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USDA Extends Application Deadline for Dairy Margin Protection Program to June 22

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the re-enrollment deadline for the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy will be extended until June 22, 2018. The new and improved program protects participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant. USDA has already issued more than $89 million for margins triggered in February, March, and April, and USDA offices are continuing to process remaining payments daily.

“Last week we re-opened enrollment to offer producers preoccupied with field work an additional opportunity to come into their local office to sign-up. We did get more than 500 new operations enrolled but want to continue to provide an opportunity for folks to participate before the next margin is announced,” said Secretary Perdue. “More than 21,000 American dairies have gone into our 2,200 FSA offices to sign-up for 2018 MPP coverage but I am certain we can do better with this extra week and a half.”

The re-enrollment deadline was previously extended through June 8, 2018.

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FMD language in Senate Agriculture Panel’s Farm Bill

The National Pork Producers Council was encouraged that the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry included in its 2018 Farm Bill language establishing a vaccine bank to deal with an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD).

FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep; it is not a food safety or human health threat. Although the disease was last detected in the United States in 1929, it is endemic in many parts of the world.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the agriculture panel will mark up its bill June 13. The full House is expected to vote on its measure, which also includes FMD language, June 22.

“This is encouraging news for the livestock industry,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, and chairman of NPPC’s Farm Bill Policy Task Force. “With a vaccine bank, we’ll finally be able to adequately prepare for an FMD outbreak.

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Farm field trip offers third graders a unique learning opportunity

The Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC) has announced the winners of its annual student essay contest, which asked Ohio third-grade students to answer the question, “How do Ohio farmers make sure we have good, safe food to eat?” Students from throughout Ohio submitted essays answering the question, in hopes of winning a class field trip to an Ohio livestock farm.

Laela Colwell, a third-grade student from North Union Elementary School, in Richwood, was selected as the grand-prize winner, awarding her entire class an expenses-paid field trip to the Nature Pure LLC, a family-owned and operated egg farm located in Raymond, Ohio. In her essay, Colwell explained how farmers provide excellent care for their animals, which ensures safe, healthy food for consumers.

“There is a disconnect for many young students in Ohio between the food they eat daily and where it actually comes from,” said Jenny Hubble, OLC representative and senior vice president of communications at the American Dairy Association Mideast.

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Unique opportunities, challenges for organic producers during difficult days for dairies

By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag Net

Farms of all sizes and production methods are in tough situations right now with financial pressure with inputs are too high and prices too low. Many small farms in recent years have turned to organic production as a way to make the most bang for their buck on existing acres. The situation may be the most dramatic for dairy farms now facing years of below production cost milk prices.

Alan and Renee Winner in Logan County made the organic transition for their dairy and about a third of their crop acres for a number of reasons.

“Over the past 20 plus years we have eaten organically and learned about alternative therapies such as homeopathics, essential oils, and herbs, so this was a natural transition for our family,” Renee Winner said. “Although we have some neighbors and a couple of Alan’s relatives that were already organic, it wasn’t until a local friend, who has been involved with organics for several years, shared information about the industry that we actually thought that we could make that jump. 

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Dairy trip of a lifetime for Ohio FFA members

By Alex Zimmer, Agricultural Science Instructor Buckeye Valley High School-DACC

Because of their success at the 2016 National FFA Convention, members of the Buckeye Valley-DACC dairy team were invited to compete internationally, traversing seven european countries over the course of two weeks during June of 2017.

The FFA Dairy Evaluation contest requires students to judge classes of dairy cattle (cows and heifers), select appropriate sires, judge pedigrees, and take a test about the function of the dairy industry as a whole. Qualifying to travel and compete internationally was not a small feat for the Buckeye Valley-DACC FFA dairy evaluation team. The opportunity was borne of a tremendous amount of work and dedication put forth by four team members; Macee Burke, Hannah Edelblute, Sarah Lehner, and Donnie Smith. The group began preparing in the winter of 2016 studying external anatomy, learning to read pedigrees, and gaining knowledge on the dairy industry as a whole.

