Hay Barns Now Financed by FSA

Effective August 17, 2009, the opportunity to finance hay barns through Farm Service Agency (FSA) became reality. Patterned and regulated similarly to the grain bin loans which  FSA has administered for years, 85% of the cost of new storage facilities for up to two years worth of “hay and renewable biomass” production may be financed at the fixed FSA interest rate for either 7, 10 or 12 years depending on the amount of the loan. In certain circumstances, the renovation of existing storage may also be financed. The FSA farm storage facility loan interest rates for loans processed in September, 2009 are 3.25% amortized for 7 years, 3.625% for 10 years, or 4.0% for a 12 year loan.

For the purposes of this loan program, “hay” is defined as all the traditional grasses and legumes grown in Ohio for hay crops plus grain legumes such as soybeans if they are harvested as whole plants. “Renewable biomass” is defined as any organic matter that is available on a renewable basis used for producing energy in the form of heat, electricity and fuel. Examples include algae, crop residues, plants and trees, other ag commodities and vegetative waste material.

For more detail on securing financing for hay storage facilities, you may contact your local Farm Service Agency, or review this

Farm Storage Facility Loan Fact Sheet




USDA Notice FSFL-57



Renewable Energy and Environment

We are now in the grips of a recession and gasoline price hovers around $2.50. We have just enjoyed one of the coolest summers with rains evenly spaced so lawns stayed green and crops look wonderful. Sooo…… previous concerns about oil shortage, the environment and global warming are less important, right?

However, public policy today strives for 25% of the nation’s energy to be derived from renewable sources by 2025. This article will address some of the research and the author’s opinions about renewable energy and the environment and our unique opportunities in Ohio.

At the August 20 th Crop, Soil and Water Field Night on Bioenergy at OSU South Centers, Piketon, Ohio the following were the topics: Biomass Crops; Algae as a Biofuel; Cover Crops and Bioenergy; Forest Management and Bioenergy and Field Experiments. Field experiments at Piketon are currently with warm season grasses (switch grass, big and little bluestem, Indian grass and Gamma grass). Future plans are to research larger grasses such as elephant grass and miscanthus. All of these grasses take at least 3 years to establish but once established stands will persist for 10 more years with 10 tons per acre per year of biomass production for the smaller grasses and up to 20 tons per year for the larger grasses. These yields are projected, and without fertilizer application. Researchers at Piketon hope to develop the most efficient and environmentally friendly biomass production system for marginal crop land where row crops can not be economically produced.

Extensive environmental, organic production and biomass crop production research is also being done at the Kellogg Biological Station run by Michigan State University near Battle Creek, Michigan. The authors attended an Upper Midwest Sustainable Food and Fuel Systems Seminar held there the last week of August. A major thrust at this facility is the measuring of “greenhouse” gasses from crop land. Researchers there measure emissions and absorption of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other gasses. Methane emitted from primarily livestock facilities is 30 to 50 times worse than carbon dioxide as a contributor of global warming. Therefore, a farmer in Circleville, Ohio is paid for the carbon credits he gets for covering his manure lagoon and flaring off the methane.

However, nitrous oxide is 300 times worse than carbon dioxide as a contributor to global warming, so the researchers in Michigan are measuring the emissions of nitrous oxide from crop fields. Microbes in crop fields convert excess nitrogen to nitrous oxide that is emitted into the air. Michigan researchers are investigating the importance of nitrous oxide from crops for global warming. Depending on their results, future credits might be purchased from those farmers who reduce their nitrogen fertilization of corn.

