September 2012 | Section A
PHOTO BY JOE HARPRING
‘You have to plan for bad years’ Farmers trying to take the long view after this summer’s challenges BY BARNEY QUICK
ny conversation with an area farmer or grain elevator operator about this year’s harvest doesn’t proceed past a couple of sentences without the words “drought” and “heat wave” making at least one appearance. All other factors affecting decisions about storage, selling or how to use the various crops being grown rank a distant second to the weather conditions that have characterized this summer. The bitter irony is that the year started out favorably. Planting began about three weeks early. By mid-May, temperatures were a harbinger of what was to come. “I’ve never seen things deteriorate so rapidly,” says Bill Lentz, a northern Bartholomew County farmer. “We’ve had years when you expected to fi nd low yields, but this is the fi rst time I’ve seen absolutely nothing in a field. Not all my fields are like that, but if the soil has any kind of sandy base, there’s nothing in them.” Charlene and Larry Burbrink, who farm in Jennings and Bartholomew counties with their son, note that Jennings has had more rain through this drought, and therefore the corn has fared somewhat
better. Charlene says that on the Bartholomew side of their operation, many stalks have “no ears at all.” Joe Fiesbeck, another northern Bartholomew County farmer, says his corn is “already shot. It doesn’t matter if we get 20 inches of rain now. Irrigation didn’t even help much. In the kind of heat we’ve had, the corn can’t pollinate. We lost 30 percent of our potential.” He is looking at an estimated 20 bushels per acre. His normal yield ranges between 160 and 170. “A lot of guys are chopping corn for silage,” he says. “Hay is going to be in short supply.” He also points out that this year’s weather makes it difficult to hit the ground running for planting next spring. “Seed costs are going to be high,” he says. “Seed corn is more vulnerable to poor pollination than field corn.” Compounding the challenge is the current high cost of fertilizer. “It follows petroleum to a certain extent. Also, China and Russia are using fertilizer to boost their yields, which is causing a strain on the market.” Irrigation has been less and less of a saving grace for anyone as summer has ground on. The Bur-
brinks are not irrigating at all. “We didn’t think it would pay off,” says Larry. Lentz is irrigating some fields, but heat has decimated much of the crop even in those.
Produce faring better Produce farmers can cost-effectively irrigate due to the scale involved. That has helped keep local prices at stands relatively stable. John Hackman, whose family operation southeast of Columbus is primarily focused on produce, says he’s charging the same for sweet corn as he did last year. A system of plastic strip and drip tape connected to a 6-inch well is sufficient for irrigating the farm’s okra, zucchinis and tomatoes. He is storing what commercial grain he is growing in his own bins and intends to wait for a favorable market price to sell it. These farmers shared their observations in late July and early August. Although the long-range forecast was basically for more of what characterized the earlier portion of summer, they each had opinions on how soybeans would fare if rainfall SEE HARVEST ON PAGE A2
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
HARVEST CONTINUED FROM PAGE A1 normalized at least somewhat for the remainder of the warm-weather season. “It’s getting close to the point at which they can’t be saved, either,” Lentz said. “We’ll know in about two weeks.” A soybean field near his house sported a two-tone appearance. Much of it was reasonably green, but swaths of pale yellow extended into considerable areas. Some of this was attributable to variations in elevation, but spider mites, which wreak their havoc when a heat wave sets in, were the main culprit. “Weather extremes bring on other challenges,” he said. Charlene Burbrink said at that late-July juncture that their soybeans “looked pretty sad for a while, but they’re beginning to bloom again. Some irrigated land next to us looks pretty good.” Larry’s take is less positive. “I really don’t think the beans will be there either,” he says. “They’ll be very fortunate to get 35 bushels per acre, and I think it will be more like 15.” Charlene explained that “the Case combine needs a full rotor to do a good job, and how are you going to get it full? We went to a combine clinic, and the big question was, ‘How are you going to harvest a short crop?’ Nobody had an answer.” Fiesbeck has his own grain bins but says, “I don’t know if any corn will be worth keeping. You may take a bigger risk of it spoiling.” The Burbrinks “have been moving some grain,” according to Charlene. “We were getting hot spots in storage, so we did take advantage of the higher prices.” Lentz said that the high grain prices of late July would make it a “great time to sell, but you don’t know what you’re going to have. If you don’t have any grain, it’s no advantage.”
Decisions, decisions Every farming operation is unique, and views on contracts vary accordingly. Fiesbeck doesn’t have a contract with an elevator. “Farmers who do will have to buy them back, and they won’t have any income to do it with.” Lentz says, “I don’t have any long-
term obligations I can’t deliver on. I’m just going to have less crop.” Charlene says that the Burbrinks’ contracts have been at the 5,000 to 10,000 bushel level. “So far we’re caught up with them.” Larry notes that “earlier this spring, people were approaching us about selling. We’re glad we didn’t.” Lentz keeps tabs on grain prices several times a day with a phone app. Fiesbeck’s view is that the question of when to sell is “just a guessing game, in reality. If you have bills coming in, you have to sell what you have.” Area farmers buy varying levels of crop insurance. Fiesbeck’s policy covers 75 percent of what a normal crop would be. “Last year was a poor year as well,” he says. “Insurance is based on a fiveyear history, and ours is going to be so horrible, it will drag our numbers down.” Lentz says, “We just took out a policy that would cover our input costs. You can get one that will compensate you for land-use costs, but they’re very expensive.” Charlene Burbrink notes that crop insurance is “not designed to make you rich, but it can help keep you from losing your shirt.” Brady Lofton, grain merchandiser at Richards Elevator north of Columbus, estimates that 75 percent of area farmers have their own grain bins. “It gives them flexibility and speed at harvest. They don’t have to wait in line to unload here.” He estimates that most corn farmers are going to hold onto their crop, not selling before harvest. “A lot of it won’t make it to market,” he says. “Farmers will carry it over to feed livestock next year.” Quality issues may beset what little corn there is to sell. “Test weight may be a little lower due to the drought, and toxicity levels may be higher,” says Lofton. Andy Fix, grain merchandiser at Kokomo Grain in southern Johnson County, says aflatoxin may further deplete this year’s corn supply. “If you get too high a quantity, it may be unusable,” he says. “Th is year, we may see a situation in which even the little corn that’s available is substandard.” Fix’s view of beans is that they “could do OK, but we won’t see 50 to 60 bushels an acre this year.” He
estimates that “with a little rain, we might see 30 to 40.” Still, “corn tends to be a higher-revenue product.” Of the major crops grown in this area, wheat seems to have fared the best due to the fact that it is harvested under hot and dry conditions anyway. Its relative success is of little overall help, though. “It’s a small part of what everybody does,” says Fiesbeck.
Changing times Fix observes that “agriculture around here has changed a lot in the last few years. Increasingly, guys are growing grain to market commercially. Deciding when to sell is one of those things that’s a gamble, really. “You want to see guys have a good marketing plan, but you can sit there and watch prices and try to catch a high, and you may still get stuck with a low.” He also stresses that, with regard to working with farmers on contracts in challenging years, it must be remembered that a grain elevator has money tied up in hedging. “Last year, we had some producers who contracted more than they could grow. We’ve been waiving the nickelper-bushel fee when they cancel contracts in some instances. We charge the difference between what the market is at the time of cancellation and what it was when they entered the contract. We’re trying not to add insult to injury.” “We’ll always work with a farmer,” says Richards Elevator’s Lofton. “We’ll offer them the option of buying back the contract, the option of sourcing the grain somewhere else or rolling the contract forward. They may be able to use their crop insurance to get out of a contract.” “There are a lot of variables in farming, but the two you can’t control are prices and the weather,” says Lentz. “You have to plan for bad years.” “Everyone’s a little down, but you come to terms with it,” says Lofton. “You start looking to the future. You still have to plant corn next spring. Plus, we all have to work together — seed companies, farmers and elevators.” Fix has a similar perspective. “It’s agriculture. You get years like this. Guys still talk about ’83 and ’88, but then they look ahead and try to laugh, not cry, about it.”
EDITOR'S NOTE Welcome to the second issue of Farm Indiana, a monthly publication of Home News Enterprises offering a local view on agriculture in southern Indiana. Reaction to our debut issue has been very positive, and I appreciate those of you who took the time to pass along your thoughts, suggestions and story ideas. I can’t promise we’ll get to all of them, but we will give all suggestions serious consideration. But we have no intention of resting on our laurels. Our goal is to improve with each issue, and I value your input as we go along. I’ve received several “where can I get it?” type questions regarding the distribution of Farm Indiana. You’ll find us on the last Wednesday of every month as an insert in the Brown County Democrat and The Tribune (Seymour) and in certain delivery routes for the Daily Journal (Johnson County) and The Republic (Columbus). Remember, we welcome your contributions, whether they be 4-H club news, FFA news, calendar items, story ideas or whatever. If we feel it’s a good fit for Farm Indiana, we’ll include it in our next issue. Send your contributions, thoughts, suggestions, etc., to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 812-3795625 or visit us on Facebook at Facebook.com/farmindiana.
Comments should be sent to Doug Showalter, The Republic, 333 Second St., Columbus, IN 47201 or call 812-379-5625 or email@example.com. Advertising information: Call 812-379-5690. ©2012 by Home News Enterprises All rights reserved. Reproduction of stories, photographs and advertisements without permission is prohibited.
FARM INDIANA | September 2012
Farmers’ hopes dry up AS SUMMER SWELTER CONTINUES
PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON
Joe Kelsay, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, in one of his dairy barns near Whiteland.
