Persistent rainfall causes some Indiana farmers to rely on crop insurance

DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. – According to the updated USDA crop progress report, Indiana farmers are still behind schedule.

Hoosier farmers are usually done planting corn and soybeans by now, but so far in 2019 only 84 percent of corn and 64 percent of soybeans have been planted. The remaining 16 percent of corn will likely remain unplanted.

"It's discouraging, especially when you see the tadpole and mosquito,” said farmer Elaine Gillis as she pointed to the field near her home in Dunkirk, Indiana.

Last year, the field was filled with corn stalks about shoulder height. Now, it's covered in puddles.

With the wet conditions, she and her husband chose not to plant any corn.

“The icing on the cake was for us was basically the night before we went to the field with the corn planter," Gillis said. "We got another half inch of rain right through this area and it affected a lot of the acres we farm, and we knew then that it was not going to be the best decision for us to plant corn.”

The couple is now looking into cover crops and for the first time ever, will have to rely on crop insurance to get by.

"We have always made the investment with crop insurance," Gillis said. "For us, it isn’t something we’ve ever had to cash in on and utilize, but it’s kind of like having homeowners insurance. You do it in the event of an emergency, and this year will be an emergency for us.”

It’s a difficult decision facing farmers across the Midwest, and it's a decision Purdue professor Jim Mintert says is the right one.

“As we look at the projected returns for the crop insurance payments to the risk of planting corn late... the crop insurance payments look like the right decision for many farmers,” Mintert said.

Every day after June 5 that corn is planted, farmers see a reduced benefit from crop insurance. However, if they are unable to plant they receive a prevented plant payout.

That money still doesn't come close to what farmers could be making with a good crop.

Mintert says while the decline in corn supply probably won't have a major impact on grocery prices in the short term, the loss for farmers could have a ripple effect across the Midwest

"Where it's going to be felt most severely or most strongly is in rural communities," Mintert said. "As farm operations pull back on their expenditures, that will be reflected on Main Street with less economic activity.”

Meanwhile on the farm, frustrations continue with a look at the forecast

"It's just really frustrating and really discouraging to have your hands tied and not be able to do anything about it,” Gillis said.

She continues to worry about the soybeans they already have in the ground, as they hope for a decent summer to produce a decent crop.

“We’ve got to have basically all the stars align and perfect conditions from here on out to even make an attempt to make the crop even close to what it was last year,” Gillis said.

The final plant date for soybeans is June 20.

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