For a greenhouse gas calculator for agricultural lands go to http://sebewa.kbs.msu.edu:4567/ For the Long-Term Ecological Research Program go to www.lternet.edu or for the work being done at Kellogg Biological Station go to www.lter.kbs.msu.edu For research done by Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center go to www.glbrc.org or for the work being done at the Kellogg Biological Station go to www.glbrc.msu.edu Other national centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy on transformational biofuels research are at the Joint BioEnergy Institute at http://www.jbei.org/ and the BioEnergy Science Center at http://bioenergycenter.org/

Different feasibility of various alternative forms of energy are emerging across Ohio. For instance, in north western Ohio significant dollars are being paid to lease land for wind farms.  Also, in Wyandot County the county farm is being awarded a lease contract for a solar farm. These projects are being located based on existing infrastructure capacity to handle the electricity generated by the wind and solar fields.  Aditional information on the Wyandot County solar project can be found at http://wyandotcountyeconomicdevelopment.com and information on the wind energy generation projects can be found at http://www.ohiowind.org .

Several companies in Ohio, such as Algaeventure from Marysville http://www.algaevs.com/ and Ohio Biofuels from Dublin are investing significant dollars into bioenergy production from algae. On the Algaeventure web site above, it is claimed that “3.71% of Ohio’s farmland could produce Ohio’s total annual petroleum use.” and that “Algae-to-oil ……….. technology (will be) able to deliver more than 10 times the fuel per acre than any other bio-solution.” This technology was further developed from 1980 to 1995 by the U.S. Department of Energy-NREL Aquatic Species Program for microalgae oil production where oil was produced for $40 to $60/barrel. Then oil price was lower than that level, so was shelved. A summary of oil from algae can be found on the Power Point slides from the Piketon presentation by Laura Tiu at http://drop.io/biofuels or http://fairfield.osu.edu/agriculture-and-natural-resources/files/algae.ppt/view

Concerning an opportunity for south eastern Ohio and West Virginia, the most exciting energy news is that FirstEnergy Solutions Corporation is converting the coal-fired Burger Generation Facility on the Ohio River at Shadyside near Wheeling, West Virginia. For only this one power plant, 150,000 tons of biofuel will be needed in 2010, with 1.8 million tons per year needed by 2013. In 2010 those 150,000 tons of pre-processed biofuel will be co-fired with coal. In 2013 it is the intent for the plant to be solely fueled by biofuel.

For only the Burger Facility, the required biofuel can be sourced from wood waste from the industry. According to Damon Hartley, Program Specialist, Forest Products, OSU South Centers forest products and logging operations produce more than 2 million tons of wood waste per year, with 768,000 tons of mill waste plus 950,000 tons of logging waste (see http://fairfield.osu.edu/agriculture-and-natural-resources/files/biofldnite.ppt/view ). However, the price for such biofuel will have to outbid present prices paid for sawdust, wood chips, slabs and the cost of getting the logging waste from the forest to the plant. Further, if other plants choose to go the route of the Burger Plant, harvest of forest and crop biomass will be required to satisfy the demand for biofuel for electric generation plants on the Ohio River. Given that 20% of the coal based electric power generation in the US is along the Ohio River, the potential demand for biofuel is huge.

In the author’s opinion, wood biofuel in the Ohio River valley has the competitive edge for alternative fuel use in south eastern Ohio but wind and to a more limited extent, solar have a competitive edge in north western Ohio. The Ohio River is the epicenter of cheap, although dirty, electrical power generation with coal. If the Burger plant finds it to their advantage to utilize biofuel to clean up emissions while complying with renewable energy policy, that is a win, win. Likewise, the no carbon footprint of wind and solar make those a win, win. Better yet, the technology is already developed, unlike ethanol production from switch grass.

Further, the Ohio River on both sides is heavily forested so harvesting and transportation of a dense, energy rich product is lower cost than biomass crops. Wood fuel grows on it’s own without input, fertilization or management by man and is renewable and sustainable. Using wood biomass, solar and wind all have environmental benefits and carbon advantages. Wood burned for fuel is nearly carbon neutral and emissions are lower in sulfur than even the low sulfur coal burned now while wind and solar are carbon zero!

Managed in a sustainable manner, the use of woody biomass from our forests can provide timber stand improvement and improved growth and value of timber trees while utilizing for biofuel the weed trees and wood previously treated as waste. Such use of wood biomass can provide further benefit to south eastern Ohio and West Virginia communities by creating more local jobs in timber management and biomass harvesting, transportation and processing.

