Are Starlink Satellites the Solution to Rural Internets Setbacks? 

By: Andrew Holden, Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, The Ohio State University Extension

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to provide you with information about a new internet service technology and is not an endorsement of the company or their services. I hope that this information will assist you in making informed decisions and help you learn more about the importance of high-speed internet for rural communities.  

Slow internet can frustrate almost anyone, but if you live in a rural area, slow internet, if any, can often be your only choice. The lack of highspeed internet access has been a concern for many years in rural America. While companies slowly improve service and governmental programs try to address these issues, many rural residents are left waiting for faster internet that can’t come soon enough. One company that is attempting to close this digital divide is SpaceX, with their high-speed satellite internet system called Starlink. While Starlink is just beginning to roll out service, the initial results appear to be promising.

Rural communities and Tribal lands have far less access to high-speed internet compared to those in more populated areas. The Federal Communications Commission considers high-speed broadband internet as being able to provide 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. According to the FCC’s, 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, “22.3% of Americans in rural areas and 27.7% of Americans in Tribal lands lack coverage from fixed terrestrial 25/3 Mbps broadband, as compared to only 1.5% of Americans in urban areas”. Those without high-speed internet access can often be categorized under the phrase ‘last mile’ customers. The last mile problem can be described as the customers at the end of the communication line that are more expensive to reach and located farther apart. As unfortunate as it is, in basic terms, companies would rather run a mile of infrastructure in an area that will yield 25 customers than run a mile for just one customer. Diminishing returns leads to internet companies being unwilling to improve internet in rural areas, as well as less competition for existing providers.

The impact of the digital divide can be felt across the US by those living in small and rural towns. Many aspects of modern life are affected by access to high-speed internet, including education, healthcare, entertainment, and employment. In a report from Michigan State University’s Quello Center, students with slow or limited internet access lacked digital skills and performed lower on standardized tests. In addition to education, 2020 highlighted the future of working remotely and virtual healthcare appointments which rely on faster internet. Rural businesses, from farms to manufacturing, benefit from better internet speeds as well, making it quicker to send and receive information. As technology improves and expands, more people in rural areas are slowly receiving better internet services, but one company that may have the ability to close the gap seemingly overnight is SpaceX.

SpaceX, short for the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, is an aerospace manufacturer founded by Elon Musk. Musk is also the founder of the popular electric  vehicle company Tesla Motors. One of SpaceX’s business endeavors is providing satellite internet access via a satellite consolation called Starlink. This isn’t like the traditional satellite internet that has been offered over the years. Starlink uses satellites in low Earth orbit that allow for shorter distances and speeds over 100 mbps for those in the beta testing program. Speeds like that would be a huge improvement for almost anyone in a rural area and can be offered remotely to the hardest to reach places. In February, Starlink opened pre-orders to the public and has been slowly filling orders ever since. With the high demand for the service, many orders are slated to be filled by the end of 2021 depending on your location. The current advertised cost for the service is $99.00 per month with the hardware, including a small satellite dish and a router, for a $499.00 onetime payment. On their website Starlink states service will be offered on a first come, first served basis, and is currently taking $100 down payments to get in line for the service. If you are interested in seeing if service is available in your area, or signing up yourself, you can visit www.Starlink.com to do so.

Will Starlink satellites be the solution to our rural internet woes? When considering access to high-speed internet service in rural areas, one thing that has historically lacked were options to choose from. Starlink will provide another option, or possibly the first option, to those living with poor to no access to internet and may solve the last mile problem for many rural communities. Even those who do not use Starlink’s service could benefit from the competition that will encourage traditional internet providers to improve their infrastructure and speeds. Rural communities here in Ohio and across the United States could benefit greatly with better internet access and Starlink is on its way to providing it.

2020 Broadband Deployment Report: https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progress-reports/2020-broadband-deployment-report

Poor Internet connection leaves rural students behind: https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2020/poor-internet-connection-leaves-rural-students-behind#:~:text=Slow%20Internet%20connections%20or%20limited,college%20admissions%20and%20career%20opportunities.

