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MADE on the Farm returns to Ross County

The Ross County Farm Bureau will once again host MADE on the Farm to benefit the nationally recognized program MADE (My Attitude Determines Everything), a group of Ross County students that is part of the regional Drug Free Clubs of America organization.

“MADE has been hugely successful on a local level teaching kids about drugs and bringing awareness to the community, and the community has stood behind their efforts,” said Greg Corcoran, president of the Ross County Farm Bureau. “We saw this as an opportunity so we reached out to them and asked how we can take part and help and that is why the very first MADE on the Farm event was organized last year. We are excited to continue this partnership.”

The 2018 MADE on the Farm effort was recognized with an Achievement Award from the Ohio Farm Bureau, showcasing the most outstanding county-led outreach programs in the state.

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Belmont County Farm Bureau tackles local hunger issues

By Matt Reese

A hungry child is hard to stomach.

It is hard to imagine in today’s society of excess and plenty that there are people — especially children — who regularly do not get enough food to meet basic nutritional needs. Yet, in every corner of Ohio, it is far too easy to find hungry children. Nationally, more than 13 million children live in food insecure homes and one in five children does not get the food they need every day. Three out of four teachers report that there are children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry.

The Belmont County Farm Bureau decided to tackle this problem head on in their corner of the state by cooperating with local efforts to provide food to children in need through county schools. Dairy farmer Devin Cain is helping coordinate the program.

“I had the privilege of going to Texas last year with DFA, our local milk co-op.

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Agriculture cheers rollback of tariffs that bolsters USMCA chances

On May 17 the Trump administration announced plans to lift the 25% tariff on steel and the 10% duty on aluminum imports imposed last year on Canada and Mexico. Both countries subsequently retaliated against a host of U.S. products. The turmoil has slowed passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“Today’s lifting of steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexican and Canadian imports and the elimination of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products by Mexico and Canada is welcome news,’ said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Retaliatory tariffs are a drag on American farmers and ranchers at a time when they are suffering more economic difficulty than many can remember. Elimination of these tariffs should help pave the way for approval of the USMCA by Congress. Likewise, keeping an eye on today’s deal should address concerns about dumping and unfair subsidies.

“With this milestone reached, we urge negotiators to continue their work toward re-opening markets with the European Union, China and Japan.

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Ohio Farm Bureau launches new online safety program for farmers

Nearly everyone in Ohio’s agriculture community knows someone who has been seriously injured or who has perished from an on-farm related incident. While fatalities in farming activities have declined over the last few years, the ultimate goal is to eliminate farm-related accidents altogether. That’s the vision of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Cultivating Safe Farm Operations eLearning Safety Series, a new, interactive, engaging and accessible online education program developed for a broad audience of farmers, workers and on-farm youth to make real changes in their farm safety habits.

Developed in partnership with Nationwide and Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Science’s Ag Safety and Health Program, the online safety series offers three 40-minute modules for learners and covers several basic agricultural risks. Each module integrates an assessment into the online platform to assure basic comprehension, which will help cultivate on-farm behavior modification.

To access the modules, prospective learners must create an account through the Farm Bureau University platform, which is provided in partnership with American Farm Bureau Federation and includes additional self-directed learning opportunities.

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Windows for planting expected in coming weeks

By Jim Noel, NOAA

After a wet spring was forecasted since January, it appeared in April that a window would open in May. The rain total window has however, the frequency window has not. The rainfall the last two weeks in Ohio has averaged 1.5 to 2.5 inches with some streaks above 3 inches and some below 1.5 inches. Normal for this period is 1.5 to 2.0 inches. The reality is the ground is just so wet from the wet period up to May. The other BIG key is the frequency of the wet weather.

Often, when it is wet in say the eastern U.S., it is dry in the western U.S. The opposite also holds true. However, we have a very active and progressive weather pattern all around the northern hemisphere. This means a lot of weak to moderate storms on a continuous basis. It is not just Ohio either.

