REYNOLDSBURG — The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced that nine land trusts, four counties, one township, and 11 Soil and Water Conservation Districts will receive funding to help preserve farmland across the state.
These organizations will receive allocations from the Clean Ohio Fund to select, close, and monitor easements under the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).
LAEPP sponsor organizations will accept applications from Ohio landowners interested in selling an agricultural easement on their farms. A total of $8 million will be made available in this funding round. Local sponsors have been certified to accept applications in 58 counties, and interested landowners should contact the certified local sponsor in their county for application details.
The program allows landowners to voluntarily sell easements on their farms to the state of Ohio. The easement requires the farm remain permanently in agriculture production. Selected farms must be 40 acres or more, actively engaged in farming, participate in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program, demonstrate good stewardship of the land, have the support of their local government, and not lay directly in the path of development. Landowners may use the proceeds of the easement in any way they wish, but most reinvest it in their farm operations.
Funding for the program is derived from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, approved by voters in 2008. When combined with easements from all programs, 380 family farms in 55 counties have collectively preserved more than 63,000 acres in agricultural production.
For more information on Ohio’s farmland preservation effort visit: http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/FarmLand/.
VW independent/submitted information
ROCKFORD — The Van Wert Soil & Water Conservation District hosted a Field Day on Tuesday to highlight the installation of a blind inlet and a waterway on land belonging to Darrell Ricketts at 8847 Van Wert Mercer County Line Road near Rockford.
The blind inlet, being installed through the Lake Erie Nutrient Reduction Program, is being used to improve water quality and agricultural production by reducing nutrient runoff and controlling water levels in fields after harvest and during the growing season, ultimately enhancing production.
Blind inlets are placed in the lowest point of farmed depressions to minimize the amount of sediment and potentially other contaminants that would be transported to receiving ditches or streams.
Another benefit to the farmer using a blind inlet is the ability to drive equipment over the inlet, as opposed to having to drive around a standard tile riser.
Several people also spoke at the field day, including Mark Segar, Ohio Department of Agriculture, engineer; Craig Higbie, SWCD technician, and Ricketts.
VW independent/submitted information
Pollinator species are experiencing population declines across the United States. In particular, the monarch butterfly has drastically declined here in Ohio and in the wintering grounds of Mexico. In response to this decline, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and other partners have created the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) to educate the public and help create beneficial habitat to pollinators such as the monarch butterfly. OPHI formed after the 2014 petition to list the monarch as federally endangered or threatened. The group’s primary focus is to find opportunities and other partners to assist in the efforts to create habitat.
To help foster creation of habitat for the monarch butterfly, OPHI, in cooperation with Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts, is organizing a statewide milkweed pod collection this year, starting September 1 and ending October 30. Milkweed is essential to the survival of monarch butterflies in Ohio and Ohio is a priority area for monarchs.
Monarch butterflies that hatch here in the summer migrate to Mexico for the winter and are responsible for starting the life cycle all over again in the spring. During September and October, everyone is encouraged to collect milkweed pods from established plants and drop them off at the nearest pod collection station located at the Van Wert SWCD office, 1185 Professional Drive in Van Wert. Any questions about the collection can directed to the SWCD at 419.238.9591.
To collect the seedpods from a milkweed plant it is best to pick them when the seed inside is brown. Do not collect pods when seeds are white or cream colored. If the center seam of the pods pop with gentle pressure, they can be picked.
It is best to collect pods in paper bags or paper grocery sacks. Avoid using plastic bags because they attract moisture. Store seeds in a cool, dry area until they can be delivered to the closest pod collection area. Harvesting pods from milkweed plants does not have any effect on the population of milkweed in established areas. All milkweed pods collected during this time will be processed by OPHI partners and all of the seed collected will be used to establish new plantings and create additional habitat for the monarch butterfly throughout Ohio.
COLUMBUS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Ohio has announced that dairy producers can enroll for 2017 coverage in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) starting July 1.
