Did you know that a male moose loses its antlers every year? Moose usually lose their antlers every winter and grow new ones in the spring. Additionally, because of the lack of antlers during the winter months, a moose’s first line of defense is its sharp hooves, which can mortally wound a wolf or bear. This edition of the Ag Law Harvest kicks around a few USDA announcements and FDA rule proposals and sheds some light on overtime compensation for California’s agricultural workers.
USDA announces new micro-farm insurance policy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (“USDA”) Risk Management Agency (“RMA”) announced that the USDA has developed a new micro farm insurance policy for agricultural producers with small-scale farms who sell locally. The new insurance policy seeks to simplify recordkeeping and introduces insurance coverage for post-production costs and value-added products. Farm operations that earn an average allowable revenue of $100,000 or less, or for carryover insureds, that earn an average allowable revenue of $125,000 or less are eligible for the policy. The new insurance policy will be available for the 2022 crop year. Crop insurance is sold and delivered sole through private crop insurance agents, a list of which can be found at the RMA Agent Locator.
USDA accepting applications to help rural communities get access to internet. The USDA announced that it has begun accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to help rural communities gain access to high-speed internet. The announcement follows the recently enacted infrastructure bill, which provides another $2 billion in additional funding for USDA’s ReConnect Program. According to the USDA, the funding will be available for projects that serve rural areas where at least 90% of the households lack broadband service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The USDA will give funding priority to projects that will serve people in low-density rural areas and areas lacking internet service speeds of at least 25 Mbps (download) and 3 Mbps (upload). In making the funding decisions, the USDA will consider the economic needs of the community to be served and the extent to which a provider will offer affordable service options to the community.
FDA proposing changes to testing requirements of pre-harvest agricultural water. The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) published a proposed rule that would change some provisions of the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule. The proposed rule seeks to replace the microbial criteria and testing requirements for pre-harvest agricultural water for covered produce other than sprouts. Some of the proposed changes include:
- Replacing the microbial quality criteria and testing requirements with new provisions for conducting pre-harvest agricultural water assessments for hazard identification and risk management purposes;
- A new testing option for certain covered farms that elect to test their pre-harvest agricultural water for generic Escherichia coli (“E. coli”);
- Providing additional flexibility in responding to findings from pre-harvest agricultural water assessments;
- Expedited implementation of mitigation measures for known or reasonably foreseeable hazards related to certain adjacent and nearby land uses; and
- Required management review of pre-harvest agricultural water assessments.
The FDA is accepting comments on the proposed rule until April 5, 2022.
California’s overtime compensation for agricultural workers. In 2016, California passed Assembly Bill No. 1066 that slowly implemented overtime wages for California’s agricultural workers. Beginning in 2022, agricultural employees are entitled to one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours in any workday or over 40 hours in any workweek. However, the law only affects agricultural employers with 26 or more employees. Agricultural employers with 25 or fewer employees will be required to follow the same overtime compensation structure beginning in 2025. California will also begin to require that any work performed by an agricultural employee in excess of 12 hours in any workday be paid twice their regular rate of pay. Again, this provision only effects agricultural employers with 26 or more employees but will go into effect for all agricultural employers in 2025.
"Bringing small farms in Ohio to life" is the theme of the 2021 New and Small Farm College program. The program focuses on the increasing number of new and small farm landowners that have a need for comprehensive farm ownership and management programming. OSU Extension has offered the college to farm families since 2005. Its mission is to enhance understanding of production practices, the economics of land use choices, legal issues, marketing alternatives, and sources of assistance. Since the program began, the New and Small Farm College has reached over 1175 participants from 57 Ohio Counties representing almost 900 farms, sharing its three educational objectives:
- Improve the economic development of small familly owned farms in Ohio.
- Help small farm landowners and families diversify their opportunities into successful new enterprises and new markets.
- Improve agricultural literacy among small farm landowners not actively involved in agricultural production.
If you are a small farm landowner wondering what to do with your acreage, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you interested in exploring options for land uses but not sure where to turn or how to begin?
- Have you considered adding an agricultural or horticultural enterprise, but you just aren’t sure of what is required, from an equipment, labor, and/or a management perspective?
- Are you looking for someplace to get some basic farm information?
If you or someone you know answered yes to any of these questions, then the Ohio State University New and Small Farm College program may be just what you are looking for. Consider how these topics that we cover in the college can help you with your small farm goals:
- Getting Started (goal setting, family matters, resource inventory, business planning)
- Appropriate Land Use -Walking the Farm
- Where to Get Assistance, (identifying various agencies, organizations, and groups)
- Financial and Business Mgmt.: Strategies for decision makers
- Farm Insurance
- Legal Issues
- Marketing Alternatives
The Ohio State University New and Small Farm College is held one night a week for seven weeks. The 2021 Ohio New and Small Farm College program occur in three locations across the state:
- Pike County area, to be held at the OSU South Centers facility, 1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio 45661, (Located off US 32 – Appalachian Hwy). Classes will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning August 18 and concluding September 29, 2021. For more information contact Pike County Extension Office at 740-289-4837.
- Fayette county area, Fayette County Extension Office, 1415 US Route 22 SW, Washington Court House, Ohio 43160. Classes will be held on Thursday evenings beginning August 19 and concluding on September 30, 2021. For more information contact the Fayette County Extension Office at 740-335-1150.
- Wayne County area, to be held at the OSU Wooster Campus, The Shisler Conference Center, 1680 Madison Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44961. Classes will be held on Tuesday evenings beginning August 31 and concluding October 12, 2021. For more information, contact Wayne County Extension at 330-264-8722.
All colleges begin at 6:00 pm with a light dinner followed by presentations at 6:30 pm and concluding at 9:00 pm.
In addition to the classroom instruction, participants will receive tickets to attend the 2021 Farm Science Review (www.fsr.osu.edu ), September 21, 22, & 23 Located at the Molly Caren Farm, London, Ohio. A soil sample analysis will also be provided to each participating farm.
The cost of the course is $125 per person, $100 for an additional family member. Each participating family will receive a small farm college notebook full of the information presented in each class session plus additional materials.
Registrations are now being accepted. For more details about the course and a registration form, contact Tony Nye, Small Farm Program Coordinator 937-382-0901 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.