Moving On Up

Happy Memorial Day! While others are spending this week looking forward to their holiday weekend plans, the FrazierHeiby team is buried under packing boxes and moving crates.

I am excited to share with you that the FrazierHeiby office is moving! As of May 31, 2011 FrazierHeiby will move into our new offices at 1500 Lake Shore Drive, Suite 300, Columbus, Ohio 43204.

My desk is covered with stacks of files and papers to be sorted to determine “Is this important enough to be moved?” While I don’t enjoy the tedious process of organizing years of accumulated files and client work, I am really going to enjoy the outcome – a move into a new office.

We’re thrilled with our inspiring new space, which will help us to continue our history of providing strategic creative and business communications for our clients. Because of the move there will be no “official” blog this week, but it will resume next week.

Our new website will be launched at the beginning of June and will feature pictures of our new space. Please visit

And, if you’re interested in checking out the dynamics of our energetic agency, please stop by — We’d love to have you.

Here’s to a new and inspiring era!

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Farm Bill Feuds

Passed every five to seven years, the Farm Bill is a historic, far-reaching piece of legislation that impacts every American.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 is considered to be the earliest incarnation of the Farm Bill, passed during the Great Depression to assist farmers during extreme weather-induced losses.

Since its inception, its vast array of policies/programs has supported food security, nutrition/food programs, the environment, energy initiatives, food aid and the development of rural America.

A huge misconception exists in the minds of countless of Americans — The Farm Bill is simply legislation that permits direct payments to farmers—fixed per-acre payments based on a farm’s historic production of eligible crops regardless of yield amount.

In reality, 75 percent of the bill is devoted to funding for social and nutrition programs (such as food stamps), not farmer-insurance supports for times of market volatility and other operational challenges.

And, Farm Bill supports aren’t automatic. Farmers must opt-in for eligibility in Farm Bill programs.

The Farm Bill is controversial for multiple reasons. Many Americans don’t feel that farmers and producers should receive monetary assistance when other industries don’t receive the same types of protection, though farm programs are only 1 percent of the federal budget.

"(The farm industry) shouldn't be expecting help from the federal government when prices are good and when they have a good harvest," said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio in a Lancaster Gazette story.

Some believe that the bill is a hodgepodge of too many items, so its complexity clouds the vital issues with too many auxiliary items. The Farm Bill contains 15 titles including commodity-price and income supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, energy and foreign and domestic food and other nutrition programs.

“The farm bill is just one big earmark,” said Sallie James, a trade policy analyst with the Cato Institute.

Add the dire federal budget deficit and the Farm Bill is compacted further.

“It won’t be a matter of creating grandiose new programs,” said House Agriculture Committee chairman Rep. Frank Lucas. “The question will be what programs do we save…How do we reconfigure things so as to try and achieve more with fewer dollars?”

There are several suggestions from commentators in the public discourse.

Popular Farm Bill Proposals
  • Completely eliminate direct payments (reinvests $5 billion in the federal budget)
  • Terminate biofuels subsidies
  • Strengthen the safety net
  • Strengthen crop insurance programs
  • Transition to a revenue-based market system
Given the current weather conditions, the need for a safety net for our nation’s food producers is more apparent than ever.

There are 32 states with some type of federal disaster declaration, as reported in a KFGO (Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota, radio station) story. "If there was ever evidence that we need an effective farm safety net, this is it," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow.

Conversations within the coming months will shape the policies and programs of the 2012 Farm Bill. Let’s hope that legislators remain cognizant of the necessity of a domestically produced, safe, affordable, sustainable, abundant food supply.

"Europe has a strategy and they want to dominate world agriculture," he said. "We have to spend money wisely and we have to fight for our agriculture base," said U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. in a Prairie Star story.

What concerns you most about the future of the Farm Bill? What should it keep? Eliminate?

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Fuel Storage Requirements Affect Farmers

Effective Nov. 10, 2011, farms with above-ground fuel storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons will be required to implement and maintain a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan to prevent the discharge of oil or face financial penalties by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Although the original Oil Pollution Prevention Rule, published in the Clean Water Act, has been implemented since the 1970s, several amendments to the rule have been made during the last decade.

“The basic intent of the SPCC plan is to make sure farmers who store large amounts of fuel or other petroleum products are putting measures in place that will protect the area surrounding their properties, specifically groundwater and surface water,” said Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs. “With this regulation the EPA is saying that we need to be thinking about fuel storage as much as pesticide and fertilizer storage.”

