Country Life

NFU joins coalition supporting limits on excessive commodity speculation

National Farmers Union (NFU), as a part of the Commodity Markets Oversight Coalition (CMOC), a broad coalition of associations representing Main Street businesses, in filing an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia in support of a Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) rule that would limit speculative trading in commodities.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act required the CFTC to quickly adopt speculative position limits for all energy futures and swaps and report back to lawmakers on their impact after the limits had been imposed for one year. Accordingly, the CFTC approved a final rule on Oct. 18, 2011 that would have imposed speculative position limits on futures and swaps for 28 listed commodities.

Last September, a District Court judge, responding to a legal challenge by Wall Street groups, vacated the rule citing an “ambiguous” Congressional mandate and CFTC’s failure to determine if it should have made a finding of necessity before promulgating the final rule.… Continue reading

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Veterinarian: An underappreciated job

By Kim Lemmon

We all know that large animal veterinarians can be hard to find. More and more young folks are turning to careers in the field of small animal care. Usually the hours are better, and even when emergency work is required at less than ideal hours, the work is often more mental and skill oriented than geared around sweat, determination and brute strength.

I’m lucky enough to have found an equine veterinarian that lives fairly near me that is extremely dedicated to her clients. I have been a customer for more than 10 years, and during those years, we have become more like co-workers and friends than customer and health care provider.

To keep costs down, many livestock and horse owners rarely use a veterinarian unless there is an emergency. I do understand and appreciate the concerns involving the costs associated with regular or routine veterinary care, but my husband, Mark, and I decided long ago that we have no problem paying the yearly fees associated with having our vet at our barn to vaccinate, help with dental work and look over the horses because the relationship and loyalty that has developed has become priceless.… Continue reading

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Earth Day 2013

Today Earth Day is being celebrated around the world and Ohio agriculture will once again point out that, in order to ensure a healthy way of life and to sustain the environment for future generations, every day is Earth Day for Ohio’s farmers. Ohio’s farmers understand that providing a safe, wholesome food supply for consumers is a great responsibility — and one that must take into account many factors, including the impact on the environment.

This year’s Earth Day is focused on the changing climate. While Earth Day offers an opportunity to talk with others about agriculture, such conversations should not be limited to April 22. General talking points that may be useful in responding to inquiries about Earth Day (or any day) include:

• While farm and ranch productivity has increased dramatically since 1950, the use of resources (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.) required for production has declined markedly.… Continue reading

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Fertilizer questions and answers after tragic Texas explosion

The recent and tragic explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant set the world talking about the dangers associated with products that are regularly used on farms throughout the country.

Incidents like the tragedy on April 17 are rare due to the high temperatures required to ignite fertilizers. Ammonia is suspected to be involved in the incident and ignites at more than 1,500 degrees. According the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Standard for Storage and Handling of Anhydrous Ammonia, ammonia is extremely hard to ignite and is a relatively stable compound. The conditions favorable for ignition are seldom encountered during normal operations due to the high ignition temperature required. Most states have adopted the ANSI Standard, including Texas.

More details in the situation are under investigation.

“The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has been deployed to the accident scene. The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has worked closely with CSB and will serve as a resource should we be asked to do so,” said Kathy Mathers with TFI.… Continue reading

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Lehman Catholic High School addresses farm safety

Students at Lehman Catholic will learn about farm safety on April 29. Meghan Bennett, Cargill outreach coordinator, will teach kids about various hazards in rural areas, including livestock and environmental safety from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
“Even if these students don’t live on a farm they probably know someone who does,” Bennett said. “They need to understand how to behave and react to the animals cues.”
Bennett partners with Farm Safety For Just Kids to offer safety education for youth. Farm Safety For Just Kids was founded 25 years ago by an Iowa farm wife after the death of her son in a gravity flow grain wagon accident. The organization promotes a safe farm environment to prevent injuries and death by educating our youth.
“Cargill is proud of our 25 year relationship with Farm Safety 4 Just Kids“ said Fred Oelschlaeger, Farm Service Group leader with Cargill AgHorizons.”
We greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with Farm Safety 4 Just Kids to help keep our most valuable resource —our kids — safe on the family farm.”
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Wilmington College adds sustainable agriculture minor

The world is looking to American agriculture to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 and American agriculture is counting on college students to bear a significant burden of the brainpower needed to meet that challenge.

