Memorial Day
76°
Slight Chance Thunderstorms
27%
Monday Night
54°
Chance Thunderstorms
30%
Tuesday
71°
Partly Sunny
10%
Tuesday Night
54°
Slight Chance Thunderstorms
16%
Wednesday
70°
Partly Sunny
14%
Wednesday Night
51°
Mostly Clear
5%
Thursday
75°
Slight Chance Thunderstorms
14%
Thursday Night
61°
Chance Thunderstorms
39%
Friday
76°
Chance Thunderstorms
50%
Friday Night
60°
Chance Thunderstorms
59%
Saturday
74°
Mostly Cloudy
23%
Saturday Night
57°
Mostly Cloudy
14%
3 Day
Extended
Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Regs may kill cover crop effort

Planting delayed

By Nancy Allen
Federal crop insurance regulations and delayed planting this spring may kill efforts to get Grand Lake watershed farmers to adopt cover crops, local ag officials fear.
Cover crops are the best way to keep phosphorous from running off farm fields and into Grand Lake where it feeds toxic blue-green algae blooms, said Mercer County OSU Extension educator Jim Hoorman.
Cover crops are planted in the fall and keep sediment and attached nutrients in place during winter and spring months and give farmers a place upon which to spread manure. The crops are killed in early spring so corn and soybeans can be planted.
Crop insurance policies require that cover crops be killed by May 15. That didn't happen this year.
Wet fields have made it impossible for farmers to get into the fields at all, Hoorman said.
Private crop insurance agents are telling farmers that if their cover crops were not terminated by the deadline, they are no longer insured for corn, or soybeans planted instead of corn. Also, if farmers can't plant corn or soybeans at all due to wet weather, they will not be insured for prevented planting payments because of the existence of a mature cover crop.
"We are working to get this fixed now and for the next farm bill," said Hoorman, who's worked the last four years to get watershed farmers to plant cover crops. "Cover crops are needed and are part of the solution. If we don't fix this (crop insurance regulations), we won't be able to fix the lake trouble."
Farmers in the lake watershed have planted about 6,000 acres of cover crops; 10,000 acres have been planted in the county, Hoorman said.
Chris Gibbs, Mercer County Farm Service Agency executive director, has discussed the deadline issue with aids representing U.S. senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and U.S. Congressman John Boehner.
Gibbs was to attend a meeting today of officials from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, USDA, National Weather Service and Ohio farm and commodity groups for an update on Ohio's spring planting and the outlook for the season. Gibbs said he will brief that group on the cover crop issue. A remedy would likely include extending the May 15 deadline, he said.
The deadline is set by the USDA Crop Insurance Risk Management Agency (RMA); private crop insurance agencies' policies are underwritten by RMA.
"Certainly, RMA has their responsibilities to protect their claims process, and I'm confident if they can assist our local farmers they will," Gibbs said.
The issue is on the minds of many farmers, he added.
"We certainly do not want to get ourselves into a situation where we penalize those who are changing their management for better water quality," Gibbs said.
Chris Sorensen of Sorensen Insurance Agency, Wapakoneta, said RMA regulations do not allow for insuring corn or soybeans planted into the same field if the mature cover crop is killed after May 15. This would constitute insuring two crops under the same policy, which RMA does not allow, he said.
Sorensen, whose agency serves farmers in Mercer and Auglaize counties, said his phone has been ringing a lot because of the issue. He said it is a turnoff for all farmers planting cover crops.
"They're most definitely upset," he said. "They're also in shock over the entire weather situation as well."
The lake has made headlines due to toxic algae blooms fed largely by runoff of manure and fertilizers from farmland in the livestock-heavy watershed.
On Jan. 18, the watershed was designated distressed, triggering new laws that require those farmers to follow new guidelines when spreading manure. The guidelines are based in part on nutrient levels in individual fields.
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service has offered special cost-share money to incentivize lake watershed farmers to try cover crops.
Additional online stories on this date
The Grand Lake Task Force arrested dozens of people Wednesday on felony drug trafficking charges - the largest roundup in the 30-year history of the group. [More]
As a high school freshman in the mid-1970s, St. Henry's Tim Braun was stuck with a perplexing dilemma prior to launching his track and field career. [More]
Subscriber only stories on this date
A family's service
Montgomery suggests fee for users of field
Seniors to receive diplomas during commencement
Two arrested in unlawful entry of pop machine
Pool openings
Weather shortens first day of action
Bulldogs' boys shut out after the first day
Celina's Muhlenkamp to swim at Wright State
Many attractions in area
New dates for Chickasaw picnic
Firecracker Festival to add poker
Pomoma festival about the berries - and shortcake
K of C picnic to feature bands, rides, chili, games
Historical group to offer dinners
Holy Rosary cash raffle up to $2,500
Rockford festival adds golf, exotic animals
Fort Recovery jubilee to include contests, stunt show
Zuma Days to mark 25th year with music
Bands add to Country Fest entertainment
Blazer will sing at picnic
Car among IC picnic raffle prizes
Bands, rides to fill Main Street
Lake Festival turns 50 with water ski show
Carver new to firemen's festival
Picnic to feature tractor pulls, children's events, flea market
Taste testers can pick from 80 beers
New companies supplying rides, dinners
Sanctioned pull to raise the dust
All ages may dive into straw hunt at Burtkettsville picnic
Auglaize County Fair to offer new rides, ATV drag racing
Mercer County Fair will get you up and moovin' with fun
Join in festivities at SummerFest
Jerry's kids gain from MDA Benefit Softball Tournament
2011 Governor's Cup Regatta making big comeback
Bremenfest offers variety of food along with family fun
Places to go and things to see
Tradition continues at Durbin Beanbake
St. Joe Homecoming fun for adults and children
Wing Fest caters to all tastes
Monster trucks roll over pumpkins to entertain festival crowd
Roll out the barrel and celebrate German style at Oktoberfest
Come to the ball field and watch Grand Lake Mariners
Visitors have choice among many camping, lodging experiences
Summer golf guide
Eldora racing schedule