Wet season: Area farmers continue to struggle with crops
• By SAMANTHA LUHMANN firstname.lastname@example.org
Wet and cloudy weather conditions continue to throw farmers for a loop as crop progress ranks below average and well behind last year’s near perfect spring.
According to the state’s weekly crop report, topsoil moisture, which directly affects crop growth, ranked in surplus conditions at 44 percent. Last year at this time, it was just 1 percent.
Bob Oleson, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association executive director, said conditions are preventing farmers from planting their crop because the ground’s moisture levels are too high. Corn is typically planted in the beginning of May, but many farmers have been unable to get into their fields.
“The ground has never dried out,” he said. “There’s a lot of level, flat ground in central Wisconsin and (the rain) just accumulates.”
Statewide, only about 60 percent of the corn crop has sprouted, compared to 95 percent at this time last year.
And the average height, 5 inches, is just half what it was in June 2012.
Some farmers have been forced to plant crops out of order. Soybeans are typically planted after corn because of warmer weather conditions. But with heavy rain and cooler temperatures, some farmers are reversing their order.
“If you don’t have corn in, you’re planting what’s available,” he said. “We need some warm weather.”
This week’s average of soybean emergence is a fraction of the rate of last year’s crop,
averaging 28 percent compared to 80 percent.
And the average amount for the first cutting hay is worse — 17 percent vs. 90 percent.
“You always expect to get some hay wet,” Oleson said. “But you don’t expect to get it all wet all the time.”
High precipitation has left farmers with few options. Many are falling behind schedule and some are opting for plan B.
But if plan B is still undecided, Oleson recommends three options: take a chance, change things up or call in for back up.
“If corn isn’t planted by now, get crop insurance or plant a different kind of crop,” he said. “Or close your eyes, plant some corn and hope you have a good summer.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:00 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Farmers slog through remaining corn plantings; yields threatened
Additional rainfall from late Thursday into the weekend will further stall corn and soybean plantings in the U.S. Midwest, threatening to trim acreage and yield potential for each crop, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday.
"The rain will end in the western Corn Belt on Friday and in the eastern Corn Belt on Saturday," said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc. "It certainly won’t be ideal for planting."
Karst said nearly 100 percent of the Midwest would receive rain with the heaviest rainfall of 1.0 to 3.0 inches or more in Missouri, eastern Kansas, Iowa and Illinois.
"They will be soaked. There will be a couple days of drier weather following these showers but the rains will return next Tuesday and continue all of next week," he said.
Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Thursday said plantings of corn and soybeans would remain slow and the greatest concern is in Iowa, the top corn and soybean producing state in the United States.
"Flooding issues will also remain possible in southern Iowa, Illinois and Missouri," said CWG meteorologist Joel Widenor.
U.S. farmers slowed the pace of planting during the past week due to rainy conditions that delayed the tail end of corn seeding and pushed soybean planting to its slowest in 17 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its weekly crop progress report on Tuesday.
The slow seeding of both crops this spring has raised concerns about reduced yields at autumn harvest as key phases of crop development will likely be delayed until the heat of the summer. A late planting also increases the possibility of an early frost inflicting further damage on the crops.
The USDA said that corn planting was 86 percent complete as of May 26, up 15 percentage points from a week earlier.
The corn progress was down from 99 percent a year ago and behind the five-year average of 90 percent. But prospects were much improved from just two weeks ago, when muddy fields led to the slowest start on record for corn planting.
Farmers had finished 44 percent of soybean planting as of May 26, compared with 87 percent a year ago and the five-year average of 61 percent. It was the slowest pace for soybeans since 1996, when farmers had seeded just 35 percent of their crop by the end of May.
"The rains fell again across the state last week bringing planting progress to a halt," the Illinois field office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said in a report.
Analysts had been expecting corn planting to be 86 percent complete and soybean planting to be 42 percent finished, according to the average of estimates in a Reuters poll. (Additional reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago)
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu May 30, 2013 10:20 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Genetically modified alfalfa protested by Canadian farmers
CBC News Posted: Apr 9, 2013 11:07 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 9, 2013 4:18 PM ET
Farmers protest genetically modified alfalfa outside the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto on Tuesday. Dozens of similar protests were held across Canada. (John Rieti/CBC News)
New genetically modified alfalfa strain worries farmers
The National Farmers Union and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network rallied Tuesday against the possible introduction of genetically modified alfalfa in Canada.
