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Farmers will get state, federal aid

Checks in next week’s mail will allow more than 200 Lawrence County farmers to recover drought-related expenses.

Thursday, November 18, 1999

Checks in next week’s mail will allow more than 200 Lawrence County farmers to recover drought-related expenses.

"This works out real well for the farmers," Lawrence Soil and Water Conservation District board chair Bob Day said. "A lot of farmers don’t have pasture now, they’re still feeding hay, and this means a lot of money back in the county."

More than $350,000 in state and federal agricultural aid will return the cash they spent this summer on finding hay and developing water sources.

Under the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s emergency Ohio Drought Program, the county received $230,537 to fund 226 applications for drought aid, said Peggy Reynolds, Lawrence Soil and Water administrative assistant.

About $171,000 of that aid will reimburse farmers for hay they had to purchase because the lack of water made pasture lands unusable this summer, Mrs. Reynolds said.

The remaining cash will reimburse farmers 20 percent of the cost incurred in developing springs or holding tanks, and 50 percent of water tap costs, she said.

The board will distribute checks based on receipts received during the drought emergency application period, Mrs. Reynolds said.

"By the end of next week, I’ll be distributing checks to those landowners," she said.

The federal Farm Service Agency also has emergency assistance money for county farmers – about $128,000 for a 64 cost-share of spring, pressure system, pipeline, tanks and other water source projects, Mrs. Reynolds said.

"The Ohio Drought Program was a one-time thing and all the state funding is gone for that," she said.

However, officials are hopeful that more emergency assistance will come next year, because the drought will continue.

"My springs have not come back yet and if we don’t get a lot of snow and rain this winter, we’re going be hurting next year," Day said.

"And a lot of farmers are going to have to buy hay this year, if they can get it because there’s a shortage, or feed a lot of corn, maybe oats or whatever they can get to feed cattle this winter," he said.

At soil and water, workers have done about all they can do, managing a tremendous workload to help farmers, Day said.

But the board will continue to seek emergency help through grants and other programs, he said.

"Whether we’ll get more later or not I don’t know," he added. "I just hope we have a good winter, although they’re predicting another dry season next year."

The recent farm assistance is part of disaster money allocated to ease the burden of this year’s drought, said district conservationist Ralph Crawford of the National Resources Conservation Service and Lawrence Soil and Water.

Crawford completed 106 engineering plans and handled as many as 83 referrals from the FSA since this summer to develop farm water systems for livestock.

Although the emergency programs have ended for now, and recent wetter weather has helped some, the problem now is the district’s lack of supplies, Crawford said.

Water holding tanks and manufacturers of concrete storage tubs are hard to find, he said.