The Ag Law Harvest

By: Ellen Essman, Senior Research Associate Tuesday, September 29th, 2020
In case you didn’t notice, we are deep into the election season.  Discussion of Supreme Court vacancies, presidential debates, and local races abound.  Even with all the focus on the election, the rest of the world hasn’t stopped. The same is true for ag law.  This edition of the Harvest includes a discussion of ag-related bills moving through the Ohio General Assembly, federal lawsuits involving herbicides and checkoff programs, and some wiggle room for organic producers who have had a hard time getting certified with all the pandemic-related backups and shutdowns.

Changes to Ohio Drainage Law considered in Senate—The Ohio Senate’s Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee continues to hold hearings on HB 340, a bill that would revise drainage laws.  The bill was passed in the house on June 9, 2020.  The 157-page bill would amend the current drainage law by making changes to the process for proposing, approving, and implementing new drainage improvements, whether the petition is filed with the board of the Soil and Water Conservation District, the board of county commissioners, or with multiple counties to construct a joint county drainage improvement.  The bill would further apply the single county maintenance procedures and procedures for calculating assessments for maintenance to multi-county ditches and soil and water conservation districts.  You can find the current language of the bill, along with a helpful analysis of the bill, here.

Purple paint to warn trespassers? Elsewhere in the state Senate, SB 290 seems to be moving again after a lengthy stall, as it was recently on the agenda for a meeting of the Local Government, Public Safety & Veterans Affairs Committee.  If passed, SB 290 would allow landowners to use purple paint marks to warn intruders that they are trespassing.  The purple paint marks can be placed on trees or posts on the around the property.  Each paint mark would have to measure at least three feet and be located between three and five feet from the base of the tree or post.  Furthermore, each painted mark must be “readily visible,” and the space between two marks cannot be more than 25 yards.  You can see the text, along with other information about the bill here.

Environmental groups look to “Enlist” more judges to reevaluate decisions.  In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided it would not overturn the EPA registration for the herbicide Enlist Duo, which is meant to kill weeds in corn, soybean, and cotton fields, and is made up of 2,4-D choline salt and glyphosate.  Although the court upheld registration of the herbicide, it remanded the case so that EPA could consider how Enlist affects monarch butterflies.  The court found that EPA failed to do this even though it was required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  On September 15, 2020, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other groups involved in the lawsuit filed a petition to rehear the case “en banc,” meaning that the case would be heard by a group of nine judges instead of just three.  If accepted, the rehearing would involve claims that the EPA did not follow the Endangered Species Act when it made the decision to register Enlist Duo. Continue reading

Recap of this week’s OSU Extension Farm Office Live

The video recap of October 7, 2020, 8:00-9:30 a.m.

The October 7th session included updates on the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2), 2020 crop enterprise budgets, farm custom rates, COVID immunity legislation, and other emerging legal and economic issues.

Download October 7 slides

 

Farm Office Live Scheduled for October 7, 2020

Join the OSU Extension Farm Office team for discussions on the latest agricultural law and farm management news.  The next session will be held on October 7, 2020, from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.

Farm Office Live will be back for a review of the latest on round two of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), 2020 crop enterprise budgets, new custom rates, and Western Ohio Cropland Values and Cash Rents survey summary, Ohio’s COVID-19 immunity legislation, and other current issues in farm management.

Join our experts for quick presentations and Q & A. Go to https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farmofficelive to register or view past webinars and PowerPoint slides.

Governor Signs Ohio Coronavirus Immunity Bill

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

It took five months of negotiation, but the Ohio General Assembly has enacted a controversial bill that grants immunity from civil liability for coronavirus injuries, deaths, or losses. Governor DeWine signed House Bill 606 on September 14, stating that it strikes a balance between reopening the economy and keeping Ohioans safe.  The bill will be effective in 90 days.

