Agricultural Employers Not Exempt from "New Hire" Law

One trend emerging in agriculture is that more farms are using hired labor to accomplish their goals. Farm labor laws, while retaining some exceptions, are becoming more reflective of non-farm laws and regulations. Because of this, many of our Ohio farm managers may be unaware of regulations that are applicable to their business.

One law that farmers and agribusinesses may be unaware of is the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” of 1996 (a.k.a. New Hire Law). This law requires all employers to report newly hired employees to a state directory within twenty days of their hire date (this includes all agricultural employers). This new hire information is utilized to speed up the child support income withholding process, expedites collection of child support from parents switching jobs frequently and helps to locate non-custodial parents to enforce child support orders. New hire reporting also helps children receive the support they deserve and helps prevent fraudulent unemployment payments, workers compensation, or welfare benefit payments.

Employers are required to submit the employee’s full name, address, social security number, date of birth, and date of hire. The Ohio New Hire Reporting center offers employers a variety of ways to report new hires including submitting electronically or by mailing or faxing. Producers can receive the reporting form or can complete entries electronically by linking to the following web page:

New hires reporting legislation requires all “employees” to be reported. Any individual who is an employee for purposes of federal income tax withholding should be reported. This includes seasonal workers even if they are hired for a short period of time to help bale hay, relief milk on a dairy farm or harvest fruit crops.

Questions can be directed to the Ohio New Hire Reporting Center at (614) 221-5330 or (888) 872-1490. Frequently asked questions can also be viewed at the Ohio New Hire website located at

Economics of Forages – A Set of Resources

A number of resources are available concerning forage economics. The University of Kentucky has a 2005 publication concerning the economics of rotational grazing. It uses a partial budget to address the increased costs of fencing vs improved performance and increased stocking rates. Find this article at:

For beef producers grazing endophyte infected Fescue, the University of Kentucky also has an article discussing the costs involved with replacement at:

An Extension agent from Wisconsin developed a spread sheet to evaluate the economics of the length of an alfalfa stand and looking at a corn silage/alfalfa rotation sequence:

There is an Internet hay exchange at:

The National Hay Association was formed in 1895 and has a web site at:

The University of Missouri has a useful article about “Sizing and Siting Hay Barns” at:

“Round Bale Hay Storage Economics in Kentucky” is found at:

“Planning for a Farm Storage Building,” including spread sheets, was developed in Virginia and is found at:

A “Constructing Hay Feeding and Storage Pads” fact sheet was developed by Ohio Extension and is found at:

Mike Hutjens, Extension Dairy Specialist, University of Illinois, Urbana wrote an article comparing bag vs bunker vs upright storage systems at:

Kansas offers a spread sheet and accompanying article comparing the ownership of a big round vs a big square baler at:

Ohio has enterprise budgets for forages at: and custom rate information at:

This represents a partial list of useful information concerning the economics of forages. For more information contact your local county Extension Educator.

Ohio Farmers Conservation Decisions: 2004 Survey Results

A survey of 1,500 Ohio farmers with $50,000 or more in sales from farming was conducted during March and April 2004 to assess farm environmental issues and programs. Responses numbered 613, with 525 usable for this analysis. Compared with the 2002 U.S. Census of Agriculture, respondents in our survey earned a larger share of gross farm income from grains and oilseed, as well as from dairy; but a smaller share from horticultural and greenhouse crops, as well as from poultry.

Tillage Practices: Farmers who rented land used no-till more often than did full owner operators. Tillage practices of part owner operators were similar on owned and rented land.

Environmental Best Management Practices: Grass waterways were the most common best management practice. Approximately 40% of respondents reported having them. Over half of respondents with a best management practice on owned land reported that they did NOT receive government payments for installing these practices.

Conservation Compliance: Thirty seven percent of respondents had a written Conservation Compliance plan for highly erodible land (HEL) that they owned. Implementation of the plan required 38% of these respondents to change tillage practices. Analysis of the survey data found that Conservation Compliance was associated with a greater use of conservation tillage not only on HEL land but also on non-HEL land.

