Crop Production Report shows record soybean production

The Crop Production Report came out today (Thursday, August 10), predicting a record-high soybean production. As you know, it’s the first time USDA gives out its yield estimates based on surveys. Do you think they’ve come in about where you expected?

U.S. farmers are expected to produce a record-high soybean crop this year, according to the Crop Production report issued today by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Up 2 percent from 2016, soybean production is forecast at 4.38 billion bushels, while corn growers are expected to decrease their production by 7 percent from last year, forecast at 14.2 billion bushels. 

Crop Production Report

The first yield estimates for the current growing season are out from USDA and the numbers are showing record soybean yields as the August Crop Production report came out Thursday. (Photo from gourmet.com)

 Up 7 percent from last year, area for soybean harvest is forecast at a record 88.7 million acres with planted area for the nation estimated at a record-high 89.5 million acres, unchanged from the June estimate. Soybean yields are expected to average 49.4 bushels per acre, down 2.7 bushels from last year. Record soybean yields are expected in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

 Average corn yield is forecast at 169.5 bushels per acre, down 5.1 bushels from last year. If realized, this will be the third highest yield and production on record for the United States. NASS forecasts record-high yields in Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. Acres planted to corn, at 90.9 million, remain unchanged from NASS’ previous estimate. As of July 30, 61 percent of this year’s corn crop was reported in good or excellent condition, 15 percentage points below the same time last year.

 Wheat production is forecast at 1.74 billion bushels, down 25 percent from 2016. Growers are expected to produce 1.29 billion bushels of winter wheat this year, down 23 percent from last year. Durum wheat production is forecast at 50.5 million bushels, down 51 percent from last year. All other spring wheat production is forecast at 402 million bushels, down 25 percent from 2016. Based on August 1 conditions, the U.S. all wheat yield is forecast at 45.6 bushels per acre, down 7 bushels from last year. Today’s report also included the first production forecast for U.S. cotton. NASS forecasts all cotton production at 20.5 million 480-pound bales, up 20 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average a record-high 892 pounds per harvested acre, up 25 pounds from last year.

 

Japan increases tariff rate on U.S. beef imports

Not good news for American beef producers to end the week on. Japan just announced it’s triggering a tariff increase on U.S.  beef imports, which means our product just got a lot more expensive for the consumers in what’s been a very valuable export market.A big part of the problem is not having a bilateral trade agreement with Japan. Thank Washington for not making that happen sooner. Here’s some reaction from agriculture:

The really interesting part is the note from the Meat Export Federation that says the increase in American beef imports really hasn’t hurt domestic supplies, with carcass and feeder cattle prices lower than in recent months, but prices are still at RECORD HIGHS.

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2017 – The government of Japan has announced that rising imports of frozen beef in the first quarter of the Japanese fiscal year (April-June) have triggered a safeguard, resulting in an automatic increase to Japan’s tariff rate under the WTO on U.S. beef imports.  The increase, from 38.5 percent to 50 percent, will begin August 1, 2017 and last through March 31, 2018.  The tariff would affect only exporters from countries, including the United States, which do not have free trade agreements with Japan currently in force.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement:

U.S. beef imports

USDA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue isn’t happy to hear that the tariff rate on U.S. beef imports to Japan is taking a 12 percent jump because higher import totals this year triggered a “safeguard.” (photo from usda.gov)

“I am concerned that an increase in Japan’s tariff on frozen beef imports will impede U.S. beef sales and is likely to increase the United States’ overall trade deficit with Japan.  This would harm our important bilateral trade relationship with Japan on agricultural products.  It would also negatively affect Japanese consumers by raising prices and limiting their access to high-quality U.S. frozen beef.  I have asked representatives of the Japanese government directly and clearly to make every effort to address these strong concerns, and the harm that could result to both American producers and Japanese consumers.”

