Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg made a stop Friday in rural southeastern Vigo County to talk about the current drought and explain how he would seek emergency federal funding for Hoosier farmers if elected in November.
“As governor, I would intend to work with our congressional delegation, [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and do everything we could to draw attention to that disaster area and get that designation for our Hoosier farmers,” Gregg told reporters invited to his stop at the farm of Phil and Debbie Carter.
The drought is putting the Carter’s corn crop at risk, Phil Carter said before Gregg arrived at his Pierson Township home. Up to 30 percent or more of the crop is in danger because of drought conditions, he said.
“Damage is already done,” Phil Carter said, adding that just 1.25 inches of rain have fallen since he planted his crops in April. It’s the toughest year for the farm since 1983, Carter said.
“People farm not to get rich. They farm because they love to farm,” Gregg said. “They are stewards of the soil. They believe in the rural way of life and it is a way of life. … It’s a struggle. They’re small-business people.”
The Carters have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their 1,200-acre farm this year, Phil Carter noted. “If we don’t get a crop, we’re really hurting. Crop insurance will help cover our out-of-pocket expenses, but it really won’t pay our bills,” Carter said.
“Disaster payments do bridge us from one year to the next so we will still be here next year to farm.”
Northern and southwestern Indiana are suffering the most from the current drought, according to the Indiana State Climate Office at Purdue University. The outlook for July is for continued above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation. A return to normal rainfall is possible in late July or early August.
The USDA reported this year’s corn planting was the largest in 75 years. However, drought conditions in the Midwest have reduced harvest expectations in recent months.
“This is devastating not just the farm family,” Gregg said.
“It affects all of us in Indiana and sometimes I think that’s lost on our city cousins. … I’ve been all over the state and the conditions are just real similar everywhere. It’s just unbelievably dry.”
Gregg will face Republican candidate Mike Pence in the November election.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes