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Setting basis and leaving futures unpriced

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

Last week’s USDA report showed 10% less carryout than the trade expected for the 2020 crop. However, it was still 3.3 billion bushels, which is concerning. In the last 33 years, the highest final carryout level ever reached was 2.3 billion bushels. While some farmers may have switched corn acres to beans, or other spring crops, it’s unlikely to be enough to offset 1 billion corn bushels.

 

Setting basis and leaving futures unpriced

This week a couple farmers across the country discussed setting basis levels in their area and moving grain sooner than later. Here are some issues to consider before setting basis for May, June or July delivery without first having futures prices locked in.

 

Willing to set futures price by June 29?

First, a farmer needs to decide if they are willing to set their futures price on this trade by June 29.… Continue reading

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Embracing young family workers and teaching farm safety during the COVID summer

By Dee Jepsen and Shoshanah Inwood

This spring and summer will be like no other in recent history during the COVID-19 outbreak. As you take stock of the goals you have for your farm this season, labor needs, and family dynamics, now is also the perfect time to create a plan for the role kids will have on the farm this season. As you formulate your plan, it will be important to take the age of your children and their farm interest into account. The following strategies and tips may be helpful as you come up with a plan for involving young family members in daily chores.

 

Designate safe play areas for toddlers and young children

A farm is a wonderful place to grow up. However, younger children also require more oversight. It will be helpful to have conversations as a family about how to keep kids safe while farm work is being done.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers program postponed

With the uncertainty of the COVID 19 crisis and the apprehension concerning gatherings of people, we have decided to postpone the spring 2020 Feeding Farmers program sponsored by AgriGold until later this year.

“The best part of this program is the neighbors coming together and sharing lunch and fellowship,” said Bart Johnson, owner of Ohio’s Country Journal. “We want to make sure we can continue the importance of getting together socially and celebrating the honor of being involved in agriculture.”

The hope is this fall will bring more relaxed social gathering guidelines and a return to more normal events. We will provide details when we know more.… Continue reading

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Soybean demand remains uncertain

By Todd Hubbs, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics University of Illinois

The USDA released the first projections for U.S. corn and soybean supply and demand in the 2020-21 marketing year on May 12. The forecasts for soybeans showed higher ending stocks this marketing year with a substantial decrease in the next marketing year’s ending stocks. While the prospects for this year’s crop come to the forefront, the consumption projections reflect the potential market size and merit consideration.

Current marketing year ending stocks increased to 580 million bushels due to a 100 million bushel drop in soybean exports. Total consumption for the 2019-20 marketing year is forecast at 3.901 billion bushels, down 70 million bushels from 2018-19. The initial forecast of soybean use for the 2020-21 marketing year came in at 4.315 billion bushels. Driven by an expectation of exports at 2.05 billion bushels, consumption near this level last occurred in 2017-18 before the onset of the trade war.… Continue reading

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Coronavirus and COVID-19: What is this world coming to?

By Don “Doc” Sanders

Sometimes I think my fellow Americans don’t use a bit of their “smarts.” In my April column I described the hysterical rush of consumers purchasing as much toilet paper as they could haul out in a shopping cart or two. Then, over spring break, college students flocked to Florida beaches in spite of calls to social distance and self-quarantine at home.

Florida officials made no effort to stem the tide of spring breakers and their lack of social distancing and their flouting of authority. Florida businesses raked in the bucks from students, with fully booked hotels, restaurants packed to the gills, and booze flowing like the Suwannee River.

The students’ attitude was “if I die of COVID-19, so be it. Eat, drink and be merry. You only live once.” But the students gave no thought about spreading the virus to their friends and families when they returned home.… Continue reading

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You have received PPP loan funding: Now what?

By Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA, Partner at Holbrook & Manter, CPAs

So, you have applied for and received a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Loan). What should you do next to ensure that you are tracking and using the funds on eligible expenses to qualify for loan forgiveness?

 

Loan forgiveness

The borrower is eligible for full forgiveness of the loan principal if the funds are used on payroll costs, interest payments on mortgages, payments of rent on any lease and utility payments. Due to high demand for the PPP loans, 75% of the forgiven amount must be used for payroll costs.

Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or rehiring employees and maintaining wage levels by June 30, 2020. The amount forgiven will be reduced if you decrease your full-time employee count compared to the prior year and/or by the reduction in pay of any employee beyond 25% of their prior year compensation.… Continue reading

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CFAP direct payment details announced

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.

Payments will go directly to farmers who have suffered a 5% or greater price loss and who are facing significant marketing costs due to the coronavirus. Eligible commodities include cattle, hog, dairy, specialty crops and row crops. Payments will be limited to $250,000 per person.

“This aid can’t arrive soon enough as many farmers file for bankruptcy, facing unprecedented losses.… Continue reading

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Farms to Foodbanks: Community foundations partner to supply foodbanks

Food chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in meat processing bottlenecks. Grocery and food pantry refrigerators and freezers are empty, despite increased need for healthy proteins.