An article in Ohio’s Country Journal states that the new amendments regarding regulated totals pertain only to petroleum products stored in stationary tanks and containers of at least 55 gallons. Gasoline, diesel fuel and oil in tractors, trucks and other vehicular machinery are exempt.

Farmers who store between 1,321 gallons and 10,000 gallons of fuel or other petroleum products can self-certify a written plan, while those farms with more than 10,000 gallons must have a certified professional engineer write a plan that includes:
  • How products are stored
  • The location of the storage
  • The farm’s topography
  • Steps that will be taken in the event of a spill
After the SPCC plan is written, it should be kept on the farm and be available to EPA inspectors in case they are called to the farm to respond to a spill.

Farmers can learn more about the fuel storage regulation by visiting the EPA’s SPCC website.

What do you think of this new requirement? Do you think it’s necessary? Do you know a farmer who may be affected by the requirement?

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Rain may affect grain forecast

Waterlogged fields are causing Midwest grain farmers much angst. Excessive moisture in fields is either jeopardizing the germination of planted seeds or is preventing planting.

“Farms from the Ohio Valley north throughout much of Ohio…have had flooding and above-normal rainfall in the past month but the Ohio Valley has been hardest hit,” said Cincinnati Weather Examiner Rich Apuzzo.

One farmer’s field has literally turned into a pond in Zanesville — It has carp swimming in it, as reported in a The Republic story.

According to a Coshocton Tribune story, “One cubic foot of water weighs more than 62 pounds and there are hundreds of tons of water laying on the fields.” This results in compacted roots to limit yield potential.

However, an Evansville Press & Courier story noted that flooding, in one way, is beneficial, “Nutrient-rich silt deposited by the flood water can often help reduce the amount of fertilizer.”

The optimum planting dates for corn in Ohio are from April 20 to May 10. To date, 1 percent of Ohio’s corn crop is planted, which is 38 percent less than the past year and 13 percent less than the five-year average. Typically, 15 percent of the corn crop is in the ground about this time of the year.

Corn consumption is projected to be near 13.25 billion bushels during the 2011-2012 marketing year. The USDA and others are predicting a national yield of 162 bushels per acre on a projected 92.2 million acres with 87 million acres being harvested for grain.

Farmers are considering alternative planting strategies to circumvent potential weather-induced losses.

Delayed Planting Strategies:
  • Considering a shorter-season hybrid seed
  • Foregoing tilling or practice decrease tillage
  • Using an increased seed rate
  • Using nitrogen later or considering nitrogen alternatives
Though the exact timing of planting is still unknown, one thing is for certain. With commodity prices significantly increased compared to the past spring, U.S. farmers plan to plant 3.99 million, or 4.5 percent, more corn acres than last year, according to the Prospective Plantings report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybeans have a later plant date than corn — early May — and soybean farmers are also monitoring their fields and using the same assessors to gauge planting decisions. Depending on the ability to still plant a decent corn crop, corn farmers may opt to plant more soybeans this year. State farmers will be finalizing planting plans in the coming days.

Soybean 2011-2012 consumption is projected near 3.33 billion bushels, with a yield near the trend value of 43 bushels per acre on about 76.4 million acres.

Well-drained fields are expected to cope nicely, especially if June is dry. This is good news for Ohio wheat farmers. Ohio’s already-planted winter wheat crop reportedly survived the season in better shape than other states. USDA rates more than 70 percent of Ohio’s wheat in fair to good condition for harvest in July.

The Prospective Plantings report projects a 10-cent reduced average price received by wheat producers for this market year, ranging from $5.50 to $5.70 per bushel.

“Farm prices continue to be reported well below prevailing cash market bids, indicating that farmers priced a substantial portion of this year’s crop well ahead of delivery,” stated the report.

Of course, the ag industry will experience a lion’s share of the blame of potential food-cost increases because of yield loss causing food shortages. Farmers and other agribusiness members should be ready to provide fact-based responses to the multiple factors of food costs such as increases in oil prices and commodity market speculation.

It’s important to note that the 2010 planting season was also delayed, though not to this extent, and still turned out a record corn crop. Most of our farmers are seasoned pros with years of experience and knowledge working on their behalf.

For now, farmers are forced to acknowledge the adage, “Patience is a virtue.”

When are you or people who you know entering the fields? What are you doing differently this year?

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