Amid Uncertainty Indiana Preps for Disaster Declaration

The groundwork is being laid now for a future disaster declaration for Indiana with drought conditions well established and even spreading. With no current federal Farm Bill authorization for disaster program benefits it creates what one official calls a somewhat awkward situation.

But Julia Wickard, the Indiana Farm Service Agency Executive Director says they are moving forward with preparations while “hopeful and mindful that either the extension of the Farm Bill or a new Farm Bill may have some requirements that a disaster designation would be prudent. So we are moving forward on that and working with all the interested parties and local counties to get all those reports in. We’re looking at something probably by the end of this month that we’ll be able to have available for those producers. Disaster loans would be available so that would be something producers could take advantage of. but in terms of our Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, the SURE program, because it ended on September 30th of 2011, it would not be available. We are still moving forward though.”

Wickard told HAT producers will be wise to prepare now if they anticipate a future disaster claim.

“Certainly record keeping is key and contacting the local office and making sure the local office knows the kind of crop conditions that producer has so it can be documented in that producer’s file. That’s going to be critical as we transition from the 2008 Farm Bill to the 2012 Farm Bill, whenever that happens. So record keeping and documentation is critical.”

Even though USDA authority to operate the major disaster assistance programs expired in September, Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected later Wednesday to detail a number of improvements to existing USDA programs that will help struggling producers endure various disasters.

Speaking of drought the newest crop moisture index map for Indiana shows most of the state from excessively to severely dry. The map is at the Rob Wasson weather page.[audio:|titles=Indiana disaster prep]

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