The drought of 2012 is the most serious to impact U.S. agriculture since 1988, and some would suggest it rivals that year. American agriculture, and more importantly, American farmers are resilient against adversity. Certainly, advancements on the farm, in the lab and in the marketplace continue to help agriculture weather natural disasters more easily than just a few years ago. However, it still does not take away the fact that a farmer's goal is to do his part to feed more of the world this year than he did last year. This has been a tough year and growing season to realize that goal.
The widespread drought that has plagued the Hoosier state, along with other "I" states has imposed stress on people, crops and livestock. As we wait the next few months to truly assess the Indiana corn and soybean crop, many farmers have already realized their crop will be significantly less, and in some instances may be zero. This is a dramatic change from the start of the growing season as initial projections were that U.S. farmers would harvest the largest corn crop on record.
Personally, on our farm, we began feeding hay to cattle in mid-June, so the shortage of feed and forage also is a hardship that producers are facing this year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data suggests that most of the row crops in the drought-stricken Hoosier landscape are covered by crop insurance. During the summer of 2012, USDA's Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced several administrative actions to assist farmers across the country. First and foremost, USDA streamlined the disaster designation process that has allowed USDA to quickly and efficiently authorize
emergency aid to farmers, including Indiana where all 92 counties have been declared natural disaster areas for drought.
USDA also lowered the interest rate for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent and authorized emergency haying and grazing on 144,000 Hoosier acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices. To further assist, FSA reduced the payment reduction for emergency haying grazing on those CRP practices from 25 percent to 10 percent.
Secretary Vilsack personally encouraged crop insurance companies to provide a short grace period for farmers on unpaid insurance premiums Ð and all of the major crop insurance companies agreed. In addition, most recently, changes have been made to the crop insurance program to allow producers to plant cover crops this fall that can provide much needed forage to livestock.
The FSA collection of disaster programs in the 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2011. However, in light of a new Farm Bill or extension forthcoming from Congress, FSA recommends that owners and producers be proactive and record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including: documentation of the number and kind of livestock mortality, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses; dates of loss supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts; costs of transporting livestock to new pastures; and feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed.
The drought underscores the need for Congress to complete action on a new farm bill. All sectors of agriculture Ð crop farmers, livestock, dairy and poultry producers Ð need assurance that improved risk management and disaster mitigation tools to help them remain viable in the marketplace, are on the way from Congress.
We will get through this. Harvest has started across the state. Farmers are buying seed to prepare and plan for crop year 2013. The resiliency of the American farmer is unparalleled.
Personally, my thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of Indiana farm families who have been affected by this natural disaster. Additionally, I am proud to work in this industry and with some of the most innovative, diverse and entrepreneurial people in America.
Julia A. Wickard
State executive director
Indiana Farm Service Agency
- Letters to the Editor
- Letter to the Editor Greetings and salutations Dear Editor, Throughout history, there have been many accepted and commonly used ways of referring to the two genders as a pair or group. Herewith are just a sampling of them, to-wit: • Men and Women--always safe, but rather
- Letter to the editor Dear Editor: The board, staff, and fundraising committee of the Rushville Public Library wish to thank the many wonderful people who helped make our recent fund-raising event, "Love Your Library Rendezvous", a great success. More than 35 individuals,
- Letters to the Editor Thanks to volunteer fire departments Dear Editor, We would like to take this opportunity to give a very special thank you to the Anderson Twp. Volunteer Fire Department and first responders, Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Dept. and Rushville Twp. Voluntee
- Letter to the Editor Thank you Dear Editor, I want to express my appreciation to all who cared for me at Rush Memorial Hospital and Miller's Merry Manor during my recent accident and recovery. A special thanks to the therapy department at Miller's for their patience and
- Letter to the Editor Thank you Dear Editor, I would like to thank Monte Sitton and all others for a great job cleaning the streets of Manilla. I think Rush County and the state did a great job for what they had to deal with. Thanks again. Vicki Weitzel Manilla Letter to
- Letters to the Editor Thank you Dear Editor, We want to thank all who came to our 50th wedding anniversary and made it a perfect success. Love you all, Bill & Kay Beadle Thank you Dear Editor, R.U.S.H., Rushville United Santa Helpers, formally Toys for Tots, would like to
- Letter to the Editor Thank you Dear Editor, I wish to thank each one of you for your phone calls, visits, cards and gifts in honor of my Aunt Dorothy Crawley's 100th birthday. Each one of you brought great joy and happiness to her on her very special day. Following is he
- Letters to the Editor Thank you Dear Editor: From the family of Anna Laker, we would like to thank all our friends for the kind words, to Father Jeremy Gries for his fine services and kind words and a special thank you to Jim Todd for his leadership in our time of loss. A
- Letter to the Editor Dear Editor, The family of Pat Osting thank the Glenwood Fire Department EMT's and Rush Memorial Hospital Ambulance crews, the emergency room staff and Father Jeremy Gries for the mass and being there in her time of need. We thank Jim Todd for his le
- Thank you from the library staff Dear Editor, As we turn the page from 2013 to 2014, the trustees and staff of the Rushville Public Library wish to extend our appreciation to all who supported the library this past year in one fashion or another. Most prominent is the City of Rushvi
- More Letters to the Editor Headlines