INDIANAPOLIS — With soggy fields unable to absorb any more rain, and more precipitation in the forecast, the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) are advocating for farm assistance.
On Thursday, June 20, ISA and ICGA, as well as other key ag stakeholders, met with Gov. Eric Holcomb to discuss the impacts of Indiana’s prolonged exposure to rains that have prevented farmers from planting and will inevitably result in a shortened growing season with decreased yields. Then, on Friday, June 21, ISA and ICGA hosted Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and executives from Indiana’s agriculture industry for a listening session to bring more voices to this conversation. At this meeting, an ISA market analyst and an agricultural meteorologist presented anticipated outcomes for the growing season and market year followed by a discussion of industry implications and policy needs.
“We need our elected officials to truly understand the gravity of the situation we’re in,” said Shelbyville, Ind., farmer and chair of ISA’s Membership and Policy Committee Phil Ramsey. “The effect of the massive number of acres across Indiana that are unplanted will have a tremendous impact on the entire ag economy for years to come. We desperately need clarity, certainty, and security from USDA and Congress.”
ISA and ICGA offered several options to help Hoosier farmers through these challenging times. First, the organizations seek clarity on how USDA will allocate the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) “trade aid” payments and to what extent Hoosier farmers will be eligible for disaster relief payments recently allocated by Congress.
Additionally, the organizations need Congress to ratify the USMCA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Free, fair and reciprocal trade is critical to Hoosier farmers. Moreover, ISA and ICGA emphasize the need for market stability through a trade deal with China. Finally, ISA and ICGA ask President Trump to end EPA small refinery exemptions (SREs) that have deteriorated ethanol demand.
The Indiana crop policy organizations recognize some steps that have been made in the right direction. The U.S. Senate and House recently passed a disaster bill, which was signed into law by President Trump in June.
The disaster aid package includes $3 billion for agriculture programs as well as provisions for livestock and crop losses from flooding, wildfires and hurricanes. It is unclear how the bill will affect Indiana farmers with waterlogged fields from excessive and ongoing rain. Earlier this month, ISA and ICGA worked with Sen. Young on a letter to address these concerns.
Additionally, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) took a step toward helping farmers on Thursday by adjusting the 2019 final haying and grazing date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1 to help farmers who were unable to plant because of flooding and excessive rain this spring. This change allows farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres to hay, graze or chop those fields earlier than November this year. This effort will help reduce the impact of a shortage of forage afflicting livestock producers across the country. RMA also determined that silage, haylage and baleage should be treated the same as haying and grazing for this year. Producers can hay, graze or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres on or after Sept. 1 and still maintain eligibility for full 2019 prevented planting indemnity.
With Indiana farmers experiencing the slowest planting on record, as much as 600 percent of normal precipitation, and a lack of heat days required for corn and soybeans to grow, the 2019 crop year has gone from an anticipated difficult year for farmers to one that jeopardizes the entire ag economy.
“There is absolutely, unequivocally, no doubt in a farmer’s mind, that there’s no limit to how much clarity the federal government can offer at this point; there’s no limit to how quickly the government can act to try to remedy these things; and there is no limit to how far reaching the implications of this can be, both in time and the scope of how much the economy will be impacted,” testified ICGA President Sarah Delbecq at Friday’s listening session.
— Indiana Corn Growers Association
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