TV Timeout

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I love waking up on Tuesday mornings and reading the Leadership Moment that’s published by The Ohio State University Leadership Center. You never know what it is going to include, but for some reason it always seems to fit my life scenario at the appropriate time.

This week’s feature is “Craft Your Dream into Your Job.” When I was teaching high school Agriculture Education and talking about careers and the future with the students, I always encouraged them to follow their dreams, even if their job took them away from “home” for a period of time. I told them they could always work their way back “home”, but it may not fit the time schedule they envision. I’ve seen many of my former students follow their dreams even if it took them to another land, a different part of the country or kept them right here at home.

Taking time to reflect, recharge and energize your personal batteries is important for every one of us in building our personal growth and spirit. Make and take time for yourself. Take a walk outside during the day, just take a break from the computer, phone and social media or take ten minutes to sit back in your chair, close your eyes and just relax. I like to call it my afternoon “TV timeout”.

In our office, we like to celebrate; be it birthdays, births, special occasions, reaching milestones, regardless of how big or small, we celebrate. We recognize, praise and encourage to lift the spirit of all.

This week’s Leadership Center article is below –
“Craft Your Dream into Your Job” by Rath, T. (2015). Are you fully charged?: The 3 keys to energizing your work and life. San Francisco: Silicon Guild.

“Every day you let something keep you from following a dream, you lose an opportunity to create meaning. However, few people find their ideal job on their first attempt. This is why chipping away at a dream in small steps can be deeply motivating.

You should be able to spend some time every day engaging in activities that energize and recharge you. This is an important distinction; it takes only a few moments to make a day more productive and fulfilling. Even in the worst situations, you can find opportunities for growth. The key is to shift your focus away from what others do that hinders you – or from work situations beyond your control – and instead seek out small things that enable you to make daily forward progress. You can always do something to boost the spirits of a colleague or customer, despite what is going on in other areas of your work.

Even if you are stuck in a job that is far from ideal, you have the ability to create a little meaning on the side. Volunteering in your community is a great way to spend meaningful time every month. This can also be a great way to explore new areas and interest that may turn into something larger down the road.”

Does negotiating a farmland rental lease make you anxious?

Few words can cause more anxiety than “negotiating a farmland rental lease.” Some people think little about it, but others may agonize over discussing details.

In a 2014 Census of Agriculture Survey over 2.1 million landowners rented out 353.8 million acres of agricultural land. This works out to be nearly 40 percent of US farmland that is rented or leased. The average age of principal landlords in 2014 was 66.5 years, which is older than principal farm operators (58.3 years in 2012). Nearly 60 percent of principal landlords were 65 years or older in 2014.

Last year OSU Extension Agricultural Law Field Specialist, Peggy Hall, developed a great resource to see if your farmland lease meets Ohio’s legal requirements for a legally enforceable lease. It and many other helpful resources can be found on the OSU Ag Law Website .

Here are some steps that Hall identifies to create a legally enforceable farm lease in Ohio:

  1. Put the agreement in writing.
  2. Identify the land parcel by legal description, address and acreage.
  3. Don’t leave out a spouse or other co-owner of the land; all owners must be included in the lease and listed properly.
  4. Have all parties sign the lease.
  5. For businesses, make sure the person signing has legal authority to represent the business.
  6. For a lease over three years, have a notary or official certify the parties’ signatures.
  7. Take a shortened “memorandum of lease” to the county recorder’s office for recording.

One of the main conversations about budgets for corn and beans over the past year has been the need to negotiate a fair lease price for rented ground. As commodity prices remain low and input prices are slow to come down, the amount of money paid for land is a critical piece in profitability. However, taxes on land continue to increase as well. So there is much to discuss.

If you are interested in learning more, consider attending a Lady Landlord meeting on February 11 in either Coshocton or Ottawa. You can learn more about it here . This day is designed to give women more confidence in having a meaningful and productive conversation. Topics for the day will include addressing the risks of leasing, verbal versus written leases, nuts and bolts of a lease, communicating with your tenant, negotiation process and skills, factors that affect the rental rate and more.

Today I will leave you with this great quote from John F. Kennedy, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

Portions of this first appeared in the Coshocton Tribune on January 14, 2017. 

Registration Open for 2017 East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference

It is once again our pleasure to announce that registration is open for the 2017 East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference. This year’s conference will be Friday, March 24 from 9:00 am – 3:45 pm. This year the event will be held at R. G. Drage Career Technical Center, 2800 Richville Drive SE, Massillon, OH 44646.

This year’s program will feature 18 break-out sessions presented by OSU Extension educators, farmers, and partner agencies including: Business & Finance; Plants & Animals; Communication; Home & Family; Special Interest (energy, beekeeping and farmland preservation); and one youth session. Our keynote speaker for this year will be Marlene Eick of Herdmark Media.

Also, this year the Northeast Ohio Small Farm Conference will be held the very next day at the same location, Saturday, March 25 at R. G. Drage Career Technical Center. You can find more information about that conference at OSU Extension Small Farm Conferences

We hope to see you there!

