Country Life

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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Empty fairgrounds in 2020 do not stop learning experiences for youth

By Sarah Noggle, Extension educator, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, Paulding County

This week (the week of June 15) is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Usually, it is the week of the first county fair in the State of Ohio, but our fairgrounds are sitting empty. You won’t hear the laughter of 4-H and FFA members from the barns.

Our hats go off to the Paulding County Sr. and Jr. Fairboards as this tough decision was made a few weeks ago. The economic impact on the fair board with social distancing and other guidelines made it almost economically impossible to hold the fair. This situation is tough, especially because fair is where my heart is personally every summer because of the many connections I have developed over the years. While this year’s pandemic has put a wrench in the county fair plan, the plan was already in another person’s hands that we have learned to live with by faith.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Council announces postponement of Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame Induction Breakfast

The Executive Committee of the Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC) announced the postponement of the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame Induction Breakfast that is held during the Ohio State Fair. Due to the fair’s cancellation and the many unknowns surrounding large events, the annual induction has been postponed until Aug. 6, 2021.

“The strength and resiliency of Ohio’s farm community is admirable. That resolve shines brightest during our annual Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame breakfast, when we honor the legacies and achievements of Ohio’s agriculture leaders,” said the group in a statement. “Inherent in our celebration is the opportunity for families, friends and supporters of our inductees to recognize their accomplishments and to enjoy the agriculture offerings of the Ohio State Fair. Without the fair, and the ability to bring together all those that want to celebrate our inductees, and in the context of continuing health and safety concerns, cancelling this year’s breakfast event is appropriate.… Continue reading

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USDA issued first Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has already approved more than $545 million in payments to producers who have applied for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. FSA began taking applications May 26, and the agency has received over 86,000 applications for this important relief program.

“The coronavirus has hurt America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers, and these payments directed by President Trump will help this critical industry weather the current pandemic so they can continue to plant and harvest a safe, nutritious, and affordable crop for the American people,” said Secretary Perdue. “We have tools and resources available to help producers understand the program and enable them to work with Farm Service Agency staff to complete applications as smoothly and efficiently as possible and get payments into the pockets of our patriotic farmers.”

In the first six days of the application period, FSA had already made payments to more than 35,000 producers.… Continue reading

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The 4 Hs in the light of a pandemic

By Madi Kregel, OCJ field reporter

Any former 4-H member surely remembers the pledge of the youth organization covering the four Hs: Head to clearer thinking, heart to greater loyalty, hands to larger service, health for better living…

The challenges of 2020 have not changed the importance or meaning of the four H’s but have provided new opportunities to carry them out. Sally McClaskey, the program manager at the state 4-H office for education and marketing, encourages 4-H’ers to look at their project books and work on them with the challenges of today’s situation and the 4-Hs in mind. She said Ohio 4-H Extension has 20 printable project books online at ohio4h.org.

“The important thing about any 4-H project is what the youth learns from it,” she said. “The responsibility of taking care of an animal or completing a project all the way through, seeing it through to completion and what they take away from it — that’s really what’s most important thing.”… Continue reading

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Tips for selling and shopping at farmers markets

At this year’s farmers markets, Ohio’s farmers will be selling fresh foods. However, there won’t be any farm-fresh food samples to taste, and the music and children’s activities that typically accompany the markets will likely be canceled.

Ohio farmers markets, farm markets, and you-pick operations are open, they’re taking precautions to keep consumers safe from COVID-19, and they’re fully stocked with locally grown and produced foods.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted growers, local farmers, and livestock producers, these groups are continuing to plant, harvest, and market foods directly to the public, said Shoshanah Inwood, assistant professor of community, food, and economic development at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

That’s allowing consumers to maintain access to locally produced fruits, vegetables, poultry, meats, and other food products during this growing season. However, there will be changes in how consumers interact with these farmers at farmers markets, farm markets, and you-pick operations, Inwood said.… Continue reading

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New law provides more PPP flexibility

President Trump signed into law, legislation which provides businesses with greater flexibility in how they use Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and still have their loans forgiven: H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020.

Specifically, the legislation expands the amount of time businesses have to spend the money from eight to 24 weeks; reduces the minimum that businesses need to spend from 75% to 60% if they want the full loan amount to be forgiven; extends the time period to rehire employees from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020 and eliminates rehiring requirements; and clarifies that employers in the PPP program can also benefit from the CARES Act payroll tax delay.… Continue reading

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