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The Ohio Farm Bureau news update area is provided by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Find more from Ohio Farm Bureau by visiting their website, www.ofbf.org.

General Assembly, farmers call for transparent, inclusive regulatory process

 

The Ohio General Assembly is calling on Gov. John Kasich to rescind his executive order that gives state government control over farming practices for 7,000 farmers and 2 million acres of northwest Ohio farmland.

Ohio House Agriculture Committee Chairman Brian Hill made the announcement during a news conference today at the Ohio Statehouse.

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Hill further said the legislature is requesting the Ohio Soil and Water Commission, which must approve Kasich’s action, delay granting approval until it has adequate time to deliberate the consequences of the plan.

House Speaker Ryan Smith (pictured in featured image), Senate Agriculture Chairman Bob Hackett, Hill and other legislators were joined by farmers from the affected area and throughout the state for the news conference, which can be viewed here.  OFBF State Trustee Katherine Harrison was among the farmers in attendance.

Speaker Smith told the media “This type of major policy shouldn’t be done through executive order nor should it be done in a hurry.”

Northwest Ohio farmers Mark Drewes and Duane Stateler explained why the executive order is bad policy and shared their experiences with studying and implementing environmentally friendly farming practices that are showing positive results.

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Soil and Water Conservation Commission delays implementation of executive order

 

Ohio Farm Bureau, including 7,000 farmers who would be directly impacted by an executive order signed by Gov. John Kasich last week, will finally have their voices heard in the process, thanks in large part to the efforts of Farm Bureau members and the Ohio General Assembly.

The Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commissioners voted 4-2 to establish a subcommittee to review whether or not eight watersheds should be designated Watersheds in Distress per the request of the executive order.

The commission’s decision gives stakeholders an opportunity to study and weigh in on the designation process itself as well as seek answers to the questions of timing and resource allocation. Farmers have many questions and concerns on how the designation and subsequent rules could impact them. They also want to show that the various mandatory and voluntary practices of farmers in the western Lake Erie watershed are working.

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Health Benefits Plan meets needs of small businesses

One of the greatest challenges for many small businesses and sole proprietors is filling the need for health care for themselves and their employees.

In its tradition of developing solutions to members’ problems, the Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan is now available to qualified participants.

“Members have been telling us for years that they need a better way to provide health care coverage for themselves and their employees,” said Keith Stimpert, senior vice president, organization for Ohio Farm Bureau. “Our new Health Benefits Plan isn’t insurance, but it operates very similarly by providing benefits to employers and employees, he said.

OFB HBP is an employee welfare benefit plan and trust, which will be governed by trustees elected by members of the trust. Participants will see competitive rates, predictable payments, a broad network of doctors and hospitals and flexible benefit plans. The plan provides expanded wellness programs to encourage employees to maintain their health.

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Farmers concerns grow as pipeline construction progresses

As multiple pipeline projects move to construction phase throughout the state, they haven’t come without some headaches for farmers.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has seen a growing number of farmer concerns with regard to drainage activities and soil remediation as part of the ET Rover pipeline project. While Rover’s FERC-approved Ag Mitigation Plan and easement language allows the company to dispose of standing water into adjacent tracts of land off the designated right of way, they must compensate impacted landowners for damages.

Farm Bureau laid the groundwork for such agreements. As early as summer 2015, OFBF staff started meeting with ET Rover officials as they looked to lay pipeline on a northwest diagonal from Monroe County to Fulton County. In those meetings, Farm Bureau stressed the importance of mitigating impacts to farmland and conducting adequate land remediation as part of the company’s pipeline development project.

Farm Bureau organized landowners to testify at FERC hearings and conducted more than 100 pipeline briefings along the project route since early 2015 to educate landowners on pipeline regulations and how to obtain qualified legal counsel.

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Farm Bureau launches energy program

Ohio Farm Bureau is partnering with an Ohio-based energy management firm, Community Energy Advisors, to establish the Ohio Farm Bureau Energy Program.
The program will assist members in making energy choices, shopping for energy, learning about rebate options and the best ways to manage their energy resources.

“We have worked together to develop this program to provide education, protection and savings to members statewide,” said John Marihugh, OFBF director of member services. “The program can provide highly competitive pricing to members in shoppable electric and natural gas regions.”

Ohio Farm Bureau’s newest member benefit takes the guesswork out of energy costs and gives members an opportunity to save money. It doesn’t matter if power is generated through a cooperative or a municipal utility, or in one of the large, for-profit utility regions, the OFBF Energy Program provides tips and tools to help better manage electric and natural gas costs.

