Program will build ag leadership skills

August 28th, 2008 Janelle Skrinjar

SALEM, Ohio — The name of a new program in Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties gives a perfect description of its basic foundation — Leadership Education and Development.

LEAD is a year-long workshop that will take participants to eight different seminars in the four-county region, plus Columbus, Cleveland and Washington D.C.

Program organizers hope to attract farmers and anyone else who works in the agriculture industry. The goal is to provide exposure to the broader issues that affect agriculture, like government and cross-cultural perspectives.

Leadership Education and Development was developed by Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Farm Bureau and Crossroads Resource Conservation and Development in each of the four counties. It’s not related to the now-defunct state LEAD program, but it is similar to a program that existed in the four counties during the early 1990s.

The groups wanted to provide a program that would strengthen the voice of the local ag industry.

“We just recognized the need for leadership among folks in agriculture,” said Chris Zoller, Tuscarawas County Extension educator.

Speakers and topics

During the LEAD program, participants will hear from speakers like E. Gordon Gee, Ohio State University president; Jim Tressel, Ohio State University head football coach; Jack Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau; Sean Logan, Ohio Department of Natural Resources director; and George Voinovich, U.S. Senator.

The first seminar is Oct. 7-8 in Columbus and will cover topics like personality types, communication strategies, leadership styles, time management and the farm bill. There will also be a tour of the Honda Motors plant.

Other topics to be covered in LEAD include modern media, public speaking, Amish culture, economic development, school funding, sustainable agriculture, local government, running for elected office and urban issues.

The Washington D.C. seminar is schedule for the fall of 2009. It will center on the federal government, international issues and cultural issues.

Requirements

Applicants should be a resident of Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson or Tuscarawas counties. Those who apply should be between 18 and 45 and willing to adjust their schedules to attend the seminars.

The cost to participate is $500, which includes lodging, meals and speakers for all seminars, plus transportation to Washington D.C. Payment plans are available, with $100 being due at the first seminar Oct. 7.

Applications are available at http://tuscarawas.osu.edu or from the Tuscarawas County Extension Office at 330-339-2337. The deadline to apply is Sept. 15

Applicants will be interviewed Sept. 22 at the Cadiz Public Library. Zoller said organizers hope to have about 25 people for this year’s program.

American Farm Bureau leader: It’s a new world for agriculture

August 26th, 2008 Susan Crowell

SUGARCREEK, Ohio — When Bob Stallman returned to the family farm after graduating from the University of Texas, Texas lawmakers were debating groundwater control legislation that had a huge impact on the Stallman farm.

He got fired up enough to head to Austin to attend a hearing on the issue, even though he had never been to one and had no idea what to expect. As he stood in the back of the packed room, he listened as a Texas Farm Bureau member testified, stating Stallman’s views better than he could have himself.

It was then Stallman — the son of a Farm Bureau member and grandson of a charter member of the Colorado County Farm Bureau — realized the value of the farm organization to him personally. It was his voice in the world of public policy.

“I got involved in Farm Bureau because of policy,” said Stallman, who now serves as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation after coming up through the ranks, first as a county board member and county president, then president of the Texas Farm Bureau.

Stallman shared his story and insight on current issues facing agriculture Aug. 25 at the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau annual meeting in Sugarcreek.

Get involved

His take-home message? “Involvement is key,” Stallman said.

“That’s why we have the influence we do.”

That success “starts and ends with you” at the local level, he added, challenging the members to do more as advocates for agriculture.

“We cannot be successful without your commitment and involvement.”

Not business as usual

With changes in the new farm bill, the push toward renewable fuels and more volatile markets, U.S. farmers are facing “exciting and challenging times,” Stallman said.

“The future of agriculture looks brighter than it has for a long time,” he added.

Even with the food vs. fuel vs. feed debates, the overarching demand for energy, specifically alternative energy, around the world creates opportunities for farmers.

“It’s kind of a new world for agriculture.”

