Following a long summer marked by near-record heat and long-lasting drought, fall has arrived. Ohio’s farmers are heading into the fields for harvest, everyone hoping that the weather conditions that affected our state and much of the nation will not play too negatively on yields.

Drought impacts all areas of food production, not just the conventional industries that we might think of regarding crops in fields. Apple and peach orchards, for instance, were forced to deal with temperatures that for weeks at a time offered no relief or, more importantly, rain.

Anyone who attended the Farm Science Review last month at Ohio State University may have heard Gov. John Kasich and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talk about topics such as drought relief. In August, the US Department of Agriculture announced that some Ohio counties were designated “primary natural disaster areas” due to the drought and heat.

Prior to that, Gov. Kasich urged the department to give the state’s farmers access to federal drought-related assistance such as emergency low-interest loans and temporary deferral of payments on federal loans. Per his request, the Department of Agriculture designated 85 counties in Ohio, including Muskingum and Coshocton, as primary natural disaster areas eligible for federal assistance.

Therefore, farmers in Muskingum and Coshocton counties can apply for assistance related to the drought conditions suffered this summer. More information is available at the Ohio Department of Agriculture website ( I applaud Gov. Kasich and Secretary Vilsack for their work and their commitment to Ohio farmers. For more information about this assistance program, you can call my office in Columbus and I will be happy to assist you.

One in seven Ohioans are employed in agriculture in areas ranging from wholesale, processing, production, retail and marketing. From January 2011 through August 2012, nearly 2,000 jobs were created in food production industries across Ohio, equaling an investment of $731 million. So clearly, agriculture is a major player, not only for the state, but also for the country and even the world.

One can never predict the weather, and hopefully next year the conditions will be more hospitable to crops and livestock. In the meantime, we must always be prepared for the unexpected. I wish all farmers and agriculture workers in the district a safe and prosperous fall harvest.


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