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9th Annual Youth Pork Leadership Institute and Scholarship Program announced

Pork enthusiasts from around Ohio will have a chance to learn about all aspects of the pork industry at the Youth Pork Leadership Institute, a three-day seminar to be held in Columbus in June.  Again in 2011 all current and past participants, age 21 or under, will have the opportunity to compete for a $500 scholarship.

Young men and women will be selected to participate in the event, which is sponsored by the Ohio Pork Producers Council, the Pork Check-off, and the Ohio Soybean Council. Last year eight individuals participated in the event. As an alumnus of the institute, participants will have the opportunity to be youth ambassadors for Ohio’s pork industry.

One goal of the institute is to make young people realize the pork industry has many facets, including packing, retail, food service, research and communications. In addition, the institute will teach leadership and communication skills that will assist participants in their future careers.… Continue reading

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Can sweet corn be grown using less atrazine?

Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in North American corn production, but heated controversy remains over the 50-plus-year-old product. Several other herbicides are used in corn production, and a host of non-chemical tactics are sometimes used, too.

If the use of atrazine is restricted or banned altogether, how will sweet corn growers cope? A recent University of Illinois study shows sweet corn can be grown successfully without atrazine, but given today’s approach, perhaps not very often.

“We wanted to know the implications of using less atrazine in current weed management systems of sweet corn,” said Marty Williams, USDA Agricultural Research Service ecologist at the University of Illinois. “We conducted field studies at locations throughout North America and found that weed control falls apart pretty quickly as atrazine is removed.”

Williams said that further restrictions or a complete ban of atrazine would increase occurrences of weed control failure and subsequent yield losses in sweet corn, so finding an alternative is important.… Continue reading

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Goat cheese processor seeks good sheep dairy producers

By Kyle Sharp

Abbe Turner is by nature an optimist. She was optimistic when she and her husband bought and moved to a Portage County farm in 2002, despite neither of them having a farm background. She was optimistic when she started producing cheese from the milk of her dairy goats at her startup business, Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent, early last year. And she is optimistic that an Ohio sheep dairy industry will develop through an initiative she helped create, so she can begin processing sheep cheeses as well in the near future.

To help emphasize her sunny outlook, her business card for Lucky Penny Farm and Creamery even reads, “CEO, Cheesemaker, Entrepreneur, Optimist.”

When asked why she chose to include “optimist” on her business card, her personality comes out in her tongue-in-cheek response:

“Because ‘fool’ doesn’t look real good to a banker,” Turner said.

So far, her decisions appear to be anything but foolish, as in just 11 months, Lucky Penny Creamery has developed a list of about 55 businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores and other outlets across the nation, that buy her cheeses.… Continue reading

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Farm Credit Services to reduce interest rates on Feb. 1

This new year, customers of Farm Credit Services of Mid-America will be receiving a pleasant surprise — their interest rates will be going down. Effective Feb. 1, 2011, Farm Credit’s Board of Directors and management have approved rolling back interest rates on all existing loans by .35% creating an annual savings to customers of $43 million. Also beginning Feb. 1, interest rates on all new loans will be adjusted down by .35%.

“This is a special and unique action that we are able to take because of the fundamental strength of our cooperative,” said Paul Bruce, Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. “We are able to pass along this savings because of some extraordinary earnings events and because our cooperative has performed well financially over the last several years. These rate adjustments will provide additional flexibility for our customers to withstand market volatility. This is something we’re pleased to do, and this is the right time to do it.”

FCS Board Chair Ed Yanos of Cambridge City, Indiana, added that the idea behind the decision to lower the interest rates was to focus on the member-customers.… Continue reading

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Wheat acres up, but many are in poor condition

In Ohio, 930,000 acres were planted with wheat compared to last year’s total of 780,000 acres, according to the USDA. Seeding of winter wheat acres are up 10 percent to total 41 million acres nationwide, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported.

Helping fuel last fall’s renewed interest in wheat were better economics and favorable planting conditions, said Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt.

“The price of wheat escalated in the fall of 2010 with the poor wheat production in Russia and Canada,” he said. “Secondly, conditions for planting wheat improved dramatically with the early harvest of corn and soybeans, and by fall helped producers get the crop planted in a timely manner.”

Cash prices for wheat are hovering at $7 per bushel. Corn is trading at a cash price of about $6 a bushel, with soybeans about $13.50 a bushel.

