The Indiana State Department of Agriculture, in coordination with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is asking industry partners to help prevent the movement of fire ants into Indiana through baled hay purchased from quarantined areas out of state.
Recent drought conditions in many areas of the U.S have resulted in an increased demand for hay, potentially from suppliers within areas of the country that may be under quarantine for the imported fire ant, including most Southeastern states.
The ants can not only be aggressive with their stings, but destructive to crop plants and, depending on the size of their mounds, damaging to farm equipment.
Under USDA regulations, in quarantine areas, baled hay and straw that is in direct contact with the ground or contains soil may not be moved outside of the quarantine area. Still, hay that meets certain requirements in the quarantine area may not be regulated or may not have movement restrictions.
A map of the quarantined area, as well as a list of questions and answers, plus simple management practices to reduce the chance of fire ant infestation, can be found online.
Additionally, Indiana has a comprehensive website dedicated to the latest developments on our state’s efforts in response to the 2012 Drought. Visit www.in.gov/drought/ for more information on disaster declarations, impact issues, assistance programs and additional resources for producers.