Country Life

For farmers markets without a facility due to COVID-19, what are the rules on access to restrooms?

By Amanda Douridas, Christie Welch, Peggy Kirk Hall, Ohio State University Extension

With the closing of many public places and government buildings, some farmers’ markets may be left without their usual access to restrooms. What are the requirements for market managers to provide restroom facilities?

The Ohio Revised Code states that restrooms must “be readily accessible to farmers’ market personnel when the farmers’ market is open for more than four consecutive hours.” Note that this requirement applies to “personnel” or employees of the market. There is not a restroom requirement in the regulation that applies to vendors or customers of the farmers’ market.

One option for easily complying with this rule is to limit farmers’ market hours to four hours or less, since the obligation applies only if the market is open for more than four consecutive hours. For markets that are open for more than four hours, the other option is to rent a portable toilet for personnel if permanent facilities are not available.… Continue reading

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Ohio Power Siting Board clears the path for three large-scale solar projects

On April 16, 2020, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) held a virtual meeting where it ruled in favor of a series of certificate application and modification requests filed by large-scale solar developers in the state. The measure cleared the path for three projects — two in Hardin County and one in Brown and Clermont counties — to move forward.

“Members of USSEC support the OPSB decisions, which will allow for continued

progress in an important and fast-growing industry for Ohio,” said Andy Bowers, Utility Scale Solar Energy Coalition (USSEC) representative. “The utility scale solar industry is ready to meet Ohio’s energy needs, create significant jobs, and provide vital financial resources to Ohio’s communities. Taken together, today’s decisions could result in lifetime tax revenue of more than $180 million to the local schools and communities where these will be constructed.”

On Oct. 17, 2019, the OPSB had highlighted a number of areas where further information was needed in order for the requested permit and modifications to receive approval.… Continue reading

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USDA announces Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.

“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” Secretary Perdue said. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”… Continue reading

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OSU CFAES researchers working on a new COVID-19 test

Many people infected with COVID-19 show little to no symptoms of the disease, so researchers at The Ohio State University are creating a blood test that could detect the true extent of the pandemic

The researchers have also assisted Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center physicians who have created a treatment for severe cases of COVID-19, using the blood plasma of people who had COVID-19 and beat it. Both the blood test for COVID-19 and the plasma treatment for those suffering from the respiratory disease could be critical in understanding and controlling the current pandemic.

Unlike the standard nasal swab test being used to diagnose COVID-19, the test that the Ohio State scientists, including ones at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), are developing is an antibody blood test. The test will determine whether someone has COVID-19 by checking if his or her blood contains proteins the body produces to fight the respiratory disease.… Continue reading

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COVID-19 creating tensions between protecting public health versus respecting individual rights

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and attorney near Celina

Did you hear about the 53-year old Kentucky man who contracted Covid-19? He was the first coronovirus case in Nelson County, and he checked himself out of the hospital, against medical advice, to return home. Apparently, the authorities were concerned he would not properly self-isolate, so Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear ordered deputies from the local Sheriff’s Department to surround the man’s house to ensure his compliance. Gov. Beshear explained that he “can’t allow one person who we know has the virus to refuse to protect their neighbors.”

Meanwhile, up in the Maine island town of Vinalhaven, four construction workers, who had rented a home for a month for a job they had been working since September, reported that neighbors cut down a tree and dragged it to block the road to their house so that the four were unable to leave.… Continue reading

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Tips for keeping food fresh for longer between grocery trips

With less frequent grocery shopping, how can foods be stored longer? It is a question question is on the minds of many people nationwide, as the majority of the country continues efforts to flatten the curve and lessen the spread of COVID-19. In Ohio, for example, on April 2, the Stay at Home Order was extended to May 1.

With that in mind, many grocery retailers are or have implemented regulations to manage social distancing measures, including making grocery aisles move in one direction and lessening the number of shoppers in the stores at the same time.

With these limitations, consumers should first shop their cupboards and develop recipes that use up foods that are the oldest but still safe eat, said Brian Roe, a professor of agricultural economics for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“Then, turn to create a list of all the foods that you need to buy before you get to the store,” Roe said.… Continue reading

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Solar development expanding in rural Ohio

Despite what you might think in the winter or even early spring, Ohio gets enough sunshine year-round to fuel solar energy facilities — massive ones.

The smallest solar energy project being planned in the state is 610 acres, and the largest is more than five times bigger, a facility slated to stretch across nearly 3,300 acres — over 5 square miles — in Hardin County.

