The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021

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A student from Van Wert County has been announced as the winner of one of five $3,000 scholarships awarded through the AgCredit’s Joe Leiser Memorial Scholarship program.

Elizabeth Vorst of is a junior at The Ohio State University, where she is majoring in agribusiness, applied economics and animal sciences.

“AgCredit is proud to invest in the next generation of agricultural leaders,” President and CEO Brian Ricker said. “These young men and women are key to transforming our nation’s ag industry as science and innovation spark solutions for the challenges 21st century producers face.”

Other scholarship winners announced by AgCredit were:

  • Claire Meyer of Wood County, a junior at The Ohio State University, where she is studying agricultural communication and agribusiness.
  • Eric Ritter of Hancock County, a senior at The Ohio State University, where he is majoring in agribusiness, applied economics and coaching education.
  • Elizabeth Strine of Marion County, a junior at The Ohio State University, where she is majoring in community leadership and development and strategic communication.
  • Ryanna Tietje of Wood County, a sophomore at The Ohio State University, where she is majoring in agribusiness and applied economics.

Leiser served as the first president and chief executive officer of AgCredit, which is one of northern Ohio’s largest lenders, serving farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners.

The annual program recognizes dependent family members of AgCredit voting stockholders who are enrolled in an agriculture-related field of study at a post-secondary educational institution. The cooperative has awarded over $138,000 since the scholarship program began in 1989.

POSTED: 11/10/21 at 1:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Farm

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing a higher loan limit will be available for borrowers seeking a guaranteed farm loan starting Oct. 1, 2021, from $1.776 million to $1.825 million.

“Farm loans are critical for our customers’ annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs, and cash flow,” FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said. “Raising the guaranteed loan limit will allow FSA to better meet the financial needs of producers as natural disasters and the pandemic continue to impact their operations.”

FSA farm loans offer access to funding for a wide range of producer needs, from securing land to financing the purchase of equipment. Guaranteed loans are financed and serviced by commercial lenders. FSA provides up to a 95% guarantee against possible financial loss of principal and interest. Guaranteed loans can be used for both farm ownership and operating purposes.

In fiscal year 2021, FSA saw continued strong demand for guaranteed loans. FSA obligated more than $3.4 billion in guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans. This includes nearly $1.2 billion for beginning farmers. The number of guaranteed borrowers has grown by 10% to more than 38,750 farmers and ranchers over the last decade. FSA expects the increasing demand for farm loans to continue into fiscal year 2022.

Disaster Set-Aside Extension

USDA has additional support available to producers given the recent outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant and has extended the availability of COVID-19 Disaster Set-Aside (DSA) for installments due through Jan. 31, 2022. In addition, FSA will permit a second DSA for COVID-19 and a second DSA for natural disasters for those who had an initial COVID-19 DSA. Requests for a COVID-19 DSA or a second DSA must be received no later than May 1, 2022.

Last year, FSA broadened the use of the DSA. Normally used in the wake of natural disasters, the DSA can now allow farmers with USDA farm loans who are affected by COVID-19 and determined to be eligible, to have their next payment set aside. The set-aside payment’s due date is moved to the final maturity date of the loan or extended up to twelve months in the case of an annual operating loan. Any principal set-aside will continue to accrue interest until it is repaid. This will improve the borrower’s cash flow in the current production cycle.

More Information

Producers can explore available options on all FSA loan options at or by contacting their local USDA Service Center. Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email and other digital tools. Because of the pandemic, some USDA Service Centers are open to limited visitors. Contact your Service Center to set up an in-person or phone appointment. Additionally, more information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at

POSTED: 10/05/21 at 9:57 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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Farm Focus Inc. was founded in 1974 to promote agriculture in Van Wert County and the surrounding area. It is its continued mission to assist county students through a scholarship program that will enable them to pursue a degree in an agriculture related field. 

Farm Focus Inc. is offering a minimum of three scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000 to high school seniors interested in majoring in an Agricultural related program at a university, college, or technical school.
In addition to seniors, full-time students already enrolled in an undergraduate program in agriculture are also eligible to apply. This also means that a successful applicant from previous years can reapply again this year.

Applicants must be Van Wert County residents, with a minimum grade point of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Scholarship funds will be submitted directly to the educational institution by Farm Focus Inc. upon receipt of proof of enrollment or a copy of a tuition invoice.

Scholarship applications have been sent to all nine area high schools where Van Wert County students may be enrolled, so contact a high school guidance counselor, or FFA Instructor for your scholarship application. 
The application is available at the OSU Van Wert County Extension office at 1055 S. Washington St. in Van Wert or by email at

The scholarship application is in a PDF file format and can be emailed or placed on a jump drive. Questions should be emailed.

All completed applications must be emailed, mailed and postmarked or delivered in person no later than April 9 to the OSU Van Wert County Extension Office.

POSTED: 03/22/21 at 6:54 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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FORT WAYNE, Indiana — Tradexpos Inc. has decided to cancel the 32nd annual Fort Wayne Farm Show scheduled to be held at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, March 9-11. 

Thousands of people from Indiana and the surrounding area attend the Fort Wayne Farm Show each year to learn about, compare, and purchase products from leaders in the agricultural industry. 

After reviewing the covid-19 regulations for events set by the state of Indiana, and current rates of infection, Tradexpos Inc. consulted with the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum about alternative options to proceed. There was not an option that would satisfy both Tradexpos’ high standard for the Fort Wayne Farm Show and the state regulations. 

