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New Lake Erie lawsuit filed against U.S. EPA

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

We can’t say that Lake Erie is back in the news, because lately it hasn’t left the news. However, there is a new lawsuit in federal court that seeks further action from either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Ohio EPA regarding Lake Erie water quality. Filed on February 7, 2019 by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and the Toledo-based Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie, this new lawsuit alleges that the U.S. EPA improperly signed off on action taken by the Ohio EPA to designate Lake Erie as an impaired water body without implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to restrict discharges such as agricultural runoff. The plaintiffs weren’t necessarily unhappy about the designation, but they were not happy about the lack of a TMDL.

Designating a waterway as impaired indicates low water quality, and triggers requirements to take action to improve water quality.

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Legislation introduced to establish industrial hemp program in Ohio

State Senators Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) and Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) today introduced legislation that would create an industrial hemp program in Ohio administered by the Department of Agriculture.

The legislation clarifies that hemp and hemp derived products, including CBD oil may be sold legally in Ohio.

“This an exciting opportunity for farmers to expand the crops they plant,” Hill said. “Farmers can rotate hemp to improve soil health while earning more profit than many traditional cover crops. I’m eager to see all the ways that Ohio will benefit from this legislation.”

With the recent passing of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, industrial hemp has been removed from the list of scheduled substances banned by the federal government and can now be grown as a commodity crop throughout the United States.

“It is important to understand that hemp is not marijuana, it is much more versatile and lacks an appreciable amount of THC to cause any psychotropic effects,” Huffman said.

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Gene editing oversight clarification needed

Development of an emerging technology promising major animal health and environmental benefits is currently stalled at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, prompting the National Pork Producers Council to renew its call for U.S. Department of Agriculture regulatory oversight of gene editing for livestock.

“The pace of FDA’s process to develop a regulatory framework for this important innovation only reinforces our belief that the USDA is best equipped to oversee gene editing for livestock production,” said Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “U.S. agriculture is one our nation’s most successful export products; we can’t afford to cede leadership of gene editing to other countries.”

Gene editing accelerates genetic improvements that could be realized over long periods of time through breeding. It allows for simple changes in a pig’s native genetic structure without introducing genes from another species. Emerging applications include raising pigs resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, a highly contagious swine disease that causes significant animal suffering and costs pork producers worldwide billions of dollars.

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Spring nitrogen requirements for winter wheat

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Application timing and amount are key factors in achieving high winter wheat yields. While the amount of N required in the fall is relatively small, it is critical to promoting early development and tillering. With spring weather around the corner, winter wheat producers will be gearing up for spring topdress of their wheat crop. Timing and rates are critical in the spring as to maintain the high yield potential of winter wheat varieties.

Spring applications of N should be made after the plants break dormancy. Although in some situations field conditions may be favorable, nitrogen applied in the late winter before plants have broken dormancy is more likely to be lost before plants can utilize it. Spring N applications should not be made before wheat has broken dormancy and begins to green up. The University of Kentucky publication “A Comprehensive Guide to Wheat Management in Kentucky” recommends: “When making a single N fertilizer application the best time is when the crop growth stage is Feekes 4-5, (Zadoks 30, usually mid-March) just before the first joint appears on the main stem and when wheat starts growing rapidly.” The UK publication goes on to say that “The rate of N fertilizer for a single application should be between 60 and 90 pounds N per acre for fields with a yield potential less than 70 bushels per acre and 90 to 100 lb N/acre for fields with greater yield potential.”

Wheat plants begin a period of rapid growth and stem elongation once they reach Feekes Stage 6 (first node visible).

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Updated field guide available

The newly revised Corn, Soybean, Wheat, and Forages Field Guide is a compilation of the latest research by Extension specialists from The Ohio State University in partnership with Pennsylvania State University.

Designed as a guide for scouts, crop advisors, and farmers, this handy spiral-bound book contains updated information and images to aid with insect, disease, and weed identification. Major revisions to the book include the latest fertilizer recommendations, broadleaf weed ID keys, and a manure sampling and manure applicator calibration section. Tar spot, a new disease to Ohio, is now included in the Corn Disease section. The Forages section also received a major upgrade, and now includes grass crops as well.