We in southeastern Ohio and West Virginia are well poised to utilize the renewable wood resources with which we are blessed while north western Ohio is well poised to take advantage of wind and solar energy.

Let us hope we can develop sustainable alternative energy. At the turn of the century Ohio was 95% forested. By the dust bowl days and the depression, forest land had been reduced to 35%. Now we have returned to 70% forested in southeastern Ohio. Let’s use this wonderful resource, but use it for the benefit of man, society and the environment.

Farm Science Review Coming September 22-24, 2009

The 2009 Ohio State University Farm Science Review event will be held Septtember 22-24 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio. The FSR attracts upwards of 140,000 visitors from all over the country and many foreign countries. Visitors can come for three days to see 4,000 product lines from 600 commercial exhibitors, and learn the latest in agricultural research, conservation, family and nutrition, and gardening and landscaping.

Last year the Farm Science Review location was hammered by high winds the day before the review opened wrecking most of the tents. This year exhibitors and visitors alike are hoping for more favorable weather. Purdue University is becoming a permanent resident at Farm Science Review. Once again, Purdue specialists will be joining Ohio State researchers to bring the best both universities have to offer in agriculture, nutrition, family and consumer sciences and natural resources.

Farm Science Review will offer topics on farm financial management and agriculture law. Such topics include farm wages and benefits, cropland values, cash rents, custom rates, transition planning, and dairy farm management. Animal welfare is a hot topic in Ohio this year. Look for Ohio State animal sciences specialists and exhibits on animal welfare education in the Firebaugh Building.

Ag rescue demonstrations return to the Safety Education Tent, located in Alumni Park. These demonstrations will highlight the appropriate techniques for utilizing rescue equipment when responding to agricultural emergencies. Demos run each day at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. From ethanol to wind power to hydrogen fuel cells, interest in bioenergy continues to grow. Look for a wide variety of bioenergy topics during the event, many of which will be showcased in the new energy education tent located in Alumni Park.

The National AgrAbility Project is coming to Ohio. The project assists those with disabilities who are employed in agriculture. The project will officially kick off at Farm Science Review. Look for information at the Safety Education Tent.

Participants at the Farm Science Review should aslo plan on listening to one of the live interviews of authorities from Ohio State and elsewhere on current economic, business and policy issues. OSU’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics sponsors this series of short interviews on the stage beside the Leaper Antique Building in Alumni Park on Friday Avenue. Stan Ernst leads the discussion, then opens things up for audience questions – your chance to question our authorities. Each day of the Review, you’ll hear about timely topics – everything from current market behavior, marketing and economic performance, to energy economics, trade policy and new legal questions for rural America. Join the host in trying to stump the authorities with your toughest questions.

The schedule for the review is as follows.  Remember that topics and times are subject to change so make sure to check out the signboard along Friday Avenue for daily lineups.

Tuesday, Sept. 22 – Stan Ernst (OSU AED Economics)
8:30 a.m. Early Bird Outlook: Grain Markets & Biofuels – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
9 a.m. ACRE Farm Bill Update – Carl Zulauf (OSU AED Economics)
11:15 a.m. Energy & Biofuels Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
11:30 a.m. On-farm Energy Audits – Chad Martin (Purdue)
11:45 a.m. Where’s the Economy Going? – Ian Sheldon (OSU AED Economics)
12:05 p.m. Economics of Cap and Trade – Brent Sohngen (OSU AED Economics)
12:30 p.m. Grain Market Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
12:45 p.m. ACRE Farm Bill Update – Carl Zulauf (OSU AED Economics)
1 p.m. “Small Wind” on Your Farm? – Chad Martin (Purdue)
1:20 p.m. Animal Cruelty Laws – Peggy Hall (OSU AED Economics)
1:40 p.m. On-farm Energy Audits – Chad Martin (Purdue)
2 p.m. Energy & Biofuels Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
2:20 p.m. Ag News You Can Use – Julie Douglas (Ag Answers, Purdue/OSU)
2:40 p.m. New APV Laws – Peggy Hall (OSU AED Economics)
3 p.m. TBA

