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Pence asks for disaster declaration in 53 Indiana counties

July 31, 2015

Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Joe Donnelly are asking the U.S. agriculture secretary to declare 53 of Indiana's 92 counties disaster areas because of crop damage and losses caused by flooding and excessive rain.

Pence wrote in a letter to Secretary Thomas Vilsack that unprecedented heavy rainfall since May 1 has had a significant impact on the yield of Indiana crops, saying federal emergency loan assistance is "prudent and warranted," saying the problem is ongoing.

"Recent and unprecedented heavy rainfall across our state has had a significant impact on the yield of Indiana crops and our Hoosier farmers," the Republican governor wrote.

The National Weather Service reports Indianapolis broke a 140-year-old precipitation record in July, making it the city's rainiest month on record. The city received 1.25 inches of rain on Sunday night that pushed the city to 13.13 inches of rainfall for July, breaking the previous all-time monthly precipitation record of 13.12 inches that fell in July 1875.

Rains in June set a statewide June rainfall record with a state average 8.99 inches. The previous record was 8.13 inches set in June 1958.

Pence says in 50 counties, reported crop damage and losses have met or exceeded 30 percent of a crop, and three counties have experienced a significant number of damages and losses to multiple crops. Under a disaster designation, low-interest emergency loans would be made available to all producers suffering losses in that county, as well as in counties contiguous to a disaster-designated county.

Donnelly, a Democrat who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, wrote a letter in support of Pence's request.

"The extreme levels of rain have caused irreparable damage to planted fields and rendered others unplantable throughout the state," he wrote. "Thousands of farmers in Indiana are going to experience significant financial losses this year and this will be a particularly difficult time for young and limited resource farmers."

Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist, estimates corn and soybean farmers have sustained $500 million in crop losses this year.

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