Participation in Farm Conservation Programs: One quarter of respondents had participated in farm conservation programs. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) had the highest participation rate (15%). Next highest was the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) (6%).

Participation in Watershed Groups: Seventeen percent of respondents had participated in watershed group activities near their farm. The recent growth in watershed groups is illustrated by the finding that half of the participating respondents had done so since 1995.

Farmer’s views towards Environmental Issues: The responding farmers overwhelmingly agree (93%) that water is an important resource that needs to be protected. Only 15% agree that water pollution is a major problem in their area. Even fewer agree that farming is a major source of water pollution in Ohio (10%) and that farming activities contribute more to water pollution than do non-farming activities (5%). Eleven percent agree that government should regulate farming practices to improve water quality while 47% think government should pay farmers for adopting conservation practices.

The complete document is available here: Decisions_04.pdf

Federal Estate Tax-What will happen to our basis in 2010?

The Federal Estate Tax exemptions ratchet up until 2010 when such exemptions are unlimited, then drop back down in 2011. Speculation is that before 2011 Federal Law will change, with much lobbying for and against repeal of the Federal Estate Tax. However, such repeal would also partially eliminate the step up in basis that occurs when property passes to heirs. Few know that if the present law prevails, that in 2010 with no Federal Estate Tax, a single person that passes away will have $1.3 Million of basis to allocate to assets and a married decedent will have $3 Million of additional basis for assets passing to the surviving spouse, so that basis can be stepped up on appreciated assets. For most farm families this would take care of the appreciation of the farm in 2010 so that a full step up in basis could occur. However, instead of getting an automatic full step up in basis, this will necessitate keeping track of basis step up.  For a discussion of the considerations for Federal Estate Tax elimination along with the potential partial loss of step up in basis, refer to the complete article.

Economic and Policy Trends Likely to Influence the Future of Forests in Ohio

This article addresses economic aspects of several management and policy issues related to forestry in Ohio. First, the article describes historical trends in Ohio forests. Second, the article considers trends in timber management on Ohio private and public forests. To address timber management, two issues are considered, the growth of the stock of forests, and timber prices. Timber prices can have a large influence on the management of forestlands. Understanding what may happen to prices in the future can help illuminate the market pressures landowners may face to harvest their trees. Potential harvest and price trends for private timberland can also help policy-makers evaluate the efficiency of harvests on public timberland. Third, the article describes recent projections of potential future land use change in Ohio, including estimates of changes in forestland, cropland and developed land. The projections are based on a recently estimated model of land use in Ohio counties.

The complete article is available at:

The Pricing Performance of Market Advisory Services in Corn and Soybeans Over 1995-2003: A Non-Technical Summary

Farmers in the US consistently identify price and income risk as one of the greatest management challenges they face. Surveys suggest that numerous farmers view professional market advisory services as an important tool in managing price and income risk. As a result, there is a need to develop an ongoing “track record” of the performance of market advisory services to assist farmers in identifying successful alternatives for marketing and price risk management. The Agricultural Market Advisory Service (AgMAS) Project was initiated in 1994 with the goal of providing such information.

The purpose of this research report is to summarize the pricing performance of professional market advisory services for the 1995-2003 corn and soybean crops. Readers can view the Non-Technical Summary report at:


The results for 1995-2001 were released in earlier AgMAS research reports, while the results for the 2002 and 2003 crop years are new. Complete details on data collection, computation of net advisory prices and benchmarks and pricing performance tests can be found in the full AgMAS research report by Irwin et al. (2005) at:


Earnings Historically High in 2004 for Illinois Farmers

Record corn and soybean yields and good livestock returns account for significantly higher farm earnings in 2004 for Illinois farmers.  Returns to labor and management averaged $77,906 in 2004 for 3015 farms participating in FBFM (Farm Business Farm Management Association) program.  This was $22,228 above 2003 and $38,510 above the modest $39,396 of the last five years.  The total net farm income (which includes a return to equity) was $97,514 for 2004.  For this group of farms, corn averaged 184 bushels per acre and soybeans averaged 53 bushels in 2004.  Farm production per man year was $315,561.  The non-farm income per farm also rose to $27,280 and family living cost in 2004 was reported to be $52,695 per farm.