Wednesday, Sept. 23 – Stan Ernst (OSU AED Economics)
8:30 a.m. Early Bird Outlook: Grain Markets & Biofuels – Matt Roberts & Stan Ernst
9 a.m. Biofuels for Military Aviation – Bob Allen (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Fuels Research Lab)
9:30 a.m. Energy & Biofuels Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
10 a.m. Farmland Prices – Allan Lines (OSU AED Economics)
10:20 a.m. ACRE Farm Bill Update – Carl Zulauf (OSU AED Economics)
10:40 a.m. Grain Market Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
11 a.m. New APV Laws – Peggy Hall (OSU AED Economics)
11:15 a.m. Ag News You Can Use – Julie Douglas (Ag Answers, Purdue/OSU)
11:30 a.m. ACRE Farm Bill Update – Carl Zulauf (OSU AED Economics)
11:45 a.m. Biofuels Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
Noon Biofuels for Military Aviation – Bob Allen (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Fuels Research Lab)
12:20 p.m. The Power of Local Food Systems – Jeff Sharp (OSU Rural Sociology)
12:40 p.m. Business Climate in Ohio – Greg Davis (OSU AED Economics)
1 p.m. What Makes Main Street Vibrant – Jill Clark (OSU AED Economics)
1:20 p.m. Grain Market Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
1:40 p.m. Farmland Prices – Allan Lines (OSU AED Economics)
2 p.m. Wind & Solar Opportunities – Kemp Jaycox (Green Energy Ohio)
2:20 p.m. Animal Cruelty Laws – Peggy Hall (OSU AED Economics)
2:40 p.m. Aquaculture Opportunities – Laura Tiu (OSU South Centers)
3 p.m. Wind & Solar Opportunities – Kemp Jaycox (Green Energy Ohio)

Thursday, Sep. 24 – Stan Ernst (OSU AED Economics)
8 a.m. Early Bird Outlook: Grain Markets – Matt Roberts & Stan Ernst (OSU AED Economics)
9:40 Farmland Prices – Allan Lines (OSU AED Economics)
10 p.m. Greenhouse Floriculture Opportunities – Beth Fausey (OSU Extension ABE Ctr)
10:20 a.m. Ag’s Women… “We’ve come a long way baby!” – Julia Woodruff (OSU Extension Erie Co)
10:40 a.m. Grain Market Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
11 a.m. The Global Food Economy – Doug Southgate (OSU AED Economics)
11:20 a.m. Farmland Prices – Allan Lines (OSU AED Economics)
11:40 a.m. The Death of Urban Sprawl – Elena Irwin (OSU AED Economics)
Noon Ag News You Can Use – Julie Douglas (Ag Answers, Purdue/OSU)
12:20 p.m. Grain Market Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
12:40 p.m. Hydroponic Market Opportunities – Beth Fausey (OSU Extension ABE Ctr)
1 p.m. Ag’s Women… “We’ve come a long way baby!” – Julia Woodruff (OSU Extension Erie Co)
1:20 p.m. Biofuels Outlook – Matt Roberts (OSU AED Economics)
1:40 p.m. TBA

For more information on Farm Science Review and to learn about more topics as they develop, log on to http://fsr.osu.edu . Golf carts are still permitted at the Farm Science Review and you can learn more about the rules by clicking on the golf cart link on the website. Tickets are $8 at the gate or $5 in advance when purchased from county offices of OSU Extension or participating agribusinesses. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.

Seminars Scheduled for Ag Lenders

The Ohio State University Extension has scheduled two educational seminars in western Ohio for lenders who work with agriculture. The dates are Tuesday, October 13 th at the Putnam County Extension office in Ottawa and Thursday, October 15 th at the Champaign County Extension office in Urbana .

These seminars are excellent opportunities for Ag Lenders, Farm Service Agency financial personnel, farm managers, county Extension Educators and others to learn about OSU Extension research, outreach programs and current agricultural topics of interest across the state. Annual attendance at these seminars is typically around 125 participants.

