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Global economic setbacks, progress and potential as planting season draws near

By Dave Russell and Matt Reese

The world is watching as coronavirus sweeps around the globe and limits commerce at every level of society. The issue, and its impact on the agricultural economy and global trade, was certainly a topic of discussion with the Ohio Farm Bureau members on the recent County Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

“We’re dealing with a new kind of demand destruction with the coronavirus. We found yet another headwind for U.S. agriculture this year,” said John Newton, chief economist with American Farm Bureau. “The elephant in the room is China and Phase One and what has happened to that elephant with the coronavirus. Globally the supply chain is going to slow. This could have a long tail and we’ll have to continue to keep an eye on it.”

After a general downturn in the agricultural economy and an extended trade war, the impact of the coronavirus could have lasting effects for farms. … Continue reading

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H2Ohio signup deadline extended

By Glen Arnold, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

The deadline to enter into a contract with the H2Ohio program for farmers in the 14-county, Maumee River watershed is being extended. The original deadline was March 31, but due to COVID-19, more farmers and Soil and Water Conservation District personnel are conducting information exchanges through phone calls and e-mails.

The H2Ohio deadline is expected to be extended to June 2, tentatively. Contact the local Soil and Water Conservation District for more details.… Continue reading

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U.S. halts visa application processing in Mexico

U.S. agriculture is working diligently to maintain the stability of our food supply as concerns over COVID-19 lead to increased consumer purchases of groceries and other items. At the same time, the United States is suspending routine immigrant and nonimmigrant processing visa services in Mexico beginning March 18, 2020 to combat the spread of the virus. This is a serious concern, said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president.

“Farmers and ranchers remain committed to doing the work in the fields, orchards and barns across the country to ensure Americans have access to healthy, affordable food. Particularly now, during these challenging times, an assured food supply allows families to focus on the safety and well-being of their loved ones. We commend the good work being done to protect families and our population and appreciate all the workers focused on ensuring food gets from our farms to grocery stores, and of course we are grateful for the health care workers ensuring we can treat those who are ill and contain the pandemic,” Duvall said. … Continue reading

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Sunrise Cooperative hosted FFA Career Day

Sunrise Cooperative, Inc. hosted a Sunrise FFA Career Day on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at its Uniopolis facility in Uniopolis, Ohio. The event was attended by 72 junior and senior FFA students from the following local high schools: Anna, Botkins, Indian Lake, Minster, St. Marys, Upper Scioto Valley-OHP, Wapakoneta and Waynesfield-Goshen.

The career day was designed to give students an opportunity to interact with employees and learn about different careers within the cooperative. Each of the four divisions, agronomy, energy, feed and grain at Sunrise were represented.

“Sunrise is a strong supporter of the FFA Association, and we were glad to have these students visit our Uniopolis facility,” said Morgan Niedermier, Vice President of Marketing at Sunrise. “We are growing the future of agriculture together through our career day. The FFA has some of the best leaders in the agriculture industry and we were glad to share career opportunities with them, as well as give them a tour of our state-of-the-art facility.”

The Sunrise grain division was represented by Chris Hager, Merchandising Assistant and Skylr Timbrook, Operations.… Continue reading

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Polls closed for March 17 election

The election is off for Tuesday March 17.

The effort to postpone the election due to health concerns started in a March 16 afternoon press conference with Governor Mike DeWine.

“We can’t tell people it’s in their best interest to stay home and at the same time tell people to go vote,” DeWine said.

Following up on the announcement, two Franklin County voters filed a lawsuit Monday evening seeking to delay the election over risking their health. Shortly after 7 p.m., Franklin County Judge Richard Frye denied the effort to postpone the election in his ruling. So, for a little while, the election was back on for March 17.

Just three hours later, DeWine’s Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order closing all polling locations on March 17. Governor DeWine issued this statement: “During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus.… Continue reading

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U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program

The Ohio Development Services Agency is working to submit necessary information to qualify the state for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. This program will enable small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million dollars.

Non-profit organizations are also eligible. Small business owners who have been impacted should send their contact information to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov.… Continue reading

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D.C. trip about relationships

By Dave Russell and Matt Reese

Believe it or not, there were issues other than the coronavirus discussed on the late March trip to Washington, D.C. for the Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents. In many ways it was still business as usual with policy to discuss, on-farm stories to share and relationships to build, said Frank Burkett, Ohio Farm Bureau president.

“This is a trip of opportunities that come with relationships our leaders have built over the course of time,” Burkett said. “We spoke with the group and told them they need to share their experiences. When you are here and actually experience it and actually have the conversations, you see that it is really critical that we have the ability to come to D.C. and have that dialog. That means a lot. As we become less of a percentage of the population, it is important that lawmakers understand what farmers are doing and that what they are doing impacts what we are doing on the farm.”

One common topic was the importance of rural broadband infrastructure.… Continue reading

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Ohio suing Army Corps of Engineers related to overcharges at Caesar Creek Lake

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal court to recoup improper charges billed to the state for the upkeep of Caesar Creek Lake.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, contends that the Corps of Engineers has jacked up costs without providing complete itemized receipts to support the price increases. Receipts that have been provided list questionable charges.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has kept tight-lipped when pressed about these excessive and unreasonable charges,” Yost said. “Some of the receipts we have seen are unbelievable — like charges for attending a boat show. We want our money back.”

