaders speak out about Kasich’s executive order

Speaker of the Ohio House Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) held a press conference with the chairs of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to call on Gov. John Kasich to rescind his executive order on agricultural regulations signed last week and delay the action of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission. The executive order seeks to establish numerous policy changes through rule-making rather than the legislative process.

“From a legislative standpoint we are very concerned any time we talk about regulations that make the job of the agricultural community any harder than it already is,” Smith said. “Personally I just want to express my disappointment in the fact that this type of major policy is not moving through the legislature. Part of my disappointment with that is that we have not been sitting on our hands. We have been actively working on this issue and we acknowledge that there is an issue that we need to continue to work on.… Continue reading

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Ag law news and highlights

By Peggy Hall, Asst. Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law, Ohio State University

Here’s our gathering of recent agricultural law news you may want to know.

Case highlights value of Ohio’s Grain Indemnity Fund 

The recent prosecution and guilty plea of a grain handler who withheld $3.22 million in proceeds from grain he sold on behalf of 35 farmers in northern Ohio illustrates the value of Ohio’s Grain Indemnity Fund. The farmers had received approximately $2.5 million in reimbursement from the fund, which protects farmers from grain handlers who become insolvent. Though the fund, a farmer is reimbursed 100% for open storage grain in the elevator and 100% of the first $10,000 of a loss for future contracts, delayed price and basis transactions, with 80% reimbursement beyond the first $10,000 of loss. The grain handler, Richard Schwan, must now reimburse the fund and pay additional amounts to the farmers and the state.… Continue reading

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Agricultural nutrients targeted in Clean Lake 2020 Bill and Kasich executive order

By Peggy Hall, Asst. Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law, Ohio State University

Recent actions by the Ohio legislature and Governor Kasich will affect the management of agricultural nutrients in Ohio. The Ohio General Assembly has passed “Clean Lake 2020” legislation that will provide funding for reducing phosphorous in Lake Erie. Governor Kasich signed the Clean Lake 2020 bill on July 10, in tandem with issuing Executive Order 2018—09K, “Taking Steps to Protect Lake Erie.” The two actions aim to address the impact of agricultural nutrients on water quality in Lake Erie.

The Clean Lake 2020 legislation provides funding for the following:

  • $20 million in FY 2019 for a Soil and Water Phosphorus Program in the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). In utilizing the funds, ODA must consult with the Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission to establish programs that help reduce total phosphorus and dissolved reactive phosphorus in the Western Lake Erie Basin and must give priority to sub-watersheds that are highest in total phosphorus and dissolved reactive phosphorus nutrient loading.
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Ohio State Fair 50 Year Club meeting July 30

The 2018 Ohio State Fair 50 Year Club is set to have its annual meeting on Monday, July 30. The 50 Year Club of the Ohio State Fair is an organization that is open to all fairgoers who have attended an Ohio State Fair 50 or more years ago, even just once.

If someone attended before 1969, the club holds an annual meeting during the Fair and aims to support, improve and promote the Fair.
This year, the 79th annual meeting will be held Monday, July 30, in the Rhodes Center Auditorium.  Registration begins at 8:30 am and the program starts at 9:15 am. Refreshments will be provided.

“The 50 Year Club is a great way to meet fairgoers and share memories of past Ohio State Fairs,” said 50 Year President Connie Cahill.  “My experiences go back to my childhood and driving from Northwest Ohio to and from [the Fair] in one day.”

If you have attended one Ohio State Fair before 1969, you are eligible to become a member of the 50 Year Club. … Continue reading

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Incentives for better food choices may be in 2018 Farm Bill

Encouraging people to choose cucumbers over, say, potato chips or milk instead of soda can be a hard sell. Federal legislators are considering ways to do that.

Both the U.S. Senate’s and the House of Representatives’ versions of the federal farm bill include funding to measure how effectively financial incentives inspire people who receive food stamps to eat more vegetables and fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, said Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economist and professor emeritus with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Currently, there are no restrictions on buying food with little nutritional value. But food stamp recipients have been given financial incentives through pilot projects in various states to reward them for buying more fresh produce.

Escalating healthcare costs have sparked federal legislators’ interest in enticing more healthy eating to bring down medical costs and improve the quality of lives among people who receive food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Zulauf said.… Continue reading

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4R Technology Review Field Day

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

Registration is currently underway for the 2018 4R Technology Review Field Day, hosted by the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, and featuring presentations by various OSU and USDA-ARS staff. This event will take place Tuesday, July 17, on one of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms. Registration is free and includes a complimentary lunch. Sign-in begins at 8:30 AM, the event at 9:00 and will conclude around 4:00 PM.

The program this year will be on the Kellogg Farm in Hardin County located at 17392 TR 50, Forest, Ohio 45843.
A panel of Blanchard River Demonstration Network farmers will speak about their experiences – in the watershed and with nutrient management.
Afternoon sessions include field demonstrations featuring fertilizer application equipment from ETS’ Soil Warrior, New Leader, Harvest International and John Deere..
This is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable information about nutrient management and water quality issues.… Continue reading

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Farmers watching Lake Erie algal bloom forecast for 2018

By Matt Reese

Even if they have never hooked a walleye or basked in the sun on a Lake Erie beach, many farmers took a keen interest in today’s algal bloom forecast — especially after yesterday’s Kasich Administration announcement about new measures targeting agriculture and Lake Erie water quality.

“Compared to the last couple of years this will be a more moderate bloom than last year, or 2015 or 2011, definitely,” said Richard Stumpf, NOAA oceanographer. “But any bloom is not good. There will be scum out there but not like we saw last year.”

