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Reflections on the U.S. 2018 midterm elections, trade and the farm bill

By Jonathan Coppess, Nick Paulson, Gary Schnitkey with the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and Carl Zulauf, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics

This article is composed of 4 short reflections on the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and their potential impact on U.S. farm economics and policy.

 

Carl Zulauf

A well-functioning democracy facilitates mini-revolutions via the ballot box by voters who feel overlooked or disaffected, thus minimizing the likelihood of large, pent-up revolutions. President Trump’s election in 2016 was a mini-revolution by voters, mostly in rural and industrial areas, who had experienced little economic progress or felt negatively impacted by economic, particularly trade, policy.

Results of the 2018 midterm elections will unlikely reverse the 2016 mini-revolution. Democrats won control of the House of Representatives and thus can use oversight hearings and investigations to slow the mini-revolution, but Republicans increased their control of the Senate.

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The search for what is killing the beech trees

American beech trees are dying in northeast Ohio and beyond. An Ohio State University study aims to figure out why.

The study is looking into the cause of beech leaf disease, which was first found in Lake County in 2012 and has since spread to nine other counties in Ohio, eight in Pennsylvania, one in New York and five in Ontario.

Young trees seem to be particularly susceptible to the disease, which initially causes dark stripes to appear on leaves, then deforms the leaves. Eventually the disease can kill the trees.

“There’s no similar forest tree disease that we are aware of anywhere,” said Enrico Bonello, a professor of plant pathology in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), who oversees the study. “It’s really a black box.”

Working under Bonello’s supervision, doctoral graduate student Carrie Ewing is comparing the genes of microorganisms present in leaves that have symptoms of beech tree disease and those that do not, hoping to identify the microorganisms that are uniquely associated with beech leaf disease.

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Landowner’s evidence not determinative in CAUV tax appeal according to Ohio Supreme Court

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Agricultural and Resource Law Program, Ohio State University

A landowner may present evidence regarding the value and acreage of his or her land, but the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) is free to weigh that evidence as it wishes, according to the Ohio Supreme Court. All seven justices agreed that the BTA in the case of Johnson v. Clark County Board of Revision acted with appropriate discretion, although two justices did not sign onto the reasoning as to why the BTA acted appropriately. The case involved a property owner’s challenge of the Clark County Auditor’s determination of Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) for property tax purposes.

Continue reading for more information about what CAUV is, how CAUV determinations and tax assessments can be appealed, what happened in the Johnson v. Clark County Board of Revision case, and the main takeaways from the Supreme Court’s decision.

 

What is CAUV?

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National Pork Board and U.S. Meat Export Federation to partner on Pork 2040

The National Pork Board, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that they will engage in a foresight-based marketing study called Pork 2040. The study will investigate changing consumer attitudes and trends in developed and emerging U.S. pork export markets in 17 defined countries.

“Previous international marketing studies centered only on quantitative statistics to define demand, production and market access,” said Bill Luckey, chair of the Checkoff’s International Marketing committee and a pork producer from Columbus, Nebraska. “This unique effort will be more comprehensive, investigating the relevant qualitative factors that shape consumer opinion and hence markets. The study will focus on forecasting the pork and pork-product demand landscape over the next several decades to help determine where best to invest our limited Checkoff resources.”

In addition to analyzing linear consumer trends, the Pork 2040 research will assess trends in the development of new production and marketing technologies, as well as in growing environmental concerns and in emerging legal, trade and regulatory regimes around the globe.

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26th Cattlemen’s College set to enhance management

Staying a step ahead in the cattle industry is no small challenge. Cattlemen and women looking to find that extra step will be attending the 2019 Cattlemen’s College in New Orleans, La., Jan. 29-30.

More than a thousand producers are expected to attend the event, sponsored by Zoetis and produced by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. It is being presented in conjunction with the 2019 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show.

A highlight of the event will be a Jan. 29 afternoon session that features Dr. Temple Grandin conducting a cattle handling and facility design presentation. A reception will follow that afternoon, with a full slate of concurrent educational sessions to follow the morning of Jan. 30.

