Management in Today’s Dairy Economy

by: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR – Tuscarawas County

The dairy economy is extremely difficult today and there is no definitive answer as to when it might improve.  I have talked and sat around the kitchen table with a number of families who are concerned about their situation and future.  Times are not easy and the decisions that need made are difficult and filled with emotion.  While it will not solve the problem, understand you are not alone and most of your peers are facing the same difficult decisions.

There are a number of potential options to consider when analyzing farm financial records and looking at ways to trim expenses.  There is no ‘recipe’ for solving each situation because each farm is unique.  Below are some things I’ve talked with farm families about when exploring options.

Communication – is always important and becomes more critical when finances are tight.  Open communication must occur between and with:

  • Business partners & spouses
  • Lender
  • Veterinarian, nutritionist, suppliers, etc.
  • Items such as new equipment purchases vs. repairing existing equipment, knowing your financial situation, developing a plan to stay or get current with your expenses, are examples of items to communicate.

Present Situation

Start by knowing where you are today.  Regardless of the system you use to track farm income and expenses, analyze the numbers you have.  Do you know your cost of production? Has your farm historically been profitable or have you struggled for a long period of time to be profitable?  What’s holding you back from achieving consistent profitability?  Have you analyzed the profitability of individual enterprises that make up your farm?

Potential Options

Every farm is different and each situation is unique when it comes to evaluating options.  Factors such as the number of cows, number of family and employees, level of milk production, debt, number and type of crop acres, among others, make it impossible to give a ‘recipe’ that will be appropriate for each farm.  Based on my discussions with families, below are thoughts on possible options.

  • Evaluate areas for potential cost savings.
    • Talk to your nutritionist. Ask questions about ration ingredients, their purpose and cost.  Can you remove something from a ration without negatively impacting animal health or milk production?  Can you adjust the dry cow diet or management to reduce expenses without a negative result?
    • Can changes be made in your cropping program? Are you soil testing?  If so, are you following the recommendations?  Lime is sometimes the first crop input to be reduced, but I caution you in doing so.  A pH imbalance can result in poor nutrient uptake and reduced yields.  OSU Extension has conducted a number of on-farm research studies you may find useful when looking to reduce costs.  Consult your OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for more information.
  • Talk to your lender
    • Explain your situation, goals, and ask about options. Can you stretch any of your debt over a longer period?  What is your plan to pay the debt?  How will it cash flow?
  • Sell scrap and/or unused equipment
    • This is a one-time cash infusion that will not help over the long-term.
  • Sell timber/coal/other minerals
    • Selling timber or other resources provides cash for the immediate term, but does little to help in the long-term. In the case of timber, depending upon a number of factors, it may 20 or more years before another harvest can occur.
  • Sell livestock
    • Again, this gives some cash, but you can’t keep selling the cows that are producing milk. However, you should eliminate from the herd those cows that are poor producers, have health issues, are difficult breeders, etc.
  • Sell land
    • Is there some acreage that you don’t need, is poor quality, or doesn’t yield well? Depending upon your level of debt, this may be a viable option worth consideration.  Can you retain enough acres to continue with a different venture?
  • Off farm employment
    • You or your spouse may need to explore potential off farm employment. The extra income can help lessen the burden on the farm and reduce stress.
  • Sell the farm
    • It isn’t what you want to do, but may be your only option.

Consider Implications of Your Decisions

This list of potential options is not exhaustive, but is meant to serve as a starting point for discussion.  Some options may not be viable, while others may be worth giving consideration.  Regardless of the decision you make, keep in mind there may be tax or legal implications for which you must prepare.  Make certain you contact professionals in these areas who can answer questions and provide direction.

Seek  Outside Advice

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  There are plenty of people, including family, clergy, friends, OSU Extension professionals, licensed therapists, and counselors, willing to listen, provide support, and assist you.  The decisions to be made are often filled with much emotion.  While understandable, allowing emotions to drive your decision making can result in poor outcomes.  Seek the advice of an outside party to help you and your family evaluate options and arrive at a decision that best suits everyone.

(Note: This article was originally published in Farm & Dairy on March 16, 2018)






OHIO SMART AGRICULTURE Programs to be held across Ohio in March

OSU Extension would like to invite producers from across Ohio to help plan for the future of Ohio Agriculture by attending one of the OHIO SMART AGRICULTURE programs which will be held across Ohio this March.  The meeting dates are March 5 ( OSU South Centers); March 8 (Clark County); March 14 (Wood County); March 15 (Wayne County); and March 16 (Fairfield County).

This series of meetings are seeking FEEDBACK from Ohio producers and agriculture stakeholders to help identify, design, and deploy strategies to support SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE in Ohio to feed not only the world, but especially our most vulnerable neighbors right here in Ohio.  The goal is an ACTION PLAN for RESILIENT AG.   Please join us to share your views and recommendations at this forum.  Meet and discuss with fellow stakeholders from the agricultural, environmental, food security and health fields about safeguarding agriculture for Ohio’s future.

There is no cost to attend any of these meetings.

 To help to plan for program handouts and refreshments, please RSVP to: Shannon Mott at

More information can be found at:

2018 NE Ohio Living Your Small Farm Dream Conference

The 2018 NE Ohio Living Your Small Farm Dream conference will be held on Saturday, April 7 at the RG Drage Career Center, located at 2800 Richville Drive SW in Massillon Ohio.  The conference provides education and topics of interest for small farm and rural landowners.  Participants will walk away from the conference with knowledge and ideas of how to improve existing enterprises or marketing opportunities.  For those who have some acreage but don’t yet know what to do with it, the conference is an opportunity to consider possibilities, gather information and make contacts.