NOAA and its research partners predict that western Lake Erie will experience a harmful algal bloom (HAB) of cyanobacteria of a 6 on the severity index, with a range between 5 and 7.5. The severity index is based on a bloom’s biomass over a sustained period. The largest blooms, 2011 and 2015, were 10 and 10.5, respectively.… Continue reading

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Gov. Kasich announces executive order directed at agriculture and water quality

By Matt Reese

Today Governor John Kasich signed an executive order to take action on water quality in Lake Erie with Ohio’s agriculture in the crosshairs. The measures will impact roughly 7,000 farmers and over 2 million acres in northwest Ohio.

“This is just requiring farmers to figure out a way to manage their land in a more effective and more environmentally friendly way. I believe the farmers want to do that. Sometimes some of them do not know exactly what that means. To put a plan in place where we can fund them on whatever it takes to do that makes a lot of sense,” Kasich said. “[But] if the agricultural community says we are going to do nothing, that is not acceptable.”

The executive order signed by Kasich targets eight watersheds in the western basin of Lake Erie that will be considered for designation under state law as “Watersheds in Distress,” based on their high nutrient levels, especially phosphorous. … Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau creates Financial Essentials workshops

Retirement planning, financial risk management and farm transition planning are topics to be presented at several Farm Bureau Financial Essentials workshops scheduled in August and September.

The workshops are designed to help mitigate the stress that comes from important questions regarding family, farm and business financial issues. The resources provided will help guide the path to financial security.

Sponsoring organizations are Ohio Farm Bureau, Nationwide, Farm Credit Mid-America, Wright & Moore Law, numerous county Farm Bureaus and others. The sessions are free for members of Ohio Farm Bureau and cost $10 for nonmembers. A meal is included.

The retirement sessions address how financial needs change during retirement, how the Social Security program and health care costs impact retirement, what long-term care is and the stresses it can create in retirement, how to leverage an adviser’s experience for comfort in retirement and how to be better prepared for this step in life.… Continue reading

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2018 Farm Bill: Top five issues for conference

By Jonathan Coppess, Gary Schnitkey, Nick Paulson in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, and Carl Zulauf, in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, Ohio State University

On June 28, 2018, the Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of the 2018 farm bill with an historic 86 to 11 vote — the highest vote total for a Senate farm bill in the bill’s 85-year history. Senate passage followed on the heels of a very narrow, party-line re-vote in the House on June 21 finally passing the bill 213 to 211. Having cleared these two key hurdles in the reauthorization process, the 2018 farm bill debate heads to a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions.

For those who support passage of the farm bill, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that reauthorization will be completed in a timely manner but there remain reasons for concern.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers Week 4 — Zeedyk Farms, Defiance County

The Ohio Ag Net crew traveled to far northwest Ohio for the fourth and final installment of the Feeding Farmers 2018, spring edition. Dale visited with Roger Zeedyk as well as his sons Roger and Mike. They own their farms separately but work together frequently to farm the operation that focuses on corn, soybean, wheat, and more.

A notable crowd of about 40 turned out to the celebration where the group talked about their wet growing season and crops that are behind what’s been seen just south of the area.

Dale Minyo catches up with the family in this video.

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Tour highlights Columbus’ Growing Urban Agriculture Industry

For Mark VanFleet, down on the farm is actually a formerly vacant lot in a residential neighborhood on the South Side of Columbus.

His one-half acre plot grows row upon row of vegetables, including lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, cucumbers, garlic, basil, dill, chard and kale. Known as Harriet Gardens, the lot provides enough for the full-time urban farmer to sell his produce to 15 local restaurants and at least three farmers’ markets.

“I never thought I’d grow up to be a farmer — I’d never even gardened until my wife and I bought our house 10 years ago and planted a small plot in the backyard,” VanFleet said recently, as he harvested carrots out of his Merion Village farm. “It’s become my passion and, three years ago, my fulltime job.

“I like living in the city and didn’t want to move, so turning this vacant urban lot into a farm has been wonderful.… Continue reading

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Clean Lake Plan sent to governor

In June Ohio lawmakers voted to send the “Clean Lake 2020 Plan” to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.

The legislation would provide funding of up to $36 million this year for efforts to reduce harmful algal blooms, including a variety of agricultural best practices and other initiatives. For fiscal year (FY) 2019, the bill appropriates an additional $3.5 million under the General Revenue Fund for the Department of Agriculture in the main operating budget to support county soil and water conservation districts in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The bill also appropriates $20 million for the Soil and Water Phosphorus Program for the establishment of programs that assist in reducing total phosphorus and dissolved reactive phosphorus in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

In addition, funding is provided for Ohio State’s Sea Grant—Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie to construct new research lab space and purchase in-lake monitoring equipment and the Healthy Lake Erie Initiative to reduce open lake disposal of dredged materials into Lake Erie.… Continue reading

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Rewarding paddle routes

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Parks and Watercraft is offering a series of Paddle Ohio canoe floats this summer to promote paddling on Ohio’s state-designated wild, scenic and recreational rivers, water trails and select state park lakes. The Paddle Ohio program rewards paddlers with a commemorative pin each time they paddle four different Ohio wild, scenic and recreational rivers, water trails or select state park lakes. To participate in the program, paddlers submit information about their paddling trips on the Paddle Ohio registration form at paddle.ohiodnr.gov/getyourpin. ODNR will mail pins to qualifying paddlers at the end of the 2018 boating season. Pins are available for boaters who paddle four, eight, 12, 16 or up to a maximum of 20 different segments of designated Paddle Ohio waters.

Although folks are encouraged to paddle at their convenience, several scheduled events are planned throughout the summer, including floats on Little Beaver Creek State and National Wild and Scenic River, the Little Miami State and National Scenic River and the Maumee State Scenic River.… Continue reading

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