2007 top stories in review


Egg farm
Ohio Fresh Egg farm owners were slapped with fines for drinking water violations at the farm’s Croton facility in February.
The operation also continued its fight with the state department of agriculture, which revoked the farm’s permits earlier in the year. In August, the state’s review board sided with the egg farm, and by the end of September, ODA had filed an appeal to keep the farm from getting the permits back.
In November, the unrelated Hi-Q egg farm filed with ODA for permits to build and operate an egg farm in Union County.

Court cases
Wayne County hog farmer Ken Wiles, his son and an employee were cleared of all but one of 10 animal cruelty charges in June. National attention was drawn to the farm after an undercover animal rights investigator videotaped farm conditions, including employees euthanizing hogs.
Esbenshade Egg Farms in Mount Joy, Pa., was found not guilty of the animal cruelty charges filed against it in 2006.
The state dismissed 13 counts of animal cruelty against Tom Skelton in June and returned horses taken from his Mahoning County farm. Skelton pleaded no contest to two other charges.

Dairy labeling/rbST
Many U.S. dairy farmers faced a dilemma when they were asked to sign affidavits binding them to the production of rbST-free milk.
In Pennsylvania, the department of agriculture said rbST-free and other similar labels were “misleading.” The state announced a ban on those labels in October, but later postponed the ban.
Pennsylvania’s move prompted Ohio to examine its dairy labeling laws, but officials have not made any official ruling yet.

Raw milk
After six months in court, the Ohio Department of Agriculture dropped its case against Darke County dairy farmer Carol Schmitmeyer.
Schmitmeyer had been providing raw milk through herd share agreements when the department took her Grade A milk producer license. The ODA dropped the case after Gov. Ted Strickland said herd shares are not problematic.

Horse slaughter
There was a lot of arguing about legislation to ban horse slaughter in the U.S. Although the legislation never left Congress, the last U.S. horse slaughter facility closed in September.

Less than four months after a controversial assessment fee was approved in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, Ohio lawmakers voted to stop collection of the fee until 2009.

Record corn
U.S. farmers were expected to produce the largest corn crop in history, according to USDA. Corn production was forecast at 13.1 billion bushels, 10.6 percent above the previous record of 11.8 billion bushels set in 2004.

New leaders in ag
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland appointed Ashtabula County’s Robert Boggs as the new director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Strickland also appointed Columbiana County’s Sean Logan as the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Farm bill
Though both the House and Senate each approved a version of the farm bill, no new national program was approved before year’s end. Negotiations between the two will carry over into the 2008 session.

Johanns resigns
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns resigned his post abruptly Sept. 19 and revealed plans to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. President George Bush appointed Deputy Agriculture Secretary Charles Conner as acting secretary, then nominated North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer as the next secretary. Schafer has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

Deer disease
An outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease killed hundreds – or perhaps thousands – of deer in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. In Greene Township in Beaver County, Pa., there were more than 200 deer carcasses decaying throughout the area in September.

Renewable energy
Renewable energy was a regular topic in news reports this year.
In April, Tyson Foods and ConocoPhillips announced a new alliance to use beef, pork and poultry byproducts to create a renewable diesel.
At Farm Science Review in September, visitors saw the first public demonstration of a solid oxide fuel cell system operating on vegetable oil made from soybeans.
Fairview Swiss Cheese Plant broke ground in October on a $2.2 million anaerobic digester that will convert cheese whey and ice cream cone batter waste into renewable energy.


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