The bill’s statement of findings and declaration of intent illustrate why it faced disagreement within the General Assembly.  After stating its findings that business owners are unsure of the tort liability they may face when reopening after COVID-19, that businesses need certainty because recommendations on how to avoid COVID-19 change frequently, that individuals who decide to go out in public places should bear responsibility for taking steps to avoid exposure to COVID-19, that nothing in existing Ohio law established duties on business and premise owners to prevent exposure to airborne germs and viruses, and that the legislature has not delegated authority to Ohio’s Executive Branch to create new legal duties for business and premises owners, the General Assembly made a clear declaration of intent in the bill:  “Orders and recommendations from the Executive Branch, from counties and local municipalities, from boards of health and other agencies, and from any federal government agency do not create any new legal duties for purposes of tort liability” and “are presumed to be irrelevant to the issue of the existence of a duty or breach of a duty….and inadmissible at trial to establish proof of a duty or breach of a duty in tort actions.” Continue reading

Last Chance: Act Now to Update PLC Yield

Landowners or producers with a Power of Attorney for their landowner have until September 30, 2020, to update their Price Loss Coverage (PLC) yield, also referred to as farm yield, information on file with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). PLC yields exist for each FSA farm number and commodity. This one-time opportunity to update yield information for covered commodities was a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill. The updated yields will be used to calculate payments under the PLC program for 2020 through 2023 crop years if market prices trigger payments. PLC yields have also been used before in disaster relief programs. There is no guarantee that farmers will have this opportunity again under future farm bills. If a farm chooses to not update its yield info the existing yields for the farm will be used. Not all updated yields will produce a higher yield. In the case where the new calculated yield for a farm and commodity is lower than the existing yield, FSA will take the higher of the two.  Producers who are currently enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) should also consider updating their yields as the option to change program election exists within the current farm bill in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Yields will be updated by submitting FSA form CCC-867 for each farm number and covered commodity. Each completed form will need to include one signature of a farm owner. If the reported yield in any year is less than 75 percent of the 2013-2017 average county yield, the yield will be substituted with 75 percent of the county average yield. For more information please contact your local FSA office.

The FSA form CCC-867 can be found here

Supply chain, U.S. trade policy, COVID-19 to be discussed during Farm Science Review

Farm Science Review will hold live online sessions September 22-24. Photo: Getty Images.

LONDON, Ohio—The U.S. trade policy, labor and immigration issues, agricultural commodity markets, and the food supply chain will be among the topics addressed at a panel discussion during the 59th annual Farm Science Review Sept. 22–24 at fsr.osu.edu.

The previously titled Tobin Talk, now The Talk on Friday Avenue, “Value Chains in Food and Agriculture,” on Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. at fsr.osu.edu, will feature comments from a panel of agricultural economists from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

The Talk on Friday Avenue is among a series of presentations at Farm Science Review to address topics relevant to the agricultural industry, from controlling weeds and managing beef cattle to reducing safety hazards on the farm and growing plants indoors in water, without soil.

As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Farm Science Review will be exclusively virtual, so you can find out about the latest in farm technology and techniques from the convenience of your home. The show, which is sponsored by CFAES, is free. Sign up at fsr.osu.edu.

If you require an accommodation, such as live captioning or interpretation, to participate in this event, please email fsrinfo@osu.edu.

The Talk on Friday Avenue is an annual panel discussion given by agricultural economists in CFAES. This year it will focus on supply chains in food and agriculture, many of which were tested earlier this year when the nation’s major meat processors closed down temporarily as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which left many employees ill with COVID-19. Continue reading

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 live-streamed 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 live-streamed 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

Battle for Lake Erie includes debate over manure-based phosphorus concentration

8/31/2020
BY TOM HENRY / THE BLADE

A major agronomic debate is being played out in Columbus now, which has potentially large ramifications for western Lake Erie and goes beyond simply looking at the staggering volumes of liquid and solid excrement produced by northwest Ohio cows, hogs, and chickens.

It focuses on the minutia of agricultural science, right down to the parts per million of phosphorus applied to soil in the form of manure.

