CROP CALAMITY: USDA designates Whitley County as one of 35 disaster areas

COLUMBIA CITY — According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as of Thursday, 36 counties in Indiana are designated as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by extreme drought.Other than Whitley County, the following counties in Indiana are include: Allen, Gibson, Marshall, St. Joseph, Carroll, Grant, Martin, Spencer, Cass, Greene, Miami, Steuben, Crawford, Howard, Noble, Sullivan, Daviess, Huntington, Orange, Vanderburgh, DeKalb, Knox, Perry, Wabash, Dubois, Kosciusko, Pike, Warrick, Elkhart, LaGrange, Posey, Wells, Fulton, Lawrence and Pulaski. According to a state press release, Farmers Service Agency said farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.The USDA also encourages all farmers to contact their crop insurance companies and local FSA offices, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss as well as reminding livestock producers to keep thorough records of losses.Mayor Ryan Daniel said he had an extensive conversation with Mike Dear, superintendent of the Columbia City Water Department, concerning city water levels.“We are still at half our pumping capacity,” said Daniel.Dear said the water levels are checked annually by an airline that makes a proper reading. However, with the drought most the county has been experiencing and the record hot temperatures, it has been necessary to take more than the normal annual reading.“The last time we did this was in 1988 and again in this year so it’s normally not something you need to check into,” said Dear. For more information to help farmers deal with the drought, visit