Daviess County and much of the rest of Indiana have been officially declared a state disaster by Governor Eric Holcomb. In total, 88 of Indiana’s 92 counties received the designation including all of those adjacent to Daviess County. The governor has asked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for a disaster declaration due to losses caused by flooding and excessive rain during this planting season.
“Heavy and persistent rainfall has saturated fields across the state, hurting Indiana crops and our farmers,” said Holcomb. “As I continue to monitor this situation, Hoosier farmers can rest assured that we will keep a close eye on the long-term effects of these relentless rains.”
The request was made in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and was signed by Holcomb, Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and Indiana Farm Service Agency Director Steven Brown.
The declaration is one that area farmers agree with.
“This is the worst year I have ever seen,” said Daviess County farmer Tom Boyd. “Even with the great technology we have with hybrid corn I expect this to be the shortest crop we have seen in 20 years.”
“There’s already been widespread damage,” added Daviess County farmer Mike Sprinkle. “The crops aren’t what we’d normally have. This is the worst spring for planting that I can remember. I just hope the results are better than the drought year in 2012.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the past 12 months have been the wettest on record in the United States. A USDA disaster designation can be requested when at least 30% of one crop is damaged or lost in a county.
“I’m glad the governor has taken this measure to help,” said Sprinkle.
“I would say we are in a disaster,” said Boyd. “There are a lot of people out there that are in pretty bad shape. Even those who have replanted have big holes in their fields. It is going to be a tough, tough year, and it isn’t just Daviess County or Indiana — the whole country is fighting with this.”
The poor planting season comes at a time when farmers were needing a strong crop. Low commodity prices, brought about in part by trade disputes, had already sent farmers to the federal government with trade adjustments to keep their operations afloat.
“With supply and demand, maybe this will bring prices back up,” said Sprinkle. “With the possibility of prices taking off and climbing this shortage might be the thing to get China back to the table to make a trade deal.”
The designation would allow emergency low-interest loans to be made available to farmers. The low-interest financing can also be made to counties contiguous to counties in the disaster zone.
“Most farmers that I know have decided this year just is what it is, and we’ll take what we can get and go ahead and plan for next year,” said Sprinkle.
The four counties not included are Benton, Warren, Rush and Shelby counties.