One of the many groups raising questions is the Lake Erie Foundation, a consortium of Lake Erie-area business and environmental interests. That group and others, including Lake Erie Waterkeeper, want manure-based phosphorus applications dialed down to roughly the same concentration as commercially made, synthetic fertilizers, which is about 40 to 50 parts per million. Manure has for years been applied on northwest Ohio crop farms at much higher concentrations, usually 150 ppm. Some critics, though, claim the application rate has, in reality, gotten as high as 200 ppm to 250 ppm.

From information gathered in a public records request, the foundation believes the state of Ohio has rejected a recommendation from an independent consultant, McKinsey & Co., to promote 50 ppm as a limit for manure, even though Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture director, showed support for that in 2019. The firm was paid $1.5 million to provide advice to the DeWine administration for its H2Ohio program, which aims to improve water quality statewide through better farming techniques, more and improved wetlands, better pipelines, and other measures. Continue reading

CFAP Federal Assistance Available for Nursery (including Greenhouse) and Specialty Crops

The USDA recently opened the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to nursery crops (including greenhouse) and cut flower producers – and added numerous additional specialty crops to the list of eligible commodities.

What is CFAP? This federal assistance program is geared to help producers that have faced 5% or greater price declines, lost product due to changing supply chain issues, or have faced additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. Want more info on CFAP?

For additional details on the CFAP program, and for a list of eligible commodities, please visit farmers.gov/cfap. Continue reading

Ohio Noxious Weed Law

Its that time of year when some of our ugly weeds begin to make their presence known by rising above crop canopies, appearing along the side of the road, etc.  I typically receive many questions about noxious weed identification, control, legal issues, and more.  Below is the first page of the OSU Law Bulletin on Noxious weeds.  Click here to download the complete bulletin.

 

Facing Farm Financial Stress: Assessing the Bankruptcy Option

by: Peggy Hall, OSU Extension

Farming has always been an unpredictable way to make a living, and that unpredictability can lead to financial stress.  Whether caused by down markets, weather impacts, rising input costs, high land values, poor decision making,  medical issues, or a host of other unforeseen circumstances, serious financial stress can be a reality a farmer must face.

Filing bankruptcy can be one way to address farm financial stress.  But because of its consequences, bankruptcy is not a decision to take lightly and might not be the best option.  Our newest resources target farmers who are dealing with financial challenges and considering bankruptcy.   Facing Farm Financial Stress:  An Overview of the Bankruptcy Option offers a seven-part series of law bulletins and infographics focused on bankruptcy issues for farmers.  The series covers:

  • Assessing the bankruptcy option.  Steps to take and considerations to make when dealing with financial stress, including alternatives to bankruptcy and farmer to farmer advice from families that have been through the bankruptcy process.
  • An overview of bankruptcy law.  We explain and visualize the legal process, people, institutions, and legal terms involved in bankruptcy with a focus on Chapter 12, the law reserved for qualifying farmers and fishermen.
  • Thriving after a farm bankruptcy.  Ideas for setting a course to attain farm financial stability and reestablish relationships after filing bankruptcy, including farmer to farmer advice from those who’ve survived the bankruptcy.

Our team of authors, which included me along with OSU’s David Marrison, Hannah Scott, and Chris Zoller–created the resources with support from the USDA’s National Agriculture Library and in partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center (NALC).  The series is available on our Farm Office site here or on NALC’s site here.

