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Out there

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

As is being experienced by many Ohio families, with a wife and a college-sophomore son working/studying from home and being underfoot with me these days, life is a bit different. During an average workday I’m used to sharing the house with no more than a part-time cat, and enjoy the solitude. In fact, I’ve realized that as a bit of a recluse I’ve have been practicing social distancing for years, so the isolation we are asked to practice during these anything-but-average times is less of a strain on me than, say, a librarian or a college student, who thrive on much more social interaction.

I won’t go into detail on how we are managing things in the Armitage household, beyond having hidden all the sharp objects. What I will share is that, like most of you interested enough to read a column about the outdoors, let alone likely enjoying a rural lifestyle, we family members agree that we are fortunate.… Continue reading

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Conservation Stewardship Program signup deadline announced

The next deadline for Ohio Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding this fiscal year is May 29, 2020. Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps Ohio farmers and forest landowners earn payments for expanding conservation activities while maintaining agricultural production on their land. CSP also encourages adoption of new technologies and management techniques.

“CSP is a legacy program for the next generation. It continues to assist private landowners in enhancing their natural resources and achieving their conservation and production goals,” said Jon Bourdon, NRCS acting state conservationist in Ohio. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled nationally.”

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 29, 2020, to ensure their applications are considered for 2020 funding.

CSP provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes.… Continue reading

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PPP funding falling short of demand

On March 27, President Donald J. Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) into law with provisions to provide financially distressed consumers and small businesses greater access to bankruptcy relief. The legislative package provides a $2 trillion economic stimulus for U.S. industries and citizens faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The CARES Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection program (PPP), the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency.

After the passage of the CARES Act, the U.S. Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) processed more than 14 years worth of loans in less than 14 days, many through the PPP. By law, the SBA is not able to issue new loan approvals once programs experience a lapse in appropriations.… Continue reading

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Farm, Food and Agribusiness COVID-19 Survey reveals impacts on Ohio’s food system

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation has released early results of a new survey finding that 65% of those involved in Ohio’s food supply system have been negatively or very negatively impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The statewide Farm, Food and Agribusiness COVID-19 Impact Survey, distributed by Ohio Farm Bureau and a number of other agriculture groups, collected data to pinpoint areas of concern for every aspect of agriculture, including producers, retailers and food processors. With over 1,000 surveys returned, statistics show:

  • Nearly half (45%) of respondents have had their market distribution channels disrupted.
  • 29% of those taking part in the survey have cash flow issues.
  • Almost 15% of people polled cannot access the sanitation and protective equipment items required to operate (masks, sanitizer, etc.)

“This is a real-time snapshot of what the state’s agriculture community is dealing with as we work through the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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More on USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

By Ben Brown Assistant Professor of Professional Practice- Agricultural Risk Management, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics and David Marrison, Associate Professor & Extension Educator in Coshocton County

On April 17, the preliminary details about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program aimed to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFAP provides $19 billion in funds authorized through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

The $19 billion program includes two major elements. The first element is for Direct Support to Farmers and Ranchers. This program will provide $16 billion in direct support to farmers based on actual losses where prices and market supply chains have been impacted by COVID-19. The program will also assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.… Continue reading

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2020 Youth Pathways grants awarded

Leveraging the resources of the Fisher Fund, Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation launched a Youth Pathways initiative in 2018, focused on introducing students to and training them for careers in food, agricultural and environmental sciences. Each year, organizations throughout the state are invited to submit proposals for innovative projects that would help to address the need to attract more young people to careers in these fields.

Hocking County Farm Bureau and the PAST Foundation are recipients of funding for 2020. A total of $116,900 will assist these two nonprofits as they develop programming that will prepare students for post-secondary training or direct placement in food, agricultural and environmental sciences industries.

Hocking County Farm Bureau will use its grant funds for a Careers in Agricultural Cooperatives: Co-op Leadership Experience project. Hocking County Farm Bureau will partner with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives to create a program that will showcase career exploration in agriculture through the lens of cooperatives.… Continue reading

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ODA waives local match for grant program for Ohio’s fairs

Governor Mike DeWine announced Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda is waiving the required $50,000 local match for the Agricultural Society Facilities Grant Program, allowing all county and independent fairs to be eligible for $50,000 with no match.

