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U.S. agriculture pushing for a full Japanese Trade Agreement

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Russell Boening, a Texas rancher, farmer and President of the Texas Farm Bureau, told Congress that the recent trade deal with Japan is welcome, but U.S. negotiators still have work to do.

“It is obvious the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement is a win; however, the U.S. must pursue the next phase of negotiations with Japan,” Boening told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee for Trade. “Not all agricultural products, such as rice and some dairy products, were included in this agreement. We must work toward additional market access. Sanitary, phytosanitary and biotechnology issues should also be addressed.”

At nearly $13 billion a year, Japan is the fourth-largest destination for U.S. farm exports.

“While we have a strong trading relationship with Japan, we are about to make substantial advances,” Boening said. “The new U.S.-Japan trade agreement was welcome news for farm and ranch families across the entire country. This agreement will level the Japanese trade playing field.”

Boening urged lawmakers to approve an expanded trade agreement expected next year.

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USDA will issue second MFP payments before Thanksgiving

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the second tranche of 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. The payments will begin the week before Thanksgiving. Producers of MFP-eligible commodities will now be eligible to receive 25% of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50% they have already received from the 2019 MFP.

“This second tranche of 2019 MFP payments, along with already provided disaster assistance, will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump has shown time and again that he is fighting for America’s farmers and ranchers. While we continue to have confidence in the President’s negotiations with China, this money shows President Trump following through on his promise to help and support farmers as he continues to fight for fair market access.”

MFP signup at local FSA offices will run through Friday, Dec.

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H2Ohio strategies and farm practices outlined by Gov. DeWine

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine unveiled an overview of his new H2Ohio plan for water quality Thursday afternoon in Toledo. Backdropped by the National Museum of the Great Lakes, Governor DeWine presented basic details of the plan to an invited audience of over 100 farmers and legislators, as well as collaborators from farm associations, conservation groups, universities and research centers, agribusinesses, and public and government entities.

“H2Ohio is a dedicated, holistic water quality plan that has long lasting solutions,” said Governor DeWine. “It addresses the causes of the problems and not just the symptoms.”

H2Ohio will invest in targeted solutions to help reduce harmful algal blooms, ensure clean water in disadvantaged communities, and prevent lead contamination in daycare centers and schools. In July, the Ohio General Assembly invested $172 million in the plan.

“This is one of the most comprehensive data-driven planning processes in our state’s history.

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Do trade assistance payments disproportionately benefit large-scale operations?

A government program intended to support farmers and ranchers affected by trade disputes disproportionately benefitted large-scale and Southeastern operations, according to a minority staff report published by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, known as the Market Facilitation Program, compensated most commodity grain producers based on a single county rate per planted acre. National Farmers Union (NFU) initially expressed concern that the payment disparities among counties would put some farmers at a financial disadvantage, a fact that has been confirmed by today’s report. Although farmers in the North, Midwest, and West have experienced the greatest harm from trade disputes, 95% of counties receiving the highest payment rates are based in the Southeast. Even in adjacent counties, payment rates sometimes vary by two to three times.

“Farmers in every county have been affected by withering export markets,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president.

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Trade war Phase One progressing

As the U.S. and China continue to work on an interim trade deal,  the Chinese commerce ministry said both countries have agreed to cancel existing tariffs in phases that were imposed during the trade war.

It’s expected that a “phase one” trade deal would include the U.S. eliminating tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports. However,  President Trump said he has not agreed to roll back the tariffs. As already announced, “phase one” would include a pledge for China to buy $40 billion-$50 billion in U.S. agricultural products, including pork.

President Trump had hoped to sign the “phase one” trade agreement in mid-November while at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile, but the summit was cancelled due to domestic unrest. Numerous venue locations have been discussed, including domestically in Iowa and Alaska, as well as London, where Trump is scheduled to attend a NATO summit from Dec.

