Country Life

Is your LLC protecting you?

By Nicholas Gerschutz, associate attorney, Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham & Eselgroth, LLP

Are you a member of a limited liability company? Were you attracted to the LLC because it gave you flexibility in running your business while limiting your personal liability in the event your company was sued? Many business owners set up LLCs for these reasons. However, LLCs have their limitations, and an LLC member may still be held personally liable if a plaintiff “pierces” the LLC’s limited liability structure.

“Piercing the corporate veil” occurs when a business owner, normally protected by statute from liability as a member of an LLC or shareholder of a corporation, is found liable due to the owner’s illegal actions. In Ohio, courts refer to three elements that must be met to “pierce the veil” of an entity’s protection, as reasoned in a 1993 Ohio Supreme Court decision in Belvedere Condominium Unit Owners’ Assn. v. R.E.Continue reading

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Keep a close watch on rural mental health this holiday season

By Matt Reese

While it can be the most wonderful time of the year for many, it can also be the most challenging time of year for others. Though some situations in Ohio agriculture turned out better than feared, 2019 was still a tough year for farms in the state that was preceded by several tough years. All these factors converge to make it an excellent time to keep an eye on friends and family members in the farming community who may be experiencing significant stress this holiday season.

Jolene Brown, a farm wife, author and professional speaker, spends quite a bit of time talking about the importance of mental health in the farm community, which can be especially important this time of year. First, it is so important to remember the farmer is more important than the farm.

“Who we are is what we do, and that’s how we see ourselves.… Continue reading

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USMCA gets House approval

U.S. agriculture welcomed the news that the U.S. House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly, and in a bi-partisan manner, to support farmers and pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Dec. 19. The USMCA has broad support in Ohio agriculture.

“Opening market opportunities is the highest priority for our grower-members, and the USMCA makes major strides in protecting our largest foreign markets — Mexico and Canada,” said Patty Mann, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “Free trade agreements like this help us feed and fuel the world.”

Ohio’s economy thrives on the export of a wide array of agricultural products. Therefore, developing and maintaining fair and open global trade practices remains an essential policy priority for the state’s agricultural producers.

“USMCA solidifies the strong trade relationship that the U.S. has built with Mexico and Canada, especially when it comes to agricultural commodities,” said Frank Burkett, Ohio Farm Bureau president.… Continue reading

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NRCS funds conservation innovation in Ohio

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is awarding about $12.5 million in grants nationally to support the development of innovative systems and technologies for private lands conservation, including the multistate Appalachian Sustainable Development project that includes Ohio.

The funding is provided through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which is funding the future of agriculture and conservation through grants to organizations and universities that are developing the next generation of tools and technologies to boost conservation on agricultural lands.

“This project is tackling some of our most critical challenges — both here in Ohio and across the country,” said Terry Cosby, NRCS State Conservationist. “This work will help small, historically underserved forest owners with new science-based tools to improve the health of their operations and protect our natural resources for the future.”

The 2019 funding pool focused on four priority areas: water quantity, urban agriculture, pollinator habitat and accelerating the pace and scale of conservation adoption.… Continue reading

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USDA funds conservation innovation across the country with $12.5M in grants for new tools and technologies

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is awarding about $12.5 million in grants to support the development of innovative systems and technologies for private lands conservation.

The funding is provided through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which is funding the future of agriculture and conservation through grants to organizations and universities that are developing the next generation of tools and technologies to boost conservation on agricultural lands.

“We are funding innovation,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “These projects are tackling some of our most critical challenges head on and will result in new science-based tools for our toolbox and cutting-edge systems we can use to help farmers and ranchers improve the health of their operations and protect our natural resources for the future.”

The 2019 funding pool focused on four priority areas: water quantity, urban agriculture, pollinator habitat and accelerating the pace and scale of conservation adoption. NRCS selected 19 projects for CIG awards.… Continue reading

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Trade progress gets support from agriculture

As 2019 draws to a close, long-awaited progress is being made on trade.

On Dec. 13, the Trump Administration announced it had struck a mini trade deal with China.

“We have agreed to a very large Phase One deal with China,” President Trump tweeted. “They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of agricultural product, energy and manufactured goods, plus much more.”

In addition, after months of negotiations between the administration, House Democrats, and the Mexican government moved closer to congressional ratification. On Dec. 10 Mexico approved U.S. changes to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, paving the way for a House vote this week. Meantime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated a vote in that chamber isn’t likely until after the Senate votes on impeachment.… Continue reading

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Water and wind subjects of December debate in Ohio’s House Energy & Natural Resources Committee

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

Ohio’s House Energy & Natural Resources Committee was busy in early December. House Energy & Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 2 that would implement a Statewide Watershed and Planning Program through the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). Under the bill, ODA would be charged with categorizing watersheds in Ohio and appointing coordinators for each of the watersheds. ODA and the coordinators would work closely with soil and water conservation districts to manage watersheds. Ag groups such as the Sheep Improvement Association, the Cattleman’s Association, the Pork Council, the Dairy Producers Association, and the Poultry Association testified in favor of SB 2.

