Last updated: February 25. 2014 12:42AM - 268 Views
By Jerry Mahan

Jerry Mahan | Xenia GazetteDave Wolodkiewicz (left) receiving the Farm Forum “Cow Bell” as its' new president from past president Paul Ayres.
Jerry Mahan | Xenia GazetteDave Wolodkiewicz (left) receiving the Farm Forum “Cow Bell” as its' new president from past president Paul Ayres.
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The Greene Soil and Water Office (GSWCD) will be taking orders for tree packets for April delivery through March 3.There are several tree packets to choose from including wildlife, songbird, conifer, shrub, deciduous and transplants. Packets range in price from $14-$30 depending on type of trees ordered.

Contact GSWCD Office for details at 937-372-4478 or log on to their website at www.co.greene.oh.us/soils.

Ag has two sides

The last five years has seen a remarkable growth in the agriculture economy like no other in recent years. The grain markets for corn, soybeans and wheat have increased dramatically and that has resulted in higher cash rent prices as well as land prices. The animal sector of agriculture has suffered most because of high grain prices which go into feeding livestock.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Ohio farmland prices have increased 46 percent since 2009. For SW Ohio including Greene County this means farmland prices of $7000 acre or more according to Barry Ward OSU Ag. Economist.

Another casualty of the increase in land values is the challenge facing young people wanting to get into farming. For many who want to farm this means inheriting the land from relatives, marring into a farming operation, or starting small by cash renting a few acres and working your way up to a larger size operation which in many cases will take several years as well as working off the farm to help support the family. In other cases this has meant beginning farmers getting into niche operations involving fruits, vegetables or organically grown crops.

The age of farmers continues to go up with the current average age of a farmer at 57.1 years as of 2007. Who will replace these operators when they retire or will farms just get bigger?

Are there other avenues a beginning farmer can take to get into farming? Low interest loans are available through agencies like the USDA Farm Service Agency (www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/) which administers low interest loans to beginning farmers as well as youth enrolled in 4-H or FFA. Locally the Farm Service Agency is located at 1363 Burnette Drive in Xenia in the industrial park (phone: 937-372-4477). Once on the website scroll down to “Farm Loans” for more details.

The Farm Credit Services of Mid-America (www.e-farmcredit.com) is another source of loans. Once on the website type in “beginning farmers “in the search box. Their local office is located at: 2241 Troy Road, Springfield, Ohio 45504. Phone 937-399-3638.

Another option rarely used is where a beginning farmer works with a current farmer with an option to buy their way into the farming operation over time. This could entail machinery, livestock or land.

Agriculture Touches All of Us

There are many ways to keep abreast of changes in agriculture but Greene Co. Farm Forum provides a way to do this and be able to talk with others interested in farming and living in the country as well. Farm Forum is similar to a service club but less structured. The organization meets monthly at 6:30 p.m. in the Union United Methodist Church located at 393 Washington Rd. Xenia. The group eats followed by a program of around 45 minutes. Membership cost is $7/year and the meals are $10/person. First time attendees eat free.

Anyone interested in agriculture is welcome (men & women). The purpose of the organization is to promote fellowship among citizens of the area and discuss subjects pertinent to agriculture. Founded in 1937 the organization operates under the direction of OSU Extension Greene Co. For more information contact president Dave Wolodkiewicz at: willowhollow2@gmail.com or past president Paul Ayres at payres1@woh.rr.com; phone: 937-352-6379.Our March 24 meeting deals with honey bees.

Are Children Raised on The Farm Healthier than other Children?

A recent article on the health of children raised on farms caught my eye. Long perpetuated in farm circles is the thought children raised on a farm are healthier than their city cousins. The logic relates to the idea farm children are exposed to more molds, pollen, dust, animals etc. which boosts their immune system. To look at this thought the National Farm Medicine Center and Wisconsin School of Medicine will follow the lives of 200 babies for two years to determine if there are health differences. Half of the babies will be from a farm family while the other half will be from a rural background not living on a farm. The study is funded with $5 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Coyotes and Cats”

OSU wildlife scientist Stan Gehrt has been studying the lives of urban coyotes around the Chicago area for several years. The Chicago area has some of the highest coyote populations recorded and shows coyotes have adapted very well to living in an urban environment. He has captured coyotes over the years and fitted with radio collars to track their movements and found they move unnoticed by most people at night and move in a geographic area to get food, mate and live. All of this happens around highways, office buildings, cars and people.

His latest research deals with lives of feral (wild) cats and coyotes. He has found the two live in the same general areas but the cats tend to stick closer to buildings. Feral cats seem to do well in spite of the fact cats are hunted by coyotes. Domesticated cats living in and outside a home are another story. They lack the survival skills to survive. For more details on Stan Gehrt’s research on the life of a coyote log on to: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/catcoyote.htm. Without doubt coyotes are more common than people think and have adapted to living around us.

=============================================================== Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources and Community Development for Greene County. He can be reached by email at: mahan.2@att.net.

Jerry Mahan



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