Farm Office Live Webinar Slated for Thursday, June 11 at 9:00 a.m.

OSU Extension is pleased to be offering the a “Farm Office Live” session on Thursday morning, June 11 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.  Farmers, educators, and ag industry professionals are invited to log-on for the latest updates on the issues impact our farm economy.

The session will begin with the Farm Office Team answering questions asked over the two weeks.  Topics to be highlighted include:

  • Updates on the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program
  • Prevent Plant Update
  • Business & Industry CARES Act Program
  • EIDL Update
  • CFAP- update on beef classifications and commodity contract eligibility
  • Dicamba Court Decision Update
  • Other legal and economic issues

Plenty of time has been allotted for questions and answers from attendees. Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss the on-line office hours, the session recording can be accessed at farmoffice.osu.edu the following day.  Participants can pre-register or join in on Thursday morning at  https://go.osu.edu/farmofficelive 

 

Farm Office Live Session Slated for Thursday, May 14 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.

OSU Extension is pleased to be offering the a “Farm Office Live” session on Thursday morning , May 14 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.  Farmers, educators, and ag industry professionals are invited to log-on for the latest updates on the issues impact our farm economy.

The session will begin with the Farm Office Team answering questions asked over the ten days.  Topics to be highlighted include:

  • Updates on the CARES Act, Payroll Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Update
  • Corn and soybean budgets
  • Supply and demand balance sheets
  • Other legal and economic issues

Plenty of time has been allotted for questions and answers from attendees. Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss the on-line office hours, the session recording can be accessed at farmoffice.osu.edu the following day.  Participants can pre-register or join in on Thursday morning at  https://go.osu.edu/farmofficelive 

COVID-19……Changing the Way We Do Business on the Farm

by, Mike Estadt, Agriculture Extension Educator in Pickaway County

The State of Ohio is starting the process of opening for business this week. Farms across Ohio never closed.  With developments recently with the food processing chain breaking down due to the COVID-19 virus one can easily see why it is vitally important to have contingency plans for disruptions to your business no matter how big or small.

Have you given serious thought to what would happen to your farm or agricultural business if you or a key employee(s) were to become ill due to the coronavirus or for that matter any health related event that would prevent you from getting your crop planted, managed through the growing season or harvested in the fall?

In response to this scenario Dr. Dee Jepsen, State Safety Program Leader and Lisa Pfeifer, Educational Program Manager, Agricultural Safety & Health have authored a white paper entitled “Navigating COVID-19 on the Farm” with some excellent ideas and daily best management practices to mitigate risks on your farm.  This paper can be found at: https://u.osu.edu/ohioagmanager/2020/04/23/navigating-covid-19-on-the-farm-best-practices-for-daily-management-of-s-and-people/anitation-deliveries-equipment-repairs

Another great supporting document that should be part of every farm, nursery, and ranch is an operational plan in the case of an emergency.  Quite often the details of complicated farm operations are known only be one person, the farmer.  Tyler Williams, Cropping Systems Extension Educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has developed two comprehensive fillable Word documents for row crop and cow-calf producers available at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2020/farm-operations-plans

 

 

We are In This Together

bySarah Noggle, Extension Educator, ANR, Paulding County & Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County

Daily, farmers are taxed with challenges. We think of farmers as superheroes.  Superheroes have some sort of extraordinary power, but at times their shield is not enough to deal with what is coming their way. The weakness Superman had was kryptonite, and like Superman, farmers usually can only fight off so many scenarios being thrown at them.  The day-to-day tasks of managing a farm can cause stress and frustrations.  Add to this the impact of COVID-19 on farm commodities, and it’s obvious the strain takes its toll on everyone.

Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University Extension, shares stress and mental health, management tips.