The 2018 Living Your Small Farm Dream conference offers 26 different breakout sessions divided between five different track topics; Horticulture, Livestock, Marketing, Farm Management and Specialty Crop.  Presenters include OSU Extension specialists, Extension Educators, Business owners, and small farm producers/entrepreneurs.  Conference participants will have the opportunity to attend four different sessions over the course of the four breakout sessions.  The Small Farm conference trade show offers another opportunity to learn and gather information.  The trade show vendors/exhibitors feature goods and services used in small farm operations.  The conference schedule includes time between each breakout session and over an extended noon hour to visit the trade show.

The specialty crop track features sessions on malting barley and hop production to tap into the growing microbrewery businesses.  One session involves a panel discussion with several local microbreweries who will share their stories and use of locally sourced ingredients in their products.  The horticulture track offers sessions on growing grapes, brambles, vegetables, flowers, beekeeping, use of soil amendments, and managing soil health.  The livestock track includes sessions on raising and marketing pasture produced beef and poultry, as well as hay production and Ohio livestock care standards.  The farm management track includes Ag law, business planning, tax issues, farmland renting, health care issues, and creating profitable small farm enterprises.  The marketing track includes a two-hour super session focused on developing on-farm agritourism and agriculture entertainment businesses as well as sessions on how to scale up your small farm business to take advantage of marketing opportunities and a session on developing a distribution system for locally grown foods.

Conference registration/sign-in and the trade show opens at 8:00 am on April 7.  Following some brief conference opening comments at 9:00 am, the first breakout session begins at 9:30 am.  The conference concludes by 4:00 pm.  Conference registration is $60/person or, if attending the Women in Agriculture Conference at the same location on April 6, plus the Small Farm Conference on April 7; $100 for a combined registration.  Student discounts are $30 for attending the small farm conference alone or $50 if attending both the Women in Agriculture and the Small Farm conference. Pre-registration for both the Small Farm conference and the Women in Agriculture conference is due March 23.  On-line registration is available at  A Living the Small Farm Dream conference brochure that lists session topics and presentation times along with a mail-in registration form, and a document with descriptions of all the presentation topics is available at

For more information about the Living Your Small Farm Dream conference contact Rory Lewandowski in the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722, email:; or Emily Adams in the Coshocton County Extension office at 740-622-2265, email: .

Swine Contract Finishing What You Need to Know

by: Garth Ruff-  ANR Educator – OSU Henry County Extension

Napoleon, Ohio — With the new Clemens Food Group packing plant up and running in Coldwater, Michigan there is a need for contract finishing facilities within close proximity to the plant. Northwest and Northcentral Ohio offer tremendous opportunity as Ohio integrators continue to expand their herds in response to the increase in packing capacity. Furthermore, as corn and soy price projections look steady for the foreseeable future, contract swine finishing may be a way to diversify your farming enterprise.

If you have considered or are interested in becoming a contract swine feeder, join OSU Extension on March 1 at the American Legion Annex, 500 Glenwood Avenue, Napoleon. Topics will include barn siting, contract agreements, loan acquisition, manure management, and outlook for the pork industry.

Contact her for Program Flyer

On hand, to present the above topics will be OSU Swine Specialist, Dale Ricker, lenders from AgCredit, Garth Ruff, Henry County Extension Educator, and a panel of Northwest Ohio’s newest swine growers. Plan today to be part of the swine industry tomorrow.


Economic Contribution of Agricultural and Food Production Cluster to Ohio Economy – County Level Analysis


Contributors: Ben Brown, Ryan Brune, Connor Frame, and Megan Ritter

Click here for the entire PDF Article for the County Level Report

In November of 2017, researchers in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics released The Economic Contribution of Agricultural and Food Production to the Ohio Economy report with analysis of Ohio’s entire Agricultural and Food Production Cluster. Details of that report are included, but this serves as a parallel analysis of agriculture to each of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties. Key results match initial assumptions in those counties with large concentrations of equipment manufacturing, professional services and diary & milk production led total economic contribution by the production agriculture subsector. In addition, counties containing relatively high food processing see the largest total sector contributions, and that counties with relatively small populations experience a higher percentage of employers involved in food and agriculture related careers. Large population centers within Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties produced high economic contributions, but had low total population participation in agriculture. Data obtained from IMPLAN, a North Carolina based economic software company, provided the most recent total values, while the North American Industry Classification System was used to determine the percent agriculture contributed to each sector. The IMPLAN model estimates value added for 536 separate subsectors within Ohio’s economy. Unlike the statewide report, these county level calculations do not include the contribution from restaurants and bars. It also includes Farm Inputs, Equipment and Farm Professional Services in the agricultural production subsector.