The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin — the difference between the price of milk and feed costs — falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.
The Margin Protection Program gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment begins July 1 and ends on September 30 for coverage in calendar year 2017. Participating farmers will remain in the program through 2018 and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee each year. Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year.
USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage needs, based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, Smartphone or tablet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To complete enrollment, producers must make coverage elections during the enrollment period and pay the annual $100 administrative fee that provides basic catastrophic protection that covers 90 percent of milk production at a $4 margin coverage level.
For additional premiums, operations can protect 25 to 90 percent of production history with margin coverage levels from $4.50 to $8, in 50-cent increments. Once enrolled, dairy operations are required to participate through 2018 by making coverage elections each year. Producers can mail the appropriate form to the producer’s administrative county FSA office, along with applicable fees without necessitating a trip to the local FSA office. If electing higher coverage for 2017, dairy producers can either pay the premium in full at the time of enrollment or pay 100 percent of the premium by September 1, 2017. Premium fees may be paid directly to FSA or producers can work with their milk handlers to remit premiums on their behalf.
Also beginning July 1, FSA will begin accepting applications for intergenerational transfers, allowing program participants who added an adult child, grandchild or spouse to the operation during calendar year 2014 or 2015, or between January 1 and June 30, to increase production history by the new cows bought into the operation by the new family members. For intergenerational transfers occurring on or after July 1 notification to FSA must be made within 60 days of purchasing the additional cows.
Dairy operations enrolling in the new program must meet conservation compliance provisions and cannot participate in the Livestock Gross Margin Dairy Insurance Program.
For more information, visit FSA online at www.fsa.usda.gov/dairy or stop by a local FSA office to learn more about the Margin Protection Program. To find a local FSA office in the Van Wert County area, visit http://offices.usda.gov.
VW independent/submitted information
COLUMBUS — This past Saturday, The Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences celebrated the achievements of those who have enhanced student education and enriched the animal sciences industry through the annual Evening of Excellence program at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center.
This year, the Department inducted Terry Wehrkamp, director of live production for Cooper Farms and an industry leader, into the Animal Science Hall of Fame. Recipients of the Animal Science Hall of Fame recognition are not only honored for their individual success but also their commitment to their family, local community, and the broader realm of the animal industries.
Wehrkamp earned his induction into the Hall of Fame through his continued leadership in the agricultural community and support of the next generation of animal scientists.
“Terry is very deserving of this honor,” said Dr. Henry Zerby, chair of the OSU Department of Animal Sciences. “His actions and contributions in supporting the continued development of Cooper Farms and the agricultural industry in general make him a role model and a leader for many of us to follow.”
Wehrkamp grew up in Smithville and went on to graduate from OSU in 1982. In 1985, he joined the team at Cooper Farms after working for Foster Farms in California.
Wehrkamp has been a leader in the industry and at Cooper Farms as the director of live production for the company’s turkeys, hogs and chickens, where he manages the teams caring for all three species and the feed production. In his time at Cooper Farms, the company has seen tremendous growth in all areas, has evolved into one of the largest vertically integrated turkey, swine and egg producing companies in the U.S.
VW independent/submitted information
Wortman Family Farm is donating one healthy, high quality market hog to one Van Wert County Junior Fair member.
The selected recipient will be required to raise the market hog and exhibit it at the Van Wert County Fair. Wortman Family Farm representatives will be available for help and guidance throughout the summer, but not financially responsible for the care of the animal. This program is designed to let interested youths learn and grow through raising a quality market livestock project.
Those interested should fill out an application and turn it in to the Ohio State University Extension-Van Wert County Office no later than Friday, April 8.
Go to the Extension-Van Wert website at http://go.osu.edu/vwfair and scroll to the bottom for an application and full rules of the program. Applications are also available at the OSU Extension Office, 1055 S. Washington St. in Van Wert. The program is open to both FFA and 4-H members.