U.S. exports of beef and beef products to Japan totaled $1.5 billion last year, making it the United States’ top market.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Craig Uden issued the following statement in response to the tariff increase:

U.S. beef imports

NCBA President Craig Uden says the Japan announcement of a tariff increase on U.S. beef imports should send a message to Washington about the need for a bilateral trade agreement with the largest export customer of American beef. (photo from cattle business weekly)

“We’re very disappointed to learn that the tariff on U.S. beef imports to Japan will increase from 38.5 percent to 50 percent until April 2018. Japan is the top export market for U.S. beef in both volume and value, and anything that restricts our sales to Japan will have a negative impact on America’s ranching families and our Japanese consumers. NCBA opposes artificial barriers like these because they unfairly distort the market and punish both producers and consumers. Nobody wins in this situation. Our producers lose access, and beef becomes a lot more expensive for Japanese consumers. We hope the Trump Administration and Congress realize that this unfortunate development underscores the urgent need for a bilateral trade agreement with Japan absent the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Background: Japan was the top export market for U.S. beef, valued at $1.5 billion in 2016. According to data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, first quarter U.S. beef sales to Japan increased 42 percent over 2016. In addition to the United States, the 50 percent safeguard tariff also applies to imports from Canada, New Zealand, and other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation also weighed in on Japan’s move:

“USMEF recognizes that the safeguard will not only have negative implications for U.S. beef producers, but will also have a significant impact on the Japanese foodservice industry,” explained U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng. “It will be especially difficult for the gyudon beef bowl restaurants that rely heavily on Choice U.S. short plate as a primary ingredient. This sector endured a tremendous setback when U.S. beef was absent from the Japanese market due to BSE, and was finally enjoying robust growth due to greater availability of U.S. beef and strong consumer demand. USMEF will work with its partners in Japan to mitigate the impact of the safeguard as much as possible. We will also continue to pursue all opportunities to address the safeguard situation by encouraging the U.S. and Japanese governments to reach a mutually beneficial resolution to this issue.”

As agreed to in 1994 in the WTO Uruguay Round, Japan maintains separate quarterly import safeguards on chilled and frozen beef, allowing imports to increase by 17 percent compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The duty increases from 38.5 percent to 50 percent when imports exceed the safeguard volume. Japan’s frozen beef imports in the 2016 Japanese fiscal year were lower than in previous years, thus the growth in imports during this first quarter of the current fiscal year exceeded 17 percent, driven in part by rebuilding of frozen inventories and strong demand for beef in Japan’s foodservice sector. The most recent quarter saw strong growth in imports from all of Japan’s main beef suppliers.

The implications for U.S. beef exports are significant because U.S. frozen beef now faces an even wider tariff disadvantage compared to Australian beef. The duty on U.S. frozen beef imports, effective Aug. 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018, will be 50 percent while the duty on Australian beef will remain at the current rate of 27.2 percent, as established in the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA). The snapback duty of 50 percent will apply to frozen imports from suppliers that do not have an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Japan, which are mainly the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.

U.S. beef imports

The U.S. Meat Export Federation isn’t happy to hear the tariff rate on U.S. beef imports is taking a twelve percent jump in Japan. They point out the move normally would protect domestic supplies. but carcass prices for feeder cattle are just off record highs.

Conditions have changed since the quarterly safeguards were established in 1994, and the growth in Japan’s imports this year has not adversely impacted Japan’s domestic beef producers. Prices for wagyu carcasses and wagyu feeder cattle are down from the record highs of last year, but are otherwise the highest in recent history. Japan has also moved away from the quarterly safeguard mechanism in its recent trade agreements. Through the JAEPA, Japan transitioned from quarterly safeguards to annual safeguards, which are much less likely to be triggered. The snapback duties on Australian beef have also been reduced, minimizing any potential impact on trade. Japan also agreed to similar terms in its economic partnership agreement with Mexico and in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Supplemental information on Japan’s imports of U.S. beef and possible implications of the safeguard are available in this brief USMEF fact sheet. Further analysis and charts are also available online.

Sonny Perdue confirmed as next Secretary of Agriculture

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture “The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) thanks Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken for voting for Governor Sonny Perdue’s confirmation as the next U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary of Agriculture,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “Secretary Perdue is a needed voice for agriculture as the new administration addresses issues like trade, regulatory reform, agriculture labor and the next farm bill. We look forward to working with the new Secretary to address issues facing Minnesota farmers and ranchers.”

