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USDA issued first Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has already approved more than $545 million in payments to producers who have applied for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. FSA began taking applications May 26, and the agency has received over 86,000 applications for this important relief program.

“The coronavirus has hurt America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers, and these payments directed by President Trump will help this critical industry weather the current pandemic so they can continue to plant and harvest a safe, nutritious, and affordable crop for the American people,” said Secretary Perdue. “We have tools and resources available to help producers understand the program and enable them to work with Farm Service Agency staff to complete applications as smoothly and efficiently as possible and get payments into the pockets of our patriotic farmers.”

In the first six days of the application period, FSA had already made payments to more than 35,000 producers.… Continue reading

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The 4 Hs in the light of a pandemic

By Madi Kregel, OCJ field reporter

Any former 4-H member surely remembers the pledge of the youth organization covering the four Hs: Head to clearer thinking, heart to greater loyalty, hands to larger service, health for better living…

The challenges of 2020 have not changed the importance or meaning of the four H’s but have provided new opportunities to carry them out. Sally McClaskey, the program manager at the state 4-H office for education and marketing, encourages 4-H’ers to look at their project books and work on them with the challenges of today’s situation and the 4-Hs in mind. She said Ohio 4-H Extension has 20 printable project books online at ohio4h.org.

“The important thing about any 4-H project is what the youth learns from it,” she said. “The responsibility of taking care of an animal or completing a project all the way through, seeing it through to completion and what they take away from it — that’s really what’s most important thing.”

McClaskey said it is still possible for members to practice their four Hs, even in the face of COVID-19.… Continue reading

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Tips for selling and shopping at farmers markets

At this year’s farmers markets, Ohio’s farmers will be selling fresh foods. However, there won’t be any farm-fresh food samples to taste, and the music and children’s activities that typically accompany the markets will likely be canceled.

Ohio farmers markets, farm markets, and you-pick operations are open, they’re taking precautions to keep consumers safe from COVID-19, and they’re fully stocked with locally grown and produced foods.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted growers, local farmers, and livestock producers, these groups are continuing to plant, harvest, and market foods directly to the public, said Shoshanah Inwood, assistant professor of community, food, and economic development at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

That’s allowing consumers to maintain access to locally produced fruits, vegetables, poultry, meats, and other food products during this growing season. However, there will be changes in how consumers interact with these farmers at farmers markets, farm markets, and you-pick operations, Inwood said.… Continue reading

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New law provides more PPP flexibility

President Trump signed into law, legislation which provides businesses with greater flexibility in how they use Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and still have their loans forgiven: H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020.

Specifically, the legislation expands the amount of time businesses have to spend the money from eight to 24 weeks; reduces the minimum that businesses need to spend from 75% to 60% if they want the full loan amount to be forgiven; extends the time period to rehire employees from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020 and eliminates rehiring requirements; and clarifies that employers in the PPP program can also benefit from the CARES Act payroll tax delay.… Continue reading

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Back to the Future: A miraculous journey in Parkinson’s research (Part I — Cellular time travel)

By Don “Doc” Sanders

You probably remember the movie “Back to the Future,” starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The story I share with you in this column, how an imaginative, daring, life-impacting research project, brought that movie to my mind.

Late one summer night in 2017 four researchers were planning to transport brain cells for a transplant from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to the Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. Bin Song, a stem cell biologist based at McClean Hospital outside Boston, headed up the team. He and his colleagues had spent years developing the protocol for creating these special human stem cells that would develop into dopamine-producing brain cells.

Like Doc’s DeLorean in “Back to the Future,” their research allowed them to time travel. Bin Song and his fellow scientists took a snippet of a Parkinson’s patient’s skin cells and reversed their embryological development back to when the cells were rudimentary, before they matured and developed into the tissues and organs that make up our bodies, like the heart, lungs, brain, GI tract, skeleton, etc.… Continue reading

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Don’t roll your eyes at the discussion of force majeure

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

Twenty-nine years ago I recall sitting in my contracts class rolling my eyes at the discussion of force majeure. It seemed like such an impractical, academic concept that I doubted I would ever use it in practice. Wrong.