Keynote speaker at the Cattlemen’s College Opening General Session Jan. 30 will be Bill Cordingley, managing director and head of the Chicago office of RaboBank Wholesale Banking North America. He will speak on “Greater Expectations, Bigger Opportunities,” touching on the different forces that work together to yield a complex demand story for beef.

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Ohio Crop Progress — Nov. 13, 2018

Wet Conditions Stall Progress

Continued wet conditions and cooler temperatures throughout the week kept producers out of the fields, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. There were 2.4 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending November 11. Very little harvesting or other fieldwork were completed last week. Some corn and soybeans were harvested despite saturated soil conditions. There were reports of muddy fields and some crop distress due to excess moisture. Lack of storage availability also stalled harvest. The average moisture content of corn harvested last week was 17 percent and the average for soybeans was 15 percent. Some tillage and manure management activities were underway.

Click here to see the full report

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OCA members to offer nearly 115 consignments in Replacement Female Sale

Several members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will sell nearly 115 consignments in the OCA Replacement Female Sale on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at 6 p.m. at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Company facility in Zanesville, Ohio. Consignments include approximately 40 mature cows less than five years of age and cow/calf pairs and approximately 75 bred heifers.

Breeds represented will include Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Red Angus, Simmental, Simmental influenced and cross and commercial females. Service sire breeds represented include Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Maine-Anjou, Red Angus, Shorthorn, Simmental, and Simmental influenced. All females selling will have a safe pregnancy status verified within sixty days of the sale and all lots will be eligible for interstate shipment.

“Now is a great opportunity for cattlemen to add numbers to their herd or get started in the beef business,” said John Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator. “This sale represents an excellent opportunity for cow-calf producers to add quality bred heifers and young cows to their herds.”

To view the consignments, visit the OCA YouTube page in mid-November to view the 2018 Replacement Female Sale playlist.

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California voters approve Prop 12

On Election Day California voters approved Proposition 12, an initiative that, starting in 2020, bans the sale of pork and veal from animals raised anywhere in the country in housing the state banned through a 2008 ballot initiative. (In 2010, the California Legislature banned the sale of eggs from hens housed in so-called battery cages regardless of where they are raised.)

Prop. 12 also requires egg-laying hens in the state to be cage free. National Pork Producers Council, which strongly opposed it, maintains that the initiative violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and that it will be costly for farmers and consumers. The organization is supporting federal legislation that would prohibit states from regulating agricultural production practices outside their borders and is backing lawsuits — now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court — filed by attorneys general from nearly two dozen states against California’s egg sales ban and a 2016 Massachusetts ballot measure that banned the sale of eggs, pork and veal from animals raised in housing prohibited by the same measure.

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Adam Conrad joins Axis Seed

Adam Conrad recently accepted a position with Axis Ohio. Axis Ohio is representing Axis Seed as an Independent Regional Company for all counties in Ohio.

“Adam will be a huge asset to Ohio farmers. His extensive background in seed production will further insure Axis Ohio is providing the right genetics for our unique Ohio environment,” Nathan Louiso, Axis owner.

Conrad is a Certified Crop Advisor and has worked in the seed production industry for 8 years both in Ohio and Illinois. He brings that experience to help farmers make the right decisions for their growing conditions and geography.

“Putting the power of choice in the hands of the Ohio farmer and not a corporate office; that accompanied with the family-first culture at Axis was a perfect fit for me,” Adam said.

As an independent regional company for Axis Seed, Axis Ohio has access to all current traits and technologies. Complete information about the varieties that Axis Ohio carries is available on its web site at www.axisohio.com.

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New phosphorus research project for the Maumee Watershed

Some farm fields in northwest Ohio’s Maumee River watershed have more phosphorus than their crops can use. Called “elevated phosphorus fields,” such fields may be at higher risk of contributing to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms.

That’s the premise of a new five-year, $5 million study that hopes to learn about those fields and lower that risk by creating new public-private partnerships.

Led by Jay Martin, an ecological engineering professor with The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the study plans to monitor and manage more than a dozen elevated phosphorus fields, all in the Maumee River watershed.

