The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

VW independent/submitted information

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced that USDA is hosting a listening session for initial input on the 2018 Farm Bill. 

USDA is seeking public input on the changes to existing programs implemented by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Each agency will take into account stakeholder input when making discretionary decisions on program implementation.

“The 2018 Farm Bill is intended to provide support, certainty and stability to our Nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs, and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation,” said Under Secretary Northey. “We are seeking input from stakeholders on how USDA can streamline and improve program delivery while also enhancing customer service.” 

The listening session will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, February 26, in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., in Washington, D.C. 

The listening session is open to the public. Participants must register at farmers.gov/farmbill by February 22 to attend the listening session and are encouraged to provide written comments prior to the listening session. For those orally presenting comments at the listening session, written comments are encouraged to be submitted to regulations.gov by February 22. Additional written comments will be accepted through March 1. Comments received will be publicly available on www.regulations.gov.

“Truly this is a Farm Bill that improves farm safety net programs, protects federal crop insurance, and preserves strong rural development and research initiatives. At USDA we are eager to hear from our stakeholders on policy recommendations, so we can start working on implementing these important Farm Bill provisions,” said Northey.

For more information on the listening session visit  farmers.gov/farmbill.

POSTED: 02/19/19 at 8:35 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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COLUMBUS — Carl Link, live production manager at Cooper Farms, was the recipient of a prestigious honor at The Ohio Pork Council’s annual awards luncheon on February 13. 

Carl Link (right) is presented a plaque by Dave Shoup of the Ohio Pork Council. photo provided

The OPC Service Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates outstanding commitment and contribution to the pork industry. Link has served the Ohio pork industry at the local, state, and national levels, including service on the 15-member National Pork Board. 

Ohio Pork Council Executive Vice President Bryan Humphreys said he believes Link personifies this award, while being the recipient was a long time coming.

“The OPC Service Award is presented to someone who has spent a lifetime giving back to the pork industry, and Carl Link is overdue for years of dedication,” he said, “not only promoting pork, but serving the industry as a whole through producers and growers.” 

Link has been with Cooper Farms for an astounding 50 years, beginning his career at St. Clair Mills before it became Cooper Farms in 1976.

Link is currently transitioning into a part-time role as he moves closer to a much-deserved retirement.

POSTED: 02/16/19 at 9:16 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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OAKWOOD — Cooper Farms has released a video series on hog farming and environmental care on the company’s social media platforms and YouTube.

As Cooper Farms continues to grow and builds relationships in new areas, the videos will serve as a way for the company to introduce itself, explain what it does and the opportunities it offers people to be contract growers.

“We’re growing. We’re always getting new neighbors and we want to be clear to those people, and with those who already know us, about what it is we do,” said Director of Live Production Terry Wehrkamp.

Cooper Farms partners with local family farms to raise animals. These videos will show the procedures the company follows to have the least possible impact on the environment, and especially, the neighboring communities.

“We have a reputation of being good neighbors,” said Wehrkamp. “It’s not just something we say, it’s something we do. We want to be transparent with our neighbors and show them that we want to do things the right way.”

Cooper Farms uses a very intricate process when it comes to choosing not only its sites for new barns, but the type of quality leaders necessary to run them.

“When we enter into a partnership with a grower, it’s a decades-long partnership,” said Wehrkamp. “Because of that, we put a lot of effort into getting to know each other up front and getting to know the management style of that farmer.”

The first video, “Becoming a Cooper Farms Grower,” has now been released on social media and YouTube, with an additional installment released per month through April 2019.

POSTED: 12/06/18 at 4:22 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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COLUMBUS — Ohio farmers could lose more than half of their annual net income if the threatened 25 percent tariff is imposed on U.S. soybeans and corn in China, a study from The Ohio State University has found.

Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have projected a 59 percent loss in annual net farm income based on historical trends in yields on corn and soybeans and projections for price drops in both commodities.