Secretary of Agriculture

A late-afternoon confirmation vote on Monday means Sonny Perdue is finally Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Agriculture. (photo from the washingtonpost.com)

“Now that we have our Secretary of Agriculture in place, we look forward to getting down to business to address serious issues that the Secretary has committed to working on as well as filling other key roles in the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said Paap.

 

Minnesota Farm Bureau – Farmers ● Families ● Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureau associations across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for young farmers and ranchers develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for children. Join Farm Bureau today and support efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.

 

For more information on the Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.org, www.Facebook.com/MNFarmBureau or www.Twitter.com/MNFarmBureau.

MFU thanks delegation for addressing dairy concerns

Minnesota-Farmers-Union-Logo-ApprovedMinnesota Farmers Union (MFU) would like to thank Senators Franken and Klobuchar as well as Representatives Peterson, Nolan, and Walz  for joining 60 of their colleagues in signing on to a bi-partisan Congressional letter to USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  The letter expressed concern about the troubling economic challenges facing U.S. dairy farmers and urged him to assist them as quickly as possible.

The letter, spearheaded by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy and Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney, cited that farm milk prices dropping 40 percent since 2014.  Compounding the problem of low prices, the nation’s cheese stocks were recorded at their highest level since the data was first recorded in 1917. The letter also says that current expectations are that the dairy market will continue to struggle

“MFU has been in constant contact with our Congressional delegation working on assistance for Minnesota dairy farmers, and MFU appreciates the effort of these members of Congress,” said MFU President Doug Peterson.

dairy industry struggles

The Minnesota Farmers Union thanked its congressional delegation for signing onto a letter urging the USDA to take action to help the nation’s struggling dairy farmers. (Jackson Forderer for MPR News)

The members of Congress in the letter urge the USDA to use its secretarial authority and look to past precedent for ways to take action to protect all of our nation’s dairy farmers from any further crisis.  The letter also urges the USDA to aid in the expansion and maintenance of domestic markets. The letter further urges the USDA to take all actions available in order to make an immediate market injection and offer financial assistance that will support dairy farmers.  They also caution USDA to not stimulate overproduction further than it’s already gone.

MFU will continue to work on dairy policy as we begin our annual county conventions throughout the state, making help for dairy farmers a top priority.

 

Minnesota Farmers Union, standing for agriculture, fighting for farmers (www.mfu.org).

Proposed changes to the Beef Checkoff

Many of the major American agriculture groups came together earlier this year to sign a Memorandum of Understanding regarding a proposed change to the national beef checkoff. The discussions were contentious at times, and at least two of the groups dropped out of the discussions due to disagreements.

The discussion included more than how to raise the checkoff from 1 to 2 dollars per head sold. Several major proposals to enhance the checkoff came out of the discussions as well.

“We came to a point in the discussions where we wanted to know what else we could do to enhance the checkoff,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Past President Scott George. “It took a lot of compromise across the board to get things done. We focused in on 4 main areas.”

Scott George

Scott George is a dairy farmer and beef producer from Wyoming, and he served as the President of the NCBA in 2013. (photo from BeefMagazine.com)

“If you debate a hundred different things,” said George, “you’ll never get agreement on all of them.”

The first discussion item was the biggest one, and it was how much to actually increase the checkoff.

“There were people that argued strongly that Australia is charging $5 a head on their checkoff,” said George. “Canada is charging $4 a head. These countries are competitors, and there were people in the room saying we need to collect $5 a head to compete with these folks.

“Others were saying to get back to par we need to collect $2.20,” said George, “but $2.20 is not easy for people to figure out. Let’s say you’re selling 137 head of cattle. A checkoff collector would have to multiply 137 by $2.20, and that’s not simple.”

When the group was putting the proposal together, representatives from the Livestock Marketing Association and the National Livestock Producers Association, which are both auction market associations, were involved in the process. George said they wanted to keep this process as simple as possible.

