Country Life



July brings on the heat

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

Hot and dry conditions have certainly set in across the Buckeye State. Temperatures this past week have averaged 2 degrees to 8 degrees F above average, with most locations stringing together at least five consecutive days above 90 degrees F and more to come. Based on the forecast, Columbus will likely reach 11 days this Friday, the longest stretch of 90-degree weather since July 21-31, 1999!

Along with hot temperatures there has been a lack of widespread rainfall, generally less than 0.25-inch statewide over the last seven days, with only brief heavy downpours for a few lucky folks across Ohio. Not only are we falling short on typical rainfall (~1-inch per week), but hot daytime temperatures have led to intense evaporation rates (0.25-0.30-inch per day). This has caused rapidly drying soils and decreasing stream flows. Abnormally dry conditions (not official drought) are being reported as of Thursday July 2 for about 17 percent of Ohio, with an expansion of these conditions anticipated this week.… Continue reading

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There are ways to spend less on prescriptions

By Harwood D. Schaffer and Daryll E. Ray

Over the last decade or so we have seen a growing concern over rising drug prices for the general public with prices of many drugs set at what the market will bear or priced on value to the consumer rather than cost of production. The result has been increasing medication costs for many families, including those who live on the farm.

We too have had concerns about our own pharmaceutical costs. In retirement we have transitioned from employer-paid insurance that included prescription coverage to individual Medicare Part D prescription insurance.

About a year ago we ran across a popular prescription pricing website that provided available pricing for various pharmacies with discount coupons for most drugs. In the process of looking up drug costs to compare with what we were paying with our Part D insurance we ran across a prescription savings club offered by a national grocery chain with stores in our area.… Continue reading

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Tearing down the silos

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

There is an analogy in the business world of tearing down “silos” within an organization to improve communications and teamwork. Martin Irving of L.J. Irving and Sons, Inc. in Napoleon, Ohio uses communication and teamwork to tear down literal silos.

“People want to do business with people they know and trust,” Martin said. “I like to visit with people and listen to their needs and then explain how we can take a problem they have, and find a solution to fix it. Listening and working together is how we have built our reputation.”

Finding solutions and fixing problems is what L.J. Irving and Sons has been doing since the business was started by Martin’s parents, Larry and Nelda Irving in the mid-1980s.

“The company started as a small mix of residential and commercial concrete work and demolition,” Martin said.… Continue reading

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Updated WOTUS still not perfect

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

As always, there is an update on the continuing saga of the waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. If you recall, back in April, the Trump administration’s “final” WOTUS rule was published. Next, of course, came challenges of the rule from both sides, as we discussed in a previous Harvest post. Well, the rule officially took effect (in most places, we’ll get to that) June 22, despite the efforts of a group of attorneys general from Democratically-controlled states attempting to halt the implementation of the rule.

The attorneys general asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California a nationwide preliminary injunction, or pause on implementation of the rule until it could be sorted out in the courts. The district court judge denied that injunction on June 19. On the very same day, a federal judge in Colorado granted the state’s request to pause the implementation of the rule within the state’s territory.… Continue reading

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Report looks at building more resilient Ohio food systems

By Madi Kregel, OCJ field reporter

A group of Ohio farm and food groups recently released an 18-page report assessing the measures for building a resilent food system.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), Ohio Farmers Market Network (OFMN), Ohio Food Policy Network (OFPN), and Produce Perks Midwest (PPM) published eight policy recommendations in the report Opportunity in a Time of Crisis: Recommendations for Building a More Resilient Ohio Food System.

 

  1. Establishment of an interagency food work group to identify strategies to fund and build farmers market capacity including technical assistance and infrastructure development for online purchasing platforms for farmers markets, direct-to-consumer producers, and local retailers;
  2. Establishment of an interagency food work group to identify areas where creation of food preservation, processing, and distribution facilities are needed and how they can be financed;
  3. Passage of the HEROES Act with aid for underserved farmers and those selling into local food systems;
  4. Passage of the Family Farm ReGeneration Act (HB 183/SB 159);
  5. Changes to state contract bidding requirements for local food purchasing;
  6. Online infrastructure development for SNAP nutrition incentive programming, like Produce Perks;
  7. Support of the SNAP Online Expansion and Delivery Act; and
  8. Passage of Senate Bill 121, which supports nutrition education.
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PCCF and Pickaway County Farm Bureau purchase junior fair beef for food pantries

The Pickaway County Fair had a different packer bidding on the steers at the Pickaway County Junior Fair Sale this year. The Pickaway County Community Foundation and Pickaway County Farm Bureau joined forces to purchase all of the steers from the 4-H and FFA youth that participated in the Pickaway County Fair.

