With a drought that has affected farmers throughout the Midwest this summer, area crop growers may have felt relief when Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Wednesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made loans available for affected farmers in Seneca County and most of the state.
The announcement, which came a few weeks after many farmers were made aware, allows for farmers to apply through their local Farm Service Agencies for loans to restore or replace property, pay production costs associated with the period of the disaster and refinance some debts.
Holly Gates, farm loan manager for the Seneca County Farm Service Agency, said eligibility requires that farmers suffered at least 30 percent loss in crop production or physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate or personal property, and that they are unable to receive credit from commercial sources, among other requirements.
According to a news release, producers can borrow up to 100 percent of losses, up to $500,000. Depending on collateral provided and loan type, the loan is to be repaid within one to seven years, or up to 30 years for physical losses to real estate. The interest rate is fixed at 2.25 percent.
Seneca County Commissioner Jeff Wagner, who also farms, said he does not believe many farmers in the area would be taking advantage of the loans, but called the announcement "better than nothing."
The weather in recent years has been mixed for area farmers, Seneca County Farm Bureau Director Darren Frank said, with a harsh fall last year, followed by a warm winter and mild spring and then drought in the summer, with occasional heavy rainfall. Because of conditions, farmers were able to plant more in the spring than ever before, but Frank said dry conditions caused the crop to fare worse than that planted later.
However, Frank said Seneca and other counties her office covers, including Hardin, Hancock and Wyandot, have done better than others.
"Definitely the yields are lower, but not as hard hit the further northwest you go," she said.
Gates echoed Frank's statements, saying she has not heard requests from Seneca County farmers, but some Williams, Paulding and Defiance county residents have been in contact with the office.
An informational meeting about the loan program sponsored through the Ohio FSA, Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio State University Extension is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Campus Center Building, Room 120, at Heidelberg University. Gates said Steve D. Maurer, executive director of Ohio FSA, is to attend.