The guide is divided into six sections: Corn Management, Soybean Management, Wheat Management, Forage Management, Weed Identification, and General Crop Management, which includes updated sampling information. The index at the back of the Bulletin 827 can be used to quickly locate page numbers for your topic of interest while in the field.

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Rotating traits preserves technology and profitability

It may be that a certain type of genetically modified corn or soybean seed works well, bringing high yields and sizeable profits.

But planted in the same field, year after year, the same seed might not be the right choice, said Curtis Young, an entomologist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

When the same genetically engineered crops are grown in the same field repeatedly — crops developed to produce toxins that kill insects, for example, or to survive weed-killing sprays — the target insects or weeds begin to adapt. They can become resistant to the toxins or weed killer.

Take, for example, soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate, a chemical that kills weeds. A farmer might want to plant soybeans that tolerate glyphosate so he or she can later spray a weed killer containing glyphosate, not hurting the crop but killing the weeds that are sucking up the nutrients and water.

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Ohio State Fair scholarships available

In an effort to recognize outstanding Ohio youth and to help those interested in furthering their education, the Ohio Expositions Commission has established a scholarship program.

The purpose of these scholarships is to assist high school juniors and seniors (2018-2019) and graduates who are continuing their education at an accredited institution in an undergraduate course of study in any field.

Scholarships will be awarded to junior exhibitors during the Ohio State Fair. Applicants will be judged on scholastic standing, citizenship and leadership, Ohio State Fair participation, county fair participation, and financial need. Completed applications must be postmarked by April 15, 2019. For more information visit: ohiostatefair.com/scholarships/.

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Tough stretch for ethanol profitability

By Scott Irwin, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

The U.S. ethanol industry faced considerable headwinds in 2018, including the lowest prices over the last decade, policy setbacks in the implementation of the RFS, and political resistance to granting a year-round RVP waiver for E15. The impact of these headwinds on ethanol production profits is certainly of interest to those in the ethanol industry, as well as policymakers and legislators interested in the financial health of the U.S. renewable fuels industry.

A model of a representative Iowa ethanol plant was used to track the profitability of ethanol production. The model is meant to be representative of an “average” ethanol plant constructed in the last decade. There is certainly substantial variation in capacity and production efficiency across the industry and this should be kept in mind when viewing profit estimates from the model.

Ethanol prices started 2018 at historically low levels of $1.25 per gallon, rose to a peak of $1.43 in April, and then fell most of the rest of the year, reaching a low of $1.06 in late November.

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Applications now open for 2019 pork industry scholarships

The National Pork Board announces the opening of the application period of the 2019 Pork Industry Scholarships. This program, now in its tenth year, is open to college juniors and seniors who have plans to pursue a career in swine production management or a related field. In addition, students who will be seeking to attend veterinary or graduate school with an emphasis on swine are encouraged to apply. The National Pork Board will award up to 20 scholarships in 2019 totaling $46,000. The top applicant will receive $5,000, the second-ranked applicant will receive $3,500 and all others will receive $2,000.

“Human capital and identification of future leaders is critical for the continued success of the swine industry,” said Chris Hostetler, animal science director for the Pork Checkoff. “The National Pork Board’s Animal Science Committee recognizes this need and continues its commitment to encouraging these students through these scholarships.”

The guidelines for the scholarship application and the online form can be found at www.pork.org/scholarship.

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USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue will be keynote speaker of 2019 Commodity Classic

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 Commodity Classic, held Feb. 28-March 2 in Orlando, Fla. Commodity Classic is one of the largest agriculture industry events, with close to 10 thousand attendees annually the past three years. Perdue will speak during the General Session, which is open to registered event attendees and is scheduled for Friday, March 1, at 9:00 a.m. at the Orange County Convention Center.

Secretary Perdue is expected to share current news and perspectives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with topics including international trade, farm bill implementation, rural development and the role of agriculture in America’s food security and economic health.