BY GREG SEITER
solated early-August rain showers in portions of Indiana have done little to reverse preexisting drought conditions throughout the state as farmers continue to work feverishly toward saving what’s left of their crops. But overall, the weather is simply not cooperating. In recent times, a long-term ridge of high pressure has caused storm systems to travel in a circular pattern that initially enters the state’s northwest corner, extends southeast to the eastern Ohio border and then exits the state to the southeast. As a result, the northeastern part of Indiana has seen some droughtrelated improvement with semifrequent rainfall during the last few weeks, while the south central and particularly the southwestern parts of the state have continued to experience steadily worsening conditions. According to the July 31 U.S. Drought Monitor, 59 percent of Indiana is classified as experiencing extreme drought conditions, while 24.3 percent of the state falls under the “exceptional drought” classification. “The drought monitor map tells a very sad story,” said Joe Kelsay, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director. “The widespread nature of this year’s drought conditions has hurt farmers throughout the middle part of the country.” The current status of agriculture in
Indiana is a far cry from the expectations many farmers had following a promising spring. “Generally, agriculture was in good shape heading into this year,” Kelsay said. “We had a mild winter, which was concerning to some, and then a crazy February. A strong spring brought a lot of crops and plants out of dormancy early and then a cold snap wreaked a lot of havoc, but as far as row crops go, it was the type of spring we all look for. “The crops looked really good early on, and from an emotional standpoint, farmers were very excited about their potential.” Kelsay and his wife shared in that widespread optimism over the potential of their own farm in the Whiteland area. “As I was spraying our corn crop, it was exceptional in late May and early June,” he said. “It was a full month ahead of where we typically are, and we had the highest level of expectations.”
Grim prospects However, extended dry periods combined with warmer-than-usual temperatures have forced many farmers, particularly those living in counties southwest of Indianapolis, to ultimately accept the reality of the state’s agricultural situation. For example, in the past Indiana corn yield trends have typically been
near 165 bushels per acre, but according to Kelsay, some Indiana farms are now estimating projected yields to be in the vicinity of 40 to 80 bushels. “When we’ve experienced droughts in the past, 30 percent losses have been some of the biggest ones we’ve seen,” he said. “In many cases now, we’re looking at half or near half.” As far as anticipated fi nancial recovery goes, crop insurance will help some farmers, but certainly won’t make up for all losses endured. “Crop insurance won’t account for 100 percent, but it can be 75 to 85 percent,” Kelsay said. “The sad thing is that a considerable number of folks don’t have crop insurance.” Livestock farmers also have drought-related concerns to address, and the impact on their livelihood can be much more long-standing. “At least with crop farmers, they’ll have another opportunity to grow and sell next year, but livestock farmers need feed for their animals this fall, so the quality of what’s available and the increased cost of that feed is something they’ll have to deal with over the next several months,” Kelsay said. “Livestock farmers don’t have their hands on a physical commodity, and the replacement products are going to be in short supply. “In the past, livestock farmers could have called Kansas, Nebraska
or Missouri to have hay brought in, but those states are going through the same challenges we are.” While working his own dairy farm, Kelsay has noticed a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in the cost of feed. “We’re trying to fi nd ways to source additional feedstock because the yields obviously won’t come from the fields,” he continued. “Maybe we can help with cover crops that we can plant in the fall and harvest in the spring, however, honestly, this year’s weather pattern has been such that to establish additional crops has been difficult.”
Ripple effect Even non-farmers who do business with the farming community are being negatively impacted by extremely adverse weather conditions in southern Indiana. Kelsay said oftentimes, support industries such as equipment dealers and those who work with grain elevators, processors and welding shops are sadly overlooked during challenging times. “They make up a lot of rural America’s economy and rely heavily on farm success to maintain the well-being of their communities,” he said. “When the farming sector is hit, there are many ripples. Other businesses and families are affected, too.” What impact will the state’s
drought conditions have on Indiana farmers going forward? “I’ve heard reports from around the state that some people are downsizing their crops or selling part of their herd, while in other cases, farmers are completely selling out all together,” Kelsay said. “But as far as actual yields go, we won’t know what’s out there until the combines start rolling through.” One thing is certain. Kelsay is confident that farming will rebound in Indiana, thanks in part to what he believes is a growing level of interest in agriculture among the state’s younger population. “There’s real excitement out there. I’ve seen it at 4-H events,” he said. “We’ve seen both incomes and opportunities increase along with the development of the middle class, and obviously, there’s a worldwide demand for what we can grow here. “There are opportunities for supportive sciences, consulting work, research and specialized opportunities through organics, backyard gardening and roadside stands; and those are available at a lower cost of admission. You can buy a farm in the country, sell locally at stands and do quite well,” he continued. “Young people recognize the opportunities that agriculture brings. There are opportunities out there for them to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.”
FARM INDIANA | September 2012
THE SOD IS ALWAYS
Adam Myers stands by a stack of newly harvested sod.
Young farmer finds niche in agricultural market STORY AND PHOTOS BY MARCIA WALKER
od and tomatoes might seem a strange combination, but it works out well for Seymourâ€™s Adam Myers, who grows both on his farm in Jackson County. Itâ€™s about timing. Myers explained that the peak seasons for sod are usually spring and fall. The season for harvesting tomatoes, which he grows on contract for Red Gold, falls in between. â€œIt fits well,â€? Myers said. â€œWeâ€™re extremely busy during the spring and fall. Tomatoes fi ll a void in late summer when things are slow.â€? A graduate of Seymour High School and Purdue University, Myers is just 29 but is already doing what he told people he wanted to do when he grew up. â€œI was always the kid who wanted to farm, but my dad didnâ€™t farm,â€? he explained.
Those familiar with the agricultural industry know that these days, itâ€™s next to impossible to start a farming operation from scratch. Many farms have been handed down from one generation to the next. But Myers, who is single and from a nonfarming family, didnâ€™t have that advantage. â€œI needed something (that required) not as much acreage,â€? he said. â€œI talked to some landscapers and thought I would try this.â€? Myers studied the market and identified a need for his product in the Bloomington, Columbus and Seymour areas. He planted his fi rst 30 acres while still in college, sowing seed in 2003 for the 2004 harvest. â€œWe doubled that about every year till the housing market crashed,â€? he said. The crash knocked some of his competitors out
% 2.9 FOR
of the business. Myers hung on, and with the housing market now on the rebound, is gearing up his operation. â€œWe grow 250 acres of sod and plan to grow up to 300 this fall,â€? he said. â€œThe majority of that is right around here (Jackson County). We do have a small farm starting in Clark County.â€? Myers added tomatoes in 2009, taking over when another local grower decided to leave the market. Some 100 acres are used for that crop, a variety similar to Roma, and Myers also makes room for row crops, devoting 300 acres to corn, soybeans and wheat. Red Gold buys his tomatoes. A variety of people, companies and businesses buy his sod: developers, builders, contractors and even individual homeowners. The majority of his business is in the
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
Myers also grows tomatoes on contract for Red Gold. Here, he tries to determine how many tomatoes are produced on one plant.
southeast quarter of the state, from Indianapolis east to the Ohio border and south to Louisville. But sod grown on Myers’ Sod Farm can also be found in Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia and around Detroit. His company also does seeding for a pipeline company in Kentucky. “We do a lot of commercial stuff,” he said, mentioning that his clients include Indiana University and the Indianapolis Colts. The biggest project so far was the golf course at French Lick, a state-of-the-art course designed by Pete Dye, a name well-known in golfi ng circles. “We supplied all the sod for that,” Myers said, estimating about 50 to 60 acres of sod was used. He said it takes about 3½ semi loads for an acre, which translates to 180 semi loads that were hauled to French Lick over the course of a year. Myers joked that sod is like Kool-Aid. “You just add water,” he said. Mother Nature hasn’t delivered much of that this season, but Myers has an irrigation system for both his tomatoes and sod. The heat has affected the size of the tomatoes but hasn’t been much of a problem for sod, directly anyway. Indirectly, the hot weath-
er has curtailed outdoor activities for some property owners. “When it’s so hot, people don’t want to do physical labor,” Myers said. “And when towns put water restrictions on, it’s illegal to water your yard.” One advantage to sod over sowing grass is that it can be put down almost any time, as long as the ground isn’t frozen. “You’ve got an instantly perfect yard, no weeds, and you can do it anytime,” Myers said. But there are challenges. One is that sod doesn’t have much of a shelf life. Unlike corn or soybeans, sod can’t be stored until prices are better. Sod is cut to order. When the housing market crashed, Myers was shelling out money to cover costs of fertilizing, rent and watering, putting money into his crop but not getting anything in return. “The big challenge is, we have to outguess the market a year and a half in advance,” he said. Myers doesn’t much care for sitting at a desk; he’d rather be sitting behind the wheel of a tractor. But with an operation that employs 15 people, he has no choice but to sit at that desk some of the time. His day may include conferring with his supervisor about installation or seeding, dispatching sod orders, talking with his mechanics, meeting with customers and giving directions to drivers. “There are never two days the same; it just depends on the time of year,” he said, adding, “It seems like I’ve been checking irrigation a lot lately.” Myers believes the market for sod is solid and will increase. “I think the demand for sod is growing as homeowners get further removed from agriculture,” he said. “They don’t know the proper time to seed (grass) or how to maintain it.” Myers graduated from Seymour High School in
Myers Sod Farm WHO: Adam Myers, owner-operator WHERE: 1519 E. County Road 600N, Seymour (near Cortland in Jackson County) WHAT: 250 acres of sod, the majority is a fescue bluegrass blend. A small percentage is Kentucky bluegrass. Also, 100 acres of tomatoes, a variety similar to Roma and used for canning, is grown on contract for Red Gold. Myers also has 300 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.
