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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Undersecretary Michael Scuse, left, and USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Deputy Director Greg Matli, center, talk with Allen County farmer Randy Schaefer before speaking Wednesday.

Top ag official tours drought-ravaged farm

Indiana is one of the top corn-producing states in the nation – and this year one of the driest.

That fact was made clear during a visit today by a top U.S. Department of Agriculture official. Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Undersecretary Michael Scuse surveyed the heat-ravaged corn fields of Fort Wayne farmer Randy Schaefer.

The grower harvests 900 acres of corn, but said he has lost at least two-thirds of his yield to the drought.

"Some farms have irrigation systems and they may be OK," Schaefer said. "The equipment and operation costs are really expensive. We can't afford that. We've just always been able to get along."

Scuse also plans to visit White County today and Johnson County on Thursday. He is seeking input from farmers on how to improve federal programs to assist them.

Last year, Allen County recorded 131.6 bushels of corn per acre. That harvest is certainly to be less this year, officials said.

For more on this story, see Thursday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to after 3 a.m. Thursday.