Why is it that some farmers can handle lots of stress and others very little? Researchers who have examined differences between successful and unsuccessful stress managers have identified three key factors. First, individuals vary in their capacity to tolerate stress. For example, prolonged exertion and fatigue that would be only mildly stressful to a young farmer but may prove very difficult for an older farmer or someone with a heart defect.  Emergencies on the farm, delays, and other problems that a confident farmer takes in stride may be a stumbling block for one who feels inadequate. While part of an individual’s stress tolerance is inborn, a crucial part depends on the quality of coping skills practiced. Learning to cope successfully with a stressor once makes it easier the next time.

A second factor is feeling in control. Successful stress managers know how to accept those stressors out of their control – the weather, their height, stock market fluctuations – and how to effectively manage those stresses within their control – such as neck tension, temper flare-ups, or record keeping.

Finally, the attitudes, perceptions, and meanings that people assign to events determine a large part of their stress levels. A person has to perceive a situation as stressful or threatening to experience stress. If you think your dog is barking in the middle of the night because of a vandal, you will experience more stress than if you suspect a skunk has wandered into your yard.

Stress can be defined as energy in a blocked or chaotic state. Individuals should seek to develop calm, free-flowing energy that promotes harmony and balance in a person’s body, psyche, and soul. To relax and manage stresses well during peak farm/ranch stress seasons – planting and harvesting – takes discipline and daily practice at controlling events, attitudes, and responses.

Following are some techniques individuals may adopt to gain control.

Control Events

Plan ahead. Don’t procrastinate.

  • Before planting and harvest, discuss who can be available to run for parts, care for livestock, etc.
  • Set priorities about what has to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow. Plan your time.
  • Say no to extra commitments that you do not have time to do.

Control Attitudes

  • See the big picture: “I’m glad that tire blew out here rather than on that next hill.”
  • List all the stresses you now have. Identify those you can change; accept the ones you cannot change.
  • Shift your focus from worrying to problem-solving.
  • Think about how to turn your challenges into opportunities.
  • Notice what you have accomplished rather than what you failed to do.
  • Set realistic goals and expectations daily. Give up trying to be perfect.

Control Responses

  • Focus on relaxing your body and mind. Keep only that muscle tension necessary to accomplish the task.
  • Tune in to your body. Notice any early signs of stress and let them go.
  • Take care of your body. Exercise regularly and eat well-balanced meals.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes, using alcohol or other drugs, or using tranquilizers or sleeping pills.
  • If your health allows, tense and then relax each part of your body from toes to head, one section at a time.
  • Take a break. Climb down from your tractor and do a favorite exercise.
  • Take three deep breaths – slowly, easily. Let go of unnecessary stress.
  • Stop to reflect or daydream for 10 minutes. Close your eyes, and take a short mental vacation to a place you enjoy. See the sights; hear the sounds; smell the smells. Enjoy. Then go back to work feeling refreshed.
  • Think positive thoughts: “I can and will succeed.”
  • Look for the humor in things that you do.
  • Find someone with whom you can talk about your worries and frustrations.
  • Seek help when you need it. There are times when all of us can benefit from professional advice or support.

Seeking Help

Depending upon your situation, having a friend or relative to share your concerns may suffice.  Other times, you may benefit most from a trained professional.  The following are resources we hope you find useful.

So remember, like Superman, farmers can’t always hold up their shield to fight off all the scenarios being thrown at them. It’s okay to don your cape and reach out. Mental health challenges affect one in four adults according to a survey conducted by the World Health Organization in 2017. Even in our rural communities, there are sources of help. Additionally, reach out to OSU Extension in any of the 88 counties and we can point you in the right direction.

 

 

Navigating COVID-19 on the Farm – Best practices for Daily Management of Sanitation, Deliveries, Equipment Repairs, and People

by:  Lisa Pfeifer, Educational Program Manager, Agricultural Safety & Health & Dee Jepsen, PhD, Associate Professor and State Safety Program Leader, Agricultural Safety & Health

Click here for a PDF version of this article

Practices for limiting exposure and risks related to coronavirus.

