As the temperature topped 102 degrees, Indiana agricultural officials and state leaders gathered to discuss what can be done to assist farmers and to inform the public about the drought. At a press conference which followed the closed door meeting, Lt. Governor Becky Skillman announced that the State Department of Agriculture had put together a special drought web site to provide information and resources to farmers and to the general public. Skillman said the new expedited process for declaring a county a disaster area, implemented by USDA earlier this month, is a welcome step, “Anything that gets relief to our farmers fast is greatly appreciated.” Skillman admitted, however, that that there is little that state government can do.
State FSA Director Julia Wickard told HAT more counties will likely be added to the disaster list later this week, “The new drought monitor map will be released on Thursday, and our emergency committee will meet that that morning to review the results.” Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock said farmers are dealing with the drought as they have done in the past, making adjustments for the present and planning for the future, “Optimism is sort of built into our DNA; we are optimistic that next year will be better.” Mike Platt, with Indiana Pork, said Indiana producers are selling off their breeding stock, “We have reports of large numbers of sows going to slaughter.”
The latest USDA crop condition report indicated that Hoosier crops declined further last week. Corn condition deteriorated slightly and is now rated 7 percent good to excellent as compared with 46 percent last year. Soybean condition showed some improvement and is now rated 12 percent good to excellent as compared with 47 percent last year at this time. Nationally, 26% of the corn is rated in good to excellent condition, down from 31% from last week. Soybeans were rated 31% good to excellent, down from 34% last week.