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Summer 2018 Community Councils Discussion Guide

The Summer 2018 Discussion Guide for Community Councils includes four discussion topics, giving groups a few options for meetings scheduled during spring through the summer. Participation from community council members ensures Ohio Farm Bureau continues to focus on critical issues, create better policy and help people work together to get things done.

Topics

Leadership Development – An Investment

Effective organizations will not survive from one generation to the next unless they invest in leadership development. Great leaders develop over time. They use life experiences as a basic foundation for involvement and network with peers and community members who have similar interests. Many look for opportunities to learn more about issues as well as participate in programs where they can sharpen communication skills. Discussion Guide

Identifying Trends in Ohio’s Political Landscape

Ohio is seen as a premier “battleground state” in American politics. Many political observers credit the state’s diversity as a key element of its unique political character.

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Deadline extended: Enroll by June 22 for new dairy program

UPDATE: USDA has extended the deadline for dairy producers to sign up for the Farm Service Agency’s Margin Protection Program – Dairy (MPP) through Friday, June 22. All dairy operations must make new coverage elections for 2018, even if the operation was enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period that ended in December 2017. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.

PREVIOUSLY: Dairy farmers are being encouraged to enroll in the new and improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy now through June 1. MPP-Dairy changes authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 will provide better protections for producers from shifting milk and feed prices, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It also is retroactive to cover all of 2018.

Key changes to the new MPP-Dairy program include:

  • Improving the ability for dairy farmers to use the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM-Dairy) program and other insurance options offered through USDA
  • Adjusting the first tier of covered production to include each farm’s first 5 million pounds of annual milk production (about 217 cows) instead of 4 million pounds
  • Raising the catastrophic coverage level from $4 to $5 for the first tier of covered production for all dairy farmers
  • Reducing the premium rates for the first 5 million pounds of production for more affordable coverage
  • Changing the margin calculation from a bi-monthly to a monthly basis
  • Waiving the annual $100 administrative fee for under-served farmers

“We encourage dairy producers to review the provisions of the updated program, which Congress shaped with their feedback,” said USDA Sec.

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Syngenta Seeds lawsuit: What to consider if you were notified

UPDATE May 23, 2018: A proposed settlement has been reached between plaintiffs and Syngenta in litigation over the sale of Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade seed. Those who may be eligible for a claim in this settlement may receive a claim notice in the mail. If you feel you may be entitled to a claim, you can visit www.cornseedsettlement.com to read more about the case and file a claim.

All claims must be filed by Oct. 12, 2018. Class members have until August 10, 2018 to exclude themselves from this settlement and preserve any individual claims. OFBF and AFBF were not involved with this litigation, but want to make sure farmers receiving these notices have access to information to make an informed decision.

PREVIOUSLY: Some Farm Bureau members may have recently received a notification letter about the opportunity to participate in a class action lawsuit against Syngenta Seeds, Inc.

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Clean Lake 2020 Plan gets unanimous support in Senate

Proposed legislation that helps farmers help water quality passed 33-0 in the Ohio Senate on Wednesday following Ohio Farm Bureau declaring the measure a “Key Vote.”

The Clean Lake 2020 Plan, as it is known, is Senate Bill 299 and House Bill 643. The two bills, introduced into the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives in early May, would invest significant funds to protect Lake Erie water quality.

The Senate unanimously passed SB 299, which will now move to the Ohio House of Representatives for their consideration. HB 643 awaits a committee vote to move forward.

Key Vote designation indicates that a piece of legislation is particularly important to agriculture and rural Ohio. Once the bill is designated as a Key Vote, votes will be counted in Ohio Farm Bureau’s process for determining which legislators earn the organization’s Friend of Agriculture designation.

Farm Bureau members will receive more details on this and other water policy developments in the July/August 2018 Buckeye Farm News.

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Farm Bureau presidents pen letter to Washington about trade tariffs

State Farm Bureau presidents from across the Midwest have joined together to urge U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to work with President Trump to end the escalation of trade disputes with China that have and continue to threaten market opportunities for agricultural commodities and products.

In a recent letter to Sec. Perdue, presidents of 10 state Farm Bureaus, including Ohio, responded to President Trump’s call for the secretary to develop a plan to provide monetary compensation to farmers and ranchers who may be hurt by retaliatory measures China may take in response to proposed U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

“Ohio’s farmers know firsthand of the importance of having access to markets. With competition continuing to grow, having the ability to sell products around the world is a must if agriculture is to survive and be successful,” said Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett III. “The Chinese market for Midwestern agricultural products is nearly $4.5 billion dollars every year.”

Farmers desire market access

In the letter, the Farm Bureau presidents made it clear that farmers and ranchers want access to markets, not checks from the federal government in lieu of trade opportunities.

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