While agriculture has been a part of the essential work that continues to hum with a focus on keeping our food supply chains open amid stay at home orders, it is important not to lose sight of the fact business as usual will demand course correction and new plans to keep family and employees safe, and farms operable and secure. Information changes quickly in the face of the unknowns of this pandemic, but one prediction that has remained stable is the timeline for a vaccine. It will be 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is available, necessitating plans to see farms through spring planting, summer, harvest, winter, and spring a second time. To delve into some ideas on how to navigate a normal workday on the farm in the face of a public health emergency and an economic crisis it will take thinking outside of the box and a commitment to change some rote behavior and practice.

Where do can an individual farm or operation start?

Start by examining and planning for four areas of concern.

  • Contingency
  • Keeping Family and Employees Safe
  • Equipment Use and Sanitation
  • Deliveries and On-Site Custom Services

Contingency plans or continuity of business plans keep operations running smoothly in case of any disruption. According to a current online poll conducted by DTN and data analytics company Farm Market iD, more than 69% of farmers polled don’t have a prepared backup plan should they become sick with the virus themselves. Farms need a plan for the foreseeable future, until a vaccine is widely available. Farmers plan for herd management, crop rotation, inputs, cash flow, and equipment repair. Contingency planning will just become another part of the arsenal of best management practices, otherwise a cascade of failures may result, including:

  • Insufficient operational resources
  • Loss of workforce
  • Workers who might not be adequately trained for tasks
  • Lack of someone with operational knowledge
  • Crop or product waste

Contingency Planning

Prepare written documentation of your business operations in case of illness. Communicate the plan to family or another person who can step in during a time of need. Identify the critical functions of all sectors of your business.

  • Agronomic
  • Livestock
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Human Resources

Make sure you walk through different scenarios for the farm. Include contacts for veterinary care, equipment service, feed and seed supply. Map out the farm property, including all rented ground and buildings. Note whether or not you have any tenants in housing and what the agreements are for payment.

A small farm the owner may be the sole operator, or alternatively the sole caregivers should a spouse or family member fall ill, putting that operation at greater risk if a disruption occurs.

Do the employees or neighbors identified to help have the necessary understanding of the operation and the appropriate training to do the job? Do they have access to the all needed information? Like passwords to important accounts. Can bills be paid? Gates unlocked? Are keys needed for any equipment?

Keeping Family and Employees Safe

Start with the basics, all of the CDC guidelines — thorough hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick. Then build from there.

  • Make sure to provide a place where employees can wash hands and have disposable towels available.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for remote locations.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible.
  • Discourage sharing of any food or beverages.
  • Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment, and other elements of the work environment.

Post easy to follow guidelines for your employees in commonly utilized spaces. The CDC has printable resources online. Talk with employees about coronavirus to gauge their understanding and concerns. Keeping communications lines open will help each operation refine and make changes to new procedures.

Establish plans of work for employees built around health and safety considerations.

  • Assign jobs/tasks that can be done without the presence of another, if possible.
  • Instruct employees to physically distance six feet if a shared worksite is necessary.
  • Remember workers may be asymptomatic and physically difficult work activity can cause spread of droplets outside the recommended six feet of distancing. Take special precautions when assigning heavy labor tasks.
  • Utilize separate transportation.
  • Consider grouping employees to work in teams, to limit individual exposure.

Levels of risk associated with various jobs workers perform can differ and consideration must be given to where, how, and to what sources of coronavirus might workers be exposed. This will allow for appropriate plans to be made and protective mechanisms to be put in place in advance of those exposures. Will an employee come into contact with the general public, customers, elevator or ag business employees, on-site service providers, or coworkers? What about off of the farm in non-work environments? Do some of your employees face high exposure risks at home because of a spouse’s work setting?

Keeping family and employees safe will require the establishment of protocols for sanitizing common gathering places like the shop, lunch areas, and offices spaces on the farm property. Cleaning and disinfecting high touch areas like — door handles, phones, keyboards, light switches, monitors/touchpads, faucets/sinks, and restroom areas.

Equipment Use and Sanitation Plans

Knowing an optimal equipment use plan would allow for a single operator to reduce virus spread, what protocols can you put in place on your farm?