Under an agreement reached in 1970, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) pays the Corps of Engineers for maintaining and operating the reservoir, a water source for the City of Wilmington. ODNR bills the city for reimbursement.

According to the contract, the maintenance and operational charges are supposed to be limited to those involving flood control and water supply.… Continue reading

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Memories left hanging

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

It can be argued that the world is in a state of unrest. Social Media is very rapidly becoming “here’s where you can find toilet paper.” The authorities are being called over a jar of peanut butter in the grocery store. Our county’s Emergency Operations Center is open and activated for the first time since I learned of its existence. After 35 consecutive runs (one of which during a Level 3 snow emergency), the Hardin County Fair cancelled the annual consignment farm machinery sale — a true sign of the times.

Perhaps the most gut wrenching outcome of all of this is the time the students aren’t spending together. I write this blog post on the way back from a spring break spent in North Carolina with family. My cousin is a senior in high school. I watched a look of sadness and disappointment as their principal announced her soccer season was suspended until the beginning of April.… Continue reading

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COVID-19 makes for a different trip to D.C.

By Dave Russell, Ohio Ag Net

So, I’ve been coming on the Ohio Farm Bureau’s County Presidents’ trip to Washington, D.C. since, gosh I don’t remember the exact year, but it was the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. What I do know is that I’ve been coming on this trip longer than some of this year’s participants have been alive.

This year’s trip, though, was a little different. Well, I mean other than all of the talk about coronavirus it seemed to me that it was pretty much business as usual in our nation’s capital. There were still plenty of people walking the halls of Congress, cab drivers waiting for their next fare, Uber drivers pulling up and taking said fare.

But then, of course you should probably consider the numerous conversations about running out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. That’s definitely different from previous trips. Evidently this is a big deal when you go to the store and the shelves are bare and Johnny just used the last roll.… Continue reading

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Ohio agricultural events postponed and cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

On March 12, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH gave an update on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio when there were five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state (as of around 2:00 p.m. EST). The fourth case involved a hospitalized man, age 53, in Stark County who has no travel history outside of the United States. Because this individual has had no known contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, this is the first instance of “community spread” in Ohio —meaning there is no known source of infection. The local health department is investigating the individual’s contacts.

During his news conference on March 12, DeWine said the state will be ordering that no mass gatherings of more than 100 people will be allowed in the state. The order will include auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large conference rooms, meeting halls, cafeterias, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.… Continue reading

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Changing climate a hot topic on 74th Ohio Farm Bureau County Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

By Dave Russell and Matt Reese

The climate is changing and it is evident on farms in Ohio and the streets of Washington, D.C. The political discussions on this hot topic continue in the halls of Congress and on this year’s 74th Ohio Farm Bureau County Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

“There is renewed focus in Congress on the issue of climate,” said Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for American Farm Bureau. “There is a recognition that at some point, either this Congress, next Congress or three congresses down the road, something is going to happen with climate change in Congress and we need to be involved.”

With that in mind, American Farm Bureau teamed up with a broad collation of agricultural organizations to tell the story of food production and climate.

Farmers for a Sustainable Future is a fairly new group here in Washington, D.C. to come around the table and discuss the issues of sustainability and climate and really try to stake out a place in these discussions for agriculture to play a role,” Walmsley said.… Continue reading

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Update from NRCS

A conversation with…

Matt Lohr, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service who recently spoke at the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts 2020 Annual Partnership Meeting

 

OCJ: You have a farm and agricultural background right?

Matt: I do. I’m a fifth generation farmer from Virginia. We raise about three quarters of a million broiler chickens a year, feeder cattle, corn and bean rotation, and 20 acres of sweet corn. My wife, Beth, and I have six children who are all very involved in our farm. So it’s been very exciting for me to continue that tradition of farming with this next generation. And we’ll see — they’re still young so I’m not sure if I’ve got a full time farmer in the family or not. But we’ve done a good job of trying to instill a love of conservation in each of them.

 

OCJ: Now what are some of the key comments and topics you are talking about with some of the folks from Ohio?… Continue reading

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Gov. DeWine creates BroadbandOhio to support expansion of high-speed Internet

Governor Mike DeWine recently announced the creation of BroadbandOhio, an office dedicated to improving access to high-speed internet across Ohio. Establishing an office committed to increasing high-speed internet access across the state was a pillar of the Ohio Broadband Strategy that was released in December 2019.

“BroadbandOhio will implement our strategy for increasing high-speed internet access to underserved and unserved Ohioans across the state,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “We know there are more than 300,000 households in Ohio without broadband access. We need to increase access and establishing the office is a first step.”