While $7 would seem an attractive price, wheat might not be able to compete with $6 corn, Hurt said.… Continue reading

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Reduce costs of feeding hogs with finer grinding

It is well known that corn needs to be ground to be effectively utilized by pigs. New research shows that particle size reductions beyond current common practice may help lower feed costs.

“For many years producers have been grinding to an average particle size between 650 and 700 microns,” said Hans H. Stein, University of Illinois Extension swine specialist and professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. “This particle size was based on research showing that if grain is ground to a smaller particle size, then problems with ulcers in pigs may increase.”

However, Stein said research also shows that energy and nutrient digestibility will increase if particle size is reduced to smaller than 650 microns. Because of this increase in nutrient and energy digestibility, less feed is needed to produce one pound of gain if grain particle size is reduced.

Newer research indicates that feed conversion may be improved by 3 to 5% if corn particle size is reduced from 650 to 450 microns.… Continue reading

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Yield or disease resistance package, which should come first?

By Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist

There are many of things to choose from as we prepare for the 2011 planting season. Lots of different packages, choices, and we all remember the challenges of the past few field seasons. In parts of the eastern soybean belt, we have more challenges than most other areas of the Midwest soybean production region. This is a review of the key pathogens in the state that are very well managed with resistance –- if the soybean variety has it.

Phytophthora

Phytophthora sojae is our number one soil borne pathogen for major portions of the state. We see it every time the wrong variety is planted and we have heavy rains. We get stem rot. When stem rot occurs we lose substantial amounts of yield. For a variety with low levels of partial resistance, we can still lose 50% in yield, and if there is no partial resistance, the whole field can be lost.… Continue reading

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USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service extends sign-up period for Conservation Stewardship Program

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the ranking period cut-off date for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to January 21, 2011. Producers interested in CSP should submit applications to their local NRCS Office by the deadline so that their applications can be considered during the first ranking period of 2011.

“CSP benefits rural communities across the nation by protecting and preserving critical natural resources,” said NRCS Chief Dave White.  “We encourage those producers who have already made conservation a priority to apply and work with us to expand the scale of conservation on their land.”

CSP is offered in all 50 states, and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through continuous sign-ups. The program provides many conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habit enhancements and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change.

Producers are encouraged to apply for CSP throughout the year to be considered for current and future application ranking periods.… Continue reading

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“No on Snow” a good rule to live by

By Karen Chapman, Great Lakes Regional Director at Environmental Defense Fund

Farmers have to watch every penny in order to remain profitable – now more than ever. Even with rosy crop prices, producers cannot afford to waste fertilizer or fuel. The January 3rd on-line bulletin “Crop Input and Land Outlook 2011” from OSU Extension, points out that, “Fertilizer continues to be the most volatile of the crop input costs and cost management of this important input may be the difference in being a low cost or high cost producer in 2011.”

With nitrogen and phosphorus prices both up at least 50% from a year ago, it’s hard to imagine why any farmer would apply fertilizer only to see it flow off the field. However, many farmers — some probably unknowingly — do just that.

It’s time to stop this practice, to protect both the pocketbook and soil and water health.… Continue reading

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ODA Director Appoints Top Administrators

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director James   Zehringer today announced several new appointments to  the department’s senior management team: Frederick M. Shimp, assistant director; Rocky Black, deputy director; Andy Ware, communications director; Thomas A. Johnston, chief financial officer; and Erica M. Pitchford, public information officer.

Shimp will oversee the department’s day-to-day regulatory operations and laboratories, in addition to the department’s policies and procedures. Prior to his new appointment, Shimp served as district director for Congressman Jim Jordan. He was also a former deputy director and legislative liaison for the Department of Agriculture under the Voinovich and Taft administrations. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at The Ohio State University.

Black’s responsibilities include overseeing the department’s legislative efforts, and shaping department policy. He will have a special focus on promoting agribusiness opportunities. Black brings 23 years of public and private sector government affairs experience to the department. He is a former senior advisor on governmental issues for the Ohio Soybean Association, senior director for government affairs for the Ohio Farm Bureau and was a co-owner of Public Policy Solutions, LLC.… Continue reading

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Ohio 2010 corn and soybean yields down from 2009

Ohio’s 2010 average corn yield is estimated at 163 bushels per acre, down 2 bushels from the November forecast, and down 11 bushels from the previous year. Producers harvested 3.27 million acres for grain this past year, compared to 3.14 million acres in 2009. Total State production of 533.0 million bushels is 2% below the 2009 total.

