This season’s weather has brought not only tremendous amounts of rain, but also exacerbated the problems many farmers already face. In these challenging times, it’s important that we stay in touch, share resources, brainstorm strategies, and empathize with each other’s experiences.
In late June, OEFFA hosted a “Rainy Day Exchange” conversation offering farmers space to discuss the challenges they are facing, ask questions, and share ideas. Nearly 60 producers, agricultural service providers, and researchers joined the call by phone and computer to share their experiences and offer feedback, resources, and solidarity. The discussion and feedback focused on several topics that warranted attention, including stress management; alternative production options; pest, disease, and weed management; next steps for the season; crop insurance options, and building long-term resiliency into our farming systems.
In July, we hosted “Salvaging the Season on Your Organic Grain Farm,” a follow up online gathering designed specifically for organic and transitional grain growers. Ohio State University Extension’s (OSUE) Alan Sundermeier presented mid- and late- season cropping and cover crop options, weed management strategies, and dry down considerations to a small group of grain grower leaders. Alan stressed that farmers can harvest and sell a forage crop grown on Prevent Plant acreage and still collect their insurance payment as long as they harvest after September 1.
Bryan Lee and David Manthei of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) shared a program related to disaster relief funding available for cover cropping on Prevent Plant acres and the Conservation Stewardship Program.
Jami Dellifield of OSUE led us in a “Staycation” exercise and talked about stress management.
Dave Shively and the OEFFA Grain Grower Chapter leaders on the call heartily invited the group to attend the August 10 farm tour and field day at Bartholomew Farms in Ottawa Lake, Michigan on the Ohio/Michigan border.
In August, OEFFA will host another lunchtime call focused on “Managing Farm Stress,” with co-presenters Patty Roth from Michigan State University Extension and Sarah Noggle of OSUE. Patty and Sarah will discuss the current farm economic climate, highlight the physical and mental impacts of stress, and train participants to recognize signs of stress, prevent self-harm in the agricultural community, and access resources for themselves or their loved ones. Mental health is an uncomfortable subject for many, but we all need a lift from time to time. This call will provide a facilitated space for farmers to support each other while learning practical tools for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and community. ALL are welcome. Please join us and feel your best so you can farm your best.
OEFFA’s upcoming conference in February will offer training for both producers and agricultural professionals in farm stress management, as well as resiliency training for producers.
Stay tuned to OEFFA for information on future conversations. If you have thoughts on helpful topics or would like to discuss your challenges, or would like to request education and resources, please contact Julia Barton at (614) 359-3180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.