May 2019 Agriculture section

Staff Writer

Manure management assistance available
The Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District are offering a new assistance programs to growers in the Western Lake Erie Basin to improve and protect water quality.
The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program provides an incentive for growers to establish small grains in a crop rotation that can be used for manure application following harvest. The program is designed to coincide with the manure application window during warmer months and relieve the stress on manure storage during the winter and early wet springs.
Growers with eligible cropland acreage, successfully establishing either wheat, barley, oats, cereal rye, triticale or spelts, then harvesting it for seed and subsequently applying manure and establishing a cover crop or double crop soybeans, will receive a $75 per-acre cost-share payment through the program.
Lucas SWCD will manage the program sign-up, verification of eligibility and crop establishment. Soil tests and records of manure application will be required to be submitted to the SWCD as well. The goal of the program is to reduce nutrients entering Ohio waterways to lessen harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
Program enrollment runs through June 1.
“The Ohio Working Lands Small Grains program will give producers an additional opportunity to apply manure to a growing crop in warmer weather and hopefully avoid late winter or early spring manure holding capacity problems” said Kirk Hines, chief of the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Soil and Water Conservation “Livestock producers need options, and this program features an incentive to implement a useful and viable option for manure application.”
For information contact the Lucas SWCD’s Area Conservation Technician, Matthew Browne at 419- 893-1966, ext. 3 or 419-377-0901.

Group looks to develop water quality initiative
A collaboration of stakeholders representing the agriculture, conservation, environmental, and research communities has joined forces to develop a statewide water quality initiative.
The Agriculture Conservation Working Group recently held a two-day retreat in Ostrander, Oh., where sub-committees discussed best management practices, education development, governance, data management, certification and public outreach as well as strategies for implementing the program.
“A group with a farm-level focus and representation from across the environmental, academic and agricultural communities has never come together before with a commitment to the shared objective of improved water quality,” said Scott Higgins, chief executive officer of the Ohio Dairy Producers Association and co-chair of the working group. “Agriculture has an important role in implementing continuous improvement efforts to reduce nutrient runoff, and this initiative will work toward broad-scale adoption of best management practices by Ohio’s farmers.”
Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of Ohio Environmental Council, said there is a “shared sense of urgency towards finding solutions to our state’s water quality issue, and this all-inclusive approach to inventory farm practices and building a farmer certification program is a positive step in the process.”
More information will be available in the coming months as the group launches a website and other resources.

Help for producers with organic certification costs
Organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program, the Farm Service Agency has announced.
Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019.
“Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This also gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance that can help them succeed. Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs from help with field buffers to routine operating expenses to storage and handling equipment.”
The program received continued support through the 2018 Farm Bill. It provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Eligible expenses for cost-share reimbursement include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.
Certified producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year, up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope, including crops, livestock, wild crops, handling and state organic program fees.
State agencies may apply for grants to administer the OCCSP program in fiscal 2019. State agencies that establish agreements for fiscal year 2019 may be able to extend their agreements and receive additional funds to administer the program in future years.

Report touts economic benefits of rural broadband
The U.S. could realize about $47 billion annually in economic benefits by deploying rural broadband service and precision agriculture technology on farms and ranches, according to a recently released report by the Department of Agriculture.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled the report, A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies.
Broadband and Next Generation Precision Agriculture are critical components for creating vital access to world-class resources, tools and opportunity for America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA is committed to doing our part to clear the way for nationwide broadband connectivity that will allow the next generation of precision agriculture technologies to thrive and expand.”
The report also finds that if broadband infrastructure and digital technologies at scale were available at a level that meets estimated producer demand, the U.S. economy could realize benefits equivalent to nearly 18 percent of total agriculture production. Of that 18 percent, more than one-third is dependent on broadband e-Connectivity, equivalent to at least $18 billion in annual economic benefits that only high-speed, reliable internet can provide.
The agriculture department and agriculture industry have been researching the feasibility, usage and potential upside of Next Generation Precision Agriculture technologies.
Until recently, the interdependency of the technologies and broadband e-Connectivity has not been evaluated. The report explores the symbiotic relationship and quantifies the potential economic benefit of broadband build-out and the complementary adoption of connected agriculture technologies.



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