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2019 Ohio water quality update

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Lake Erie wasn’t as bad as expected. What? We missed 1.5 million acres of crops, and from my eye mostly in northwest Ohio. But here is the deal: you did apply fertilizer last year, and probably the year before. We farm in a leaky system and I learned this week that entropy is working against us — meaning it will get more random. So, yes it’s leaky and will perhaps get a little more leaky. We did not plant as many crops and yes we applied less fertilizer in the Lake Erie basin, but the leaks still happen even without the crop because we still have rain, and rain moves that little tiny bit of phosphorus off your farm and downstream.

This from NOAA about the Harmful Algal Bloom on Lake Erie, on Oct. 31, (http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/research/habs/forecasting):

  • The Microcystis cyanobacteria bloom in 2019 had a severity index (SI) of 7.3, indicating a relatively severe bloom.
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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation awards $25,000 in ag grants

A new round of almost $25,000 in grants by Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation will help educate consumers about agriculture and energy, develop leaders and provide resources for teachers to teach agriculture in the classroom. The foundation’s Action & Awareness grants are designed to promote and improve Ohio’s agricultural industry as well as local communities. The grants, which ranged from $750 to $9,000, focus on four core areas: economic development, education, environment and the human-animal bond.

Her are the grant recipients and projects.

AgriPOWER to support programming for the 17 members in Class XII. An elite leadership program created by Ohio Farm Bureau, AgriPOWER is helping develop and train Ohio farmers and representatives from agricultural stakeholders to become effective leaders, spokespersons and advocates for agriculture. Seven AgriPOWER Institutes are held throughout the year with one in Washington, D.C., and the other in another state.

Ohio Soybean Council for its Ag Bio-Technology Academy 2020.… Continue reading

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Ohio wind legislation introduced

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

Senate Bill 234 was just introduced on Nov. 6, 2019. The bill would give voters in the unincorporated areas of townships the power to have a referendum vote on certificates or amendments to economically significant and large wind farms issued by the Ohio Power and Siting Board.

The voters could approve or reject the certificate for a new wind farm or an amendment to an existing certificate by majority vote. The bill would also change minimum setback distances for wind farms might be measured.… Continue reading

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A dairyman’s dilemma — How chemicals threaten a farm’s future

By Don “Doc” Sanders

You may remember that I’ve written a few times in this column about false claims made against Roundup — namely, that it causes cancer. In my most recent column on the topic, I wrote about how several respected health and environmental organizations have cleared the popular herbicide of these charges, like the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority and the German consumer health agency BfR.

Now I want to share with you a news report I recently ran across about how a New Mexico dairy operation is being threatened by cancer-causing nonagricultural chemicals that have contaminated the groundwater.

The chemicals in question are perfluoroakyl and polyfluoroakyl substances, a group of manmade chemicals that I’ll refer to by their acronym, PFAS. Since 1940 PFAS chemicals have been incorporated into products used all over the world. Some compounds in this group are familiar, such as Teflon, which keeps food from sticking to frying pans.… Continue reading

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Have you taken your Vitamin C today?

By Judit E. Puskas and Carin A. Helfer

Vitamin C is an essential ingredient for all living creatures. In humans, it is necessary for proper working of many biological processes, including intracellular respiration, i.e., the ways that cells transform nutrients into energy through a complex series of reactions. Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, is credited with first isolating Vitamin C from adrenal glands while completing his Ph. D. thesis at Cambridge University in 1927. At that time, he did not know what the substance was — so he called it “hexuronic acid.”


Discovery of Vitamin C

The story of discovering Vitamin C is quite fascinating. Szent-Györgyi began investigating plant respiration, specifically the phenomenon of browning. Some plant tissues turn brown rapidly when cut and exposed to the air — everybody knows this from cutting up an apple. Plants containing certain chemicals known as peroxidase enzymes (for example, cabbages and citrus fruits), however, resist browning.… Continue reading

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Ohio State report evaluates options for reducing Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms

Several research teams, led by The Ohio State University, have concluded a three-year study evaluating the ability of agricultural management practices to reduce phosphorus-causing harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

In 2012, the United States and Canada set the goal of reducing phosphorus entering the lake by 40%. Now, researchers have a better understanding of what management practices need to be implemented, and what research still needs to be done to meet these goals by 2025.

