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Ohio Ag Department given 8.8% cut in state budget

By Kyle Sharp

Ohio Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer and other Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) leaders discussed their plans to deal with an 8.8% budget cut in the coming year during a conference call held March 15 shortly after Gov. John Kasich announced his “Jobs Budget” proposal.

“We are going to be reduced in our general revenue funds by almost 9%, but we will continue to ensure the consumers of Ohio will have safe food,” Zehringer said. “The Ohio Department of Agriculture is about food, animal and plant safety, and there are a lot of companies in Ohio producing food. The one thing we never want them to do is have a recall or have someone get sick.”

ODA’s budget for Fiscal Year 2012 will be just under $48 million, with slightly more than $14 million of that coming from state General Revenue Funds. Federal funds, laboratory user fees and other sources make up the remainder of the budget.

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How will you celebrate Ohio Ag Week?

By Matt Reese

How will you be celebrating Ohio agriculture week?

Just last week, Governor Kasich signed House Bill 89 designating this week (the second full week of March) Ohio Agriculture Week. HB 89 was passed unanimously by the General Assembly and is intended to increase public recognition of the vitally important role agriculture plays in Ohio.

I will be spending part of the week in Washington DC with the Ohio Farm Bureau on their annual lobbying trip with the county presidents from around the state. My wife and children will be going to a couple of local elementary schools to talk about agriculture on our small farm and in the state of Ohio. They may even be taking one of our sheep with them (which has always proven to be an adventure in the past). In addition, my wife is planning an agriculture activity for our daughter’s class at church. 

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Will Livestock Care Board cave to coercion?

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of “blackmail” is: “to force or coerce into a particular action, statement, etc.” The example given below the definition was, “The strikers claimed they were blackmailed into signing the new contract.”

The example could have just as easily been this gem from Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, following a close vote on veal standards by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB) on March 1 that didn’t go exactly how Pacelle wanted: “There is still time for the Livestock Board to restore its original and proper position. A phase-out of veal crates is a core element of the eight-point animal welfare agreement, and if the Livestock Board guts that provision by allowing calves to be immobilized for more than half of their lives, we will have little choice but to renew the effort for a ballot initiative that we had hoped had been averted through a balanced and forward-looking agreement.”

OK, so the exact term “blackmail” isn’t used in that statement, but the action is certainly implied.

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More from Commodity Classic

By Matt Reese

Maybe it was the harsh winter weather around the country and the welcoming sun of Tampa. Maybe it was the spectacular crop prices and volatile markets. Maybe it was the increasing global politics driving what happens on U.S. farms. Whatever the reason, this year’s joint meeting of the nation’s top corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum organizations at the Commodity Classic set attendance records. There were more than 4,600 in attendance at the event, up from the previous record of 4,532.

This 16th Annual Commodity Classic was packed full of educational sessions on topics such as the new pesticide application permits, crop insurance and sustainability drawing interest from around the country. In addition to the extensive educational opportunities, attendees enjoyed exhibits from more than 220 companies in 870 booths at the trade show amid the busy schedule of meetings, banquets and networking opportunities with other growers. The National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Sorghum Producers and National Association of Wheat Growers once again put on quite a show.

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Flood Damage in Shelby Co.

It seemed liked the storm that would never end. It started around 10:00 pm and didn’t end until 4 am.

It wouldn’t be until daylight though that the consequences of all that rain would be seen. Our basement was alright and, with three sump pumps in their basement, mom and dad said they were holding their own, so everything seemed alright. But with most schools in Shelby and Auglaize Counties on delay because of flooded roads, there was bound to be more to the story.

My mom called and said near Anna, Fertilizer Dealer Supply tanks floated down the road, so my husband I jumped in the truck to survey the area.

We found….

both directions….

FDS manager Woody Woodell said the water was as high at 18″ outside and inside both of their buildings. They sustained quite a bit of damage. Not only did several tanks float down the road, debris over took their parking lot, computers, electronics and any equipment below 18″ was ruined.

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EPA regulations on dust would overstep boundaries

By Kyle Sharp

For the past several years, my brother Scott and I have planted some acreage with oats in August after wheat was harvested from the fields he rents from my dad. The idea came from the work done several years ago by Stan Smith. with Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County, and Bob Hendershot, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state grassland specialist who is also based in Fairfield County, and others who showed that oats planted in this fashion could be harvested for hay in the late fall or grazed over the winter.

We tend to make hay out of them, although the challenge is getting the fields dry enough to mow, rake and bale, along with having enough warm, dry weather to get the oat hay dry enough at all. While we still struggled this past fall with getting the mowed oats dry enough for baling, we had no problem with the field being too wet to drive the tractors through.

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Cooperative efforts for good and mischief

By Matt Reese

I have younger twin brothers who caused more than double the amount of parental consternation as young children through their cooperative efforts. On one occasion, the twins were around four years old and had gone upstairs to bed. My dad heard several strange noises outside and went to investigate. He was somewhat surprised to find a pile of toys, clothes, sheets, shoes, and just about everything else from the twins’ room in a pile below their open window.

