Across the Table: Farmers don’t quit

They say rain makes grain. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case this spring. Nonstop, heavy rains kept many corn, soybean, fruit and vegetable farmers out of their tractors and only about half of the state’s crops were actually planted.

I saw miles and miles of weedy fields that were sopping wet after yet another shower rushed through northwest Ohio in June. I heard the frustrations as I talked with fellow farmers all over Ohio who found very little solace in the fact that their grandparents probably never saw a planting season quite like this one.

More acres will be turned in for Prevent Plant crop insurance than ever before in Ohio. Luckily, more and more farmers are buying insurance policies. The claims that will be paid this year don’t even come close to an income earned with crop in the ground, but the coverage will hopefully help many farmers survive to plant a crop next year.

Dairy farmers were struggling enough as it was due to pricing and production woes. The wet spring added insult to injury. Lower corn production will lead to a shortage in feed for dairy herds this fall, compounded by a short supply of other forages like alfalfa hay due to the severe conditions of last winter. Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stepped in and provided some help for all Ohio dairy and livestock producers by easing grazing and haying rules for this year.

It’s not only farmers and their families who are struggling, but also those who do business with them. Those involved in seed sales, implement dealers, fertilizer applicators and grain elevator operators are all on the minds of farmers, too. The trickle-down effect of a slow farm economy travels fast, and farmers feel all of the pressure of keeping their key agricultural partners viable.

We appreciate the attention Gov. DeWine and Ohio’s congressional delegation in Washington have given to the critical challenges of Ohio agriculture. It’s comforting when our neighbors check in after realizing that the corn or soybean fields that usually pop up in their backyards are as empty now as they were in February. The community support has been great and farmers are very appreciative of it.

It is ingrained in farmers to plant, grow and harvest a successful crop year in and year out. Truth be told, too many of us will not be able to meet any of those goals this year. That harsh reality can put stress on their bottom line and their mental well-being. One website, from Ohio State, is a valuable resource to help with farm stress during these difficult times. Ohio Department of Agriculture also is providing online resources.

But farmers don’t quit. Those sidelined during planting season still work on searching for best management practices to improve nutrient management and water quality. They continue to find ways to be more efficient, productive and sustainable. That forward thinking will power farmers through these turbulent times with anticipation for a new beginning and a better result next year.