2001, from Purdue in 2005 and still can be found in a classroom. He’s enrolled in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program, a series of seminars along with two trips, one to Washington, D.C., and the other overseas. The intent is to help participants improve leadership skills with a focus on serving the agriculture and rural communities. “I’m kind of forcing myself to go, to move outside my comfort zone,” he said. When Myers headed to Purdue, he started out in agricultural engineering. He quickly found out he wanted something that was more hands on. “I found sitting at a computer was not my cup of tea,” he said, so he switched majors and picked up a degree in farm management. He has no regrets about the path he has chosen. “I couldn’t imagine working on anything else,” Myers said. “I like working outside. I like being my own boss.”
A machine actually harvests and sorts the tomatoes; workers hand pick any that aren't ripe.
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
CYCLE Kids and livestock thrive on O’Connor family farm BY BARNEY QUICK
nder a blazing early-afternoon sky at the height of this summer’s heat wave, when little else is stirring, Albert O’Connor bounds out of the side door of his house with the affable grin that seems to be his default expression. A mention of the weather merits a mere shrug. O’Connor and his wife, Kim, are raising their family in the same house in which he grew up, as did his mother before him. It’s surrounded by stately shade trees and set back from the road at the end of a long drive on a lone elevation in an otherwise flat expanse. Like many houses of its agrarian vintage, it sports a big front porch and is surrounded by landscaped slopes. The backyard consists mainly of a fenced-in swimming pool. O’Connor gestures toward his 2009 Chevy half-ton pickup and offers a tour of the several farms his family operates. They are situated within a triangle roughly 13 miles to the leg stretching from the intersection of State Roads 11 and 46 west of Columbus to Grammer to Newbern. Much of the land dates back to purchases made by his great-grandfather. Seed corn, soybeans and wheat are the farms’ three main row crops. Obviously, irrigation was used extensively this summer, but any areas of the fields that missed out are immediately discernible. “I don’t really care to grow wheat, because you harvest it when it’s really hot,” he explains. “We can recover some on the soybeans. If we get some rains before warm weather is over,
they can still flower and put out some pods. At Grammer, we’ll have our best corn yield.” The O’Connors’ equipment is modern, but they don’t replace it with each incremental advance in how the machines are built. He explains that the real improvement in efficiency, once a farmer has equipment that’s reasonably close to state-of-the-art, is to be found in GPS technology and data-sharing soft ware. He demonstrates a GPS unit that measures his productivity, with real-time numbers for ground speed, distance and area per hour. “On my home computer, I have yield data for all the different fields,” he says. The 1986 Columbus North High School graduate majored in business at Butler University. “I wanted a degree that would give me the flexibility
PHOTOS BY SEVIL MAHFOOZI
Kim and Albert O’Connor with their children, Kylie, Jake and Zack.
to do something different if I wanted to,” he says, adding that options other than farming faded in importance as he realized he had a passion for it.
Not a normal year The tour by truck leads to a property west of Gladstone Avenue in Columbus. O’Connor slows down to converse with an old friend, Mike
Nolting, who helps out frequently. “Our families are close,” says O’Connor. “I rent some ground from them.” The two discuss Nolting’s present task, planting oats. The drought has necessitated some non-routine measures. “It’s just for ground cover and making hay,” O’Connor says. “It’s not something you’d do in a normal year.” The hay can be put to immediate use. He points to a hay shed, noting that “normally it would be jampacked, but there’s no grass for the cattle to eat.” Like most area farmers, he keeps a fairly positive outlook on this year’s record-setting weather conditions, but gets a bit wistful when he peels back the husks on an ear of corn. The rows of kernels are haphazard and incomplete. “I have a great crop insurance agent,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to be part of the 30 percent of farmers who aren’t insured this year.” The family raises approximately 35 head of cattle, but, as O’Connor explains, “It’s so labor intensive to do right, we decided we didn’t want
to do it on a bigger scale. I guess our goal is to raise heifers and steers for the kids to show.” Showing livestock is something of a rite of passage for family members. Albert raised show cattle as a youth. Kim showed sheep at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair. Their daughter, Kylie, shows cattle at the fair. Son Zack showed four pigs this year, and his brother Jake showed a steer, a heifer and two pigs. “I don’t know as much about pigs as I do cattle,” Albert concedes. “A family friend, Bill Wehmeier, raises pigs. When Jake was about 4 years old, Bill asked him, ‘What are you going to show when you’re old enough?’ Jake didn’t hesitate; he said, ‘Pigs, and I’m gonna buy ’em from Bill Wehmeier.’ Th is year, he had the fair’s champion Duroc.”
4-H family Albert has served on the fair board for several years. His term expires in October. One of his activities as a board member was overseeing the Friends of 4-H program, which enlists individuals and businesses to pool money and buy the young ex-
FARM INDIANA | September 2012
O'Connor Farm WHO: Albert and Kim O’Connor
hibitors’ livestock. Ag-related businesses, such as grain dealers, as well as banks, insurance companies and even medical clinics have contributed to the initiative. His favorite way to be involved in 4-H is as a coordinator for the auction that takes place each year on the last Saturday morning of fair week. It’s the culmination of months of effort on the part of the young exhibitors, and there’s an emotional element to the proceedings. “A lot of kids don’t want to sell
their animals,” he says. “It’s kind of bittersweet for them. They generally understand that God created livestock so we could have meat, but a pet mentality can set in a little bit.” The family often attends the North American Livestock Expo at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds in Louisville, which takes place in November each year. “You don’t earn any money at it,” he says. “It’s more for bragging rights.” The O’Connors also try to get away for some non-farming leisure each
year. The holiday season or spring break are generally the times that work for vacation. They are the embodiment of a close-knit south-central Indiana farm family rooted in one locale for generations. Albert’s parents live on one side of his home, his sister, Pia, on the other. His father, Dean, is still active in the operation. “When people ask him if he’s retired, he says he’s in transition,” says O’Connor. He gets the sense that his kids’ in-
terest in showing livestock is creating an overall zeal for farming, much as it did for him. “I sure hope at least one of them wants to go into it,” he confides. “Kylie, who is a junior at East, is looking at going to Purdue to study ag.” He reflects on what is most satisfying to him about the farming life. “I like following the genetic lineage of cattle. I guess for both row crops and livestock, it’s seeing the growth cycle.”
WHAT: They grow corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. Their livestock consists of cattle, mainly for showing at fairs. WHERE: Home and one farm, east of Columbus, with other properties extending from the west side to Grammer and Newbern. FAMILY: Daughter Kylie, 16; sons Zack, 13, and Jake, 11.
A H O M E N E WS E N T E R P R I S E S P U B L I C AT I O N
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Entry rules: 1) Like our Facebook page. 2) Send us a photo of you with your best harvest equipment with a copy of Farm Indiana* 3) Have your friends and family vote for your photo to win!
The 2012 Drought has Dffected crops throughout the country. With this in mind, we created the Emergency Drought Relief Program to help our neighbors through these hard times.
Contact your local branch today for more information. Restrictions may apply.
Emergency Drought Relief Program available until December 31, 2012.
FARM INDIANA | September 2012
Children’s garden teaches lessons about food chain BY JEFF TRYON
BY MIKE FERREE
Where does pizza come from? You grow it! That lesson was illustrated to youngsters in the YMCA summer day camp program in Nashville recently, as they gathered vegetables they helped grow and turned them into a tasty lunch treat. Last spring, the little vegetable garden out back of the Brown County YMCA was planted and nurtured by students from the Nashville area Head Start program. Th is summer, the day camp kids tended the garden, harvesting vegetables and selling them at their own little farm market in the lobby of the YMCA building. The Kids Crops Program is the brainchild of Jenny Johnson, a Nashville woman who grew up gardening with her father and wanted to teach children where food comes from and how anyone can grow their own vegetables. “The program started as a desire to help children learn how to grow food and flowers, show them what the veggies look like growing and help them experience the joy of eating what you have grown yourself and taste the difference of fresh vegetables as opposed to ones from the store,” Johnson said. The children enjoyed digging potatoes, gathering tomatoes and squash, or going inside the pole bean tepee to pick the pole beans. “Th is year we expanded the program to include cooking with their fresh produce,” Johnson said. “They loved the cooking almost as much as the eating.” After picking tomatoes, basil, squash, onions, potatoes, green beans and other ripe produce, the children, ages 5 through 13, used a small kitchen inside the YMCA to get the hands-on experience of preparing the food they grew for the meal they were about to eat. “As the program blossomed, I realized we had an opportunity to expand the program and teach marketing and money management,” Johnson said. “We started our farmers market in the YMCA, where the community can get the freshly harvested veggies and bouquets for a suggested donation.” The children save a third of the money collected from sales for seeds, fertilizer and other items for next year’s garden, giving a third to a community project of their choice and using a third for a party for themselves. “The kids learn to display their inventory, talk with customers and make change. It’s great to help them think about money management and what charities they want to help support,” Johnson said. She approached YMCA management a few years back with the idea of teaching children about gardening. They offered her a spot behind the facility, and she got help from friends and community entities such as the Brown County Foundation to fence it and make other improvements. “It is such a blessing to work with the kids in the garden and experience their joy in the simple things,” Johnson said. “Seeds, plants sprouting and growing, insects, digging potatoes, learning to pick flowers and make bouquets, picking and tasting different veggies like okra, noticing how different varieties of tomatoes taste and realizing that they have succeeded in growing delicious food. “I am thankful for the joy these kids bring to my life.”