 

 

 

 

Ask the Expert Sessions to Be Held Live During 2020 Farm Science Review

by: David Marrison, Jeff Workman & Chris Bruynis

For the first time in its nearly 60 year history, Ohio State’s Farm Science Review scheduled for September 22 -24 will not be held in-person.  Instead, a virtual show will be held and the Review will come to you on your laptop or smartphone this year, and for free.  You can watch live streamed talks and recorded videos featuring the latest farm equipment and research to pique your curiosity.

Virtual visitors can find out about the show’s offerings by going to fsr.osu.edu and clicking on an image of the show’s site. Within that image, people can click on the various icons to find the schedules for talks and demos they’re most interested in, such as field demonstrations or “Ask the Expert” talks.

Among the livestreamed talks will be Ask the Expert presentations. Viewers will enter the talks through a Zoom meeting link and be able to post their questions in chat boxes. If you miss any, you can check back after the talks to watch the recordings.

The 20 minute “Ask the Expert” presentations at Farm Science Review are one segment of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the College of Veterinary Medicine comprehensive Extension Education efforts during the three days of the Farm Science Review. Our experts will share science-based recommendations and solutions to the issues people are facing regarding weather impacts, tariffs, veterinarian medicine, and low commodity prices.

Topics for talks at FSR this year include the risks of transmitting COVID-19 to your animals, the prospects of U.S. agricultural exports abroad, increasing profits from small grains by planting double crops, climate trends, managing cash flow on the farm, farm stress, and rental rates on agricultural land.

To access all prerecorded and livestreamed talks at Farm Science Review, sign up on or after Sept. 8 at fsr.osu.edu.

Click here for a PDF copy of the 2020 FSR Ask the Expert full schedule

A complete list of the Ask the Expert Session are as follows:

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Talk on Friday Avenue

Value Chains in Food and Agriculture

9:30-10:30 a.m.

Keeping Backyard Poultry Healthy

Tim McDermott DVM

10:40-11:00 a.m.

Crop Inputs & Margins: Challenges for this Year and Next

Barry Ward

11:00-11:20 a.m.

Farm Stress-Finding the Sunshine in the Storm

Sarah Noggle

11:20-11:40 a.m.

COVID-19: What are the risks to my animals and to myself?

Scott Kenney

11:40-12:00 p.m.

Weather is Always on my Mind

Aaron Wilson

12:00-12:20 p.m.

How to Get $4 Corn

Ben Brown

12:20-12:40 p.m.

Farm neighbor laws: Can we all just get along?

Peggy Hall

12:40-1:00 p.m.

Prospects for US Exports: Pandemic vs. the Phase 1 Agreement with China

Ian Sheldon

1:00-1:20 p.m.

Increasing Small Grains Profitability with Double Crops

Eric Richer

1:20-1:40 p.m.

Making Sense of the Modeling of Infectious Diseases

Rebecca Garabed VMD

1:40-2:00 p.m.

Ohio Cropland Values & Cash Rents: Is Change Coming?

Barry Ward

2:00-2:20 p.m.

Farm CFO: Doing More Than a Tax Return

Bruce Clevenger

2:20-2:40 p.m.

COVID-19: Impacts on Workers and the Food Supply or Where’s the beef? How COVID-19 is altering animal agriculture

Gustavo Schuenemann

DVM 2:40-3:00 p.m.

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Weather is Always on my Mind

Aaron Wilson

10:00-10:20 a.m.

Farming through COVID

Chris Zoller & Dee Jepsen

10:20-10:40 a.m.

Fly Control Issues–Don’t Get Pinkeye!

Jeff Lakritz DVM

10:40-11:00 a.m.

Working Capital-More money going out than coming in, what do I do?

Dianne Shoemaker

11:00-11:20 a.m.

Water Quality and Nutrient Management-Can we make more money and avoid regulation?

Greg LaBarge

11:20-11:40 a.m.

Farm Stress-Finding the Sunshine in the Storm

Sarah Noggle

11:40-12:00 p.m.

Crop Inputs & Margins: Challenges for this Year and Next

Barry Ward

12:00-12:20 p.m.