The majority of phosphorus entering Lake Erie originates from the Maumee River watershed. More than 85% of the phosphorus entering the lake comes from agricultural sources such as fertilizer runoff. To address this, researchers are evaluating what agricultural management practices have potential to reduce this phosphorus, while supporting farmers to maintain profitability.

Photo courtesy of NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

“There’s a lot of edge-of-field work going on that identifies successful practices in single fields.

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Ohio Farm Bureau adds Schwyn to staff

Kelsie Schwyn has been named director of strategic partnerships and Nationwide services for Ohio Farm Bureau’s Strategic Partnerships department, which was recently created to develop and manage key relationships and partnerships within the farm and food sector and with businesses, educators, public officials and others.

Schwyn joins Ohio Farm Bureau after working as an associate account executive at FLM Harvest, an agricultural strategic consulting, marketing and communication agency, where she supported clients, managed marketing campaigns and cultivated client relationships.

Schwyn was raised on an Angus cattle farm in Newcomerstown. She has degrees in agribusiness and applied economics from both Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois and The Ohio State University.

She and her husband, Brandon, reside in Marysville. They are members of the Union County Farm Bureau and are active in their local church.… Continue reading

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Registration now open for OEFFA’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

Registration is now open for Ohio’s premier educational and networking event for ecological farmers, backyard growers, and others committed to sustainable agriculture, local food, and green living.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 40th annual conference, A Climate for Change, will run Thursday, Feb. 13 through Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton.
“This year’s event features speakers and sessions dedicated to creating a climate to change agriculture,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA program director. “Cultivating a resilient, just, and sustainable agricultural system can help farmers mitigate their climate risks, and address our global crisis.”

Each year, the conference draws more than 1,100 attendees. Online registration is now open at www.oeffa.org/conference2020.

OEFFA’s popular conference will feature keynote speakers including:

  • Friday keynote speaker Laura Lengnick is an award-winning soil scientist who has explored agricultural sustainability for more than 25 years as a researcher, policy-maker, educator, author, consultant, and farmer. 
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Highlighting rural health

By Dee Jepsen and Shoshanah Inwood

National Rural Health Day was Thursday November 21, 2019. This day brings attention to the unique challenges rural communities face when it comes to health services and healthy people.

Each year, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health selects a topic to organize its efforts and creates awareness for health care services. The 2019 theme is: Plug into the power of rural.


Ohio has rural health deficits

When it comes to health care services, 50% of Ohio counties are designated as Governor’s certified shortage areas. There are 44 counties, or regions within counties, considered underserved.

Rural communities do not see the same health advancements as urban counties. Residents within rural areas face accessibility issues and an overall lack of providers. Access to ambulatory and emergency medical services are especially critical in rural America, where the majority of trauma deaths occur. The opioid crisis can also affect rural communities’ need for first-responder services.… Continue reading

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U.S. agriculture pushing for a full Japanese Trade Agreement


Russell Boening, a Texas rancher, farmer and President of the Texas Farm Bureau, told Congress that the recent trade deal with Japan is welcome, but U.S. negotiators still have work to do.

“It is obvious the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement is a win; however, the U.S. must pursue the next phase of negotiations with Japan,” Boening told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee for Trade. “Not all agricultural products, such as rice and some dairy products, were included in this agreement. We must work toward additional market access. Sanitary, phytosanitary and biotechnology issues should also be addressed.”

At nearly $13 billion a year, Japan is the fourth-largest destination for U.S. farm exports.

“While we have a strong trading relationship with Japan, we are about to make substantial advances,” Boening said. “The new U.S.-Japan trade agreement was welcome news for farm and ranch families across the entire country. This agreement will level the Japanese trade playing field.”

