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53 Ind. counties declared as natural disaster areas

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The USDA has designated 53 counties in Indiana as natural disaster areas after flooding and excessive rain has hammered the region since May.

The counties can file for damages and losses caused by the excessive rain.

“Our tomatoes and peppers are gone. Pumpkins were impacted too although we still intend to have enough for our customers,” said Carol Waterman of Waterman’s Family Farms.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he and President Obama are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities through these difficult times.

“They can come to our offices and apply for a low interest rate loan. The rates we have right now are 3.625 percent,” said Julia Wickard with the USDA.

On Wednesday at the State Fair, state agriculture leaders and experts from Purdue spoke about the weather’s impact on crops and analyzed the August crop production report.

“Another big important factor is what does this mean for food prices. What it means is we’re not going to see an impact on food prices. The eastern corn belt had flooding and some reduction in crop size but the western corn belt did really well,” said agricultural economist, Chris Hurt.

Analysts said that more than $400 million in crops were destroyed by flooding.