A Silver Lining for Farmers

Northeast Indiana looks more like West Texas this summer than America’s heartland. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 70 percent of the state, including a wide swath from around the Kentucky border in the south north through Fort Wayne and all the way to the Michigan border, is in an “extreme or exceptional” drought. Sadly, there is not a county in the state where some degree of drought does not exist.

A total of 73 percent of the state’s corn crop, the nation’s most valuable commodity, is in poor or very poor condition. Some 53 percent of our soybean crop, the second-biggest revenue-generating commodity in the state, is in poor or very poor condition as well. Ranchers in the state are quickly running out of options to feed their livestock, as 89 percent of the state’s pastures are in poor or very poor condition.

While we’ve been blessed with adequate rainfall for the past month, for the corn crop it’s too little and too late. We’re also still at a level of subsoil moisture that, if it doesn’t improve, will potentially make it difficult to produce a crop in 2013.

For farmers like me who have purchased crop insurance, it will be a hard year, maybe even a bad year, but it won’t be the end of farming for us. Crop insurance, which covers crises like the one we find ourselves in, was designed by Congress as a way to encourage farmers to put some “skin” in the risk-management game while moving some of the risk of America’s farm sector from the taxpayers to the private sector.

Rob Schuman is a corn, soybean and cattle farmer from Churubusco and vice president of the Whitley County Farm Bureau. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.