George said, “In the end, the group said let’s raise it at least a dollar. Let’s go to 2 dollars, because it’s simple and clean. Everyone can understand it. So the group compromised on the money.”

Beef cattle in Sale Ring

For each head of livestock sold, beef producers currently pay $1 per head to the national checkoff. A new proposal would change that to $2 a head, but have a refund available for producers who don’t want to pay the extra dollar. (Photo from angusbeefbulletin.com)

George said raising the checkoff amount requires an act of Congress. The group came up with an idea to make the process a little simpler.

“We proposed a change in the referendum process,” said George, “in which you can petition to change the checkoff amount in the referendum process, rather than requiring an act of Congress. So, we compromised on the dollar amount, and going forward, if in 5 to 10 years we feel like we need to raise more money, we do it through the referendum process and producers have the final say.”

George said when you talk about enhancing a program like the checkoff, there are a lot of costs that go into it. The idea of cost to producers led to talk of a refund policy.

“We decided the second dollar would be refundable,” said George. “If you don’t like it, you can get your money back. We thought of putting requirements in the agreement, like maybe they should have at least 10 cows. After all, it costs money to do a refund. Someone has to sit down, do the paperwork, and mail the money back to you. We also talked about charging producers a fee, but in the end, we said that’s not fair.”

George added, “If a person wants a refund, they should get the full amount, whether it’s a dollar for 1 head, or 10 dollars for 10 animals. A big selling point to this is we have people in Congress that don’t like checkoff programs, and the fact that constituents can get their money back for any reason might help us with Congress as well.”

He added that the initial $1 collected today would remain as it is with no refund allowed. This would maintain financial stability for the state Beef Councils and at the national level they can plan on a certain amount of money to run a program.

“In this Checkoff Enhancement Working Group,” said George, “some strongly advocated for a mandatory referendum every 5 to 7 years. But to do a referendum would cost the checkoff into the millions of dollars.

“Some members of the group strongly objected, saying they weren’t paying into the checkoff to spend millions of dollars every 5 years to see if they want to keep the program.”

The group then looked at several different checkoff programs as potential models of what they’d like to see. Currently, there are 19 different checkoffs with varied models in use.

“The checkoff that the group liked the most was the soybean system,” said George. “In the soybean model, the Secretary (of Agriculture) designates a certain time period every few years. During a certain month, the Secretary will say everyone can go to their government agency office to verify they are a producer who’s qualified to do this, and sign a petition for a referendum.

“If 10 percent of the producers sign the petition,” said George, “then the Secretary will hold a referendum.”

One of the big reasons for changing the petition process is consistency.

“There was a petition drive a few years ago,” said George, “and there were 3 different reprimand letters issued by the USDA because people were holding drawings for things like hats and boots. People were signing up thinking they were just registering for a drawing. In reality, there were signing a petition for a referendum.

“The USDA had to go back and hire an outside firm to take all these signatures that had been submitted and verify that they were producers,” said George. “When many of the people were called, they said ‘we don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ve never owned cattle in our life.’

The US Department of Ag had to verify producers knew they were signing up for a referendum when they were told it was just registering for giveaways.  (photo from commons.wikimedia.com)

The US Department of Ag had to verify producers knew they were signing up for a referendum when they were told it was just registering for giveaways. (photo from commons.wikimedia.com)

George said, “This is one of the issues we’re trying to address. By having producers go to an FSA office or Extension building, setting aside a set period of time, and having it every 5 years, we thought this would be a good compromise.”

The Checkoff will still bear the cost of the referendum, but the USDA would help bear the cost of gathering the signatures. Producers could petition for getting rid of the checkoff, or even increasing the amount of the checkoff through the process too.

George added, “If, in 5 years, during the month of January 2020, the Secretary will say the beef producers can go in, sign up, and if ten percent of them go in and say they want to increase the checkoff to $2.50 a head, they’ve then petitioned for a referendum. The process allows you to step forward for an increase, or to eliminate the program as well.”

He said this was yet another compromise in the process.