Pickaway County Community Foundation Executive Director Jan Shannon noted that the partnership accomplished two important goals. First, it recognized the work and effort of the youth that raised the steers by paying a generous $1.15 per pound. Second, beef processed at the Orient Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction meat packing plant will be distributed by Farm Bureau and the Foundation to local food pantries to feed those in need.

“Rarely do you see such a collaboration that benefits not only the youth that worked hard raising the animals but then, in exchange, those in need in our county” Shannon said.… Continue reading

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Congress could see a major agricultural inspection funding shortfall

A coalition of more than 150 agriculture, trade and related groups led by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) sent a letter to Congress warning of a major funding shortfall that could severely weaken agricultural inspections at our borders. The letter urged lawmakers to protect our nation’s agriculture by appropriating funding to address what could be a $630 million COVID-19-related shortfall through fiscal year 2021.

In the letter, the coalition highlighted a funding shortfall for Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI), which plays a critical role in protecting U.S. agriculture from plant and animal pests and diseases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) collects the AQI user fees that pay for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture inspections. Due to the recent economic downturn and travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19, there has been a significant reduction in the collection of these user fees.

“We depend on AQI to ensure that American agriculture remains safe from foreign animal and plant pests and diseases.… Continue reading

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USMCA takes effect

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) goes into effect July 1, at a crucial time for farmers and ranchers struggling to recover from COVID-19 losses and a depressed agricultural economy. The expected $2 billion annual increase in U.S. agricultural exports and overall increase of $65 billion in gross domestic product will provide a welcome boost.

USDA estimates COVID-19 contributed to a $50 billion decline in commodity value alone for 2019, 2020 and 2021 production totals. This does not include all of agriculture’s losses, which would be billions more.

“The launch of the USMCA brings optimism to the country’s farmers and ranchers at a time they need it the most,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to build on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and we’re eager to see the results on America’s farms. It’s important that our neighbors uphold their end of the deal, so the agreement provides a stabilizing force amid the unpredictability of a pandemic in all three countries.”… Continue reading

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Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days canceled

The Farm Progress Show, scheduled for Sept. 1 to Sept. 3 in Boone, Iowa, and Husker Harvest Days, scheduled for Sept. 15 to Sept. 17 in Wood River, Neb., have been canceled for 2020.

For the first time in its 65-year history, the decision was made to not have the Farm Progress Show due to rapidly changing conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Show management had confirmed earlier that the two shows would be operated differently in 2020 with physical distancing a requirement, along with other health and safety changes to the events.

While state and local officials had expressed support for both shows, Don Tourte, Senior Vice President, Farm Progress said that in a very short time it became apparent that the situation across the U.S. had rapidly changed.

“We have been working with officials in Iowa and Nebraska for our shows, and we appreciate the support they expressed for us to hold the events,” Tourte said.… Continue reading

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USDA adds digital options to apply for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA’s Farm Service Agency will now accept applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through an online portal, expanding the options available to producers to apply for this program, which helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic. FSA is also leveraging commercial document storage and e-signature solutions to enable producers to work with local service center staff to complete their applications from home.

“We are doing everything we can to serve our customers and make sure agricultural producers impacted by the pandemic can quickly and securely apply for this relief program,” said Richard Fordyce, FSA administrator. “In addition to working with FSA staff through the phone, email and scheduled in-person appointments, we can now also take applications through the farmers.gov portal, which saves producers and our staff time.”

Through the portal, producers with secure USDA login credentials—known as eAuthentication — can certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center.… Continue reading

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CMP shooters compete locally

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

While interviewing one of the organization’s representatives on Buckeye Sportsman late last month, I learned that the popular Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has prepared a solution to allow participants to keep shooting and compete with one another during the summer months — from the comfort of their local range. The CMP Home Range Appreciation Series is a collection of rifle, pistol, CMP Games, small bore and air rifle competitions (open to both adult and junior athletes) which will be fired in local club matches and once scorecards are submitted the scores will be compared against overall scores from around the nation and prizes will be announced and awarded.

