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The Drought of 2012
A difficult drought — a clear reminder of the risk involved in farming — continues to trouble Midwestern farmers.
Ohio has been spared from the drought’s most extreme damage, but many of the state’s farmers are expecting losses more severe than in recent memory.
More than 180 Ohio farmers had shared their drought observations and concerns through an informal Ohio Farm Bureau survey in July. Here are quotes and figures they shared as of the end of July.
“The corn is beyond help at this point. Hay fields are browned out.... 18 bales from a 2nd cutting field.”
Survey respondents said they expect yield losses around 48 percent for corn, 35 percent for soybeans, 7 percent for wheat and 42 percent for hay compared to average.
“We farmers must find a way to make our reduced income stretch for a whole year, then be able to afford to plant a new crop next year, and finally pray that this kind of thing doesn’t happen 2 years in a row.”
Respondents predict they will lose about 39 percent of their farm income this year.
“There are the four major crops in Ohio but the specialty crops are also hurting, these crops are those that feed our food banks.”
Other yield loss estimates ranged from 35 to 50 percent for most fruits and vegetables, with possible higher amounts for pumpkins, and some total losses at fruit farms also affected by freezing weather this spring.
“Livestock producers are in jeopardy because feed costs are higher and there is less of our own feed for use.”
Sixty-five percent of livestock farmers said feed supplies will not be sufficient. Seventy-two percent will purchase more feed than normal.
Livestock farmers expect to pay 38 percent more than their annual budget for feed. Thirty-six percent are concerned water supplies may run short, while 19 percent said they will “definitely run short.”
Hay and Forage Exchanges, Networks, and Resources
“If we can get some programs to buy and sell easier locally, I will get a better return on the products that I am able to salvage, which would lessen the blow.”
Some farmers are dipping into winter forage reserves and searching for ways to connect with others to alternatively produce, buy and sell forages. Farmers can check out listings on craigslist.com or hayexchange.com.
“The Hay Connection” Facebook Page has more than 13,000 Facebook users networking to buy and sell hay and other forages across the United States.
Emergency Haying and Grazing
“The drought is serious now but the real impact on our type of farming will be the shortage of hay for the fall, winter and spring months.”
Twenty-four percent of farmers said they would benefit from Emergency Haying and Grazing provisions for acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, which USDA authorized for all of Ohio in late July.
“Farming today is completely different than our fathers’ era. We have crop insurance and marketing tools available today that our younger generation will use to run a successful operation. Again, it’s all about managing risk. Sometimes that’s easier said than done though.”
While 62 percent of survey respondents said they find non-insured crop disaster assistance programs useful, many indicated increased interest in crop insurance programs.
Farmers with crop insurance said about 41 percent of their production losses and 38 percent of their income losses this year will be covered by crop insurance
.“Our farm has always strived to produce a little more than we need. Most years this is a headache but this year we will be using this surplus. Farmers should be responsible enough to plan ahead and insure their crop to sustain themselves.”
Forty-five percent with crop insurance said their agents have been “very helpful” during this drought period, while 39 percent of respondents had yet to talk with a crop insurance agent.
For complete details visit your local crop insurance agent or visit USDA's risk management website.
Follow constant drought-related information and updates from these sources:
Ohio Farm Bureau’s Drought Resources Page
Ohio State University Extension Drought Resources
Ohio State University Extension’s Crop Obeservation and Recommendation Network (C.O.R.N.) Newsletter
Photo by Dean Bryant