Genetically modified alfalfa was approved for health and environmental release in Canada in 2005, but any variety must be registered before it can be commercially released.
To date, no genetically modified alfalfa varieties are registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Thirteen demonstrations were planned for Ontario between noon and 1 p.m. ET.
About four dozen farmers demonstrated at the CFIA national headquarters in Nepean, Ont.
Paul Slomp was one of them.
"We have to ask ourselves who is making the decisions around what kind of food we eat. And what concerns me is if farmers don’t want it and if eaters don’t want it, why on earth is this being legitimized and being commercialized in Canada," Slomp told CBC News.
Organic farmers fearful
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network claims U.S. company Forage Genetics International wants to release alfalfa seeds with Monsanto’s genetically modified herbicide tolerant technology, called Roundup Ready, in Canada this year.
The NFU says Roundup Ready alfalfa will become another weed. Roundup Ready alfalfa has been approved for planting in the U.S. since 2011.
“We’re struggling to find even one farmer in our area who wants to use this GM alfalfa. Most farmers will pay dearly if GM alfalfa is allowed onto the market,” said Hilary Moore, an organic farmer who is president of the Lanark National Farmers Union Local 310.
Murray Bunnett, of New Brunswick, has farmed his entire life. Last week, he told CBC News he plans to take his concerns to Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe Conservative MP Robert Goguen.
Bunnett made the switch to organic crop production in the 1990s. He relies heavily on alfalfa in his crop rotation to help fertilize the soil. He said if a modified strain spreads to his fields, he can’t guarantee his crop is organic.
"When a person trespasses on somebody else’s property and it causes damage, the property owner can seek compensation," he said. "But when the genetically modified crops trespass on farmers’ land, they can’t go after the company to get compensation. That’s fundamentally wrong."
Monsanto disputed some of the information provided by demonstrators Tuesday.
"At this point, [Forage Genetics International] has not finalized any commercial plans for Eastern Canada but I guess maybe CBAN and the NFU are either not aware of that or have chosen to ignore the information that has been shared with them," Monsanto Canada spokesperson Trish Jordan said in an email to CBC News. "From a Monsanto perspective, we are supporting FGI (our licensee) from a regulatory and stewardship perspective.
"We have been providing bi-annual updates to farmers and industry on this file for 10-plus years and we issue these public updates in the spring and fall of each year."
Monsanto claims that organic alfalfa acres in Eastern Canada account for about 1.4 per cent of total alfalfa acreage in that region.
"That leaves 98.6 per cent of farmers choosing non-organic production methods," Jordan said.
To date, no genetically modified alfalfa varieties are registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. (John Rieti/CBC News)
A rally was scheduled for 12 p.m. PT at the the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, B.C.
Alfalfa is a high-protein feed for dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry, and pigs, but because labelling for genetically modified crops is not mandatory in Canada, it’s unlikely consumers will know they are eating altered crops.
NFU-Ontario president John Sutherland told Farms.com there are a number of concerns about the release of genetically modified alfalfa, including:
The risk of contamination of non-genetically-modified alfalfa crops and seed stocks.
Increased seed and herbicide costs.
Spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
In a media release issued late Tuesday, the Grain Growers of Canada and its more than 50,000 farmer members said they support genetically modified crops.
“We support Canada’s robust science-based regulatory environment which ensures any new crops or traits are proven safe for human consumption, animal feed and our environment,” the association’s president, Stephen Vandervalk, said in a media release. “While we appreciate that many long-time opponents of progress have concerns, the reality is they have a lot of rhetoric, but no facts to back up their case.”
According to the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, genetically modified alfalfa should present "few issues" to conventional livestock producers growing alfalfa for their own use.
The association does say that "the greatest potential negative impact of genetically-modified alfalfa would be for organic producers and seed growers, especially those that sell to the organic market or to the European Union where genetically engineered seeds are not permitted."
With files from The Canadian Press
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Sat May 25, 2013 9:53 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Earlier this week, farming and some conservation groups announced that they had come to a deal to link eligibility for crop insurance premium subsidies to compliance with conservation measures. In return, in one of the great sell-outs in modern times, the conservation groups agreed not to push for payment limits or means testing on farm subsidies.
