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Ohio Had Its Worst Weather-Prevented Planting Season On Record

Gov. Mike DeWine talks to farmer Kris Swartz in Perrysburg on June 19, 2019.
Nick Evans
Gov. Mike DeWine talks to farmer Kris Swartz in Perrysburg on June 19, 2019.

Across the nation, farmers were kept from planting almost 10 times as many acres this year as they were in 2018. 

The USDA released figures earlier this week estimating farmers were prevented from planting more than 19 million acres. Ohio accounted for about 1.5 million of them.

This year has been Ohio's rainiest year on record, and the USDA report shows Ohio also had its worst weather-preventing planting season on record.

With dwindling supplies come higher prices, even for by-products like the spent grain from ethanol plants.

Nathan Eckel, a farmer based in Wood County, described the situation on WOSU's All Sides With Ann Fisher.

“We use that in our livestock operation to feed our cattle,” Eckel said. “Now, that’s doubled in price just in the last two months. So that’s why we’re also trying to figure out other ways, other forages to get that dry matter into our ration here.”

Wood County led the state with more than 120,000 acres left unplanted.

Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornely says this year’s disappointing crops add to an already tense economic situation.

“We’re heading into, or in the midst of, a period where the economy of agriculture has not been good, and then all of the sudden we get this suckerpunch of not having any grain and low prices all at the same time,” Cornely said.

He notes one of a farmer's chief tasks is mitigating risk, and with crop insurance many of them will remain solvent even if this year puts a dent in their bottom line.

“They’re probably going to survive this year. Not all, but most will,” Cornely said. “But if we have another year like this, next year or the year thereafter, I don’t want to say we’re going to look at the farm crisis years of the early and mid-'80s, but it’s going to get serious.”

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.