PHOTOS BY JEFF TRYON
Jenny Johnson, at top, helps a boy cut okra in the garden behind the Brown County YMCA. Recently she and the young people in the Kids Crops Program made pizzas using the produce they helped grow. Johnson started the program a few years ago.
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As many cornfields in the area are being salvaged for livestock forage, there have been several questions raised about nitrate toxicity in drought-stressed corn. Some cows in the state have died from nitrate toxicity in drought-stressed corn. The confi rmed deaths have been from feeding green chop corn to hungry cattle. Green chop and baled corn plants pose the greatest risk. If they test high in nitrates, they can still be utilized if managed properly. Diluting the feed and limiting the amount fed to the cattle are two of the most common ways to manage feed with high nitrates. Making silage of drought-stressed corn presents the least risk for nitrate toxicity. The ensiling process will reduce nitrate toxicity by 40 percent to 60 percent. Before making and feeding silage, be sure that all pesticides applied to the crop are cleared for silage use. The interval between fi nal application and allowable harvest may differ for silage and grain. Be sure to check the label of any chemical that was applied. Proper crop moisture is important for the ensiling process. Before drought-stressed corn is chopped for silage, be sure to test the moisture percentage. The crop should not exceed 65 percent moisture. Even though lower leaves may be brown, plants can contain 75 percent to 90 percent water, which is too wet for acceptable silage fermentation. If drought-stressed corn has pollinated, it is best to delay harvest as long as some green leaf and stalk tissue remain and the black layer has not formed on kernels. Rainfall and subsequent relief of moisture stress can increase grain dry matter and silage quality. Those producers who do make silage from droughtstressed corn need to exercise caution when entering a silo. Various nitrogen oxide gases are produced in the ensiling process that are highly toxic to humans and livestock. A silo should not be entered in the fi rst four weeks after it is fi lled without fi rst running the blower for 15 to 30 minutes. I have a qualitative test kit that will indicate high nitrate levels in corn stalks. The test can help alert producers as to whether a more thorough analysis should be made before harvesting or feeding drought-stressed corn. Several testing labs can provide the nitrate content and for a few dollars more provide a nutrient analysis. Please contact me if you would like to learn more about these options. Mike Ferree is the Purdue Extension educator — agriculture & natural resources in Bartholomew County. He can be reached at 812-379-1665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FARM INDIANA | September 2012
HAY, DO YOU HAVE ANY?
BY JEFF TRYON
rea farmers hard hit by this summer’s drought are scrambling to fi nd hay as prices rise and are starting to contemplate the inevitable livestock sell-off brought on by higher hay prices. At Kritzer’s Feed Store in Gnaw Bone, Kaitlyn Kritzer has been doing everything from querying customers to combing Craigslist to try to fi nd a few more bales of hay. “We’re selling our hay for six dollars a bale, and that’s the last hay that I can fi nd,” Kritzer said. “Hay prices are defi nitely going up now. A lot of people, their fields are burnt up.” Purdue University agronomists estimate that fi rst cutting hay yields were off 30 percent to 70 percent this year, and dry weather in May and June led to poor re-growth of hay and pasture. “If there is a third cutting, it’s not going to have a lot of nutrition in it, and it’s not going to be very much,” Kritzer said. Matthew Zupancic farms in several area counties, including Brown and Johnson. He is one of the farmers who would normally be supplying hay to Kritzer’s, but he has stopped selling hay and may have to sell his livestock due to the hay shortage. “We had a pretty decent fi rst cutting, and we thought we were going to have a lot of hay, and we sold a lot of hay,” Zupancic said. “And then it just quit. “The clover and alfalfa seem to still be growing a little bit. There won’t be much of a third cutting. I don’t think we’re going to get any second cutting off the grass hay, and the third cutting is going to be real slim on the clover and alfalfa.” Zupancic, who has about 300 acres of hay, said he sold most of his hay for $3.50 a bale out of the field, and then when he figured out he didn’t have enough, he raised the price to $5.
Growers can’t supply it, livestock producers can’t buy it, so cows can’t eat it
PHOTO BY MARK FREELAND
John and Mathew Zupancic stand in front of round bales of grass hay in a shelter.
“It probably should have been more, but it was to people that I normally sell to. “I’ve been trying to fi nd some hay,” he said “We went to an auction the other day, and we saw some little bitty round bales sell for an average of 40 dollars a bale, and they were real small bales. “And it was 2-year-old hay that did not look good at all. We went with the
“IT’S BEEN DRY THE LAST THREE YEARS, BUT THIS IS BY FAR THE DRIEST.” — GARY PLUMER Our
intention of buying it and then didn’t even bid on it.”
A rare commodity Hay supplies across the region are dwindling, and if hay can be found, it is expensive. While small square mixed grass hay bales could still be found as low as $5 a bale in Morgan County and $6 near Whiteland at the end of July, at a recent auction in southern Michigan small square bales of hay, which had cost about $4.50 this spring and $5.50 in early June, sold for a record $12.20 each. For Zupancic, the drought-infl icted hay shortage has led to an inescapable economic conclusion. “We are going to sell cows,” he said. “And I’m not selling any more hay.
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“We sold too much hay, and now we don’t have enough for our own cows,” he said. “We’re going to chop silage, which we don’t have the equipment to do, but we’re going to figure out a way to do that, or we’re going to have to sell the cows.” He said falling cattle prices indicate that more farmers are coming to the same conclusion. Kritzer said that while she hasn’t seen a lot of cattle sell-off so far, “We’re expecting to see that. We’re defi nitely getting there. Th is winter is going to be bad.” Gary Plumer, of Plumer Hay Farms near Seymour, said the forced sell-off is not necessarily all bad. “That’s just now starting, and there’s some of it that probably needs to be sold,” Plumer said. “I call that culling the herd. Now’s a good time to do that. The price is still pretty good for cattle, but I’m sure that’s going to go down because it’ll probably flood the market.” Plumer said he will continue to have hay for his customers, mostly horse owners, despite the drought conditions. “We’ve got a supply of hay, and I think we’ll have hay for year-round,” he said. “It’s going to be really short this year. “Where we’re normally getting four or five cuttings a year, we’re going to get three this year, and the number of bales is down,” he said. Plumer noted that this is the third dry year in a row, which has exacerbated the situation. “The supply of hay had built up over the years, hay in the barn, and now that’s all running out,” he said. “It’s been dry the last three years, but this is by far the driest.”
Standing pat But Plumer said he refuses to hike prices because of the scarcity of hay. “We’re keeping our prices the same as they were last year,” he said. “I know people can’t afford it the way it is. Everything else is going to get so high, and I just worry about people. “I’m not going to raise my prices.” Plumer has 400 acres of hay on the farm to back him up, and if need be, he can reach out for a little help. “We can take care of our customers,” he said. And if push comes to shove, he said, the farm is a member of the National Hay Association, an in-
dependent organization with more than 500 active members, including producers, dealers and brokers across the United States. “I’ve got a few people who kind of owe me a favor, that I could give a call,” he said. “I can get hay. “So, I might run out of my own hay, but I won’t run out of hay,” he said. “That’s kind of the nice thing about being in a group, you can fi nd something. It might not be exactly what they want, but it’ll work this year.” As of mid-July, severe to exceptional drought spanned 80 percent of the state with only some northwestern and southeastern areas in slightly better condition, according to the Indiana Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farmers in 55 Indiana counties now qualify for assistance after the Farm Service Agency declared 36 counties as natural disaster areas and extended assistance to an additional 19 counties. The FSA will also allow livestock producers in 22 counties to graze Conservation Reserve Program land after obtaining approval.
ANOTHER OPTION Associated Press Indiana livestock farmers running short of hay for their animals during the drought have a new option for keeping their animals fed. Landowners with nonforested acreage enrolled in the state’s Classified Forest and Wildlands Program can apply for a special permit to cut grasses and other plants on that land for hay. Department of Natural Resources Director Rob Carter said the “unprecedented drought justifies a one-time special permit” to allow hay to be cut on a limited amount of land classified as wildlands. Eligible landowners will be allowed to cut up to 10 percent, or five acres of hay, whichever is less. Landowners interested in obtaining a special permit should contact their district forester.
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September 2012 | Section B
Agricultural land prices are on the rise
BY JENNIFER WILLHITE
79-acre farm in White County in the northwestern portion of Indiana, an area hard hit by the drought, recently sold for $13,189 per acre. So what is driving farm land prices skyward? Well, there are several factors contributing to the price per acre. According to Richard Beckort, extension educator and county extension director for the Purdue Extension office in Jackson County, land prices have continued to increase over the past couple of years. He believes the steady increase may be attributed to the economy, historically low interest rates, and commodity prices, namely corn and soybeans. “People who have cash, or can fi nance, can get more return on that money by investing in farm property and getting the farm return on top of that,” Beckort said, “as opposed to keeping cash in the bank and getting a half or a tenth of a percent on that investment.” Having watched prices steadily “eek up,” Beckort says, he really noticed the increase in land prices last year. Unable to say defi nitively if the jump in land prices is linked to the economy, he says the bottom line is any increase not only impacts the farmer, but it adversely affects his ability to expand his operation. Besides the economic factors, this year’s drought may also prove to significantly affect the price of land. Despite the loss of yields this season, commodity prices are skyrocketing. Dave Bonnell, of Halderman Real Estate Services in Columbus, says there is uncertainty in everyone’s mind because of the drought conditions, but the market is still good. “Once we get into harvest, and people see what the actual yields are, it either confi rms their fears or they’re pleasantly surprised,” Bonnell said. “Although no one is joyous, the attitude is improving. Everyone is starting to look forward now.” As of late, Bonnell says, in Bartholomew County his company has seen tillable land sell for $5,000 an acre to upward of $10,000 per acre. He says land auctioned on the lower end often carries some risk, like river bottoms. In many cases, land sells higher at auction if there’s a neighbor or an existing tenant who has a chance to buy it. That was the case with the recent White County sale, where the most active bidders were neighboring farmers “For a couple of years, the amount of farm land for sale has been very low compared to the demand, and when a farmer has the opportunity to own and work additional land near his existing farm, he knows that it may be decades before that property goes up for sale again, so he doesn’t focus so much about one year’s weather,” said R.D. Schrader, president of Schrader Real Estate and Auction Co., which conducted the sale.
