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
Innis enters cattle at 2013 National Jr. Angus Show
Sarah Marie Innis and Nicholas Innis, Milroy, will exhibit Angus cattle at the 2013 National Junior Angus Show at the American Royal Complex, Kansas City, Mo., July 5-11, reports Robin Ruff, director of junior activities for the American Angus Association®.
’30 Dairies in 30 Days’ features local farm in virtual tour of Indiana dairy farms
INDIANAPOLIS – The American Dairy Association of Indiana (ADA) has extended an invitation to folks throughout the Hoosier state to visit “30 Dairies in 30 Days” during June’s National Dairy Month.
USDA’s SURE deadline is approaching
Julia A. Wickard, State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), reminds producers that the June 7, 2013, deadline for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE) for crop year 2011 is approaching.
Farmers now ahead of 5-year planting pace
Indiana farmers who a month ago were wondering when they would get a break from rain to work their fields continued to take advantage of May weather opportunities, surging ahead of the five-year average pace in planting corn and soybeans.
Wet winter, spring make nitrogen carryover unlikely
Extra nitrogen left in the soil after drought reduced corn yields last year has likely been lost with excess soil moisture in the winter and spring, a Purdue Extension agronomist says.
Local students awarded United Producers Inc. (UPI) 2013 scholarship
Joel Geise of Rushville and Connor Cook of Glenwood, both recently received a $1,000 United Producers Inc. scholarship.
Geise, the son of Kevin and Carol Geise, currently attends Black Hawk College studying agriculture production and agriculture business management.
Farmers face deadline to choose ACRE as revenue-protection plan
Crop producers have until June 3 to decide whether they will participate in the Average Crop Revenue Election plan or continue with the regular Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program.
FSA announces restart of America’s largest conservation program
Julia A. Wickard, State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Indiana announced FSA is currently conducting Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signups for both general and continuous CRP. The General Signup began yesterday, May 20, 2013, and continues through June 14. Sign-up for continuous CRP began on May 13 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2013.
USDA announces farm payments scheduled to resume
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia announced recently that farm payments, which had been temporarily suspended due to sequestration, are scheduled to resume, May 8. This includes payments for the 2011 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program (NAP) and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC).
Wet winter, spring make nitrogen carryover unlikely
WEST LAFAYETTE - Extra nitrogen left in the soil after drought reduced corn yields last year has likely been lost with excess soil moisture in the winter and spring, a Purdue Extension agronomist says.
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