GREENVILLE — The topics were diverse for the 2020 Darke County Ag Outlook held at Romer’s Catering on Friday.
Area farmers were provided not only with a hearty breakfast but heard a variety of essential topics, including grain markets, farm economy, weather, and how to weather the stress of it all.
Certainly, the weather was on everyone’s minds, given the trials of 2019. It was a topic covered by Aaron Wilson, Atmospheric Scientist at Ohio State University and Senior Research Associate at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, who began with the statement, “It rained a few days last year.”
In fact, winter 2019 ranks as the 11th wettest since records began in 1895, stated Wilson, thanks to a wet fall in 2018, which had a significant impact on the ensuing wet spring in 2019.
The question, said Wilson, what if this is our new normal? The plant and harvest windows are shrinking, with a loss of ten days of fieldwork in Ohio, five in the spring, five in the fall.
According to Wilson, winter 2020 is proving to be a bit of déjà vu, starting with above-average temperatures and above-average rainfall, leading to an already wet winter.
Fortunately, not as wet as 2019, continued Wilson, following a fall that was far drier than its predecessor. He noted the pending wet weather for this week with the statement, “A dry March would be nice,” but sees a slow start to spring.
“I think May is key,” said Wilson, cautiously optimistic that while the 2020 season may pose similar challenges to 2019, it will not be as bad.
It’s the unknowns and the ensuing challenges that brought Sarah Noggle, Paulding County OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, to speak on the emotional health piece of agriculture.
Mental health is a topic near and dear to Noggle’s heart. She first pointed out that farming is a high-risk occupation with a host of health issues, including ulcers, heart disease, hypertension, and nervous disorders, and the difficulty in breaking down the stereotypes on mental health in small rural communities.
However, “We know the stress is there,” continued Noggle with a list of what to look out for, such as reckless behavior, irritability, and extreme mood swings as well as body signals from headaches to frequent illnesses.
What to do? Accept and recognize the stress, and make changes, or “you can sit on the other side and deny.”
“And I’ll tell you, I’ve been to that side of deny,” said Noggle, herself a farmer, who struggled to get help, stating it took over six months to make the call, and a year before even considering counseling.
When it came to suicide, Noggle made it clear that to ask someone if they are contemplating suicide does not increase the risk of completing suicide.
“Sometimes, that is the breakthrough,” said Noggle. “You might be the person who gives them hope.”
The event, hosted by the Darke County OSU Extension Office, was sponsored by Second National Bank, Farm Credit, Farm Bureau, and The Farmers State Bank. It also featured Ben Brown, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Agricultural Risk Management, and Barry Ward, Assistant Extension Professor, Leader Production Business.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.