The Happy ½ Hour on the Economics of Malting Barley in Ohio

Mike Estadt

12:20-12:40 p.m.

Keeping Backyard Poultry Healthy

Tim McDermott DVM

12:40-1:00 p.m.

How to Get $4 Corn

Ben Brown

1:00-1:20 p.m.

COVID-19: What are the risks to my animals and to myself?

Scott Kenney

1:20-1:40 p.m.

Micro Business Data Management

Sid Dasgupta

1:40-2:00 p.m.

Farm neighbor laws: Can we all just get along?

Peggy Hall

2:00-2:20 p.m.

Economics of Parasite Control and Drug Resistance

Antoinette Marsh DVM

2:20-2:40 p.m.

Are you ready for the hearse to arrive?

David Marrison

2:40-3:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Keeping Horses Healthy: The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be

Eric Schroeder DVM

10:00-10:20 a.m.

Making Sense of the Modeling of Infectious Diseases

Rebecca Garabed VMD

10:20-10:40 a.m.

Increasing Small Grains Profitability with Double Crops

Eric Richer

10:40-11:00 a.m.

COVID-19: Impacts on Workers and the Food Supply or Where’s the beef? How COVID-19 is altering animal agriculture

Gustavo Schuenemann, DVM

11:00-11:20 a.m.

Are you ready for the hearse to arrive?

David Marrison

11:20-11:40 a.m.

Working Capital-More money going out than coming in, what do I do?

Dianne Shoemaker

11:40-12:00 p.m.

How to Get $4 Corn

Ben Brown

12:00-12:20 p.m.

Ohio Cropland Values & Cash Rents: Is Change Coming?

Barry Ward

12:20-12:40 p.m.

Weather is Always on my Mind

Aaron Wilson

12:40-1:00 p.m.

Farm neighbor laws: Can we all just get along?

Peggy Hall

1:00-1:20 p.m.

COVID-19: What are the risks to my animals and to myself?

Scott Kenney

1:20-1:40 p.m.

Hay ewe, No hay-No way?

Alejandro Relling

1:40-2:00 p.m.

For more information about the Ask the Expert Sessions, contact David Marrison, OSU Extension Educator at marrison.2@osu.edu

Rory Lewandowski Set to Retire from OSU Extension

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Wayne County, is retiring from Ohio State University Extension on July 29, 2020.  Rory has served agricultural clientele in Guernsey, Noble,  Athens, and Wayne Counties during his twenty years with Ohio State University Extension.

As an Extension Educator and Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), Rory focused much of his teaching on forages, pesticide use, nutrient management, and farm financial management.  Rory worked tirelessly to serve the needs of his clientele.  Farmers locally and across Ohio benefitted from his knowledge and expertise.  His ability to make every lesson unique and meet the needs of his audience is commendable.

Rory was a member of the Ohio Joint Council of Extension Professionals, National Association of County Agricultural Agents, Epsilon Sigma Phi National Extension Fraternity, Ohio Sheep Industry Association, and Ohio Cattleman’s Association.  Rory was recognized with numerous awards for his exemplary teaching, research, and service, including the Steven D. Ruhl Award for Outstanding Teaching, Leadership, and Service from Ohio State University Extension; Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents; Mid-Career Award from Epsilon Sigma Phi; and the Ohio Sheep Industry Distinguished Service Award.  In addition, Rory was recognized by his professional associations for his outstanding teaching, winning eleven awards.

Rory and his wife Marcia have accepted a three-year assignment in Cambodia with the Mennonite Central Committee.  They will focus on peace and justice as they help people learn to work out their differences as opposed to resorting to violence.  This is not their first experience with the Mennonite Central Committee, having served in Bolivia from 1989 – 1992 and 1996-2000.

Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with Rory are better because of his teaching, leadership, and friendship.  His efforts have made an impact on the communities he has served, and he will carry his style of servant leadership into retirement.

In keeping with Rory’s wishes, an in-person gathering will not be held.  However, anyone interested in sharing memories, pictures, stories or well wishes may do so by clicking on this link: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/yIDiZU6S

We wish Rory the best in his retirement!

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.