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Coyote trapping/hunting regulations again being debated

By Matt Reese

In early 2020 coyotes were causing quite a stir in Columbus due to a proposal from the Division of Wildlife to align coyote hunting and trapping regulations with Ohio’s furbearers.

“The Division of Wildlife proposed some rule changes that would require anyone who traps or takes a coyote to have a fur taker permit. It also set up a season for coyotes that would be in line with other animals such as fox and so forth,” said Tony Seegers, Ohio Farm Bureau director of state policy. “The provision was really going to hamstring farmers with the creation of a season that would not be beneficial for lambing and calving on livestock farms. The Division, after much consideration and comments from many of our members, decided to withdraw those rules.”

Since then, HB 553 has been introduced to keep the open season for coyotes in place permanently.

“We appreciate the Division of Wildlife withdrawing those proposed rules earlier in the year but we also know agencies can bring rules back.… Continue reading

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Guidelines for county fairs released 🎙

By Matt Reese

The calendar is almost to June and there is still tremendous uncertainty surrounding most of Ohio’s county and independent fairs. The topic came up in Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s afternoon press conference.

“Today we are releasing guidelines on how county fair boards/agricultural societies and local health departments can safely allow kids to participate in limited livestock shows and other activities,” DeWine said.

The guidelines include an emphasis on social distancing, limiting crowds, ensuring the health of people involved, and measures for animal care. The governor encouraged Ohio’s fair boards to work with local health departments on putting on the events within the guidelines.

Earlier in the day State Representatives Susan Manchester and Jena Powell sent a letter to DeWine urging the State to comply with recommendations offered by the Fair Advisory Group.

“Each county has faced different experiences and challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, it is clear that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” the letter said.… Continue reading

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COVID-19 merges medical and legal issues

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

Doctors shouldn’t practice law. Lawyers shouldn’t practice medicine. And politicians shouldn’t practice medicine either, but I digress. Some of the most practical and timely legal information I’ve read recently came from a physician practicing in a COVID-19 Unit in Detroit, who shared what she wished her patients had completed prior to their coronavirus diagnosis, advance directives. These legal documents are a set of instructions someone prepares in advance of ill health that determines his healthcare wishes. End of life is a topic none of us likes to contemplate, but according to the doc, not dealing with the inevitable can make the inevitable even more problematic and painful for the patient and the family.

She shared the anguish of the next of kin of a 30-year old patient whose body was unable to fight the coronavirus. He had not executed any legal documents nor had he ever discussed the issues with his family.Continue reading

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Soil moisture and the weather to watch in 2020

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

There is an old saying that “drought begets drought.”

Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension climate specialist explains that soil moisture can have an impact on both temperature and precipitation.

“When we get into weather patterns of dry weather and drought conditions, and it seems like the pattern continues, the level of soil moisture plays a role in that,” Wilson said. “The same applies when we get in a wet pattern, and it just keeps raining. The level of moisture in the soil can impact both the precipitation and temperature.

“This past winter in Ohio was the fifth warmest on record since 1895 looking at the period of December through February. It was also the 22nd wettest. Relatively warm and wet describe how the spring of 2020 began as well. March was the 11th warmest, especially when you factor in overnight lows, and it was the 15th wettest on record statewide.”

Geographically, there are differences across the state.… Continue reading

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Canal remnants offer glimpse into Ohio history

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

Constructed in the early 19th century with the goal to connect Lake Erie to the Ohio River and points between and beyond, the great Ohio canal system covered 1,000 miles during its prime years in the Buckeye State. This unique system featured hand dug, man-made canals that were built to be 40 feet wide at the top, 28 feet wide at the bottom, and a 4 foot minimum depth; the canals hauled human and material cargo at a clip of 4 miles per hour by horse- and mule-drawn towboats. Made up of two major north-south running canals — the Ohio and Erie and the Miami and Erie — and several smaller feeder and connector canals, the canal system played an integral role in the development of the Midwestern frontier.

Trustee of the Canal Society of Ohio, Ron Petrie, explained that Ohio pioneers were aided tremendously by the canal system and the state itself owes much of its early growth to this mode of transport.… Continue reading

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Making the most of a COVID slowdown

Like much of the economy, the hydraulic business really slowed down in recent weeks. Though COVD-19 kept things slow at the shop, DNC Hydraulics employees shifted gears into building mode to work on a new 60-foot by 48-foot building at their Rawson facility.

The crew broke ground in late April in response to new growth for the business. The DNC team started by creating a stone pad. After that, the poles went up and the framing started. The next step was to get the trusses up.

“The fun part about this build is that our employees are the main builders,” said Cody Conaway, DNC Hydraulics sales manager. “With the slow down we have had due to COVID-19, our guys really stepped up to help build this building.”