Hiring Summer Help under 16? Extra Regulations!

Special training in tractor and associated equipment operation can allow 14 and 15 year old youth to operate certain farm equipment that the youth otherwise can not legally work near or operate. However, if over 16 youth can work around or operate such equipment on the farm. Even though youth who are children of farmers are generally exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act, special restrictions apply for those youth that are not family members, under 16 without training and/or under 14 even with training. Refer to the previous article in the July 2004 issue for more detail:

or go to the training module fact sheets provided by the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program: , click under “task sheets” under Introduction then scroll down through first task sheet then hit next on bottom until get to task sheet 1.2.1
or go to the U.S. Department of Labor web page:

Forage Harvest Costs with Higher Fuel Costs

The global implication of a tighter petroleum market is hitting managers’ bottom line every time they fuel up their machines before heading to the field. The additional costs associated with the rise in fuel prices is estimated for several typical forage harvesting methods. This information may be useful for those budgeting their own forage harvesting needs and for those negotiating custom rates. The cost estimates convert a 54% ($0.65) increase in diesel price into the per acre increase in machine operating costs for 20 different forage harvesting setups. The per acre increases in costs range from $0.22 for smaller mowers to more than $2 for more complex machinery.

The complete Forage Harvest Cost table is available here:

On-Farm Fuel Storage Rules

Most agricultural businesses have some form of fuel storage on the premises. As our businesses grow so have our fuel storage needs as well as our environmental liabilities. Recently, some insurance companies have started requiring agriculture businesses to adhere to the state fire code or be assessed higher premium rates.

Under the current regulations, the Ohio Fire Marshall’s office considers on-farm fuel tanks to fall under the private fleet fueling facility guidelines. A summary provided by the Code Enforcement Bureau highlighted the following regulations.

A permit needs to be applied for if you are removing, installing, abandoning or altering a fuel storage facility. This would apply if you moved the tank from one location on the farm to another. When applying for a permit, a cut sheet from the manufacturer showing the tank is approved for fuel storage use needs to be included. If a cut sheet is not available determination is required to be made on site to show that the tank being proposed to be used is code compliant. A picture of the tank and any labels or UL tags can be submitted showing the listing. If there are no markings on the tanks, the determination would need to be made by the manufacturer (if noted) via a site visit to determine that with a letter from the manufacturer submitted by the manufacturer.

Single walled tanks should be 100 feet from the property line and 50 feet from “important” buildings. Also required for single walled tanks is a spill containment structure. Recommended is some structure that can hold 110% of the tank capacity. Double walled or fire resistant tanks can be 50 feet from the property line and 25 feet from buildings. These tanks do not require a secondary containment structure.

Regardless of tank construction, all tanks should be enclosed in a chain link fence, no less than 6 feet high and 10 feet away from the tank perimeter. A property perimeter fence that is secure will also meet this requirement. In addition to having a secure location, the safety cut-off switch should be located between 20 feet and 100 feet from the tank to allow easy access in the event of an emergency. The Ohio fire code also specifies that at least one portable fire extinguisher be located within 30 feet of the tank.

A permit application can be found at under State Fire Marshal; Forms and applications; Flammable and combustible liquids stationary tank and piping permit application. The regulations are currently being examined and the proposed new Ohio Fire Code should be re-filed in the near future.

If you are planning on changing your fuel storage tanks, it would be prudent to follow the regulations. Doing it right the first time might be a lot less costly than doing it again or being penalized for doing it wrong.