U.S. Water News Online
FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Dry field conditions have prompted
federal officials to declare most of Indiana an agriculture disaster
area as farmers continue to harvest drought-ravaged crops.
The declaration, approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
will permit farmers in 74 of the state's 92 counties to apply for
low-interest emergency loans for crop and livestock losses. Farmers
in 13 counties adjacent to the disaster counties can also seek help.
Heavy spring rains left many fields too wet for planting, causing
Indiana corn growers to hold off on planting until late spring. The
wet spring was followed by summer drought conditions that have left
Corn, wheat and soybeans were weakened, and crop yields have
plummeted. Corn yields statewide have dropped about 19 percent.
Soybean yields are down 12 percent.
Lower yields typically drive crop prices up, said Chris Hurt,
professor of agriculture economics at Purdue University, ``but
they're not up enough to compensate for the yield losses.''
Farm income in Indiana will be down this year about 35 percent to
40 percent even with crop subsidies, he said.
Before leaving Washington this week for a month-long break to
campaign for re-election, Congress approved a stopgap measure to keep
government operations afloat. To the consternation of many farmers,
the resolution did not include money for drought aid.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Congress could deal
with a farm bailout bill when lawmakers returns Nov. 12.
The Bush administration opposed adding additional farm aid to any
spending bill unless the money came from budget cuts elsewhere.
In addition to the 74 counties in Indiana, all of Ohio and
Delaware and most of Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and
Pennsylvania were also declared drought disaster areas, Agriculture
Secretary Ann Veneman said.
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