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Highest award in Smithfield nuisance litigation raises responses

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

The third and largest jury award in a series of nuisance lawsuits in North Carolina yielded a $473.5 million award for plaintiffs claiming harm from hog farms owned by Smithfield. The verdict will reduce to $94 million due to a state law that caps punitive damages.

Agricultural interests are claiming that the lawsuits circumvent state right to farm laws and are seeking state legislative responses. Opponents are also hoping to reverse a gag order issued by the court to impose communication restrictions on potential witnesses, parties and lawyers in the cases. The federal judge in the case, Hon. Earl Britt from the Eastern District of North Carolina, is stepping down due to health issues. Hon. David Faber of the Southern District of West Virginia will replace Judge Britt and will soon hear a fourth trial that targets a 7,100 head hog farm in Sampson County, North Carolina.

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EPA ordered to ban the sale of chlorpyrifos

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

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this month ordered the U.S. EPA within 60 days to cancel all registrations for chlorpyrifos, a pesticide first introduced by Dow and commonly used on crops and animals.

The court held that there was no justification for a decision by previous EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt refusing to grant a petition to ban chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that the pesticide can cause neurodevelopmental damage in children. The court also discarded the agency’s argument that it could refuse to ban chlorpyrifos so based on a possible contradiction of evidence in the future. Both actions, said the court, placed the agency in direct violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The highest uses of chlorpyrifos are on cotton and corn crops and almond and fruit trees.

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Will soybean aphids hit thresholds in 2018?

By Andy Michel, Kelley Tilmon, Ohio State University Extension

We have heard from a few Extension educators and scouts that soybean aphids are starting to make their appearance. Right now, the number of infested plants is very low (around 5%) and the number of aphids on the plants is also low (average 5-10). With this level of infestation, it is highly doubtful that soybean aphids will reach threshold, especially in soybean that has already entered the late R stages (R5 and R6).

However, there is a fair amount of late planted soybean that could still be at risk—in fact we were in a field last week that just reached R2. We recommend that growers continue to scout their fields to make sure that soybean aphid populations remain under the treatment threshold which is 250 aphids per plant.

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It’s official: no reporting of air emissions from animal waste

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

The U.S. EPA has posted a final rule this month clarifying that air emissions from animal waste at farms are exempt from federal regulations that require the reporting of air releases from hazardous wastes. The rule implements an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and revisions in the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act enacted by Congress earlier this year. We reported on the court case and legislation earlier this year.

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Pursuing a Bill of Rights for Lake Erie

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

The Toledoans for Safe Water submitted over 10,500 signatures this month on a petition proposing to amend the city’s charter to establish a bill of rights for Lake Erie.

The proposed bill of rights would state that Lake Erie and its watershed possesses a right to exist, flourish and naturally evolve; that the people of Toledo have a right to a clean and healthy Lake Erie, a collective and individual right to self-government in their local community and a right to a system of government that protects their rights; and that any corporation or government that violates the rights of Lake Erie could be prosecuted by the city and held legally liable for fines and all harm caused. The effort is backed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. If successful, the initiative would appear on the November ballot for Toledo residents.

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Organic Grain Trials and Transition Farm Tour

The Organic Grain Trials and Transition Farm Tour will be held at Sonlight Acres/Morning Sun Farm at 9:30 a.m.  Aug. 30 at 3993 State Rte. 503 S., West Alexandria, OH.

Dale Filbrun of Morning Sun Farm is an early organic pioneer, first becoming OEFFA certified in 1995. The farm focuses on organic eggs and produces its own feed grain. During this stop, attendees will visit the layer houses, tour the Great Harvest Seed grain trial plots, and observe the mechanical cultivation equipment used on the farm.

The tour will continue at the adjacent Sonlight Acres for a discussion about transitioning land into organic management. Kenton Filbrun will address various transition strategies, effective approved fertility products, and the path he has followed toward organic certification.

After the tour, the Filbruns invite you to a farmstead lunch sponsored by Great Harvest Seed. If you plan to stay for the lunch, RSVP by August 20 by calling (513) 267-0148 or email Sonlight Acres.

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Assemble a calf crop resilient to diseases

By Justin Kieffer, DVM, Clinical Veterinarian, Assistant Professor, Office of the Attending Veterinarian and Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Now that calving is completed and the grass is growing (hopefully), it is time to start preparing for the weaning and eventual sale or feedlot finishing of your

calf crop and development of your replacement females. Once the cow calf pairs have been kicked out to pasture in the spring, there is a tendency to put off or ignore the steps needed not only to set the feedlot calf up for success, but also to lay the groundwork for proper health for your new heifers.

Management techniques such as castration and dehorning should take place as soon as possible. Waiting too long to remove the testicles, either by banding or cutting, increases the risk of bleeding and infection, and knocks the calf off feed for an extended period of time.

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Does Roundup cause cancer?

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

Does Roundup cause cancer?  A jury in California has determined that it’s possible. The jury awarded $289 million in early against Monsanto in the first of thousands of cases alleging that Monsanto should have warned users about Roundup’s cancer risk.