Key findings in the statewide report: Ohio’s Agricultural and Food Production Cluster plus Restaurant and Bars account for $1 in every $13 of Ohio’s GSP and 1 in 8 jobs in Ohio. Each county differed in these ratios, but as expected large population counties were negatively correlated with small population counties in economic contribution and percentage of workforce involved in agriculture. The total statewide economic value added contribution of the Agricultural and Food Production Cluster minus Restaurants and Bars was $32.5 billion dollars and accounted for a little over 5 percent of the state’s gross state product. Value added being the sum of sales minus input costs for each sector. Example: corn production minus seed, fertilizer, ext. The sector employed 402,874 Ohioans in 2015 and because of purchases outside the cluster; a multiplier of 1.6 was used for every dollar of valued added making the total contribution $53 billion. Multipliers are a way of capturing the money spent within Ohio made from an agricultural sector that is then used to purchase additional products, like household items, into the economic contribution.

Declining commodity prices for corn, soybeans and milk in recent years have lowered the value added contribution of some counties, especially those that have corn, soybeans and milk ranked in the top three subsectors. Other subsectors including fruit and vegetable production have shown an increase to the value added contribution. Along with decreasing commodity prices, increasing productivity due to technology advancements have correlated with a decrease in employment within agriculture and food production. Ohio’s characteristic as a top agriculture producing state remains strong, but external factors like increasing pressure on land values could be seen as a potential challenge for the production agriculture subsector.

The three main divisions of the Agricultural and Food Production Cluster: Agricultural Production, Agricultural and Food Processing and Food Wholesale/Retail are included in Table 1 with subsectors broken out under their respective division. Different from the statewide report is the inclusion of Farm Inputs, Equipment and Professional Services under the division of Agricultural Production instead of an isolated division.

Table 1: Classification of Sectors

Agricultural Production Agricultural and Food Processing Food Wholesale/ Retail  
Farm Inputs, Equipment and Professional Services Processed Meat, Fish, Poultry & Eggs Food and Forestry Wholesale
Dairy Cattle and Milk Production Dairy Processing Food and Forestry Retail
Beef Cattle Production


Processed Food & Kindred Products
Poultry & Egg Production


Grain Milling & Flour
Hogs & Other Farm Animals Fats & Oils Processing
Grain Production


Beverage Processing
Soybeans & Other Oil Seeds Wood/ Paper/ Furniture Manufacturing
Misc. Crops, Hay, Sugar, Tobacco & Nuts
Fruit & Vegetable Production
Greenhouse, Nursery & Floriculture Production
Forestry, Hunting & Fishing
Sum of Agriculture Production Sum of Food Processing Sum of Food Wholesale/ Retail Total Agricultural and Food Production Cluster


Starting with Total Value Added from the Agriculture and Food Production Cluster it is not surprising to see in Figure 1 that the top five counties also match five counties with large population centers. With Franklin, Hamilton, and Cuyahoga counties being the location of Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland respectively, it was expected and found that the contribution of production agriculture in terms of both value added and employment was the smallest division contributor, with food processing being the largest contributing division in Franklin, Hamilton, Butler, and Stark Counties. Food wholesale/ retail was the largest contributing division for Cuyahoga County.  Statewide, the food processing sector was the largest contributing division at $14,986 million and 2.43% of the states’ Gross State Product (GSP).

Franklin County had a high food processing contribution due to the beverage processing sector at $916 million. Notable companies in the area include Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., BrewDog USA, Coca-Cola and others according to the Columbus Economic Development Annual Report. Employment within the Cluster was also largely contributed from the beverage processing subsector. For Hamilton county, the beverage processing subsector was also the largest contribution to the food processing division. Boston Beer Company, the parent company of Sam Adams Beer, and The J.M. Smuckers Co., parent company to Folgers Coffee are major contributors to the subsector. Boston Beer Company produces 20 percent of all Sam Adams Beer within Hamilton County. Cuyahoga County was the lone county in the top five where the top contributing division was Food Wholesale/Retail. Multiple subsectors in this division contributed to the large value, but noticeable was the smaller value for the beverage processing subsector in the Food Processing division. Analysis was not conducted across all 88 counties, but based on the top total value added counties, counties with large beverage processing subsectors had food processing divisions that made up the largest portion of the county’s Agricultural and Food Cluster contribution. While Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton Counties are only 3 out of 88, the population represents roughly 29 percent of Ohio’s population based on U.S. Census Bureau data and make up a large portion of the Cluster’s impact to Ohio.

Figure 1: Top Five Value Added Counties

In Figure 1, counties producing the largest total values of economic contribution from agriculture and food were identified, and it isn’t surprising that counties with relatively large total economies also had the largest contributions of agriculture. However, in none of the top five producing counties was production agriculture the top contributing division. To look at the relative value of production agriculture to a county’s economy we can use the value added from agricultural production as a percent of the counties total economic output and indeed counties with larger agricultural output in regards to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) do rise to the top.  However, this should not be interpreted as the five counties with the largest total value contribution from production agriculture. The 2016-2017 Ohio Agricultural Statistics Annual Bulletin shows that land use for agricultural purposes in Mercer, Darke, Paulding, Putnam and Union Counties are 93%, 89%, 83%, 99% and 88% respectively, where land use is the sum of cropland, pastureland, and woodland. Figure 2 illustrates where the five counties lie within Ohio.

Figure 2: Top Five Counties

County agriculture contribution profiles for Mercer and Darke counties were similar as both counties had the same two subsectors contributing the majority of value added products to the county economies: Poultry & Egg Production and Pork Production. For Paulding and Putnam counties there was not a specific subsector that stood above the rest, but more of a balanced distribution. Soybeans & Other Oil Crops had relatively high values for both counties. In contrast, Union County had a top contributing subsector of Farm Inputs, Equipment & Other Professional services that made up 9% of the entire counties economy. This subsector made up 90% of the contribution of the Agricultural and Food Cluster.

