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H2Ohio signup deadline moved back to March 31

The much-discussed H2Ohio signup deadline had been moved to June 1 due to challenges associated with COVID-19. In an effort to preserve resources for H2Ohio, however, the Ohio Department of Agriculture announced it will be is suspending the acceptance of new applications after March 31 but will continue to process all current applications.

“Due to changes from the Ohio Department of Agriculture we now need to have EVERYONE interested in participating in H2Ohio signed up by tomorrow March 31, 2020,” said Janelle Mead with the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

While each district is different, please reach out to your SWCD district office and be prepared to answer the following questions:

• Entity Name

• Address

• Phone (please leave a telephone number where you can be reached 24/7.)

• Email

• Acres you wish to put in each of the practices for EACH year (2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023)

“We know this is a crazy time and appreciate your patience as we work through this change,” Mead said.… Continue reading

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Ohio FFA coping with COVID-19 through resilience

By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter

On March 7, students, advisors and supporters flooded to Marysville, Ohio for a jam-packed day of contests. At Marysville High School students were competing in the state public speaking career development event (CDE), and across the road students were laser focused at the Marysville Invitational preparing for the state spring skills contests that was just a few weeks away.

Little did students know this would be the last contest hosted before COVID-19 had different plans for the remainder of their school year. On March 12, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all kindergarten through 12 grade schools closed until April 3 — maybe even the rest of the academic year. COVID-19 has left the world in a state of uncertainty. The daily changes have shocked local communities — disrupting work schedules, school schedules and the many events planned for the start of spring.

Ohio FFA is no different.… Continue reading

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Federal steps being taken to address coronavirus concerns

By Matt Reese and Dave Russell

On March 27, President Donald J. Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) into law with provisions to provide financially distressed consumers and small businesses greater access to bankruptcy relief. The legislative package, which quickly passed the House of Representatives on a voice vote, provides a $2 trillion economic stimulus for U.S. industries and citizens faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The COVID-19 impact on agriculture includes a rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closure of ethanol plants, the dramatic decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand, and the reduction in direct-to-consumer sales. The agreement reportedly includes a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation and $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators.

“The timeline is very much up in the air in terms of when things will come out and what things might look like,” said Ben Brown, Ohio State University Farm Management Program Manager.… Continue reading

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FSA offices open by phone appointment only

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices are open in Ohio by phone appointment only until further notice, and FSA staff are available to continue helping agricultural producers with program signups, loan servicing and other important actions. Additionally, FSA is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need.

FSA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into to the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible.

“FSA programs and loans are critical to Ohio farmers and producers, and we want to continue our work with customers while taking precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said Leonard Hubert, FSA State executive director. “We recognize that farm loans are critical for annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs and cash flow through times like this.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Stay at Home Order and agricultural businesses

By Peggy Kirk Hall, Ohio Ag Law Blog, Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

We’ve received several questions about Ohio’s Stay at Home Order and how it affects agricultural businesses. As you well know, the Order states that residents are to stay at home and may leave “only for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to participate in Essential Businesses and Operations.” All non-essential businesses and activities are to cease. It remains in place until the end of the day on April 6. Here are the relevant parts of the Order that answer the questions we’ve received:

What businesses are “essential”?

The Order lists (on pages 5 and 6) the “Essential Businesses and Operations” that may continue during this period. The list specifically includes many agricultural activities, such as:

12 b. Stores that sell groceries and medicine. Grocery stores, pharmacies, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, prepared food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products), and specifically includes their supply chain and administrative supp0rt operations.… Continue reading

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Factors that influence nutrient loss

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Identifying factors that influence flow and nutrient loss was the topic of a presentation by Brittany Hanrahan, research biologist with the ARS Soil Drainage Research Unit in Ohio at the Conservation Tillage Conference.

“We know that storms can contribute disproportionately to cumulative annual phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) losses during the year,” Hanrahan said. “The big picture is that excess P and N fuel algal blooms and have negative impacts. Excess P and N fertilize the algal blooms which eventually die and decompose stripping oxygen from the water causing hypoxic zones. There are over 400 different hypoxic zones found in the world today.”

Data collected in the edge of field studies show that peaks in water discharge coincide with peaks in precipitation events. Surface runoff levels of P and N differ from tile discharge levels.

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Can livestock get COVID-19?

While there’s no evidence so far that pets, livestock, or their owners can infect each other with COVID-19, there’s also very little research about a potential crossover.

The novel coronavirus started with an animal, then mutated to transfer to people, but research hasn’t yet shown if the virus has jumped back to animals, said Scott Kenney, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“Viruses are constantly sampling and evolving, trying to find other hosts,” said Kenney, who studies coronaviruses, including those that cross over from one species to another.

Quickly spreading among people across the world, COVID-19 is believed to have originated in bats, but the bat virus changed, altering surface proteins to be able to efficiently transfer from person to person. These surface proteins are different in the mutated bat virus, so COVID-19 is now less likely to affect the original bats.… Continue reading

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Beneficial insects and pest management

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Scouting a developing crop is an important part of an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy. Sometimes an area not considered is the impact of beneficial insects. Curtis Young discussed important factors to consider when controlling pests at the 2020 Conservation Tillage Conference.