For the study, the researchers compiled data from six Ohio corn and soybean farms of similar size and created a representative Ohio farm comprised of 1,100 acres split evenly between corn and soybeans. They used the representative farm to determine the financial toll a tariff could take on an Ohio farm.

Net annual income on that representative Ohio farm was projected to drop from $63,577 to $26,107 under the proposed tariff, according to the study performed by Ben Brown, manager of CFAES’s farm management program, and Ian Sheldon, an agricultural economist who serves as the Andersons Chair in Agricultural Marketing, Trade, and Policy in CFAES.

Across Ohio, the loss of soybean exports to China would be an estimated $241 million annually.

The study is the first to show the financial impact a 25 percent tariff on China’s imports of U.S. soybeans and corn could have on an Ohio farmer and on the entire state.

“There are farmers who are struggling across the state,” Brown said. “If the proposed tariffs go into effect, we’re going to have farmers who will have to exit the industry.”

The financial losses stem from an expected drop in Chinese demand for U.S. soybeans and corn and in the world price for both crops.

“The biggest impact will be on profits from soybeans, however corn is affected too,” Brown said.

Soybeans are Ohio’s largest crop and the state’s top agricultural export. In April, China announced it would impose a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, corn and over 100 other American products. That was in response to the tariffs that the administration proposed on a range of Chinese imports valued at $50 billion.

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POSTED: 06/20/18 at 7:01 am. FILED UNDER: Farm, News

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FOSTORIA — AgCredit — one of northern Ohio’s largest lenders for farmers, rural homeowners, and agribusiness — is pleased to announce the formation of the AgCredit Mission Fund.

The Mission Fund will fund AgCredit’s Joe Leiser college scholarship program, along with grants to organizations that meet the objective and focus of the fund. The grants will operate on an application-based system within the following four focus areas.

  • Education — Educating young, beginning or future farmers
  • Environment — Maintaining or improving the quality of the rural environment
  • Technology — Supporting the advancement and utilization of technology for the benefit of farmers and rural communities
  • Quality of Rural Life — Programs, projects, or initiatives that enhance the quality of life for farmers and rural communities

Organizations may apply for grants up to $15,000 per year. Beginning this year, grant applications will be accepted annually from March 1 to August 31. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee comprised of AgCredit directors, employees and members. Grants will be awarded by December 31.

“The AgCredit Mission Fund allows us an opportunity to invest in the future of agriculture and positively impact the quality of life in rural Ohio,” says Brian Ricker, AgCredit president and CEO.“We are very excited to form this fund and are thankful to our board for helping to set it up.”

Priority for grants will be given to purposes benefitting the eighteen county AgCredit geographic area and secondarily to other counties in Ohio. For more information and to apply, visit www.AgCredit.net.

POSTED: 04/21/18 at 6:47 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

VW independent/submitted information

FOSTORIA — AgCredit, one of northern Ohio’s largest lenders for farmers, rural homeowners, and agribusiness, recently declared a patronage refund of 30.03 percent for 2017, resulting in $24.1 million refunded to its member borrowers.

This patronage payment provides a refund to the lending cooperative’s shareholders of 30 cents for every dollar they accrued in interest on their loans over the past year. The patronage refund is the equivalent of 1.53 percent net savings on interest.

A large display check shows the amount of patronage money AgCredit disbursed in April. photo provided

Over the past five years, AgCredit has averaged a 30.36 percent patronage refund rate and has paid patronage refunds for 31 consecutive years. During this time, it has distributed more than $270 million to its borrowers.

Earnings for 2017 were $57 million. AgCredit’s year-end numbers reflected a 4.63 percent growth rate and $83 million increase as loan volume increased from $1.796 billion to $1.879 billion.

AgCredit CEO and President Brian Ricker shared and reviewed information about the co-op’s financial status with approximately 500 members and guests who attended its annual meeting on April 10 at Meadowbrook Park in Bascom.