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Trade war hurting U.S. pork

According to Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes, U.S. pork producers have lost $2.2 billion on an annualized basis due to events leading up to and following China’s 25% punitive tariffs in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel.

“U.S. pork has invested significantly to ramp production to capitalize on growth opportunities around the world, including China and other markets throughout the Asia-Pacific region,” said Jim Heimerl, a Johnstown, Ohio pig farmer and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “We applaud the administration for making the expansion of agriculture exports a cornerstone of the discussions with China. We hope the next round of trade talks with China results in improved market access to a critical export market for U.S. pork and other farm products.”

The National Pork Producers is calling for a swift resolution of the United States-China trade dispute, paving the way for increased U.S. pork exports to the world’s largest pork-consuming nation.

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House members call to end Thailand pork ban

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Virachai Plasai, ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United States, calling for the removal of restrictions on imports of U.S. farm products, including pork.

The bipartisan letter — signed by 44 members and sponsored by Reps. David Young, R-Iowa, and Ron Kind, D-Wis. — points out that if Thailand does not make “significant progress” on removing its import restrictions, the United States may suspend some of its trade benefits. The letter came after the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) last week agreed with a request from NPPC to review Thailand’s eligibility for the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program because of that country’s failure to provide access to its market for U.S. products, including pork.

The National Pork Producers Council is urging the Trump administration to withdraw or limit the benefits Thailand receives under the preferential trade program, which gives duty-free treatment to certain goods entering the United States.

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Discover Native Warm-Season Forages June 16

By Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

On Saturday, June 16, 2018, the National Park Service will host a collaborative program called “Discover Native Warm-Season Forages” from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Mound City Group Visitor Center:16062 State Route 104 Chillicothe, OH 4560).

This free event is a combined effort of the National Park Service, The Ohio State University, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council, Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever to share information about the versatility of native warm-season forages for conservation, wildlife, and livestock production.

From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. an optional tour of the Hopeton Earthworks site will be offered as well. Attendance RSVPs are requested for submission by Friday, June 8. Noble County Extension is the contact point for registration information. Call 740-732-5681 for more details.

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Gaining greater market access for Ohio feeder calves

By John F. Grimes, Ohio State University Extension Beef Coordinator

You do not have to look long and hard to find plenty of evidence that feeder calf marketing is undergoing significant changes across the country. The market is currently sending a clear message that buyers are demanding more for their purchasing dollars. Significant discounts are occurring in the market place for feeder calves that are not weaned 45-60 days, castrated & healed, dehorned, and given 2 rounds of a modified live vaccine for the shipping fever complex. In 2019, a major restaurant chain is going to start requiring their suppliers of fed cattle to be Beef Quality Assurance certified. This will in turn be pushed down to the producer level. Exports to China and other countries are going to require age and source verification. These are growing realities for cow-calf producers if they want access to as many markets as possible.

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Providence in Ross County pastures

By Abby Motter, OCJ field reporter

In the eleventh chapter of Deuteronomy Moses wrote a phrase that is still being implemented on the land today by a family who holds those words in high esteem.

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today — to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul — then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”

These verses serve as a cornerstone for the Dorrance family in Ross County on their Pastured Providence Farmstead. Paul Dorrance along with his wife Heather and three children are fairly new to agriculture, but through the intertwining of faith and desire to be good stewards of the land they are providing high quality products to Chillicothe and the surrounding community.

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Raw milk amendment gets shot down

Overwhelming opposition from a strong coalition of dairy farmers, processors, consumer groups, food safety advocates, federal and state public health regulators, the medical community, and other key stakeholders led to the defeat of an amendment to the 2018 House Farm Bill that would have allowed the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk.