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Survey results highlight roles of women in agriculture

Women are active advocates for agriculture and successful business owners interested in filling leadership roles, according to a new Farm Bureau survey. A majority of those surveyed, 91%, also believe there should be more women in leadership roles in the industry. More than 3,000 women completed the informal survey online, which was conducted to determine the goals and achievements of women in agriculture.

“Women play a vital role in modern farming and ranching,” said Sherry Saylor, an Arizona farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. “We hope to use the survey results to drive our program of work and also to give women their voice and help them make even more of an impact in their communities.”

More than 50% of women surveyed have started their own business that’s still in operation; 25% have not started a business but indicated they would like to do so in the future.

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Workforce development program launches in Ohio to promote careers in food and agriculture

Food production and agriculture is Ohio’s largest industry and essential to our economy, contributing $124 billion annually in economic value and employing 1 out of every 8 Ohioans. Today’s farms and food companies are challenged by unprecedented barriers to finding a stable, reliable workforce. To address this issue, a broad group of Ohio’s leading agriculture organizations have collaborated behind a new initiative — Futures Grow Here.

“The focus of Futures Grow Here is to demonstrate the opportunities that are available for young adults in food production and agriculture,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association, a supporting organization of Futures Grow Here. “The initiative reframes the narrative around these jobs, creates excitement for them, and engages a broader and more diverse group of job seekers.”

Futures Grow Here is a collaborative initiative among Ohio food production and farming companies to educate students, young professionals and their families about their growing and innovative businesses and career opportunities that may not have been previously considered.

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CommonGround volunteers share ag’s story at food trade show

CommonGround volunteers recently shared the story of American agriculture at the world’s largest meeting of food and nutrition experts at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Philadelphia. With 10,000 registered dietitian nutritionists, nutrition science researchers, policymakers and health-care providers in attendance, CommonGround volunteers attracted enthusiastic attention and engaged in meaningful dialogue that helped this influential audience delve further into how America’s farmers grow and raise the healthy foods they recommend.

“FNCE provides a great venue for us to connect with people who directly impact the food choices of countless others,” said CommonGround volunteer Paula Linthicum, who farms in Laytonsville, Maryland. “The audience is receptive and appreciates the work that we do to provide a direct link to farming.

“I spoke with a dietitian from Kentucky who was skeptical about GMOs when we began chatting who left noting that she needed to look at the issue much more closely because our conversation made her realize that she had nothing to fear.”

The activity, organized by CommonGround Maryland with the support of the National Corn Growers Association, brought an authentic voice to issues of interest to both consumers and agriculture such as how the use of modern technologies and practices produces healthy, quality food options for our country and beyond.

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Ohio FFA’s Kolesen McCoy elected National FFA President

At the 92nd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, it was announced that Ohio FFA’s Kolesen McCoy was selected as a National FFA Officer and will serve at National FFA’s President. McCoy retired from office as State FFA President in May of this year, and has since undergone a competitive process to represent FFA’s 700,000 plus members on the six-person team. McCoy is a member of the Global Impact STEM Academy FFA Chapter and is student at The Ohio State University majoring in agribusiness and applied economics.

OCJ’s Matt Reese caught up with McCoy earlier in the week about the interview process.

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USDA designates 14 Ohio counties as primary natural disaster areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 14 Ohio counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Adams, Belmont, Champaign, Clark, Guernsey, Highland, Madison, Miami, Monroe, Noble, Portage, Stark, Summit, and Trumbull counties who suffered losses due to excessive rain and flooding that occurred from Jan. 1 through Sept. 4, 2019, may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous Ohio counties Ashtabula, Brown, Carroll, Clinton, Columbiana, Coshocton, Cuyahoga, Darke, Fayette, Franklin, Geauga, Greene, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Logan, Mahoning, Medina, Montgomery, Morgan, Muskingum, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Shelby, Tuscarawas, Union, Washington, and Wayne, along with Lewis and Mason counties in Kentucky; Crawford and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania; and Marshall, Ohio, Tyler, and Wetzel counties in West Virginia, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