Before Secretary Perdue, the General Session will include comments from leaders of the five associations that present Commodity Classic each year: American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

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OEFFA announces 2019 award recipients at 40th Annual Conference

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2019 recipients of its Stewardship and Service awards.

Guy and Sandy Ashmore of Clinton County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Mike Hogan of Franklin County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture.

The announcements were made Feb. 15 and 16 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 40th annual conference, “Just farming: The path before us.”

 

2019 Stewardship Award winners — Guy and Sandy Ashmore

Guy and Sandy Ashmore are co-farmers and owners of That Guy’s Family Farm, a certified organic 48-acre farm in southwest Ohio. They wholesale produce through Local Food Connection and Dorothy Lane Markets, and sell at a farmers’ market, their farm store, and through a winter and summer community supported agriculture (CSA) program.

They started farming in 1978 using conventional practices and raising confinement hogs.

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Bernadette Arehart named Ag Women of the Year

Bernadette Arehart will be honored as the 2018 Ag Woman of the Year by the Central Ohio Farm Bureaus at their annual Women in Ag Brunch in March. Since 1983, this yearly event has recognized outstanding women in the field of agriculture for their invaluable contributions. Recipients of this award have consistently demonstrated proven leadership, passion, and dedication for the better of Ohio agriculture.

Bernadette is a member of the Ohio Ag Council and provides the voiceovers for the Ohio Ag Hall of Fame recipient videos. She volunteers and assists FFA chapters and the Ohio FFA Association, and has received the local, state and American Honorary FFA Degree. She is a long-time member of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and while serving as a trustee in Delaware County, she was recognized for her contributions as a co-chair of the Benefit in the Barn Fundraiser which won national recognition in 2017 by the American Farm Bureau.

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Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts meeting Feb. 24-26

The Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts is pleased to announce Business Motivational Speaker and Peak-Performance and Engagement Expert, Jon Petz, will be the featured keynote speaker for the Annual Partnership Meeting, “Conservation Crusade: Inspiring Stewards for the Future,” to be held February 24-26, 2019 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Columbus.

As a keynote speaker Jon Petz, CSP brings the perfect trifecta of education, inspiration along with hysterical entertainment. He has hosted and performed at over 1,200 events for clients including FFA, Society of Human Resources Management, Associations (across many industries), General Electric, and Marriott, to name a few as well as appeared on NBC, CBS, FOX and ESPN. He’s also an accomplished author of three books and has been featured by The USA Today, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, ABC News, Success Magazine and many other media outlets. American Business Journals named him a top 40 business professionals under the age of 40.

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Ohioan wins 2019 National Ag Day Video Essay Contest

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) has announced the 2019 National Ag Day video and written essay winners. The winners were chosen based on the theme: Agriculture: Food for Life. How does our nation lead the way?

This year’s Video essay winner, Jacob Kandell of Mason, Ohio, wins a $1,000 prize. The winning entries can be viewed online at https://www.agday.org/2019-contest-winners

The theme presented an opportunity for high school students to address how American agriculture feeds the growing population. Entrants chose to either write an essay or create a video. One written winner and on video winner were selected.

“CHS has long supported rural youth education and leadership programs and we are proud to give this year’s essay contest winners a platform that lets them share their ideas with a broader audience,” said Annette Degnan, CHS Inc., director, Marketing Communications, and Agriculture Council of America board member.

The Ag Day Essay Contest is sponsored by CHS Inc., National Association of Farm Broadcasting and Farm Progress.

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Soil Health Partnership call for proposals

The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) announced it is accepting proposals for partnerships and collaboration for 2019. SHP encourages any organization or individuals who have an interest in working together to submit ideas.

“At the SHP, we collaborate with a diverse network of partners ranging from universities to industry and government groups to non-profits,” said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These broad partnerships enable SHP to maximize the impact of our work. This year we are making this specific call for proposals to ensure that we continue to seek out diverse partners and include a fuller range of ideas.”

Applicants are required to complete the Request for Partnership form on the SHP website. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 15, 2019.