But it seems that the new link between conservation and government support for crop insurance has angered the House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Frank Lucas. From the DTN Ag Policy Blog yesterday:
Lucas, a Republican from Oklahoma, told DTN off the House floor Wednesday that he has a philosophical problem with various lobby groups “tying strings to how farmers farm” and dictating terms to producers when the farm bill is supposed to be about raising food and fiber.
“My perspective has always been, very sincerely, if a farm bill is about raising food — and I know 80% of it now is about making sure people have enough to eat, helping them buy their food — but if it is about raising food, farmers should have the tools to raise the food and fiber,” Lucas said. “And if you engage in whole series of things, such as you can’t get crop insurance unless you plant in a certain way, on a certain day, in a certain direction, or you can’t access a variety of other programs, then we aren’t having a farm bill that helps farmers raise food and fiber, but we have a social tool here that’s used to direct how farmers use their lives and conduct their business.” [emphasis added]
You’ll excuse me if I am having trouble summoning much sympathy for your special interest friends, Mr Lucas. It’s just that I feel that having to accept inconvenient conditions should be expected when you suck at the government teat. The Farm Bill was designed as a social tool, and you and your colleagues over the years have added more “social tools” like food stamps, environmental programs and energy subsidies in order to secure sufficient votes for your pork. Complaining now that all these other people are ruining your party is, to say the least, a bit rich.
If farmers don’t want to be directed on “how [they] use their lives and conduct their business,” then I suggest they start sending their cheques back. Ending farm programs will truly Free the Farm.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
US farmers behind in spring plantings by 48m acres
The extent of the delays in US spring sowings reached the equivalent of an area the size of Hungary and Portugal combined as cold and wet weather, including snows which "smashed all May records" in Iowa, kept farmers from fieldwork.
US farmers had planted just under 25m acres with spring crops by Sunday, compared with an average of 73m acres by then, Agrimoney.com analysis of US Department of Agriculture crop progress and prospective planting data shows.
The gap of 48m acres, some 196,000 square kilometres, is equivalent to the size of South Dakota, the 17th largest US state, or to a country half the size of Zimbabwe.
And it reflects the extent of the weather setbacks which left farmers further behind in most crops – bar oats and rice in which they managed some catch-ups, but to nowhere near average levels.
The lag in corn sowings rose by some 8.8m acres to 34m acres, thanks to the extent of cold and wet weather across much of the Midwest, including in Iowa, the top corn-producing state, which received an average of 3.4 inches of snow, reaching 13 inches in Osage.
"The week’s snowfall smashed all previous May snowfall records in Iowa," USDA scouts said, reporting just 8% of corn sown as of Sunday, compared with an average of 56%.
"Although farmers were able to plant some corn before the weather turned mid-week, planting progress is the latest since 1995."
In Indiana, corn planting progress, at 8% completed, was rated "20 days behind the five-year average pace", while growers in Illinois had planted just 7% of their crop, below an average of nearly one-half.
"Warmer temperatures were beneficial but just as the soils started to dry out rains started falling again," scouts said.
"Just as floodwaters were receding an additional 3-4 inches were received in some locations.
"Many fields were too wet to even apply chemicals and are greening up with weeds which will require additional tillage or chemical burn down before planting can be accomplished."
Wheat sowing progress
For soybeans, the first planting progress rating of the season estimated 2% of area seeded, below an average of 12% and only marginally ahead of 1984′s record low figure of 1%.
However, growers did make more notable progress on spring wheat, with plantings reaching 23% complete, as the thaw and drier conditions allowed tractors onto the field in the northern US.
"Towards the middle of the week, producers were able to start preparing fields for seeding and applying fertilizer and pre-plant herbicides," USDA scouts in North Dakota, the top spring wheat state, said, although in Minnesota growers were seen having "another difficult week getting into their fields".
Wheat baled for hay
The USDA crop progress report also nudged lower by 1 point to 32% the proportion of winter wheat rated in "good" or "excellent" condition, compared with 63% a year before.
The low rating is a reflection of the drought which has setback hard red winter wheat in the US Plains for much of the growing season, with a succession of late frosts hurting southern areas over the last month too.
In Oklahoma, which experienced "another significant freeze" last week, "below-normal precipitation, multiple freeze events and hail storms have all damaged small grains", scouts said, cutting to 20%, from 23%, the proportion of winter wheat rated in good or excellent health.
In Texas, where only 7% of winter wheat makes the top two grades, "dry, windy conditions combined with overnight freezes" continued to hurt crops across much of the state.