“We exhausted multiple safety precautions in order to produce the iconic Fort Wayne Farm Show including: moving the show to March, modifying the floor plan, and providing extra masks and sanitizer,” said Show Director Dan Slowinski. “In the end, although canceling the show was a tough decision, I feel we are taking the best course of action for everyone involved. I have no doubt the Fort Wayne Farm Show will return stronger than ever in 2022.” 

The Fort Wayne Farm Show is scheduled to resume in 2022 on January 18-20. 

POSTED: 02/05/21 at 11:34 pm. FILED UNDER: Farm

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COLUMBUS — To help offset losses created by this year’s extreme weather, Ohio’s farmers and agribusinesses took advantage of the Ag-LINK program’s reduced interest loans. Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague recently announced that 155 new and refinanced loans totaling $18.3 million were made possible through a special Ag-LINK application period he opened this summer.

“I’m proud to be part of a program that, for more than 36 years, has increased opportunities for Ohio’s agriculture community to operate and thrive,” said Treasurer Sprague. “This year, Ag-LINK supported farmers and agribusinesses as they worked to curb the losses caused by unpredictable, severe weather. We’re proud to have provided this assistance during a difficult year and we’ll be ready as farmers prepare for next year’s growing season.”

The Ohio Treasurer’s office administers the Ag-LINK program to help Ohio farm operators and other agricultural businesses finance the up-front operating costs for feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel, and other costs. Treasurer Sprague re-opened the application period for the program in July to help provide relief to farmers and agribusinesses impacted by flooding and other extreme weather. The special application period closed November 15.

Ag-LINK provides an interest rate reduction on agriculture business operation loans at eligible banks and farm credit lenders. Through this round of applications, farm operators and agribusiness owners based in Ohio received a 2% interest rate reduction on loans up to $150,000.

While the application period for the Ag-LINK program has ended, farmers and agribusinesses impacted by severe weather may be eligible for loans through two other economic development programs offered by the Treasurer’s office. The ReEnergize Ohio four-year program provides qualified small business owners with up to a 3% interest rate reduction on new or existing small business loans up to $550,000. These loans can assist with costs related to the repair or replacement of storm-damaged buildings and equipment.

Additionally, some small business owners may qualify for the GrowNOW two-year program, which offers up to a 3% interest rate reduction on loans up to $400,000 and is renewable. Under GrowNOW, businesses must commit to creating or retaining at least one full-time or two part-time jobs in the State of Ohio for every $50,000 borrowed.

More information about ReEnergize Ohio and GrowNOW can be found on the Ohio Treasurer’s website.

A new application period for Ag-LINK is expected to open in early 2020.

POSTED: 12/05/19 at 8:02 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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COLUMBUS — Earlier this week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 57 into law, decriminalizing hemp and paving the way for the development of a new hemp industry in the state. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will administer the newly-created hemp program.

Hemp is a cannabis plant that does not produce intoxicating effects, grown for its many industrial uses. Hemp contains a fiber, a grain, and oil that can be extracted for CBD, which is now being used in food and dietary supplements.

The hemp program sets up a licensing structure for farmers who are interested in growing the crop and those interested in processing it. It also allows for universities to grow and cultivate the crop for research purposes. ODA will also be testing CBD and hemp products for safety and accurate labeling to protect Ohio consumers.

ODA has created a web page to explain the hemp program and gather information from those interested in growing or processing the crop.

POSTED: 08/05/19 at 7:02 am. FILED UNDER: Farm

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COLUMBUS — Ohio agricultural producers who lost property due to recent natural disasters may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) physical loss loans. 

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers these low-interest loans to agricultural producers in 21 Ohio counties, the primary damaged area, who incurred losses due excessive rain, flash flooding, flooding, hail, high winds, lightning and tornadoes that occurred between November 1, 2018 and June 13 of this year. Approval is limited to applicants who suffered severe physical losses only, including the loss of buildings and livestock. Applications are due March 2, 2020.

“Ohio’s hardworking ag producers feed our neighbors, the nation and the world,” said State Executive Director Leonard Hubert. “When they suffer losses because of extreme weather, helping them get back on their feet is important. We encourage those affected to reach out to their local USDA Service Center to apply for these emergency loans.” 

The 21 Ohio counties in the primary damaged areas include Athens, Auglaize, Belmont, Crawford, Darke, Greene, Guernsey, Henry, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Mercer, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Noble, Pickaway, Preble, Richland, Shelby, and Stark.

Producers in the contiguous Ohio counties of Adams, Allen, Ashland, Brown, Butler, Carroll, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Columbiana, Coshocton, Defiance, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Gallia, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Holmes, Huron, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Logan, Lucas, Madison, Mahoning, Marion, Meigs, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Pike, Portage, Putnam, Ross, Scioto, Seneca, Summit, Tuscarawas, Van Wert, Vinton, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot, along with Adams, Jay, Randolph, Union, and Wayne counties in Indiana, and Marshall, Ohio, Tyler, Wetzel, and Wood counties in West Virginia, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans. 

Physical loss loans can help producers repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property essential to the success of the agricultural operation, including livestock losses. Examples of property commonly affected include essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees, and harvested or stored crops and hay.

For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs or to find a local USDA Service Center, visit

POSTED: 07/17/19 at 7:19 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.


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