COLUMBUS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s request for a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 85 of Ohio’s 88 counties following the severe heat, rainfall shortages and other weather-related disasters that struck large areas of the state over the spring and summer.
Ohio counties contiguous to the 85 disaster counties also can receive funding, making all Ohio counties eligible.
The designation gives eligible Ohio farmers access to drought-related federal assistance such as emergency low-interest loans for crop losses, relief payments for non-insurable losses, the temporary deferral of payments on federal loans and permission to cut hay for livestock from acreage otherwise set aside for conservation.
“Agriculture is an essential component of Ohio’s economy and our heritage, and if our farmers and Ohio’s food industry are suffering, Ohio suffers,” Kasich said in a media statement. “The federal declaration will help keep farmers on their feet and mitigate some of the damage caused by the bad weather.”
Seven Pennsylvania counties received a federal designation: Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, Mercer, Crawford and Erie counties.
And 12 West Virginia counties received designations: Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasant, Tyler, Wetzel, and Wood counties.
In July, Kasich signed Executive Order 2012-11K which, among other things, instructed state agencies to help farmers reduce the negative impacts of the drought and to seek federal assistance. Ohio farmers in these counties are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office for additional information.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio State University Extension and FSA will host a series of meetings in September at which the public can speak with experts on drought mitigation practices. All meetings run from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
Sept. 10 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Bromfield Administration Building (Auditorium), 8995 East Main St., Reynoldsburg.
Sept. 12 at Heidelberg University’s Campus Center Building (Room 120 and “The Great Hall”), 310 E. Market St., Tiffin.
Sept. 17 at OARDC Wooster Campus Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster.
Sept. 20 at Greenville High school cafeteria (Room106), 100 Green Wave Way, Greenville.
Sept. 25 at Ohio University Zanesville & Zane State College. Campus Center Building (Rooms T430 and 431), 1425 Newark Rd., Zanesville.
Sept. 27 at Hocking College’s John Light Hall (Room 195), 3301 Hocking Parkway, Nelsonville.
Additional meetings will be announced as they are scheduled. For more information on other drought related resources, please visit http://www.agri.ohio.gov/TopNews/DroughtInformationAndResources/.