Having suffered the wettest spring in recent history, Indiana farm groups are looking to the government for possible assistance, both in terms of disaster relief and in trade agreements with other countries.

Representatives from Indiana Corn and Soybean, the Indiana Farm Service Agency, Purdue College of Agriculture and other key agriculture sectors met with Gov. Eric Holcomb recently to discuss the negative impact the unprecedented rains have had on their planting season and to discuss possible options to help them recover.

"We had more than 30 inches of rain this spring. We lost 45 growing days, which set us back tremendously," said Natasha Cox, a member of several agriculture-related boards including the Indiana Corn Marketing Council.

"We need our state, local and federal officials to understand the gravity our situation is in," she said.

The groups are seeking clarity on how the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allocate trade aid payments through the Market Facilitation program and to what extent, if any, that Indiana farmers will be eligible for disaster relief funds recently allocated by Congress.

The organizations also stressed the need for Congress to ratify the USMCA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, and for President Trump to work out a trade deal with China and to end the U.S. Environmental Agency small refinery exemptions, which they said have deteriorated the demand for ethanol, an important source for Indiana corn.

Cox said as of June 24, 91% of corn was planted and 75% of soybeans were planted, but added those figures didn't include fields that the farmer didn't intend to plant due to the wet conditions.`

Many farmers, like David Rodibaugh of Rensselaer, are using their preventive plant insurance to recoup some of their losses this year. This insurance covers about 85% of the loss if a farmer can’t plant by a certain date due to the ground being too wet.

"Most farmers do carry this insurance," said Rodibaugh, who said he was luckier than some Hoosier farmers, having been able to plant about 75% of his corn crop and 80% of his soybeans.

But James Mintert, a professor with Purdue's Department of Agriculture, said while crop insurance will help, it probably won't make up the farmers' total loss.

"Will government relief make up the insurance's 15% deductible? That's the $64 question," Mintert said.

Indiana farmers wanted clarity on whether they would get any financial help through the Market Facilitation Program, designed to help farmers hurt by China's retaliatory tariffs.

The Farm Service Agency is encouraging Hoosier farmers to report their planted acres to their local Farm Service Agency by July 15 to determine if a request for financial assistance can be made to the USDA.

But neither Mintert nor Rodibaugh were hopeful that a $3 billion federal disaster relief signed by Trump will help Hoosier farmers.

"I think that bill was aimed more for Texas, where rivers swelled out of their borders. I have my doubts Indiana will be considered for those funds," Rodibaugh said.

One option that would help farmers in the long run, Rodibaugh, Mintert and Cox agree, is to have trade agreements in place with Canada, Mexico and China so American farm products can be sold there.

"It's extremely important that Congress approves the USMCA. It's No. 1 on our list. It's a realist goal and it's extremely important," Rodibaugh said.

Rodibugh, who is also a pork farmer, said China would be a great source of American pork products now since its own hog population is being decimated by African swine flu.

"If only we can get through the trade barriers," Rodibaugh said.

“Fair, free and reciprocal trade is important to us. Approving the USMCA is crucial to farmers. Mexico passed it. Now it’s our turn,” Cox said.

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