"While producers still expect to harvest some of their wheat for grain, many fields were being baled for hay," scouts said.
"Insurance adjusters were busy evaluating fields."
*This week’s Agrimoney.com sowing calculations include data for soybeans and peanuts, for which the USDA had not reported sowings data previously this season.
Excluding these two crops, US spring plantings reached 23m acres, more than 40m acres behind the typical pace, compared with a lag of 31m acres the week before.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue May 07, 2013 11:32 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
If we subsidize the planting of crops which year after year are blown out by drought or swamped by heavy rains, we will continue to get people planting these sorts of crops. If the climate changes (which it always does over time) and a crop becomes untenable in a certain area subsidies encourage farmers not to find solutions, but to continue doing what they have been doing, even if it makes no sense. (If one actually wants to generate a crop.)
“We have given farmers incentives to take on more risk rather than give them an incentive to create a permanent solution,” said Vincent Smith, a professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University in Bozeman. “You want to move toward programs that allow them to alleviate problems before the fact.”
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
Canadian farmers planning huge wheat plantings
Canadian farmers are planning even bigger switch to wheat this year than had been thought, at the expense of barley and rapeseed – although the late spring could yet thwart their ambitions.
Growers in Canada, the world’s third-ranked wheat exporter after the US and the European Union, intend to hike sowings of the grain by 12.3% to 26.6m acres (10.77m hectares), an official survey showed.
Some increase in area had been expected from last year, thanks to price signals, with Canada’s farm ministry last week flagging the incentive offered by "good prices, low carry-in stocks and a shift out of canola", of which yields last year proved very disappointing.
However, the extent of the increase in Wednesday’s Statistics Canada report proved far larger than the 7% rise to 25.23m acres that the farm ministry forecast.
Investors had expected a figure of 24.4m acres.
Assuming a 2% abandonment rate, and a typical yield of 1.1-1.2 tonnes per hectare, the StatsCan figure implies a potential harvest of some 30m tonnes, the highest in 23 years.
‘Trade is somewhat sceptical’
However, the data prompted some disbelief among analysts, with Richard Feltes, at Chicago based broker RJ O’Brien, saying the "trade is somewhat sceptical of the much-higher-than expected StatsCan wheat area, especially in light of delayed start to 2013 seeding".
Plantings of spring crops in much of North America have been slowed by cold and overly wet weather, but particularly in the northern US and Canada, much of which is still covered with snow, which presents a flooding risk with melt expected to speed up with the onset of warmer temperatures this weekend.
US Department of Agriculture officials in North Dakota, the country’s main spring wheat state, on Monday reported that snow cover averaged 5.9 inches across the state, and forecast that farmers would not begin fieldwork until May 5, at which time growers have usually planted more than one-third of their crop.
StatsCan said in its report that "farmers may modify their plans prior to planting time as a result of environmental conditions.
"Some farmers reported that they were still undecided about their final strategies for 2013 as snow lingered in fields in most parts of Canada at the time of the survey," undertaken around the turn of month.
Rapeseed prices rise
Farmers intend to draw the extra wheat area from an even bigger drop in canola plantings than had been thought after last year’s result, when yields tumbled nearly 20%, hurt by poor weather and disease pressures encouraged by repeated sowings.
The canola area was pegged at 19.133m acres (7.74m hectares), a drop of 11.1% year on year.
The farm ministry last week pegged plantings of the rapeseed variant at 21.25m acres, with analysts forecasting a 20.3m-acre figure.
The immediate market impact was to send Winnipeg canola prices 0.5% higher to $642.50 a tonne, for May delivery.
In Paris, rapeseed for May touched E487.75 a tonne, among the highest prices for a spot contract in the last six months, before easing back to E468.25 a tonne as of 16:20 local time (15:20 UK time), a gain of 0.9%.
Barley area to decline?
Canadian growers also intend to cut sowings to barley, down 2.2% to 7.2m acres according to the StatsCan report, contrasting with the rise to 7.78m acres expected by the farm ministry.
However, sowing delays would tend to favour barley, which has a shorter growing season than wheat.
Canadian farmers intent to plant record areas for corn, up 2.0% at 2.3m acres, and soybeans, up 3.4% at 4.3m acres, according to StatsCan.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:13 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Beleaguered farmers’ third poor harvest in a row mean British shoppers will rely on imported food
Crops from potatoes and peas to cereals are being hit, leading to increased reliance on imported produce
ANDREW JOHNSON MONDAY 01 APRIL 2013
Britain’s farmers are facing the third poor harvest on the run as the coldest March in 50 years plays havoc with crop planting – already significantly down because of last year’s wet weather.