“Whether working with soil science or agronomy experts, developing a partnership in a new state as we expand our farmer network, or fueling a graduate student’s passion for soil health, SHP knows that partnerships make our work stronger and more impactful,” Mehta said.

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Global concerns growing about African swine fever

Despite public and private efforts to control African swine fever (ASF) in China, most of the country is now positive for the disease that has reportedly killed as many as 1 million pigs. As of Feb. 13, there are 25 distinct geographic areas of China that have tested positive for the ASF virus. According to reports, supplies of pork to China’s big cities have been disrupted while prices have collapsed in areas with an oversupply of pigs from farmers who are barred from shipping to other provinces.

In addition, the current outbreak of Classical swine fever (CSF) in Japan is showing few signs of abating as the nation has recently reported additional infected farms. Geographically, this means five prefectures have either domestic and/or wild pigs that test positive for the virus.

Since last September, Japanese officials are frantically trying to step up biosecurity measures to contain and eliminate CSF, which had remained undetected on the island nation since 1992.

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Ohio Wildlife Council Receives 2019-2020 deer hunting proposals

The Ohio Wildlife Council heard proposals for Ohio’s 2019-2020 white-tailed deer hunting season dates and bag limits at Wednesday’s meeting, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The proposed season dates are nearly identical to previous seasons.

Overview of proposed deer hunting seasons for 2019-2020:

Deer archery: Sept. 28, 2019-Feb. 2, 2020
Youth deer gun: Nov. 23-24, 2019
Deer gun: Dec. 2-8, 2019; Dec. 21-22, 2019
Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 4-7, 2020
Deer bag limits were proposed to remain the same for all counties. The statewide bag limit was proposed to remain at six deer, only one of which may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.

As the first step toward electronic permitting in the future, it was proposed that hunters be allowed to carry either a printed or electronic version of their valid deer or turkey permits. Hunters are currently required to invalidate printed deer and turkey permits by filling them out.

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USDA to host 2018 Farm Bill implementation listening session

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced that USDA is hosting a listening session for initial input on the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA is seeking public input on the changes to existing programs implemented by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Each agency will take into account stakeholder input when making discretionary decisions on program implementation.

“The 2018 Farm Bill is intended to provide support, certainty and stability to our Nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs, and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation,” said Under Secretary Northey. “We are seeking input from stakeholders on how USDA can streamline and improve program delivery while also enhancing customer service.”

The listening session will be held Feb. 26, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building located at 14th Street and Independence Ave.

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Today the last day for USDA’s Market Facilitation Program signup

Agricultural producers have until Feb. 14, 2019, to sign up for USDA’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP), launched last year to help producers suffering from damages due to unjustified trade retaliation. Producers can apply without proof of yield but must certify 2018 production by May 1, 2019. Since its launch in September 2018, more than 864,000 producers have applied, supporting those hit hard with nearly $8 billion in estimated payments.

Producers of corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, shelled almonds, sorghum, soybeans, fresh sweet cherries and wheat should apply at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

“Farmers are very resilient, and these payments are helping agricultural producers meet some of the costs of disrupted markets in 2018,” said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “We view it as a short-term solution to help America’s farmers, and we encourage impacted producers to apply for this program by the February 14 deadline.”

USDA previously announced the second and final round of trade mitigation payments.

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Lawmakers prioritizing water quality

The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) and the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) expressed their appreciation to the Ohio General Assembly for its proposal to address water quality among the priority legislation for the new session. Senate Bill 2, co-sponsored by Sen. Matt Dolan and Sen. Bob Peterson, proposes to create a statewide watershed planning structure for programs to be implemented by local soil and water conservation districts.

“Ohio lawmakers are sending a strong message that water quality is a top priority in the coming session, and Ohio grain farmers share that priority,” said Jon Miller, OCWGA president. “While the General Assembly is still working out the details of the legislation, we applaud them for their commitment to Lake Erie and other bodies of water.”

Ohio grain farmers have embraced new farming priorities and practices in order to keep nutrients on the field, have invested in scientific research and new farming equipment, and are applying less phosphorous on their fields than ever before.

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