Drift Management

A wet spring with limited time for spraying can lead farm managers to experience increased stress over fields overgrown with weeds. Limited time for spraying may force applicators to spray when conditions are too windy. Drift can result in the movement of pesticides beyond the target area. Ohio Pesticide Law provides language to discourage drift. Ohio Pesticide Law states it is unlawful to operate in a negligent manner (Ohio Pesticide Law, Section 921). Drift is also a label violation regardless of intent. Pesticide labels and Ohio Pesticide Law are effective in conveying that drift is not acceptable.

Pesticides used on the farm may create liability issues when misapplied or if off-site drift occurs. Any applicator misapplying pesticides could be subject to administrative penalties, criminal liability, or civil liability. The penalty for each instance of misapplication is determined on a case-by-case basis. Minor infractions may receive only a warning, while misapplication resulting in environmental, property, or personal health injuries will likely receive a stiffer penalty. The Ohio Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the county prosecutor, can bring criminal charges against applicators for misapplication of pesticides. When one party believes that another party has harmed property by the misuse or misapplication of pesticides, the harmed party may also bring a civil lawsuit for damages.

It is impossible to determine how much drift occurs from one field to another across Ohio . Drift incidents may range in damage from a few edge rows to several acres. In most cases, the incidents are resolved locally by the parties involved. Communication is the key to resolving drift issues. Early recognition of the problem and immediate communication with the applicator can lead to an amicable resolution. Waiting until harvest to talk to the applicator because you wanted ‘to see whether there was any damage’ may not provide the best outcome to the situation. Addressing the problem early with open communication can go a long way to preventing problems later.

In some cases there may be as many as three parties involved in the spray situation: a custom applicator/operator who applied the pesticide, a farmer who is renting the land, and a landowner. The general rule of law in Ohio is that the party who applied the pesticide will be responsible for harm caused by misuse or misapplication. In most cases the applicator responsible for drift will have their insurance cover any damage. If the applicator chooses not to use insurance, be sure to arrive at mutual agreement on: 1) the damaged area, and 2) method of comparing damaged area to undamaged area (yield monitor, weigh wagon, scales, etc.), and 3) grain price. For more information about pesticide liability, consult an attorney, see an OSU Extension fact sheet online at http://ohioline.osu.edu/als-fact/1005.html or check the Ohio Revised Code §921.

Employing Minors on Your Farm

(click here to read a PDF version of this article)

Now that school is out of session students may be looking for a summer job on your farm baling hay, milking cows, picking vegetables or assisting with many of the other day-to-day tasks. Students are often eager to work, but there are some precautions you as the employer must be aware of prior to hiring. The following paragraphs will help answer some of the more common questions.
Who is Covered?

The employment of minors under age 16 is subject to federal requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the agriculture requirements are less than for many other industries. In 1967, the U.S. Secretary of Labor determined that certain jobs in agriculture are hazardous to children less than 16 years of age. However, like many other federal regulations, there are exemptions. These include the employment of children less than 16 years of age when employed on farms owned or operated by their parents or guardians and those who have completed an approved tractor and machinery certification course.

In addition to federal hazardous occupation regulations, there are also state regulations. For most Ohio laws, a person under the age of 18 is considered a minor and the Ohio Revised Code prohibits minors from working in certain hazardous jobs related to agriculture. The Ohio list of hazardous occupations is the same as the federal list, but the Ohio code sections and related regulations say the Ohio hazardous occupation list applies to those under 16 years of age . There are many sections of the Ohio Revised Code concerned with the employment of minors that do not apply to minors employed on farms. These include obtaining an age and schooling certificate (unless you employ children of migrant workers); keeping a list of minor employees; and paying the minimum wage.

Hazards Occupations in Agriculture:

Although it would be easier to list the non-hazardous jobs in agriculture, below is a list of those jobs declared hazardous by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Because of space limitations, the full details of each hazardous occupation can not be provided here. Please see a copy of the “Ohio Farm Labor Handbook” for complete details. Jobs designated as hazardous to youth under 16 years old include:
Operating a tractor of more than 20 PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting implements from such a tractor.