With the cold snap set to continue through April farmers say crops such as potatoes, peas, tomatoes and ornamental flowers have either not been planted, are not growing or are being stunted by the lack of light.
This follows low winter planting levels of cereal crops – a fifth down on last year because of the wet weather. A shortage of spring seed is adding to the problems.
Lower UK crop yields will make UK consumers more reliant on imports and the vagaries of the international markets, which could push up prices. Livestock farmers have been struggling to cope for some time with feed shortages due to poor grass growth in the summer, and continuing snow hampering deliveries.
Farmer’s Weekly columnist David Richardson, who farms near Norwich in Norfolk, said: “Last year our acreage was in the ground by 2 March. This year, with snow falling every day and frosts most nights, there’s no hope of drilling anything. 2013 will be the third poor year in succession.”
Lincolnshire farmer Mark Pettit told the magazine that slug damage and dead patches meant the wheat harvest would be down by 30 per cent – from 15m tonnes to 10m.
The results of the winter planting survey by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board showed that until December in England and Wales wheat planting was down by 25 per cent on the previous year, barley down by 19 per cent and oats down 30 per cent. Overall cereal crops were down by 19 per cent.
The board’s senior analyst Jack Watts said: “Traditionally, following a difficult autumn planting spring barley is the most popular ‘go to’ spring crop. However, the availability of seed could be a limiting factor.”
He added: “It is important to remember that UK grain and oilseed markets operate in a global market. It is critical to monitor the global situation.”
Reports from the National Farmers Union Board for Horticulture and Potatoes, which represents growers, provides a snapshot of the difficulties farmers are facing. Growers of potatoes, peas and flowers for garden centres all saying their planting was late and existing crops were being hampered by the cold and poor light.
The board’s chairman, Guy Poskitt, a Yorkshire farmer who grows root vegetables wrote: “The main concern is the land being very wet and cold. Nothing is growing and the prospect of early crops or high yielding summer crops now looks low. Another year of shortage is highly likely.”
He told The Independent: “We’re about a fortnight to three weeks behind. Nature’s a wonderful thing and it might turn around with a warm summer. But if not we’ll need more imports and that means prices go up.”
Tim Papworth, who farms in Norfolk, added: “We are well behind on planting potatoes and drilling peas which will push the whole season back.”
Soft fruit grower Anthony Snell of the West Midlands said: “Yields and production will inevitably be down, but there will be a consistent programme of production throughout the season to ensure that we have enough soft fruit for every summer event.”
Tomato farmer Paul Simmonds of East Anglia added: “Light is significantly down on levels expected for this time of the year.”
Flower growers are facing huge energy bills as they struggle to keep crops warm and supplied with light.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:44 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
35 Winona County farmers have collected more than a $500K each since 1995
By Nathan Hansen | email@example.com Winona Daily News
20 hours ago • By Nathan Hansen | firstname.lastname@example.org
By the Numbers
From 1995 through 2011, farmers in Winona County received:
Dave Rupprecht and his son-in-law Glen Haag run Chosen Acres, a Holstein steer operation near Lewiston that received more than $590,000 in subsidy payments since 1995.
Chosen Acres is one of 35 farms in Winona County that have received more than half a million dollars in federal subsidies since 1995, according to public data published online by the Environmental Working Group.
The money is used for conservation programs and to counter swings in commodity and crop prices. The federal subsidies program has been criticized over the years, with opponents pointing out that payments are made even when commodity prices are high and that insurance subsidies encourage farmers to grow limited crops. Other concerns involve payments that go to large farm operations and the percentage of money that flows into crop subsidies compared with conservation programs.
Subsidies are big business.
In 2012, more than $7 million in subsidies was given out in Winona County alone, according to data from the Winona County Farm Service Agency office.
Nationwide, the government gave $194 billion between 1995 and 2011, according to the EWG.
Rupprecht acknowledges that his farm is one of the larger ones in the county in terms of receiving subsidy payments, and said he and Haag are trying to wean themselves off them. He said the federal government should set stricter limits on subsidy payments, because larger farms benefit more from subsidy payments.
“This country wasn’t built on handouts,” Rupprecht said. “This country was built on hard work.”
