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Drought 2012: A Look Back

—By Kathleen M. Dutro
Public Relations Team

The results of Indiana Farm Bureau’s “Drought of 2012” survey are a mix of the expected and the surprising. 

Seventy-seven members took the time to answer the survey, which ran in two issues of The Hoosier Farmer and was also available online at www.thehoosierfarmer.com. The farm size of those who responded varied from a large garden to 5,000 acres, with the average being just over 650 acres.  

Because it was open to any member who chose to respond, it cannot be considered a scientific survey. One surprise was the number of livestock farmers. Of the 77 responses, 56 indicated that they had at least some livestock. 

Another problem is that because some people responded as early as mid-August, they were of necessity having to guess about such things as yields and income. 

But the survey does provide an interesting peek at how IFB farmer members were coping with the drought as of late summer-early fall. 

Besides asking about their acreage, the survey also asked respondents basic information about how much yield they expected to lose, the availability and cost of feed, how they expected the drought to impact herd or flock size, the availability of water, the USDA programs of most use, whether they were covered by crop insurance, how helpful their insurance agent has been and how much they expected their income to be reduced.  

We’re still shifting through the results, but on this page is a summary of some of the findings. 

We also asked members to tell us what else IFB should know about their situation, what kind of help would be most useful, and what the public and policymakers need to know about the drought.  

Because of the high percentage of livestock farmers who participated, it’s not surprising that livestock issues were a frequent topic of the comments. For example, several noted that there is no federal insurance program for livestock producers, and a number also indicated that they believed the corn ethanol mandate is a problem for those who are competing with ethanol plants for corn. 

A couple of orchard owners, who were badly hurt by the late frost in addition to the drought, and a horse farmer also noted that crop insurance hasn’t been of help to them. 

And several commenters said that the drought wasn’t their only – and in some cases even their most important – problem. 

“Actually, what the state has done to the property tax system is a much bigger problem for farmers long-term,” said one. 

Here are just a few of the submitted comments. 

“I think IFB should tell the U.S. government to get completely out of farming.”

“Leave crop insurance the way it is. Cut out regulations.”

“I will have no income this year. It will be in the minus column. We need low-interest loans – not give away money, but low interest to help stay in business.”

“What do you have to offer cattle producers to insure we do not lose our herd? It takes many years to rebuild a cow-calf operation.”

“We sell our crops a year behind harvest. We will not feel the brunt of lower yields until next year. We may not be hurt badly if the market prices hold up after all is said and done concerning the 2012 crop.”

“Drought forced (us) to sell all cattle – 225 head. Not going to buy back.”

 



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