Operating any of the following:

  • Corn picker, combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler or potato digger.
  • Feed grinder, grain dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor or the unloading mechanism of a non-gravity type self-unloading wagon or trailer.
  • Operating a trencher, earth moving equipment, fork lift, or power-driven circular, band or chain saw.
  • Working in a yard, stall or pen occupied by a bull, boar or stud horse; or sow with suckling pigs or cow with newborn calf.
  • Felling, bucking, skidding, loading or unloading timber with butt diameter of greater than six inches.
  • Working on a ladder at a height of more than 20 feet.
  • Driving a bus, truck or automobile or riding on a tractor as a passenger.
  • Working in a forage, fruit or grain storage facility; an upright silo within two weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is operating; a manure pit; or a horizontal silo when operating a tractor for packing purposes.
  • Handling or applying pesticides with the words or symbols “Danger”, “Poison”, “Skull and Crossbones” or “Warning” on the label.
  • Handling or using blasting agents.
  • Transporting, transferring or applying anhydrous ammonia.

When Can Minors Work?

Under the federal regulations, minors under 16 years of age may not be employed during school hours unless employed by their parent or guardian. Unless provided a special exemption, minors are subject to the following restrictions:

No person under 16 years of age is to be employed:

  • during school hours
  • before 7:00am or after 9:00pm from June 1 to September 1 or during any school holiday of five school days or more duration, or after 7:00pm at any other time.
  • for more than three hours a day in any school day.
  • for more than 18 hours in any week while school is in session.
  • for more than eight hours in any day which is not a school day.
  • for more than 40 hours in any week that school is not is session.
  • No person under 16 years of age is to be employed more than 40 hours in any one week nor during school hours unless the employment is incidental to a state approved program.
  • No minor is to be employed more than five consecutive hours without allowing the minor a rest period of at least thirty minutes.

What Records Should I Keep?

The Federal Regulations require employers of minors under 16 years of age to maintain and preserve records with the following information about each minor employee:

  • Name in full.
  • Place where the minor lives while employed.
  • Date of birth.
  • Proof of needed parental or guardian signatures.

Keep in mind that minors employed by a parent or guardian are exempt from these record keeping requirements.

The Ohio Revised Code exempts agricultural employers from record keeping provisions related to minors. However, the Ohio Revised Code requires an agreement as to wages for work to be performed be made between the employer and a minor before employment begins. For the protection of the employer, this agreement should be in writing and signed by both parties.

The state agency responsible for enforcement of the Ohio Code as it relates to prohibited jobs for minors is the Division of Minimum Wage, Prevailing Wage and Minors, Department of Industrial Relations. You may contact them at 614-644-2239.

It is your responsibility as the employer to make sure you follow the rules and keep your farm a safe place to work.

(This article was written from materials contained in Ohio State University Extension Bulletin 833, Ohio Farm Labor Handbook, written by Dr. Bernie Erven and Russell Coltman, The Ohio State University. Copies of the Ohio Farm Labor Handbook are available for purchase through your local county Extension office).

Census Profile of Ohio Farmers

The average Ohio farmer is a little bit older at 53.8 years old and more likely to claim farming as their primary occupation, according to just-released results of the 2002 USDA Agriculture Census. We also see a continuation of the trend toward more farms at the top and bottom of the size continuum and fewer in the middle. Based on value of annual farm production, most (73%) operations are “small” at less than $25,000, with 37% of all farms producing $2,500 or less. All this, of course, results from the USDA definition of “farm” as an enterprise selling $1,000 or more of farm products, but the trend toward small farm operations as rural residences and parttime enterprises continues nonetheless. On the other end of the scale, 1,196 of Ohio’s 77,797 farm operations produced more than $500,000 of product in 2002. In case you’re wondering, Ohio’s 14.6 million acres of farmland is down about 1% from 1997, and average farm size held at 187 acres, based on growth in numbers of farms below the average and 31 percent growth in farms exceeding 2,000 acres. For more details on the 2002 Ohio Ag Census, see http://www.nass.usda.gov/oh/ .

