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New markets opened for U.S. beef

President Donald Trump announced an agreement late last week to expand U.S. beef exports to the European Union.

Trump signed a deal that promises to “lower trade barriers in Europe and expand market access for American farmers and ranchers.”

With the deal in place the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Over expects annual duty-free U.S. beef exports to the EU to nearly triple to $420 million from $150 million, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“America’s ranchers welcome the opportunity to supply a bigger share of Europe’s beef market. This agreement advances a three-decade long effort to expand market opportunities for American agriculture in the EU, and every victory counts,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau. “While this is certainly good news, it’s important for U.S. negotiators to remain committed to reaching a broad trade agreement with the EU that levels the playing field for all farmers and ranchers.

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Ohio’s disaster aid levels still uncertain

Though the disaster declaration for nearly half of Ohio’s counties extends low-interest loans to farmers, many growers are hoping for changes that could offer more financial help, according to experts with The Ohio State University.

The full extent of benefits that come with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s disaster declaration are still unknown. The federal agency has yet to make decisions about the federal disaster aid bill passed in June.

Growers want the USDA to approve requested changes to disaster aid packages that would increase payment guarantees to farmers who file crop insurance claims on acres where they could not plant a cash crop, said Ben Brown, assistant professor of agricultural risk management in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Those changes, if approved, would mean higher payments for farmers hindered in planting this year’s crop as a result of persistent spring rain.

Another proposed change to disaster aid would allow farmers who did not have crop insurance at planting time last spring to still potentially get payments on those acres where they could not sow a cash crop.

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Ohio Agricultural Council inducts Hall of Fame

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

The Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC) inducted 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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USDA opens signup for Market Facilitation Program

Signup is open for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to assist farmers who continue to suffer from damages because of unjustified trade retaliation from foreign nations. Through MFP, USDA will provide up to $14.5 billion in direct payments to impacted producers, part of a broader trade relief package announced in late July. The sign-up period runs through Dec. 6.

“Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well and gathered feedback on last year’s program to make this one even stronger and more effective for farmers. Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

MFP payments will be made to producers of certain non-specialty and specialty crops as well as dairy and hog producers.

Non-specialty crops

MFP payments will be made to producers of alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dried beans, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton, and wheat.

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Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest open for nominations

Farmers are invited to submit nominations for the 2020 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest, brought to you by Purina. This is the second year of the contest, which celebrates farm dogs who work alongside their people to bring nutritious food to our tables and our pets’ bowls.

The grand prize winner — Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year — will win a year’s worth of Purina dry dog food and $5,000 in prize money for his or her farmer to offset travel costs to attend the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Austin, Texas, Jan. 17-22, 2020. The winner will be recognized at the Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the convention. Up to four runners-up will win $1,000 each in prize money.

“Again this year, we’re excited for this special opportunity to honor these loyal members of our farm and ranch families,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF President.

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BBQ draws a crowd for Ohio Pork Council’s 2019 Pork Rib-Off competition

Fairgoers gathered at the 23rd annual Pork Rib-Off competition to watch as barbecue chefs competed for top honors in the ribs, pulled pork and barbecue sauce categories at the Ohio State Fair on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Ale Yeah BBQ of Delaware was awarded Grand Champion Ribs, while Smoke’m If You Got’em of Middleport earned Grand Champion Pulled Pork.

Kryptonite BBQ of Hartville walked away with numerous accolades — Reserve Grand Champion Ribs, Reserve Grand Champion Pulled Pork and Best Overall Barbecue Sauce containing soybean oil. Hickory River Smokehouse of Tipp City earned the coveted People’s Choice award for the second year in a row.

The barbecue competitors were scored by a group of four judges, including: Virgil Strickler, General Manager, Ohio State Fair; Senator Bob Peterson, President Pro Tem, District 17; Susan Crowell, former editor, Farm and Dairy; Steve Reinhard, Chairman, Ohio Soybean Council.

“The Ohio Pork Council looks forward to partnering with the Ohio Soybean Council to host the Rib-Off competition every year at the Ohio State Fair,” said Drew Eckert, District 4 Director, Ohio Pork Council.

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Winners selected for coveted Ohio food contest

Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) President & CEO, Rebecca A. Singer announced two winners of the Ohio Signature Food Contest during the joint Ohio House and Senate Agriculture Committee meeting at the Ohio State Fair.

The contest, co-sponsored by CIFT and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, showcases new, innovative products ready to take that next step — actual product development.