“Not all arthropod organisms (insects) are pests. There are beneficial insects, spiders, predatory mites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and nematodes,” Young said. “Each of these has a role in managing and suppressing pest populations in the field.”

Dr. Curtis Young, OSU Extension

Beneficial insects play many key roles in crop production. Pollination is an important function; pest control is another.

“There are insects, spiders, mites and others that eat the harmful insects. These are often referred to as biological control agents. They include predators, parasitoids and parasites,” Young said. “They are useful at suppressing pest species populations like aphids, mites, and scale insects.”

Agronomic management decisions typically involve establishing and evaluating various thresholds.

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Ohio Soybean Council Foundation awards $44,000 in scholarships

The Ohio Soybean Council Foundation (OSCF) is pleased to announce the 13 scholarship recipients for the 2020-2021 academic year.

This is the thirteenth year for the OSCF Scholarship Program, which was created to encourage undergraduate students to pursue degrees in one of the many academic fields that support the future of the soybean industry, including agriculture, business, communication, economics, education, science and technology, as well as to support ongoing graduate-level research. Since 2008, the OSCF scholarship program has awarded over $390,000 in scholarship funds to students studying agriculture or a related field at Ohio colleges or universities.

“I want to congratulate our 2020-2021 scholarship recipients,” said Bill Bateson, OSC board chairman, soybean farmer from Hancock County and scholarship selection committee member. “It seems like each year our decision is made more difficult because of the incredible talent and dedication to agriculture these students have.”


Undergraduate winners

A $3,000 undergraduate scholarship was awarded to:

  • Kevin Fruth of Fostoria, Ohio, a junior at the University of Toledo studying chemical engineering.
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Coronavirus aid package moves forward

The coronavirus aid package negotiated by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and agreed to by Senate leaders and the White House will help ensure farmers and ranchers are able to continue feeding America in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, according to many of the nation’s agricultural organizations.

“Thanks to Leader McConnell and all the senators who diligently fought for farmers and ranchers to ensure they have our backs in the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. The aid to farmers in this package, including funding for the CCC and the Office of the Secretary, will allow USDA to begin crafting an appropriate relief program for agriculture,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau president. “America’s farmers and ranchers face enormous volatility as markets and supply chains rapidly react to changes, but I’ll say again that farmers and ranchers will not let Americans down. All members of Congress must understand that farmers have almost no control over the prices of the goods we produce, so fulfilling our commitment to America requires a team effort.… Continue reading

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OCJ columnist has first hand Ohio run-in with COVID-19

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Late on a recent Thursday night I returned home from a weeklong dairy consultation trip in Minnesota to find my wife, Kris, coughing and feeling poorly. Even though she put on her brave face, I could tell that Kris was suffering from more than a common cold.

Two weeks before, Kris and I attended a conference in Gainesville, Fla. It didn’t dawn on me until later that perhaps her illness traced back to our flight and stay there.

Since Friday is always a tough time to get in to see our doctor, I suggested that we go to the emergency room to get her checked out. Kris was too ill to argue.

Kris ended up staying in the hospital eight days, diagnosed initially with viral pneumonia, and eventually, coronavirus. She took ill before the virus was classified as COVID-19. She had never before been that ill.

The good news is that she survived and has been home from the hospital three weeks.… Continue reading

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Phosphorus progress in Ohio

By Matt Reese and Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff.

Heilmann Farms has been operating for nearly a century in Lucas County, just off the shores of Lake Erie. In that time, plenty has changed on the farm. In the last couple of decades, on-farm changes have included a significant reduction in phosphorus applications on the farm.

Phosphorus, of course, has been the source of extensive scrutiny in terms of water quality around the state, particularly in Lake Erie. In the case of Heilmann Farms, reducing phosphorus levels in their fields makes agronomic, economic and environmental sense.

“We have been deficit applying fertilizer for 20 years drawing down high fertility levels in fields. We intensely soil sample, and have developed yield management zones. We soil sample the heavier clay soils every three years, and soil sample the sand farms every other year,” said Jake Heilmann.… Continue reading

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Meat exports see expanding access to China

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has updated its Export Library for China to reflect expanded access for U.S. beef and pork. These changes were among the provisions negotiated in the U.S.-China “Phase 1” trade agreement.

“This is an exciting day for the U.S. beef and pork industries, which have waited a long time to have more meaningful and reliable access to China, and USMEF thanks USTR and USDA for their tireless efforts to negotiate and implement the Phase One trade agreement,” said Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO. “With much broader access for U.S. beef, the U.S. industry is well-positioned to expand its presence in the largest and fastest growing beef market in the world. And while unprecedented volumes of U.S. pork have been shipped to China in recent months, the U.S. pork industry has also faced significant barriers that have kept exports below their full potential.… Continue reading

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Ethanol gets a win from Trump Administration

The Trump Administration recently chose to not appeal a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that struck down certain small refinery exemptions (SRE) under the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“We are pleased to see the administration has not filed to appeal for an en banc hearing by the Tenth Circuit. While this is a win for our members, our fight is not over. Refiners have filed a request to appeal the January decision, and the Trump administration can still file to appeal in the Supreme Court,” said Patty Mann, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “Because of these realities, our team at Ohio Corn & Wheat will remain vigilant on this issue and keep our members engaged with their elected officials.”