Four years ago, he said, the farm entered into the ACRE program, an alternative that pays little up-front in subsidies, and only pays farmers when the market price for a commodity is low.
“We need to have some kind of support if prices go back down,” Rupprecht said.
Public data, private farmers
Many Winona County farmers were hesitant to talk about farm subsidies. The Daily News called the operators of the 25 farms that received the most subsidies between 1995 and 2011.
Each was called several times and at different times of the day. Most phone calls were not returned. Farmers from three farms declined to comment. Two other farmers initially agreed to talk but didn’t return follow-up calls. Operators from just three farms agreed to be speak on the record.
That’s not surprising, given the stigma around subsidies, as well as data that show farmers are becoming more dependent on them, said EWG senior adviser Don Carr.
The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that researches environmental health, has been collecting farm subsidy information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than a decade and has offered the database online since 2004. The EWG manages millions of records but the database has been vetted independently multiple times and mistakes are rare, Carr said.
The EWG’s database shows details down to an individual farm or operation. The information is searchable by name, county, state or zip code. Each farmer’s data shows subsidy information for each year, broken into three categories: conservation, disaster and commodities. Farmer data also shows subsidy amounts for crops the farmer claimed and the counties the farmer received payments from.
EWG posts the data, Carr said, for the public good.
“If the government is going to spend money on something, then if it’s not a national security concern, the taxpayers have the right to know who are money is being spent and for what reason and how much,” he said.
Too much attention on subsidies, farmers say
Mike Heim’s dairy operation near St. Charles has been in the family since the 1940s. Heim, his son and several hired hands run the 260-cow operation, and grow some crops to sell as commodities.
Since 1995 Heim’s farm has received more than $820,000 in crop subsidies, according to EWG data.
Heim said the majority comes from conservation program payments, like the conservation stewardship program. Not every farmer is in the program, he said, and it took his farm two years to qualify. This year is the third year for Heim’s farm in the program.
Heim said to participate in the program, the farm has to document several parts of the operation, including manure movement and application, pasture and crop rotations, and the efficiency of planting and machinery. It’s required him to upgrade several pieces of equipment, he said.
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of paperwork,” he said. “Technology is not cheap. But we have to protect our groundwater and natural resources.”
Heim also said subsidy payments can benefit local economies and help keep agriculture strong.
“The ag economy is supporting a lot of the bigger cities,” he said. “If we have some money, we will tend to spend it in those cities.”
Jon Stock of St. Charles still farms the same land he helped his dad with when growing up. Stock used to farm livestock and crops, but he said he sold the cattle in 2002 and now farms 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans.
Stock received nearly $920,000 in commodity subsidies since 1995, with his biggest payments coming from 1999 to 2001—more than $100,000 each year.
Stock isn’t surprised or upset that the subsidy information is public and easily available.
“Everybody wants to know where the money is going,” he said.
Stock questions whether there will be direct payment subsidies this year, and is convinced they’ll be gone by next year. He now gets between $18 and $20 an acre, less than half what he received in previous years.
Stock said it doesn’t cover the cost of crop insurance—the main thing he uses subsidies for. Stock said it can cost $800,000 just to put his crop into the ground, and needs some kind of guarantee that he will at least break even.
That’s why crop insurance subsidies are so important, Stock said. Without affordable crop insurance, a farmer can go broke if disaster strikes.
“The farmers just want to see affordable crop insurance,” he said. “If we have even one bad year without crop insurance we are done.”
The problem is that crop insurance subsidies still reward farmers for growing a limited number of crops, said Carr of the EWG. And the data on crop insurance recipients isn’t as transparent—numbers on total payments are available but unlike commodity payments, the names and locations of the payments are not available.
“While we know 26 US farms each got over a million dollars apiece in 2011 in crop insurance subsidies, we are not allowed to know who received taxpayer dollars,” Carr said. “These are basic transparency issues with government.”
Regardless, Stock said, too much attention is placed on farm subsidies.
While they represent a large amount of money, they make up a very small portion of the federal farm bill, he argued, with the majority going to food programs, not farm programs.
“It’d be nice if people know that’s where the money is going and not into farmers’ pockets,” he said.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:43 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Facing drought, U.S. farmers return to crop rotation
Tom Polansek, Reuters | Updated: 01/18/2013
Farmers in top U.S. grain states are planning to rotate to other crops after repeated plantings of corn on the same fields, combined with a devastating drought in 2012, badly hurt yields.
