By Stan Maddux
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The USDA is reminding Indiana farmers about programs to help them recover from damage caused by recent storms producing tornados in some parts of the state.
Several farming operations were included in the destruction from severe storms just days apart from each other beginning March 31.
According to USDA, there were 19 tornados statewide along with heavy rain at a time when farmers are getting out in their fields for spring planting.
The first thing farmers impacted by the storms should do is call Indiana 211 or contact their county branch of USDA’s Farm Service Agency to report damages and to help with damage assessment, said Julia Wickard, Executive Director of FSA in Indiana.
Farmers with crop insurance should contact their local agency within 72 hours after discovering damage and follow up in writing no later than 15 days later.
A Notice of Loss needs to be filed within 15 days of loss becoming apparent for farmers with Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance program or NAP coverage or within 72 hours if there’s been hand harvested crop damage, she said.
Wickard said producers in counties receiving a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.
“Our state office is working closely with affected counties to collect information so an Administrator’s Loss Notification can be submitted to the national office in Washington D.C. by the end of the month,” Wickard said.
According to the Indiana branch of FSA, assistance is provided from various sources including the Livestock Indemnity Program and requirements such as filing deadlines can change depending on the program.
Additional information can also be sought at farmers.gov/recover.
Other sources of help include the Emergency Assistance for Liverstock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program.
ELAP provides help for grazing, purchased feed and/or mechanically harvested feed losses due to adverse weather not covered under the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.
Loss of feed and additional feed costs for honeybees along with colony and hive losses from natural disasters are also covered.
Similar assistance for farm-raised fish is provided for losses stemming from natural disasters.
According to the National Weather Service, two tornados on March 31 touched down in Johnson County, including one packing up to 140 mph winds near Whiteland about 20 miles south of Indianapolis.
Another tornado producing 115 mph winds traveled from Benton County into White County about 30 miles northwest of Lafayette, according NWS.
NWS officials reported no deaths in those tornados but damage was significant to numerous homes and farm outbuildings.
A mother and her grown son were killed in Sullivan County between Terre Haute and Vincennes when a tornado on April 1 picked up their house and slammed it to the ground.
Other tornados included one packing 85 mph winds touching down in an open field, flipping eight spans of a center pivot irrigation system and destroying two large pole barns at a residence in Cass County. Corn fodder from the field was pulled into the yard and a fuel tank was rolled into a field, according to a NWS survey of the damage.
According to the NWS, another tornado with maximum winds of 85 mph in White County bent a wind turbine blade and caused another wind turbine blade to snap off.
Two empty silos were also thrown in a field by the same tornado.
Another tornado with 85 mph winds in Jay County caused damage to five barns and moved or partially carried grain bins, NWS said.
Wickard said she wasn’t aware of any fields that will have to be replanted because of flooding since most, if not, all of the work involved preparing the ground for planting when the storms hit.
However, she said there are a lot of fields containing debris from the storms that will need to be removed before farmers can resume their working leading up to planting.
Wickard said there are also assistance programs to help farmers recover the cost of debris removal, but her office has to be notified before work begins to clean up the fields to be eligible.