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Check first before heading to local SWCD office

With the current social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19, many Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) offices around the state have changed their structure in response.

While most offices are open, many are closed to the public, and some have staff working remotely from home. Before heading to a local Soil and Water office, please call first. If there is no answer, please leave a message or send an email to the office contact you are trying to reach. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Like everyone in the state, SWCDs are trying to limit personal contact to essential business. Please be patient with non-emergency matters.

In related note for northwest Ohio, the deadline for farmers to submit an application for the H2Ohio program has been extended from March 31, 2020 to June 2, 2020. To allow adequate time for the alternate means of communication necessary to achieve completed applications, ODA is extending the deadline.… Continue reading

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Immediate challenges facing the agriculture sector with COVID-19

American Farm Bureau has released its first assessment of the impact on farmers and ranchers in the wake of the national mitigation efforts to combat COVID-19.

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, AFBF President Zippy Duvall pledged that “America’s farmers and ranchers will be with you every step of the way, doing all that we can to help you win this fight and to ensure the health, safety and prosperity of all America.” USDA invited Farm Bureau to convey agricultural issues or concerns arising as the pandemic mitigation efforts and impact advance. Duvall said labor, supply chain issues and possible price manipulation topped the list of immediate issues farmers are raising with the national organization.

The letter, which will be updated as new issues materialize, outlines concerns from Farm Bureau members across the country as national and local leaders take action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.… Continue reading

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Cheryl Day named Ohio Pork Council executive vice president

The Ohio Pork Council (OPC) is pleased to welcome Cheryl Day to the staff as Executive Vice President, beginning Monday, March 23, 2020.

In this role, Day will work closely with the board of directors to execute strategic goals based on producer priorities; coordinate state checkoff programs; maintain working relationships with stakeholders and allied industry representatives; and execute legislative strategies.

“Given her professional experience in agriculture, Cheryl hosts a wealth of knowledge on the pig farming community and the issues that our industry faces,” said Dave Shoup, Ohio Pork Council President.

Hailing from Cerro Gordo, Illinois, Day most recently served as vice president of livestock management for Nedap Livestock Management, USA, where she provided strategic leadership to the Nedap, USA team. Day formerly served as editor of National Hog Farmer and executive director of the Illinois Association of Drainage Districts.

Additionally, Day has experience as a professional speaker and public relations consultant, through which she has provided leadership training, strategic planning, brand management, legislative strategy, and more.… Continue reading

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Food safety and coronavirus

By Sanja Ilic and Tracy Turner

There have been no reports of this food contamination with coronavirus. As of this time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is unaware of any instances suggesting that coronavirus, COVID-19, has been transmitted by foods. This includes meats, fruits, and vegetables. Moreover, the USDA has created a website dedicated to answering questions regarding food, food safety, and COVID-19.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that include the common cold, severe illnesses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), all of which can infect both humans and animals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Symptoms range from mild to severe respiratory illness. Advanced age or conditions such as various cancers, COPD, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes are associated with an increased severity of COVID-19 infections and fatality rates.… Continue reading

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Wise words when the world goes COVID crazy

By Matt Reese

We are currently facing a time that may offer a chance for thought and introspection. Many folks are offering up words of wisdom and I will spare you most of mine, but I do want to share some of the wiser words I’ve come across during this unique time for our farms, our state and our nation.

One of the best things I have read comes from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, and his “On Living in an Atomic Age” from 1948 where he writes about the great public concerns about the newly developing societal fears at the time. It seems there are many applications for our current situation.

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”Continue reading

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Canada approves USMCA

On March 13, the Canadian Parliament’s approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) set the stage for the long-awaited trade agreement to be hopefully implemented this summer. The trade agreement replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement from 1993.

“Now that the USMCA has been approved by all three countries, an historic new chapter for North American trade has begun. This landmark achievement would not be possible without President Trump’s leadership and determination to strengthen our economy, and the hard work of our negotiating partners in Canada and Mexico,” said Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative. “USMCA is the gold standard by which all future trade agreements will be judged, and citizens of all three countries will benefit for years to come.”

USMCA was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on January 29, 2020, after it received overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. All three countries are working together closely on implementation in advance of the Agreement’s entry into force.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension offices throughout Ohio will implement teleworking options for staff

Governor DeWine recently issued a state of emergency for the state of Ohio, and along with the Ohio Department of Health, has implemented a variety of strategies to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). To do our part in reducing risk to Ohio State University Extension employees or clientele, we have implemented a teleworking plan effective immediately, and all OSU Extension offices will be closed to the public until further notice.

