Damaged Fields

Spotty growing crops in a soybean field on 00 North-South at 440 West on Aug. 7, 2015. Lots of early season rain puddling in the fields caused a lot of crop damage which will affect this year's yield. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

Howard County Extension Educator Mathias Ingle said it’s been a tough year for area farmers, and that can lead to unhealthy amounts of stress.

“It’s been a stressful year with the planting season, and dealing with an agricultural economy that isn’t what it used to be,” he said.

That’s why the Extension Office is holding a special seminar on how to communicate with farmers who may be experiencing extreme anxiety.

The seminar, called “Communicating With Farmers Under Stress,” will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the south branch of the Kokomo Howard County Public Library, 1755 E. Center Rd. Registration costs $25, with lunch included, and is due by Monday.

Ingle said he decided to host the seminar this year in response to dismal crop prices and a wet planting season that led to farmers around the state planting less acreage.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said. “Some farmers, you wouldn’t think of being under stress. They might have a lot of acreage, so you think there’s no way they could be stressed. But in reality, they really could be.”

The seminar will focus on building awareness around potentially stressful conditions that affect some farmers, as well as identifying triggers and signs of stress.

Ingle said the seminar is open to anyone, but will be especially helpful to people in the agricultural profession, such as those who work in seed or implement sales, or bankers who might frequently interact with farmers.

Anyone who would like to register for the seminar should contact Ingle at 765-456-2313 or rmingle@purdue.edu.

The seminar comes after Howard, Miami and Tipton counties all filed a request to secure a disaster designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to losses caused by flooding and excessive rain this planting season.

The request was made last month for 88 counties in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Indiana Farm Service Agency Executive Director Steven Brown.

The designation would allow emergency low-interest loans to be made available to farmers. The low-interest financing can also be made to counties contiguous to counties in the disaster zone.

In Howard and Miami counties, hay was the crop which allowed the county to request the disaster designation request.

In Tipton County, all the crops, including corn and soybeans, qualified the county for the disaster designation request.

“Our growers are struggling right now,” said Tipton County Extension Educator Austin Pearson, in a previous interview. “It’s been a tough year and they’re all ready for this season to be over soon. Farmers are saying these are the worst fields in their lifetime.”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.