Ohio’s operating budget set aside $4.7 million in the program to help fairs make necessary facilities and grounds improvements. Fairs could apply for the $50,000 grant with a required $50,000 from local governments and businesses. This waiver will allow fairs access to money for improvements without the local match.

“I understand the financial hardships many are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Director Pelanda. “While it is uncertain whether fairs will be able to safely operate this year, they still have facilities expenses. The Ohio Department of Agriculture wants to ensure each fair has access to these important funds.”

Fair managers must apply and qualify for the grant money. The application deadline is May 30.… Continue reading

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For farmers markets without a facility due to COVID-19, what are the rules on access to restrooms?

By Amanda Douridas, Christie Welch, Peggy Kirk Hall, Ohio State University Extension

With the closing of many public places and government buildings, some farmers’ markets may be left without their usual access to restrooms. What are the requirements for market managers to provide restroom facilities?

The Ohio Revised Code states that restrooms must “be readily accessible to farmers’ market personnel when the farmers’ market is open for more than four consecutive hours.” Note that this requirement applies to “personnel” or employees of the market. There is not a restroom requirement in the regulation that applies to vendors or customers of the farmers’ market.

One option for easily complying with this rule is to limit farmers’ market hours to four hours or less, since the obligation applies only if the market is open for more than four consecutive hours. For markets that are open for more than four hours, the other option is to rent a portable toilet for personnel if permanent facilities are not available.… Continue reading

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Ohio Power Siting Board clears the path for three large-scale solar projects

On April 16, 2020, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) held a virtual meeting where it ruled in favor of a series of certificate application and modification requests filed by large-scale solar developers in the state. The measure cleared the path for three projects — two in Hardin County and one in Brown and Clermont counties — to move forward.

“Members of USSEC support the OPSB decisions, which will allow for continued

progress in an important and fast-growing industry for Ohio,” said Andy Bowers, Utility Scale Solar Energy Coalition (USSEC) representative. “The utility scale solar industry is ready to meet Ohio’s energy needs, create significant jobs, and provide vital financial resources to Ohio’s communities. Taken together, today’s decisions could result in lifetime tax revenue of more than $180 million to the local schools and communities where these will be constructed.”

On Oct. 17, 2019, the OPSB had highlighted a number of areas where further information was needed in order for the requested permit and modifications to receive approval.… Continue reading

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USDA announces Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.

“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” Secretary Perdue said. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”

CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities.… Continue reading

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OSU CFAES researchers working on a new COVID-19 test

Many people infected with COVID-19 show little to no symptoms of the disease, so researchers at The Ohio State University are creating a blood test that could detect the true extent of the pandemic

The researchers have also assisted Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center physicians who have created a treatment for severe cases of COVID-19, using the blood plasma of people who had COVID-19 and beat it. Both the blood test for COVID-19 and the plasma treatment for those suffering from the respiratory disease could be critical in understanding and controlling the current pandemic.

Unlike the standard nasal swab test being used to diagnose COVID-19, the test that the Ohio State scientists, including ones at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), are developing is an antibody blood test. The test will determine whether someone has COVID-19 by checking if his or her blood contains proteins the body produces to fight the respiratory disease.… Continue reading

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COVID-19 creating tensions between protecting public health versus respecting individual rights

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

Did you hear about the 53-year old Kentucky man who contracted Covid-19? He was the first coronovirus case in Nelson County, and he checked himself out of the hospital, against medical advice, to return home. Apparently, the authorities were concerned he would not properly self-isolate, so Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear ordered deputies from the local Sheriff’s Department to surround the man’s house to ensure his compliance. Gov. Beshear explained that he “can’t allow one person who we know has the virus to refuse to protect their neighbors.”

Meanwhile, up in the Maine island town of Vinalhaven, four construction workers, who had rented a home for a month for a job they had been working since September, reported that neighbors cut down a tree and dragged it to block the road to their house so that the four were unable to leave.… Continue reading

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Tips for keeping food fresh for longer between grocery trips

With less frequent grocery shopping, how can foods be stored longer? It is a question question is on the minds of many people nationwide, as the majority of the country continues efforts to flatten the curve and lessen the spread of COVID-19. In Ohio, for example, on April 2, the Stay at Home Order was extended to May 1.

With that in mind, many grocery retailers are or have implemented regulations to manage social distancing measures, including making grocery aisles move in one direction and lessening the number of shoppers in the stores at the same time.