 … Continue reading

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Thinking of direct food sales? Consider these legal issues

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

There’s much disagreement over what we know about COVID-19, but one thing we can agree upon is that it has left an impact on the food supply chain. For some food producers, that impact is creating opportunity. Many growers see the potential of filling the gaps created by closed processing facilities, thin grocery shelves, and unwillingness to shop inside stores. If you’re one of those growers who sees an opportunity to sell food, we have a few thoughts on legal issues to consider before moving into the direct food sales arena. Doing so will reduce your risks and the potential of legal liability.

 

Follow COVID-19-related guidelines

Perhaps this goes without saying, but businesses should take COVID-19 guidelines seriously. Doing so will hopefully reduce the potential of a COVID-19 transmission in the operation while also minimizing the risk of an enforcement action and potential legal liability for failing to protect employees and customers.… Continue reading

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Teens to advise ODNR youth outreach program

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

If only this were offered when I was a teen: the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is looking for highly motivated high school students to serve on the Conservation Teen Advisory Council (ConTAC), a statewide network of student leaders working together to enhance ODNR’s youth outreach and program efforts.

“This is a great opportunity for ambitious young people to jumpstart their future careers with skills that transfer to any profession,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz of the opportunity.

ConTAC members will develop innovative and practical ideas that empower young people to protect and preserve Ohio’s natural resources, provide feedback and make recommendations to enhance outdoor outreach. Council members will also get the chance to explore careers in the natural resources sector and develop valuable networking and leadership skills.

A new class of 30 teens will be selected to serve on ConTAC for the 2020-2021 academic year.… Continue reading

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State Fair canceled for 2020 🎙

By Matt Reese

On May 21, the Ohio State Fair announced that the event will not be taking place in 2020 — rides, fair food, junior fair, Smokey Bear, open shows, friends in the show barn, everything is canceled.

In recent weeks, the Ohio State Fair’s management team and the Ohio Expositions Commission were evaluating all available information from state and local health officials, as well as the financial feasibility of a reduced capacity fair. With the available information, the Ohio Expositions Commission voted to cancel the Ohio State Fair in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the fair for the future.

 “Our commissioners love our State Fair and you know how much I do and this is hard on all of us. This is my 28th year with the Ohio State Fair and I’ve had a lot of challenges over the years and this is right up there.Continue reading

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Embracing young family workers and teaching farm safety during the COVID summer

By Dee Jepsen and Shoshanah Inwood

This spring and summer will be like no other in recent history during the COVID-19 outbreak. As you take stock of the goals you have for your farm this season, labor needs, and family dynamics, now is also the perfect time to create a plan for the role kids will have on the farm this season. As you formulate your plan, it will be important to take the age of your children and their farm interest into account. The following strategies and tips may be helpful as you come up with a plan for involving young family members in daily chores.

 

Designate safe play areas for toddlers and young children

A farm is a wonderful place to grow up. However, younger children also require more oversight. It will be helpful to have conversations as a family about how to keep kids safe while farm work is being done.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers program postponed

With the uncertainty of the COVID 19 crisis and the apprehension concerning gatherings of people, we have decided to postpone the spring 2020 Feeding Farmers program sponsored by AgriGold until later this year.

“The best part of this program is the neighbors coming together and sharing lunch and fellowship,” said Bart Johnson, owner of Ohio’s Country Journal. “We want to make sure we can continue the importance of getting together socially and celebrating the honor of being involved in agriculture.”

The hope is this fall will bring more relaxed social gathering guidelines and a return to more normal events. We will provide details when we know more.… Continue reading

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Coronavirus and COVID-19: What is this world coming to?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Sometimes I think my fellow Americans don’t use a bit of their “smarts.” In my April column I described the hysterical rush of consumers purchasing as much toilet paper as they could haul out in a shopping cart or two. Then, over spring break, college students flocked to Florida beaches in spite of calls to social distance and self-quarantine at home.

Florida officials made no effort to stem the tide of spring breakers and their lack of social distancing and their flouting of authority. Florida businesses raked in the bucks from students, with fully booked hotels, restaurants packed to the gills, and booze flowing like the Suwannee River.

The students’ attitude was “if I die of COVID-19, so be it. Eat, drink and be merry. You only live once.” But the students gave no thought about spreading the virus to their friends and families when they returned home.… Continue reading

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CFAP direct payment details announced

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.

Payments will go directly to farmers who have suffered a 5% or greater price loss and who are facing significant marketing costs due to the coronavirus. Eligible commodities include cattle, hog, dairy, specialty crops and row crops. Payments will be limited to $250,000 per person.

