Rural sunset, Union County, Ohio

Ohio Farm Bureau top 10 critical actions during COVID-19

Your Farm Bureau has been hard at work helping our members and all of Ohio agriculture, which includes the food supply system. Since mid- March, we have supported the following critical actions:

1. AG IS ESSENTIAL: We worked closely with Gov. DeWine and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make sure that those in Ohio’s food supply system were deemed essential, allowing anyone from farmers to truckers to processors, to grocers to farm markets and greenhouses to continue the important work of keeping food available.

2. CASH FLOW ASSISTANCE: We advocated for the delaying of federal and state tax filings and for additional funds for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program. We are talking on a regular basis with USDA to make sure funds from assistance programs are allocated for all of agriculture and get to where they are needed the most.

3. SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE: We fought for access to SBA grant/ loan programs, which historically excluded agriculture. We supported efforts to extend all state-issued permits and licenses until either 90 days after the state’s current declaration of emergency ends, or until Dec. 1.

4. MAKING INFRASTRUCTURE A PRIORITY: We are looking at every possible solution at the state and federal level to increase access, speed and affordability of rural broadband. We continue to work with regulators and Ohio’s rural electric cooperatives to ensure utility shut-offs will not happen throughout the crisis.

5. FAIRS: Our staff was included in the governor’s County Fair Task Force to develop guidelines and practices for county fair boards to use when and if county fairs can be held this year. We continue to engage regularly with the Ohio Fair Managers Association, OSU Extension, county agricultural societies and state and county 4-H and FFA staff regarding fair project completion and best practices to conduct fairs.

6. FUNDING COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION (CCC): We pushed for a $14 billion set aside specifically for agriculture to replenish the CCC, which is the funding mechanism for programs such as Price Loss Coverage and Dairy Margin Coverage. The program also bolsters commodity and income support programs, natural resources conservation programs, disaster assistance programs and most recently the Market Facilitation Program.

7. TRANSPORTATION: We worked to ensure waivers for hours of service and weight limits for trucks delivering critical supplies, including food and groceries, were granted. This alignment with the existing agricultural hours of service exemption and weight limit variance relieved one less barrier to the already stressed food supply system.

8. MEMBER IMPACT SURVEYS: We have surveyed members twice and your strong response helped both us and the state government work toward solutions for those issues you identified as the most pressing during this pandemic. Our second survey specific to Personal Protective Equipment allowed us to disseminate information on available providers to those in need.

9. FOOD SECURITY/ FOOD BANK SUPPORT: We worked with USDA to promote assistance to regional and local food banks to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat. Your county Farm Bureaus stepped up to organize food bank donations and make connections between farmers willing to give and food banks in need.

10. MENTAL HEALTH: We compiled specific resources for members that address the unique stress placed on farmers, trained our Farm Bureau staff to be able to have caring conversations with members regarding mental health and suicide, trained Care Line staff at the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services on the challenges farmers face and worked with Ohio Department of Agriculture to create a resource for farmers facing livestock depopulation.

Help us continue to fight for Ohio agriculture and the food and farming community.

The work Ohio Farm Bureau does would not be possible without the support of our members.  Please consider joining or renewing your membership today.

Online Extras

Ohio Farm Bureau COVID-19 Response – Ohio Farm Bureau has been working on behalf of members and all of those along Ohio’s food supply system since the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. In-depth conversations with farmers and open dialogues with leaders from Ohio and Washington D.C. have been crucial tools to help advocate, educate and find solutions for the challenges agriculture is facing in the short and long term. Find out about some of those efforts as Ty Higgins visits with OFBF executive vice president Adam Sharp.

The Future of Agriculture after COVID-19 – Ohio agriculture has been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic in many ways. Ohio Farm Bureau president Frank Burkett visits with Ty Higgins about how his farm and agribusiness has dealt with the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and how farmers, like him, can get involved to help form policies that will shape agriculture’s future.