“Returning value to our members by sharing our profits is a key objective for our cooperative,” Ricker said. “Returning over 30 cents on every dollar of interest on a loan provides a significant boost to our members — especially during a time when many are experiencing lower incomes and higher expenses.”

Even with historically high asset quality levels the cooperative lending association continues to mitigate credit risk as a preferred lender working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency’s guarantee program. Nearly 29 percent of AgCredit’s loan volume is secured through this program, which allows it to capitalize growth by using it as an effective capital leveraging tool to enhance credit quality and credit risk.

AgCredit is a member of the Farm Credit System, which was established by Congress more than 100 years ago. For additional information, visit www.AgCredit.net.

POSTED: 04/12/18 at 7:43 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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COLUMBUS — Soybeans have now been added to the list of American products slated for tariffs in China, a move expected to hurt Ohio farmers in a state whose main crop and agricultural export is soybeans.

China is Ohio’s most important soybean export market, so a tariff on American soybeans likely would drive down crop demand and the price Ohio farmers receive for the crop, said Ian Sheldon, an agricultural economist, who serves as the Andersons Chair in Agricultural Marketing, Trade, and Policy with The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“I knew it was coming,” Sheldon said. “This is obviously going to hurt farmers.”

In 2016, soybeans were Ohio’s largest agricultural export, totaling $1.4 million. Nearly half of what was exported (40 percent) went to China, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The demand for U.S. soybeans in China has been strong in recent years, fueled by the growing demand for meat in the Chinese diet and soybean meal to feed those livestock. Ohio is ranked sixth in the nation for soybean production.

It’s unclear if or when China will follow through on the threat of 25 percent tariffs on American soybeans in China, Sheldon noted. But if the country does follow through, and American soybean prices in China go up, other countries could step up to supply more soybeans to China, and they could be sold cheaper without the tariffs.

In the long term, that could cause the United States to permanently lose a significant share of the soybean market, he added.

“U.S. farmers may not be able to grab that market share back,” Sheldon said.

Across the United States, about one in every three rows of soybeans grown is exported to China, said Ben Brown, who runs the CFAES’s farm management program, which provides farm policy and market information to Ohio farmers and others. A 25 percent tariff on American soybeans in China would change that ratio to one out of every five soybeans rows grown going to China, he added.

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POSTED: 04/05/18 at 7:12 am. FILED UNDER: Farm, News

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FOSTORIA — AgCredit, one of northern Ohio’s largest lenders for farmers, rural homeowners, and agribusiness, recently declared a patronage refund of 24.57 percent for 2016 that results in $18.4 million being refunded to its member borrowers.

The patronage payment will provide a refund to the lending cooperative’s shareholders of 24 cents for every dollar they accrued in interest on their loans for the past year. The patronage refund is the equivalent of 1.21 percent net savings on interest.

Brian Ricker shares AgCredit's financial report. (photo submitted)

Brian Ricker shares AgCredit’s financial report. (photo submitted)

Over the past five years, AgCredit has averaged a 29.43 percent patronage refund rate and has paid patronage refunds for 30 consecutive years. During this time, it has distributed more than $246 million to its borrowers.

Earnings for 2016 were $49.6 million. AgCredit’s year-end numbers reflected a 4.66 percent growth rate and $80 million increase, as loan volume increased from $1.716 billion to $1.796 billion.

“Though our business continues to perform very well, due to the cyclical nature of agriculture, we are seeing an increasing number of farm operations being negatively impacted by lower net margins,” said AgCredit President and CEO Brian Ricker, who shared the co-op’s financial information with approximately 500 members and guests who attended its annual meeting April 12. “Many operations will need time to adjust to the lower margins. Even with the challenges facing agriculture, our mission to serve agriculture and our rural communities has never been stronger.”

lEven with historically high asset quality levels the cooperative lending association continues to mitigate credit risk as a preferred lender working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency’s guarantee program.

Nearly 30 percent of AgCredit’s loan volume is secured through this program which allows it to capitalize growth by using it as an effective capital leveraging tool to enhance credit quality and credit risk.