While one indication of contribution to a county’s economy is through the value added calculation, another indicator is the number of people employed with-in the Cluster. Similar to the total contribution illustration above in Figure 1, counties with high food processing and relatively large populations also have the largest total number of employment in agriculture, but have a low percentage in relation to the entire county population. Figure 3, identifies the five counties with the highest percentage of the population involved in the Agriculture and Food Cluster. As seen above, Franklin County had the largest total value added to the economy and the highest employment at almost 38 thousand people, but represents roughly 4% of the counties workforce. Whereas Jackson County did not make the top five in total value added contribution, but has 25 percent of its workforce involved in the Cluster.

Figure 3: Percent of Population involved in Agriculture and Food


Understanding components of the statewide economy are important, as trends within the sector help identify strengths and weaknesses. However, county analysis helps those within and around the industry become stronger more informed decision makers in issues relevant to the Agricultural and Food Production Cluster. Not surprising, counties with larger populations had the highest total value added contribution to the county’s economy and the highest number of employees within the work force, but had lower percentages of the county total in values and employees to those counties with small populations. In counties with large value added from the entire cluster, Food Processing was the largest contributing division for the majority of counties in the top five. A strong beverage-processing subsector helped elevate the Food Processing division for these counties.  Isolating the Production Agriculture division including Farm Inputs, Equipment and Professional Services as a percent of the county’s total economy identified five counties that have relatively high land use in agriculture and high total sales from agriculture commodities.

Individual county fact sheets for all eighty-eight Ohio counties are listed here:

Appendix I. includes a list of counties and their value of total contribution, value of production agriculture contribution, and employment. State rankings are in parentheses.


“Columbus Region: Food and Beverage.” Columbus 2020, 2017.

DiCarolis, Janice. et al. The Economic Contribution of Agricultural and Food Production to the Ohio Economy. 2017.

IMPLAN. 2017. 2015 Ohio state data package.

Turner, Cheryl, and Brooke Morris. Ohio Agricultural Statistics 2016-2017 Annual Bulletin. USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2017.

US Census. 2017a. County Business Profiles.