This mirrors The Ohio State University’s decision earlier this week to close university buildings and facilities on all of its campuses to “critical services” only (such as law enforcement and public safety; hospitals and health services; facility utilities; and a few others).

While our physical offices will be closed, we are committed to continuing to conduct our work as fully as possible. Our employees are prepared to telework and are ready to serve their local clients and communities.… Continue reading

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Global economic setbacks, progress and potential as planting season draws near

By Dave Russell and Matt Reese

The world is watching as coronavirus sweeps around the globe and limits commerce at every level of society. The issue, and its impact on the agricultural economy and global trade, was certainly a topic of discussion with the Ohio Farm Bureau members on the recent County Presidents’ Trip to Washington, D.C.

“We’re dealing with a new kind of demand destruction with the coronavirus. We found yet another headwind for U.S. agriculture this year,” said John Newton, chief economist with American Farm Bureau. “The elephant in the room is China and Phase One and what has happened to that elephant with the coronavirus. Globally the supply chain is going to slow. This could have a long tail and we’ll have to continue to keep an eye on it.”

After a general downturn in the agricultural economy and an extended trade war, the impact of the coronavirus could have lasting effects for farms. … Continue reading

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H2Ohio signup deadline extended

By Glen Arnold, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

The deadline to enter into a contract with the H2Ohio program for farmers in the 14-county, Maumee River watershed is being extended. The original deadline was March 31, but due to COVID-19, more farmers and Soil and Water Conservation District personnel are conducting information exchanges through phone calls and e-mails.

The H2Ohio deadline is expected to be extended to June 2, tentatively. Contact the local Soil and Water Conservation District for more details.… Continue reading

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Optimizing soybean planting decisions

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

Adjusting management practices and optimizing soybean yields based on the planting date was the topic of a presentation by Manni Singh, Assistant Professor of Cropping Systems from Michigan State University at the Conservation Tillage Conference.

“We set the yield potential of soybeans when we plant them, and then we work the rest of the season to protect that yield potential,” Singh said. “We manage the planting date, we manage insects, and we manage diseases.”

Manni Singh, Agronomic Cropping Systems Specialist, Michigan State University

According to data collected by the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA), over the last 100 years, total rainfall has gone up by 11%. Of that rainfall, 37% occurs in heavy storm precipitation events.

“These extreme weather events in the spring cause poor field conditions and a variable planting window that farmers need to manage,” Singh said.

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U.S. halts visa application processing in Mexico

U.S. agriculture is working diligently to maintain the stability of our food supply as concerns over COVID-19 lead to increased consumer purchases of groceries and other items. At the same time, the United States is suspending routine immigrant and nonimmigrant processing visa services in Mexico beginning March 18, 2020 to combat the spread of the virus. This is a serious concern, said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president.

“Farmers and ranchers remain committed to doing the work in the fields, orchards and barns across the country to ensure Americans have access to healthy, affordable food. Particularly now, during these challenging times, an assured food supply allows families to focus on the safety and well-being of their loved ones. We commend the good work being done to protect families and our population and appreciate all the workers focused on ensuring food gets from our farms to grocery stores, and of course we are grateful for the health care workers ensuring we can treat those who are ill and contain the pandemic,” Duvall said. … Continue reading

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Sunrise Cooperative hosted FFA Career Day

Sunrise Cooperative, Inc. hosted a Sunrise FFA Career Day on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at its Uniopolis facility in Uniopolis, Ohio. The event was attended by 72 junior and senior FFA students from the following local high schools: Anna, Botkins, Indian Lake, Minster, St. Marys, Upper Scioto Valley-OHP, Wapakoneta and Waynesfield-Goshen.

The career day was designed to give students an opportunity to interact with employees and learn about different careers within the cooperative. Each of the four divisions, agronomy, energy, feed and grain at Sunrise were represented.

“Sunrise is a strong supporter of the FFA Association, and we were glad to have these students visit our Uniopolis facility,” said Morgan Niedermier, Vice President of Marketing at Sunrise. “We are growing the future of agriculture together through our career day. The FFA has some of the best leaders in the agriculture industry and we were glad to share career opportunities with them, as well as give them a tour of our state-of-the-art facility.”… Continue reading

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As the world panics about coronavirus, Brazil sells soybeans

The coronavirus hysteria was, at least for a while, just a distant freak show that we were watching on TV and, for those who work with financial and commodity markets, on price charts too.

Since last week, however, COVID-19 is already part of our daily life here in Brazil. First with a few Brazilians who had been to Europe and tested positive after coming home; a couple of days later with people who have never been abroad getting ill; and now with almost everybody in line at supermarkets and drugstores, buying tons of toilet paper, food and, last but not least, alcohol to disinfect the hands and lift the spirits.