Wilmington College has established a new minor, Sustainability, that will officially debut in fall 2013. It features an interdisciplinary curriculum with 12 hours in agriculture courses and a dozen hours of electives, from across the academic spectrum, designed to dovetail with a student’s career interests.

“It takes students on different paths,” said Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture. “This will be a minor that complements a lot of different majors.

“We have a great agriculture program at Wilmington College,” he added. “Our graduates understand horticulture, soil science and crop and animal science, but, with sustainability, it’s not all about agriculture — there’s a political and societal side to the subject.”

Michael Snarr, professor of social and political studies, teaches one of the electives, the Global Politics of Food course.… Continue reading

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Progress in farm labor policy

As a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation this morning dealing with comprehensive immigration reform, members of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) highlighted the crucial stake American agriculture has in the debate.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which is a founding member of the AWC, has made fixing the broken immigration system one of its highest priorities over the past decade. NMPF’s President and CEO Jerry Kozak told press conference attendees that “what we’re working with lawmakers to do is not merely fixing a broken system, but scrapping an old set of unworkable rules and replacing it with something better.”

“The approach in this agreement is better for employers, better for employees, better for law enforcement, better for the economy – better for America,” Kozak said.

Kozak identified four key items essential to dairy farmers that any eventual deal on immigration reform must contain. These include:

 

1.      Establishing a blue card for experienced agricultural workers.… Continue reading

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Bluegrass Pipeline

As the oil and gas industry continues to boom in Ohio, there are an increasing number of infrastructure development projects being considered as well. Among those is the Bluegrass Pipeline project running through southern Ohio.

On March 6, 2013, Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP announced that they are forming a joint venture to develop the pipeline project to transport natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to the Gulf Coast. The proposed “Bluegrass Pipeline” will be designed to initially transport up to 200,000 barrels per day of mixed natural gas liquids produced in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. By adding additional liquids pumping capacity, the proposed pipeline could be increased to 400,000 barrels per day. By combining new construction, with an existing pipeline interconnect in Kentucky, the goal of Bluegrass Pipeline is to be up and running in the second half of 2015. In order to meet this ambitious in service date, pipeline right of way land acquisitions will need to be initiated in 2013.… Continue reading

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Farm Bureau algal bloom seminar

Farmers who need to know how they’ll be affected by outbreaks of harmful algal blooms can learn more at a members-only webinar from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF).

The session will be held April 24 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Members can register and submit questions by visiting ofbf.org and searching “nutrient webinar.” The registration deadline is April 23.

Recently, nutrient related water quality challenges have placed new expectations on farmers. The webinar will discuss agriculture’s contributions to the algal blooms and the short and long term steps farmers should be prepared to take.

The session also will discuss the potential impact on farmers as the issue is addressed by government, special interest groups and the media.

The webinar will feature Dr. Larry Antosch, OFBF’s senior director of environmental policy, and other nutrient and water quality experts.… Continue reading

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New “Tier 3” fuel standards and ethanol

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a major program designed to reduce air pollution from passenger cars and trucks, and ethanol could play an important role. This program includes new standards for both vehicle emissions and sulfur content of gasoline, considering the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system. The EPA is referring to this proposed program as the “Tier 3” vehicle and fuel standard.