Boening urged lawmakers to approve an expanded trade agreement expected next year.… Continue reading

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USDA will issue second MFP payments before Thanksgiving

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the second tranche of 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. The payments will begin the week before Thanksgiving. Producers of MFP-eligible commodities will now be eligible to receive 25% of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50% they have already received from the 2019 MFP.

“This second tranche of 2019 MFP payments, along with already provided disaster assistance, will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump has shown time and again that he is fighting for America’s farmers and ranchers. While we continue to have confidence in the President’s negotiations with China, this money shows President Trump following through on his promise to help and support farmers as he continues to fight for fair market access.”

MFP signup at local FSA offices will run through Friday, Dec.… Continue reading

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H2Ohio strategies and farm practices outlined by Gov. DeWine

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine unveiled an overview of his new H2Ohio plan for water quality Thursday afternoon in Toledo. Backdropped by the National Museum of the Great Lakes, Governor DeWine presented basic details of the plan to an invited audience of over 100 farmers and legislators, as well as collaborators from farm associations, conservation groups, universities and research centers, agribusinesses, and public and government entities.

“H2Ohio is a dedicated, holistic water quality plan that has long lasting solutions,” said Governor DeWine. “It addresses the causes of the problems and not just the symptoms.”

H2Ohio will invest in targeted solutions to help reduce harmful algal blooms, ensure clean water in disadvantaged communities, and prevent lead contamination in daycare centers and schools. In July, the Ohio General Assembly invested $172 million in the plan.

“This is one of the most comprehensive data-driven planning processes in our state’s history.… Continue reading

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Do trade assistance payments disproportionately benefit large-scale operations?

A government program intended to support farmers and ranchers affected by trade disputes disproportionately benefitted large-scale and Southeastern operations, according to a minority staff report published by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, known as the Market Facilitation Program, compensated most commodity grain producers based on a single county rate per planted acre. National Farmers Union (NFU) initially expressed concern that the payment disparities among counties would put some farmers at a financial disadvantage, a fact that has been confirmed by today’s report. Although farmers in the North, Midwest, and West have experienced the greatest harm from trade disputes, 95% of counties receiving the highest payment rates are based in the Southeast. Even in adjacent counties, payment rates sometimes vary by two to three times.

“Farmers in every county have been affected by withering export markets,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president.… Continue reading

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Trade war Phase One progressing

As the U.S. and China continue to work on an interim trade deal,  the Chinese commerce ministry said both countries have agreed to cancel existing tariffs in phases that were imposed during the trade war.

It’s expected that a “phase one” trade deal would include the U.S. eliminating tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports. However,  President Trump said he has not agreed to roll back the tariffs. As already announced, “phase one” would include a pledge for China to buy $40 billion-$50 billion in U.S. agricultural products, including pork.

President Trump had hoped to sign the “phase one” trade agreement in mid-November while at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile, but the summit was cancelled due to domestic unrest. Numerous venue locations have been discussed, including domestically in Iowa and Alaska, as well as London, where Trump is scheduled to attend a NATO summit from Dec.… Continue reading

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Survey results highlight roles of women in agriculture

Women are active advocates for agriculture and successful business owners interested in filling leadership roles, according to a new Farm Bureau survey. A majority of those surveyed, 91%, also believe there should be more women in leadership roles in the industry. More than 3,000 women completed the informal survey online, which was conducted to determine the goals and achievements of women in agriculture.

“Women play a vital role in modern farming and ranching,” said Sherry Saylor, an Arizona farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. “We hope to use the survey results to drive our program of work and also to give women their voice and help them make even more of an impact in their communities.”

More than 50% of women surveyed have started their own business that’s still in operation; 25% have not started a business but indicated they would like to do so in the future.… Continue reading

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Workforce development program launches in Ohio to promote careers in food and agriculture

Food production and agriculture is Ohio’s largest industry and essential to our economy, contributing $124 billion annually in economic value and employing 1 out of every 8 Ohioans. Today’s farms and food companies are challenged by unprecedented barriers to finding a stable, reliable workforce. To address this issue, a broad group of Ohio’s leading agriculture organizations have collaborated behind a new initiative — Futures Grow Here.

