Rainy spring has farmers worried, voice concerns to state official

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DELAWARE COUNTY (WCMH) — The large amount of rain that has fallen in central Ohio this spring has set farmers back.

Ohio Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda visited Delaware County Tuesday to talk to them about their concerns with late planting.

Most hay farmers’ fields are, at this point in the season, tall, browning and overdue for a first cutting.

“That’s where the old saying comes from – “Save for a rainy day,” this would be our rainy day,” said Rob Leeds of Leeds Farm. “So, hopefully a lot of people have saved some assets. We’ll be able to weather it.”

After coming off one of the wettest years on record, farmers were left with muddy fields that delayed planting.

And for the crops that did make it into the ground, not having at least three or four days in a row of dry weather has prevented cutting, drying and bailing hay.

Leeds said he’s about three weeks behind on harvesting the hay.

This is not only impacting the hay farmers, but anyone one with cattle or horses who eat the plant.

Which has cattle farmers like Earl Lehner, of Dee Lehner Farm, concerned, even though he usually has a hay supply of his own.

“This is the first time in 19 years I’ve had to buy hay, and I’m currently going to buy some more, just because I haven’t had the chance,” he said.

These topics and more were brought up to Pelanda during her visit, as well as a specific concern for the next generation for farmers.

“I feel for the younger farmers getting in because they haven’t had the time that some of us that have been in it for a while have,” Leeds said. “Because even though it’s tough on us, I know it’s really scary for them.”

Even with a brief break from the rain this week, farmers are concerned about more than just the quantity of hay they will be producing this year.

“A lot of the other farmers are facing those same kind of issues,” said Leeds. “The hay is coming off late, we may not get that second or third cutting, or at least the quality that we usually get and I look for hay prices to be fairly high come this winter.”

Many farmers are trying to take advantage of this week’s stretch of dry weather and get a first cut of hay.

If the unfavorable weather continues, higher prices for hay could eventually mean higher prices across the board at the grocery store as well.

“We’ve been through rough times before, Lehner said. “We just got to roll with the punches and see what Mother Nature gives us, and decide what we’re going to do.”

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