Light and crispy, these beautiful and traditional cookies are often festooned with a simple red ribbon and hung on the tree awaiting the lucky taster and a cup of coffee or cocoa on Christmas morning.

Happy Holidays, Trumbull County

As we approach the end of the year, there has been a flurry of activity in the political spectrum to get bills passed before the end of the session and before the newly elected officials take over. You can see this at the state level and at the federal level.

The bill that has garnered much of the ag community’s attention over the last few weeks has been the farm bill. The 807-page bill had a lot of updates ranging from forestry to nutrition.

If you are really bored, you can read the whole document here.  Below is a summary of some of the changes that will affect local farmers and residents.

For grain farmers, the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) will both remain options for enrollment in 20189, but base acreage cannot be re-allocated like in the previous farm bill.  Going forward, the option to update yields will be available in 2020, and between 2021 and 2023, farmers can choose between PLC and ARC.

Soybean growers may see a benefit with a new calculation to reference prices and with an increase of ARC yield substitute percentage.  These changes are less likely to affect corn growers.

Dairy farmers also saw some improvements in the farm bill. The Dairy Margin Protection Program was renamed the Dairy Margin Coverage program and was accompanied by another reduction in premium coverage rates from the previous reduction last February. New coverage levels were also added and options to get a percentage back for long term enrollment.

Another part of the farm bill that has attracted a lot of media attention involves the eligibility of industrial hemp to be enrolled in crop insurance. Industrial hemp has been grown for several years, mostly in Kentucky, and this allows those farmers to insure their crop in the event of crop loss or damage. This essentially legalizes the growing of industrial hemp that was previously illegal. Those farmers in Kentucky were in legal limbo for many years. Hemp was a controlled substance because of its relation to its very close relative, marijuana. While both contain the psychoactive compound THC, industrial hemp has a very low concentration (0.3 percent) compared to marijuana (15 to 40 percent). Several of my colleagues throughout the state have already received many calls from people interested in growing industrial hemp in Ohio. I’m sure as least a few of those individuals thought that growing marijuana was legalized. It’s not!

Industrial hemp has the opportunity to be another cash crop for Ohio, but it will take a few years for a real market to materialize to support an influx of industrial hemp. The short-term payoff may be in seed production to supply the growing demand of industrial hemp growers. Small-scale or urban agriculture will be ideally suited to take advantage of this growing market to supply niche market for clothing and other fiber uses.

OSU Extension Trumbull County, Trumbull SWCD and NRCS have teamed up to offer a Trumbull Farmer Lunch series this winter to provide hour-long educational sessions on a variety of topics.  Our next lunch series will be Jan. 8, when we will be offering a local Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Training. Many large purchasers of beef (Wendy’s, Tyson, etc.) will be purchasing beef from only those with BQA certification. If you raise beef, this is an opportunity to gain access to markets or get a competitive advantage over those without BQA certification. Cost for the program is $7 per person for early registration and includes lunch.  Be sure to mark your calendars for the other upcoming events in this series: March 5, Climate Impacts for Ohio Agriculture and  April 2, Tillage and Soil Health.  Each of these programs will be at the Trumbull County Ag and Family Education center in Cortland.

Mark your calendars for Feb. 20, the Northeast Ohio Agronomy School. Our annual Agronomy School will be moving to the Bristolville Community Center this year. Speakers will include OSU Extension specialists Mark Loux, Kelley Tilmon, Steve Culman, Anne Dorrance and Andy Michel. Watch our website and Facebook page for updates and registration information.

For information about farming, gardening, the Master Gardener program or any other program, call the OSU Trumbull County Extension office at 330.638.6783.  Don’t forget to check out and “Like” OSU Extension Trumbull County’s Facebook page for current programs and up to date information.

I’ll see you in the New Year!

Submitted by Lee Beers, who can be reached by email or by calling 330.638.6738.