The State of Indiana isn't handing money out for free, but it is willing to loan money to those in need at lower interest rates than they could obtain otherwise. Just recently, the Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock re-established the Treasurer's Agricultural Loan Program, also known as TALP.
The specific purpose is to provide assistance to Hoosier livestock farmers that raise beef, dairy cattle, sheep and goats and who were hard-hit by unfavorable weather conditions this year, Mourdock says. The disaster started out of the gate last spring with a severe, late-spring freeze that severely damaged quantity and quality of first-cutting forage in many parts of Indiana. Then came the double-whammy: extremely dry weather coupled with intense heat late in the season.
Mourdock credits Lt. Governor Skillman and staff at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture for bringing the crisis to his attention. The drought has resulted in high hay prices, which places more stress on producers who don't have enough forage to make it through the winter in the first place, he notes.
ISDA estimates hay yields were down roughly 35% in '07 compared to '06, even though about the same number of acres were grown each year. The department's estimates peg the cost of hay at about double what it was a year ago.
TALP is a low-interest loan program whereby the state partners with local banks and credit unions. The Treasurer's Office purchases a certificate of deposit from a local lender at a reduced rate. In turn the local lender provides the qualifying farmer a loan at a lower-than-normal rate. The initial rate charged by lenders to farmers through the program will be about 5%, the state treasurer estimates.
"I'm excited about the program," Mourdock says. "I'm glad I can do my part in helping Hoosier farmers. I would like to say thank you in advance to all the banks and credit unions who will participate."
For more details about TALP, contact the Treasurer of State's Office directly at 317-232-6386. Or you can visit: wwwin.gov/tos.
Remember that these are loans, not grants. The money will be repaid. The hope, though, is that these funds will help producers strapped with large forage bills make it through the winter and get back on their feet, once better weather returns and pastures bounce back next year.