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      USDA encouraging farmers to plant cover crops

      The US Department of Agriculture is making $2 million available to Ohio farmers who agree to plant cover crops this fall.

      The announcement was made last week by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The deadline to apply for funding is Tuesday.

      Cover crops play a vital role in reducing the amount of phosphorous that seeps into lakes and streams near farms. Phosphorous is said to be a contributor to the algae bloom in Lake Erie this summer.

      Harmful toxins created by the algae led to the declaration of a do not consume water advisory in Toledo earlier this month.

      Ron Laubacher has run his family in Oak Harbor for more than 30 years, growing corn and soybean. He filled out the three page application for funding last week. "I will put cereal rye grass because they want a product over winter that will come alive in the spring and then we will plant into it," Mr. Laubacher said.

      Harmful toxins created by the algae led to the declaration of a do not consume water advisory in Toledo earlier this month.

      Applications can be filled out at each county's office of soil and water conservation.

      Mike Libben is the Program Administrator at the Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District. "We've had a huge response here in Ottawa County from our producers," Mr. Libben said.

      The Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District can be contacted at 419-898-6431.

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