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REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — This could be one of the years when farm support programs are most needed, and the reason for making them available, most clear.
At the May 26 meeting, several farmers addressed the variables that make their business especially vulnerable, with weather at the top.
“Agriculture’s obviously been blessed and has had a lot of positive years the past few years, but I think you’ve seen it doesn’t take much of a window for that to change,” said Jack Irvin of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “Farmers don’t know when their state is going to turn into a rain forest over the spring period.”
With a new farm bill in the works, Irvin and others commented on the need to maintain support programs and crop insurance, to help farmers manage risks outside their control.
A “rain forest” could almost describe the conditions in the state this year, as the wettest spring on record has kept crop progress to dismal percentages.
Farmers had a lot to hope for at the beginning of the year as commodity prices were trending upward. And they still may have time to capitalize, but everything is on the line.
“Those prices don’t mean anything if you can’t get a crop into the ground,” he said.
Allen Armstrong, of the Ohio Soybean Council, said he was unable to plant any corn or soybeans so far at his farm in Clark County. It’s the slowest start he’s ever seen.
“I’ve never had zero planted on May the 26th — never,” he said.
Although beans and corn were the biggest focus, farmers also are struggling to make hay and winter wheat also is at risk.
Last year’s wheat crop suffered serious damage from head scab and mold. Farmers had hoped to prevent those conditions this year by applying fungicide, but it’s been too wet to enter fields to apply the product.
“We’re really just in the front end of figuring out what we might do,” said Neil Diller of Cooper Farms.
He said farmers are risk takers and adapters and expressed his optimism it will all work out. But he reminded everyone, “farming is not for the weak of heart.”
State Rep. Dave Hall, R-Millersburg, who also is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said farmers will respond when the weather does.
“I think it’s all hands on deck to try and get our crops planted and I know our farmers back in our districts are going to make sure that they help each other out and get into the fields,” he said.