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Trade assistance must help all affected farmers

Following the recent escalation of trade tensions between China and the United States that will likely exacerbate the erosion of agricultural export markets and further depress commodity prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to announce a trade assistance package to support struggling family farmers and ranchers.

In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, National Farmers Union (NFU) provided recommendations for how best to “craft a package that will adequately address the broad, long-term impacts to all of American agriculture.”

“Family farmers and ranchers have borne the brunt of the trade war with China, which has intentionally targeted American agricultural products with retaliatory tariffs. We appreciate the administration’s recent efforts to relieve the immense economic pressure those in the agriculture industry are feeling as a result,” said Roger Johnson, NFU President Roger Johnson. “Though China’s tariffs have specifically targeted soybeans, pork, and sorghum, many other commodities have been impacted, both directly and indirectly.

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Lake Erie water levels high

With the amount of rainfall that Ohio has received this spring, the Lake Erie water levels continue to rise. Lake Erie water levels are currently at near record highs, will remain high and are anticipated to peak in the month of June. Lake levels will then begin to subside due to a normal seasonal decline, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

All of the Great Lakes are at near record highs due to increased precipitation across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Region. Lake Erie is 2.5 feet above long-term average water level for the month of May. The May 10, 2019, water level is 4 inches above the record highest average level for May, which occurred in 1986.

High water levels increase the chance of flooding in low-lying coastal areas, especially during wind-driven seiche events. The combination of waves and high water can cause severe coastal erosion during these events.

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Diverse stakeholder group to benchmark nutrient management efforts and create farmer certification to improve water quality

A unique collaboration of stakeholders representing the agriculture, conservation, environmental, and research communities have joined forces to develop and deploy a statewide water quality initiative. This unprecedented partnership brings together diverse interests to establish a baseline understanding of current on-farm conservation and nutrient management efforts and to build farmer participation in a new certification program.

The Agriculture Conservation Working Group recently held a two-day retreat in Ostrander, Ohio, where sub-committees focusing on best management practices, education development, governance, data management, certification and public outreach engaged in robust dialogue around strategies for introduction and implementation of the program. Much of the conversation centered on identifying the path to healthy waterways in the state, and the complex approaches necessary to understand existing practices and successfully engage farmers in education and certification.

“A group with a farm-level focus and representation from across the environmental, academic and agricultural communities has never come together before with a commitment to the shared objective of improved water quality,” said Scott Higgins, CEO, Ohio Dairy Producers Association and co-chair of the working group.

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State budget clears house, moves to senate

By Kolt Buchenroth
The Ohio House of Representatives has placed their seal of approval on their version of the State’s operating budget totaling $69 billion. The bill, which passed 85-9 was massive in size and covers a lot of ground. Several pieces of the bill relate to agriculture.
“We are following some provisions dealing with water taxes, agricultural products, education that are really important under Farm Bureau policy,” said Jenna Beadle, Ohio Farm Bureau director of state policy.
It’s no surprise that the House’s version of the budget relates in large part to water quality and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio Program. The bill’s language says in part that the initiative encourages cooperation among government, business, higher education, agriculture, and conservation organizations.
While Governor DeWine had proposed the program’s funding for the next decade in the budget, the legislature had other plans.
“The House has removed the mechanism for funding H2Ohio on an ongoing basis and has only funded it for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
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Ohio Agricultural Council announces 2019 inductees

Four Ohioans who have committed their lives to working in, promoting and advocating for Ohio’s farm community will be honored Friday, Aug. 2, by the Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC), when they are inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC) will induct Bryan Black of Canal Winchester, Charles A. “Al” Holdren of Ashland, Lewis R. Jones of Grove City and Robinson “Rob” W. Joslin of Sidney, into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame during a special breakfast ceremony held in Kasich Hall at the Ohio State Fair. The 54th annual event will attract more than 600 guests to honor these four professionals for their lifetime of service and dedication to Ohio’s agriculture community.