Ohio Farm Bureau, Pickaway County Community Foundation (PCCF) and Delaware County Foundation are working with local farmers to supply local foodbanks with Ohio raised pork.

“We are always looking to generate win-win opportunities,” said Chris Baker, president and CEO of the Delaware County Foundation. “As the number of residents out of work and seeking assistance from food banks increases, some farmers have struggled due to disruptions at processing facilities. With a modest grant from the Foundation’s Community Crisis Fund we are pleased to be able to feed hundreds of people while supporting local businesses.”

When partners learned the meat processing plant in Orient was reopening after temporary closure they sprung to action and purchased 30 hogs from Ohio producers to process for local foodbanks.… Continue reading

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First round of U.S.-UK trade talks

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and United Kingdom International Trade Secretary Liz Truss began meeting in May via video conference to formally begin trade talks between the two nations.

“Both parties agree that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would contribute to the long-term health of our economies, which is vitally important as we recover from the challenges posed by COVID-19. An FTA is a priority for both countries and we share a commitment to secure an ambitious agreement that significantly boosts trade and investment. We will undertake negotiations at an accelerated pace and have committed the resources necessary to progress at a fast pace,” according to a joint statement..

The first round of trade negotiations continued through May 15. In October 2018, the Trump administration announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K.… Continue reading

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Avoid the knee-jerk reaction

By Andy Westhoven, Regional Agronomist, CPAg, CCA, AgriGold

I realize it is now mid-May and plenty of corn and soybean fields have been planted, but avoiding the knee-jerk reaction actually applies to the entire growing season —

not just at planting. Many farmers (including me) have very short-term memories. The last thing we need to do is base our decisions solely off 2019. Coupled with the frightening facts of the virus pandemic and market decreases — staying with the plan is the best action to take.

Many areas that experienced prevent plant acres know full well there would not be a repeat in 2020. My own farm had only a third of the acres planted and, regardless of the environment(s) this spring, crops will be planted. So far this season, many small pockets were able to plant early while others waited on the sidelines. The planter is the most important pass of the season and no one enjoys a redo.… Continue reading

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Planting continued as temperatures remained cool

While temperatures remained cool throughout the state, farmers made good planting progress, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. Some damage was reported to winter wheat from freezing temperatures early in the week while rain activity late in the week may have caused damage to crops not yet emerged. Average temperatures for the week were below historical normals and the entire state averaged close to 1-inch precipitation. There were 3.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 17.

Farmers continued tillage and spraying activities. Large increases in corn and soybeans planting were reported in the Northwest portion of the state. Corn planted progress was 57 percent, 8 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. Soybeans planted progress was ahead of the five-year average while soybeans emerged was behind the five-year average due to recent cooler than normal temperatures slowing germination. Sixty-six percent of pasture and range was considered good or excellent compared to 53 percent last year.

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H2Ohio funds survive COVID-19

Though February featured H2Ohio informational meetings with robust farmer attendance and venues bursting at maximum capacity, March and April brought about tremendous uncertainty with regard to the water-quality focused program as Ohio’s financial situation had to be re-evaluated due to the coronavirus. May is bringing a bit more clarity.

“Governor DeWine’s commitment to clean water in Ohio through his H2Ohio Initiative has remained a priority. Although the economic impact of COVID-19 was unforeseen and required a reevaluation of Ohio Department of Agriculture’s budget, ODA is pleased to be able to move forward with $50 million in funds — $30 million in H2Ohio funds plus $20 million primarily allotted from SB 299 — that will be available to farmers currently enrolled in H2Ohio programs,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director. “This exceeds ODA’s expectations and positions the department to continue building valuable, conservation-based relationships with producers. Although details are yet to be worked out, we plan to move forward quickly to meet with the 2,000 farmers who have enrolled more than 1.1 million acres, in addition to working closely with the 14 SWCDs to help them achieve necessary staffing levels.”

The COVID-19 concerns did slow down the progress of H2Ohio, though.… Continue reading

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Gracee is my name

By Matt Reese

“So what’s your name? What county are you from?”

Gracee Workman, like anyone in a new role in agriculture, was asked these questions repeatedly during her first few days on the job selecting breeding gilts for Heimerl Farms and PIC.

“I got a lot of questions about my family’s name,” Gracee said. “They wanted to know where I came from and about my farm background. I didn’t have that.”

She did not have a family heritage in agriculture to share with those who asked. Her story had much different beginnings. Her parents divorced when she was very young and one of Gracee’s earliest memories was sleeping on the floor under a card table in her room surrounded by dog feces in a Columbus house that was mostly otherwise empty. Her mother had been selling everything she could find — rugs, furniture, appliances — to pay for her drug addiction.… Continue reading

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Crimping cover crops

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Crop roller “crimping” has become a common way to mechanically terminate cover crops.  Crimpers are used to kill grass cover crops (cereal rye, barley, wheat, sorghum, Sudan, pearl millet), vetches (hairy and common), annual clovers (crimson and balansa), buckwheat,  and multi-species cover crops. Crimpers do not work well with perennial cover crops like red clover, alfalfa, or annual ryegrass as a cover crop.  The best results occur on annual cover crops when the heads or flowers are in the “boot” or head stage, near the end of the plant growth cycle.