Acreage harvested for silage is estimated at 140,000 acres, down 30,000 acres from the previous year. The average silage yield is estimated at 17.0 tons per acre.

Ohio’s average soybean yield for 2010 is estimated at 48 bushels per acre, unchanged from the November forecast. Growers harvested 4.59 million acres of soybeans in 2010 from the estimated 4.60 million acres planted. Total soybean production is estimated at 220.3 million bushels, down 1% from the 222.0 million bushels produced in 2009.

Alfalfa yields averaged 3.30 tons of dry hay per acre in 2010, while all Other hay averaged 2.20 tons per acre.… Continue reading

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Advanced Biological Marketing Announces iGET™ Technology

Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) announces the next generation in seed treatments: iGET™ (Induced Gene Expression Triggers). The technology, now formulated into several new products for ABM, alters plant gene expression to change plant physiology and enhance biochemical pathways that will increase crop performance.

The technology, based on three decades of research at Cornell University and other international biological research programs, provides multifunctional and crop specific blends of beneficial strains of Trichoderma microbials.

“These changes are systemic,” Marty Robinson, Ag Division President, says, “so that root colonization by the seed treatment can affect the physiology of the whole plant, even the foliar or leaf biology. It will enhance the uptake of water, nutrients, especially nitrogen, and subsequent nutrient metabolism.”

ABM offers iGET products for corn, soybeans and wheat that can create bigger root systems and plant growth and increase yields. SabrEx™ Root Inoculant for Corn (TreatYourCorn.com) has the benefits of iGET Technology, with a typical yield response of 10 bushels per acre.… Continue reading

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Water quality, fuzzy math and the EPA

by Matt Reese

Yeeeeikes! We just got our heating bill and, although we have been setting our thermostat lower and lower in the last couple of years, it has been getting higher and higher. At the same time, unleaded fuel has been on a steady climb in the last few weeks and many people are still suffering from unemployment and an income that is going the wrong direction.

With so many numbers in our lives, wouldn’t things be easier if we could just fudge them one way or the other to get a more desirable outcome? Of course, no one can do that, except, apparently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It is the job of the EPA to regulate, and the fine folks at the Agency in the current Administration seem to particularly love their work. In their quest to further regulate water quality through the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) permitting process, it seems that the EPA is working with numbers that favor their favorite pastime.… Continue reading

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Farmland values on the rise

Much of the U.S. economy has been slow to recover from the recession. That hasn’t been true of farmland markets, which have continued to climb, a group of Purdue University agricultural economists said.

Strong crop returns, very low interest rates and a growing expectation that both might continue have had a positive influence on farmland values, said Mike Boehlje, Chris Hurt and Brent Gloy.

“Even while some residential and commercial real estate values have been falling, that has not been the case for farm real estate,” Boehlje said. “Instead, we’ve seen some high prices for farmland in recent months, even exceeding $10,000 an acre in some extreme cases.”

Boehlje, Hurt, Gloy and fellow Purdue agricultural economist Craig Dobbins examine farmland value dynamics in their paper “Farmland Values: Current and Future Prospects.” The paper can be viewed online by going to http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/commercialag/progevents/landvalueswebinar.html and then clicking on the link.

Farmland values have risen steadily since 1987 but have shot up in recent years.… Continue reading

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Corn and Soybean Day

The annual Corn and Soybean Day from Ohio State University Extension will take place Jan. 27 in Archbold, Ohio (near the Indiana and Michigan borders) and will be packed with all the information you need to know to get off to a good start in the upcoming 2011 production season.

Sponsored by OSU Extension’s Maumee Valley Extension, Education and Research Area, the program will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and will be held at Founder’s Hall at Sauder Village, 22611 State Rt. 2, Archbold.

Cost is $20 with registration postmarked by Jan. 18, or $30 at the door. Download the registration form at http://go.osu.edu/Bdu or contact the Fulton County office of OSU Extension at 419-337-9210. Registration and check payable to OSU Extension can be mailed to OSU Extension Fulton County, 870 St. Rt. 108, Suite A, Wauseon, OH 43567.

Topics for the day include:

* “What is going on with the weather and what to expect for 2011,” Jim Noel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Ohio River Forecast Center.… Continue reading

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DEKALB scholarship

Applications are now being accepted for the  DEKALB Ag Youth Scholarship program, which will provide $2,500 awards to 10 students in 2011 in recognition of their commitment to agriculture.