“This aid can’t arrive soon enough as many farmers file for bankruptcy, facing unprecedented losses.… Continue reading

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Farms to Foodbanks: Community foundations partner to supply foodbanks

Food chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in meat processing bottlenecks. Grocery and food pantry refrigerators and freezers are empty, despite increased need for healthy proteins.

Ohio Farm Bureau, Pickaway County Community Foundation (PCCF) and Delaware County Foundation are working with local farmers to supply local foodbanks with Ohio raised pork.

“We are always looking to generate win-win opportunities,” said Chris Baker, president and CEO of the Delaware County Foundation. “As the number of residents out of work and seeking assistance from food banks increases, some farmers have struggled due to disruptions at processing facilities. With a modest grant from the Foundation’s Community Crisis Fund we are pleased to be able to feed hundreds of people while supporting local businesses.”

When partners learned the meat processing plant in Orient was reopening after temporary closure they sprung to action and purchased 30 hogs from Ohio producers to process for local foodbanks.… Continue reading

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First round of U.S.-UK trade talks

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and United Kingdom International Trade Secretary Liz Truss began meeting in May via video conference to formally begin trade talks between the two nations.

“Both parties agree that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would contribute to the long-term health of our economies, which is vitally important as we recover from the challenges posed by COVID-19. An FTA is a priority for both countries and we share a commitment to secure an ambitious agreement that significantly boosts trade and investment. We will undertake negotiations at an accelerated pace and have committed the resources necessary to progress at a fast pace,” according to a joint statement..

The first round of trade negotiations continued through May 15. In October 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K.… Continue reading

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H2Ohio funds survive COVID-19

Though February featured H2Ohio informational meetings with robust farmer attendance and venues bursting at maximum capacity, March and April brought about tremendous uncertainty with regard to the water-quality focused program as Ohio’s financial situation had to be re-evaluated due to the coronavirus. May is bringing a bit more clarity.

“Governor DeWine’s commitment to clean water in Ohio through his H2Ohio Initiative has remained a priority. Although the economic impact of COVID-19 was unforeseen and required a reevaluation of Ohio Department of Agriculture’s budget, ODA is pleased to be able to move forward with $50 million in funds — $30 million in H2Ohio funds plus $20 million primarily allotted from SB 299 — that will be available to farmers currently enrolled in H2Ohio programs,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director. “This exceeds ODA’s expectations and positions the department to continue building valuable, conservation-based relationships with producers. Although details are yet to be worked out, we plan to move forward quickly to meet with the 2,000 farmers who have enrolled more than 1.1 million acres, in addition to working closely with the 14 SWCDs to help them achieve necessary staffing levels.”

The COVID-19 concerns did slow down the progress of H2Ohio, though.… Continue reading

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USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County and Mike Estadt, Extension Educator, ANR, Pickaway County

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other USDA authorities to provide $16 billion in support to farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The program is available to all farmers, regardless of size, who suffered an eligible loss. Included in the program is $3 billion that will go toward purchases of commodities for distribution by food banks and faith-based programs through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA announced $1.2 billion in contracts for that program.

CFAP will provide direct support based on actual losses where markets & supply chains have been impacted.  The program is also designed to assist farmers with additional adjustment and marketing costs from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.… Continue reading

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New Clean Water Act interpretations make waves

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

Even with most of the country shut down, the U.S. EPA and the Supreme Court recently released an important rulemaking and a decision, respectively, regarding how parts of the Clean Water Act will be interpreted going forward. On April 21, 2020, the EPA and the Department of the Army published the Trump administration’s final rule on the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Then, on April 23, the Supreme Court released its long awaited opinion determining whether or not pollutants from a point source, which are released and then carried by groundwater into a navigable water, must be permitted under the CWA.

 

Trump’s new WOTUS

If you recall, we explained this final rule in January when the draft version was released. Basically, the Trump administration wanted to repeal and replace the Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule because the administration felt that it was overreaching in the waters it protected.… Continue reading

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Farmers and 1099 filers might qualify for new COVID-19 unemployment benefits program

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Farmers aren’t traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, but that won’t be the case when Ohio’s newest unemployment program opens. We’ve been keeping an eye out for the opening of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to persons affected by COVID-19. The program is targeted to persons who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, such as self-employed and 1099 filers. PUA is yet another economic assistance program generated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress.

PUA will provide regular unemployment benefit amounts to qualifying individuals, plus an additional $600 per week for the period of March 29 to July 25, 2020. Qualification doesn’t include a minimum income requirement, but a person must not be eligible for Ohio’s regular unemployment benefits and must not be currently receiving vacation, sick or other paid leave.… Continue reading

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