  Agriculture Production Value Added Ag Production % of Employment Total Cluster Value Added Total % of Employment
Adams $26,132,407 (72) 10% (5) $56,773,236 (77) 14% (13)
Allen $78,125,934 (19) 2% (65) $319,126,539 (24) 7% (64)
Ashland $74,074,340 (24) 5% (36) $184,902,491 (48) 10% (38)
Ashtabula $46,313,267 (52) 3% (56) $170,069,071 (50) 8% (59)
Athens $10,832,931 (82) 2% (63) $84,474,544 (69) 6% (74)
Auglaize $71,793,513 (25) 4% (39) $265,307,529 (34) 10% (33)
Belmont $48,773,321 (50) 3% (58) $145,203,550 (55) 8% (54)
Brown $32,761,777 (68) 7% (20) $61,715,467 (76) 11% (28)
Butler $49,768,789 (48) 1% (81) $1,323,431,575 (4) 6% (73)
Carroll $27,087,761 (71) 6% (22) $52,115,212 (78) 10% (37)
Champaign $41,533,589 (62) 5% (28) $106,563,182 (65) 11% (30)
Clark $49,500,983 (49) 2% (69) $287,447,821 (29) 7% (62)
Clermont $38,145,667 (65) 2% (70) $290,746,554 (27) 6% (75)
Clinton $53,920,762 (42) 4% (42) $132,673,146 (57) 8% (51)
Columbiana $56,804,685 (35) 3% (54) $264,737,172 (35) 9% (41)
Coshocton $60,830,386 (31) 7% (17) $187,589,390 (47) 15% (7)
Crawford $56,705,986 (37) 4% (40) $94,785,325 (67) 8% (57)
Cuyahoga $97,944,901 (9) >1% (86) $2,870,230,295 (3) 4% (88)
Darke $239,806,461 (4) 8% (12) $301,799,993 (25) 12% (23)
Defiance $74,738,470 (21) 5% (33) $132,202,917 (58) 9% (43)
Delaware $71,115,273 (26) 1% (78) $414,656,942 (15) 5% (81)
Erie $40,597,271 (64) 2% (62) $168,143,020 (51) 6% (68)
Fairfield $57,092,509 (34) 2% (64) $286,483,386 (30) 7% (66)
Fayette $41,430,653 (63) 4% (44) $203,165,951 (45) 13% (19)
Franklin $163,203,968 (5) > 1% (87) $4,233,913,386 (1) 4% (86)
Fulton $74,574,695 (22) 5% (34) $195,829,037 (46) 10% (32)
Gallia $15,592,444 (77) 6% (27) $37,233,957 (81) 8% (49)
Geauga $56,208,056 (38) 3% (61) $237,554,367 (40) 7% (63)
Greene $43,688,591 (56) 1% (77) $215,452,629 (43) 4% (83)
Guernsey $20,965,101 (75) 6% (26) $74,530,511 (72) 10% (35)
Hamilton $111,589,093 (8) >1% (88) $3,094,701,906 (2) 4% (85)
Hancock $56,118,896 (39) 2% (67) $385,962,349 (18) 9% (46)
Hardin $82,800,471 (14) 8% (13) $138,666,355 (56) 15% (11)
Harrison $10,621,659 (83) 7% (18) $28,975,047 (84) 13% (16)
Henry $54,239,652 (41) 6% (24) $334,766,774 (21) 18% (3)
Highland $45,616,926 (55) 9% (9) $76,818,531 (71) 13% (18)
Hocking $6,799,259 (87) 5% (32) $47,538,393 (79) 12% (22)
Holmes $132,411,907 (7) 7% (16) $385,876,069 (19) 22% (2)
Huron $89,862,265 (11) 5% (37) $324,490,460 (22) 11% (26)
Jackson $22,937,105 (74) 4% (47) $239,977,669 (39) 25% (1)
Jefferson $9,879,886 (84) 2% (71) $79,391,785 (70) 6% (69)
Knox $50,521,887 (47) 5% (30) $122,081,622 (62) 10% (34)
Lake $82,942,001 (13) 1% (80) $630,592,252 (10) 6% (76)
Lawrence $6,325,381 (88) 4% (41) $40,616,956 (80) 8% (55)
  Agriculture Production Value Added Ag Production % of Employment Total Cluster Value Added Total % of Employment
Licking $80,959,369 (17) 3% (57) $290,176,991 (28) 7% (61)
Logan $47,525,570 (51) 4% (45) $129,164,871 (61) 8% (58)
Lorain $75,209,443 (20) 1%  (73) $376,334,667 (20) 5% (78)
Lucas $65,557,760 (29) >1% (84) $745,401,227 (9) 4% (87)
Madison $69,435,722 (27) 4% (38) $113,507,126 (64) 8% (53)
Mahoning $43,627,477 (57) 1% (82) $413,002,404 (16) 5% (80)
Marion $82,089,222 (16) 3% (50) $261,902,767 (36) 10% (36)
Medina $67,362,783 (28) 2% (72) $492,849,630 (13) 6% (67)
Meigs $12,179,096 (81) 9% (6) $22,478,977 (87) 13% (17)
Mercer $287,020,607 (2) 7% (15) $486,428,489 (14) 16% (5)
Miami $41,628,715 (61) 3% (59) $320,490,163 (23) 9% (44)
Monroe $13,856,148 (79) 12% (2) $21,979,543 (88) 15% (12)
Montgomery $53,434,618 (43) >1% (83) $965,102,826 (8) 4% (84)
Morgan $13,011,573 (80) 9% (8) $23,902,013 (86) 14% (14)
Morrow $42,743,432 (59) 9% (7) $70,494,294 (73) 12% (20)
Muskingum $30,721,596 (70) 3% (55) $272,726,649 (33) 8% (47)
Noble $8,823,935 (85) 10% (4) $29,242,985 (83) 16% (6)
Ottawa $42,511,100 (60) 4% (43) $89,869,973 (68) 8% (56)
Paulding $54,709,543 (40) 12% (1) $66,561,674 (75) 15% (9)
Perry $14,860,292 (78) 8% (14) $30,646,479 (82) 12% (24)
Pickaway $58,449,378 (33) 5% (29) $104,937,335 (66) 9% (42)
Pike $20,526,229 (76) 4% (48) $69,036,918 (74) 11% (25)
Portage $33,902,467 (66) 1% (75) $282,939,009 (31) 5% (79)
Preble $52,009,567 (46) 9% (10) $171,486,943 (49) 15% (10)
Putnam $145,093,953 (6) 10% (3) $299,022,297 (26) 13% (15)
Richland $60,865,434 (30) 2% (66) $241,549,299 (38) 6% (72)
Ross $33,267,855 (67) 3% (52) $281,600,791 (32) 10% (39)
Sandusky $74,346,534 (23) 3% (53) $212,843,255 (44) 8% (48)
Scioto $24,304,785 (73) 3% (51) $117,445,217 (63) 7% (60)
Seneca $56,748,780 (36) 6% (25) $153,350,740 (52) 10% (31)
Shelby $80,446,033 (18) 3% (49) $226,462,435 (42) 9% (45)
Stark $82,669,192 (15) 1% (79) $1,225,863,198 (5) 7% (65)
Summit $53,052,421 (44) >1% (85) $1,086,245,523 (6) 4% (82)
Trumbull $46,191,278 (54) 1% (74) $256,092,067 (37) 6% (77)
Tuscarawas $52,437,891 (45) 3% (60) $227,995,907 (41) 8% (52)
Union $459,647,601 (1) 7% (21) $549,639,730 (12) 9% (40)
Van Wert $89,276,531 (12) 7% (19) $131,848,326 (60) 11% (27)
Vinton $8,559,330 (86) 8% (11) $27,107,972 (85) 17% (4)
Warren $46,224,334 (53) 1% (76) $552,430,711 (11) 6% (70)
Washington $30,966,222 (69) 4% (46) $132,119,584 (59) 8% (50)
Wayne $283,008,467 (3) 5% (31) $1,002,275,825 (7) 15% (8)
Williams $43,262,519 (58) 5% (35) $145,407,816 (54) 11% (29)
Wood $97,920,671 (10) 2% (68) $387,193,635 (17) 6% (71)
Wyandot $60,516,234 (32) 6% (23) $149,052,657 (53) 12% (21)


Ohio State Researchers: Milk Date Labels Contribute to Food Waste

Written by Tracy Turner; Sources by Brain Roe and Dennis Heldman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Got milk?

