Drought designations issues by USDA in Washington just don't happen. Julia Wickard, director of the Indiana Farm Service Agency, says her staff cooperated and worked hard with Governor Daniel's staff, asking the governor to request the designation for a large number of Indiana counties. The request was alter made by Governor Daniels, based on drought and heat conditions across mush of Indiana during the 2011 growing season.
The application was recently approved, granting the designation for some 45 counties in Indiana. However, because producers in contiguous counties to the declared disaster county also qualify for disaster programs, farmers in a large share of the state are eligible. The contiguous county rule crosses state line. If a county in a bordering state was declared as a disaster county, then the Indiana county bordering it is also eligible to be considered as a disaster county.
The ironic situation that occurred, Wickard notes, is that some of the counties were declared disasters due to flooding, and others due to drought, all within the same state within the same year. It's just further proof of the wild and inconsistent crop year that faced Hoosiers in 2011.
The benefit producers could see in these counties are two-fold, Wickard notes. First, farmers will be eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the government through FSA. Farmers must meet certain requirements to qualify, even if they are in a disaster county, or a county contiguous to a disaster county. One of the requirements is that they must have been enrolled in crop insurance on all fields on all farms in 2011.
The second benefit is that they could qualify for the SURE program, which could result in payments. Since this program is complicated, consult your county office for more details.