PHOTO BY SEVIL MAHFOOZI
Making room for the kids According to Beckort, many families are seeking to bring in the next generation, and in order to do that they must expand their operations. That takes money. But when land comes up for sale adjacent to land they already own, that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Doug Fish of Cortland recently purchased 50 acres of farm land adjacent to property his family owns. Fish, whose main crops are corn and soybeans, bought the land not only for its location, but as a long-term investment for his family. “We’ve always bought ground because we use it,” Fish said. “And it’s always been an excellent long-term investment. We don’t buy it just to resell it; we buy it to farm.” Auctioneer Fred Pollert, of Pollerts Inc. in Seymour, says he’s sold farm land for anywhere from $6,000 an acre for flood ground up to $11,000 for high ground. In some locations, the price has more than doubled in recent years, and Pollert admits he’s surprised. “Just a few years ago, I sold flood ground for $3,500 an acre and high ground for $5,000 an acre,” he said. “The agricultural community, to me, has a perfect climate right now. They’ve got low interest rates, high commodity prices and good crop insurance backed by the federal government.” As long as those rates, prices and insurance remain steady, Pollert says, the agricultural community will stay strong. Although he cautions if interest rates increase, as they did back in the 1980s, farmers could fi nd themselves in a difficult situation. The anticipated sunset of the $5 million exemption on the inheritance tax later this year is also contributing to the increase in land sales. Unsure whether the tax break will be extended,
many people are selling to try and get the best price for their land, Pollert says.
It’s just time Bonnell, in part, echoes Pollert’s observation. He says the anticipated tax changes are a contributing factor for some people whose properties his company has listed to auction. But for a portion of those people, it is also a stage-of-life decision to sell. “What we’re seeing is people saying, ‘OK, we’re in our 60s and 70s now,’” Bonnell said. “‘We need to divide this farm up and sell it now
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Two area men are among the 30 members of the most recent class of the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program. Adam Myers, owner of Myers Sod Farm near Seymour, and Cody Gault, crop insurance specialist with the Greensburg office of Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, attended the fi rst of 12 sessions July 12 to 14 at the Waycross Conference Center in Morgantown. Th is session provided a program orientation for class members, including discussions of leadership, leadership qualities and applications, goal setting and understanding personality styles. Th rough study and exposure to critical public issues, participants are challenged to meet the evolving political, economic, social and cultural needs of our society. Sessions are conducted at different locations around the state. The program also includes two trips — one to Washington, D.C., and one twoweek trip to a foreign country. “You don’t know which country until a year into it,” said Myers, noting that by participating he is “kind of forcing myself to go outside my comfort zone. I wanted to learn new ideas, to network and develop leadership skills.” Gault said that as he has been exposed to
various areas of agriculture, such as agriculture lending, farming, crop insurance, and retail, his devotion and interest in the agriculture industry has strengthened. “I continue to become more intrigued in broadening my knowledge of new systems, opportunities and business applications. “I view the ALP as an ideal program for exposure to new opportunities, knowledge, and leadership skills. My ability to apply these skills will encompass my daily life. My participation in the ALP will provide me with the expertise that I need to become a respected voice among my community.” The Agricultural Leadership Program is provided by AgrIInstitute, Inc., a nonprofit organization that works to improve the agricultural community by fostering leadership development and facilitating communication among diverse interests on agricultural, food and natural resources issues. AgrIInstitute provides the program through the fi nancial contributions and grants of individuals, corporations and associations representing the diverse agricultural industry. Since the program began in 1984, nearly 380 participants have graduated, strengthening and transforming their local communities and the agricultural community as a whole.
so it’s not a problem for our kids.’” With corn at nearly $8 per bushel and soybeans nearing $16, the jump in commodity prices has significantly influenced land prices. Fish believes a combination of commodity prices and low interest rates has led to the higher than usual spike in land prices. Until this year’s crops are harvested, he anticipates high commodity prices will continue. Record yields next year could trigger a price shift , and if prices fall more than 50 percent, he says farmers will take quite a loss. He says such a shift could considerably impact the price of acreage. “We’re just going to have to let the markets play out,” Fish said. “I don’t see anything changing for at least another year.” In the agricultural community, land prices are cyclical. Beckort reflects back on the 1970s, saying land prices increased significantly and came back down. He says what we’re seeing with land prices may be indicative of a “little bubble” driven by the economy, like what occurred with home prices. Prices will eventually level out, but at a higher plateau than what’s been seen in the past. Despite the cyclic nature of land prices, Beckort doesn’t see land prices returning to where they were five years ago, but neither does he see the pricing having too great an impact on Midwest farms. “The vast majority of those are going to be family farms,” Beckort said. “Will they look like the family farm from 50 years ago? No. There’ll probably be some sort of corporation for just business purposes, but it’s still going to be a family-run operation.”
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
HOMESTEADS all of its machinery is ready to go. Workers arrived at 6 a.m. to adjust and tighten belts and change oil and spark plugs on the combines and tractors.
Richards family brings business, agriculture savvy to Indy Family Farms
PHOTOS BY MARK FREELAND
Marianna and Rob Richards, sitting center, with their family. Sons Eric, left, and Aaron are co-owners with their father of Indy Family Farms in Greenwood. BY RYAN TRARES
or the Richards family, successful farming is as much about computers and technology as tractors and com-
bines. Employees use global positioning systems, in-tractor monitors and automatic steering to cut a precise path through the rows. The tractor knows when to turn, where a field ends and how many rows are being planted without any
Thereâ€™s Green, then there are the others.
human steering at all. Computers report real-time information to track yield and completed sections. When a message needs to be sent to all 17 farm employees, itâ€™s sent out on the farmâ€™s private Twitter feed. The Richards family has been working its 274-acre plot of land in Greenwood since the 1940s, with five generations of farmers planting and harvesting corn, soybeans and wheat. Now a father-son operation called Indy Family Farms, it has harnessed the available technology and adopt-
ed corporate business practices to streamline its production. In addition to working its own land, it rents nearly 11,700 acres in Johnson and surrounding counties. Despite its dedication to a hightech form of farming, the White River Township-based operation still tries to balance the ideals and family unity that have marked the farm for almost 70 years. â€œEven though weâ€™re larger in size, weâ€™re still a family farm operation. And we have other families working
for us that have a passion for farming,â€? general manager Rob Richards said. â€œWeâ€™ve taken advantage of the equipment changes and technology changes and even the business practice changes that are required now, and still maintained the family core attributes.â€? The clang of metal tools and the drone of an air compressor fi lled the space at Indy Family Farmsâ€™ workshop and equipment barn. With the harvest starting soon, preparations have started to ensure
The prep work is the type that farmers have done for generations. But once the harvest starts, the Richards family will enhance that timetested knowledge using the most upto-date systems at their disposal. The tractors, linked with wireless modems and connected to a central bank of computers, will be able to track down to the row where they need to start and stop. Yield amounts, where each piece of machinery is working and which semi trucks have left for the elevator are all compiled in one computer database. â€œBefore, we always had books to keep track of that. Now itâ€™s getting real-time information of the exact variety, where itâ€™s at, what itâ€™s doing and the exact position,â€? said Aaron Richards, 33. During harvest, Eric Richards, 36, mans the central command. Heâ€™s dubbed â€œlogistics championâ€? for his ability to coordinate three combines, three grain carts and eight semi-tractor trailers to all 12,000 acres. â€œI get the thrill of a big day, getting out there and getting a big day done,â€? he said. â€œFrom 6 a.m., Iâ€™ll get maybe 200 phone calls â€” just phone calls and phone calls and phone calls. But itâ€™s exciting.â€? The scene is much different than the one that Harry Richards Jr. would have known when he bought the familyâ€™s original farm in 1943. That 274acre plot, named Bluffdale Farms, started by raising row crops and dairy cows, eventually switching to beef cattle. Harry Richards, better known as â€œSpencer,â€? maintained the farm for his three sons â€” Ron, Rex and Rob. The oldest two followed their father into the fields. But Rob didnâ€™t see the farm in his future, at least not at fi rst. As the youngest of three boys, the family didnâ€™t have enough ground for him to work. So he instead went on to higher education, studying mathematics at Purdue University. After graduating with a bachelorâ€™s degree in math and a masterâ€™s degree in math education, he left to teach high school. Th ree years of that led him to
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
Indy Family Farms RICHARDS FAMILY LOCATION: White River Township CROPS: Corn, soybeans and wheat ACRES: 300 of their own, as well as close to 11,700 rental
ROB RICHARDS AGE: 58 POSITION: General manager FAMILY: Wife, Marianna EDUCATION: Graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s degree in mathematics education.