In addition to SB 2, they also discussed House Bill 401. In the simplest terms, if passed, HB 401 would allow townships to hold a referendum on approved wind projects.… Continue reading

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Farm income tax webinar

Are you getting the most from your tax return? Farmers and farmland owners wanting to increase their tax knowledge should consider a Monday, Jan. 13, webinar that will address tax issues specific to this industry.

Content will focus on important tax issues and will offer insight into new tax legislation and further guidelines that have been released this year.

The live webinar will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. and is being offered by OSU Income Tax Schools, which are a part of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and Ohio State University Extension, which is CFAES’ outreach arm. If you are unable to attend the live webinar, registered participants will receive a link to view the recorded webinar at a time of their convenience. The link will be available throughout the tax-filing season.

The two-hour program is targeted toward owners who file their own farm taxes or who simply wish to arm themselves with more tax information that will help them better plan for tax filing.… Continue reading

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Funding available through Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Division of Soil and Water Conservation is making farmers aware of funding available through the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

CREP is the country’s largest private-land conservation program. Administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency in partnership with ODA and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, CREP targets high-priority conservation concerns in exchange for removing environmentally sensitive land from production. In return for establishing permanent resource-conserving plant species, farmers are paid an annual rental rate along with other federal and state incentives as applicable per each CREP agreement. Participation is voluntary, and the contract period is typically 15 years.

“Farmers are continually looking for innovative ways to practice conservation on their farms,” said Dorothy Pelanda, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “This program provides opportunities to make positive contributions to our state’s water quality while allowing farms to remain productive.”

A $200 bonus is now being offered by the state of Ohio for all newly-enrolled filter strip and riparian area practices.… Continue reading

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Farm groups partner to help farmers manage stress

Recognizing the high levels of stress affecting America’s farmers and ranchers, Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union have partnered on a program to train individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers to recognize signs of stress and offer help.

“Farm Bureau is a family, and when a member is hurting, we all feel it and are eager to help. But we may not always know how to spot the warning signs that someone is overwhelmed,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “This training program will help our members recognize the warning signs and empower them to get help for their friends, family, neighbors or even themselves. We’re honored to partner with Farm Credit and Farmers Union to strengthen rural resilience in farm communities.”

Based on the farm stress program Michigan State University Extension developed for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, this combination of online and in-person trainings is designed specifically for individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers.… Continue reading

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Honest conversations about opioids can save lives

By Matt Niswander, a first-generation cattleman from Tennessee who works full-time in his community as a family nurse practitioner and owns Niswander Family Medicine, a hometown, primary care family medical practice

Every week in our country, the equivalent of two jumbo jets full of people die from a preventable opioid epidemic, and those deaths are often rising the fastest in farm country.

For the last 15 years I have worked in the healthcare field in rural America, from the emergency room to my hometown primary care. One thing I have seen is that anyone can become addicted to opioids that are prescribed legally for a legitimate injury. It only takes three days to become addicted and for your body to crave the euphoria that opioids produce. If you think you are immune to the possibility of addiction, you’re wrong.

I often have people come into my medical office complaining of real pain, and they know a pain pill will help them get back to work.… Continue reading

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USMCA agreement reached, headed to floor

After months of anticipation, Congress has reached an agreement to consider the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which will huge huge implications for agriculture in Ohio and around the country.

“Today’s announcement gives us a glimmer of hope that, by the end of this year, Ohio’s farmers will see much needed certainty on the horizon. Growing markets and expanding trade opportunities for our members is a top advocacy priority for the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. This year we have lobbied hard for USMCA on behalf of our members and are encouraged by the support we’ve seen from Ohio’s congressional delegation to pass this critical deal,” said Tadd Nicholson, Ohio Corn & Wheat Executive Director. “However, our work is not done. We look forward to seeing Ohio’s members of Congress leading the way to final passage of this deal and the implementing legislation that will be required thereafter.”

Canada and Mexico are at the top of the list for U.S.… Continue reading

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Trade association leaders plead for Congress to Act on tax extenders

Executives from 11 national trade associations sent a letter to House and Senate leaders, highlighting the urgent need for Congress to extend the expired biodiesel tax incentive before the end of the year.

The association executives state in the letter, “There is broad bipartisan support for the biodiesel tax credit, and we believe that Congress can, and must, pass an immediate extension before returning home at the end of the year.”

“America’s farmers and rural communities are facing overwhelming economic uncertainty right now due to policy instability. They are waiting for Washington to complete work on trade deals and stabilize markets for U.S. agricultural output in China, Canada and Mexico. The economic hardships are spreading throughout the economy,” the executives write.