The term is French and means “superior force”or “unavoidable accident.” Force majeure is a common clause in contracts, including agreements for production agriculture, contract growers and custom feeding. The provision essentially frees both parties from performance when an extraordinary event or circumstance, beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, epidemic, pandemic or an event described by the legal term act of God, prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligation under the contract. The effects of the coronavirus on the food chain are likely force majeure under many legal situations.

Pillsbury Company, Inc. v Wells Dairy, Inc.Continue reading

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Ohio’s historic canal reservoirs provide present day recreational opportunities

By Mike Ryan, OCJ Field Reporter

During the heyday of Ohio canal construction, commerce, and travel in the middle 1800s, several feeder reservoirs were built to supply enough water to maintain a constant depth of 4 feet needed in the canals. As the era of the great canals waned, these feeder lakes lost their original purpose as water sources for canal traffic and were transformed into popular vacation and recreation destinations. These feeder lakes — Buckeye Lake, Indian Lake, Grand Lake, Lake Loramie, and Guilford Lake — are rich in human and natural history and offer diverse adventures for contemporary visitors.


Buckeye Lake

Ohio’s oldest state park is located at Buckeye Lake, a former feeder reservoir for the Ohio-Erie Canal. Spanning three separate counties — Fairfield, Perry, and Licking — this 3,100-acre lake was completed in 1830 and many vestiges of its history remain today.

On the lake in Millersport, Weldon’s Ice Cream, family owned and operated since 1930, still serves up old fashioned flavors from its quaint historic storefront.… Continue reading

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State to financially assist fairs, relaxes guidelines

By Dusty Sonnenberg

On Tuesday, June 9, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, along with Ohio Senate President, Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and Ohio Speaker of the House of Representatives, Larry Householder (R-Glenford) sent a letter to Ohio Fair Board members acknowledging the challenges COVID-19 has presented in conducting junior fair activities in a safe manner, and doing it in a way that “works financially.”

To help offset the expense of necessary health and sanitation practices that must be implemented due to the coronavirus, each fair that conducts a junior fair this year will receive $50,000. Fairs that do not conduct a junior fair this year will receive $15,000 that can be used towards next year’s fair to help offset the cost of conducting it safely. They also announced that if a fair has been canceled, they can apply for a new date with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.… Continue reading

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Celebrate June Dairy Month with yogurt

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietitian

Milk it’s what’s for dinner! Oops! I love slogans or catchy phrases and the marketing of commodities is no exception. Got Milk? was one of my favorites. It was created in 1993 and kicked off with a commercial named “Aaron Burr.” Google it if you are too young to remember. This nerdy guy is eating a peanut butter sandwich and gets a call from the radio station asking a $10,000 trivia question. He is a guru on the subject, knows the answer but cannot talk due to the dreaded sticky peanut butter mouth. Worse yet…he is out of milk. He has nothing to wash it down. The slogan took off with ads featuring sticky situations needing of course, milk!

“Got Milk” started a new campaign in 1988 with celebrities wearing milk mustaches. Celebrities from the music, TV, film, athletes as well as Batman, The Simpsons and other fictional characters starred in these fantastic ads.… Continue reading

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Farm Office Live Webinar slated for June 11 at 9:00 a.m.

Ohio State University Extension is pleased to be offering the a “Farm Office Live” session on Thursday morning, June 11 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Farmers, educators, and ag industry professionals are invited to log-on for the latest updates on the issues impact our farm economy.

The session will begin with the Farm Office Team answering questions asked over the two weeks. Topics to be highlighted include:

• Updates on the CARES Act, Payroll Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Update
• Other legal and economic issues
Plenty of time has been allotted for questions and answers from attendees. Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss the on-line office hours, the session recording can be accessed at farmoffice.osu.edu the following day. Participants can pre-register or join in on Thursday morning at https://go.osu.edu/farmofficelive.… Continue reading

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See something, say something: how to help someone that may be struggling with mental illness

By Brittany Olson, a Wisconsin Farm Bureau member, dairy farmer, writer, photographer and mental health advocate

Agriculture is commonly noted as being the last industry to make transactions on a handshake and an individual’s good word. Relationships are paramount, and — in general — we look out for each other. When tragedy strikes one of our own in the form of death, disability, or disease, we’re right there with a hot dish, a hug, and harvesting equipment depending on the time of year.