If so, you may be among the majority of consumers who throw that milk out once the date on the carton or jug label has passed.

But Ohio State University researchers say not so fast — that pasteurized milk is still good to drink past its sell-by date.

Scientists in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) say that arbitrary date labels on food contribute to significant food waste because the date labels serve only as an indicator of shelf life, which relates more to food quality than safety.

Brian Roe, a CFAES professor of agricultural economics, co-authored a new study examining consumer behavior regarding date labeling on milk containers. The goal of the research is to help consumers reduce food waste through improved food labeling systems and consumer education.

The study, which will appear in the June 2018 edition of Food Quality and Preference Journal, surveyed 88 consumers who were asked to sniff half-gallon jugs of milk that were 15, 25, 30 and 40 days past the date they were bottled. Some milk samples were dated and some were not dated.

The study found that 64 percent of respondents said they would throw the milk out that had a date label, while only 45.8 percent of respondents said they would throw the same milk out if they didn’t know the date label of the milk.

“Date labeling doesn’t tell you when a food will spoil,” said Roe, who also leads the Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative, a collection of researchers, practitioners and students working together to promote the reduction and redirection of food waste.

“Consumers often view dates as if they indicated health or safety, but those dates are really just about the quality of a product determined by manufacturers,” Roe said. “There’s a difference between quality and safety.

“Pasteurized milk is safe past the sell-by date unless it has been cross-contaminated. While it may not taste as good — it can go sour and have flavors that people don’t like and may make them feel nausea — but it isn’t going to make them sick.”

Roe said the study focused on milk because it is one of the most wasted food products in the United States, representing 12 percent of consumer food waste by weight. And past research suggests the date label is a critical reason why milk is discarded, he said.

“Innovations in date labels and explaining what the date labels mean will allow more consumers to save money by keeping milk longer and reducing food waste, which has social implications as well,” Roe said. “It’s very resource intensive to produce milk — from the land needed to grow feed for the cows, to the water used for cows to produce the milk, to the energy that goes into housing cows and to processing and transporting the milk.

“Not to mention the retailers, who spend a lot of time managing the milk case at the grocery store as well.”

Confusion regarding food label dates leads to significant food waste nationwide, with the average American household spending more than $2,000 annually on wasted food, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

So what do the date labels on food mean?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the:

  • “Best if used by/before” date indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or a safety date.
  • “Sell-by” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It is not a safety date.
  • “Use-by” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except when used on infant formula.

“If we make changes to the date labeling, we have to make sure the regulatory system understands how the changes will impact their regulations,” said Dennis R. Heldman, a CFAES professor of food engineering, a member of the Food Waste Collaborative and a study co-author.

Heldman is also studying the effect on consumers of an indicator that would be attached to containers of perishable foods to monitor their shelf life. The indicator would gradually change color during storage and distribution of a food or beverage.

So a change in color, say, from blue to red, would tell consumers that the product has reached the end of its shelf life.

“Using this method, consumers can be confident as to when the product should and shouldn’t be consumed,” he said.


Values on Agricultural Land Are Expected to Decline by 11.2%/ acre on Average

Ani Katchova, Associate Professor and Farm Income Enhancement Chair

Robert Dinterman, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics

There are two types of tax values that are on the minds of farmers: market value (the value per acre for highest and best potential use) and current agricultural use value.  Farmers who farm more than 10 acres and participate in the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program typically benefit from lower tax bills because tax is calculated based on below true market values.  The program began in 1973 with the intention of leveling the playing field for farmers by computing farmland values based on crop yield, soil conditions, interest rates, and crop prices that have proven to be volatile.

Projections just released by agricultural economists in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) forecast that agricultural land is expected to see a decline of around 11.2% from 2017 values that averaged around $1,153.  The projected average 2018 CAUV value is expected to be $1,023 per acre for the 24 counties in Ohio receiving either reappraisals or adjustments to their properties’ assessed value.

Ani Katchova, Associate Professor and Farm Income Enhancement Chair, and Robert Dinterman, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics are releasing their projected CAUV values months before the Ohio Department of Taxation will release the official CAUV values.  They say the reduction will help farmers lower their expenses and help stabilize declining farm incomes.

“It is good news for farmers because it will reduce their tax bill,” says Katchova. “Adjustments to assessed values occur once every three years and this represents a 26.3% decrease from the 2015 average CAUV value of $1,388 which had been the assessed value for the past 3 years for counties receiving an update in 2018.”

Dinterman explains further, “these same 24 counties saw their taxes rise in 2014 due to rising commodity prices and a falling capitalization rate.”

He furthers that CAUV values are anticipated to be even lower in the future, because we still have the phase in process and the CAUV formula is based on seven-year averages of several inputs.  CAUV has undergone significant changes to its formula in the past few years – mostly by changing its formula for the capitalization rate – which impacts the OSU agricultural economists’ projections for the 2018 CAUV values.

To calculate the projected values, Dinterman and Katchova used official Ohio Department of Taxation and USDA data, and data on non-land costs.  The Ohio State agricultural economists anticipate that the decline in CAUV values for 2018 will be a continued trend for at least the next 3 years.

Even though the average value of CAUV is expected to decline by 11.2%, not all soil types will decline by the same percent.

“CAUV is calculated for each of over 3,400 soil types in Ohio,” Dinterman clarifies. “And the factor that differentiates the soil types is how much corn, soybeans, or wheat the soil is expected to produce. Farmland with higher expected yields will be more affected by these CAUV changes than farmland with lower productivity.”