The original challenge was brought against EPA in May 2018 by the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, and National Farmers Union in response to the massive demand destruction caused by the Agency’s illegal and indiscriminate use of SREs.… Continue reading

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Local food connections abound in Athens

By Madi Kregel, OCJ field reporter

A push for local products has connected local farmers and businesses with the Athens and Ohio University communities in southeastern Ohio.

In the hills of Athens county, local farms range from beef cattle to honey bees and herb farms. These farms are connected with the rest of the community through groups such as Farm to Ohio Working Group and Athens Own.

“We have a work group here on campus, Farm to Ohio that is also working and help us bring more local products to different locations on campus,” said Drew Banks, general manager of the Ohio University Campus Cafes.

The Farm to Ohio Working Group (also known as FOWG) consists of Ohio University’s culinary services, office of sustainability, and center for community engagement. It began with a grant initiative with two Southeast Ohio organizations Rural Action and Community Food Initiatives. FOWG meets monthly and aims to find impactful ways for local food to be obtained by more consumers in the Athens area.… Continue reading

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COVID-19 in Ohio Q&A

Linda Saif knows more about coronaviruses than just about anyone. They’re her life’s work.

Saif, a faculty member in Ohio State’s Food Animal Health Research Program, is known nationally and internationally for her research on viruses that affect food-producing animals, wildlife and humans. She’s also a member of Ohio State’s Infectious Diseases Institute, where she is a co-director for the Viruses and Emerging Pathogens program.

Here, she talks about COVID-19’s possible origins, how it compares to similar diseases and why we should take the coronavirus seriously.


Q: How seriously should we take this virus, and how worried should we be?

A: It is serious. This is a national and global emergency.

Based on epidemiologic predictions for a new disease in a fully susceptible population, some epidemiologists suggest as many as 66% of people in the United States could become infected, whereas others indicate 30% to 40% as the best case scenario.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension March madness Tournament of Education

Did your usual conference get canceled? Looking to fill the void of the big basketball tournament? Ohio State University Extension is here to help with a new virtual education program for the agricultural community.

“Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness: A Tournament of Education” will include 64 educational events broken into daily brackets. Each day, a virtual educational session will be held at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. The educational tournament is free of charge and will likely continue until mid-May.

“This effort is a direct response to providing a variety of useful and timely sessions for farmers and families across the state during Gov. DeWine’s stay-at-home order,” said Jacqueline Wilkins, interim director of OSU Extension. “While our ‘tournament’ is being loosely tied to March Madness, it’s not a competition, and people can join in at any time for as many or as few sessions as they desire.”

The tournament opens on Wednesday, March 25, with the eFields 2019 Results webinar.… Continue reading

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Nutrient management tools aplenty in industry offerings

By Matt Reese

As more emphasis is being placed on nutrient management, the agricultural industry is responding with new innovations or new spins on old ones. Here is a small sampling of some industry innovation on the subject.

“We realize that nutrient management and application of fertilizer is a critical piece of the planting process. No planter is the same with that so we have decided to partner with SureFire Ag who is really a specialist in the industry to provide the best fertilizer solution as a factory installed item for any customer,” said Brad Niensteadt with Kinze. “We want to dive in and make sure the fertilizer solution we provide to them is exactly what they want to get the most bang for their fertilizer buck. We just started that partnership and we are just starting the early order season for the 2021 planting season in April. You can start configuring your SureFire ag fertilizer solutions in April.”

Subsurface placement of nutrients helps keep them where they are needed by plants and out of waterways, though the logistics of doing this can be challenging.… Continue reading

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Farmers at work keeping grocery store shelves stocked on National Agriculture Day (and every day)

On National Agriculture Day, as Ohioans are under a Stay At Home executive order, the state’s farmers remain dedicated to working tirelessly to ensure an abundant supply of nutritious food for families near and far. Organizations representing the state’s farmers, including the Ohio Poultry Association, American Dairy Association Mideast, Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Beef Council, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Agribusiness Association, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, and Ohio Soybean Association have joined together to continue their united, ongoing and unrelenting commitment to help feed the nation today and every day.

“It is our obligation to assure that the public continues to have a steady supply of wholesome and nutritious food—and that responsibility does not stop, even in a public health crisis,” said Frank Burkett III, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “We know that families have seen shortages in some foods and products at grocery stores, but Ohioans can be confident that our farm community will do what is needed to help keep a steady supply of food available.”

National Agriculture Day, recognized on March 24, is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of America’s agriculture community and how food brings everyone to the table.… Continue reading

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