And let’s not forget that our President, Jair Bolsonaro, might be ill too, amid all the confusion around the results of his test. Positive? Negative? Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Why was he wearing a mask? Has President Trump been infected too, since he met Bolsonaro in Florida just a few days ago?Continue reading

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Check with auction protocol/status before hauling or unloading livestock

Measures are being taken in Ohio and throughout the country to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and these measures will impact the state’s livestock auctions.

Effective immediately and until further notice, livestock auction facilities are limiting spectators at all auctions, per the CDC requirements regarding gatherings. At this point, livestock auctions across the state will continue to provide livestock marketing services during this time of uncertainty, but Farm Bureau is encouraging farmers to unload their livestock at the docks and then leave the auctions.

“We understand these auctions are often utilized as a social gathering, but during this time, we recommend only active buyers attend the auctions,” said Roger High, Ohio Farm Bureau director of livestock. “By implementing these changes, these auction facilities can still continue the livestock marketing processes while honoring the ‘social distancing’ mandates from public officials.”

These measures are being taken to protect farmers marketing livestock and their families, as well as the employees of the livestock auction facilities.… Continue reading

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Polls closed for March 17 election

The election is off for Tuesday March 17.

The effort to postpone the election due to health concerns started in a March 16 afternoon press conference with Governor Mike DeWine.

“We can’t tell people it’s in their best interest to stay home and at the same time tell people to go vote,” DeWine said.

Following up on the announcement, two Franklin County voters filed a lawsuit Monday evening seeking to delay the election over risking their health. Shortly after 7 p.m., Franklin County Judge Richard Frye denied the effort to postpone the election in his ruling. So, for a little while, the election was back on for March 17.

Just three hours later, DeWine’s Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order closing all polling locations on March 17. Governor DeWine issued this statement: “During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus.… Continue reading

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U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program

The Ohio Development Services Agency is working to submit necessary information to qualify the state for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. This program will enable small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million dollars.

Non-profit organizations are also eligible. Small business owners who have been impacted should send their contact information to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov.… Continue reading

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D.C. trip about relationships

By Dave Russell and Matt Reese

Believe it or not, there were issues other than the coronavirus discussed on the late March trip to Washington, D.C. for the Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents. In many ways it was still business as usual with policy to discuss, on-farm stories to share and relationships to build, said Frank Burkett, Ohio Farm Bureau president.

“This is a trip of opportunities that come with relationships our leaders have built over the course of time,” Burkett said. “We spoke with the group and told them they need to share their experiences. When you are here and actually experience it and actually have the conversations, you see that it is really critical that we have the ability to come to D.C. and have that dialog. That means a lot. As we become less of a percentage of the population, it is important that lawmakers understand what farmers are doing and that what they are doing impacts what we are doing on the farm.”… Continue reading

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Ohio suing Army Corps of Engineers related to overcharges at Caesar Creek Lake

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal court to recoup improper charges billed to the state for the upkeep of Caesar Creek Lake.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, contends that the Corps of Engineers has jacked up costs without providing complete itemized receipts to support the price increases. Receipts that have been provided list questionable charges.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has kept tight-lipped when pressed about these excessive and unreasonable charges,” Yost said. “Some of the receipts we have seen are unbelievable — like charges for attending a boat show. We want our money back.”

Under an agreement reached in 1970, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) pays the Corps of Engineers for maintaining and operating the reservoir, a water source for the City of Wilmington. ODNR bills the city for reimbursement.

According to the contract, the maintenance and operational charges are supposed to be limited to those involving flood control and water supply.… Continue reading

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Ohio pig farmer hosts Virtual Field Trip for Springfield Rotary Club

Darke County farmer Jeff Wuebker opened his pig farm up to members of the Springfield Rotary Club during a recent meeting for a live Virtual Field Trip and Q&A session. The Virtual Field Trip, hosted by the Ohio Pork Council (OPC), is part of Springfield-based Shiftology Communication’s Virtual Farm Trips program.

OPC began hosting Virtual Field Trips in 2014 with the mission to transparently educate students about modern animal agriculture. Through the Virtual Farm Trips program, OPC has hosted Virtual Field Trips for hundreds of classrooms and organizations — including the Springfield Rotary Club.

“Through our Virtual Field Trip program, our farmers enjoy sharing the story of Ohio agriculture with large groups of consumers — whether they’re students or members of an organization,” said Ohio Pork Council President Dave Shoup. “It was an honor to showcase our Virtual Field Trip program to the Springfield Rotary Club during their weekly meeting.”

During the meeting, the Rotarians received a behind-the-scenes look at Wuebker’s modern pig barn.… Continue reading

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