ERIC RICHARDS AGE: 36 POSITION: Operations manager FAMILY: Wife, Cathy; daughters, Addison, 5, and Piper, 8 months EDUCATION: Graduated from Center Grove High School, 1995; received associate degree in business administration from University of Indianapolis.
AARON RICHARDS AGE: 33 POSITION: Equipment, vehicle and trailer maintenance manager FAMILY: Wife, Angela; son Brady, 4, and daughter, Makenzie, 11 months EDUCATION: Graduated from Center Grove High School, 1997.
Rick McCarty, irrigation manager, shows water flow to Eric and Aaron Richards on the Zimmatic system. It will cover 76 acres.
switch course again, and he went to work in the telecommunications industry as a network operations general manager for 28 years.
Next generation His sons, meanwhile, were fully invested in farm life. Eric and Aaron Richards had essentially grown up on the farm. Their family’s home was just miles away from their grandfather, and they spent much time with Spencer Richards. When he would go out in the field, they’d ride on his lap. Sometimes they would bring him lunch so he didn’t have to stop and leave the field. “There was something special about working the land, planting a crop, seeing it grow,” Aaron said. “My grandpa, he lived a good life. He was a good man, and he had a passion for farming. We got that passion, too.” As they grew older, the two boys became more intensely involved with the process. One would drive a tractor, while the other would drive a grain truck. They helped Spencer and Rex load corn and beans, repair broken combines and coordinate harvests, all while they were still students at Center Grove High School.
Eric was 19 and Aaron was 17 when they became full partners in the farm operation. Rex Richards announced to the family that he had purchased a farm in Illinois. To soften the blow to their grandfather, the family passed the 1,700 acres of rental property to the boys. They were able to buy some used equipment and started their own business. “Eric and I were just teenage boys, not knowing how we were going to get the opportunity to farm, other than working for grandpa the rest of our lives,” Aaron said. “Here, overnight, our dreams came true.” Though Rob wasn’t working with them on the farm, he still tried to help them learn the proper way to operate. He couldn’t school them on how to increase their yield or what to do when a drought hit, but his perspective from a business setting helped reinforce the importance of dedication, work ethic and accountability. “You have to do things in a certain order and a certain way to achieve successful results,” Rob said. “You are responsible for getting things done, and the farm is dependent on you doing it correctly and timely. All
of those are true in business, too.”
On their own When Spencer Richards died in 1999, the brothers took over the entire operation. They managed well by themselves. Over the span of 10 years, Eric and Aaron grew the operation to include more than 10,000 acres, renting and farming in counties all over central Indiana. But with more acreage came greater responsibility. In addition to farming the fields, they had to keep their fleet of tractors, combines and trucks operational. Government regulations had to be monitored, and insurance had to be fi led. They weren’t prepared to deal with all of the business aspects of the farm, Aaron said. But the timing of the problem proved fortuitous. Rob was planning to retire from telecommunications in 2008. His knowledge of management and business practices could balance out the farming side of it. “Farming is much more businessoriented than previously, in terms of the fi nancial management, safety and employee compliance,” Rob said. “You can’t look at just one particular
area, because what might be a cash decision today may have tax implications tomorrow or governmental compliance problems down the line. You have to look at things as a whole, and it takes time.” Since joining his sons in farming, Rob has focused on turning the operation into a modern business. He has organized records and fi nancial data on a computer, making it easier to track and correct inefficiencies on the farm. The family also made environmental management a priority, making changes to the way it works to better protect the land and the food growing on it. They’ve developed a rigid system of inventory on fuel, fertilizer and other chemicals they use. A program records when and how much fertilizer is bought and how much is applied every day. The inventory ensures that no field is over- or underfertilized and also prevents theft , Eric said. A lock was installed on the storage shed where all fuel is kept. To control erosion, a series of waterways and channels was built in each field to funnel water to existing creeks. For their effort, Indy Family Farms was certified by Validas Ventures, an independent company focusing on socially responsible farming. “It’s a return to the traditional family-farm values — caring about others and caring about the community you live in. Being good citizens of the community has always been the core around us,” Rob said. The Richardses are proud of what they’ve achieved on the farm and hope to continue making improvements and grow. But what makes their achievements more worthwhile has been that it has happened to them as a family. Growing up, Aaron and Eric imagined themselves working side-by-side with their father on the land. Now, Aaron’s 4-year-old son, Brady, is infatuated with farms. He wants to help his father, uncle and grandfather with the work that has defi ned the family for years. “It’s heritage. It’s what our family has been about. As a result of that and that upbringing, it’s what you appreciate,” Rob said. “If you have a passion for it, being able to work at something you enjoy and make a living at it, it’s something you want to do.”
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
Cherishing heritage Graham Creek Farms thrives through five generations of Coryas
day. His son, David, is a partner in the business. His wife, June, fi xes dinner for the work crew every day, and while she downplays her role, Corya maintains she knows as much about the farm as he does. There are also three grandchildren involved: Kyle, 28, and twins, Kyra and Kysha, 25; and three other employees, two of whom are also family members. “It’s a nice situation,” the amiable Corya said. “I get to see the grandkids, most all five, every day and a big part of the time, the great-grandkids, too. We do think of ourselves as familyoriented.”
BY MARCIA WALKER
eorge Corya is the kind of person who doesn’t know a stranger. As he settles into an office chair in a room that doubles as an office and employee break room, he strikes up a conversation as if talking to someone he’s known for years rather than minutes. Not surprisingly, on his mind this particular morning is the spotty, badly needed rain that fell the night before. “Hopefully, it will help the beans; it’s too late for the corn crop,” he said. “Our corn tried to tassel a week ago in that 100-plus weather. I’m afraid its already made up its mind. When corn is 2 feet tall, it is already making a decision on ear size. It’s kind of like a person growing up. Part of your disposition is formed at a very young age.” Corya is farming the ground where he was born and raised near Commiskey in Jennings County. Now 78, he took over his father’s farm when he was a freshman in high school, after his father suffered a heart attack. These days, there are plenty of other family members to shoulder the workload, but Corya doesn’t do well sitting still and comes to work every day. “I enjoy working; I don’t have to if I don’t feel like it, but I enjoy working,” he explained. Probably what Corya likes best about the family’s farming operation is just that — it’s a family affair, and he sees family members every
‘We’ve just been lucky’
PHOTOS BY SEVIL MAHFOOZI
George Corya has more than 30 machinery sheds and seed storage areas on his farm in Commiskey. He started farming on 14 acres of rented land. He now owns 8,200 acres.
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What is today Graham Creek Farms started with the 140 acres owned by Corya’s father. Today, almost 2,600 acres are devoted to corn; another 825 are used for hay and 3,106 acres are planted in soybeans. The operation also includes 650 head of cattle; approximately 340 of those are mama cows. “We’ve just been lucky,” Corya said. “We started out renting ground from neighbors as they got older. When they got ready to sell, we didn’t have much money; they’d sell on contract. We’ve had a lot of people put a lot of faith in us.” David Corya said this is the worst year for crops he can remember, not only because of the drought, but because of the acres of corn left tattered and torn by a hail storm.
FARM INDIANA | September 2012
we started. Everything was done by hand; that (part is) easier.” Although Corya has spent most of his life where he is today, Uncle Sam took him away for a couple of years. He was drafted and sent to Fort Lewis, Wash. He and his wife were expecting their fi rst child. “I thought the world was coming to an end, but it was a blessing,” he said, adding that he got to see some of the country. “I had a lot of different experiences.”
Graham Creek Farms WHO: George Corya and his son, David Corya, are partners in Graham Creek Farms. The farm takes its name from Graham Creek, which meanders through much of the land. WHAT: The Coryas raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa hay, wheat and Angus cattle.
A life of service
WHERE: Near Commiskey in Jennings County. Some of the farm land is in neighboring Jefferson County. FAMILY: George Corya's wife, June, lends a hand when needed and fixes dinner for the work crew every day. David and his wife, Karen, have three children: Kyle, 28, and twins Kyra and Kysha, 25; all three are involved with the farming operation.
PHOTO BY MARCIA WALKER
Kysha, Kyra and Kyle Corya are the latest generation to get involved with Graham Creek Farms.
