No one expressed more concern about the drought that unfolded this summer than Secretary of Agriculture Becky Skillman and the Director of ISDA, Joe Kelsay. Skillman brought the leaders of 20 groups and agencies together during the middle of the crisis to find out what ISDA could do. Kelsay lived the drought because he's part of a dairy operation near Whiteland where corn yields were severely impacted by the drought and heat. But at every meeting, they would say the best they could do was listen and facilitate. They had no direct programs or money to help anyone affected by the drought.
Now they do have a program! It offers aid only to farmers in one of the worst hit areas, but it's tangible help that farmers can use. ISDA is making emergency cost-share assistance available for cover crops in counties that were classified as in a D4 drought on August 14. That refers to the system used and reported each Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Counties included are: Clay, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Owen, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, Vigo and Warrick. Posey County Soil and Water Conservation District will administer the funds on behalf of ISDA.
Kelsay says the goal is two-fold. Cover crops will help improve soil health in hard-hit areas, and could also give livestock growers necessary forage to get through this fall, spring and winter.
Cost-share will be applied on a first come, first serve basis. If interested, contact Jeri Ziliak, Posey County SWCD coordinator, at 812- 838-4191, ext. 3, or email: Jeri.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Landowners must meet a certain set of criteria to qualify. Ziliak can explain these in detail. Main restrictions are that you must not already be receiving cover crop drought assistance through NRCS, cost share will be a flat rate of $30 per acre and assistance is limited to 100 acres per producer. Approved standards must be followed for the seeding and grazing or cutting for forage will be allowed after the cover has reached adequate growth.