Ohio Agricultural Law Blog – Affirmative defenses for agricultural production activities

by Peggy Kirk Hall

Whether producing crops, livestock, or other agricultural products, it can be challenging if not impossible for a farmer to completely prevent dust, odors, surface water runoff, noise, and other unintended impacts. Ohio law recognizes these challenges as well as the value of agricultural production by extending legal protections to farmers. The protections are “affirmative defenses” that can shield a farmer from liability if someone files a private civil lawsuit against the farmer because of the unintended impacts of farming. A court will dismiss the lawsuit if the farmer successfully raises and proves an applicable affirmative defense.

In our latest law bulletin, we summarize Ohio’s affirmative defenses that relate to production agriculture. The statutes afford legal protections based on the type of activity and the type of resulting harm. For example, one offers protections to farmers who obtain fertilizer application certification training and operate in compliance with an approved nutrient management plan, while another offers nuisance lawsuit protection against neighbors who move to an agricultural area. Each affirmative defense has different requirements a farmer must meet but a common thread among the laws is that a farmer must be a “good farmer” who is in compliance with the law and utilizing generally accepted agricultural practices. It is important for farmers to understand these laws and know how the laws apply to a farm’s production activities.

To learn more about Ohio’s affirmative defenses for agricultural production activities, view our latest law bulletin HERE.

Small Farm & New Farm College Programs to be Held

By Tony Nye, Extension Educator

Are you a small farm landowner wondering what to do with your acreage? Are you interested in exploring options for land uses but not sure where to turn or how to begin? Have you considered adding an agricultural or horticultural enterprise but you just aren’t sure of what is required, from an equipment, labor, and/or management perspective? Are you looking for someplace to get some basic farm information? If you or someone you know answered yes to any of these questions, then the Ohio State University New and Small Farm College program may be just what you are looking for.

The Ohio State University New and Small Farm College is an 8 session short course that will be held one night a week. The 2019 Ohio New and Small Farm College program will be held in three locations across the state including:

Miami Valley CTC, West Building, Room 179, 6800 Hoke Road, Englewood, OH 45315. Classes will be held on Tuesdays beginning January 8 and concluding on February 26, 2019. Inclement weather makeup date will be March 5. Contact the Montgomery County Extension Office at 937-224-9654.

Vinton County area at the Community Building, 31935 State Route 93, McArthur, OH 45651. Classes will be held on Tuesdays beginning January 15 and concluding March 5, 2019. Inclement weather makeup will be March 12. For more information, contact Vinton County Extension at 740-596-5212.

Adams County area at the North Adams High School, 96 Green Devil Drive, Seaman, OH 45679. Classes will be held on Wednesdays beginning January 16 and concluding March 6, 2019. Inclement weather makeup date will be March 13.  For more information, contact Adams County Extension at 937-544-2339.

All colleges will start each evening at 6:00 PM with a light dinner with the nightly presentations beginning at 6:30 Pm and concluding at 9:00PM.

Topics that will be covered in the Small Farm College course include: Getting Started (goal setting, resource inventory, business planning), Appropriate Land Use -Walking The Farm, Where to Get Assistance, (identifying various agencies, organizations, and groups), Natural Resource Management including soils, ponds, woodlands and wildlife, Legal Issues, Insurance, Business Structure, Finances & Record Keeping, and Marketing Alternatives, Crop and Horticultural Production Options, Animal Production Options,

The cost of the course is $150 per person, $100 for an additional family member. Each participating family will receive a small farm college notebook full of the information presented in each class session plus additional materials. Registrations are now being accepted. For more details about the course and/or a registration form, contact Tony Nye, Small Farm Program Coordinator 937-382-0901 or email at nye.1@osu.edu.

 

Agronomy and Farm Management Podcast

by: Amanda Douridas and Elizabeth Hawkins

Stay on top of what is happening in the field and the farm office as Amanda Douridas and Elizabeth Hawkins interview experts in agronomy and farm management. Hosted by Ohio State University Extension, this podcast takes a bi-monthly dive into specific issues that impact agriculture, such as: weather, land value, policies, commodity outlooks, and more.

This podcast began in May 2018 and has a great library of podcasts to choose from. This winter, we will feature some of the Ask the Expert interviews that occurred during Farm Science Review on Farm Management topics. Catch up on the ones you missed during the show.