To do the work, the study is partnering with nutrient service providers — consultants who advise farmers on crop and soil matters, such as the types and rates of fertilizer to apply — and some of the farmers they work with. The nutrient service providers are helping find farmers to help with the study; the farmers in turn are allowing their fields to be used as sites for the study.

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Communicating with your landowner

Rented land is vital to the viability and profitability of our farms. As ownership of rented farmland is changing to individuals more removed from agriculture, establishing a sound relationship with your landowner will be key. Open lines of communication will directly affect gaining, retaining and even improving these important fields. It can also be effective in removing barriers as they relate to soil health and conservation practices that could enhance your profitability on rented land.

Please join us to learn more about strategies and tools for communicating more effectively with your landowners. Information to be presented by Alan Sundermeier, OSU Extension and American Farmland Trust staff. A lunch will be provided immediately following the presentations at Luckey Farmers, Inc. 1200 Main St., Woodville, OH 43469. For more information or to RSVP, call the Wood Soil and Water Conservation District at 419-354-5517.

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Input costs on the rise for 2019

The cost of producing a grain crop is expected to rise next year and farm income is unlikely to increase, an agricultural economist with The Ohio State University has projected.

On average, profits for Ohio farmers next year will be “low to negative,” said Barry Ward, an assistant professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

For the past five years, farm income nationwide has been declining, with the exception of 2017 when it increased slightly. Next year, fertilizer, seed, machinery, labor and energy costs likely will be “modestly higher,” Ward said.

“Nothing is really exploding, but we are going to see some increases,” Ward said.

Borrowing money will come at a higher cost because interest rates have gone up and will continue to increase in 2019, Ward said.

“We know farmers are borrowing more money now,” he said.

Land owners likely will see a decline in the value of their farmland as a result of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes as well as the uncertainty that has come with the future of corn and soybean crop prices, Ward said.

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Commodity leaders join forces on sustainability research

The National Pork Board (NPB), United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a sustainability research platform that will benefit all three organizations and their producers. This research program will include the sharing of completed research, coordination on current and planned research and define ways to share and communicate results with each organization’s members.

Leadership from the three commodity groups agree that it is prudent to consider specific ways in which they might work together more effectively to ensure alignment and collaboration in sustainability research and how the results can and will be communicated and shared.

“Sustainability is defined by the We Care ethical principles pork producers established over 10 years ago,” said Steve Rommereim, National Pork Board President, a pig farmer from South Dakota. “Joining in the efforts of two other organizations, as a collective group, we can more effectively spend producer dollars to achieve the goals we can all believe in and support.

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FDA releases two FSMA draft guidance documents

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, and Ellen Essman, Sr. Research Associate, Ohio State University

The Food and Drug Administration recently released draft guidance documents explaining how to follow rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). One document, titled “Guide to Minimize Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Produce,” provides guidance on how to follow the Preventive Controls Rule under FSMA.

“Fresh-cut produce,” is defined as “any fresh fruit or vegetable or combination thereof that has been physically altered from its whole state after being harvested from the field without additional processing.” The guidance would affect manufacturers, processors, packers, and holders of fresh-cut produce. The document covers current good manufacturing practices, as well as “new requirements for hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls.” The draft guidance document, in addition to information on how to submit a comment on the guidance, is available here.

The second draft guidance document is titled “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption: Guidance for Industry.” This document provides guidance on how to follow FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule.

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Judge reduces jury verdict against Bayer’s Monsanto

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, and Ellen Essman, Sr. Research Associate, Ohio State University

Bayer’s Monsanto quickly challenged a quarter billion dollar verdict granted by a San Francisco jury to a plaintiff who alleged that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer caused his cancer.

Monsanto asked the judge to reconsider the jury’s verdict, and on Monday, Oct. 22, the judge reduced the punitive damages portion of the jury verdict from $250 million to $39.25 million. The judge accepted the jury’s finding that Monsanto acted with malice, but said that the evidence did not justify a quarter billion dollar award. The judge did uphold the $39.25 million compensatory damages verdict. In total, the plaintiff would receive a $78.5 million award. The plaintiff accepted the reduction in the award, saying that he will not ask the judge to reconsider the decision on damages. However, the litigation seems likely to continue.