The farm leader acknowledged concerns about adequate supplies for both the fuel and food demands, but said supply and demand fundamentals will prevail. Can farmers produce enough? “They’ll produce themselves back into low prices,” Stallman predicted.

He added, however, that the U.S. needs a comprehensive energy plan, something Congress has not been willing to tackle.

“We need to produce energy from every source possible,” Stallman said. “Agriculture can be part of that solution.”

Presidential election

Saying the November presidential election has “great consequences,” Stallman said there’s something about each candidate that Farm Bureau likes.

Sen. Barack Obama is more supportive of farm policy and renewable fuels, Stallman explained, while Sen. John McCain’s trade and tax policies are “more to our liking.”

Neither the American Farm Bureau nor the Ohio Farm Bureau makes a presidential candidate endorsement.

Any change in administration is challenging, particularly because of the need to educate new political players on agriculture and policy implications, he added.

Stallman also expressed concern that new faces on Capitol Hill don’t have an ag connection and aren’t aware of the impact many issues, like immigration, have on agriculture.

Business meeting

During the annual meeting, Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau members approved a $5 increase in the county dues, going from $60/year to $65.

The county’s volunteer leaders were also recognized for earning the Ohio Farm Bureau’s presidential award, with a gold rating, the highest state award possible for local programming.

Neil Deam of Deam’s Hoof Care received the county’s Excellence in Agriculture award. Deam, who started his hoof trimming business in 1998, now works with 60 clients and more than 6,200 animals. He also raises and shows Holsteins at the local, state and national level.

Steve and Sonya Quillin received the Outstanding Young Farmer award. Steve farms 800 acres with his father Jan and brother Eric, and manages the 120-head Holstein herd as well as the 200 recipient heifers and bull calves they raise for beef.

He currently serves on the county Farm Bureau board.

The Ag Educator award went to Angie Cabot.

Dan Widder and Jerry Lahmers were re-elected to the board of trustees. They will be joined by newly elected trustees Carol Mutti, Reuben Erb and Scott Glazer.

Members also elected Bob Demuth, John Feller, Connie Finton, Don Hoffman and Amy Yoder as delegates to the 2009 state annual meeting.

Blame should not be on developing countries

August 14th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

Editor:
Ron Hunter’s opinion, in Doha deals with agriculture in the July 31 issue of Farm and Dairy, is a glowing example of drawing improper conclusions from accurate data.

Placing the blame for failure of the talks on developing countries like India and China and suggesting they need to stop speaking from a subordinate position and assume a “leadership” role is preposterous.

It’s exactly this type of “misthink” that led our nation into the abyss of economic, political, and perhaps even some moral decay which we now find ourselves.

But then … Ron Hunter appears to be rich in jurisprudence but poor in economics despite a resume that includes international service.
Supporting this contention is the fact he held office for George W. Bush … our simple sentence, single syllable, narrow-minded, double digit IQ decider.

And we all know from performance — save for Cheney — no one in that administration had a higher IQ.

Hunter points to World Trade Indicators reflecting most open countries are the most prosperous and suggests the correlation he sees is a cause and effect relationship. Nonsense!

America cultivated its economic strength by sowing tariff, duty and subsidy seeds. And we still do.

Look at the subsidies in the farm bill. Look at sugar. Hunter needs to spend a bit more time reading economics books — like Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang.

But then, Chang is a noted economist, with an IQ in triple digits.

I’m afraid our nation will just have to wait for a presidential candidate who can read facts and draw accurate conclusions. It’s evident the Republican administration is incapable of doing that for the America people.

Developing nations do need special dispensation as India proclaims. Fair trade is far from fair at the moment.

Developed countries need to look back at their own road to success and help those still struggling.

This isn’t all about simply expanding markets. Just what benefit do I as a nonfarmer derive from the fact the U.S. has been successful opening up the beef market in South Korea again.

I read right here in these very pages not long ago this is expected to add $10 to $15 more to beef. I see how the beef distribution chain benefits but I’m a little nearsighted when it comes to the roast on my dinner table.