Subscribe through iTunes at http://go.osu.edu/iTunesAFM or Stitcher at http://go.osu.edu/StitcherAFM to have the newest episodes added to your playlist. Stay up to date with us on Facebook @AFMPodcast and Twitter @AFM_Podcast.

 

2019 Outlook Meetings to be held Across Ohio

by Amanda Douridas, Extension Educator

Ohio State University Extension is pleased to announce the 2019 Agricultural Outlook Meetings! In 2019 there will be seven locations in Ohio. Each location will have a presentation on Commodity Prices- Today’s YoYo. Additional topics vary by location and include U.S. Trade Policy: Where is it Headed, Examining the 2019 Ohio Farm Economy, Weather Outlook, Dairy Production Economics Update, Beef and Dairy Outlook, Consumer Trends, and Farm Tax Update.

Join the faculty from Ohio State University Extension and Ohio State Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Developmental Economics as they discuss the issues and trends affecting agriculture in Ohio. Each meeting is being hosted by a county OSU Extension Educator to provide a local personal contact for this meeting. A meal is provided with each meeting and included in the registration price. Questions can be directed to the local host contact.

The outlook meeting are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

Date: January 14, 2019 Time: 7:30 am – 10:30 am Speakers: Ben Brown, Barry Ward, Ian Sheldon, Zoe Plakias, Aaron Wilson Location: Emmett Chapel, 318 Tarlton Rd, Circleville, OH 43113 Cost: $10.00 RSVP: Call OSU Extension Pickaway County 740-474-7534 By: January 12th More information can be found at: http://pickaway.osu.edu

Date: January 17, 2019 Time: 8:00 am – noon Speakers: Barry Ward, Ben Brown, Ian Sheldon, Aaron Wilson Location: Der Dutchman, Plain City, 445 S Jefferson Ave. Cost: $15.00 RSVP: Call OSU Extension, Union County 937-644-8117 By: January 10th More information can be found at: http://union.osu.edu

Date: January 24, 2019 Time: 9:00 am – 12:00 noon Speakers: Barry Ward, Ben Brown, David Marrison Location: St Mary’s Hall 46 East Main St. Wakeman, OH 44889 Cost: No Charge; $20.00 if past deadline RSVP: Call OSU Extension, Huron County 419-668-8219 By: January 22nd More information can be found at: http://huron.osu.edu

Date: January 28, 2019 Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Speakers: Ian Sheldon, Ben Brown, Aaron Wilson Location: Jewell Community Center Cost: $10.00 (after deadline $20.00) RSVP: OSU Extension, Defiance County 419-782-4771 By: January 22nd More information can be found at: http://defiance.osu.edu

Date: January 30, 2019 Time: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm Speakers: Ian Sheldon, Ben Brown, Barry Ward, Dianne Shoemaker, David Marrison, Kenneth Burdine Location: Fisher Auditorium Cost: $15.00 RSVP: Call OSU Extension, Wayne County 330-264-8722 By: January 24th More information can be found at: http://wayne.osu.edu

Date: February 13, 2019 Time: 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm Speakers: Barry Ward, Ben Brown, Ian Sheldon Location: Wayside Chapel, 2341 Kerstetter Rd.,  Bucyrus OH 44820 Cost: $15.00 RSVP: Call OSU Extension, Crawford County 419-562-8731 or email hartschuh.11@osu.edu By: February 5th More information can be found at: http://crawford.osu.edu

Date: March 22, 2019 Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm Speakers: Barry Ward, Ben Brown, David Marrison, Ian Sheldon Location: Chamber Ag Day / Ag Outlook meeting, Darke County Romers 118 E Main St., Greenville Registration Flyer: http://go.osu.edu/2019darkeagoutlook Cost: $20 RSVP: Darke County Extension office at 937-548-5215 By: March 16th More information can be found at: http://darke.osu.edu

 

Annie’s Project Course- Empowering Women in Agriculture

by: Jacqueline Kowalski & Robin Christensen, Extension Educators

 

 

OSU Extension in Summit and Portage Counties are teaming up to offer Annie’s Project from October 9th– November 13th, 2018. Annie’s project is a six-week program designed to address risk management education for farm women. Its objective is to educate women entrepreneurs so that they are more prepared to make farm management decisions. While a large number of farm women own and operate farms, others play a major role in the decision-making process of farm operations for farm families. Annie’s Project provides in-depth sessions on topics that are important for decision-making of the family farm. The program topics covered include human resources, legal risks, financial risks, marketing risks, and production costs and risks. Sessions are designed to be very interactive between the presenters and the participants. Information presented is tailored to meet the needs of participants in their own geographical areas.

