Heavy rainfall, floods and other weather ailments have caused Ohio to suffer from the worst weather-prevented planting season the United States Department of Agriculture has on record.
The corn crop yield could potentially drop as much as 33 percent and the soybean crop yield could drop about 30 percent.
“Rainfall has been the most significant factor is preventing farmers from planting their crops this year,” Kirk Merritt, the Ohio Soybean Association executive director, told The Center Square via email. “The soils became saturated and unfortunately never had enough time to dry out before the next rain event in many parts of the state, greatly reducing the number of days where soil conditions were right for farmers to plant.”
According to The Columbus Dispatch, 15 percent of farm acreage, which is 1.5 million acres, could not be planted. This was the highest number for any state.
More farmers than ever recorded received federal aid for the low crop yield, leading the USDA to issue a natural disaster declaration in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The northwestern part of the state suffered the most.
“This is the worst planting season ever,” Joe Cornely, the senior director of corporate communications for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, told The Center Square via email.
“1.5 million acres of Ohio corn and soybeans went unplanted, about 18 percent of the intended acres,” Cornely said. “Northwest Ohio was hit the worst, where some farmers were unable to plant anything.”
The disaster declaration allows farmers in those counties to apply for low-interest loans if they can demonstrate a serious production loss caused by weather and the ability to pay back the emergency loans. Cornely said that government programs will help mitigate the problems faced by farmers, but that it will not completely erase the problems that farmers will have this year. He also expressed concern that there have been discrepancies in some of the government crop data, which can hurt the prices farmers receive.
“Farm family income will be cut dramatically,” Cornely said. “Farmers will have to dig into their equity to finance next year's crop. Livestock farmers are struggling to figure out how to feed their animals since both grain and hay crops are small. Emotional stress levels are high throughout farm country. Local rural economies will be slowed because farmers don't have money to spend.”
Merritt said that years like this demonstrate the importance of government programs that help farmers in bad years.
Some free market groups have criticized aid to farms, generally arguing that they should be subject to market forces and that they should take into account potential complications like other industries have to do.