Ottawa County: Seeking help for flooded farmland

Larry Limpf

The Ottawa County commissioners paint a bleak picture of the area’s farm fields in a letter sent last week to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Ottawa County farmers are not only dealing with this rainfall, but also historic water levels of Lake Erie, which is keeping high water levels in the rivers and streams, further preventing rainfall from leaving the fields. Fields in Ottawa County are now flooded and under water from the continuous rainfall this spring,” the letter to Sonny Perdue, secretary of the agriculture department, says.
Spring planting conditions in the county have been dismal, according to figures the commissioners received from the Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Farm Service Agency.
As of late June, less than five percent of the corn acreage and three percent of soybean acreage had been planted.
Acreage used to plant vegetables has been especially hard hit and peach orchards have suffered from the excessive rain.
Growers have lost all but a small fraction of the winter wheat and alfalfa crops.
“Ottawa County fields are barren and abandoned this year,” the letter says.
For example, about 670 acres of corn had been planted by June 24 in Ottawa County, leaving 14,830 acres unplanted.
In eastern Lucas County, only about 150 acres of corn had been planted but 2,200 acres were too wet for planting.
Soybean fields haven’t fared much better, with 1,882 acres planted and 14,830 unplanted in Ottawa County and 295 planted in eastern Lucas County and 12,000 sitting idle.
About 180 acres of Ottawa County apple orchards have been damaged as have 60 acres of grape vines.
Fields used to grow cabbage, peppers, pumpkins and tomatoes also face extensive losses.
“Some of these crops are going to see long-term effects as well. It will take several years to recoup from such significant losses,” said Jessica Brough, a program technician with the Ottawa-Lucas East FSA office.
Rhonda Slauterbeck, Ottawa County administrator/clerk, said the commissioners recently declared a state of emergency with the City of Port Clinton because of high water levels along the city’s shoreline.
The Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency is also gathering data from political subdivisions on the impact to their infrastructures and will submit that information to the state, she said.



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