Ohio’s record rainfall this planting season has played havoc on Williams County farmers like Rusty Goebel and Bob Short this year.
Short, who farms in Millcreek Township, said because of the soggy conditions he was only able to plant about half his soybeans this year. Worse, he said he wasn’t able to plant any corn at all.
“It’s just been too wet ... just a bad year,” said Short, one of about 100 local farmers, agribusiness leaders and mental health professionals who, along with U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, gathered on Wednesday for an hour-long presentation at Sue and Rusty Goebel’s farm outside Stryker.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture added Williams County to a list that includes most of the 14 counties in Latta’s 5th Congressional District — and about half of Ohio’s 88 counties — that have been designated for disaster relief after the heavy rainfall this year. The designation will let farmers seek financial assistance from the Farm Service Agency, which may include FSA emergency loans, according to the USDA.
Goebel said he invited local farmers, Latta, mental health professionals and agribusiness leaders to meet to discuss issues facing agriculture, including weather, trade/tariffs and water quality. Mental health professionals also gave a presentation on depression and best practices for dealing with stress in light of the increase in stress and depression in farmers and agribusiness owners — such as seed companies, cooperatives, farm equipment companies and farm lending institutions.
Attendees included farmers from Fulton and Henry counties, and others whose business touches agriculture, such as Lars Eller, CEO of Farmers & Merchants State Bank.
Eller said he and a number of his staff were at the presentation to lend support to local farmers.
“We just want to show our support. Agriculture is a big part of our book of business ... about 30 percent,” Eller said.
Both Goebel and Short said Latta and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine have been assertive and responsive in advocating for the needs of agriculture, especially during this critical time.
Short — board member of the Ohio Soybean Association — said he, like many farmers, has crop insurance, but it’s not designed to cover such widespread losses.
Short said disaster aid will help farmers and agribusinesses in the short term, but there will be a ripple effect felt long into the future.
“We could be feeling the effects of this year for the next three years,” he said.