However, when the wounds are a little less visible — such as the scars that tear us apart on the inside — we clam up. Mental health is an uncomfortable topic both in and of itself, and how to address it. It should make us uncomfortable that our profession has a higher suicide rate than that of veterans and one of the highest overall. It should make us uncomfortable that one in four Americans will experience a major depressive episode at some point in their lifetime.… Continue reading

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$500,000 gift transforms Ohio State ATI’s engineering tech program

A recent $500,000 gift helps Ohio State ATI provide a competitive advantage to students, faculty, and staff through experiential learning with the most up-to-date engineering technology.

The gift, made by an anonymous donor, creates three new current-use funds for the Department of Engineering Technology at ATI, the associate-degree-granting academic unit within The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

In addition, the donation significantly boosts an existing fund that aids students with financial crises. This resource is even more crucial during the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The bulk of this gift is supportive of our engineering technologies. That is a tremendous career field,” ATI Director Kris Boone said. “We have been wanting to attract more students to this area because it’s a great career path. This gift will help us to be able to do that. In addition, it will help us ramp up workforce development training.”

The timing of the gift speaks volumes about the donor, Boone said.… Continue reading

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Restaurant sales fell to their lowest real level in over 35 years

With restaurant dining areas shuttered throughout most of the country, consumers had no choice but to allocate their food spending elsewhere in recent weeks. While takeout and delivery options offered many restaurants a bit of a lifeline, it by no means made up for the mandated elimination of on-premises traffic.

Eating and drinking places registered sales of just $32.4 billion on a seasonally-adjusted basis in April, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This was less than half — or $33 billion — of the $65.4 billion in sales that were rung up just two months earlier.

April’s eating and drinking place sales of $32.4 billion was the smallest volume since March 2005 — in nominal terms. However, adjusting for inflation, consumer spending at eating and drinking places in April plunged to its lowest level since October 1984.

In March, consumers spent only $46 billion in restaurants — or roughly $20 billion short of what would normally be expected.… Continue reading

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New federal funds available for farmers

Good news for farmers dismayed by a drop in prices and demand for what they produce.

New federal payments will be issued to eligible farmers to help offset lower demand and prices for their produce, grain crops, milk, and livestock as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Producers of cattle, hogs, specialty crops, corn, soybeans, and other agricultural goods can apply for the payments through Aug. 28 at their local Farm Service Agency Center. The funding is related to losses farmers have experienced during the first six months of this year.

Market prices for agricultural commodities have plummeted as a result of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus infections among employees at major meat processing plants led to shutdowns at those plants and a backlog of market-ready livestock on the farm that could not be processed.

“This is not meant to fully compensate for all losses,” said Dianne Shoemaker, an associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) who specializes in dairy production economics.… Continue reading

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Wilmington College receives $13.5 million estate gift

Wilmington College’s largest gift ever received in the 150-year history of the landmark institution will accelerate the ongoing renaissance WC has enjoyed in recent years as a result of enrollment records, new academic programs, major gifts, fiscal stability, and new and renovated facilities.

With the disbursement pending, the College expects to receive $13.5 million from the estate of Catherine (Cathy) Withrow, widow of 1958 alumnus Andrew (Andy) Withrow. They join a fellowship of key supporters who continue to demonstrate their confidence in Wilmington College. The College accepts their gift as a reflection of the couple’s belief in its ongoing commitment to excellence as a Quaker-affiliated institution of higher education that is preparing the leaders of tomorrow, according to President Jim Reynolds.

The Withrows, of Cincinnati, have a long history of supporting Andy’s alma mater. Starting in the 1960s, almost immediately after Andy graduated, they contributed $20 annually to the College phonathon. … Continue reading

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Do you know who coined the name “coronavirus”?