Farmers in Iowa and Illinois, which accounted for almost 30 percent of U.S. corn production in 2012, are expected to shift some acreage that was seeded exclusively with corn over the past several years to soybeans this spring. They want to avoid another year of potentially significant losses as dry conditions persist, said agricultural market analysts and economists.
A move away from corn in those states may further drive up world food prices, which are already historically high, because corn stockpiles in the United States, the world’s top exporter, are forecast to hit a 17-year low by the end of the summer.
Soaring corn prices, due in part to surging demand for ethanol, in recent years have encouraged a greater amount of corn being planted on the same land year-after-year despite the fact the practice depletes soil of nutrients and reduces yields.
Although corn plantings are expected to be near record highs nationwide in 2013, the loss of some acres in the most productive states could crimp U.S. yields.
Corn acres will shift from Iowa and Illinois to less-productive fields in North and South Dakota and the Mississippi Delta, raising the potential for lower yields overall, said Sterling Liddell, vice president of food and agribusiness research for agribusiness lending giant Rabobank.
The shift "could potentially be very supportive for prices because we’re in such tight stock conditions with such little room for error," he said.
Iowa and Illinois could each see up to one million acres that have been devoted to corn production for the past several years switched to other crops in 2013, according to Rabobank.
That could mean a loss of up to 320 million bushels of corn from the 2013 harvest, based on the states’ five-year average yields.
Farmers planted 14.2 million acres of corn in Iowa last year and 12.8 million acres in Illinois.
The United States harvested 10.8 billion bushels of corn in 2012, the smallest in six years. The U.S. government is expected to detail its forecast for the 2013 harvest and plantings in March.
Ongoing dryness and the need to reinvigorate soils will encourage farmers to retreat, at least temporarily, from corn-on-corn production, according to agronomists. Soybeans naturally add nitrogen, a key fertilizer, to the land.
More so than soybeans, corn has a greater need for moisture during a critical summertime stage of development, raising the risk for yield losses if moisture is absent during that time.
Rains in August boosted the size of last year’s soybean crop but arrived too late in the summer to benefit the already-ravaged corn crop.
Forecasters have warned the drought will not abate in the coming months.
"Farmers are going to do their best to not do corn-on-corn any more than they have to," said Rich Guebert, vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, who said he had heard many farmers complain about dramatic yield losses from corn planted after corn.
Rodney Weinzierl, the executive director of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and a farmer in the state’s No. 1 corn-producing county, plans to plant soybeans on land on which he has grown corn for the past three years.
The decision to reduce corn plantings "has a lot to do with moisture," said Weinzierl, adding that he was "trying to better understand" a 40 percent decline in yields last year for corn plantings in fields that also had corn in the previous year.
DROUGHT BURNS FARMERS
There has been a movement toward repeated plantings of corn in recent years. Acres planted with corn last year and the year before in Iowa and Illinois rose 6 percent to 9.8 million acres, according to agricultural data company Lanworth, a unit of Thomson Reuters.
Total corn plantings in the two states jumped 1 percent to 27 million acres.
"What people were banking on was that corn prices had gotten up there high enough that it was going to offset that yield reduction, but in fact it didn’t," said Mike Duffy, agricultural economist at Iowa State University.
It can all make a big difference to farmers’ incomes.
Duffy estimated an average yield of 165 bushels per acre for corn grown after corn in 2012 and 180 bushels for corn grown after soybeans.
In 2012, it cost $4.94 a bushel to produce corn grown after corn in Iowa, 70 cents more than it cost to grow corn grown after soybeans. The higher cost was due to reduced yields for repeated plantings and to the additional fertilizer needed to compensate for lost nutrients, Duffy said.
Yields for corn grown after corn take a particularly hard hit compared to corn grown after soybeans when weather conditions are poor, Duffy noted, adding that farmers who planted corn repeatedly on the same land said: "Well we got burned here. We don’t want to do it again."
RECORD PLANTINGS NATIONWIDE?
Still, all signs point to U.S. farmers planting a historically large number of acres to corn in 2013 due to high corn prices.
Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, last week projected 96 million acres of corn will be planted, down 1 percent from a record high in 2012.
Rabobank predicted total plantings will rise 0.5 percent to 97.6 million acres – which would be the most since 101.95 million acres were planted in 1936 before the advent of soybeans.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:54 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com