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Court says city can ban backyard chickens

By Ellen Essman and Peggy Hall, Ohio Law Blog, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University

The Court of Appeals for Ohio’s Seventh District upheld the city of Columbiana’s ordinances, which ban keeping chickens in a residential district, finding that they were both applicable to the appellant and constitutional. In this case, the appellant was a landowner in Columbiana who lived in an area zoned residential and kept hens in a chicken coop on his property. The appellant was eventually informed that keeping his hens was in violation of the city code. A lawsuit resulted when the landowner would not remove his chickens, and the trial court found for the city. The landowner appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing that he did not violate the city ordinances as they were written, and that the city applied the ordinances in an arbitrary and unreasonable way because his chickens did not constitute a nuisance.

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International farm youth exchange program now open for 2020 applications

Imagine being involved in rice harvesting in Thailand, experiencing advances in dairy farming in Switzerland, cattle ranching in Argentina, or opportunities in more than 15 other countries. An experience with International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) IFYE can offer this and more. The IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. is now accepting applications for its 2020 international exchange program.

The application is available on the IFYE Association website. It takes less than 30 minutes to complete and submit. The IFYE National Program Director will then follow up with you to begin your international experience. Those, 19 years of age and older, who complete the application will be interviewed for the limited number of 2020 international exchange opportunities.

Founded in 1948, the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. provides cultural exchange programming that places participants with multiple host families during a three- or six-month period in countries around the world. IFYE representatives experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain an understanding of the culture and lifestyle from those they live with while in the program.

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Assessing the research needs from the 2019 production year

By Greg LaBarge, CPAg/CCA, Dee Jepsen, Ben Brown, Anne Dorrance, Sam Custer, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

The 2019 production year has presented many challenges. Ohio State University Extension wants to be responsive to needs of the agricultural community. At short survey aimed at farmers to identify both short- and long-term outreach and research needs of Ohio crop and livestock/forage producers based on the 2019 farm crisis year has been developed. Questions relate to crop production, livestock forage needs, emergency forage success, economic and human stress concerns. Since challenges and concerns varied across the state, this survey is designed to assess needs on a county, regional and statewide basis. The study will be used to determine Extension programming and future research needs.

Please consider sharing your experiences at  https://go.osu.edu/ag2019.

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Voting begins for 2019 Farm Service Agency county committee elections

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin mailing ballots on November 4 to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee elections.

“Our county committee members play a key role in our efforts to provide assistance to producers,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA administrator. “We value the local input of the over 7,000 members nationwide who provide their valuable knowledge and judgment as decisions are made about the services we provide, including disaster and emergency programs.”

To be counted, ballots must be returned to the local FSA county office or postmarked by December 2.

Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. Newly elected committee members will take office January 1, 2020. County committee members help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility.

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H-2A changes could improve farm labor issues

As any employer knows, hiring forms, applications and rules are cumbersome, time intensive, duplicative, and can sometimes lack flexibility and common sense. This can be especially true for farmers trying to hire workers through the H-2A guest worker program. In seasonal farming situation, it can be tough to find domestic laborers and sometimes foreign workers are the only option, but the process of getting them hired is notoriously cumbersome.

In September, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced changes through a Final Rule in an effort to modernize the burdensome H-2A visa process for guest workers and make it easier for employers to follow the law and hire workers.

First, DOL’s Electronic Recruitment Rule rescinds the requirements to advertise a job opening in print newspaper, expands and enhances electronic job register, and uses state workforce agencies to promote job openings, which are further reaching and more cost effective. Also, DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification announced updates to the pertinent H-2A forms and online filing process for the H-2A temporary agricultural program.

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Blanchard River Demo Farms release new video series

The Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Project, a five-year initiative showcasing and demonstrating conservation practices that will help improve agriculture’s impact on downstream water quality, has released a new video series. These videos highlight the efforts being made on three northwest Ohio farms to learn about nutrient management and the many ways Ohio farmers can keep nutrients in the fields and out of the water.