“This is a very special class of inductees, and I am so pleased to recognize their expansive contributions to Ohio agriculture,” said Hinda Mitchell, OAC President. “With representation from state agencies to agribusiness to those who spent their lives working a farm, our 2019 inductees have given of their time, talent and leadership to advance the interests of Ohio agriculture and to serve our farm community with distinction.”

The following four inductees will join 229 prior recipients named since 1966 when the program was incepted.

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Vaccinate ‘em — It’s better than antibiotics or snake oil

By Don “Doc” Sanders

There’s an exciting world out there when it comes to vaccines and their ability to protect us and our animals from disease.

Most of you likely are aware that a vaccine, when given at the appropriate time and by the correct route, stimulates the immune systems of people and animals. We have vaccines for tetanus, whooping cough, polio, classical swine fever (hog cholera), many strains of salmonella (in animals), Rota virus, some Corona viruses in pigs and calves, distemper, rabies, Herpes I virus in cattle and horses…the list goes on and on.

However, there isn’t a vaccine for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer. This disease causes a gradual wasting away of body reserves, drooling, stumbling and incoordination, swallowing difficulty and eventually death. CWD is not caused by a virus or bacteria, but rather what might appear to be a harmless protein, called a prion. Prions settle in the brain, where they multiply.

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USDA accepting applications to reduce costs for organic certification

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019.

“Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for up to 75% of the cost of organic certification,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA Administrator. “This also gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help them succeed. Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs from help with field buffers to routine operating expenses to storage and handling equipment.”

OCCSP received continued support through the 2018 Farm Bill. It provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program.

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Ohio industry leaders join together to denounce tariff increase

By Kolt Buchenroth, Zach Parrott and Joel Penhorwood

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland — the nationwide grassroots campaign against tariffs — in conjunction with the Council of the Great Lakes Region, hosted a town hall this week in Cleveland at the 2019 Great Lakes Economic Forum.

The event featured a discussion with Ohio business owners, manufacturers and farmers on the impact of tariffs on the state’s economy. The conversation came one day after President Trump announced that he will be increasing tariffs substantially this week.

The group released the following statement regarding the tweet announcement that tariffs on $200 billion of goods will increase from 10 to 25% on Friday.

“For 10 months, Americans have been paying the full cost of the trade war, not China. To be clear, tariffs are taxes that Americans pay, and this sudden increase with little notice will only punish U.S farmers, businesses and consumers,” Tariffs Hurt the Heartland said in the statement. 

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Guidelines for employing youth on your farm

By Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR in Tuscarawas County

Students will be wrapping up their school year soon and you may have a young person contact you about a summer job. Young people often have an interest to work on a farm and many are excellent employees. However, as an employer, there are rules and regulations you must understand before hiring minors to do work on your farm.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has established certain provisions to protect the safety of minors. In 1967, the U.S. Secretary of Labor determined certain agricultural jobs as hazardous to youth less than 16 years of age. There are two exemptions to these regulations:

  1. The list of hazardous agricultural occupations does not apply to youth under 16 years of age working on a farm owned by their parents or guardians; and
  2. The list of hazardous agricultural occupations does not apply to youth under 16 years of age who have completed an approved Tractor and Machinery Certification course.
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Goals achieved in 2019 Ohio Farm Bureau membership campaign

The membership team of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and volunteers throughout the state set some lofty goals at the start of the 2019 membership campaign. After a full year of countless events, meetings, phone calls and contacts, those efforts culminated into goals being met and exceeded, as the final tally for membership gain came in at 107.2%, year over year.

“These accomplishments would not be possible without the leadership of our county membership coordinators and the commitment of their dedicated teams of volunteers that invite their family, friends, neighbors and local businesses to join them as a member of our organization,” said Paul Lyons, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of membership. “Achieving these goals has even greater meaning, as we celebrate 100 years of doing the important work of our organization.”

An impressive 81 counties received the Milestone Award for achieving a gain in farmer and ag professional members, and 14 volunteers won the Murray Lincoln Award for signing up at least 50 new members to Ohio Farm Bureau.