These are complex issues requiring educated individuals with more than law degrees and political service to resolve.

The failure at Doha was not that of the developing countries fearing the destruction of their agricultural market place. It was our own Congress that can’t stop subsides and special interests in its own farm bill!

As long as developing countries can point to that objection, they have a point, and the world will continue to trade a little less fairly.

John Gregory
Akron, Ohio

USDA extends deadline for Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

August 11th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

HARRISBURG, Pa. — USDA has extended the application deadline to apply for coverage under Farm Service Agency’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Read the rest of this entry »

States renew support for Northeast Dairy Leadership Team

August 6th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff, New York Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker and Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee have renewed their support for the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team, an alliance initiated by a memorandum of understanding signed among the three state departments of agriculture in 2006.

The leadership team was created to establish a vision and promote profitability for the region’s dairy industry.

More than 50 leaders representing all facets of the dairy industry in the three leading northeastern dairy states — New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont — are part of the organization.

The three states’ agriculture departments and Centers for Dairy Excellence fund the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team’s activities.

Strong policy

“Working as a region has been instrumental in helping to establish a new dairy policy, a stronger safety net, expanding forward contracting, and developing a new dairy revenue insurance program,” Secretary Wolff said about the issues that were integral parts of the federal farm bill debate.

The Northeast Dairy Leadership Team recommended nine issues for discussion in the farm bill. This collaborative effort had a positive affect on dairy policy, as eight of the nine areas were included in the farm bill.

“By coming together as a region, we have a greater opportunity to educate consumers on food safety, animal welfare and what we do as dairy producers everyday,” said Wolff.

Working together

“The relationship between our three states has been very positive, and has helped expand programs like the dairy profit team program first from Pennsylvania to New York and now into Vermont,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee.

“We need to use the effort to embrace environmental stewardship and energy-related issues.”

“We see tremendous value in this effort, particularly through the exchange of ideas,” said Commissioner Hooker at the leadership team meeting in July.

“With fewer people involved in the dairy industry, we all need to treat each other with a level of deference and respect, which is what I see at these team meetings.”

Details

For more information, visit the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team Web page.

USDA takes next step toward COOL

August 4th, 2008 Andrea Zippay

SALEM, Ohio — Like it or not, mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) is coming your way.

The USDA issued its interim final rule for the program July 29, which leaves time for public comment toward the program’s final operation, but allows COOL to go into effect, as planned, Sept. 30.

Covered. COOL, which has been on the books since at least 2001, got its final push toward reality from the 2008 farm bill issued just weeks ago.

Under the mandatory program, retail commodities must carry a label to indicate their country of origin.

The rule covers muscle cuts and ground beef and veal, lamb, chicken, goat, and pork; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; macadamia nuts; pecans; ginseng; and peanuts.

Wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish have been subjected to mandatory country-of-origin labeling since 2006.

Changes

The newest farm bill made some changes to the controversial order, including adding more products that must carry the label, and defining when a product should be labeled.

The bill says ground meat labels “shall list all countries of origin contained therein or that may be reasonably contained therein” to account for commingling of meats.

USDA has also revised the definition of a processed food item so that items derived from a covered commodity that has undergone a physical or chemical change, like cooking or smoking, or that has been combined with other covered commodities, are excluded from COOL labeling.

Examples of items excluded from country of origin labeling include a flavored pork loin, breaded chicken tenders, mixed vegetables, or a salad mix that contains two or more vegetables.

Food service establishments, such as restaurants, lunchrooms, cafeterias, food stands, bars, lounges, and similar enterprises are exempt from the mandatory country of origin labeling requirements.

The requirements apply only to covered commodities produced or packaged after Sept. 30, 2008.

The law also was changed to ease recordkeeping for verifying an animal’s country of origin by allowing the use of existing on-farm records, such as normal business records or animal health papers, or import or customs documents.