The proposed Tier 3 program is a comprehensive approach that considers the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system, aimed at addressing the impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and public health. The program proposes to set new vehicle emissions standards and lower the sulfur content of gasoline beginning in 2017. The proposed vehicle standards would reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles, and some heavy-duty vehicles. The proposed gasoline sulfur standard would enable more stringent vehicle emissions standards and would make emissions control systems more effective.… Continue reading

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U.S. approves Japan TTP

Numerous agricultural groups applauded the United States’ decision to welcome Japan into Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade negotiations.

“Japan greatly enhances the potential value of the TPP to U.S. dairy producers and processors,” said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for strategic initiatives and trade policy for The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and already a major dairy importer. Reducing excessive tariffs and removing non-tariff barriers to trade will significantly increase U.S. dairy export opportunities, which helps drive overall U.S. dairy industry growth.”

U.S. suppliers shipped $284 million worth of cheese, whey proteins, milk powder and other dairy products to Japan in 2012. It is the fifth-largest U.S. dairy export market, despite substantial market access barriers in many of the biggest dairy categories.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office officially notified Congress of the American government’s intention to enter into TPP trade talks in 2009.… Continue reading

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Framework reached to set stage for immigration reform

A framework was reached on agriculture labor provisions between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers. Key Senators are also supportive of the framework.

“These successful negotiations will help provide America’s farmers and ranchers a much needed legal labor supply, while paving the way for many farm and ranch workers to obtain legal status,” according to a statement from the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We appreciate the tireless efforts of Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) to garner consensus and agreement by all parties on such a significant issue. The framework and objectives established today are a positive step toward achieving meaningful immigration reform.”

This is an important step towards the possibility of comprehensive immigration reform legislation being introduced and moving its way through Congress.… Continue reading

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ODNR and farmers working together for Lake Erie

Less than a year after it was implemented, the $3 million Healthy Lake Erie Fund has enabled farmers to place agricultural nutrient reduction practices on more than 35,000 acres of farmland in the Western Lake Erie Basin watershed.

“I am proud to see farmers taking advantage of resources that will protect one of Ohio’s greatest natural resources, Lake Erie,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “The money from the Healthy Lake Erie Fund is being used to reduce nutrients in Ohio’s waterways from agricultural sources, and many producers are realizing these practices still result in viable and even more profitable farming operations.”

The Healthy Lake Erie Fund is administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) in cooperation with local soil and water conservation districts through the Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative. ODNR, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) established the Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative based on recommendations made in the Directors’ Agricultural Nutrients and Water Quality Working Group report the agencies released in 2012.… Continue reading

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Ethanol supporters take on Capitol Hill

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Recently, lawmakers have offered new legislation to eliminate the renewable fuels standard (RFS) and also delay E-15 from entering the marketplace. In response, American ethanol supporters are meeting with elected officials to express support for the RFS and engage Congress in the importance of E-15, the RFS and RINs.

Today, 10% of U.S. gasoline is ethanol but Growth Energy Board Co-Chairman Jeff Broin said the potential is much larger.

“We can be up to 30% ethanol by the year 2022 to meet the renewable fuels standard goals,” Broin said. “That’s a domestic, renewable product that creates jobs right here in the U.S. It is much better for the environment and it is quite a bit cheaper than gasoline as well.”

Broin said there’s a tremendous amount of feedstock available, and 1 billion tons of cellulose that goes to waste each year that could be used for ethanol production.… Continue reading

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United States Postal Service cancels plans to stop Saturday mail delivery

After much debate, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced it was canceling plans to stop Saturday mail delivery.

“We were pleased to hear that the USPS has decided to reverse its plan to end Saturday mail delivery later this year,” said Chandler Goule National Farmers Union (NFU) Vice President of Government Relations.

Many feared the elimination of Saturday delivery would have a negative impact on the economy and would pose an unnecessary burden to customers of the Postal Service.