The plaintiff argued that Monsanto has known for decades that the Roundup product could cause cancer but failed to warn consumers, while Monsanto claimed that more than 800 studies and reviews conclude that glyphosate itself does not cause cancer.  Monsanto plans to appeal the award.

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Ohio Crop Progress — August 13, 2018

Field Crop Progress Stays Ahead of Schedule

Corn continued to see faster than average kernel development last week, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA, NASS, Ohio Field Office. There were 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending August 12. Soybean pods were also filling faster than average due to timely rains and warmer than normal temperatures last week. Rapid corn and soybean development were accompanied by slight increases in good to excellent condition ratings for soybeans and pastures. Oats harvested moved closer to completion in between the rainfall and progress remained ahead of the 5-year average. Hay continued to be cut close to last year’s pace. Improving pasture condition lowered livestock stress.

Take a look at the full report here

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Farm groups pushing for a farm bill

The two largest farming groups in the United States called for swift passage of the farm bill by a congressional conference committee.

Faced with the lowest farm income in 12 years, the presidents of the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union are asking Senate and House conferees to move quickly. Everything from commodity price supports to childhood nutrition, soil and water conservation, trade promotion and more depend on swift passage.

“America’s farmers and ranchers persevere even in the toughest times, but the farm economy has gone from bad to worse,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “Tariffs and stagnant global demand for commodities have left the agriculture economy in the worst shape we have seen since the farm crisis of the 1980s. Lender surveys and our own experience tell us spring could bring a wave of farm closures unless there’s major improvement in the marketplace.

“Farmers and ranchers need the certainty that the farm bill provides to maintain the food security that all Americans want and need.

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Farm groups weighing in on WOTUS

The 2015 version of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule must be permanently rescinded, and the prior version of the regulation re-codified, to provide certainty for dairy farmers, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said.

In comments submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) this week, NMPF outlined its support for both agencies’ proposal to repeal the current definition of WOTUS and rewrite it to reflect common-sense approaches to protecting the environment. In addition, NMPF joined numerous farm and food organizations to submit an additional 22 pages of comments that provided an extensive legal and technical assessment of what the two agencies did wrong three years ago in an attempt to update the regulation.

“Dairy farmers undertake extensive efforts to manage the natural resources that are critical to their livelihoods,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF President and CEO. “WOTUS must provide proper clarity on what falls under its jurisdiction so that farmers can better meet the industry’s shared commitment to clean water.”

In early 2017, the Trump Administration ordered a review of the WOTUS rule in response to concerns many farm groups had raised since the measure was finalized in 2015.

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Notice of election: Ohio Soybean Council, District 9

District 9 of the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) Board of Trustees will have an election beginning Aug. 13. All ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 31 and received by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) by Sept. 7. District 9 includes Delaware, Marion, Morrow and Union Counties.

The candidates are Lizabeth Funderburgh of Union County and Mike Ralph of Marion County. Candidate bios can be found at www.soyohio.org.

Ballots will be mailed to all farmers in the district and be available by request from the Ohio Soybean Council by calling 614-476-3100.

Eligible voters must reside within the district within the last 30 days and have engaged in the growing of soybeans anytime during the three-year period immediately preceding Nov. 15, 2018.

All ballots will be counted and validated by ODA with official election results announced in late September.

For questions, contact Kirk Merritt, OSC executive director, at 614-476-3100 or kmerritt@soyohio.org.

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Court asked to lift gag order in North Carolina nuisance suits

The National Pork Producers Council and the North Carolina Pork Council filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of lifting a judge’s gag order on communications related to nuisance lawsuits filed against more than two dozen North Carolina hog farms.

Judge Earl Britt, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, in late June imposed the gag order on the parties, lawyers and potential witnesses in lawsuits brought against Murphy-Brown, the hog production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. The judge said a “significant increase in trial publicity” and the “volume and scope of prejudicial publicity” about the first two cases — one decided in early May and the other two days after the gag order was implemented — could taint future cases.

NPPC and NCPC filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., asking that it grant Murphy-Brown’s petition to vacate the District Court’s prior restraint on speech, noting that “All but the most carefully crafted, narrow gag orders are unconstitutional.”

NPPC and NCPC argued that there is no compelling need for the gag order, the District Court did not consider alternatives to the order — including the jury selection process or jury instructions — the order is overbroad and vague, and it won’t be effective.

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Beef Industry Update Meeting to be held in Butler County

A Beef Industry Update meeting hosted by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) will take place in Butler County. Beef producers from Butler and surrounding counties are encouraged to attend. The meeting will be held Thursday, August 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Collinsville Community Center, 5113 Huston Road Collinsville, OH 45004.

At the meeting, OCA staff will discuss OCA events and policy updates. A complimentary dinner will be sponsored by OCA Allied Industry Council (AIC) members Kent Nutrition Group and Multimin USA and door prizes will be provided. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Kent Nutrition Group and Multimin USA representatives on keeping their cow herd profitable.

The 2018 Beef Industry Update producer education partners are the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Corn Growers Association.