Annie was a woman who grew up in a small rural community with the life-long goal of being involved in production agriculture. She spent her lifetime learning how to be an involved business partner with her husband, and together they reached their goals and achieved success. Annie’s daughter, Ruth Hambleton, a former Extension Educator for the 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 this complex, dynamic business environment. Additional details on Annie’s life can be found https://www.anniesproject.org/

The 6-week training will begin on Tuesday October 9th at 6:00pm, with dinner starting at 5:30pm. Registration is due October 5th, 2018. Classes will rotate between the Summit and Portage County Extension offices in Stow and Ravenna. The course fee is $100.

Please contact Robin Christensen with questions or for an application at 330-296-6432 or e-mail at Christensen.227@osu.edu

 

Farm Management Series to be held in Fulton County in February

by Eric Richer, Extension Educator

Ohio State University Extension-Fulton County will again be offering its Farm Management Series on Tuesdays in February.  The series is for any farmer who raises commodity grain and livestock. This year’s program will focus on farm succession, financial and production planning. Additionally, the series will help farmers look at options for taking your farm a different direction to complement commodity production. This year the series is offered as a daytime program from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and includes lunch. Each session will feature guest speakers and content relevant to today’s farm management. The series, which runs February 6, 13, 20 and 27, is taught by a combination of Extension Educators and state specialists and private sector individuals.

On Tuesday, February 6, the series will emphasize transition and estate planning (farm succession).  Topics will include working together to develop your farm’s business plan, answering 9 key succession planning, legal structures, getting your financial affairs in order and family communication.

Tuesday, February 13th will focus on financial planning.  Time will be spent reviewing key farm financial statements and strategies including an Ag Lender/Professional panel at lunch.  The afternoon will address ways to reduce family living expense and financial stress as well as taking a hard look at the value of enterprise analysis on your farm.

February 20th will be spent looking at key production planning areas of farm management.  Speakers will address the outlook for inputs, best management practices for leasing or buying, and calculating your cost of production.  Additional sessions will focus on the CAUV property tax production formula and converting your farm to natural gas.

The final session of the series on February 27 will conclude with a day full of guest speakers who will offer options for “taking your farm a different direction” to complement commodity production.  The buffet of topics will include transitioning to organic, swine production, agri-tourism, barley production in Ohio, and non-GMO grain opportunities.

The total cost for the series is $60 or $20 per day session if pre-registered by February 1.  Registration after the deadline will still be accepted but the cost goes up to $70 for the series or $25 per session. Registration includes materials and lunch.  Support for this series is provided in part by Farm Credit Mid America, Farmers & Merchants State Bank, Metamora State Bank, Sherwood State Bank and Ag Credit.  The farm management series will be held at the Robert Fulton Ag Center, 8770 State Route 108, Wauseon, Ohio 43567.  The registration form can be downloaded at www.fulton.osu.edu or call 419-337-9210 or email richer.5@osu.edu for more information.

 

 

New care standards for Ohio veal and dairy to begin in 2018

Written by Ellen Essman, Law Fellow, Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Veal and dairy producers in Ohio will be subject to new livestock care standards in 2018. Producers were first made aware of these changes when the Ohio Livestock Care Standards for veal, dairy and other species were originally adopted in September of 2011 after the passage of State Issue 2, a constitutional amendment that required Ohio to establish standards for the care of livestock. Since the new care standards make significant changes to the management of veal and dairy, producers were given a little more than six years to transition their facilities and practices accordingly. The new standards will be effective on January 1, 2018. Producers with veal calves and dairy cattle are encouraged to understand the regulations and make the required changes to their operations by January 1.