Robert Moore, attorney for the Wright Law Co. LPA, will address Ag Lenders on the Pros and Cons of farmers moving their operations to Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs). As farming operations continue to grow in size and capital demands, LLCs are the most common organizational structure selected. Mr. More has a wealth of experience in this area and will be sharing the strengths and weaknesses of LLCs.

Mike Bumgarner from the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will speak on Issue II which will be on the November ballot in Ohio . The livestock industry in Ohio is attempting to be proactive on animal care by establishing the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and establishing reasonable farm animal care guidelines instead of having outside groups push for rules that virtually cripple the Ohio livestock industry.

David Drake, acting director of the Farm Service Agency in Ohio , will be discussing the FSA beginning farmer loan program and the grain storage structure loan program. These federal programs can offer interest reductions on farm loans making them more affordable.

Barry Ward, Ohio State University Extension Leader, Production Business Management will be on hand to discuss Ohio Land Rents and the updated Crop Enterprise Budgets for 2010 Looking at the expected income and expenses for the 2010 crops can assist farmers in determining what money might be available for farmland rental payments.

The registration cost to attend on of the Ag Lender Seminars is $60.00 and the registration deadline is Monday, October 5th. Your local county extension office can provide a registration form or you can access it on the web at http://putnam.osu.edu/natural_resources_environment

Explore the "New" CSP Program on September 18

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), established in the 2008 Farm Bill, is the newest NRCS Incentive Program.  It financially rewards agricultural producers (including forestry) for maintaining and managing existing conservation activities, as well as encourages producers to undertake additional conservation activities to address natural resource concerns on their land. Land must be private or tribal agricultural land or nonindustrial private forest land.

In an effort to share information regarding the application and acceptance process for this “new” version of CSP, NRCS will host an informational meeting on Friday, September 18 from 10 a.m. until noon in the Fairfield County Ag Center in Lancaster. All interested persons from Fairfield and the surrounding Counties are invited to attend. Other informational meetings will be held throughout Ohio in September.

The CSP is available nationwide to all eligible agricultural producers.  Producers may apply at any time for CSP; however, at least one ranking period will occur each year during which time applications will be selected for funding.  In Ohio, the current ranking period will end September 30, 2009.  You must have your application completed and turned into the NRCS office by that date.

If an applicant is selected for CSP funding, a contract will be developed with NRCS.  The contract length is 5 years, with an option to extend the contract for another 5 years at the end of the first 5-year period.

The CSP has an annual payment limitation of $40,000 and contracts must cover all the eligible land in the entire operation.  A person or legal entity cannot exceed $200,000 for all CSP contracts entered into during any 5-year period.

All conservation activities will be subject to field verification prior to payments being made.  Payments for completed conservation activities will be made in the year after the conservation activities are implemented.

To learn more about CSP you can visit


or visit your local County NRCS field office. Interested producers are encouraged to fill out the Self-Screening Checklist and bring it to the nearest NRCS office. The Checklist is available at the WEB site listed above or in the field office. Call 740-653-5320 or another NRCS office for more information.

Deadline Approaching for Establishing "Pre-Existing" Line Fences

Changes last year to the Ohio Line Fence Law included a deadline of September 30, 2009 for landowners to file an Affidavit of Preexisting Line Fence. The affidavit procedure allows a landowner to certify under oath that a line fence existed on a property’s boundary line within the two years prior to the filing of the affidavit.

A landowner would want to file the Affidavit of Preexisting Line Fence to ensure that the law’s rule of “equitable shares” would apply if the owner wants to construct a replacement fence on the location. The equitable shares rule states that landowners adjoining the boundary line must share “equitably” in the cost of constructing and maintaining the fence. An equitable apportionment is made based upon a consideration of factors that attempt to allocate responsibility fairly, including presence of waterways, trees and vegetation; importance of marking the boundary line; risk of trespassers and use of the fence for containing livestock. Under this rule, each landowner may be partly responsible for the line fence.

