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OARDC helps Mansfield company produce ‘green’ polyurethane foam, jobs

Waste is a terrible thing to waste. That’s the mantra guiding an Ohio State University researcher and a bioenergy entrepreneur in the development of a brand-new, renewable source of polyurethane foam that’s expected to create up to 30 jobs in Mansfield, Ohio, in the next two years.

The product (known as a bio-polyol) is made from crude glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production that has so little commercial value it’s practically considered waste. Mixed with other biomass — through a patent-pending process developed by Yebo Li, a biosystems engineer with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster — this crude glycerin becomes the foundation for making polyurethane foam, which is used in a variety of products in the construction, automotive, appliance and other industries.

“Polyurethane foam made with our bio-polyol is renewable, biodegradable and its quality is comparable to petroleum-based foam,” said Jeff Schultheis, chief operating officer of Mansfield-based Poly-Green Technologies, LLC, a start-up formed to commercialize Li’s invention.… Continue reading

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AFBF backs bills to preempt EPA greenhouse gas regs

The American Farm Bureau Federation supports legislation introduced today in both the House and the Senate that would preempt regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency based on climate change considerations.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 was introduced today in the House by Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). In the Senate, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, introduced a companion bill.

In separate letters sent today to Upton and Inhofe, AFBF President Bob Stallman commended the lawmakers for introducing the legislation and pledged to work with them in achieving passage. Stallman said the legislation is important because it would prevent EPA from regulating GHGs without prior congressional approval.

“The regulation of GHG does not fit within the current framework of the Clean Air Act. Unlike other regulated pollutants, where Clean Air Act thresholds are sufficient to regulate the largest emitters, GHG regulation at statutorily required thresholds holds the prospect of costly and burdensome permit requirements on farms, ranches, schools, hospitals and some large residences,” Stallman wrote.… Continue reading

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Commodity Classic kicks off in Tampa

Soybean, corn, wheat and sorghum growers from around the country have gathered at Commodity Classic in Tampa, Fla., for an experience that will educate, enlighten and entertain. It’s an event that provides benefits for a grower’s farm operation and profitability for years to come.
The 16th Annual Commodity Classic will help growers set sail for a successful 2011 by offering educational sessions on topics such as the new pesticide application permits, crop insurance and sustainability.
“There is no better time to improve one’s marketing skills then now with record commodity price levels,” said Commodity Classic Co-chair Charles Cannatella. “Growers can increase their profitability from attending one of the marketing sessions during Commodity Classic.”
In addition to educational opportunities, attendees will enjoy exhibits from over 220 companies in 870 booths at the trade show. Escape the winter blues and embrace the sun while learning from ag industry experts, networking with fellow growers, and attending association banquets and events.… Continue reading

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New growth inhibitors more effective in plants, less toxic to people

A Purdue University scientist and researchers in Japan have produced a new class of improved plant growth regulators that are expected to be less toxic to humans.
Angus Murphy, a professor of horticulture, said the growth inhibitors block the transport of auxin, a plant hormone that, when transported throughout the plant, controls growth processes. Current growth regulators that inhibit auxin transport are inefficient because they also have hormonelike activity or affect other important plant processes. Current growth inhibitors also are often toxic.
Growth regulators are important in ornamental plants and horticultural crops that would require labor-intensive manipulation and pruning. The inhibitors are used to keep plants a desired size and shape and control fruit formation.
“These regulators would be used primarily on ornamental plants, flowers and trees that aren’t going to be genetically changed easily,” Murphy said. “Growth regulators are used regularly on this type of plant. Inhibition of auxin transport with these new compounds is also an alternative to the use of more toxic regulators like 2,4-D.”
The toxicity of growth regulators can be an environmental concern and add safety and monitoring costs to commercial growing operations.… Continue reading

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HSUS responds to OLCB veal vote

The following statement is from Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States in response to the most recent Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board vote regarding veal:
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board voted 6-5 to permit the confinement of veal calves in crates so small they’re unable to turn around for more than half of their lives before slaughter, jeopardizing a carefully crafted animal welfare agreement reached last June between The Humane Society of the United States and eight leading agricultural trade organizations, including the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

In November 2010, the Livestock Board voted that all calves regardless of age must have the ability to turn around. Yesterday’s vote marked a reversal of that original stance, after a few Ohio veal producers complained about giving the animals more room. By the narrowest of margins – with Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer and state veterinarian Tony Forshey dissenting from the majority – the board allowed keeping calves in small, immobilizing crates for up to 10 weeks.… Continue reading

