The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 10 counties in Ohio as primary agricultural natural disaster areas, making certain farmers and other agricultural producers in the counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). The following counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas, due to losses caused by storms containing excessive rain and flooding that occurred from May 10 and continuing. Those counties are: Ashtabula, Geauga, Hancock, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Muskingum, Ottawa, Wood and Wyandot counties. Counties eligible because they are contiguous to those listed above are: Allen, Ashland, Coshocton, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Erie, Guernsey, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Licking, Lucas, Marion, Morgan, Noble, Perry, Portage, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne.
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Nov. 9, 2006, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA's FSA, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part or all of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the emergency loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
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Since the blizzard of 1977, the call of the bobwhite quail has been silent in all but a few Ohio counties.
Since 1980, the bobwhite quail populations have declined from an estimated 59 million birds to about 20 million birds in 1999. The habitats are disappearing because of urbanization, loss of native grasslands, intensive agriculture and a transitioning of once grassy fields into forests. All counties in Ohio are eligible for the CRP Northern Bobwhite Quail Habitat Initiative. The habitat buffers for upland birds practice, commonly called practice CP33, is a border of native grasses and forbs placed between the edge of the field and the crop. The border can be between 30 and 120 feet wide.
Farmers find this practice particularly economically advantageous under field fence rows and around woods. Presently, producers will receive annual rental payments for the length of the contract, maintenance incentive payments and cost-share assistance of up to 50 percent of the eligible practice cost to establish CP33 cover.
Additionally, FSA provides producers with a signing incentive payment of up to $100 per acre, and a practice incentive payment of up to 40 percent of the eligible establishment cost.
Diana Strouse is the county executive director for the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency. For more information, call the agency at (419) 668-4113.