AgCredit is a member of the Farm Credit System, which was established by Congress more than 100 years ago. For additional information, visit www.AgCredit.net.

POSTED: 04/17/17 at 7:18 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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COLUMBUS — State Representative Craig Riedel and State Senator Cliff Hite met this past week with representatives of the Van Wert County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) at the recent annual “Conservation Partnership Meeting” held in downtown Columbus.

Ohio Senator Cliff Hite (right) poses with Van Wert SWCD staff members. (photos submitted)

Ohio Senator Cliff Hite (right) poses with Van Wert SWCD staff members. (photos submitted)

More than 650 conservation leaders consisting of supervisors and staff from Ohio’s 88 SWCDs, partners representing the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Ohio Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts employees, Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), The Ohio State University, and many others were on hand during the two-day event centered around the theme “All-In for Conservation.”

The meeting challenged attendees to identify and strengthen their commitment to conservation as each work to positively impact Ohio’s economy, environment, and future. Meeting participants networked, participated in thought-provoking workshops and breakout sessions, heard from key speakers, including leadership speaker Randy Frazier; Jim Richardson from National Geographic magazine; USDA NRCS Regional Conservationist Gayle Berry from Washington, D.C.; ODA Director David Daniels; and State Senator Bob Peterson.

During a special event held in the Statehouse Rotunda, the districts met with state legislators.

“We appreciate Representative Riedel and Senator Hite for taking the time to meet and hear how SWCDs are positively impacting our local communities through a variety of programs and projects aimed to increase the economy while advancing conservation stewardship,” said Dave Kemler, vice chair of the SWCD Board.

Rep. Riedel with VW SWCD staff 3-2017

State Representative Craig Riedel (center) poses with Van Wert SWCD staff members.

POSTED: 03/03/17 at 8:55 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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The Ohio State University Extension has four Nutrient Management Plan writers working to assist farmers in developing free Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) of Ohio.

Plans provide both fertility recommendations and an environmental site risk for fields that help identify resource concerns impacting nutrient and sediment loss. The Extension has been able to do 33 plans with 17,877 acres in Allen, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams, and Wood counties in Ohio and Lenawee County, Michigan.

OSU Extension logo 4-2009NMP Writers will be on hand in most counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin on select days this winter to work with producers on preparing a free NMP or CNMP. Writers will work with any grain/vegetable/crop producers, and/or non-CAFO livestock producers that have the following information available:

  • Soil tests from no later than 2014 in less than 25-acre zones (printed or electronic copies that can be saved)
  • Complete farm maps and/or FSA maps (printed or electronic copies that can be saved)
  • Fertilizer program, complete with amounts and N-P-K products
  • Implement details and information, and operation timelines
  • Crop rotations and yield goals for 2016-2022
  • Water locations in operation, artificial drainage practices, and type of surface drainage
  • Manure: storage capacity, acres to spread on, number of animals, feed information
  • NRCS EQIP program information (if planning to apply, or already applied)

NMP writers will be in Van Wert County from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, February 21, or Wednesday, March 8, at the OSU Extension office on the Van Wert County Fairgrounds, 1055 S. Washington St. in Van Wert.

The Western Lake Erie Basin also covers small parts of Shelby, Marion, Richland, and Huron counties, as well as the north half of Mercer County. Those who reside in one of those areas and would like a plan, should visit a neighboring county’s program day. Farmers are welcomed at any county program, regardless of their county of residence. Plan at least one hour for meetings.

Farmers can RSVP by contacting Jessie Schulze at 419.782.4771 or schulze.72@osu.edu and provide name, county, phone number, date, and morning or afternoon for arrival. The Extension Service will accept farmers on a first come, first served basis in the morning (9 a.m.-noon) and afternoon (noon-3 p.m.). Questions can also be addressed per contact information above or visit go.osu.edu/nutrientplanners.

POSTED: 02/20/17 at 8:50 am. FILED UNDER: Farm, News