The goal should be to put steps in place to:

  • Eliminate ride sharing in all vehicles if possible
  • Sanitize each operator cabin upon entry and departure
  • Provide cleaning supplies for each tractor/employee

On all tractors and equipment, touch points should be sanitized. Include exterior handrails or grab bars, doorknobs or handles, the steering wheel, controls, handles to open windows, the key or start button, and the seat. Consider exterior equipment points with high touches as well, like hydraulic connections, hitch pins, 3-point hitch connection points, and the PTO.

For soft or porous surfaces such as tractor seats remove visible dirt and clean with appropriate cleaners, allowing for dry times between users. If dry times will put equipment out of rotation for too long, consider covering operator seats with a trash bag and changing between each operator. Get creative in how you can engineer protections around the farm.

Deliveries and On-Site Custom Services

Identify and coordinate a drop-off location for supplier deliveries, away from on-farm high traffic areas and housing. Create specific instructions for drop-off deliveries.

  • Provide the location and all procedures needed at the drop-off point.
  • Create signage to easily identify drop-off points.
  • List all point of contacts with contact information to assist with questions leading up to delivery and upon arrival.
  • Practice distancing with delivery drivers. Avoiding personal interaction is best.

When an outside source will be providing on-site services make a plan before their arrival. Instruct technicians, mechanics, and applicators to utilize their own transportation to and from the field if the work or service is to be performed off site.

Reference Materials

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

Steps on the Farm to Manage COVID-19, https://www.ncga.com/stay-informed/media/in-the-news/article/2020/03/steps-on-the-farm-to-manage-covid-19

On Farm Biosecurity to Keep Us and Employees Safe, https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2020-08/farm-biosecurity-keep-us-and-employees-safe#.XpSH-39bwpI.twitter

COVID-19 Guidance for farm employers, https://farms.extension.wisc.edu/covid-19-guidance-for-farm-employers/?fbclid=IwAR0eWUgzsqbqEkYP4hWt2gVE8QRH5ca-Jzdwpd5NA6icCrM0uXCfYZzxTj4

Six possible impacts of COVID-19 on farming, https://www.morningagclips.com/six-possible-impacts-of-covid-19-on-farming/?fbclid=IwAR01wkTg6AKfxikpQs-PKsaIcVMKsybNFYRq2ERMzzlV1YBNnL6XQiomubQ

Planning for a Pandemic, https://www.ocj.com/2020/04/planning-for-a-pandemic/

Health insurance options for farm families

Press Release from the National Farm Medicine Center March 30, 2020:

Health insurance options for farm families

Many farm families rely on off-farm jobs for health insurance, and the sudden layoffs and furloughs might mean that farm families are losing their coverage unexpectedly. Other families, who have not had insurance, might be looking to purchase a plan in these uncertain times.

Health insurance marketplaces and eligibility criteria for public coverage vary from one state to another, but a search for coverage could start by contacting an insurance agent, or checking your state’s health insurance exchange https://www.healthcare.gov/.

“Loss of job-based health insurance coverage is a qualifying event to purchase coverage outside of the open enrollment period and this can be a cheaper alternative to paying for continuation of employer-based health coverage through COBRA,” said Florence Becot, Ph.D., a rural sociologist and associate scientist with the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Marshfield, Wis.

Furthermore, said Becot, because of the extraordinary nature of COVID-19, as of March 26, 11 states have re-opened their health insurance exchange for a special enrollment period (California, ColoradoConnecticutMarylandMassachusetts, Minnesota, NevadaNew YorkRhode Island, Vermont, and Washington). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also considering opening a special enrollment period for the 32 states that are run by the federal government.

Becot also suggests checking out the Health Insurance, Rural Economic Development and Agriculture website (HirednAg), for more information on tools and resources about health insurance for the agricultural sector.

Becot’s research program focuses on the health, well-being, safety, and economic viability of farm families.

