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Weekly News 9/17/12

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Monday, September 17, 2012
Ohio Forestry Association

Weekly News 9/17/12


In this issue:

  • Logging Chapter Visits and Survey - Last week, Dr. Eric McConnell, Forest Products Specialist from OSU Extension, started a series of visits to the Logger Chapters, to share updated information on Ohio’s forest products industry he has recently gathered through various sources. Last week he visited the Southern Ohio Loggers Chapter and the Muskingum Valley Loggers’ Chapter. He also is asking chapter members to fill out a survey on their company that will help to identify concerns and opportunities facing Ohio’s logging community. The results will be compiled in a report for a research project through OSU. The information on the forest products industry that Dr. McConnell has compiled is eye-opening and has generated good discussion and a number of recommendations from loggers in the meetings. Dr. McConnell advised that he will produce a state report on the collected data and will also produce one-page county reports that can be used at the local level to share information with elected representatives and others about the value of the forest products industry.
  • Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Eradication Program Survey Request for Proposals (RFP) - The State of Ohio Procurement Office has notified OFA of an RFP notice for an ALB Eradication Program Survey to prospective contractors who may want to complete the survey. You can find information on the state procurement website and then go directly to the Request for Proposals. If you’re interested, be careful. It is 63 pages long and a summary of the project doesn’t show up until page 17. Briefly, the successful contractor will be responsible for surveying a 16,000-acre area in Clermont County for the presence of ALB. The survey will involve looking at host trees on all properties within the designated zone. Note that the due date for proposals is October 12, 2012 and there will be a pre-proposal conference/site visit on September 20, 2012 at 11:00 AM at the ODA office in Amelia.
  • Farm Bill Still Not Passed - The current Farm Bill is scheduled to sunset on September 30 and as of this date, there is still no 2012 Farm Bill passed before Congress. The Senate had approved a $500 billion version in June, which was then sent to the House in July. Since then the Agricultural Committee made a number of changes but the full House has never heard the bill. It now awaits action. The Farm Bill contains a number of funding components that affect forestry programs for private woodlands, many administered by state Division’s of Forestry. This Farm Bill (they are normally created for a 5-year authorization) made sweeping changes eliminating crop commodity payments and replacing them with safety nets such as crop insurance. In spite of it being called a Farm Bill, the vast majority of the funding (80%) goes to welfare and food programs. Those programs are the ones that cause the most controversy between both sides of the aisle in Congress. Ohio’s farm and conservation communities are pushing hard to get passage of the bill soon as failure to create a new bill can have significant impacts on the fundamental programs affecting farmers and woodland owners. Don’t expect to see any full actions, other than temporary funding resolutions, before the elections.

  • American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Encourages Congressional Contact for Farm Bill - ATFS is one of the groups encouraging its members and others to contact their Congressional delegation about passing the Farm Bill. To do that, it has created an easy on-line letter submission process that makes the submission as simple as it can get. Please keep in mind that with current security issues of paper mailings to Congress, electronic letters are preferred. It takes weeks for paper mail to get through the system. If you want to contact your Congressional representative, click on the link above and fill in your personal information. You can change the letter to fit your personal needs or interests.
  • Ohio Constitutional Review Panel Set - You may recall that Ohio will soon begin work on revising the state constitution. Last week, the Ohio Constitutional Commission (OCC) unanimously approved 20 at-large members to sit on the review panel along with 12 previously appointed legislative members. The OCC has authority to make recommendations through 2021. Speaker Batchelder, co-chair of the commission, expects the first recommendation to come forth in the spring of 2013. Already suggested issues to look at include term limits, judicial elections, state bonding indebtedness, home rule, the ballot issue process, and limits on using public funds for private investment. I think it is one we need to watch closely. The recommendations will affect all of us and may have particular impact on forestry. One issue I think we need to watch closely is potential changes to state authority on tax reductions for forest and agricultural land, the basis for both the Forest Tax Law and CAUV. Currently, the Ohio Constitution says "Laws may be passed to encourage forestry and agriculture, and to that end lands devoted exclusively to forestry (emphasis added) may be exempted in whole or in part, from taxation. …laws may be passed to provide that land devoted exclusively to agricultural (emphasis added) use be valued…at the current value such land has for agricultural use.” The issue and concern with this has been and will be how forestry and agriculture are defined when put in practice.
  • Trial Lawyers File Suit against Ohio BWC for Changes to Catastrophic Injury Benefits - The Ohio Association of Justice, a group of trial lawyers, have filed suit against the state for over changes to Workers Compensation benefits for catastrophic injuries. The change eliminates lump sum payments to amputees and instead would require BWC to issue scheduled loss benefits for catastrophic injuries in weekly installments. The suit claims the new provision is unconstitutional. Meanwhile the Ohio Chamber of Commerce (OCOC) maintains that the change which was put into place with the mid-biennium review this past year was intended to correct an "overreach” by the previous administration and to restore a decades-long payment policy on catastrophic injuries. OCOC believes that the lump-sum payment procedure conflicted with state statute and should not have been put in place to begin with. The lawsuit should sort this out.

  • ECOFA October NewsletterAttached is the October Newsletter from the East Central Ohio Forestry Association. There is information on the recent General Meeting on September 5, during which OFA Board member Dr. Eric McConnell, Forest Products Specialist with OSU Extension talked about the historical and current trends on Ohio Hardwood Stumpage Prices. There is also information about EHD deer disease confirmed in a number of Ohio counties, as well as information on upcoming events including the Tree Farm of the Year Tour on September 29,the Paul Bunyan Show, October 5-7, the Forest Heritage Festival, October 19-20, and the Fall Foliage Walk, October 20 (Guernsey County).
  • Paul Bunyan Show, October 5-7, 2012, Guernsey County Fairgrounds - Things are very busy with final details being worked on for the 66th Annual Paul Bunyan Show. We’re looking forward to another great year. We hope that all OFA members get a chance to visit during the weekend. Come to see new industry equipment and take in all the festivities of the show. Please Note: We have special need for volunteers this year, particularly equipment operators to run log loading and unloading equipment. Due to unusually high wood needs this year as well as the unavailability of a couple long-time operators, we are short on help, starting on Tuesday, October 2 through the end of the show. We also remain in need of volunteer timers for the Great Firewood Shoot-Out on Saturday. This activity should take no more than 2 hours and probably less. If you can help, please contact Gayla at the OFA office, 614-497-9580.
  • Other Upcoming Events:
    1. Tree Farm of the Year Tour, September 29, 2012, Deseret Tree Farm (Wayne and Benita Lashbrook), Jackson County. Everyone is invited to attend a great day on Ohio’s 2012 Tree Farm of the Year. The Lashbrooks and the planning committee have put together a great agenda.
    3. Forest Heritage Festival, October 19-20, 2012, Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds, Dover. Two weeks following the Paul Bunyan Show is the Forest Heritage Festival in Dover, Ohio. Come and enjoy displays on Ohio’s forest heritage and make sure to take in the annual auction on Saturday, with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the Akron Children’s Hospital.

                Ohio Forestry Association is managed by Offinger Management Company, a member of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), "Charter-Accredited" Association Management Company member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a member of the Association Management Company Institute (AMC Institute).


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