The Drought: Then and Now - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

The Drought: Then and Now


We haven't seen drought conditions this bad in Michiana in nearly a quarter century.  For many, The Drought of 1988 is hard to forget.  It was the worst drought since the dust bowl.

The forecast was hot and dry back in June of 1988 when FOX 28 Photojournalist Ian Sindell first visited the Eby Family Farm in Elkhart County in 1988.

The fields were dusty, the ground was cracking and Gary Eby was stressed.  "The very worst thing about this whole thing is it hurts your pride just seeing it look so bad," Eby told us back then. 

Now, in the worst drought since 1988, the forecast is once again hot and dry.  The crops are stressed again, but Eby is not.

"I haven't missed it a bit," he says.  "I haven't missed it a bit because of the way the summer is going."

Eby planted his first acre of corn in 1959.  Last year, he planted his last.  He had the good fortune of getting out of the game, leasing these fields right before the drought hit.

"I feel really bad for these guys because I'm out of it, but those guys, the corn probably cost them $500 an acre to plant and that's without rent or anything, so they're talking big money,"

Eby says this year is every bit as bad as the drought of 1988, which is considered one of the costliest natural disaster in US History.  It cost about $78 billion in damage in today's dollars.

Eby says the corn on his property should be about two feet higher and a whole lot healthier.

"Well right there there's 1-2-3-4-5-6... five or six of them that don't even have an ear of corn on them," he says pointing at the corn. 

It's not just farmers that will fell the impact. 

Eby says it will hurt the machinery dealers, the fertilizer plants, and you the consumer.

"The grocery store. It's going to hurt everybody.  Of Course farmers buy groceries too," he says.   

But we discovered something about Eby 24 years ago.  He's an optimist.  "No we're not going to lose the farm, not this one," he told us in 1988.

He plowed ahead then and he says today's farmer's will too.  He says better times are ahead.  "Oh yeah. All farmers think there's better times ahead. That's just the way it works," he says.

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