These two winners were selected in recognition of their unique product concepts:

  • David Brooks of Dublin, Ohio with his New York deli-style cheesecake. The rich, restaurant-quality cheesecake baked in a shortbread crust that incorporates Ohio ingredients — some of the freshest and finest anywhere, including rich, heavy cream and a unique blend of three vanilla extracts.
  • Amy Pausch of Alexandria, Ohio with her non-alcoholic shrub beverage. The intense raspberry zero-proof drink with a subtlety sweet caramel flavor that comes from unique ingredients including coconut sugar and a dark balsamic vinegar.
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Trade talks with China set for this week

After back-and-forth trade wrangling President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping called a halt on new tariffs with the hope of productive trade talks set to start this week in Shanghai.

Agriculture is watching.

“All eyes will be on this week’s trade negotiations in China because reopening the door to one of the largest markets in the world is key to helping farmers get back on their feet,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “We wholly support the Administration’s efforts to stop unfair trade practices by China. Now, it’s time to write the next chapter in our trade relationship by eliminating tariff barriers.

“American agriculture can compete with anyone in the world on a level playing field. I hope this week’s talks create that opportunity.”

From 2017 to 2018, U.S. agricultural exports to China fell more than 50%, dropping to $9.1 billion. In 2014, U.S. agricultural exports to China exceeded $24 billion.

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USDA natural disaster designations declaration affects 40 Ohio counties

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is encouraging farmers in 40 Ohio counties to seek potential relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) following the USDA Secretarial disaster designation in their counties or contiguous counties due to rain, flooding, or other weather conditions.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in letters dated July 25, 2019, designated several counties as primary natural disaster areas due to production losses caused by extreme weather events that occurred during the 2019 crop year.

“This has been a very tough year for farmers,” Governor DeWine said. “We appreciate the Secretary’s actions in reviewing the information about production losses in these counties and making these natural disaster designations.”

In June, Governor DeWine requested a USDA Secretarial disaster designation for Ohio and met with farmers about the effects of heavy rainfall this year.

“Inclement weather conditions have caused farmers across our state to make tough economic decisions that will have a long-term impact on the agricultural industry,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director. 

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Will the Lake Erie algae bloom forecast come to fruition in 2019?

By Matt Reese

Last year I hopped on the boat and made the trek to the fantastic Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie for the announcement about the predictions regarding the 2018 algal bloom.

The boat ride was quite pleasant, the presentations at the event were very sciencey and impressive, the folks doing the research being presented were extremely intelligent — and the forecast was totally wrong.

In July of 2018, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its research partners predicted western Lake Erie would experience a harmful algal bloom (HAB) of cyanobacteria of a 6 on the severity index, with a range between 5 and 7.5. In late fall, NOAA reported back that the actual harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie for 2018 had a severity index of 3.6, indicating a relatively mild bloom far short of the predicted severity.

Now, I don’t know what the total budget is for this forecasting system, but I would guess it is not a small price tag over the years of developing models, conducting extensive research, paying numerous staff members and researchers at various agencies and entities, and hauling curious farm reporters to the island on boats.

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Wind turbine design and placement can mitigate negative effect on birds

Wind energy is increasingly seen as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, as it contributes to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that by 2050, wind turbines will contribute more than 20% of the global electricity supply. However, the rapid expansion of wind farms has raised concerns about the impact of wind turbines on wildlife.

Research in that area has been limited and has yielded conflicting results. A new study, published in Energy Science, provides comprehensive data on how turbines affect bird populations.

While the study did find a negative effect on some breeding birds, it also suggests ways to mitigate that effect through wind turbine design and placement, explains Madhu Khanna, professor of agricultural and consumer economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. Khanna is co-author of the study.

“We found that there was a negative impact of three birds lost for every turbine within 400 meters of a bird habitat.

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Farm Bureau, partners unveil redesigned 2019 Land and Living exhibit at Ohio State Fair

One of this year’s must see attractions at the Ohio State Fair, July 24 to Aug. 4, will be the newly redesigned, highly interactive Land and Living exhibit featuring agriculture education activities the whole family can enjoy. Visitors to the Nationwide Donahey Land & Living Building will get in-depth, hands-on lessons about farming, food and high-tech agriculture.

Visitors to the exhibit will learn about how animals are cared for on the farm. They will also see how science and technology are helping farmers produce safe food while enhancing environmental resources, how scientists are researching solutions to the biggest food and farming challenges and how young people can have careers in agriculture. Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences will have a major presence at the building this year, where research and careers in agriculture will be featured messages.

Another new exhibit is a sow birthing center brought to the fair by the Ohio Pork Council.

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New data highlights continuing need to fight opioid addiction in rural communities

New data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shows that rural communities have the highest death rates nationwide from opioid prescriptions, more than three times the national average.

A previously unreleased database from DEA tracking prescription painkillers showed that the highest per-capita opioid death rates from 2006 to 2012 were in rural communities in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, with more than three times the national average of 4.6 deaths per 100,000 residents. Thirteen of those counties had an opioid death rate more than eight times the national rate.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau, said, “We have seen firsthand the destructive force of opioids in rural communities, and our research shows that three out of four farmers have been impacted. That’s why we stepped up to address this crisis. We stand with the families and communities that have been affected, and we continue the fight against opioid addiction in our partnership with National Farmers Union through our Farm Town Strong campaign.

