Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Joe Donnelly are seeking a disaster declaration to help farmers whose crops have been damaged from the summer's high rain levels.

In a letter sent earlier this week to Thomas Vilsack, secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the governor requested the secretarial declaration for 53 of Indiana's 92 counties.

St. Joseph, Marshall, LaPorte, Kosciusko and Starke counties are all on that list.

“Recent and unprecedented heavy rainfall across our state has had a significant impact on the yield of Indiana crops and our Hoosier farmers,” Pence said in a statement. “As promised, our administration has been closely monitoring this situation and, in coordination with the Indiana Farm Service Agency, has determined federal emergency loan assistance is both prudent and warranted."

In 50 counties, reported crop damage and losses have met or exceeded 30 percent of a crop, and three counties have experienced a significant number of damages and losses to multiple crops, according to a news release. Under a disaster designation, low-interest emergency loans will be made available to all producers suffering losses in that county, as well as in counties contiguous to a disaster-designated county.

The National Weather Service reports rains set a statewide June rainfall record with a state average of 8.99 inches. The previous record was 8.13 inches set in June 1958.

Friday, U.S. Sen. Donnelly, a Democrat from Granger, backed up Pence with his own letter to the USDA secretary. Donnelly, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, wrote that the high rain levels have caused irreparable damage to crops and have left many fields unplantable.

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