With these limitations, consumers should first shop their cupboards and develop recipes that use up foods that are the oldest but still safe eat, said Brian Roe, a professor of agricultural economics for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“Then, turn to create a list of all the foods that you need to buy before you get to the store,” Roe said.… Continue reading

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Solar development expanding in rural Ohio

Despite what you might think in the winter or even early spring, Ohio gets enough sunshine year-round to fuel solar energy facilities — massive ones.

The smallest solar energy project being planned in the state is 610 acres, and the largest is more than five times bigger, a facility slated to stretch across nearly 3,300 acres — over 5 square miles — in Hardin County.

“We’re not talking about a few panels here and there,” said Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

In total, the 12 solar energy facilities being built or in the planning stages will cover about 16,000 acres — primarily in southern Ohio (Brown, Clermont, Highland, Madison, Pickaway, Vinton, and Preble counties) and in northwest Ohio’s Hardin County. They will span about 25 square miles of what’s now mostly farmland. That’s about the size of the city of Canton, Ohio.… Continue reading

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Emergency funding granted to procure milk, dairy and other food for Ohio foodbanks

Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order to provide nearly $5 million in emergency funding to respond to an unprecedented need for emergency food created by the COVID-10 pandemic.

This funding, requested by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, would allow Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks and its statewide pantry network of 3,600 local organizations to immediately procure nutritious milk and dairy products, as well as other food and essential items, to feed families in need.

The Ohio Dairy Producers Association and the American Dairy Association Mideast, who represent the state’s 1,750 dairy farm families, thank Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services for their leadership and swift action to provide hunger relief to millions of Ohioans.

“Milk is one of the most requested items for food banks, and Ohio’s dairy community is grateful that the state is taking the necessary steps to help get nutritious milk and dairy foods to those in need,” said Scott Higgins, CEO for both ODPA and ADA Mideast.… Continue reading

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Survey gauging impact of COVID-19 on Ohio agriculture

COVID-19 has caused many disruptions to daily life, agriculture and the entire food chain. The global pandemic has resulted in negative consequences for every sector of Ohio’s food production system in a vast amount of ways.

With the help of insightful conversations with members about what they are experiencing on their farms as well as what they are seeing in their agricultural community, Ohio Farm Bureau has left no stone unturned. Those discussions have shed light on immediate issues members are realizing, as well as their concerns about the long-term burdens their livelihoods may shoulder because of the coronavirus outbreak. Farm Bureau has put in countless hours on many fronts to find answers for those affected.

To take efforts a step further, Ohio Farm Bureau created a Farm, Food and Agribusiness COVID-19 Impact Survey. The goal of this survey is to gauge, in a broader scope, the uncertainties and concerns being felt across Ohio agriculture.… Continue reading

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Farmers are responding to food banks in need

There have been numerous efforts of agriculture to provide food for those in need in the past and they are especially important right now. A recent donation from the Ohio Pork Council highlights these efforts. The OPC effort provided over 9,600 wholesome meals to those in need amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time for Easter.

This year, as part of OPC’s annual Pork Power program, Ohio pig farmers donated over 2,400 Sugardale hams to benefit the West Ohio Food Bank, which serves community members in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert and Wyandot counties.

“For Ohio’s pig farmers, providing a safe, wholesome food supply is our livelihood — and giving back to community members is at the core of our values,” said Ohio Pork Council President-Elect Ryan McClure, a pig farmer from Paulding County.

During spring 2020, Ohio pig farmers provided over 9,600 meals to western Ohio families through OPC’s annual Pork Power program.… Continue reading

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Kalmbach Feeds launching campaign to provide half a million meals

In response to the unprecedented challenges being faced by Americans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kalmbach Feeds is launching a campaign to support Feeding America by donating funds to supply 500,000 meals to friends and neighbors in need.

The campaign, named “Feed the Need,” has been created in response to the Covid-19 crisis which has caused massive unemployment due to businesses being forced to close their doors for the health and safety of every individual. Many people, suddenly without wages, are finding themselves relying on food banks for the first time ever. For each bag of Kalmbach Feeds, Tribute or Formula of Champions branded feed sold, Kalmbach Feeds, Inc. will donate one meal to Feeding America, with the mission of providing a half million meals.

“So many people are in need right now, due to circumstances completely out of anybody’s control, and we want to be a part of helping our neighbors in the communities we serve,” said Paul Kalmbach, Jr., president of Kalmbach Feeds.… Continue reading

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