Farmers Union helping farms with damage


GREENVILLE — When the March 14, 2024, St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Eve Tornado tore through Darke County, it left a path of destruction 100-yards wide through the mid-section of this rural County. The twister’s path of desolation was approximately a mile north of Greenville, the county seat.

Ted Finnarn, local farmer and attorney, heads the State of Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA), having been appointed back in 2021, by President Biden and Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. Finnarn stated, “I started doing assessments right-away for the local Red Cross, since I am a volunteer, and when I first saw the horrific damage, I started crying.” He then toured the devastation with Greenville Mayor Jeff Whitaker who helped encourage members of the community to make donations during the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend and thereafter. And Finnarn also worked with local funeral director, Eric Fee, in reaching out for collection of short-term essentials.

Finnarn related that the tremendous damage suffered by local farmers within the “bullseye” of the tornado was unbelievable and some farmers with cattle and woodland have lost thousands of dollars. Finnarn said, “I will do all that I can, within the confines of the FSA Federal Farm programs, to help our hard-working farmers. But such aid takes time, and some of our farmers need immediate emergency assistance.” That’s why the Darke County Farmers Union, through their non-profit IRS 501C3 entity, has set up the Darke Farmer Emergency Tornado Relief Fund.

The community can respond and donate, and all contributions are fully tax deductible as charitable donations. One of the worst hit farms was that of Dan and Michele Young, Fresh Aire Farms, on Wasson Road, who have an organic beef-cattle operation, composting soil business and at least 40 acres of woods along the upper Greenville Creek. According to Finnarn their damages, cost of clean up and lost income, including from destroyed timber into the future, could run to two or three million dollars. Todd Rhoades, president of the local Darke County Farmers Union, said he was proud to offer this immediate response to those farmers who suffered tornado damage. He noted, “Many of the damaged items, such as fences, are not always covered by farm liability insurance and some farmers suffered damages to crops and conservation practices that they may not be adequately compensated for.”

Those wishing to donate can contact Ted Finnarn, secretary/treasurer, Darke County Farmers Union NP, Inc., 421 Public Square, Greenville, Ohio 45331; (937) 417-4104. Those farmers seeking assistance can contact the same as above, for a simple application and on-site inspection and evaluation.

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