Amendment 30, offered by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), would have removed existing regulations that prohibit the interstate sale of raw milk for direct human consumption — a development that the coalition of opponents said would have threatened the health of millions of Americans. The Massie amendment failed in the House by a vote of 331 against to 79 in favor.

In a May 14 letter to House leaders Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) insisted that Massie’s proposed amendment to the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R.

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2018 Ohio State Fair Draft Horse Show will be streamed live

New for 2018:

All evening performances during the 2018 Ohio State Fair Draft Horse Show will be streamed live on the Ohio’s Country Journal/Ohio Ag Net Facebook page as well as at

The list of classes that will be streamed live is listed below.

Click here to download a complete schedule of all classes including those that will not be streamed live.

Monday, July 30, 2018 at 5:30  p.m.

Registered Percheron Six Mare Hitch
Belgian Six Horse Hitch Open No Registered Mares
Belgian Four Registered Mares
Reg. Percheron Stallion/Gelding Unicorn
Registered Belgian Mare Cart, Lady To Drive
Percheron Mare Team Driven By A Lady
Belgian Team Driven By A Lady
Percheron Team Driven By A Lady, Stallion/Gelding

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Belgian Mare Six Horse Hitch
Registered Percheron Open Six-Horse Hitch **
Open Belgian Unicorn – No Registered Mares
Reg. Belgian Cart Mare, Gentleman To Drive
Percheron Single Cart Mare, Lady To Drive
Open Belgian Team No Registered Mares
Percheron Single Cart Stallion/Gelding, Gentleman To Drive
Percheron Registered Mare Four Hitch
Open Belgian Single Cart, Lady To Drive
Registered Belgian Mare Team
Percheron Cart Mare, Gentleman To Drive
Percheron Stallion/Gelding Cart, Lady To Drive

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

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Ohio Pork Council wins national political advertising award

The Ohio Pork Council received top honors at this year’s American Association of Political Consultants Pollie Award conference for their pig barn pop-up mail piece.

The goal of this piece was to create an eye-catching visual education piece that would capture the audience’s attention. Once their attention was captured, this piece worked to relieve misconceptions about the pork industry by answering questions and increasing transparency of modern farming.

The barn discussed several topics, such as technology, manure and pig feed. This piece was created in a format that could be hand delivered to neighbors or utilized in meetings with major policy decision makers.

“The Ohio Pork Council is thrilled to receive this honor,” said Emily Bir, Director of Communications, Ohio Pork Council. “We look forward to distributing the pop-up mail piece to consumers, neighbors and leaders across Ohio looking for more information on modern pork farming.”

Dubbed “the Oscars of political advertising” by Esquire magazine, the Pollies are the most prized and sought-after awards in the political communications and public affairs industries.

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Hog farm ruling sets “despicable” precedent for agriculture

In late April a federal jury, after less than two days of deliberation, found in favor of 10 neighbors of an eastern North Carolina hog farm, awarding them $750,000 in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages over complaints of odor and noise from the farm.

The jury unanimously agreed that Murphy-Brown, which owns the hogs at Kinlaw Farms in Bladen County, “substantially and unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of their property.” Murphy-Brown, the hog production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, will appeal the court verdict against one of its contract pork producers to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Va.

The National Pork Producers Council closely monitored the case and called the nuisance lawsuit “frivolous” and an “unwarranted attack on livestock agriculture.” NPPC pointed out that Smithfield operated in compliance with federal and state laws, including applicable occupational health and safety rules.

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Dairy prices reflect production increases

The April Dairy Market Report is now available. The U.S. average all-milk price lost a total of $2.80 per cwt. in three roughly equal drops from November 2017 through this past February.

Total U.S. milk production was up by 1.6%  from a year earlier during the three months of December 2017 through February 2018, while estimated total U.S. production of milk solids rose by 2% during the same period. The monthly margin under the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) for February 2018 was $6.88 per cwt. It was the third month in a row during which the MPP margin was down more than $1.00 per cwt. from the previous month.