Katchova and Dinterman caution that their projections are not the official Ohio Department of Taxation estimates. They claim it is possible for the average CAUV value to decline by as much as 20.6% while it is also possible for the average CAUV value to rise by over 20.6%. However, an increase is viewed as unlikely.

Review of “Constructed wetlands for water quality improvements: Benefit transfer analysis from Ohio”

by N.B. Irwin, E.G. Irwin, J.F. Martin and P. Aracena

Bodies of water provide many benefits to residents through recreation and use but run-off from agriculture and urban areas can impair water quality. While Ohio has worked on improving water quality in its rivers and large streams, with 80 percent meeting aquatic life goals, less than 13 percent of its lakes meet such a standard. A possible solution to this problem is the construction of treatment wetlands to remove excessive nutrients from water bodies. Constructed wetlands utilize the natural environment as a form of water treatment and act as a filter to remove excessive nutrients and pollutants in runoff water.  Compared to other forms of water treatment, wetlands deliver water quality improvements with significantly smaller lifetime operation and maintenance costs.

This study examines the feasibility of using constructed wetlands to improve water quality in sample of 24 inland lakes from Ohio. Using water quality data collected from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, data on population, housing prices and incomes from the U.S. Census, and information on recreational visitors, the total cost of creating and operating free surface water wetlands to improve water quality by 10 percent through the removal of phosphorous is estimated. Additionally, the study derives the willingness-to-pay for a 10 percent water quality improvements by both homeowners and recreation users. Nearby residents benefit from improved water quality through higher house prices while recreation users value the changes in water quality through an expansion of possible outdoor opportunities.

The total cost of constructing wetlands for all 24 lakes is over $107 million, with size and surrounding land cost for each lake differing greatly. The willingness-to-pay estimates for both the surrounding homeowners and recreation users averages over $606 million, depending on the model specification. The most conservative estimates indicate that constructed wetlands could provide a lifetime cost benefit ratio of 1:2.92 or a $2.92 return for every $1 invested. The average per capita benefit per resident or recreation user would be $68. These results indicate that wetlands are clearly an effective means of both reducing nutrient loadings in surface water and providing positive economic returns to homeowners and recreational users.

The study also examines the cost implications for constructed wetlands to be used as a strategy to meet hypothetical statewide standards for phosphorous concentrations in lakes at 50 µg/L and 25 µ/L per lake. At the lower standard of 50 µg/L the estimated cost is $870 million, whereas at the stricter standard of 25 µg/L costs would exceed $2.7 billion and require 0.5% of all arable land in Ohio. Using wetlands for achieved phosphorus reduction goals is not a cost-effective strategy. Instead, a comprehensive approach to nutrient reduction and water quality is necessary.

To read the complete article follow the link:


Summarized by Ben Brown, Program Manager: Farm Management Program

Grain Storage in the United States and Abroad

by Ben Brown

Click here to Access article Grain Storage in the U.S. and Abroad (has graphs)

Happy Grain Bin Safety Week! That right, February 18th through the 24th is national Grain Bin Safety Week. Grain bins are certainly nothing to play chicken with as the grain inside, while used to make the food that nourishes our bodies, can also be a quicksand-like hazard. Taking extreme caution and having at least one other person around while inside a grain bin is highly recommended.  In fact, since some grain bins are located on the edge of the field without a readily known mailing address, making sure the address is posted somewhere visible is just an added layer of preparedness in case emergency help is needed. Grain bin safety is important! In honor of Grain Bin Safety week here is a quick review of the grain on hand both in the United States and internationally.

There should be little surprise that stocks, both domestically and abroad, have been on the rise the last five years as world prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat declined after their peaks in 2012/13. Five straight years of above trend yield for worldwide grain production have contributed to the abundant stocks. An example of trend would be if a football team won six games one year, seven the next, and eight the following. Given trend, one would expect that in the fourth year, the team would win nine games, but instead they won fourteen. This would be an above trend year. Arguments can be made whether the exceptional world yields were products of good weather globally or technological advancements in seed. Lower prices for grains have encouraged producers to retain larger portions of their crop on farm or in storage at local elevators in the hope for an upward bounce in price.

Starting with domestic soybeans, 2017 was another solid year for soybean production. The National Agricultural Statistics Service will make the county yield estimates for 2017 official later in February, but early estimates are for 49 bushels per acre. This is slightly down from the previous year of 52 bushels per acre. However, planted acres for soybeans have steadily increased the last few years and the increased acreage more than compensated for the decrease in yield. Soybean production in the U.S. totaled a record 4.39 billion bushels in 2017. Luckily there has been an increased use for crushed soybeans, soy protein and soybean oil. Figure 1 shows domestic stocks and the percent of total use.

In figure 1, we see that the stocks to use ratio for U.S. soybeans has increased the last four years largely contributed to strong yields across the Midwest and increased acreage. Due to profitability of corn and soybeans per acre, the United States Department of Agriculture has projected that soybean acreage will continue to increase in the years to come. The U.S. exports a little over 2 billion bushels of soybeans each year, which is almost half of the total use of domestic production.