BroadbandOhio will implement the Ohio Broadband Strategy and be the point of contact for all broadband projects in Ohio. The office will be charged with identifying high-priority initiatives and ensure their completion, as well as serve as a liaison among state agencies in order to implement the goals of the state in expanding access and supporting Ohioans who have been left without access to the modern economy, education system, and healthcare system due to their lack of high-speed connectivity.… Continue reading

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Youth Capital Challenge kicks off in Columbus

Public policy, fellowship and interaction with state representatives were all part of the opening session for 2020 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge participants.

A total of 36 students ages 14-18 and 10 mentors gathered March 3 in Columbus to discuss agricultural issues and policy as part of the annual program, which is a collaboration among Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio FFA and Ohio State University Extension. The interactive education program engages youths in the civic life of their community. The students team up in groups to identify issues and problems facing their community. After researching a specific topic, they develop a public policy plan to propose to appropriate government leaders.

Kelsey Turner, Ohio Farm Bureau program specialist, leadership development, said the initial policy proposals ranged from re-evaluating school lunch programs and requiring mental health first aid classes in high schools to using 4-H and FFA as a part of re-entry programs for troubled youths.… Continue reading

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Heritage Cooperative to purchase Performance brand and other assets from Hanby Farms Inc.

Heritage Cooperative, Inc. announced they have exercised the option to purchase the feed, grain, trucking and agronomy assets of Hanby Farms Inc. of Nashport, Ohio. This includes the Performance Feed brand established in 1983.

“This proposed acquisition aligns with our goal of continued diversification of the business, while specifically enhancing feed production and operations throughout Ohio and in surrounding states,” said Jeff Osentoski, president and CEO of Heritage Cooperative. “The Hanby Farms management team runs a terrific business and the company’s employees operate it superbly. I am confident that the addition of the feed, grain, trucking and agronomy operations will benefit Heritage and Hanby customers immediately.”

The acquisition is expected to close on March 31, 2020.

“As a member of the Heritage Cooperative team, I am personally excited to continue to serve Hanby Farms customers and to provide additional opportunities for employees,” said David Hanby. “Our vision and values align well with Heritage and together we will provide superior customer service and efficiencies with this strategic alignment.”… Continue reading

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Federal broadband legislation moving forward

On March 4, the House of Representatives passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act (S. 1822). The bill, approved by the Senate last year, will now go to President Trump for his signature.

“Reliable access to broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “This legislation will create a more accurate National Broadband Map, which will help ensure resources are targeted to the areas that need it most. Farm Bureau thanks members of both chambers who diligently worked to pass this legislation and are committed to ensuring all Americans, including those in rural communities, have broadband in their homes, at their businesses, and on their farms.”

The DATA Act requires broadband providers to report more specific data to create a significantly more accurate and granular National Broadband Map. With more precise data, federal agencies can target funding to areas that need it most.… Continue reading

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USDA opens signup March 23 for added causes of loss under WHIP+

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced additional disaster assistance available to agricultural producers, including producers impacted by drought and excess moisture as well as sugar beet growers. Through WHIP+, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is helping producers recover from losses related to 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will open signup on March 23 for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought (D3 or above) and excess moisture. USDA is also entering into agreements with six sugar beet processing cooperatives to distribute $285 million to grower members of those cooperatives who experienced loss.

“It’s true that farmers and ranchers are no strangers to the impact natural disasters have on their operations, but disaster events the past two years have been atypically widespread, relentless and unforgiving,” Secretary Perdue said. “In some instances, producers have suffered multiple disaster events in one year or in several years back-to-back.… Continue reading

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Ohio FFA celebrated National FFA Week in unique ways

By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter

Each year during the week of George Washington’s birthday, middle school and high school students across the nation celebrate how the FFA organization is making an impact in their state and local communities. FFA week serves as a time for students to share the impact of agricultural education, interact with alumni and celebrate the organization.

The first national FFA week took place in 1948 and was chosen during the week of the first president’s birthday to honor the impact he had on agriculture. This year FFA week was Feb. 22 to 29 and Ohio FFA members were busy executing events and activities to share the story of agriculture and agricultural education.

The Franklin Monroe Chapter, located in Darke County, hosted several events throughout the week for FFA members, school staff and students. FFA members participated in theme days throughout the school week, which included hat day, western day, FFA Wednesday, camo day, and agriculture occupation day.… Continue reading

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Mental health first aid training offered by OSU Extension

The wet weather of 2019 caused a great deal of stress for farmers and Ohio’s agricultural industry. While we don’t know what Spring 2020 will bring, there are indications that we may have another delayed start to the planting season. Ohio State University Extension educators and specialists responded last year with the creation of a website (https://u.osu.edu/2019farmassistance/home/) to address Ohio’s agricultural challenges. This website continues to be maintained with resources that address agronomic crops, financial management, and stress management.

Ohio State University Extension, with funding assistance from the USDA Farm Stress and Rural Assistance Network, is able to offer Mental Health First Aid Trainings for agricultural professionals.Within rural communities, there are many professionals that interact with the farm community, including agricultural businesses and service providers, financial planners and lenders, veterinarians, clergy, educators and others. Sometimes the best first aid is knowing how to connect people in a crisis with the appropriate professional, peer, social or self-help care.… Continue reading

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