“We’re not talking about a few panels here and there,” said Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

In total, the 12 solar energy facilities being built or in the planning stages will cover about 16,000 acres — primarily in southern Ohio (Brown, Clermont, Highland, Madison, Pickaway, Vinton, and Preble counties) and in northwest Ohio’s Hardin County. They will span about 25 square miles of what’s now mostly farmland. That’s about the size of the city of Canton, Ohio.… Continue reading

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Emergency funding granted to procure milk, dairy and other food for Ohio foodbanks

Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order to provide nearly $5 million in emergency funding to respond to an unprecedented need for emergency food created by the COVID-10 pandemic.

This funding, requested by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, would allow Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks and its statewide pantry network of 3,600 local organizations to immediately procure nutritious milk and dairy products, as well as other food and essential items, to feed families in need.

The Ohio Dairy Producers Association and the American Dairy Association Mideast, who represent the state’s 1,750 dairy farm families, thank Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services for their leadership and swift action to provide hunger relief to millions of Ohioans.

“Milk is one of the most requested items for food banks, and Ohio’s dairy community is grateful that the state is taking the necessary steps to help get nutritious milk and dairy foods to those in need,” said Scott Higgins, CEO for both ODPA and ADA Mideast.… Continue reading

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Survey gauging impact of COVID-19 on Ohio agriculture

COVID-19 has caused many disruptions to daily life, agriculture and the entire food chain. The global pandemic has resulted in negative consequences for every sector of Ohio’s food production system in a vast amount of ways.

With the help of insightful conversations with members about what they are experiencing on their farms as well as what they are seeing in their agricultural community, Ohio Farm Bureau has left no stone unturned. Those discussions have shed light on immediate issues members are realizing, as well as their concerns about the long-term burdens their livelihoods may shoulder because of the coronavirus outbreak. Farm Bureau has put in countless hours on many fronts to find answers for those affected.

To take efforts a step further, Ohio Farm Bureau created a Farm, Food and Agribusiness COVID-19 Impact Survey. The goal of this survey is to gauge, in a broader scope, the uncertainties and concerns being felt across Ohio agriculture.… Continue reading

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Farmers are responding to food banks in need

There have been numerous efforts of agriculture to provide food for those in need in the past and they are especially important right now. A recent donation from the Ohio Pork Council highlights these efforts. The OPC effort provided over 9,600 wholesome meals to those in need amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time for Easter.

This year, as part of OPC’s annual Pork Power program, Ohio pig farmers donated over 2,400 Sugardale hams to benefit the West Ohio Food Bank, which serves community members in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert and Wyandot counties.

“For Ohio’s pig farmers, providing a safe, wholesome food supply is our livelihood — and giving back to community members is at the core of our values,” said Ohio Pork Council President-Elect Ryan McClure, a pig farmer from Paulding County.

During spring 2020, Ohio pig farmers provided over 9,600 meals to western Ohio families through OPC’s annual Pork Power program.… Continue reading

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Kalmbach Feeds launching campaign to provide half a million meals

In response to the unprecedented challenges being faced by Americans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kalmbach Feeds is launching a campaign to support Feeding America by donating funds to supply 500,000 meals to friends and neighbors in need.

The campaign, named “Feed the Need,” has been created in response to the Covid-19 crisis which has caused massive unemployment due to businesses being forced to close their doors for the health and safety of every individual. Many people, suddenly without wages, are finding themselves relying on food banks for the first time ever. For each bag of Kalmbach Feeds, Tribute or Formula of Champions branded feed sold, Kalmbach Feeds, Inc. will donate one meal to Feeding America, with the mission of providing a half million meals.

“So many people are in need right now, due to circumstances completely out of anybody’s control, and we want to be a part of helping our neighbors in the communities we serve,” said Paul Kalmbach, Jr.,… Continue reading

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Spring farm safety reminders

By Wayne Dellinger, Dee Jepsen, Ohio State University Extension

Spring of 2019 brought never-before seen planting conditions for our generation. With a similar weather pattern predicted for spring 2020, the window to get crops in the field may be short again this season. With shorter windows brings a sense of hurriedness, stress, and fatigue. These may all lead to an increased potential of incidents and injuries during planting.

In the 10-year span from 2009 to 2018, there were 116 farm fatalities in Ohio and 69 of these were the result of tractors, equipment, or other equipment (Farm Fatality and Injury Database of Ohio, OSU Extension Ag Safety and Health Program).

What practices can be done to reduce the risk of injury this time of year? Below is a list of reminders to keep in mind during this busy season.

