Indiana crops continue to worsen, U.S. Senate hopefuls back continued crop insurance funding

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INDIANAPOLIS (July 20, 2015) – After seemingly never-ending rain, Indiana’s crops continue to deteriorate.

In a new report out Monday, the USDA said 26 percent of the state’s corn is in poor or very poor condition and 28 percent for soybeans.

Those are the poorest numbers for crop-producing states nationwide.

At Monday’s Indiana Ag Policy Summit, hosted by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association, three of the four candidates running for U.S. Senate discussed key agricultural policy decisions.

Given crop damage, already estimated in the hundreds-of-millions of dollars statewide, federal response was top of mind.

“I feel for folks who didn’t have crop insurance in 2012 and maybe still don’t,” Eric Holcomb said, a Republican candidate. “I don’t know if they’ll be here next year.”

Holcomb most recently was chief of staff to retiring U.S. Senator Dan Coats. He was joined by fellow Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who is also seeking the Republican nomination. Republican Rep. Todd Young, who announced his candidacy, last week wasn’t in attendance.

The sole Democrat in the race, former Rep. Baron Hill, underscored a critical test for Congress in the coming months and years.

“The very fact we’ve had all this rain in Indiana is a perfect example of why we need this program fiscally in-tact.”

A dramatic struggle on Capitol Hill eventually led to the new farm bill that does away with direct payments to farmers. Instead, the new focus is on federal crop insurance.

“There shouldn’t be a direct handout from the federal government to farmers,” Stutzman said, who is a fourth-generation farmer himself. “There should be a way for us to, if there’s a need, to cover the cost and cover the risk of drought, of wet weather, crop failure. And that’s what the insurance program is setup to do.”

Stutzman, Holcomb and Hill all said Monday they’re against any federal cuts to crop insurance, which President Barack Obama has proposed.

“What I saw up there over the last week was pretty severe,” Hill said, referring to the crop damage in Northern Indiana. “And so in answer to your question, maybe an emergency declaration should be made so farmers are given access to low-cost loans and that sort of thing.”

Holcomb is confident the crop insurance program will succeed.

“There’ll be plenty of time if you have differences with it to make your case if you’re still in office in 2018 how you’ll change it going forward,” he said. “But it’s proving its worth right now.”

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