As it turns out, the four-year olds, rather than going to sleep, decided it would be fun to work together to remove the screen from their window and throw the contents of their room outside. My concerned parents rushed upstairs to find the mostly empty room and the twins both straining beneath one of their mattresses that was partially shoved into the open window. They discovered early on that a cooperative effort could be very effective.

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Ohio Farmers Union comes back from devastation

By Matt Reese

Ohio Farmers Union is the yin to Ohio Farm Bureau’s yang. They are the voice of the left in the often right-leaning politics of Ohio agriculture. So many times it seems that if Ohio Farm Bureau has a position on something, Ohio Farmers Union (OFU) is just the opposite — often a lone swath of blue amid a sea of Republican red.

This voice of Ohio’s blue-collar farmer, though, was mostly silenced after the OFU’s former Secretary/Treasurer was caught embezzling money from the organization. The bottom fell out for OFU in spring of 2009.

The disaster that followed gave OFU president Roger Wise more than he had bargained for after taking the office of president.

“I got elected in January of 2008 and all of this came out in June of 2009. We discovered some irregularities in accounting and moving the money around. We started to ask questions.

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Insulting Ohio’s small waters

By Mark Wilson

We’ve entered the age of civility. Politicians started off 2011 by tempering their choice of words when criticizing an opponent. House Speaker John Boehner stopped calling the Democrats’ healthcare bill “job killing” and began calling it “job crushing.”

Recently, a senior water quality manager at Ohio EPA tried his hand at civility by saying farmers are “insulting” small waters instead of “polluting” them. Feel better now, farmers? I wouldn’t.

“Small waters” generally refer to watercourses not typically thought of as natural streams. They tend to convey runoff or tile drainage from upland areas of less than 1 square mile. Most people call them ditches, grass waterways or ephemeral streams (streams that carry water only when it rains).

It’s been Ohio EPA’s goal to expand their authority to “small waters” for a long time — essentially since the mid ‘90s when pollution resulting from stacks and pipes (i.e. point sources) became secondary and pollution resulting from man’s use of the land (nonpoint sources) emerged as primary.

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Insulting Ohio's small waters

By Mark Wilson

We’ve entered the age of civility. Politicians started off 2011 by tempering their choice of words when criticizing an opponent. House Speaker John Boehner stopped calling the Democrats’ healthcare bill “job killing” and began calling it “job crushing.”

Recently, a senior water quality manager at Ohio EPA tried his hand at civility by saying farmers are “insulting” small waters instead of “polluting” them. Feel better now, farmers? I wouldn’t.

“Small waters” generally refer to watercourses not typically thought of as natural streams. They tend to convey runoff or tile drainage from upland areas of less than 1 square mile. Most people call them ditches, grass waterways or ephemeral streams (streams that carry water only when it rains).

It’s been Ohio EPA’s goal to expand their authority to “small waters” for a long time — essentially since the mid ‘90s when pollution resulting from stacks and pipes (i.e. point sources) became secondary and pollution resulting from man’s use of the land (nonpoint sources) emerged as primary.

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Farm Credit’s Tom Schlenker retires after 33 years of service


Tom Schlenker, executive vice president of Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, retired on February 15 after 33 years of service.  Schlenker joined the agriculture lending cooperative in 1978. He is widely credited for organizing and leading the organization’s Relationship Management Philosophy program and providing leadership in the launching new products including the Agnition dealer credit program and crop insurance.  Also under his leadership, Schlenker supervised the overall support of a very diverse agriculture market, from agribusiness, to the full- and part-time farmer markets, to rural residents.

Farm Credit President and CEO Donnie Winters said “Tom represented and served the interest of American agriculture and Farm Credit. He consistently modeled the values of integrity, hard work, high performance and dedication to our customers. Because of his contributions, he has helped guide this organization to become the premier lender to farmers and rural America and we appreciate the efforts he has made over the many years.”

Schlenker became the executive vice president after holding a number of positions within the organization including branch manager, vice president of credit, regional vice president and senior vice president.  

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Estimated ACRE coverage levels for 2011

By Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension Educator

Farmers are now into the third year of the 2008 Farm Bill programs. The ability to elect into the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) or to remain in the Direct and Counter Cyclical Program (DCP) will close on June 1, 2011 for this program year. Farmers not currently enrolled in ACRE have until June 1, 2011 to decide if ACRE or DCP might be the better decision for this crop year. However, once a farm has elected ACRE it cannot be switched back to DCP.

The guarantee price for 2011 will be the two year average U.S. cash price from the marketing years for the 2009 and 2010 crops. Using the 2009 actual prices plus the USDA estimated price (from January 12, 2011) for the 2010 crops, the 2011 ACRE price guarantee can be calculated as shown in Table 1. As prices continue to change during the marketing year the 2011 ACRE price guarantee will also change.

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Finally, warmer weather

Though it is still not warm, it is at least warmer.

