A New Kid in Town: American Goat Federation Debut

When one thinks of a traditional farm, images of cows, pigs and chickens typically come to mind, but not images of goats.

Maybe they should?

Goats are becoming more and more integrated into the modern farming industry, as evidenced by the recent inauguration of the The American Goat Federation (AGF).

On November 10, AGF became the national trade association for goat producers.

Goats were first domesticated by neolithic farmers because they’re a great source of milk and meat. Their dung was used as fuel and their bones, hair and sinew for clothing, building and tools.

Since then, goats have been raised primarily to process their milk for cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream and body products. Their hair is used in the textile industry and their meat is becoming more popular in cuisines.

According to its website, “The American Goat Federation promotes and facilitates the development of all segments of the goat industry including dairy, meat and fiber, by encouraging sound public policy, enhancing production and marketing of goat products, and promoting research beneficial to our member organizations and all producers.”

Goat Facts
• More than 300 breeds
• Produce approximately 2 percent of the world's total annual milk supply
• Cheaper to manage than cattle

Ohio has the potential for a blossoming goat industry.

“Traditonally, Ohio is not a goat state, and goats raised in Ohio are mostly for the local 4-H markets. However, with the tremendous influx of immigration and increasing health consciousness of the population, there seems to be a large market for goat meat in Ohio,” states an Ohio State University Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center paper. “This, along with the fact that many previous tobacco farmers have spare land and goats are easy to raise, trigger an increasing interest on the farmers’ side for production and processing.”

The Ohio Valley Dairy Goat Association and the Mid-Ohio Goat Dairy Goat Association are examples of state groups that promote the potential and the success of Ohio goat farming.

Ohio Goat Facts (2007 Census of Agriculture)
  • Ranked 13 in the nation
  • Ranked 50 globally
  • Generates $14,186,000 annually
As years progress, it will be interesting to note how the goat industry expands to become a contender in the traditional livestock market, especially in Ohio. However, market infrastructure (ex: no goat processing plants) requires a major overhaul for the Ohio goat industry to really flourish.

Have you prepared or eaten anything made with goat? Do you know anyone who raises goats?

Photo obtained from: newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org

Vertical tillage a benefit to farmers

In the world of agriculture, it is important to be up-to-date and knowledgeable about the current trends and hot topics in the industry.

Today, one of the most talked about topics is vertical tillage.

Agri-View explains that vertical tillage is used to lightly till the soil and cut up residue, mixing and anchoring a portion of the residue in the upper few inches of soil while still leaving large quantities of residue on the soil surface to speed up residue decomposition.

“The best description for vertical tillage is to call it a form of mulch-till, as it generally leaves more than 30 percent residue on the soil surface, yet creates nearly full-width disturbance on the soil surface,” says DeAnn Presley, soil management specialist at Kansas State University.

But, how does vertical tillage work?

According to Farm Equipment, a set of wavy discs and/or rotating spikes on a frame enter soil vertically to a shallow depth to help level the soil surface, enhance planter/drill opener performance and improve seed placement. It works well in these applications because it doesn’t work deep in the ground; therefore, wide-working widths can be pulled across the field quickly to achieve increased work rates.

Farmers have started to use vertical tillage equipment for many reasons, namely for its advantages with crop rotations, soil conditions and field compaction.

Vertical Tillage Benefits (Ohio Farmer)

  • Manages residue In corn-after-corn rotation situations, farmers use vertical tillage to cut and size residue in the fall. A pass typically provides cutting and “fluffing” action on corn residue. This provides more soil-to-residue contact, which results in better breakdown during the winter months.
  • Prepares the seedbed When vertical tillage is applied in the spring (when planting soybeans), it can warm the soil much easier. In some instances, it can make a soybean crop advance as if it were planted seven to 10 days earlier.
  • Loosens compaction Conventional tillage equipment can create multiple compaction layers that limit root growth, especially if they are run too early in the season. Vertical tillage can accomplish the same tillage goals without causing a compaction layer.
As with any farm applications, there can be a few challenges associated with vertical tillage. For instance, if a farmer is moving from a no-tilling situation to vertical tillage, there is an extra expense because it’s a step they wouldn’t normally take. In addition, some vertical tillage equipment requires more power to operate.

When you compare these downsides to the benefits of vertical tillage, some farmers say that the benefits easily outweigh the challenges. Ultimately, it is up to farmers to determine what works best on their fields.

As more farmers begin using vertical tillage equipment in their fields, it will be interesting to hear about their experiences and how it may benefit their crops.

Photo obtained from: yetterco.com

Because corn, soybeans and wheat are the agriculture industry’s major players, these crops most often come to mind when one thinks about farming.

Major products are corn (28 percent of industry revenue); soybeans (14 percent); fruits and nuts (12 percent) and wheat (7 percent). Other major crops include vegetables and melons, cotton, and potatoes. Of all farms, 48 percent are grain, oilseed, or dry beans/peas, accounting for 53 percent of all cropland revenue (Research and Markets).

But, specialty crops are an avenue of farming that can get overlooked. Our nation has a $50 billion specialty-crop industry with 247,772 specialty crop farms.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, nursery crops and maple syrup, which are of exceptional value now.

As the USDA states, “Specialty crops are a big part of what makes our seasonal holidays memorable. It’s difficult to find anything on the table that isn’t the result of the work of specialty crop growers—from potatoes, cranberry sauce, wine and pumpkin, or sweet potato pie to the nutmeg, cinnamon and herbs that season the dishes. And don’t forget the decorations—from Christmas trees and wreaths to mistletoe and poinsettias, all grown by U.S. specialty crop growers.”

Specialty crops are more labor-intensive and require more start-up costs compared to field crops, they come with more financial risk, though annual specialty crops, like pumpkins and sugarbeets, show an increased per-acre profit compared to field crops.

Because of this crop sector’s associated risks, USDA grants are providing funding to individuals and groups for projects to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. In total, 28 grants will be awarded. According to a news release distributed by UC Davis:

“In all, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded more than $46 million through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, established by the 2008 Farm Bill to develop and disseminate science-based tools to address the needs of specific specialty crops.”

The grants invest in the research, promotion, marketing, food safety, education and product development of specialty crops.

Such grants have been awarded to improve lettuce varieties, water irrigation systems, and to develop a commercial brand pumpkin seed, among others.

The Buckeye State touts its fair share of the specialty crop industry.

Ohio Specialty Crops Facts (2007 Census of Agriculture)
  • 6,472 total specialty crop farms
  • 82,335 specialty crop acres
  • 600 maple syrup farms
  • 996 cut Christmas trees and short rotation woody crop farms
To view a list of 2009 grants awarded to bolster Ohio’s specialty crops, visit:


As we continue to celebrate the holidays, what specialty crops are you using in your dishes? What specialty crops do you routinely eat? What specialty-crop projects would be a good investment for Ohio?

Photo obtained from: today.colostate.edu