If a landowner cannot establish the presence of a preexisting line fence, then the landowner who wants to build a new fence on the line would be completely responsible for all costs incurred in doing so. In addition to the Affidavit of Preexisting Line Fence, an owner can prove a preexisting fence through evidence, such as remnants of the fence, a written agreement or assignment about the fence, photographs, or testimony.

The Affidavit of Preexisting Fence must be written and filed in accordance with Ohio law. OSU’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program has fact sheets to explain the Line Fence Law and the affidavit requirements. See our website at http://aede.osu.edu/programs/aglaw . The Ohio Farm Bureau has model affidavit documents; contact your local office. It’s also important to consult an attorney and ensure that the affidavit is in accordance with the law.

Making A Farm Rental Agreement Better


When parties disagree about farm rental arrangements, often an arbitrator or 3 rd party advisor is asked to intervene if a written agreement does not exist. However, even some written agreements may not included details necessary to resolve the disagreement.


What makes a well designed farm rental agreement? While most written agreements do include general terms like a description/location of the farm, who the tenant and landlord is, and the amount of cash rent or crop share percentages, some critical information may be missing to protect both parties.


For example, disagreements can arise about termination or renewal deadlines, and parties may look to Ohio law to find guidance. However, Ohio is a state that does not have a statutory law on farm lease termination or renewal, so it is important to define dates that both parties can agree to and include those in the written farm lease.


Does a written or verbal agreement imply a partnership? Does the agreement increase the landowner or tenant liability for the action of the other party? Who has access to production records from the farm and how does that impact Farm Service Agency program participation? Who pays for lime? Are the buildings included in the agreement and who performs repairs? These are just a few of the questions that can arise from poorly constructed farm rental agreements.


OSU Extension offers a Farm Rental Agreement Checklist to guide landowners and tenants toward a well written document that protects and benefits both parties. The checklist can be found at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/fr-fact/0003.html

Annie's Project Past and Future

For those who have not heard about Annie’s Project, I begin with a little background information and explanation about past programming in Ohio . Annie’s Project is an educational program dedicated to strengthening women’s role in modern farm enterprises. Annie was a woman who grew up in a small rural community and spent her life learning how to be an involved business partner with her husband. Together they reached their goals and achieved success. Annie’s daughter, Ruth Hambleton, Retired Extension Educator, University of Illinois , founded Annie’s Project in 2000 in honor of her mother.

Annie’s Project is designed to take Annie’s life experiences and share them with other women in agriculture who are living and working in a complex and dynamic farm business environment. The project is a six-week course that focuses on the five broad areas of agricultural risk – human, financial, marketing, production and legal.

The project, which began in Illinois , has now expanded to eighteen states with active programs and two additional states where leaders have been identified. Currently, over 5,000 participants have completed Annie’s Project in the eighteen states.

The program was introduced in Ohio in January 2007. It was held in Wood and Delaware Counties with 47 women participating. The workshops were then expanded in 2008 as the result of a grant from the North Central Risk Management Center . It was offered at six locations and 122 women participated in the project. In 2009, the project was offered in only one county with 20 women completing the class. Over the past three years, 189 women have completed the workshop. We hope to at least double this number in 2010.

Evaluation results from the first nine workshops have been extremely positive. The six month follow-up survey of 2008 participants (response rate of 39%) reported that: 88% became involved with goal setting for the farm and 90% plan to set goals for the following production year. Sixty-seven percent of participants also said that have become more involved in the farm decision making process and half of the group had adopted at least one new risk management practice as a result of the workshop. Annie’s Project is also designed to help women involved in agriculture create a network in their local areas. The workshops held in 2008 appeared to assist with the creation of a network, as 42% reported that they had stayed in contact with other women from their class.

Building on these positive results, the 2010 winter months will feature thirteen Annie’s Project workshops around the state. Each Extension Education and Research Area (EERA) will host at least one workshop; some EERA’s will have more. Please click on the link to see the locations and contact information for 2010 workshop sites. Stay tuned to the Ohio Ag Manager for announcements of specific dates and locations in the coming months.