Thank a Farmer for What They Do
The cold, cloudy and wet weather this spring will be one for the record books. For many people it has just been an inconvenience. You hurry home after work to get the lawn mowed before it rains, or you were planning on mowing the lawn and then it rained. It was too bad that all the Memorial Day Parades had to be canceled and the Programs moved inside. I am sure many picnics and cookouts got changed too. For farmers this spring has been a lot more than an inconvenience.
If you are a farmer it just seems like everything is going against you this spring. A lot of tillage did not get done last fall or fertilizer applied because it was so cold and wet. Then the soil froze up in early November. That meant we needed more time this spring to get the field work done that should have been finished last fall.
This is the fifth year in a row of very low corn and bean prices. The buffer for low prices is having a having a good year with high yields. Having over 200 bushels of corn an acre to sell or 60 bushels of beans helps offset a low price. You have lots of bushels to sell. That has what has made this spring really tough for farm families. Every day you get up and check the forecast and see it will at least be another week before you can plant your crop.
So, you note the calander and realize every day that goes by your potential yields go down. If you can plant corn in the next few days you can expect corn yields of around 80 percent of a normal year. If you can get a shorter season corn hybrid should you still plant it? Should you switch and plant beans on the intended corn acres? Should you give up on the corn acres and file a Prevented Plant claim with your crop insurance agent?
This spring has been even more stressful for livestock producers. One dairy farmer told me I will plant corn whenever I can. You cannot feed Prevented Plant to your cows! Another unknown complicating the decisions a farmer must make this spring is the trade war with China. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said there will be another Market Facilitation payment. We know very few details or specifics but it sounds like you will not be able to get the payment on any Prevented Plant acres.
I do not mean to complain or whine about the situation farmers in almost the entire Midwest are in this spring. The vast majority of farmers grew up on a farm. Their Dads, Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers were farmers. We all knew bad weather and cyclical prices goes with the occupation of farming. However, this spring is worse. It has created a lot of anxiety and stress for the entire farm family.
Not to be all "doom and gloom" there are some lifelines available. With Prevented Plant crop insurance on the corn most farmers would likely collect enough to cover the land rent and maybe the cost of controlling weeds and planting a cover crop. The forecast into the weekend and early next week has a lot of sunshine in it and not a lot of rain. Plus, about 2 weeks ago the "market" finally there is a problem and prices have rallied higher!
Doing the math if you expected 200 bushel corn and $3.25 a bushel you would gross $650 an acre. If you lost 20 percent and got a yield of 160 bushel an acre but a price of $4 a bushel you would gross $640 an acre. Maybe your yield would be a little higher and corn prices continue to rally? Maybe you could end up better off?
There is a lot of the growing season to go. There is still hope everything will turn out okay. What can you do to help? If you see a farmer give them a pat on the shoulder and say we know these are tough times. Tell them Thank You for what you do. We are with you because my family like to eat locally grown food!