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Keeping watch on the great French rooster battle

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

Allen Ginsberg, the American poet, philosopher and writer, offered the following observation about France: “You can’t escape the past in France, and yet what’s so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn’t seem to burden.” That statement pretty much describes how the French, at least many of them, value their rural heritage.

Saint-Pierre-D’Oleron, France, is a village of 6,000 on the island of Oleron, off the West Coast of the country. Research indicates that it is quaint, picturesque and agrarian. Fifteen years ago, Jean-Louis Biron and Joelle Andrieux, a couple from Limoges (city of 137,000 in Southwestern Central France known for its decorated porcelain) built a vacation home in Saint-Pierre-D’Oleron because of the tranquility the island offered.

Apparently Jean-Louis and Joelle did not get the memo about France valuing its agrarian roots.

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Gov. DeWine signs state budget

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) applauds the recent passage of the state budget that includes beneficial tax policy changes for farmers, as well as long-term, financial support for water quality and nutrient management programs. OSA’s farmer leaders have been working at the Statehouse throughout the process to ensure its members’ voices are heard.

“We thank the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and Gov. DeWine’s Administration for working with all stakeholders to address water quality,” said Trish Cunningham, OSA Policy Committee Chair. “Water quality has been a high priority for our organization for many years and we believe that H2Ohio is a step in the right direction. I’m also proud to see tax policies that will benefit family farmers who have been hit especially hard this year due to the weather and crop prices.”

The over $200 million H2Ohio fund will be used for agricultural, community and nature water projects to address water quality.

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Farmer without arms an inspiration for others

By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag Net

Andy Detwiler farms corn, soybeans and livestock alongside his family in Champaign County. He goes about daily work in all four seasons in what is an otherwise normal scene, except for one thing — Andy does all the things a normal farmer does without the use of arms.

“When I was two years old, I fell into a grain auger, I reached in for some wheat and it took my arms off,” he said, recounting the origin of his current situation. “About two weeks after that they said I started using my feet for stuff in the hospital. Now that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been using my feet for 45 years now.”

And use them he does. Earlier this year, Detwiler was featured in an Ohio Ag Net planting cab cam video. He easily opened the door to his tractor and planted the field with the full-sized machine.

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Are we being poisoned by glyphosate or is this an attorney-get-rich scheme?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

You probably have seen the television commercials of the law firm Moose & Moose (name changed to protect the guilty), encouraging you to sign up to get a payout for a family member who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), allegedly caused by Roundup. You know them, I’m sure. One has a cheap toupee. The other is like me — with his own hair, but old.

This seems to be another get-rich-quick scheme that law firms are leeching onto, to reach families who have a loved one newly-diagnosed with NHL cancer. Roundup, aka glyphosate, is a chemical herbicide that efficiently kills broadleaf weeds in crops. It has an unparalleled safety record.

It did, anyway, until 2015, when the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that even though there was no evidence that glysophate was carcinogenic, it “might” cause cancer. This set the news media off, spreading the scare. Naturally, it also set off California regulators, who developed new rules for glyphosate, not because there was cancer evidence, but as a “precautionary principle.”

Nonetheless, glyphosate has been cleared of causing cancer by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German BfR, an agency dedicated to strengthening consumer health protection.

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USMCA waiting on a House vote

This month, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said the administration will not submit the formal text of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement for Congressional approval until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) approves of a vote.

“I remain optimistic that she [Pelosi] will provide a vote. It will happen sometime this summer, hopefully. It could stretch on to the autumn, but I think it will be sooner than that. It’s up to her, not me,” Kudlow told CNBC.

CNBC reported that the White House plans to send the official text to Congress after Sept. 1. Agricultural organizations continue to urge ratification of USMCA and will closely monitor congressional votes on USMCA and continues to urge the administration to complete a trade agreement with Japan and resolve the trade dispute with China.

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Ohio budget passed by legislators

The Ohio House and Senate passed a state budget bill July 17.

After a 17-day extension, the conference committee sorted out the House and Senate versions of the budget, finally agreeing to 4% income tax cut and funding for Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative.

“Farm Bureau applauds the Ohio House and Senate for including two of our highest priority issues, preservation of the business income deduction and a collaborative plan to address water quality challenges through Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative, in the state’s operating budget,” said Adam Sharp, Executive Vice President, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “Farm Bureau also appreciates the funding increases for our partners at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Extension Services, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts, all of whom deliver critical information to our farmers regarding best practices.”

The budget now goes to Gov. DeWine for a signature.

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