Farm Management Topics at Farm Focus

Farm Focus ( http://farmfocusshow.com/ ) will celebrate its 30 th anniversary this year. The two-day event will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 30 and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 31. The Farm Focus show is held on the north side of Van Wert off U.S. 30 and east of State Route 127, on the Marsh Foundation Farms and Campus. This year’s show has several farm management-related speakers from marketing to livestock.

Alan Brugler, president of Brugler Marketing and Management, will bring his expertise to a Marketing Panel at Farm Focus at 1 p.m. Friday, July 30. Brugler will join Mike Zuzolo of Risk Management Commodities, Inc. as they discuss current and future market issues. Dale Minyo, well-known broadcaster for ABN, will serve as the session moderator. Prior to joining Brugler Marketing and Management, Alan Brugler was the director of Analysis and Product Research for the AgDaily News Division of Data Transmission Network (DTN) and was also a market strategist for DTN Ag.

Doug Tenney, who authors a monthly marketing column for The Ohio Country Journal, will appear in the Features Tent at Farm Focus at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Tenney has many years of experience in grain marketing and has been speaking on marketing at Ohio State University Extension meetings and area adult farmer groups. Tenney will address farm marketing issues.

Changes are coming in the way we identify animals. Although some livestock have had identifications or pedigrees that track their background, momentum is in motion to add others. A more uniform and standard system is planned. Gary Wilson, a New Concord, Ohio Angus cattle producer, will be speaking at 11 a.m. Friday, July 30 in the Farm Focus Family Features Tent. His topic will be “The U.S. Animal ID Plan.” This session will provide the latest developments in livestock identification. Wilson currently serves on the USDA’s National Animal Identification Development Team as co-chairman of the Cattle Industry Working Group.

For more information on Farm Focus please visit http://farmfocusshow.com/ or call 419-238-1214.

Ohio Farms: More Individuals, Less Partners and Corps

The vast majority of Ohio farms are operated by individuals or families, according to just-released results of the 2002 USDA Agriculture Census. Some 91 percent of the state’s 77,797 farms fit that category, an increase over the 1997 census despite a 1.2 percent decrease in farms during the same period. Farm partnerships declined nearly 35% and incorporated farms dropped 15% to 1,843 farms. These business structure decisions likely reflect continued growth in the number of small and parttime farms in the Buckeye State. For more details on the 2002 Ohio Ag Census, see http://www.nass.usda.gov/oh/ .

Bankruptcy: The Option of Last Resort

Low yields in areas of the state most affected by past weather problems, or expanding dairy operations during recent years of extremely low prices, have lead some to consider bankruptcy.  Certainly, businesses unable to service all indebtedness, facing pressure from creditors and possible legal action, may seek protection under the Bankruptcy Code, but only as the last resort.  Voluntary workouts should first be considered, to include: restructure of debts or repayment of loans over a longer term,  partial sale of assets, interest only payments, reduction of interest rates, or forgiveness of part of the debt.  These negotiations may include additional collateral or other credit enhancements provided to the lenders.  When all else fails, the Bankruptcy Code offers the following choices:  Chapter 7 liquidation, Chapter 11 reorganization, or the streamlined version of reorganization for family farms, Chapter 12.  Chapter 12 is modeled after the Chapter 13 bankruptcy for wage earners and was added to the Code in 1986.  It is important to have a cash flow plan well thought out before filing a Chapter 12 because of the shorten time lines provided by the Code.  Within 90 days of the filing of a Chapter 12 petition, a repayment plan must be presented to the Bankruptcy Court.  Except for cause, confirmation hearings must conclude within 45 days after filing of the plan.  The University of Minnesota Extension Service has an excellent series of fact sheets, for example “Chapter 12 Reorganization,”  (including a listing of the fact sheet series). http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/businessmanagement/DF7301.html

Subscribing to the Ohio Ag Manager electronic newsletter

Farm business managers, agribusiness managers and Extension Agents are encouraged to subscribe to receive the Ohio Ag Manager electronic newsletter at the beginning of each month.  Interested parties can subscribe electronically to this newsletter by sending a blank e-mail message to: ohioagmanager-on@ag.osu.edu. Contact David Marrison if you experience problems subscribing.