Bob Latta appeals for federal disaster relief due to wet Ohio farmland

In an appeal for federal relief from the rain and flooding on behalf of farmers and farm related businesses, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, has sent letters for assistance to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“In my lifetime I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Latta in a phone interview on Tuesday, commenting on surveying farmland over the weekend in his Northwest Ohio 5th Congressional District. “I never can remember anybody talking of the amount of water we’ve had and the inability to go and get out in the field.”

On Tuesday, Latta sent a letter to the USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey asking for relief in several disaster assistance programs. He also sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on June 13.

Latta has also invited Perdue and Northey to tour farmland in the his district.

The letter to Perdue asked for an approval of an agriculture disaster declaration, should the agency receive a request for one from the state of Ohio.

Gov. Mike DeWine formally requested a USDA Secretarial Disaster Designation for Ohio on June 14. As part of that request of the federal government he stated that 50% of Ohio’s corn crop and 32% of the soybean crop had been planted by June 10.

Latta has been in discussions with DeWine about the state disaster designation.

“The designation’s by the governor, and then they go county by county. I know the governor has been up in Wood County,” Latta said.

DeWine visited a Perrysburg Township farm last week.

Latta said that the state disaster declaration will be based on data submitted by farmers on an individual county basis.

Since the resulting conversation with Perdue, the USDA announced that the Risk Management Agency adjusted the 2019 final haying and grazing date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1.

“It’s affecting everybody,” Latta said. “I know farmers who are sending back their seed. Then there are the folks in the fertilizer business who are having their orders canceled. This is a chain reaction we’re going to see throughout the entire farming community. Think about the implement dealers, if you need a new truck.”

Latta added that the financial cost will also impact ethanol producers and retail sales.

In his letter to Northey, Latta asked for assistance programs for people associated with agriculture who don’t own the crop land, but are closely associated with agriculture. These could include co-operatives, dairy farmers, cattlemen and those who harvest or process the crops.

He has also addressed the issue of first-year farmers’ lack of planting history and whether they might receive prevented planting payment.

Dollar value estimates of crop losses have not yet been released.

“In a normal year, the 5th Congressional District is the number one ag producing district in the State of Ohio. Even with the 2,000 plus manufacturing jobs, we are a heavy ag district and nobody, in anybody’s lifetime, has seen anything like this,” Latta said.

In his recent discussion with the USDA he stressed how this is a somewhat localized problem within Ohio. The 5th Congressional District covers all, or parts, of 14 counties within Northwest Ohio.

By Roger LaPointe

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