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More than 150 grassroots groups oppose House budget cuts to sustainable agriculture programs

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) was one of more than 150 organizations to sign on to a letter to the U.S. Senate in opposition to a House budget bill (H.R.1) that would cut more than $60 billion dollars from the federal budget over the remainder of this fiscal year. H.R. 1 slashes a disproportional amount from the agriculture budget (22 %) relative to other budget sections. Worse, it unfairly targets programs that serve sustainable, organic, beginning, and minority farmers.
H.R. 1 makes deep cuts to conservation and renewable energy funding provided by the 2008 Farm Bill—a combined $500 million would be cut under the House bill from programs including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).
While Conservation, Renewable Energy, Farm Services Agency direct farm lending, and feeding programs for low income families took big hits, no cuts were proposed for commodity payments or crop insurance, two of the biggest line items in the agriculture budget after nutrition programs.… Continue reading

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Nematodes in corn

By Pierce Paul and Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension

Over the last few years, interest in nematodes and the use of nematicide seed treatments in corn have increased among producers all across the Midwest. When present and in high numbers, nematodes can indeed cause considerable yield loss in corn, and quite often these losses may go undetected or may be attributed to other causes. In corn, nematode problems are usually very difficult to detect because these pathogens usually cause uneven growth, without any clear above-ground symptoms. Uneven growth could be the result of several factors including other soil borne pathogens, poor drainage, soil compaction, and herbicide carry over; nematodes are rarely ever considered the cause of such a problem.
Several different types of nematode can attack corn including spiral, lesion, cyst (this is not the soybean cyst), stubby root, needle, lance, and dagger nematodes, and the level of damage and yield loss depend on the type of nematode present and the population level.… Continue reading

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Roundup Ready alfalfa available for planting in 2011

Mark Sulc, Forage Extension Specialist, The Ohio State University

In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa after a 46-month environmental impact assessment process. The ruling means that U.S. farmers are free to proceed with planting the genetically altered alfalfa with no restrictions.

Opponents to this ruling have been vocal in their disapproval. They have voiced concerns that without any restrictions the biotech alfalfa will easily contaminate organic and conventional alfalfa seed production and increase the occurrence of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Based on their response, further court battles over this product may be in store.

Whether you agree or disagree with this decision, the fact remains that Roundup Ready alfalfa has been approved for planted this spring. For those considering use of this new technology, what factors should be considered? Where might Roundup Ready alfalfa be of benefit?

We know that good managers have been able to control weeds in alfalfa to acceptable levels with current herbicides and best management practices for years.… Continue reading

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Flood resources

With many areas of Ohio experiencing or expecting flooding due to melting snow and rain, the following resources may be helpful.

Flood Map: The Ohio River Forecast Center out of the National Weather Service — http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/ohrfc/ — features a flood map depicting current and forecasted flood conditions.

Flash Flood Map: The flash flooding information used to issues watches and warnings is available at this link — http://www.srh.noaa.gov/rfcshare/ffg.php?location=OH&zoom_map=state&duration=1. You select the state and the time criteria you wish to view.

Weather Radio: This link — http://www.weather.gov/nwr/ — provides information on the NOAA Weather Radio — and this link — http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/nwrrcvr.htm — provide information about purchasing the receiver which is needed to hear the weather information.

Flood FactSheets/Education: The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)  Flood Resources page — http://eden.lsu.edu/Topics/Hazards/Floods/Pages/Default.aspx — provides links to factsheets and other resources that can be helpful for people experiencing floods.

Mold Resources: Mold resources from EDEN are located at this link — http://eden.lsu.edu/Topics/HumanHealth/Mold/Pages/default.aspx.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Council Seeks Hall of Fame Nominations

The Ohio Agricultural Council is seeking nominations for the 2011 Ohio  Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Induction into the Ohio Agricultural  Hall of Fame is Ohio’s highest recognition of an individual who has made  outstanding contributions to the agricultural industry.  Each year up to  four prominent agricultural leaders are honored and inducted into the Ohio  Agricultural Hall of Fame for their superior service, dedication, leadership  and plentiful contributions to agriculture.