Crimpers are 16-inch rolling steel drums with blunt steel blades either tractor pulled or front mounted.  As the crimper rolls through a cover crop, the blunt blade “crimps” or injures plant stems every 7 inches.

Roller Crimper, photo courtesy of Hoorman Soil Health Services

The blades are usually curved or positioned in a “chevron” pattern  at a 7-100 angle to reduce bouncing, soil movement, and to increase maximum plant stem crimping pressure.   

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USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County and Mike Estadt, Extension Educator, ANR, Pickaway County

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other USDA authorities to provide $16 billion in support to farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The program is available to all farmers, regardless of size, who suffered an eligible loss. Included in the program is $3 billion that will go toward purchases of commodities for distribution by food banks and faith-based programs through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA announced $1.2 billion in contracts for that program.

CFAP will provide direct support based on actual losses where markets & supply chains have been impacted.  The program is also designed to assist farmers with additional adjustment and marketing costs from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.… Continue reading

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New Clean Water Act interpretations make waves

By Ellen Essman, Ohio Law Blog, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University

Even with most of the country shut down, the U.S. EPA and the Supreme Court recently released an important rulemaking and a decision, respectively, regarding how parts of the Clean Water Act will be interpreted going forward. On April 21, 2020, the EPA and the Department of the Army published the Trump administration’s final rule on the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Then, on April 23, the Supreme Court released its long awaited opinion determining whether or not pollutants from a point source, which are released and then carried by groundwater into a navigable water, must be permitted under the CWA.

 

Trump’s new WOTUS

If you recall, we explained this final rule in January when the draft version was released. Basically, the Trump administration wanted to repeal and replace the Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule because the administration felt that it was overreaching in the waters it protected.… Continue reading

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Food bloopers

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and nutritionist

bloop·er /ˈblo͞opər/ Noun; an embarrassing error.

Thursday mornings at my church, a class of primarily Japanese women meet to learn English. They are sponges for American culture, food and words. Classes are filled with laughter as words get mixed up, Americanisms are learned, and bonds are created. I had been planning a class about All-American foods when the pandemic hit. To get my mind off the germs, I took matters in my own hands and decided to make Tasty Tuesday All-American Favorites. Tasty Tuesday would feature a how-to video of a recipe. First up: Easy Crockpot Roast Beef (a.k.a. Pot Roast). I made cue cards of vocabulary words such as ground beef, ground sirloin, ground round and ground chuck. My husband Paul filmed as I began talking about cuts of beef using the great interactive resources on www.brobbq.com. First, the round and then “moving on to the chicken, I mean chuck!” I let out a howl of laughter, the camera bobbed as Paul snickered and we moved right along.… Continue reading

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Farmers and 1099 filers might qualify for new COVID-19 unemployment benefits program

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

Farmers aren’t traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, but that won’t be the case when Ohio’s newest unemployment program opens. We’ve been keeping an eye out for the opening of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to persons affected by COVID-19. The program is targeted to persons who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, such as self-employed and 1099 filers. PUA is yet another economic assistance program generated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress.

PUA will provide regular unemployment benefit amounts to qualifying individuals, plus an additional $600 per week for the period of March 29 to July 25, 2020. Qualification doesn’t include a minimum income requirement, but a person must not be eligible for Ohio’s regular unemployment benefits and must not be currently receiving vacation, sick or other paid leave.… Continue reading

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Big as all outdoors

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

As I write this in mid-April I see a glimmer of light way down the gun barrel after noting that Governor DeWine this week did not extend our stay-at-home orders past the first of this month. We’ll all know more by the time you read this, but hopes are for a gradual return to a new norm in life at home, work and in the outdoors. Hopes also hang on the possibility that some of the lessons learned and practices engaged in will carry over and allow us to derive something positive from these weeks of isolation. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I hope you all are weathering these times well and enjoying what finally feels like spring. When I am done here I head to our turkey hunting grounds, where wife Maria and I planted our pop-up hunting blind back on Easter Sunday in anticipation of the opener of the gobbler season now underway.… Continue reading

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Burndown and residual herbicide issues

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension

Depending upon where you are in the state, it’s possible right now to be experiencing delays in getting anything done, progress in planting but delays in herbicide application, weather too dry to activate residual herbicides, and/or reduced burndown herbicide effectiveness on big weeds due to cold weather — what’s become a typical Ohio spring. Some information relative to questions that OSU Extension educators have passed on to us:

1. Residual herbicides and rainfall. Residual herbicides do vary in the relative amounts of rain needed for “activation,” or adequate movement into the soil to reach germinating seeds. Most growers are applying mixtures or premixes of several products, so we’re not sure these diiferences are as important as the overriding principle here. Residual herbicide treatments need to receive a half to one inch of rain within a week or so after tillage or an effective burndown treatment, to control weeds that can will start to emerge at that time.… Continue reading

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