Fines and penalties for violating the labeling rule were also decreased from $10,000 to $1,000.

Reactions

Initially opposed to the mandatory labeling, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has softened its stance and is “pleased” to have the interim final rule in place.

“NCBA worked to develop a compromise version of COOL during debate on the 2008 farm bill that promotes U.S. beef products without overburdening producers,” said Andy Groseta, NCBA president.

Groseta said the rule “incorporates provisions that make mandatory labeling more feasible for producers.”

“USDA did a rather straightforward job in writing these rules,” said R-CALF USA COOL committee chair Mike Schultz, noting the agency accepted many groups’ recommendations to simplify implementation of the program.

“For the most part, USDA properly adopted the legislative language that minimizes requirements on producers and other suppliers by allowing them to use their own affidavits to prove an animal’s origin,” he said.

The rule also allows meatpackers to use foreign import markings to verify animals of foreign origin, such as ear tags and brands on cattle from Mexico and Canada, he said.

But Schultz found faults in the program, too, in that USDA requires every person in the supply chain to maintain COOL records for one year. He called it “one step forward and one step back” in the supply chain.

“For instance, a cow-calf producer would need to maintain records of who they sold their cattle to, and that person would need to keep records about who he or she purchased the cattle from and then who he or she sold them to,” Schultz explained.

Comments

The interim final rule was published in the Aug. 1 Federal Register and calls for a 60-day public comment period.

USDA acknowledged the program as merely a way for consumers to know where their food comes from to aid in purchasing decisions. COOL does not provide a basis for addressing food safety, according to USDA.

USDA increases limits for direct loans

July 29th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has put into place a new farm bill provision, increasing the limits on loans to $300,000 — up from $200,000 — for direct farm ownership and operating loans.

Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan limits remained unchanged since 1984.

“Our Farm Service Agency has already started making loans with today’s costs of running a farm our top consideration,” Schafer said.

“We are proud to help the hard-working Americans who were struggling with the high costs of running a family farm — especially beginning and socially disadvantaged producers. USDA is working together with farmers at the local level to make this happen.”

Direct loans

Direct loans are a resource for farmers to get the credit they need to build and sustain family farms and ranches. The increased loan limits are expected to help farmers whose credit requirements could not previously be met by the FSA loan limits.

In addition, some existing FSA borrowers who have already reached the previous limit of $200,000 will now be eligible to obtain additional credit from FSA.

Direct farm loans are made by FSA with government funds. FSA also services these loans and provides direct loan borrowers with supervision and business planning so they have a better chance for success.

Farm ownership, operating, emergency and youth loans are the main types of loans available under the direct program.

Direct loan funds are also set aside each year for loans to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers.

Information

Farmers interested in applying for a direct operating or farm ownership loan, should contact their local FSA office.

For more information about these and other types of loans, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov and click on “Farm Loan Programs.”

Clearing some things up

July 15th, 2008 FSA Andy

Hi again,

In last week’s article, I mentioned that qualifying for the Quality Loss Program required certain actions on behalf of producers. I wanted to clarify a couple of issues that may have been misleading.

First, a producer does have to have a quantity loss application on file. However, that application does not have to already be filed, as you can file that at the same time you file for quality loss.

In addition, I mentioned that you had to have Crop Insurance or NAP for the applicable years of 2005-2007. That is true, but not the requirement that you have insurance for all three years.

The years that you didn’t have insurance will be ineligible for quality loss. Producers also must have suffered a 25 percent reduction in expected value for the crop they are applying for.

Quality loss requires that production evidence be verifiable . This will probably limit most producers to sales receipts or measurement services performed by FSA offices.

I’d suggest, for those who believe they qualify, digging out the sales receipts for grain/produce/hay or any other crops that you marketed that have definite poor quality factors.

Poor test weight, high percentage foreign material toxins or even sales for secondary use markets are a good place to start.

RFV tests and sales receipts or measurement services must match for cutting and type of hay.