By Judit E. Puskas and Carin A. Helfer

Coronavirus got its name from its appearance: it looks like a ball with a crown (corona or halo) around it. The first images under an electron microscope were taken in 1964 by June Almeida, a Scottish female scientist.

The corona is made of spikes that attach the virus to cells. The RNA found inside the particle carries the information to copy the virus, allowing it to multiply. A person’s immune system will create antibodies that try to destroy the virus. These antibodies provide protection against the virus, which is how vaccines work — a weakened, or inactivated virus, is injected to trigger antibody formation. Simple? Yes, on the surface. However, June found that Hepatitis B can (i) can be carried by a person with no symptoms and no antibodies, or (ii) kill a person, or (iii) can cause health problems in a person.… Continue reading

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CFAP signup has started

By Ben Brown, Peggy Kirk Hall, David Marrison, Dianne Shoemaker and Barry Ward, The Ohio State University

Since the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020 and the announcement of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on April 17, 2020, producers in Ohio and across the country have been anxiously awaiting additional details on how the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will provide financial assistance for losses experienced as a result of lost demand, short-term oversupply and shipping pattern disruptions caused by COVID-19. Signup for CFAP started Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at local FSA offices.

The additional details on CFAP eligibility, payment limitations, payment rates, and enrollment timeline arrived on May 19, 2020, when the USDA issued its Final Rule for CFAP.  Resources for Ohio are available at: https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/u.osu.edu/dist/9/29991/files/2020/05/CFAP-Payments-Final-5-20-2020.pdf.

OSU Extension and Ohio FSA also conducted a webinar hosted by Ohio Ag Net outlining program materials and answering questions featuring Leonard Hubert of the Ohio Farm Service Agency.… Continue reading

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Wildlife chief cleared

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) Chief Kendra Wecker has been cleared of an alleged hunting violation after an investigation conducted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“ODNR’s Office of Law Enforcement completed an investigation,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz stated in a release. “The results of that investigation were reviewed by the Delaware City Prosecutor, who concluded there was no evidence of hunting on public land or turkey baiting. The anonymous allegations were unfounded. We appreciate their thorough review of this case.”

It was alleged that Wecker violated Ohio’s hunting laws while pursuing turkeys on private property in Delaware County, within 50 yards of a game feeder.

“On April 25, 2020, the ODNR received an anonymous complaint of turkey hunting by shotgun on an area restricted to archery hunting only,” the ODNR release stated. “An additional complaint alleged that hunters were harvesting turkey over a baited area.… Continue reading

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Canning in 2020

Home food preservation is expected to be very popular this year, as many people have taken on several kinds of new hobbies to pass time while staying home during quarantine.

Temporary business closures due to stay-at-home orders have also resulted in more people turning to gardening, whether due to a fear of food supply chain disruptions or a desire to have more control over the foods they eat.

Nationwide, more consumers are expected to plant gardens this year. For example, online searches for “growing vegetables from scraps” increased 4,650% in March compared the same time last year, according to Google Trends.

“Empty grocery store shelves, decreased incomes, more time at home, and an increased sense of an unknown future have many people wanting to do what they can to be more self-sufficient,” said Kate Shumaker, an Ohio State University Extension educator and registered dietitian. “That has led many to a new era of ‘victory gardens,’ where local food security starts in your own back yard,” she said, noting media reports of up to 300% increases in seed sales this spring.… Continue reading

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RIP Evinrude

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

BRP has announced it will discontinue production of Evinrude outboard engines, ending a century-long run of the iconic outboard boat motors founded in 1907 by Olé Evinrude in Milwaukee.

I own three Evinrudes at present, from a 1960s 3 horsepower model passed along to me by my late Dad to a state-of-the-art 2014 130 hp E-TEC outboard that — even used — cost me more than we spent on my wife’s car (I’m good, Maria doesn’t read OCJ). I figure that over four decades of boating I have owned at least a dozen of Ole’s offspring, and I’m not going to be alone in missing the classic brand with the oddball name.

Here’s the gist of the press release sent to boating media the day of the announcement:

“Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately,” said José Boisjoli, President and CEO of BRP.… Continue reading

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