Moving to “King” corn, the same story roughly applies. However, this time record corn yields across the Corn Belt were counteracted with a decrease in harvested acreage. Not all of the increase in soybean acreage for 2017 came from corn acreage, as wheat and sorghum were also contributors. Especially in Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. However, with a national yield of 177 bushels per acre, 2017 beat the previous record yield. Total production in the U.S. came in at 14.6 billion bushels, down 4 percent from 2016.

At 20 percent, the stock to use ratio for corn has increased in six consecutive years. Another strong yielding year or a decrease in the demand for corn products could put even more downward pressure on corn prices. Ethanol production uses about 5.5 billion bushels and corn used for animal feed makes up about 5.6 billion bushels. These two categories make up the largest segments of U.S. corn use. Currently the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates are projecting a 2017/18 marketing year average price of $3.30, which is below Ohio’s average breakeven price and $0.40 below the reference price created in the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 2014 for Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments at $3.70.

For wheat, one of the bright spots is that the U.S. stocks to use ratio has started to decrease after a historic high last year. However, the downside for wheat is that there has not been the large driver for demand like in corn and soybeans with ethanol and protein respectively. Since 1996, the total use for wheat has remained relatively flat with slightly decreasing production on reduced acreage. Until demand for wheat picks up, wheat acreage will continue to decrease. The 2018 wheat planning was down 1 percent from 2017 and down 10 percent from 2016 coming in at the second lowest projected planting on record. The WASDE projected price for 2017/18 is $4.60 also below the reference price of $5.50. Figure 3 shows the quantity of U.S. wheat use. The majority of wheat use is in foodstuffs like bread, cookies and pasta.

Putting all three crops on the same graph, Figure 4 compares the stock to use ratios for all three U.S. commodities.

However, the U.S. is not the only place with large ending stocks in storage. World supplies of corn, soybeans and wheat have also been on the increase the last few years as referenced by Figure 5. Corn and soybeans stocks to use ratios have both showed a decrease on stronger demand and a growing drought in South American crops specifically Argentina causing reduced yields.

International trade is a topic of popular discussion in America right now as the renegotiation process of the North America Free Trade Agreement just finished its sixth round of negotiations. Canada and Mexico are importers of U.S. corn and soybeans with China remaining as the largest importer of U.S. soybeans. A strong U.S. dollar relative to international currencies weakens the market share of U.S. goods in the international markets. In the last few years, Brazilian soybeans have chipped away at the U.S. export market to several of the world’s largest importers of soybeans. Exports remain vital to the U.S. as large portions of both corn and soybeans production rely on international trade.


Stocks in the United States and globally have grown in the last few years on larger than expected yields. Large stocks suppress grain prices as grain comes to the market out of private storage when market prices tick up. It is unlikely to see large movements in future prices for the coming growing season without a weather related shock. However, local elevators will probably fluctuate their delivery price based on their need for grain. Ethanol plants in Ohio have already started to do this when needing more corn. Large stocks internationally will continue to hurt U.S. trade internationally as a strong U.S. dollar makes U.S. products more expensive. Some countries like China have reversed domestic commodity price supports to work down their stockpiles of corn. As stocks decrease, the expectation is to see larger swings in markets from weather related events both domestically and abroad. Happy National Grain Bin Safety Week!

Ben Brown
The Ohio State University Department of Agriculture, Environmental, and Development Economics
614-688-8686 (Office)  660-492-7574 (Cell)

Farm Management Series to be held in Fulton County in February

by Eric Richer, Extension Educator

Ohio State University Extension-Fulton County will again be offering its Farm Management Series on Tuesdays in February.  The series is for any farmer who raises commodity grain and livestock. This year’s program will focus on farm succession, financial and production planning. Additionally, the series will help farmers look at options for taking your farm a different direction to complement commodity production. This year the series is offered as a daytime program from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and includes lunch. Each session will feature guest speakers and content relevant to today’s farm management. The series, which runs February 6, 13, 20 and 27, is taught by a combination of Extension Educators and state specialists and private sector individuals.

On Tuesday, February 6, the series will emphasize transition and estate planning (farm succession).  Topics will include working together to develop your farm’s business plan, answering 9 key succession planning, legal structures, getting your financial affairs in order and family communication.

Tuesday, February 13th will focus on financial planning.  Time will be spent reviewing key farm financial statements and strategies including an Ag Lender/Professional panel at lunch.  The afternoon will address ways to reduce family living expense and financial stress as well as taking a hard look at the value of enterprise analysis on your farm.

February 20th will be spent looking at key production planning areas of farm management.  Speakers will address the outlook for inputs, best management practices for leasing or buying, and calculating your cost of production.  Additional sessions will focus on the CAUV property tax production formula and converting your farm to natural gas.

The final session of the series on February 27 will conclude with a day full of guest speakers who will offer options for “taking your farm a different direction” to complement commodity production.  The buffet of topics will include transitioning to organic, swine production, agri-tourism, barley production in Ohio, and non-GMO grain opportunities.

The total cost for the series is $60 or $20 per day session if pre-registered by February 1.  Registration after the deadline will still be accepted but the cost goes up to $70 for the series or $25 per session. Registration includes materials and lunch.  Support for this series is provided in part by Farm Credit Mid America, Farmers & Merchants State Bank, Metamora State Bank, Sherwood State Bank and Ag Credit.  The farm management series will be held at the Robert Fulton Ag Center, 8770 State Route 108, Wauseon, Ohio 43567.  The registration form can be downloaded at or call 419-337-9210 or email for more information.