Persons wishing to  nominate an individual who he or she believes is deserving of consideration  for this honor may secure a nomination form by writing to the Ohio  Agricultural Council, 5950 Sharon Woods Blvd., Columbus, Ohio 43229, by  calling 614-794-8970 or emailing info@ohioagcouncil.org

Nominations must be submitted by April 1, 2011, in order to be  eligible for consideration in 2011.

The Ohio Agricultural Council  is a member-funded organization comprised of organizations, companies and  individuals who support agriculture in the state of  Ohio.… Continue reading

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Experts to explain how to get food products to stores

It is believed more than 30,000 new food products are launched every year, which

can make it very difficult for a startup food business to get the attention of retailers.

Fortunately, regional experts from The Andersons and Metro D Distributing will explain a retailer’s decision making process when evaluating whether or not to bring in a new product or line to stores.

In addition, guests can learn about the costs and expectations related to distribution.

The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and the Agricultural Incubator Foundation (AIF) will host “How to get your Product on Store Shelves,” Tues., Mar. 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the AIF, north of Bowling Green, OH. The seminar is open to anyone – in particular small food manufacturers, market managers, farmers, growers, or individuals who are thinking of producing and selling a value-added food product.

The cost is just $25/person or $40/two guests (cash or check at the door, payable to Agricultural Incubator Foundation) which includes great networking opportunities and light refreshments.… Continue reading

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Syngenta receives import approval from South Korea for the Agrisure Viptera 3111 Trait Stack

Syngenta Seeds, Inc. announced it has received import approval from regulatory authorities in South Korea for hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera 3111 trait stack.

The Agrisure Viptera 3111 trait stack combines the Agrisure Viptera trait with the Agrisure 3000GT trait stack to provide unprecedented control of 14 above- and below-ground corn pests, more than any other commercially available product in corn trait history. This approval allows the importation of U.S. corn grown from hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera 3111 trait stack into South Korea for food, feed or processing use. South Korean authorities previously approved the single Agrisure Viptera trait in October 2010.

“Import approval from South Korea provides U.S. corn growers access to yet another valuable market,” said David Morgan, president of Syngenta Seeds. “With corn prices expected to remain at near-record levels this year, the advantages of growers enjoying more yield from the same number of acres are plain to see.”

Corn hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera 3111 trait stack have an in-seed defense against the multi-pest complex, which includes corn earworm, fall armyworm, Western bean cutworm, black cutworm, dingy cutworm, stalk borer and sugarcane borer, among others.… Continue reading

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America’s Farmers Grow Communities supports Ohio counties

Based upon the idea that farmers are crucial components of successful small towns around the nation, the Monsanto Fund sponsored America’s Farmers Grow Communities to support local farming communities. The program allowed farmers to register to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organization, such as FFA, 4-H, schools, fire departments and other civic groups. One winner was selected in each of 1,204 eligible counties in 38 states, including Ohio.

“We want to recognize what agriculture means to small communities around Ohio because farmers play such a vital role,” said Bill Girten, Monsanto Account Manager who presented some of the awards. “This program has been a great chance for me to get out a see people in our communities. A lot of these donations have gone to youth organizations and it is great to see the smiles from the kids.”

Also, for every farmer who applied, Monsanto donated $1 to their local United Way to help food banks, food pantries, Meals On Wheels and other charitable organizations dealing with hunger in their respective county.… Continue reading

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Study shows costly consequences of regulating dust

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current review of National Ambient Air Quality Standards of the Clean Air Act could result in the regulation of coarse particulate matter (dust) at levels as low as 65-85 µg/m3, or twice as stringent as the current standard. In anticipation of a proposed rule on this issue, NCBA contracted with Dr. John Richards, Ph.D., P.E. of Air Quality Control Techniques to study the likely effects regulating dust at such stringent levels would have on attainment and nonattainment regions throughout the United States. The study concluded that moving forward with regulating dust at anticipated levels would bring vast areas of the United States into nonattainment or to the brink of nonattainment.

NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies said the current standard is 150 μg/m³ with an allowance of only one violation per year to remain in compliance.… Continue reading

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Grain market lecture series breaks down commodity reports

Agricultural economists at Ohio State University are holding a series of free, monthly online workshops that will cover grain forecasts, policy, futures markets, supply and demand, and long-term analysis.

The goal of the webinars is to help those interested in the grain market understand how world events and world grain supplies affect local markets, said Stan Ernst, Ohio State University Extension program leader in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

“Basically, what we are doing every month is looking at the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report in-depth and seeing where the markets may be going,” he said.

