Thumbs down: Struggling harvests
A weak mint harvest underway in northern Indiana is just one of the latest examples of the deepening drought pressure on the state's crops and livestock. USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Undersecretary Michael Scuse will wander Indiana this Wednesday and Thursday with farm visits planned in Allen, White and Johnson counties. The weekly crop progress report from the Indiana Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service chronicles the exceptional damage: Cattle farmers are selling off cattle because of forage shortages and livestock producers in 22 counties may seek permission to graze CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) land as 80 percent of Indiana is now considered in "severe-to-exceptional drought" and 36 counties are declared natural disaster areas. Just 8 percent of the corn crop is rated good-to-excellent; that figure was 58 percent last year.