WILMINGTON — During an agriculture roundtable discussion here facilitated by Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague, he asked attendees about challenges or issues facing local farmers.
The discussion included four Clinton County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) directors and the organization director of the Clinton County Farm Bureau. It was held in a conference room at Expo Hall on the Clinton County Fairgrounds which Sprague later toured.
Clinton County Ag Society President Jason Vance said he thinks economic conditions are going to take a toll on some of the smaller farmers.
“They’re going to be the ones who struggle the most,” said Vance.
Clinton County Farm Bureau Director Ashley Rose said there will be local farmers who go out of business in the next couple years.
Prior to those comments there was talk about this year’s planting and growing season weather, about inflation in the cost of nitrogen and diesel, and discussion about the ongoing payments that need to be made on big-ticket farm equipment acquired when times were better on the farm.
Rose said it is really hard to try to balance and keep a good budget and keep things going “when you’ve got things like the weather and unpredictable gas prices and equipment breakdowns.”
Further, the farmer does not get paid every two weeks like most workers in other sectors, said Rose.
The majority of the payments that farmers receive come in Novembers in connection with harvests, she added.
Rural mental health can be a challenge, according to Rose. Over the last decade in Clinton County there have been about 10 farmer and farm family suicides, she said, adding those are the ones that were heard about.
Sprague also came to the 2022 county fair to publicize recent revamping of the state’s long-standing Ag-LINK program, which lowers the interest rate on loans.
The Ohio Treasurer’s office administers the Ag-LINK program to help farm operators, and now agribusinesses and agricultural co-ops, finance the upfront operating costs for feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel, equipment, and other costs.
Prior to passage of House Bill 440, Ohio law limited individual loans available through Ag-LINK to $150,000 per year. Moving forward, loan caps will be assessed and set on an annual basis by the Ohio Treasurer’s office, presently $500,000.
For the first time, applications will be accepted year-round to provide borrowers with greater flexibility and access to lower-cost capital when they need it most, perhaps especially useful for livestock farmers.
“We’re going to use our balance sheet to make sure that the one cost that does not go up next year for farmers is the cost of money,” said Sprague.
In recent months, interest rates have risen, so Ag-LINK can help keep the interest rates on agricultural loans lower, said the state treasurer.
Each year will be divided into four quarters. New interest rate reduction figures are announced at the start of each quarter to reflect real-time economic conditions, stated the treasurer’s office. Ag-LINK provides an interest rate reduction on agriculture business operation loans at eligible banks, credit unions, and farm credit lenders.
According to an Ohio Treasurer brochure, Ag-LINK’s interest rate reductions can apply to new or existing operating loans.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.