Carl Zulauf, senior economist and Ohio State agricultural economics professor, will present the webinars and challenge producers’ traditional thinking about grain markets.

“Hopefully, the listeners will get an idea for marketing opportunities and do some planning as they look ahead into planting season,” Ernst said.

The webinars are scheduled for March 15, April 12, May 12, June 13 and July 13 at 9 a.m.… Continue reading

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Zientek enjoys the variety that comes with overseeing sows for Kalmbach

By Kyle Sharp

When Ben Zientek heads off to work each day, it’s always a mystery what exactly his day will entail. As sow production supervisor for Kalmbach Swine Management, he oversees 80 team members, nine sow units and nearly 22,000 sows, mostly in central Ohio. So while some days he may be at his office in Upper Sandusky, others he may be on a farm working with employees, moving sows or driving a truck.

“In my position, you never know what you’re going to get into,” Zientek said. “Whether it’s moving a truck or doing paperwork, it’s all stuff that has to get done. In most cases I’d rather do the physical work than do the paperwork.”

It’s the variety that he enjoys. In a given week, he might be in his office a day or two, and the other days he is traveling among the sow farms.

“I work with all parts of our team to maximize production and profitability.… Continue reading

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On-farm renewable energy production shows tremendous growth

The number of solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters on America’s farms and ranches has increased significantly over the past decade and there are now 8,569 operations producing their own renewable energy, according to the results of the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey released today. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, this was the first-ever nationwide survey that looked at renewable energy practices on America’s farms and ranches.
“These results indicate that farmers and ranchers are increasingly adopting renewable energy practices on their operations and reaping the important economic and environmental benefits,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA we are committed to natural resource conservation, prosperity and energy independence in rural America. This survey gives us a benchmark against which we can measure our future successes.”
According to the survey results, solar panels were the most prominent way to produce on-farm energy.… Continue reading

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Wilmington College to host Food Symposium March 31st

Kathleen A. Merrigan, who was selected by TIME magazine in 2010 as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” will highlight the link between the agriculture community and consumer as the keynote speaker at Wilmington College’s second annual Food Symposium March 31.

The day-long event will feature the theme “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: Improving Access to Safe and Healthy Food.”

Merrigan is deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She helped develop the USDA’s organic labeling rules while head of the Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999 to 2001.

She has a Ph.D. in environmental planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked at Tufts University as its director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program.

Merrigan, whose presentation title is “The Critical Connection between Farmer and Consumer,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. She will highlight the efforts of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and will explore how agriculture policy-makers are “integral” to issues ranging from climate change to national security.… Continue reading

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Value Added Producer Grant Program changes to assist farmers as they add value to products

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced changes to the Value Added Producer Grant Program that will provide additional opportunities to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. The changes, outlined in an interim rule published in today’s Federal Register, will also assist independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and will support local and regional supply networks.
“Improvements to this popular program will create additional economic and job opportunities by helping owners of small and medium-sized family farms sell their products in local and regional markets, part of our drive to ‘win the future,’” Merrigan said. “USDA investments such as these are part of the Obama administration’s work to support farmers, ranchers and rural businesses.”
The regulations address program changes included in the 2008 Farm Bill. These revisions:
• Provide up to 10 % funding to beginner farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers;

• Provide up to 10% funding to local and/or regional supply networks that link producers with companies marketing their products; 

• Give priority for grants to beginner farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and operators of small and medium-sized family farms; 

• Extend grant eligibility to producers who market their products within their state or within a 400-mile radius.… Continue reading

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Ohio wheat update

By Pierce Paul, Katelyn Willyerd and Dennis Mills, Ohio State University Extension

This past fall, most of our wheat was planted at the recommended time due to early soybean harvest, however, dry conditions in late-fall and early-winter, prevented adequate growth and tiller development going into to dormancy. This could potentially result is higher-than-usual winter kill and poor stands. So, some growers are understandably concerned about this year’s wheat crop. However, it is still too early to tell what will happen.
One positive is the fact that the crop has had very good snow cover during most of the winter. What happens over the next few months or so will be critical. Rapid and repeated freezing and thawing could cause heaving and damage to the crop, but a more gradual transition could see the crop going into the spring in decent shape. Tillering will resume in the spike, making up for poor fall growth.… Continue reading

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