Register online with credit card at or complete and send this registration form 2017 East OH Women in Ag Conference Registration Flyer



An Introduction to the Food Safety Modernization Act

If you are involved in the production of fresh produce, you have likely heard about FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). President Obama signed FSMA into law in 2011, granting FDA the authority over preventive and risk-based standards for growing, harvesting, packing, processing, and distributing domestic and imported food for humans and animals. The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) is one of seven foundational rules enacted by FSMA and the one most directly affecting produce growers. PSR’s primary focus is preventing biological safety hazards (i.e, microorganisms that cause human illness) in the growing, harvesting and post-harvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Much of the language and terminology presented here is taken directly from the FSMA-PSR as published in the Federal Register. The complete rule and guidance documents can be found on the FDA FSMA Website:

Must You Comply with FSMA-PSR?

The first question any producer must answer is whether they meet the regulation’s definition of a “farm”. The two lengthy definitions of a “farm” provided in the PSR are intended to distinguish owner-operated production sites and off-site packing locations from commercial facilities. 1.) A Primary Production Farm (PPF) is a farm operating under one management in one general physical location (does not have to be contiguous) devoted to the growing of crops, the harvesting of crops, the raising of animals, or any combination of these activities. 2.) A Secondary Activities Farm (SAF) is an operation not located on the PPF that is devoted to harvesting, packing, and or holding raw agricultural commodities (i.e, produce in its raw or natural state), provided that the PPF that grows, harvests, or raises the majority of raw agricultural commodities harvested, packed, or held by the SAF owns, or jointly owns a majority interest in the SAF. If you do not meet the FDA’s definition of a PPF or SAF, then you are not covered by the FSMA-PSR; however, you might be subject to one of the other six foundational rules, such as the FSMA-Preventive Controls Rule.

While all growers should be aware of the food safety risks on their farm, some may be excluded from the rule or eligible for an exemption. FDA has provided a flow diagram for determining whether produce from your farm is excluded from the rule, qualifies for an exemption, or is subject to the rule (below,

Exclusions. The following are not subject to the PSR, including:

  • Farms with ≤$25,000 in produce sales (on average for the last three years)
  • Produce commodities that FDA has identified as rarely consumed raw: asparagus; black beans, great Northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, and pinto beans; garden beets (roots and tops) and sugar beets; cashews; sour cherries; chickpeas; cocoa beans; coffee beans; collards; sweet corn; cranberries; dates; dill (seeds and weed); eggplants; figs; horseradish; hazelnuts; lentils; okra; peanuts; pecans; peppermint; potatoes; pumpkins; winter squash; sweet potatoes; and water chestnuts
  • Food grains, including barley, dent- or flint-corn, sorghum, oats, rice, rye, wheat, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and oilseeds (e.g. cotton seed, flax seed, rapeseed, soybean, and sunflower seed)
  • Produce grown for personal or on-farm consumption
  • Produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity

Exemptions. If you are not excluded from the rule according to the above criteria, you may be eligible for a qualified exemption under the following circumstances, provided appropriate documentation and other conditions are met:

  • The produce undergoes commercial processing to reduce the presence of microorganisms of public health significance (i.e., there is a “kill step”).
  • If your farm has food sales (not just produce sales) averaging less than $500,000** per year during the previous hree years; and the farm’s sales to qualified end-users exceed sales to all others combined during the previous three years (i.e., more than 50%). A qualified end-user is either (a) the consumer of the food or (b) a restaurant or retail food establishment that is located in the same state, the same Indian reservation as the farm, or not more than 275 miles away.

***Proving eligibility for the qualified exemption requires three years of sales records to support the exemption. Business size determines compliance date as well as when you need to begin collecting sales records (Table 1).

***Farms receiving a qualified exemption must also prominently display their farm name and address on produce labels or at the point of purchase.

Key Requirements

Contamination of fresh produce from human pathogens generally occurs via these primary sources: humans, animals, water, soil, and/or the surfaces of equipment, tools and buildings. The FSMA-PSR addresses each of these sources and establishes science-based minimum standards for the industry to follow in the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of covered produce. Compliance dates for standards vary according to business size and for different parts of the rule (see Table 1 below). For example, standards specific to the sprout industry must be implemented earlier than other types of covered produce. Growers also have two additional years to comply with water regulations beyond their compliance date.

Table 1. FSMA-PSR compliance dates by business size.

In addition, the FSMA-PSR requires at least one supervisor or responsible party from each farm subject to the rule to complete food safety training from a FDA-approved standardized curriculum before their compliance date. Currently, the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA)( offers the only FDA-approved grower training course to satisfy this requirement. The PSA course educates growers on preventing biological safety hazards from contaminating produce on the farm by assessing produce safety risks, implementing produce safety practices (i.e., Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)), monitoring practices, using corrective actions, and maintaining records. Growers interested in attending a PSA grower training workshop can find registered classes at the following link: Additional classes will be offered as more trainers become certified to teach the workshops.