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Ohio Drought Aid Application Deadline Coming Up

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Written Friday, October 15, 1999  

November 1 is the deadline for Ohio's drought-stressed livestock producers to apply for some of the $5-million in aid provided by the state of Ohio to develop emergency water sources and buy emergency hay and forages.

The program, announced by Gov. Bob Taft last month, allocates $1 million to pay partial costs to develop emergency water sources for animals, and $4 million in subsidies for wintertime hay and forage purchases. Farmers should contact their local soil and water conservation district (SWCD) offices for applications.

The water source program has two categories:

* Natural water sources: The state will pay 20 percent up to a maximum of $1,000 of the total cost of developing springs or seeps, or constructing or deepening wells or ponds. The funding can be used as the farmer's cost-share of the USDA's Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) available this year in about one third of Ohio counties.

* Rural water line tap-in fees: The state will pay 50 percent up to a $1,000 maximum for a one-time connection fee to tap into a rural water system. The ECP also may pay a portion of the costs.

The emergency feed assistance program will pay up to $50 per ton for hay or forage that was or will be purchased between Aug. 10 and Dec. 1, as winter feed replacement. Payments will be made up to $100 per cow-calf pair (or 10 mature sheep), up to a maximum $2,500 per farm. Grains and oilseeds are not eligible for coverage.

Farmers applying for water source development funding must operate a farm in one of the 33 Ohio counties declared eligible for ECP assistance, although farmers are not required to participate in the federal program. Farmers applying for hay and forage assistance must have a farm in one of the 87 Ohio counties which the U.S. agriculture secretary declared as a drought disaster area on Aug. 10.

To qualify for either program, a farmer must be 1) an Ohio resident, 2) have livestock breeding animals that produced to provide food for human consumption, 3) have livestock breeding animals that required feedings of hay or forage during the 1999 drought, and 4) operate a farm that, under normal conditions, grows forages for feeding those animals.

Probably the aid packakge's main effect will be to help cash-short livestock producers maintain their cash-flow through a difficult time, says Steve Baertsche, Ohio State Extension's assistant director for agriculture and natural resources.

"For the affected areas in Ohio, this was probably worse than the last major drought in 1988 in terms of crop losses, and the fact that livestock producers began liquidating their herds much earlier in the summer and were forced to feed stored hay a lot earlier," Baertsche says. "I'm glad the state is recognizing the need to help livestock producers in the affected drought areas."

Payments for water development assistance will be made by mid-March 2000. Farmers must produce bills to verify costs by March 10, 2000, for projects completed by March 1, 2000.

Payments for hay or forage purchases will be made by mid-December. Bills for purchases made before Dec. 1 must be submitted to local SWCD offices by Dec. 10.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) also is running its Hay Hotline to help connect hay suppliers with those who need hay. The phone number, toll-free in Ohio only, is (800) 282-1955. Also check ODA's online Hay Suppliers Directory at: http://www.state.oh.us/agr/.

The ODA estimates total 1999 drought losses at up to $600 million. Loss estimates from hard-hit counties indicate Ohio livestock producers need at least 300,000 tons of hay to feed animals through the winter.

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