Changes to veal regulations
The regulations for veal address housing for veal calves weighing 750 pounds or less. Currently, veal calves may be tethered or non-tethered in stalls of a minimum of 2 feet x 5.5 feet. Next year, the following housing standards will apply:
– Tethering will be permitted only to prevent naval and cross sucking and as restraint for examinations, treatments and transit, if:
– The tether is long enough to allow the veal calf to stand, groom, eat, lie down comfortably and rest in a natural posture;
– The tether’s length and collar size is checked every other week and adjusted as necessary.
– Individual pens must allow for quality air circulation, provide opportunity for socialization, allow calves to stand without impediment, provide for normal resting postures, grooming, eating and lying down, and must be large enough to allow calves to turn around.
– By the time they are ten weeks old, veal calves must be housed in group pens. The regulations currently require that group pens meet the above standards required for individual pens and also must contain at least two calves with a minimum area of 14 square feet per calf, must separate calves of substantially different sizes and that calves must be monitored daily for naval and cross sucking and be moved to individual pens or provided other intervention for naval or cross sucking.
The veal regulations, including both the current rules and the rules that will become effective January 1, are available here.

Changes to dairy cattle regulations
There is only one change to the dairy care standards. As of January 1, docking the tails of dairy cattle will only be permissible if:
– Performed by a licensed veterinarian; and
– Determined to be medically necessary.
The dairy cattle standards, including the current tail docking rule and the rule that becomes effective January 1, are here.

More information is also available in this press release recently published by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and on the website for Ohio’s Livestock Care Stand

Sharpen Management Skills through Farm Management School

by: Amanda Douridas: Extension Educator

Managing your farm business is always important but the difference in just doing it and doing it well can be big during challenging times. When commodity prices are down, it is crucial to understand your balance sheet, maintain a good relationship with your lender and carefully consider budgets for next year. These topics will be covered during a 5 night Farm Management School in Urbana, Ohio beginning in December.

During the first session, learn how to properly complete your end of year balance sheet from Greg Knight with Civista Bank and Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension, will provide tips on tax issues that make the most sense for your farm business. During the next session, a panel of agricultural lenders will talk about what they would like to see from farmers before making a loan and will answer questions from the participants.

Legal issues can be very specific to agriculture and also very complicated. Peggy Kirk Hall, OSU Extension Agricultural Law Specialist, will discuss the legal issues that are most important to the class. Another complicated issue that can be difficult to make a decision on is healthcare. The fourth session will focus on the issues farmers face with healthcare and a healthcare professional will cover any changes and updates to the current system.

Lastly, Barry Ward, OSU Extension, will talk about commodity budgets for 2018 and take a look at cash flow to help you prepare for the 2018 season.

The session dates are Dec 6, 20, and Jan 3, 17 and 31. They begin at 5:30 pm with dinner and the program will run 6-8:00 pm. The cost to attend is $50 per farm and RSVPs are due Nov 27. Class space is limited so register early. Download the registration flyer at http://go.osu.edu/agevents. Childcare is available for $10 for the first child and $5 for each additional per night due day of. For questions about the program or to register with a credit card, please contact Amanda Douridas at 937-484-1526 or douridas.9@osu.edu.

U.S. Senate passes changes to federal Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act

Written by Ellen Essman, Law Fellow, Agricultural & Resource Law Program

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill sponsored by Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman that intends to improve the federal response to water pollution by amending the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998.  Senate Bill 1057 will now move on to the House of Representatives for debate.

What are harmful algal blooms and hypoxia?

The EPA defines harmful algal blooms as “overgrowths of algae in water,” some of which “produce dangerous toxins in fresh or marine water.” The toxins can be dangerous for humans and animals. One major contributor to algal blooms is an excess of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water.  Hypoxiacan also be caused by too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water. The EPA defines hypoxia as “low oxygen” in water. Hypoxia sometimes goes hand-in-hand with algal blooms, because as algae dies, it uses oxygen, which in turn removes oxygen from the water. Algal blooms and hypoxia have been a problem in Lake Erie and other parts of the country.

Background of the law

The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act was passed in 1998 in response to harmful algal blooms and hypoxia along the coast of the United States. When passing the law, Congress cited scientists who said both problems were caused by “excessive nutrients.” Furthermore, Congress found that harmful algal blooms had caused animal deaths, health and safety threats, and “an estimated $1,000,000,000 in economic losses” in the previous decade.

