COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich today ordered state agencies to work with drought-stricken farmers to seek federal low-interest loans and other assistance to help compensate them for lost crops.
“Farmers are the foundation of Ohio’s $105 billion food and agriculture industry and taking steps to help through this hot, dry weather is essential for their survival,” Mr. Kasich said. “We need to be taking the right steps so they don’t suffer devastating losses or aren’t forced to abandon their fields or herds.
The worst drought in the United States in nearly a half-century is expected to drive up the price of milk, beef and pork next year, the government said Wednesday, as consumers bear some of the brunt of the sweltering heat that is driving up the cost of feed corn.
Poultry prices are expected to rise more immediately, the government said in a report. It estimated that consumer price indexes for chicken and turkey would rise 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent later this year.
“The poultry category is the smallest animal category, and we expect to see more of an effect this year because they grow the fastest and will be first to be impacted by higher feed prices,” said Richard Volpe, an economist with the Department of Agriculture. Read more...
“It’s in all Ohioans’ best interests for our hard-hit farmers to be able to come back next year, and these measures can help make that happen,’’ he said.
Mr. Kasich signed the order after touring the Ohio State Fair on its opening day.
The order urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make drought-related federal assistance available to Ohio farmers, including emergency low-interest loans, relief payments for non-insurable crops, and temporary deferral of payments on prior federal loans. It also asks the department to grant permission for farmers to cut hay for their livestock from acreage that has been set aside for conservation.
The order also tells the Ohio Department of Transportation to give permission to farmers to cut hay for livestock on adjacent highway rights-of-way if it can be done safely.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture will be required to educate farmers on ways they can mitigate drought damage and to hold a series of regional hearings to discuss forage management, water availability, heat stress, and mitigation.