CONTACT: Scott Heiberger
Heiberger.Scott@marshfieldresearch.org
715-389-7541

 

OSU Extension to Host Two Northwest Ohio Farm Transition Programs

by: Eric Richer, OSU Extension Fulton County & Sarah Noggle, OSU Extension Paulding County

Are you interested in starting the conversation for a successful farm transition to the next generation?  OSU Extension in Northwest Ohio is holding two separate but identical farm transition meetings to assist farmers in navigating the farm transition process.

The first night will focus on the senior generation (all are invited) including estate and Medicaid planning, communication through the process, farm financial affairs and vision/management transition. The second night will focus on the next generation (all are invited) including entity formation and use in transition planning, a recap of wills & trusts, accounting implications like capital gains, gifting and share valuation, and committing to the process. Local legal and accounting professionals will be teaching sessions along with local county Extension educators.  For either program location, the cost is $20 per farm entity for both nights and including refreshments and materials.

In Fulton County, the 2-night program will be held at the Robert Fulton Ag Center, 8770 State Route 108, Wauseon, OH 43567 on January 28th and February 11th from 6:30-9:00 pm. If you are interested in the Fulton County program, download the registration form at www.go.osu.edu/fultonagprograms2020 or visit www.fulton.osu.edu. Pre-registration closes Friday, January 24th.

In Paulding County, the 2-night program will be held at the Paulding County Extension Office, 503 Fairgrounds Drive, Paulding, OH 45879 on February 20th and 27th from 6:30-9:00 pm. If you are interested in the Paulding County program, visit www.paulding.osu.edu for registration details. Pre-registration closes February 6.

Should I Continue Farming?

by:  Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR- Tuscarawas County

 It’s no secret that all of agriculture is suffering from years of low commodity prices and rising input costs. The economic struggles have affected you financially and physically. You’ve looked at the numbers, met with advisors, and talked to family.   The thought of selling part or your entire farm brings with it added worry and concern. What can you do?

Find someone you trust and with whom you feel comfortable discussing your situation. This person may not have many answers to your questions, but they can listen to your frustrations and worries. They may be able to help you sort through the confusion and develop a course of action. Think of your situation as a picture – a set of eyes looking at the picture from the outside may see things you can’t because you are caught up in the picture.

Understand that you are not alone. Nearly every farm and farm family is in a similar situation. Don’t live in the past or dwell on what could or should have been done. Take control of the situation and develop a plan for managing the things you are able to control.

Assessment

Evaluate your financial position by meeting with your lender to discuss options for restructuring debt. Can you extend the repayment terms to provide more cash flow? Contact your Extension Educator about completing a FINPACK analysis (https://farmprofitability.osu.edu/).

What are your Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, and Timed (SMART) goals? How are your goals similar and different from those of family and/or business partners?

Develop a list of your education, experiences, and skills. How can you use these in another career? What career opportunities fit you best?

Evaluation

If you come to the decision that selling all or part of your farm is the best option, there are several items to address. Begin with a balance sheet and other financial information to understand your present financial situation. Doing so will help you decide how much money (and approximate number of assets) you must sell. You may want to meet with an appraiser, auctioneer, or real estate professional for help determining the expected value of assets.

Professionals

Your attorney can answer questions and advise you about legal considerations related to a sale. An accountant will help minimize your tax liability and give an estimate of what you may expect to pay in taxes.

Help is Available

There are people and agencies/organizations that can help with the transition and the emotions that come with the sale. Clergy, licensed counselors, and medical professionals can help you cope. Other sources of help include:

Ohio State University Extension (extension.osu.edu)

National Suicide Prevention (1-800-273-8255)

National Alliance for Mental Illness (1-800-950-6264)

Ohio Workforce Training (ohio.gov/working/training)

Ohio Job & Family Services, Office of Workforce Development (jfs.ohio.gov/owd)

Additional Information

Coming to the decision to sell all or a part of your farm is not an easy decision. Find someone with good listening skills. Talk to professionals, reach out for help, get answers, and make the best possible decisions. More information about this subject is available at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-71.

