USDA Undersecretary Tours Drought Stricken Indiana Farms

With 71 percent of Indiana’s corn crop rated in poor to very poor condition, farmers are looking for whatever help they can get.

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    Photo: Joe Hren

    Media members follow Michael Scuse as he tours the Kelsay farm.

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    Photo: Joe Hren

    Scuse looks over the cattle pen at Kelsay farm.

A sprinkle or two of rain fell over the drought-stricken Johnson county farm of Merrill Kelsay on Thursday. Although welcomed, any relief now is little too late.

“It is stressful and your worried if you are going to make it work out,” he says.

Kelsay’s livelihood consists of 2,200 acres of wheat, hay, corn and soybeans and 500 head of dairy cows. Kelsay relieves his cattle from the heat with sprinklers and fans, but that’s not an option for his crops. Lower yields may force him to buy extra feed.

“The problem is that trucking is high now because of the fuel rates and trucking and availability (of feed) is going to be… well, you have a lot of people looking for the last candy bar,” Kelsay says.

Indiana is ranked 5th nationally in corn production, giving the state the dubious distinction of being the worst hit by the drought. On his Indiana tour, USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse says now that the farm bill has passed the senate, he hopes it will pass the House to offer some immediate relief.

“Bankers would like to know what’s in a bill if they’re going to make loans to our producers that have faced the losses that they are facing, so we need a bill for all those reasons and it needs to be done fairly quickly,” Scuse says.

In the meantime, while drought and temperature records break, all the farmers can do is wait and hope for a better season next year.

Joe Hren

Anchor, Indiana Newsdesk - WTIU & WFIU News. Follow him on Twitter @Joe_Hren

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