“The focus of Futures Grow Here is to demonstrate the opportunities that are available for young adults in food production and agriculture,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association, a supporting organization of Futures Grow Here. “The initiative reframes the narrative around these jobs, creates excitement for them, and engages a broader and more diverse group of job seekers.”

Futures Grow Here is a collaborative initiative among Ohio food production and farming companies to educate students, young professionals and their families about their growing and innovative businesses and career opportunities that may not have been previously considered.… Continue reading

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CommonGround volunteers share ag’s story at food trade show

CommonGround volunteers recently shared the story of American agriculture at the world’s largest meeting of food and nutrition experts at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Philadelphia. With 10,000 registered dietitian nutritionists, nutrition science researchers, policymakers and health-care providers in attendance, CommonGround volunteers attracted enthusiastic attention and engaged in meaningful dialogue that helped this influential audience delve further into how America’s farmers grow and raise the healthy foods they recommend.

“FNCE provides a great venue for us to connect with people who directly impact the food choices of countless others,” said CommonGround volunteer Paula Linthicum, who farms in Laytonsville, Maryland. “The audience is receptive and appreciates the work that we do to provide a direct link to farming.

“I spoke with a dietitian from Kentucky who was skeptical about GMOs when we began chatting who left noting that she needed to look at the issue much more closely because our conversation made her realize that she had nothing to fear.”

The activity, organized by CommonGround Maryland with the support of the National Corn Growers Association, brought an authentic voice to issues of interest to both consumers and agriculture such as how the use of modern technologies and practices produces healthy, quality food options for our country and beyond.… Continue reading

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Ohio FFA’s Kolesen McCoy elected National FFA President

At the 92nd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, it was announced that Ohio FFA’s Kolesen McCoy was selected as a National FFA Officer and will serve at National FFA’s President. McCoy retired from office as State FFA President in May of this year, and has since undergone a competitive process to represent FFA’s 700,000 plus members on the six-person team. McCoy is a member of the Global Impact STEM Academy FFA Chapter and is student at The Ohio State University majoring in agribusiness and applied economics.

OCJ’s Matt Reese caught up with McCoy earlier in the week about the interview process.

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USDA designates 14 Ohio counties as primary natural disaster areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 14 Ohio counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Adams, Belmont, Champaign, Clark, Guernsey, Highland, Madison, Miami, Monroe, Noble, Portage, Stark, Summit, and Trumbull counties who suffered losses due to excessive rain and flooding that occurred from Jan. 1 through Sept. 4, 2019, may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous Ohio counties Ashtabula, Brown, Carroll, Clinton, Columbiana, Coshocton, Cuyahoga, Darke, Fayette, Franklin, Geauga, Greene, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Logan, Mahoning, Medina, Montgomery, Morgan, Muskingum, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Shelby, Tuscarawas, Union, Washington, and Wayne, along with Lewis and Mason counties in Kentucky; Crawford and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania; and Marshall, Ohio, Tyler, and Wetzel counties in West Virginia, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.… Continue reading

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Court says city can ban backyard chickens

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

The Court of Appeals for Ohio’s Seventh District upheld the city of Columbiana’s ordinances, which ban keeping chickens in a residential district, finding that they were both applicable to the appellant and constitutional. In this case, the appellant was a landowner in Columbiana who lived in an area zoned residential and kept hens in a chicken coop on his property. The appellant was eventually informed that keeping his hens was in violation of the city code. A lawsuit resulted when the landowner would not remove his chickens, and the trial court found for the city. The landowner appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing that he did not violate the city ordinances as they were written, and that the city applied the ordinances in an arbitrary and unreasonable way because his chickens did not constitute a nuisance.… Continue reading

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