The new farm bill ushered into law five new disaster assistance programs: Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program (SURE), Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Livestock Indemnity program, Tree Assistance program (TAP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish (EALHF) Program.

Producers interested in these programs will be required to have purchased at least CAT coverage insurance from FCIC for each crop on their farm/operation and if the crop is uninsurable they must have obtained noninsured coverage through FSA via the NAP program and paid the applicable fees for such.

The deadline to obtain this insurance has been extended until Sept. 16.

Future articles will provide more details about these programs as these programs will be replacing the ad-hoc disaster programs.

In addition, the program regulation and implementation procedures are just now starting to hit FSA offices.

That’s all for now,

FSA Andy

FSA Andy for July 10, 2008

July 10th, 2008 FSA Andy

Hello again,

The start of July doesn’t seem to have brought much help to us in the hay making department.

Thank God for Sunfilm and tube wrappers as dry hay is just about impossible in central eastern Ohio.

Wheat harvest will need to crank up soon or I don’t see too many double crop beans getting put in. I guess that’s farming.

DCP. There is plenty happening at your local FSA office. The 2008 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment program sign-up is taking place as this is written. The new farm bill authorized a continuation of the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment (yearly sign-up) program through 2012.

FSA will continue to use the bases previously established for farms, there will be no new base farms created, with the exception of some crops typically not raised here.

The payments will be based on the base acres and payment yields established for each farm. Eligible producers will receive direct payments at rates established by statute. They are almost identical to the rates received in the past.

Advance payments will be offered in the amount of 22 percent of the projected payment. Payments will be made as soon as practical.

Counter-cyclical payments (payments dependent on market prices) will also be made when the price is determined to be below the target price, and those have changed.

Sign-up will be ongoing through Sept. 30.

Producers who have farms that need reconstituted (i.e.: sale of land from farm ground) need to request a reconstitution before Aug. 1.

FSA has to have all recons initiated by Aug. 14.

Changes. One change in the farm bill is that no payments will be issued to farms having less than 10 base acres unless (the owner) is a socially disadvantaged producer or a limited resource person.

FSA will determine who is a limited resource person and combinations of farms of less than 10 base acres are not permissible.

Quality loss. Quality loss sign-ups for 2005, 2006 and 2007 are also underway. Producers must have applied for a quantity loss payment to be eligible, but did not need to qualify to be eligible for quality payments. Sounds goofy huh?

Quality loss participants will need to provide actual evidence showing quantity price and quality factors to receive a payment.

Bottom line — if you didn’t have Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program insurance or Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for the above years you are not eligible.

Don’t forget that sign-up ends July 18 for Livestock Compensation Program and Livestock Indemnity Program.

Sign-up was for pasture losses, animal losses and increased feed cost for the years ’05, ’06 and ’07. Producers with eligible losses qualify.

Many new things are going on at FSA and we will try to keep you updated on those issues as best as possible. When in doubt or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to call your local FSA office.

That’s all for now,
FSA Andy

USDA releases county loan rates for 2008

June 16th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

WASHINGTON — Within three weeks of commodity title enactment in the 2008 farm bill, USDA is implementing marketing assistance loan and loan deficiency payment (LDP) provisions.

USDA also announced county loan rates for 2008 crop of wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, soybeans, and other oilseeds.

The national loan rates for the 2008 crops of wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, rice, and pulses are at the following levels:

Wheat: $2.75 per bushel

Corn: $1.95 per bushel

Grain sorghum: $1.95 per bushel

Barley: $1.85 per bushel

Oats: $1.33 per bushel

Soybeans: $5 per bushel

Other oilseeds: $9.30 per hundredweight

As required by the 2008 farm bill, these national loan rates are established at the same levels as those established for the 2007 crop, with the exception of rice.

Marketing assistance loans provide producers interim financing at harvest time to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows.

A producer who is eligible to obtain a loan, but who agrees to forgo the loan, may obtain a loan deficiency payment if such payments are available.