Following relentless shots of record cold in December, January and now early February, a much-anticipated warm-up is coming to much of the eastern two-thirds of the country over the next week or so.

Temperatures in a few areas are set to jump as much as 90 or 100 degrees from this week’s frigid levels. In the process, much of the nation’s snowcover will be wiped out toward the end of next week.

As of Feb. 10, 2011, roughly 65% of the contiguous U.S. was covered with snow, according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. Also, 49 of 50 states had snow on the ground Thursday and Friday morning. This includes even Hawaii, with some snow atop Mauna Kea. The only state without any snow on the ground was Florida.

AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity expects the warm-up to reduce the nation’s snowcover to about 25% toward the end of next week.

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Former ag secretaries urge approval of trade deal

The Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), which is strongly supported by an ad hoc coalition of U.S. companies and agricultural and food organizations, received a bipartisan endorsement from eight former secretaries of Agriculture.

In a letter to members of Congress, Bob Bergland, John Block, Mike Espy, Dan Glickman, Mike Johanns, John Knebel, Ed Schafer and Clayton Yeutter urged lawmakers to vote to approve the trade pact’s enabling legislation, saying, “it is imperative that the KORUS FTA be implemented as soon as possible.

“The KORUS FTA will offer enormous new opportunities for our products in a market that is large and growing,” added the secretaries, who pointed out that the deal will boost U.S. agricultural goods entering South Korea duty-free to $3 billion from about $14 million now.

“The KORUS FTA is a tremendous deal for the U.S. pork industry and many other industries, and we’re very grateful that eight former Agriculture secretaries support the agreement,” said Sam Carney, a pork producer from Adair, Iowa, and president of the National Pork Producers Council, which is one of the 61 coalition members.

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Marestail lessons from 2010

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension herbicide specialist

We conducted several studies this year that expanded our knowledge on management of marestail (horseweed).  Some of the findings reinforced what we already knew and validated our current recommendations, but we did learn some new things.  It seems as though we are still trying to figure out what the most consistently effective approach is, given that some years even good marestail management programs can fail to provide adequate control.  Among the more general studies of marestail that we always conduct, we conducted the following that had more specific objectives:

1.  Where the marestail population is both ALS- and glyphosate-resistant, is there any point in using residual herbicides in the fall?

The answer in short is – no.  Our research continues to support the fact that chlorimuron (Canopy/Cloak) is the only herbicide that persists long enough into spring to have value when applied in the fall. 

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Corn consumption and tightening supplies

Corn consumption may be progressing too rapidly based on available supplies. Soybean consumption appears to have slowed enough so that further rationing was not required, according to a University of Illinois economist.

“Since that assessment, the cash price of corn in central Illinois has increased by 22 cents and soybean prices are up 25 cents. The higher soybean prices have resulted from a 3% increase in soybean oil prices. The average cash price of soybean meal in central Illinois has declined by $7.70 per ton, or about 2%,” said U of I economist Darrel Good.

Following is an update of the likely pace of consumption. For the 2010-11 marketing year, the USDA projects that 4.9 billion bushels of corn will be used for ethanol production. That is 7.3% more than used in the previous year. Ethanol production during the first five months of the 2010-11 marketing year was 15% larger than during the first five months of the previous year, he said.

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Update from the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force

A conversation with Todd Hesterman, Henry County no-till farmer on the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force

OCJ: Can you provide a little background about the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force?

Todd: In January 2007, in consultation with Heidelberg University, Ohio EPA convened the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force. The goals of the Task Force were: to identify and evaluate potential point and nonpoint sources of phosphorus to Ohio tributaries; determine what practices may have changed since 1995 that could increase DRP loads; examine various aspects of agriculture that might influence the increase in DRP loads; review the possible/probable relationships of the increased DRP loads to the eutrophication problems that have returned to Lake Erie (particularly the western basin); consider the impacts of zebra and quagga mussels in altering the internal cycling of phosphorus in the lake itself; determine if these issues were unique to Lake Erie or occurring on a broader basis; identify research and monitoring needs; and recommend management actions that could be implemented to alleviate current conditions.

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Are you using enough residual herbicide in your herbicide-tolerant corn?

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension herbicide specialist

If you have been growing corn and soybean or advising growers for several decades, it’s possible to remember how the ease of controlling weeds has switched back and forth between the two crops.  There have been periods when control is easier in corn than soybeans (early days of atrazine) and then those when the reverse has been true (early days of Roundup Ready soybeans).  The development of glyphosate resistance issues has resulted in a trend where currently several weeds are more effectively and/or less expensively controlled in corn than in soybeans.  Or as Dickens might have said if he was a weed scientist – “It was the best of times in corn, it was the worst of times in soybeans.”  This is certainly not true for all growers, since some still have great success in Roundup Ready soybeans.  We do believe though however that for several tougher weeds that have developed glyphosate resistance – giant and common ragweed, marestail, and waterhemp – it’s essential to get effective control in corn to reduce the population that has to be managed in soybeans.  

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