“One thing Congress can do before the end of the year to help rural economies and provide some policy stability is extend the expired biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive.”… Continue reading

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Stricter work requirements for SNAP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it would tighten work requirements for able-bodied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants without dependents.

Under current regulations, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) can receive food assistance no more than three months out of every three years, unless they work at least 80 hours per month or meet other education or workforce training requirements. Previously, states could waive work requirements when jobs were unavailable or didn’t match workers’ skills, but the rule will make it more difficult to do so, causing an estimated 688,000 people to lose benefits.

The vast majority of the more than 140,000 comments submitted to USDA in response to the rule were written in opposition, including those submitted by National Farmers Union (NFU). In a statement, NFU Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew restated the organization’s objections and emphasized the value of nutrition assistance programs.… Continue reading

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Ohio No-Till Conference Videos

The Ohio No-Till Council held their annual conference last week. Ohio Ag Net was there to video all of the information to bring it to you. You can watch each segment below on this page. Our own Dusty Sonnenberg has the highlight story here.

Healthy Soils, Healthy Waters, Healthy Life | Mark Anson

Soil Health, No-Till, and Cover Crops Panel

Ohio Department of Agriculture | Director Dorothy Pelanda

Indigo Carbon

Cover Crops Panel

My Farm Story – Nathan Brause

NutrientStar | Karen Chapman, Brookside Labs

Business Meeting


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USDA to open signup for Conservation Reserve Program on Dec. 9

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is opening signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on Dec. 9, 2019. The deadline for agricultural producers to sign up for general CRP is Feb. 28, 2020, while signup for continuous CRP is ongoing.

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive a yearly rental payment for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors and a critical tool to help producers better manage their operations while conserving natural resources,” Secretary Perdue said. “The program marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020, and we’re hoping to see one of our largest signups in many years.”

CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres.… Continue reading

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Celebrating 20 years of Youth Outdoors

By Valerie Hura, 4-H Educator, Youth Outdoors

Happy birthday to Youth Outdoors! Since 1999, over 10,000 youth have participated in programs that connect underserved youth in Cleveland to outdoor programs.

Youth Outdoors provides leadership for over 500 programs annually, reaching approximately 700 youth who participate in adventure clubs, short-term groups and horseback riding activities. Five special events each year reach an estimated 3,000 people.

The partnership between Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio State University Extension 4-H and the City of Cleveland has been providing “Growth Through Adventure” for 20 years. Leaders of that era: Director Vern Hartenburg (Cleveland Metroparks), State 4-H Leader Jeff King (OSU Extension) and Mayor Michael White (City of Cleveland), explored possible ways of connecting city youth to the outdoor world using adventure recreation. Extension Educator Greg Yost and Recreation Specialist John Rode came together to lay the foundation of what would become Youth Outdoors.

Cleveland Metroparks had the outdoor program expertise, access to natural resources and funding.… Continue reading

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Trade deal with Japan approved

Both houses of Japan’s Parliament have now approved a trade deal with the United States, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

“Now that the final hurdle to a deal with Japan has been cleared, American farmers and ranchers can count on increased market access for their products — from beef and poultry to fruits, vegetables and nuts,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “This is a big win for farmers, and we hope it’s the first of many trade deals to be approved that will open markets and level playing fields for American agricultural exports. We thank the administration for its commitment to negotiating new trade deals and look forward to more progress soon.”

 … Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau highlights past success and plans the future at 101st annual meeting

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation rounded out its 100th year with the 101st annual meeting this week where there was plenty to celebrate and discuss.

“Less than 1% of U.S. companies make it to their centennial. I couldn’t be more excited for Ohio Farm Bureau members and their organization,” said Frank Burkett, III, OFBF president. “Our members are committed to water quality in the state of Ohio, so we had a lot of discussion on nutrient management, and at the same time we are going to have a lot of fun celebrating where we are today and where we are going in the next 100 years.”

Some of the other key policy discussions included transportation and infrastructure and wildlife management. The approved policies set the direction for the organization’s activities in the coming year. A record 381 delegates representing all county Farm Bureaus participated in the debate and discussion.… Continue reading

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A hunting we will go: laws landowners need to know

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

With archery season in full swing and deer gun season opening today, hunters will be out in full force across Ohio. That means it’s also high season for questions about hunting laws, trespassers, property harm, and landowner liability. Below, we provide answers to the top ten frequently asked questions we receive on these topics.

I gave them permission to hunt on my land, but do I have to sign something? Permission to hunt should be in writing. Ohio law requires a person to obtain written permission from a landowner or the landowner’s agent before hunting on private lands or waters and to carry the written permission while hunting. A hunter who doesn’t obtain written permission can be subject to criminal misdemeanor charges. ORC 1533.17. The ODNR provides a permission form at If a hunter uses another form, read it carefully before signing and ensure that it only addresses hunting and doesn’t grant other rights that you don’t want to allow on the land.… Continue reading

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