“Th is weather pattern started out a year ago. It was hot and dry in July; there was no winter,” he said. “It’s the worst crop we’ve ever seen. And where we thought we had decent crops, it got hailed on.” Because the pastures are drying up, the Coryas are already feeding silage to their cattle. But they know to plan ahead. George Corya explained that they purposely cut more silage than what is needed to get through the winter months, a decision that is paying off this summer since they are already feeding last year’s leftovers. Since the drought is taking a toll on alfalfa, Corya knows seed will be hard to come by, so he plans to order earlier this year. And he is already thinking about how much to plant next year, maybe cutting back on corn and devoting more ground to beans. But Corya said the weather isn’t the number one problem faced by farmers. “It’s regulations,” he said. “Regulations are strangling free enterprise, especially in the farming community. Regulations are being passed so fast, you can’t keep up with all of them.” He explained that tasks that used to be considered routine maintenance now require permits, sometimes from several different agencies. June Corya agreed, noting times have changed. “You have to keep so many records,” she said. “It’s not like it used to be; those simple days are gone. The manual work, it’s easier than when
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Corya was raised in a very religious family and even once gave some thought to church work. He opted to plant corn, he said, but served as Sunday School teacher at Commiskey Baptist Church, where his grandson is to be married soon, for more than 60 years. “I decided to do corn and Christ’s work on the side,” he said. Corya is a humble man who doesn’t talk much about what he’s done with his life. Someone else mentioned the instrumental role he played in getting stockyards located in Little York. “He campaigned real hard to get the stockyards here. His name is still hanging over the sale arena,” grandson Kyle said. “He has the groundbreaking shovel. It was a big accomplishment for him. It was a big deal for people in this area, as far as a good stockyard. There wasn’t one (nearby).” If working around family is Corya’s favorite part of farming, all the people he has met, who quickly become friends, rank a close second. Some of them he has met serving on different boards, including the Jennings County School Board. Corya was on the state Farm Service Agency
committee and was a district director for Farm Bureau. A wall in the office/family room is covered with plaques, testimony to his involvement with the community. His wife pointed out one of the most significant ones, an award from Prairie Farmer. “I don’t talk about that stuff,” Corya said. “But I’m proud of it.” When he started out, corn was planted with a two-row planter. They now use a 24-row planter that counts every grain that’s dropped. Their fi rst combine harvested one row at a time; the combine used now handles 12 rows at a time. The fi rst grain bin on Graham Creek Farm held 10,000 bushels, all the storage they thought they would ever need. They now have the capability of storing 500,000 bushels. And computers, to keep records, check the markets and watch the weather, are an essential part of the operation. “It’s changed,” Corya admitted. “If we didn’t have the grandchildren involved with all the computer stuff — it’s hard for David and I to know about computers.” Corya is justifiably proud of the farm he’s pieced together over the years, but prouder still of his family and the heritage that has been passed on to children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. “I’m at the sunset of my life, but I still enjoy doing what I’m doing,” he said. “It’s a privilege to work with my kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids, to see them develop. We’ve met so many good friends. Everybody has been good to me. I have seen the good of most people all my life, and I appreciate that.”
FARM INDIANA | September 2012
FALL SEEDING FOR PASTURES OR HAY
At the fair
BY KEN SALKELD
Selecting the appropriate forage for hay, pasture and/or conservation use is an important decision facing producers. There are dozens and dozens of grasses and legumes available, many of which were unheard of 10 years ago, and each species has its own particular plant and seed characteristics, making it more or less suitable for a producer’s purpose. Thus, this decision is as critical as selecting the best variety within a forage species itself and should be given equal attention. Many factors have to be taken into account when making a forage selection. One of the foremost is the necessity of matching forage species to the characteristics of the soil to be sown — characteristics such as drainage, fertility and pH. Crop use and managerial capability are also among the factors that will influence the fi nal decision. Another factor in the decision process deals with available capital. I really see no sane reason to buy a grass or legume seed at $15 or more per pound, when an old standby, reliable variety is available at $1 to $3 per pound. One of the fi rst decisions that should be made before selecting the forage crop to be sown is whether a pure stand of one forage or a mixture of two or more forages is desired. Personally, I like to see a grass/legume mixture (two or three grasses or legumes) in a field. I do not like to see a shotgun approach in seeding with seven or eight different grasses and or legumes. Any type of management of the field is at all probability a lost cause.
Selecting the right forage: Some of the important characteristics to be considered when selecting the right forage has to do with how the forage will react to the soil characteristics, the characteristics of the plant itself, and the way the seed is made … hard shelled, soft shelled. The grains of the grass family may be planted from the middle of September to the last of October. They are barley, triticale, wheat and rye. All of these grains are tough and very versatile. The true grasses of the grass family may be planted from the fi rst of August to the fi rst of September. They are Kentucky Bluegrass, Orchardgrass, Reed canarygrass, Ryegrass, Smooth bromegrass, Spring Oats, Tall fescue and Timothy. Timothy can be planted from Aug. 1 to Nov. 1 — depending on the weather. By a general rule of thumb, legumes need to be planted in the fall by Labor Day. They are alfalfa, Alsike clover, Birdsfoot trefoil, Hairy vetch, Ladino clover, Red clover and White Dutch clover, which is considered a weed in some circles. All of these legumes may be planted after Labor Day, but pray for a late frost because of the potential of no or little rain and cool to cold temperatures. Adequate rain and warm weather will ensure that these grasses and legumes will grow quickly and be ready for a long winter’s nap. Ken Salkeld is the Purdue Extension educator — agriculture & natural resources in Jennings County.
PHOTO BY AARON PIPER
Cameron Connell, 10, of Vallonia pets his hog before getting it ready to show in the 2012 Jackson County 4-H swine competition. He competed in the crossbred gilt division.
PHOTO BY MEGAN O’BRYAN
PHOTO BY JOE SABA
Addyson Kelp, 15, works on shearing Sharon the sheep during the 2012 Brown County Fair.
Ben Eylander of Chicago performs a jump in front of a large crowd during the Johnson County Fair.
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP
focused on drought BY HEATHER SHIREMAN
he Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted a nutrient management workshop July 30 at Hawclif Farms in Hope. The SWCD would like to give a special thanks to Paul Ketner and Nathan Lykins for letting us use their farm for this workshop. The approximately 75 attendees learned about the following: fundamentals of soil testing and interpretation by Steve Dlugosz (Winfield Solutions), nitrogen and phosphorus management by Jim Camberato (Purdue nutrient specialist), reasons for nutrient management on your farm by Hans Kok (Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative), and the On Farm Network by Jordan Seger (ISDA). Mike Ferree from the Purdue Extension office also spoke about the nitrate test on corn stalks along with a few key points that allowed farmers to receive their Private Applicator Recertification points. Topics were focused around managing nutrients on the farm in a drought year. Camberato talked about how the dry soils slow the potassium uptake into the crops and also how the loss of nitrogen during a drought is negligible, because of virtually no runoff. With many cornfields being chopped up and not harvested, the nitrogen and phosphorus that the plant took up will be released back into the soil as the plant decomposes. Th is may mean that farmers will have to put on less fertilizer. However, the amount that will accumulate as a result of the plant decomposition is not easy to predict. It is vital that a farmer has a soil test completed to determine how much of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to add to the field. Soil samples may give misleading results for potassium and pH during dry years, making N, P and K application amounts difficult to determine. Kok spoke about the importance of cover crops and no-till in improving soil health. “We aren’t farming grandpa’s farm anymore,” he said. The soil that was on the farm during our grandparents’ generation is no longer there. When we bust up the topsoil and don’t protect it, it gets washed away along with all of the nutrients that were in it. “We need to protect our soil for future generations,” Kok said. Farmers are doing a lot already and many have already put conservation practices in place. As a matter of fact, “We have an extremely high production rate with some of the poorest quality soils in the world.” Cover crops help protect the soil from ero-
FIELD OF INTEREST Harvest a Row project raises funds to support agricultural community BY AARON BREWINGTON
Mike Ferree from the Purdue Extension Office in Bartholomew County spoke about nitrate testing on corn stalks.
sion by shielding the rain from hitting the soil directly, and they protect it against wind erosion, too. They help keep all of the nutrients in place and also help build up organic matter in the soil that is vital to soil health. Ferree has a nitrate test kit for trouble-shooting nitrate toxicity in corn damaged by drought. He can also send in samples to a lab for nitrate and nutrition analysis at a reduced fee. Anyone interested should contact him at the Purdue Extension office. The workshop was funded by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the Premier Ag TRAX Program. Heather Shireman is district coordinator and educator for Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District.
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In Decatur County, agriculture has long been vital to the economic livelihood of the area. Farming makes up part of the culture — it’s who these people are more than something they do. Purdue Extension and the Decatur County Community Foundation want to make sure it stays that way for some time to come. In a joint effort, the two organizations have set up the Ag Field of Interest Fund to raise agricultural awareness and support the local farming community by giving funds to not-for-profit programs with a vested interest in the future of agriculture. “Agriculture is a very important segment of business in our county, and we wanted to do something to allow it to grow and to support it,” said Dan Wilson, Decatur County Purdue Extension director. “So the foundation put together the Ag Field of Interest Fund, which would generate money that would go to promote agriculture. “All the money that goes into that fund stays there,” he said. “We only spend the interest. So it is one of the few organizations you can invest in where the money stays put and continues to work toward your goals.” One of the best ways for farmers to get involved with the community foundation, according to Wilson, is to support the Harvest a Row project. Th is can be done either by donating to the program by writing a check or through taking a portion of a harvest to the local elevators (Pellets and Grain, Greensburg Milling and Soy Processor) and splitting the ticket. The basic principle behind the project (and
where the name Harvest a Row comes from) is for farmers to set aside a row of crops to be donated to the foundation. Both options are tax deductible. “Harvest a Row is a spin-off of our foundation that allows everyone in the community to participate,” Wilson said. “You can do that by writing a check or designating crops from your farm to be sold by the foundation with all of that money then being deposited in the Ag Fund account.” The great thing about Harvest a Row, according to Wilson, is that just about anyone with ties in the farming community can participate. “It’s really very supportive and a reflection of the community,” Wilson said. “Here (in Decatur County) we have the older folks who have made their mark on life, and we have a lot of great younger people who don’t have the extra money who are learning the leadership and people skills necessary to continue this (farming tradition). With a program like Harvest a Row, both can participate in the activities that promote the community.” According to DCCF Ag Committee member Dale Crites, with its inclusive nature Harvest a Row has been one of the foundation’s biggest money making ventures for the Ag Fund. “When we set this up, that fi rst year we raised about $15,000,” Crites said. “Since then we have changed our course a little bit and set up Harvest a Row, where we have farmers donate corn or soybeans. Our fund now stands at about $90,000.” Since its inception, the Ag Fund has promoted not only the local economy but also a focus on the sustainability of agribusiness by educating future farmers. “Four years ago, a group of farmers came together that were interested in developing leadership and raising money within the community, and they also wanted to bring in younger folks,” Wilson said. “So we developed this program for the ag community.”
