Indiana farmers make planting progress but still behind pace

Indiana farmers made a lot of progress this past week in crop planting even as heavy spring rains leave them far behind normal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Monday afternoon shows 67% percent of Indiana's expected corn crop is now planted. That's more than double the 31% as of June 2 but down from the five-year average of 98% being planted. Indiana had 100 percent of its corn crop planted at this time a year ago.

The figures have Indiana trailing most states in corn planting, with Ohio's 50% at the lowest level.

The report lists 42% of Indiana's soybean crop as planted, up from 17% a week before. The state's five-year average is 89% for soybean planting. It had 96% of its soybean cropped planted at this time last year.

Ohio (32%) and Missouri (37%) are the only states trailing Indiana in soybean planting.

Purdue University agriculture professor Michael Langemeier said corn planting after early June is risky because it leaves a shorter growing season.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is keeping the door open for farmers who were prevented from planting crops this season to still receive some aid payments after weeks of rains across the Midwest stalled sowing.

The government last month announced a $16 billion aid package to help farmers navigate retaliatory tariffs, while another $3 billion is earmarked for disaster relief after the farm economy was battered by a relentless string of snow, rainstorms and flooding.

While the Department of Agriculture isn’t authorized to make market facilitation payments from the tariff aid package for acreage that isn’t planted, the agency said Monday that it’s looking into options to make some funds available to those growers claiming what’s known as prevented plant insurance and who sow an eligible cover crop.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expects to give information on aid payment rates and details of disaster relief legislation in the coming weeks. In a statement, he urged farmers to “plant for the market and plant what works best on their farm, regardless of what type of assistance programs USDA is able to provide.”

When unveiling a second round of trade-war aid last month, the USDA specified that farmers would have to plant to qualify for payments, although questions remained on whether those prevented from planting could apply.

President Donald Trump is expected to comment on the plight of farmers in a visit Tuesday to the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy project where he’ll celebrate a promise he delivered on ethanol made from corn.

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