Find the Dairy Market Report here.

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Ohio Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) frequently asked questions

Q: What is BQA?
A: Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.

Q: I’ve never been BQA Certified, why do it now?
A: By 2019 Wendy’s has committed to sourcing beef from only BQA Certified producers and Tyson has pledged to follow suit, also by January 1, 2019. We expect other retailers and packers will do the same. Being BQA Certified will be a producer’s ticket to market access, much like the pork industry.

Q: Who needs to be BQA Certified?
A: Anyone selling beef animals to be harvested for meat. This includes producers of fed beef, dairy beef, cull cows and bulls including dairy cull cows.

Q: What do I need to do to become BQA Certified?

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Low milk prices sending some dairy farmers out of business

Nervous about the dramatic drop in milk prices, Ohio’s dairy farmers are leaving the business at a higher than usual rate.

Every year, some farmers retire and give up their dairy licenses, but there’s been an uptick recently. In March 2018, there were 2,253 licensed dairy farms in Ohio — a drop of 59 farms in five months.

“Farmers are deciding they can no longer dig any deeper into their equity to pay for what I call ‘the privilege of milking cows,’ ” said Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension field specialist in dairy production economics.

Profits for milk are low because the price that dairy farmers get paid for their milk has dipped in recent years. In 2014, dairy farmers nationwide basked in high prices. Worldwide demand was high, and the number of cows producing milk was comparatively low. Since then, milk prices have been steadily sliding, as have dairy farmers’ profits.

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Breeding for faster-growing bluegills and yellow perch

Inside cool water-filled tanks in southern Ohio, the laws of nature are being defied. Female yellow perch mate with other female yellow perch; male bluegills with other male bluegills.

This might make one wonder, unless, of course, your profession is selective breeding of fish, and your goal is to get them to grow faster. Hanping Wang, who manages The Ohio State University’s Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development, has succeeded in raising faster-growing fish by artificially mating them in a not so typical way.

On average, the resulting offspring reach market size six months faster than bluegills or yellow perch bred out of standard male-female mating. That’s because among yellow perch, females grow quicker than males. Among bluegills, males grow faster than females.

For an Ohio fish farmer, having fish that mature faster than average could be a significant savings in fish food and in time waiting to sell them, said Wang, whose center in Piketon is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

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Pork-A-Palooza May 19

On Saturday, May 19, 2018, the Ohio Pork Council will be hosting the Pork-a-Palooza, featuring: bacon, BBQ and beer at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The event will be held from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., and will feature pork products and sides from local food trucks and restaurants.
Pork producers and consumers are invited to enjoy a fun-filled afternoon with music, food, beverages, children’s inflatables and educational opportunities.
Tickets are $10 per person and children 12 and under are free.  Tickets can be purchased online at or on the day of the event.  
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Farmers provide pork for 100,000 meals for Ohioans

Ohio pork farmers, through the Ohio Pork Council’s (OPC) Pork Power program, have partnered with generous supporters, including the Ohio Corn & Wheat, to provide the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank and Central College Presbyterian Church Food Pantry with a combined 20,300 pounds of lean ground pork. The protein-packed donation will provide roughly 100,00 meals to those in need.

“Food is a basic need that should be readily available to all Ohioans, especially in a state where agriculture is a leading industry,” said Brad Heimerl, Heimerl Family Farms. “It is a pleasure to work alongside fellow pork farmers, and members of the Ohio Corn & Wheat, who share the commitment and compassion to serving their communities each year through OPC’s Pork Power program.”

Since the program’s inception, more than 1.6 million fresh, wholesome meals have been donated to local foodbanks in Ohio.

“Ohio Corn & Wheat is pleased to join with the Ohio Pork Council to demonstrate that Ohio farmers are committed to feeding the world, including Ohioans who need may need assistance,” said Tadd Nicholson, Executive Director of Ohio Corn & Wheat.

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