“We are excited to once again sponsor the DEKALB Ag Youth Scholarship for the fifth straight year,” said DEKALB Marketing Manager Jason Hoag. “DEKALB has a strong history of investing in ag youth education by sponsoring a variety of scholarships and awards.”

This particular award is available to both high school and collegiate students who plan to pursue an agriculture-related degree and who have demonstrated strong leadership skills and community involvement.  It has already made a difference fordozens of students since 2007.

“The scholarship has helped me get the best education I can,” said 2010 DEKALB Ag Youth Scholarship winner Chelsea Ahlquist, 18, of Onaga, Kan., who is working toward an agronomy degree at Kansas State University.  “I’m really excited for the opportunity at Kansas State to pursue a career in crop development.”

Ohio FFA District 1 President Mike Hannewald of Waterville, 19, was another 2010 recipient. … Continue reading

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NSR reports litter recordings trend up in 2010

Accumulative litter recordings for the National Swine Registry in 2010 were up over 2009 totals, the National Swine Registry announced.

“This improvement halts a trend of slight decreases over the past several years, and is a positive sign for the purebred swine industry and our member-based organization,” Darrell Anderson, NSR CEO.

A total of 27,712 litters were recorded for the four breeds of Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace and Yorkshire in 2010, with Duroc and Landrace litter registrations accounting for the boost. Both were up significantly, with Landrace recordings reflecting a 10% increase over 2009. Although down slightly compared to 2009, the Yorkshire breed still remains number one in total recordings with 11,846 litters cataloged in 2010. Yorkshire registrations have shown tenacity over time — dropping by only 522 litters since 1999 registrations.

Total litter recordings for all eight breeds in the National Association of Swine Records, which include the NSR breeds along with Berkshire, Chester White, Poland China, and Spotted, were also up in 2010, showing a 4.2% increase over 2009.… Continue reading

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Crop acreage will likely increase in 2011

Corn, soybean, wheat and cotton prices are at the highest levels in years which implies there will be more crop acreage in 2011, according to Gerald Bange, chairman of the Agriculture Department’s World Agricultural Outlook Board.

In a crops outlook report delivered at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 92nd annual meeting, Bange said as much as 10 million more acres could move into crop production this year.

“We won’t know until we get the planting intentions report. It won’t be until June until we know for sure,” Bange said.

Strong prices and strong demand for cotton should mean more acreage will be devoted to that crop, according to Bange, but it is still uncertain what kind of increases are seen for corn and soybeans.

High prices and very low stocks for corn should mean more corn acreage in 2011, but Bange said indicators right now are actually pointing to more soybean acres.… Continue reading

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Beck’s Hybrids to host 52 winter grower meetings

Beck’s Hybrids will host 52 grower meetings across Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan throughout January and February. The meetings will summarize key topics and findings from Beck’s 2010 Practical Farm Research, as well as discuss long-term management procedures.

PFR is focused with the farmer in mind and provides a comprehensive look at how different practices and new technologies perform in field environments. In 2010, Beck’s conducted more than 65 different studies across multiple locations.

“This year we’re bringing growers a very unique, visual presentation that focuses on the question…”If corn could talk, what would it say?,” said Scott Beck, Vice President at Beck’s Hybrids. “We’ll take growers through the corn plants growth stages and highlight practices that will ultimately increase their yield and bottom-line.”

Key topics to be addressed include timing of nitrogen, the importance of early season protection, the effects of fungicides, and post harvest residue management. For a complete list of meeting dates, times and to register, visit www.beckshybrids.com or call 800.937.2325.… Continue reading

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New food safety regulation signed into law

In early January, President Barack Obama signed into law new food safety regulations that are the most dramatic changes to American food safety practices in over 70 years.

“The Food Safety bill will provide the Federal Government with improved tools to prevent foodborne illness and address challenges in the food safety system by promoting a prevention-oriented approach,” said Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary. “Protecting consumers from harm is a fundamental function of government and with passage of this landmark food safety legislation, USDA remains committed to keeping food safety a top priority.”

The changes have generated some concerns within the agricultural industry, however. “Food safety knows no size, and exempting some small producers and processors from the legislation, as the Tester/Hagan amendment will do, sets a dangerous precedent for the future our nation’s food safety system. Instead of including the Tester/Hagan language, Congress should have passed legislation to set appropriate standards for all products in the marketplace, no matter the size of the producing entity,” said Kristina Butts, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) executive director of legislative affairs.… Continue reading

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