“Many rural USPS customers depend heavily on weekend delivery, and eliminating it would have a negative impact on rural America.  In many cases, local and regional newspaper delivery to outlying areas will be delayed for days. This not only damages the circulation numbers of the newspaper, but also devalues local information and advertising,” Goule said.… Continue reading

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AFBF submits a farm bill proposal

The American Farm Bureau Federation is sending a farm bill proposal to Capitol Hill today. Approved this weekend by the AFBF Board of Directors, the proposal offers a diverse mix of risk management and safety net tools to benefit a wide range of farms and it saves $23 billion compared to the cost of continuing the current program.

The American Farm Bureau farm bill proposal helps reduce the nation’s budget deficit, provides an adequate economic safety net for the nation’s farmers and is based on several core policy principles, according to AFBF President Bob Stallman.

The Farm Bureau proposal:

 

·         Offers farmers a choice of program options.

·         Protects and strengthens the federal crop insurance program and does not reduce its funding.

·         Provides a commodity title that works to encourage farmers to follow market signals rather than making planting decisions in anticipation of government payments.

·         Refrains from basing any program on cost of production.… Continue reading

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EPA moving forward with spill prevention enforcement

By Matt Reese

Though it has been in the works for several years now, it appears that the long discussed regulations pertaining to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Program (SPCC) for on-farm fuel and oil storage will be enforced in the near future.

“This regulation already exists and the EPA is going to get serious about enforcing it this coming May. This is also about developing plans to manage storage on your farm,” said Mark Wilson, with Land Stewards, LLC.  “This has been on the books for awhile, but EPA has been continually pushing back this enforcement schedule.”

Before a farm is subject to the SPCC rule, it must meet three criteria:

1. It must be non-transportation-related;

2. It must have an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or a completely buried storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons; and

3. There must be a reasonable expectation of a discharge into or upon navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.… Continue reading

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OFBF members meet with Balderson

Republican Ohio Senator Troy Balderson got to meet some of his new constituents this morning. After the recent re-

districting, his District 20 changed significantly and he visited the Miller farm in Fairfield County to discuss the budget debate, agricultural issues and rural issues with some Ohio Farm BUreau Federation members in the new area he represents. The 20th District encompasses all of Fairfield, Guernsey, Hocking, Morgan, and Muskingum Counties as well as portions of Athens and Pickaway Counties. Balderson is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. A small business owner himself, Senator Balderson understands the strain that is currently on Ohio’s businesses and workers. He hopes to continue his work within the General Assembly to create a climate in Ohio that is business and jobs friendly. He is a noted friend of the Ohio Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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Letter to the Editor: Be happy with what you have

Where are we headed in the rural community? I am very concerned, and bordering on angry. I am a fifth generation farmer, farming 750 acres in Shelby and Logan Counties (Ohio). During the past fifteen years, I have witnessed social upheaval in the rural agricultural community rising at an astonishing rate.

There seems to be no morality or family values. Greed, the almighty dollar, or lust for “all” the neighbor has, can be seen everywhere. When I was a boy, neighboring farmers helped one another get things done. I witnessed over 25 combines harvest in one field when a neighbor was injured and unable to complete his harvest. Now all I hear is farmers chattering about one another at the local coffee shops. I see neighbors pass each other on the road, where once existed a friendly smile and wave, now in disgust and a nose in air.

I’m not sure where the policy to go out door to door every year and try to get your neighbors farmland started?… Continue reading

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Wilmington College receives $19.7 million USDA loan

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

A large sum of funds will be pumped into the renovation of Kettering Hall, a facility that has played a vital role in the landscape of Wilmington College since 1960. The positive effects of this monetary infusion will be felt throughout Clinton County once construction begins.

The facelift will be possible thanks to a $19.7 million loan that was recently announced by USDA Rural Housing and Community Facilities Administrator Tammye Trevino as she was joined at the College by stakeholders representing interests across both public and private sectors. The announcement was part of the USDA’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

“We expect the construction to generate about $2.5 million into the local rural economy in Wilmington,” said Trevino. “We believe this type of funding feeds into more job creation, more money that stays in the community that will continue to be a source of wealth.”… Continue reading

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