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Indiana's crops suffer while much of U.S. expects big harvest

August 12, 2015

Record summer rains have damaged roughly a quarter of Indiana's soybean and corn crops, an estimated $400 million loss that led federal officials Wednesday to declare much of the state a "disaster area."

At the same time, farms in other parts of the U.S. are projecting record yields.

Indiana farmers are getting hit with a "double whammy," state agriculture Director Ted McKinney explained, saying not only are they suffering a loss in both crops, but that high yields elsewhere have driven down market prices.

"This has been a tough year," McKinney said Wednesday after appearing at a Purdue University agriculture forum at the Indiana State Fair. "Unfortunately it's our turn to be in the barrel, and unfortunately it was a water barrel this year."

Purdue agriculture economist Chris Hurt predicted Indiana's corn crop loss at $290 million, with a corresponding loss of about $110 million from soybeans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's "disaster area" declaration means farmers in 88 of Indiana's 92 counties are eligible for low-interest emergency loans because of the heavy rains and flooding since May 1.

In some northern areas of the state, soybean yields are down roughly 5 percent.

"You get south of Fort Wayne and it got hit very, very bad," Hurt said.

Still, not all areas of the state have been damaged — some were spared, according to Shaun Casteel, a Purdue soybean specialist. Some of southern Indiana's farmers will see increased yields of 4.5 to 5 percent, Casteel said.

Soybean crops could make somewhat a recovery if conditions improve in the 45 days, Casteel said.

West and north of Indiana, record yields are expected in Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas and Nebraska.

"They started strong and just kept climbing," Hurt said.

Still, McKinney said markets move in cycles and he predicted that more difficult years may be on the horizon.

"I think we're in for this for another two, three, four years," said McKinney.

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