The law established an interagency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia (Task Force), which was charged with submitting an assessment to Congress on the “ecological and economic consequences” of both harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. The assessments were to include “alternatives for reducing, mitigating, and controlling” harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. A number of other reports and assessments were also required, which were to all culminate in a plan to combat and reduce the impacts of harmful algal blooms. Additionally, the Act singled out the areas of the Northern Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. For these two areas, the Act required additional progress reports and mitigation plans.

The Act has undergone a few amendments throughout the years. The amendments have expanded and/or renewed the duties of the Task Force and other state and federal actors. Most notably, amendments in 2014 created the national harmful algal bloom and hypoxia program (Program) and a comprehensive research plan and action strategy. Under the Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was charged with administering funding to programs combatting algal blooms and hypoxia, working with state, local, tribal, and international governments to research and address algal blooms and hypoxia, and supervising the creation and review of the action strategy, among other duties. The action strategy identified the “specific activities” that the Program should carry out, which activities each agency in the Task Force would be responsible for, and the parts of the country where even more specific research and activities addressing algal blooms and hypoxia would be necessary.

What changes are proposed?

SB 1057 would make a number of changes and additions to the current law. Overall, the goal of the bill seems to be to strengthen the federal government’s ability to research and respond to water pollution in the form of algal blooms and hypoxia. The most important amendments in the bill would:

  • Add the Army Corps of Engineers to the list of agencies on the Task Force.
  • Combine the sections on freshwater and coastal algal blooms, and require that scientific assessments be submitted to Congress every five years for both types of water.
  • Establish a website that would provide information about the harmful algal bloom and hypoxia program (Program) activities to “local and regional stakeholders.”
  • Require the Task Force to work with extension programs to promote the Program and “improve public understanding” about harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.
  • Require the use of “cost effective methods” when carrying out the law.
  • Require the development of “contingency plans for the long-term monitoring of hypoxia.”
  • Fund the Program and the comprehensive research plan and action strategy from 2019 through 2023.

Most importantly, SB 1057 would add a completely new section to the law that would allow federal officials to “determine whether a hypoxia or harmful algal bloom event is an event of national significance.” Under the new language, the federal official can independently determine that such an event is occurring, or the Governor of an affected state can request that a determination to be made.

When making the determination, the federal official would have to take a number of factors into consideration including:

  • Toxicity of the harmful algal bloom;
  • Severity of the hypoxia;
  • Potential to spread;
  • Economic impact;
  • Relative size in relation to the past five occurrences of harmful algal blooms or hypoxia events that occur on a recurrent or annual basis; and
  • Geographic scope, including the potential to affect several municipalities, to affect more than one State, or to cross an international boundary.

Finally, in the case an event of national significance is found, the the federal official would have the power to give money to the affected state or locality to mitigate the damages. However, SB 1057 states that the federal share of money awarded cannot be more than 50% of the cost of any activity. The federal official would have the power to accept donations of “funds, services, facilities, materials, or equipment” to supplement the federal money.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Text and information on SB 1057 is available here. To read the current law, click here. For further information on water pollution, check out the EPA’s pages on harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.

Proposal extends hunting and fishing license exemptions for grandchildren

By: Peggy Hall, Agricultural Law Specialist, OSUExtension

A bill in Ohio’s House of Representatives proposes amending Ohio’s hunting and fishing laws to expand exemptions from hunting, fishing and trapping licenses for grandchildren of landowners.

House Bill 272, sponsored by Rep. Householder (R—Glenford) and Rep. Kick (R—Loudonville) proposes a change to current law, which permits grandchildren to hunt, fish or trap on their grandparent’s land without a license only up to the age of 18.  The proposal revises the law to allow grandchildren “of any age” to be exempt from licensing requirements when hunting, fishing or trapping on their grandparent’s land.

The bill also extends hunting and fishing privileges to veterans. The proposed legislation would provide a partially disabled veteran the same free hunting and fishing license privilege currently afforded to a veteran with a total disability.

“Hunting and fishing are family activities,” said Rep. Householder upon introducing the bill. “They should be enjoyed without government intrusion.”

H.B. 272 is currently before the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is available for viewing here.