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2019 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and its partners invite guests to stroll through organic vegetable fields, learn about pastured livestock production, consider a career in farming, savor farm-to-table feasts, and take advantage of other learning and networking opportunities during the 2019 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

In addition to OEFFA’s 20 summer farm tours, workshops, and special events in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, 26 other events are being presented by The Ohio State University, Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, Clintonville Farmers’ Market, and the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance.

“This year’s series is unique because we’re offering many special events celebrating OEFFA’s 40th anniversary — from field to fork meals, a craft beer social, and an OEFFA open house for members to stop in and get to know our staff and board a little better,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

OEFFA members and the public are invited to celebrate OEFFA’s 40th anniversary during these special events:

  • Sunday, August 4: The Farmers’ Table — Jorgensen Farms Oak Grove, Franklin Co.
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Ag groups weigh in on beginning farmer bill

By Matt Reese

Legislators heard from Ohio agriculture yesterday in a hearing for House Bill 183. The bill was recently introduced by state representatives Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) to create a tax credit program that would incentivize retiring farmers to sell or rent to beginning farmers in Ohio.

Nathan Brown, Highland County, and Rose Hartschuh, Crawford County, representing Ohio Farm Bureau, testified as proponents of the bill. Bennett and Liza Musselman, part owners/operators of Musselman Farms in Pickaway County, also testified on behalf of the bill.

“The agriculture industry is extremely difficult to break into if you or your family do not have a background in farming. High amounts of capital are needed to invest in land, equipment, labor, crops or livestock, financial management plans, and compliance with regulations just to get started. New farmland is not readily available, so there is restricted access to the ground required, adding yet another barrier to individuals who are looking to start a career in farming,” Brown said in his testimony on April 30.

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Updated “Bringing Biotechnology to Life” resource available for educators

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and the International Food Information Council Foundation have launched an updated version of “Bringing Biotechnology to Life.” This free educational resource for educators follows the principles of project-based learning to teach about plant biotechnology and its role in food production through eight sequential lessons and a culminating research and public presentation module. The updated resource addresses national learning standards for seventh through 10th grade students and asks the following questions:

  • What is DNA?
  • How can we examine DNA?
  • What is selective breeding?
  • What is biotechnology?
  • How is biotechnology used?
  • How do researchers compare DNA?
  • Where would we be without GMOs?
  • Where is biotechnology headed?

“Using advancements in technology, agriculturalists are striving to feed more people with fewer resources,” said Christy Lilja, executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “Biotechnology is one of these advancements. It’s important that our resources continue to reflect these advancements in technology, which is why we are excited to launch the third version of Bringing Biotechnology to Life.

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Tackling human resource management challenges in Ohio’s agribusinesses

By Matt Reese

Whether it is a small farm business with a handful of employees or a large corporation with many, human resource management has become a significant issue for Ohio’s agribusinesses.

“This may be the No. 1 challenge for Ohio’s agribusinesses. Every business is a little different and there might be a few issues that rise above human resource issues, but it is a major issue. Not only is it important in filling the positions, but the human resource aspect of business also includes the opioid epidemic and drug issues. As a business, how do you provide the resources for employees to deal with that? What about workers comp claims? How do you make sure you are providing a safe and secure work environment for your employees? There is a whole slew of things our HR professionals deal with on a regular basis,” said Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.

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Job growth strong in rural Ohio

Since 2010, job growth in Ohio’s rural areas has been strong, nearly comparable to the growth in the state’s major cities, according to an economist at The Ohio State University.

Between 2010 and 2017, only six states had better rural job growth than Ohio, said Mark Partridge, an economics professor at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“As long as this economic expansion continues, rural Ohio is going to fare pretty well compared to the rest of the U.S.,” said Partridge, who is also chair of the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at CFAES.

Between 2010 and 2018, Ohio’s nonmetropolitan areas with populations less than 50,000 and not within commuting distance of major cities had a 7.6% increase in the number of jobs — nearly 10 times the national average. During the same period, the growth of jobs in Ohio’s major cities was only slightly higher — a 9.2% increase.

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