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
DEADLY COMBINATION Animals can feel effects of drought and heat in multiple ways BY GREG SEITER
While Indiana farmers are searching for ways to salvage what’s left of their crops following the lengthy drought in the state, farm animals are worried about fi nding adequate supplies of drinking water and perhaps a little shade. Extreme heat and overly dry conditions can be a significant cause of stress in animals and can lead to heat stroke and even death. “The major concern right now is that animals stay hydrated,” said Denise Derrer, public information director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. “Chances are good that if you’re not comfortable outside, they’re not either.” Dr. Marianne Ash, director for bio security at the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, agrees. “When animals are dehydrated, you’ll notice changes in their skin, panting and sweating,” she said. “They’ll appear stressed and won’t want to get up or move around.” In small animals, owners should also watch for breathing difficulty, refusal to obey, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and collapsing. Specific signs of heat stress and/or heat stroke in large animals, such as cows, pigs and horses, include restlessness, stumbling, increased heart rate and salivation, panting, collapsing and convulsions. “When checking for dehydration, we look at the skin tint and mucus membranes,” said Dr. Kami Simpson of Jennings Veterinarians in North Vernon. “The skin should spring back into place. “If an animal gets down or away from water, especially if they have pre-existing problems, the heat will catch up with them quicker than it
PHOTO BY SEVIL MAHFOOZI
will with a younger or healthier animal.” Pigs, high-producing dairy cows, lactating cattle, dark-colored animals, llamas and animals that have been sick or have a previous history of respiratory disease are especially susceptible to heat stress. As a result, providing a plentiful supply of clean, cool water in an area where animals are already accustomed to fi nding it is very important. Experts also suggest that farmers ensure troughs and water containers are large enough and designed in a way that provides all animals, large and small, easy access. Also, these containers should be fi rmly secured in order to prevent them from being accidentally overturned.
Watch water sources Natural sources of water, if they haven’t already dried up, can sometimes bring about unexpected problems during extreme summer conditions. “In areas where there are ponds and lakes, it’s possible that algae may be growing there, so be aware of that too,” Simpson added. Sunburn is another concern. For obvious reasons, pigs, newly shorn sheep and any animal with pink skin should be protected from direct
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sunlight as much as possible. “Animals are smart enough to know they should get out of the heat,” Simpson said. “If they have access to shade or a barn, they’ll go to it.” Industry experts agree the best type of shelter protects from the sun while simultaneously allowing for the cooling effect of the wind. Aluminum or galvanized steel roofs for shelters, kennels and chicken coops are recommended because of their ability to reflect the rays of the sun. Derrer suggests that farmers also consider the possibility of setting up misting stations or even fans that can help circulate the air. “Movement of air is certainly important, but the circulation of 100-degree air is obviously not as effective as cooler air,” cautions Ash. In extreme heat, even transporting animals can be a challenge, so in addition to avoiding the hottest part of the day, stocking densities within a truck should be reduced to 85 percent of capacity to allow for good air flow between animals. Also, truck drivers should always park in a shaded area when stopping and should position their vehicle at an angle that allows for maximum air penetration and circulation.
Food shortages Of course, with a water supply reduction on farms this summer, food quality, and availability for that matter, has also become a concern. “Because of the lack of rain, grass isn’t green, so people are having to feed hay earlier than they typically would,” Simpson said. “That means that hay is not only limited now but will also be limited as we head into the winter. “It costs more money to feed hay to animals, and if there’s not a lot of it available to begin with, it’s going to be even more expensive.” With the price of corn and other feed products going up as a result of drought-related crop reductions, Simpson believes farmers may be more prone to cut back on grain feed than they would in a typical season. “In addition to not getting enough water, some animals may soon begin to experience nutritional issues because people are going to be trying to pinch their pennies,” Simpson said. Sadly, Derrer believes that Indiana’s current drought could potentially lead to some animal welfare issues down the road. “People are already getting into their winter stock of hay, and there’s some concern about that,” she said. “If it gets to a point at which farmers can’t fi nd what they need to feed their animals or they simply can’t afford to, those farmers may have to make some tough decisions about what to do with their animals.”
Area farms honored with Hoosier Homestead Awards Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman honored 75 families, including seven from this area, with the Hoosier Homestead Award in a ceremony at the Indiana State Fair. The Hoosier Homestead Award program recognizes families with farms that have been owned by the same family for 100 years or more. Indiana family farms may qualify for the following: z Centennial Award — 100 years of ownership. z Sesquicentennial Award — 150 years of ownership. z Bicentennial Award — 200 years of ownership. The program was instituted in 1976 and recognizes the contributions these family farms have made to the economic, cultural and social advancements of Indiana. In the past 30 years, more than 5,000 farms have received the honor. Area recipients were: z The Suhre and O’Connor family from Bartholomew County received the Centennial Award. Their farm is in Columbus and has been owned by the family since 1909. The Dean and Linda O’Connor family received the award. z The Walker family from Decatur County received the Sesquicentennial Award. Their farm is in Greensburg and has been owned by the family since 1835. The Georgia Wilson and George Walker family received the award. z The Eglen family from Jackson County received the Centennial Award. Their farm is in Seymour and has been owned by the family since 1912. The Mary Jane Stahl-Eglen family received the award. z The Gilbert family from Jackson County received the Sesquicentennial Award. Their farm is in Medora and has been owned by the family since 1848. The Jack and Linda Gilbert family received the award. z The Graham family from Jennings County received the Sesquicentennial Award. Their farm is in Commiskey and has been owned by the family since 1815. The Michael and Jane Graham family received the award. z The Daniel P. Hook family from Jennings County received the Centennial Award. Their farm is in Elizabethtown and has been owned by the family since 1905. The Robin, Patricia and Harrison Hook family received the award. z The Beulah Mae Holcomb Mardis family from Johnson County received the Centennial Award. Their farm is in Franklin and has been owned by the family since 1906. The Margaret, John and Dean Mardis June Wood family received the award.
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FARM INDIANA | September 2012
NRCS OFFERS HELP FOR FARMERS STRUGGLING WITH DROUGHT USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service offices around the state are gearing up to provide information and assistance to farmers hit hard by the drought. NRCS administers a number of Farm Bill programs that provide financial incentives to farmers to install conservation practices. The drought may force some farmers to make critical changes to their operation. NRCS is encouraging farmers under contract with the agency or who need advice to contact their district conservationist at the county field office. Farmers under contract with the agency who cannot meet established deadlines will have some flexibility in meeting their obligations. Contracts will be reviewed by the district conservationist and modified as needed. Some programs allow for practice substitution or rescheduling of installation dates, and assistance is also available for those farmers who have established practices that have failed because of drought. According to NRCS guidelines, a drought falls under the category of natural disaster so this gives the agency some options to work with producers. “We want to talk with producers and encourage them to use program flexibilities and proper procedure to avoid the need for contract cancellation,” said Jane Hardisty, state conservationist of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Livestock producers have been especially hard hit, and NRCS has regional grazing specialists who can provide suggestions about pas-
ture management, options and consideration for feed sources, and water management. Hardisty says, “It’s important for farmers to have a backup plan such as deferred or rotational grazing, alternative water sources, combining herds, etc.” NRCS encourages farmers who are considering installing any engineered practice (such as wetland levees, pond dams, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins) to delay construction in drought conditions. All Farm Bill programs allow for alternatives during times of natural crisis. “These practices cost a lot of money, and we don’t want to see them fail,” Hardisty said. “One of the biggest concerns is a lack of soil moisture that would prohibit proper compaction.” NRCS can advise landowners and contractors on best moisture levels to achieve the best outcome. NRCS can help farmers with water, land or crop management concerns through the development of a conservation plan. Conservation plans can include drought planning and are free. Being prepared for a drought and creating a plan will allow farmers to continue operations even in the most severe conditions. To learn the types of assistance that are available or to review contract guidelines, Hardisty urges farmers to contact their district conservationist as soon as possible. More information about the drought and specific Farm Bill programs can be found at www.in.nrcs.usda.gov. Locate your nearest NRCS field office at www. in.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/field_offices.html.
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CALENDAR OF EVENTS If you have an agriculture-related event you’d like to include in the Farm Indiana calendar, please submit it to farmindiana@ hnenewspapers.com. Deadline is Sept. 9 for the next issue, which will publish Sept. 26.
SEPT. 13 The Ag Outlook meeting. 8 to 9 a.m., Purdue Extension Office, Columbus. Purdue ag economists Corrine Alexander and Chris Hurt will discuss commodity prices for the upcoming year and pricing strategies. RSVP by Sept. 11 at 379-1665.
crafts vendors and lunch available from 4-H Junior Leaders. Information: 812-372-4662 or Darren@wischmeier.com
SEPT. 22 Indiana Rural Youth/Young Adults alumni reunion for all former members from 1938 to 2012, 1 p.m., Scott Hall, Johnson County Fairgrounds in Franklin. More information or registration: Earl Pahmeier, 812-694-7493, firstname.lastname@example.org, or LuMar (Holmes) Griggs, 317-831-7790, email@example.com.
‘05 Freightliner Columbia
y a D r o b e LaInternational 1981 Paystar
40” ﬂat top, Cat C13, 10 speed, $28,500 1996 Ford L9000 dump
tri axle dump, Cummins NTC 400, $15,500
Cat 3306, 8LL, 258” WB, $15,500
SEPT. 15 Wischmeier Nursery Fall Festival, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 240 Jonesville Road, Columbus. Pumpkin contests, butterfly tagging, arts and
National FFA Convention, Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis
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