“Our goal was to be able to get the information that we share during tours of the demo farms out to more people who might not be able to come and see it firsthand,” said Aaron Heilers, project manager of the Blanchard River Demonstrations Farms Network. “So we developed these small video segments that offer a summarization of the work being done on the demo farms that people can view wherever they are, whenever they have the time.”

The series includes four videos in all and covers the water quality issue, in general; gives a background on what the project is all about; details the edge-of-field monitoring that is being conducted; and outlines the recommended practices farmers need to implement to help reduce nutrient loss from their farm fields.

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More active fall weather pattern ahead

By Jim Noel, NOAA

A more active weather pattern is ahead. We expect a weak to moderate storm with some rainfall every 3 to 4 days over the next few weeks.

For the week of Oct. 22, expect slightly above normal temperatures by a degree or two and rainfall between 0.25-0.75 inches on average. There could be some scattered freezing temperatures in the north and west sections of Ohio especially come Saturday morning.

For the last week of October, there should be early to mid week rainfall with another 0.25-1.00 inches followed by a surge of cold weather and the real possibility of the first widespread freeze toward Halloween.

The outlook for November is above normal temperatures after a cold start to the month and rainfall normal to above normal. The early trends suggest a turn to a wetter late winter and spring of 2020 but we will need to simply monitor that.

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Ohio agricultural loan delinquencies have stabilized in 2019

By David Marrison, Ohio State University Extension

Financial stress, expressed as the ability of farmers to repay loans, is important to follow during times of low farm income. A new report “Ohio Agricultural Lending Outlook: Fall 2019,” published by Kevin Kim, Robert Dinterman, and Ani Katchova with the OSU AEDE’s Farm Income Enhancement Program, points to good news for Ohio farmers. The report provides information on agricultural loan volumes and delinquencies for Ohio farmers.

Agricultural loans issued by FDIC insured banks have increased in volume both nationally and in Ohio. For Ohio, the total number of agricultural loans reached $3.8 billion in 2018. There has been a slight uptick in delinquency rates, but they remain under 2%, which is a significant benchmark as delinquency rates remained above 2% for several years following the 2008 Farm Financial Crisis. The average delinquency rate for Ohio farm production loans for the recent 12 months was 1.06%, while for real estate loans it was 1.83%, seeing declines from last year’s rates.

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Pawpaw market growing in Ohio

The pawpaw is the largest edible fruit that is native to the United States, grown indigenous in some 26 states nationwide including Ohio. The majority of pawpaws are grown from the Great Lakes to the Florida Panhandle, with mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states being the primary growing region. Grown on trees, pawpaws ripen in the fall and are generally harvested from late August to mid-October.

Not to be confused with papayas, the skin color of ripe pawpaws can range from green to brown or black on the outside and is yellow on the inside, with a ripe pawpaw about the size of a large potato. The meat of the fruit, which is soft and mushy like an avocado, has been described as tasting a little like a rich, custardy tropical blend of banana, mango, and pineapple, according to Brad Bergefurd, a horticulture specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, (CFAES).

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Fake food: Is it better for you and the environment?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Many activists proselytize how bad animal agriculture is for the environment. Most of them operate on the premise that big is bad and that we should return to small family farms — or eliminate food animal agriculture altogether.

They also advocate a vegan diet. But I’m not concerned about people who choose that lifestyle for themselves, so long as they don’t mess with my getting a steak once in a while. Regardless of what they say, I’m convinced that we can’t rely solely on small family farms if agriculture has any chance of providing worldwide food security. This leads me to my topic for this month: the recent introduction of fake foods. Namely, the increasing presence and popularity of plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat. Are these fake foods based on good or bad nutrition? Well, it depends.

Promoters’ claims of health benefits are common for alternative foods.

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