  1. Be completely acquainted with the equipment you are operating. Read the manual and be comfortable with its operation.
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The CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses

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

We love blogging about agricultural law, but sometimes we don’t feel the need to interpret a law that one of our colleagues has already explained perfectly. Such is the case with the new Paycheck Protection Program recently enacted by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Our colleague Kristine Tidgren at Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation has written an excellent explanation of the new loan program.

A few questions about the Paycheck Protection Program that Kristine answers in detail in her blog post are:

  • Who’s eligible for the loans? Any small business concern, business concern, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, veterans’ organization or tribal business concern employing 500 or fewer employees and eligible self-employed individuals including independent contractors may apply for a loan. Farm businesses with less than 500 employees fit within these eligibility parameters.
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Storm damage adds to challenges in northeast Ohio

By Matt Reese

On top of a pandemic, a Stay-at-Home order and dealing with the challenges of one of the busiest times of year in agriculture as planting season approaches, farmers in northeastern Ohio faced a whole new set of issues earlier this week.

On April 8, an overnight storm whipped through Medina, Stark, Summit and Tuscarawas counties with winds up to 80 miles per hour in some areas and at least one tornado. There was localized damage from high winds in many areas and extended power outages for some.

Ben Klick farms in Stark County and the worst of the local damage narrowly missed him, but neighbors were not as fortunate. Klick said the local park in Richville looked like a war zone with destroyed trees and mangled baseball bleachers. An area bank barn was destroyed and a elderly neighbor’s machinery storage shed was leveled with debris ending up a mile and a half away.… Continue reading

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Take a little extra time in the kitchen and pamper your family

By Shelly Detwiler, dietitian and berry farmer

Just before salons in the state were closed down in March, I got my day of beauty scheduled. If you haven’t been to a local salon, the world’s problems are all figured out in the name of hair and beauty. Many current, crazy topics urgently needed to be discussed. On that day it was, you guessed it: toilet paper! A woman came in and was telling us she typically got her TP from Amazon on a routine basis. She received an email, the day before, informing her she would not get her usual shipment until the end of April. She went on to tell us Kroger was out as well and was distressed about what she was going to do. She heard through the TPNN (Toilet Paper News Network) that a truck was coming at 6 a.m. Waking at the crack of dawn, she rushed to Kroger replenishing her supply.… Continue reading

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Temperature roller coaster for April

By Jim Noel, NOAA

Temperatures will be on a big roller coaster the next two weeks with highs ranging from the 40s to 70s and lows from the mid 20s to 50s. The tendency will be to switch from above normal the first half of this week to slightly below normal later this week and on.

April precipitation

A progressive pattern is expected the next 2 to 3 weeks with a series of generally weak to moderate systems. The below normal rainfall pattern did occur to start April and that helped dry things out some. It does looks like we will see a gradual increase in rainfall chances the next few weeks. However, since systems will generally be weak to moderate, rainfall will average 1 to 3 inches the next two weeks. Normal is 2 inches. The overall pattern will be switching to a bit more cool and damp as we go into mid to late April.… Continue reading

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One million meals being provided to rural children missing school in wake of COVID-19

McLane Global, a leading food and logistics company, is calling on rural school districts to sign up for home delivery of free meals through the Emergency Meals-To-You Partnership. Eligible participants can get more information and enroll at

The feeding program is a public-private partnership between USDA, Baylor Collaborative on Hunger, McLane Global, PepsiCo and others that is designed for emergency home delivery of shelf-stable, nutritious meals to students in rural areas while limiting exposure to COVID-19. Distribution and delivery have already begun, and partners are ramping up quickly to reach the goal of providing more than 1,000,000 meals per week across rural America.

“Companies big and small have a role to play in helping our nation through this difficult period, and we’re honored to work with our partners to help meet this challenge for kids across America who would otherwise go hungry,” said Denton McLane, Chairman of McLane Global.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension Farm Office is open!

Ohio State’s campuses and offices are closed. But we are all working away at home, and our virtual offices are still open for business. Starting April 6, the OSU Extension Farm Office Team will open our offices online and offer weekly live office hours from 8:00-9:30 pm EST.

We’ll provide you with short updates on emerging topics and help answer your questions about the farm economy. Each evening will start off with a quick 10- to 15-minute summary of select farm management topics from our experts and then we’ll open it up for questions and answers from attendees on other topics of interest.

Who’s on the Farm Office Team? Our team features OSU experts ready to help you run your farm office:

Peggy Kirk Hall — agricultural law
Dianne Shoemaker — farm business analysis and dairy production
Ben Brown — agricultural economics
David Marrison — farm management
Barry Ward — agricultural economics and tax
Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss our office hours, we’ll post recordings on… Continue reading

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