Contact the OCA office at 614-873-6736 or email cattle@ohiocattle.org to RSVP. For more information about the beef industry update meetings, visit www.ohiocattle.org.

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Western bean cutworm: Adult moth catches indicate Ohio is past peak flight

By John Schoenhals, Mark Badertscher, Lee Beers, Amanda Bennett, JD Bethel, Bruce Clevenger, Sam Custer, Tom Dehass, Allen Gahler, Jason Hartschuh, Ed Lentz, Rory Lewandowski, Cecilia Lokai-Minnich, David Marrison, Les Ober, Eric Richer, Garth Ruff, Jeff Stachler, Alan Sundermeier, Curtis Young, Megan Zerrer, Andy Michel, Kelley Tilmon, Ohio State University Extension

Western bean cutworm (WBC) adult moth catches decreased across monitoring counties in Ohio. For week ending August 4, 23 counties monitored 73 traps (Figure 1). Overall, there was a statewide average of 5.6 moths (406 total captured). This is a decrease from an average of 15 moths per trap (1090 total captured) the previous week. Two consecutive weeks of WBC adult captures indicate that Ohio is past peak flight for WBC adults.

Figure 1. Average WBC adult per trap in Ohio counties, followed in parentheses by total number of traps monitored in each county for the week ending August 4, 2018.

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Tile Drainage and Soil Health Field Day

By Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

OSU Extension Crawford County will be hosting a Tile demonstration and Soil Health Field day on August 22. The program will start at 9:30 am and run until 2 pm. Cost for the program will be $5 to cover lunch. Throughout the day, participants will have the opportunity to see both commercial and tractor mounted plows in operation. They will have the opportunity to see how to run the tractor plow from the seat and how Intellislope works. While drainage is often the first step to successful no-till and cover crops, it is not the only step. Other presentations will include, Profitable cover cropping with livestock, Managing herbicides for cover crop success, In field soil health testing and interpretation, Planning Grass waterways and Blind inlets to partner with you tile installation, Economics of drain tile installation. Please call the Crawford county extension office at 419-562-8731 to RSVP by August 20th.

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Forecasts predict at least one good rain event per week for the rest of August

By Jim Noel, NOAA

Summer rainfall has been on a wild swing. We have been going back and forth from wet to dry and now we are looking toward a bit wetter pattern again.

The outlook for the rest of August calls for slightly above normal temperatures (about 1 to 2 degrees F). Rainfall will likely average 2 to 4 inches with normal being near 3 inches inches. Isolated totals could reach 5 inches through the end of August.

Going into harvest season things have been changing. Current climate models are continue the trends of temperatures 1 to 3 degrees F above normal through November. However, trends are also gradually wetting up in fall. Rainfall goes from near normal in September to above normal by October into November. We will continue to monitor this trend but early harvest conditions look pretty good but later harvest conditions look more questionable.

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Advanced Biobased Systems Workshop to explore 
growing industry of biobased products

The Advanced Biobased Systems Workshop: Pipeline to Commercialization will bring together leaders in industry and research to explore the development and commercialization of biobased fuels and products.

The workshop, a collaboration between The Ohio State University (OSU) and the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC), will be held Sept. 10 at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on OSU’s Columbus campus, with a networking farm tour and barbecue on Sept. 9. Keynote speaker Roger Wyse, a managing partner with Spruce Capital Partners, will discuss the investment community’s perspective in funding biobased technologies.

President of FDC Enterprises, Fred Circle, will speak about managing perennial grasses for energy production. Richard Fitzpatrick with Kreussler, Inc., and Mike Feazel with Roof Maxx Technologies will share their experience with the practical aspects of commercializing biobased products. Barry McGraw, director of product development and commercialization for the Ohio Soybean Council, and Ram Lalgudi, a senior research scientist at Battelle, will share their views on how to successfully develop biobased products.

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ODA announces pesticide collection in Wood County

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will be sponsoring a collection for farmers wishing to dispose of unwanted pesticides on September 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Wood County Fairgrounds (Champions Barn), 13800 W. Poe Road, Bowling Green, OH 43402.

The pesticide collection and disposal service is free of charge, but only farm chemicals will be accepted. Paint, antifreeze, solvents, and household or non-farm pesticides will not be accepted.

Pesticide collections are sponsored by the department in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To pre-register, or for more information, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 614-728-6987.

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Adams County team wins 2018 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge

The team of Whitney Bauman, Carlie Cluxton and Bonnie Simpkins from Adams County won the 2018 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge for their project to address Ohio’s growing feral swine population.

Sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio 4-H and Ohio FFA, the challenge brings together youths ages 14 to 18 from around the state to discuss community concerns and then work together to propose policies and programs to solve the issues.

The challenge started in the spring when groups met to learn about public policy issues and began planning their proposals. A preliminary contest narrowed the field down to four teams, which competed in the finals during the Ohio State Fair.

In their final presentation, Bauman, Cluxton and Simpkins proposed the development of Area Feral Swine Task Forces that work with Ohio Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to educate Ohioans about feral swine and implement a feral swine population management program.

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