Ind., Ky. Counties Part Of Drought Disaster Area
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Farmland in more than half of Indiana has been declared a disaster area by federal officials.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the declaration Thursday for 1,016 counties in 26 states in response to the unrelenting drought. Fifty-five counties in the northern and southwestern parts of Indiana, as well as 26 counties in Kentucky, are included.
Because of the designation, farmers in the affected areas will have access to low-interest emergency loans.
“Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy and it is increasingly important that USDA has the tools to act quickly and deliver assistance to farmers and ranchers when they need it most,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By amending the Secretarial disaster designation, we’re creating a more efficient and effective process. And by delivering lower interest rates on emergency loans and providing greater flexibility for haying and grazing on CRP lands, we’re keeping more farmers in business and supporting our rural American communities through difficult times.
Indiana’s farm economy is expected to be down by $1 billion, with the potential for that number to grow if the drought carries on. Consumers are expected to feel the pinch eventually as prices on grain-related and grain-fed meat foods rise.
Although no local counties are on the disaster designation list, farmers there are still seeing similar hardship.
“Although only a fraction of Kentucky counties have been declared agricultural disaster areas, we know that the drought has adversely affected nearly all of our state’s 120 counties,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. “We will continue to work with our Cabinets, state agencies and federal partners to ensure that counties who meet the national thresholds get their disaster designations quickly, and will aggressively pursue any relief available to support these affected farm families.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor has designated most the tri-state as being in a moderate drought.The designation puts the entire state of Indiana in a drought, with 33 percent of the state in an extreme drought.
Relief may be in store, however. The National Weather Service says a 60 percent chance of rain is in store Friday through Sunday.
U.S. Drought Monitor – http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/