All matches adhere to social distancing rules and obey CDC and local/federal government guidelines for group settings while also complying with standard range safety practices. Although we are eager for our competitors to return to the ranges, demonstrating mutual respect and safeguarding the welfare of everyone remains the highest priority at all of our events.… Continue reading

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Farm groups launch free stress management course

Following the December 2019 announcement of a new farm stress management online training course for employees and members of Farm Credit, Farm Bureau and Farmers Union, these organizations have supported the launch of a free online training available to the general public.

“These are especially difficult times for farmers and ranchers, but because three in five rural Americans live in areas without enough mental health care providers to adequately serve the population, help isn’t always readily available. The pandemic hasn’t made things any easier; social distancing requirements have limited in-person care, and many farmers have lost off-farm jobs that provided their health insurance. These circumstances have made the community-led mental health strategies taught in this online training all the more critical,” said Rob Larew, National Farmers Union president.

Developed by Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension) and University of Illinois Extension (Illinois Extension), the course will help farmers, their families and neighbors identify and cope with stress.… Continue reading

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National Pollinator Week highlights value of pollinators to crop production

By Terry Cosby, State Conservationist, Ohio Natural Resources Conservation
Service and Leonard Hubert, State Executive Director, Ohio Farm Service Agency

The next time you snack on almonds, add blueberries to your smoothie or eat pumpkin pie, thank a pollinator and thank farmers, landowners and private forestland owners who work hard to create and maintain their habitat.
Pollinators, such as honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, birds, bats, flies and many others, play a critical role in crop production. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have many crops.

During the week of June 22-28, the nation will celebrate these iconic and crucial pollinators during National Pollinator Week. This year’s theme is “Pollinators, Plants, People and Planet.” Thirteen years ago, the U.S. Senate unanimously designated the third week in June as National Pollinator Week to increase awareness about the importance of pollinators and the challenges many of them face, including serious population declines and habitat losses, often due to land use changes and excessive or improper pesticide use.… Continue reading

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New bill helps agriculture participate in the carbon market

Legislation discussed in a recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearing creates important elements needed to support a private carbon credit offset market. The bill would reward the valuable current and future contributions by agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, introduced by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a program to provide transparency, legitimacy and informal endorsement of third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry related practices.

“The Growing Climate Solutions Act seeks to provide more clarity and guidance for farmers and ranchers who want to provide the ecosystem services that more and more consumers and businesses are demanding,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in testimony to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.… Continue reading

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Get your fair food fix

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietitian

Caution: What you are about to read is not healthy.

I am guessing the stay at home order found you along with me, with increased TV time. I love the game show Family Feud. I love the answers, the questions and Steve Harvey. It just hits my funny bone. Richard Dawson kicked off this popular game show when it first aired in 1976. It has been running for 19 seasons with six different hosts and close to 2,500 episodes. Paul and I love to see where our answers fall on the survey.

Summer is in full swing and one of the hot topics in the Ag world is: will fairs happen? The Ohio State Fair has cancelled, and fate of many county fairs is still up in the air. Fairs are communal, a social gathering of the local community to share in their love, passion and celebration of 4-H, food, agriculture, and down-home country entertainment.… Continue reading

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Declining farmland tax values expected

There’s a bit of good news for Ohio farmers to counter the ample bad news caused by COVID-19, as well as by last year’s historic rain.

In counties scheduled for property value updates in 2020 — about half of Ohio’s 88 counties — the average value of farmland enrolled in the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program should be about 40% lower than 2017–2019, or about $665 per acre.

That’s according to projections by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

The same projections say that in counties due for property value updates in 2021 —another quarter of Ohio’s counties — average CAUV values should be about 25% less than 2018–2020, or about $760 per acre. The declines should mean lower property taxes, on average, for most of the farmers in those counties.

The projections were published in a May report by postdoctoral researcher Robert Dinterman and Ani Katchova, associate professor and farm income enhancement chair, both of CFAES’ Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.… Continue reading

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2020 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge winners

A team of two Ohio high school students took first place in the 2020 Ohio Youth Capital Challenge finals for their policy proposal about creating a statewide database of verified volunteers.

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 2020 winning team members are Evan Stuart of Richland County and Halle Miller of Wayne County.

The challenge started in the spring when groups met to learn about public policy issues and began planning their proposals. Nine teams presented their proposals in the finals in June, and the top four teams received scholarships.

The teams were judged on their public policy proposals dealing with a specific issue or problem. In the final competition, the teams described the steps necessary to have their public policy proposal adopted by the appropriate government authorities.… Continue reading

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