This is an excerpt from “The Ag Law Harvest” the Ohio Agricultural Law Blog at ohioaglaw.wordpress.com.

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FAD transmission risk is greater with garbage feeding

Despite many advancements in the U.S. pork industry’s focus on disease risk mitigation, 28 states (along with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) still allow some type of garbage feeding to swine. While deemed acceptable by the USDA’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) when strict protocols are followed, the potential risk of foreign animal disease (FAD) transmission remains with this practice.

According to Dave Pyburn, senior vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, the practice of garbage feeding to pigs in the United States is somewhat of a holdover from the past.

“We used to feed many more hogs this way than we do now,” he said. “But the important thing is that if a producer does decide to do this type of feeding where it’s allowed, he or she must do so by strictly adhering to the APHIS guidelines.”

The Swine Health Protection Act (SHPA) regulates food waste containing any meat products fed to swine.

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Sampling for SCN: Fall is the time!

By Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist

As we continue to wait another week for the fields to dry out, this provides some time to sample soil for the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) populations. The SCN Coalition theme for the next few years is “What’s your number?” Do you know where SCN is in your fields and what the current population is sitting at? If its high, then there is a second number: what is the SCN type? This addresses the bigger concern: can it reproduce on the SCN resistance source PI 88788 or Peking? All of these numbers can impact management of this root pathogen and future losses.

In Ohio, we know that the state is now “polluted” with SCN. Fortunately most of those fields are at very low levels, which is where they should be kept.

From samples received to date as part of an initial survey for Ohio of 33 counties as part of the SCN Coalition sampling, we found the following results.

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Livestock building rental considerations

By Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County

Recently I have gotten some questions about rental of livestock buildings, specifically dairy facilities. Typically, callers want to know a charge per square foot or a rental rate based on a per head basis or, for a dairy facility, based on number of free stalls. The reality is that there is no one right or correct answer.

Several methods or approaches generate a dollar figure for rental. However, view that number as a starting point in a rental negotiation. There are additional factors that affect the final rental rate. Those factors include the age and condition of the building, location of the building, the functionality or obsolescence of the building, the demand for rental of this type of building and the character and personality of the parties involved in the rental agreement.

The simplest and most direct way of calculating a building rental rate is to use a commercial rate, a known market.

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AgCredit forms Mission Fund

AgCredit — one of northern Ohio’s largest lenders for farmers, rural homeowners and agribusiness — is pleased to announce the recipients of the AgCredit Mission Fund.

This is the first year of the fund and grants were awarded on an application-based system within the following four focus areas.

  • Education: Educating young, beginning or future farmers
  • Environment: Maintaining or improving the quality of the rural environment
  • Technology: Supporting the advancement and utilization of technology for the benefit of farmers and rural communities
  • Quality of Rural Life: Programs, projects or initiatives that enhance the quality of life for farmers and rural communities

“We are proud to support our surrounding community and invest in the future of agriculture. We look forward to honoring these recipients and learning more about their projects at our 2019 Annual Meeting in April,” said Brian Ricker, AgCredit President and CEO.

 

The 2018 recipients are:

Acres of Adventure, Inc., Crawford County, $10,000

Acres of Adventures focuses on helping the non-farm public connect with food and farming.

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Ohio Crop Progress — Nov. 5, 2018

Rain Stalled Harvest

Wet conditions continued last week which halted most harvest progress according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. There were 1.9 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending November 4. Rainfall kept farmers out of the field and brought remaining harvest to a standstill in many areas. Statewide, corn harvest advanced 6 percentage points while soybean harvest progress gained 7 points from last week. Excessive rains caused flooding and ponding in low lying areas. Winter wheat was reported to be in good condition. The average moisture content of corn harvested last week was 17 percent and the average for soybeans was 14 percent.

Click here to read the full report

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