The Paycheck Protection Program: Keeping up with the Changes

Written by Peggy Kirk Hall and Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management, June 24, 2020

Many farmers have utilized the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to obtain federal funds to help with payroll and certain non-payroll expenses in the wake of COVID-19.  As we’ve discussed on our Farm Office Live webinars here, Congress revised the PPP with the passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act earlier this month.  As a result of the new legislation, the Small Business Administration released a series of Interim Final Rules (IFRs) and a new forgiveness application.  The IFRs, available hereclarify certain points contained in the bill and provide revisions to previous IFRs.  All of these changes affect how farmers can use the funds and how much of the funds can be forgiven from loan repayment requirements. Continue reading

Grain Market Summer Update June 30 – 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

State Climatology Field Specialist, Aaron Wilson, and Ben Brown, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Agricultural Risk Management, both with The Ohio State University will give summer weather and grain market update after the release of the 2020 Acreage and Grain Stocks Reports from the United States Department of Agriculture. Due to the Coronavirus, economic conditions for corn changed rapidly after the Prospective Plantings Report with likely changes in acreage for the Eastern Corn-Belt. Weather, as always, during July and August will play a major factor in final yields and production in 2020.

June 30, 2020, from 2:00 PM until 3:30 PM

Registration link at https://osu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_C-NDZU3IRya0SYMkMKlC0A

Recordings of Farm Office Live

One of the questions I have received this week is I can’t join the OSU Farm Office Live, where do I get these recordings.  Great News — You can view these recordings and also download the presenter slides at farmoffice.osu.edu/farmofficelive.

I have also included the webinars from April 6 to June 11 below.  Go to the link above to review today’s session. Continue reading

Dicamba battles continue: court allows dicamba use

There was a great deal of action last Friday in the case that vacated the registrations of XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan dicamba-based products.  Despite a barrage of court filings on Friday, however, nothing has changed the current legal status of the dicamba products in Ohio, and Ohio growers may use existing stocks of the products now. Still, they must end-use by June 30th, 2020.

Here’s a rundown of the orders that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued in the case last Friday:

The court denied the emergency motion that the petitioners (National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, and Pesticide Action Network North America) filed on June 13th.  That motion asked the court to enforce its previous mandate to vacate the registrations, to prevent any further use of the products, and to hold the EPA in contempt for issuing the Cancellation Order the agency had made that allowed continued use of existing stocks of the products.  The court did not provide its reasoning for denying the motion. Continue reading

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

OSU Extension is pleased to be offering the “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 that 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 

Dicamba takes another blow: Court of Appeals vacates dicamba registration

by: Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law

Published on Thursday, June 04, 2020

Dicamba has had its share of legal challenges, and a decision issued yesterday dealt yet another blow when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the product’s registration with the U.S. EPA.  In doing so, the court held that the EPA’s approval of the registration violated the provisions of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”), which regulates the use of herbicides and other chemicals in the U.S.  Here’s a summary of how the court reached its decision and a few thoughts on the uncertainty that follows the opinion. Continue reading

Learn about the CFAP Program

OSU Extension is pleased to be sponsoring two events to help Ohio farmers learn more about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).  Join us:

Wednesday, May 27 from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Join OSU Extension’s Ben Brown and Dianne Shoemaker for a webinar on “Navigating Direct Support for Ohio’s Farmers and Ranchers” on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 9:30 am with special guest, Ohio Farm Service Agency Director Leonard Hubert.  This webinar is generously produced and distributed by Ohio Ag Net.  The webinar will be available for viewing at https://farmoffice.osu.edu/, or through Ohio Ag Net’s Facebook Live Video.

 

Thursday, May 28 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.

OSU Extension is pleased to be offering a “Farm Office Live” session on Thursday morning, May 28 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.  The session will begin with the Farm Office Team answering questions asked over the past 2 weeks.  Topics to be highlighted include Updates on the CARES Act, Payroll Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).  Participants can pre-register or join in on Thursday morning at  https://go.osu.edu/farmofficelive

Farmers and 1099 filers might qualify for new COVID-19 unemployment benefits program

by: Peggy Kirk Hall

Farmers aren’t traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, but that won’t be the case when Ohio’s newest unemployment program opens.   We’ve been keeping an eye out for the opening of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to persons affected by COVID-19.  The program is targeted to persons who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, such as self-employed and 1099 filers.   PUA is yet another economic assistance program generated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress. Continue reading