 

Suggestions for Managing Stress

by: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources

You have faced several years of poor commodity prices, depressed milk prices, increased input costs, and wet weather. You have looked for areas to reduce costs, evaluated options, implemented changes…and the financial stress continues to take a toll on your physical and mental health. What can you do?

Mindset

According to the Michigan State University Extension publication “How to Create a Productive Mindset,”…The mind has 70,000 thoughts per day…that’s 70,000 opportunities. The brain is about two percent of your body weight – but uses 20 percent of your energy. Eighty percent of repetitive thoughts are negative, but don’t have to be.

In addition to the Michigan State University Extension publication mentioned earlier, Iowa State University Extension Dairy Specialists Dr. Fred Hall and Dr. Larry Tranel provide the following suggestions for coping with stress:

  • Self-Talk – remind yourself that you have been through difficult times before and will do so again.
  • Choose words like “calm”, “capable”, and “controlled” to maintain a positive mindset.
  • Use deep breathing – do this five times and release slowly.
  • Accept the situation and focus on solutions instead of focusing on the problem.
  • Avoid negative people.
  • Check in on your friends and family. Men generally don’t communicate as well as women. Phone calls or texts to friends and family are simple gestures that can be very comforting and meaningful.
  • Don’t shut out family – communicate with members about your worries and concerns. Family can provide support.

Advisory Team

Assemble a team of professionals to help you analyze your situation and provide suggestions. The team may include your veterinarian, nutritionist, agronomist, lender, accountant, attorney, and Extension Educator. Have these professionals come together to review your past performance, present situation, and goals for the near and short-term. Each professional brings a different perspective to the meeting based on his or her experiences and can be a valuable resource to analyze, answer questions, and provide recommendations.

Plan

What are your plans for the short-term and long-term? What Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, and Timed (SMART) goals will get you where you want to be? Do other members of your family share the same vision?

What if you decide to exit the dairy business? Do you have a written exit plan? There is life after exiting the business. Talk to your attorney and accountant about the sale and tax liabilities.

Seek Professional Help

There are trained counselors in or near your community available to help. These professionals provide confidential counseling and can suggest options to best manage your situation. Names of counselors available in your area are available by contacting your physician, local health department, pastor, or conducting an online search. Do not be ashamed to seek help!

Summary

The items presented here are not going to increase milk prices or lower input costs. However, understanding your mindset, assembling an advisory team, developing a plan, and, if necessary, reaching out to use the services of professional counselors can help you better understand your situation and make well-informed decisions.

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension Dairy Team, publications available at: https://dairy.osu.edu/

Helping Farm Men Under Crisis, Dr. Larry Tranel, Dairy Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Market Reality, Stress, and Grief, Dr. Fred Hall, Dairy Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

How to Cultivate a Productive Mindset, Michigan State University Extension, msue.msu.edu/managingstress

 

This article was originally published in the Farm and Dairy, February 28, 2019

 

Grain Marketing Webinars Offered

Do you want to do a better job of pricing your corn and soybeans? Is grain marketing a confusing and daunting task? If so, this webinar is for you!

Ohio State University Extension is offering a two-session webinar focused on helping farmers become better grain marketers. Participants will have a better understanding of risk, marketing tools, and the development of written marketing plans. These workshops are funded through a North Central Risk Management Education Grant.  Additional information can be found at http://go.osu.edu/grainplan.

Participants will learn to identify their personal risk tolerance and their farm’s financial risk capacity. Both of these are important in developing a successful grain marketing plan. Participants will also learn how crop insurance products effect marketing decisions and effect risk capacity. Grain marketing consists of understanding and managing many pieces of information. Information on the different grain marketing contracts will be presented. These include basis, hedging, cash, futures, and option contracts.  Additionally, participants will be provided an example of a grain marketing plan and the fundamental principles that should be included.

The courses will be offered on two consecutive Tuesdays, starting on March 12, 2019.  For specific times, as well as program registration instruction, go to http://go.osu.edu/grainwebinar. Cost for the program is $30.00.

To request additional information or have questions answered, contact Amanda Bennett at 937-440-3945 or at bennett.709@osu.edu