“Under our current law (the 1985 act), if 10 percent of the producers sign a petition at any time, and request a referendum,” said George, “the Secretary of Ag will hold a referendum. We thought that was a good safeguard; so let’s leave that one in there as well. So, if producers get upset with the checkoff for any reason and ten percent sign the referendum, then bang, the Secretary will have a referendum and we’ll have a vote.”

George said it was important to the Group to give the producers the final say in whether or not the checkoff will continue.

“Under this whole process, we’re talking about working through Congress to get it passed, get the President to sign it, and then get the Secretary to write the order,” said George. “But before it would be enacted, it will all have to go before the producers in a referendum. The producers need to have the final say. The Group was unanimous on that declaration. Nobody needs to force this down someone’s throat.”

The last thing the Board did was deal with some confusion over the involvement of industry groups in the checkoff.

“The checkoff benefits every cattle producer in the country,” said George. “I don’t care what segment of the industry, be it cow/calf, stocker, feeder, or dairy. I don’t care if they raise bucking bulls or roping steers. In the end, it brings value to every single segment.”

He added, “It’s not political. Just because NCBA does some of the checkoff programs, it doesn’t mean only buy cattle from NCBA members. It’s fallacy to think that. But there are other industry organizations that want to be involved.”

George said it’s important to remember that the group that has authority over the checkoff is the 20 member operating committee, which has ten Federation seats and ten Beef Council seats.

“Right now, the Beef Board has a separate nominating committee that interviews candidates for the Beef Board seats. The Federation (of state Beef Councils) has a separate nominating committee to interview candidates for their seats. So we came up with a compromise in the interview process.”

He said the Beef Board nominating committee has 7 seats, and the Federation nominating committee also has 7 seats.

“What we’re proposing is 7 additional seats be given to industry organizations that want to participate,” said George. You’ll have a 21-member nominating committee to interview candidates for the Federation and the Beef Board seats. They will have to receive a two-thirds majority vote to move that candidate forward.”

One group in particular didn’t like that suggestion, but George said there were good reasons for it.

“They said ‘we just got all the policy people kicked out of here,’” said George. “But other groups said having industry organizations sitting in the room looking at the quality of candidates and helping with the decision gives them ownership and involvement. It can’t help but educate the people about who they are interviewing and what we’re trying to accomplish with the checkoff.”

The goal of this process is to get qualified candidates for the Beef Operating Committee.

“This idea was a compromise, just like the others,” said George.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Crop Nutrient Management Conference on February 9

Farmers and agriculture professionals can hear about the latest nutrient management research regarding fertilizer use efficiency at the sixth annual Minnesota Crop Nutrient Management Conference on Monday, February 9, 2015, at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

Don’t miss the nutrient and fertilizer efficiency conference coming up on February 9 in Mankato (Photo from southeastfarmpress.com)

Don’t miss the nutrient and fertilizer efficiency conference coming up on February 9 in Mankato (Photo from southeastfarmpress.com)

The conference will examine current nutrient management issues in a rapidly changing production environment. The program will focus on nitrogen and phosphorus management from commercial fertilizers and animal manures. Speakers will provide an in-depth approach to various management practices for these important nutrients. Sessions will also address fertilizer industry trends, micronutrients, and the effects of cover crops and changing weather on fertilizer management.

Speakers include fertilizer industry professionals, staff from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and extension research specialists from Iowa State University, North Dakota State University, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin. The conference is organized by the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Center.

There is no fee for attending the conference. However, pre-registration is requested for event planning purposes. To register, visit the conference website and follow the links online at www.mda.state.mn.us/nutrientconference.

MDA-logoYou may also register via e-mail at nutri.conf@state.mn.us or by calling the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Ryan Lemickson at 612-209-9181. When registering, please include your name, organization, address, phone number, and email address.

Farm income is on the way down in 2014

The United States Department of Agriculture released its Farm Income projections for 2014 on Tuesday, February 11.  According to the desmoinesregister.com, the projections are showing almost a thirty percent drop in net farm income compared to 2013.

 

Income on the way down

Farm Income Forecast to Drop in 2014

Farm Income Forecast to Drop in 2014

USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber (photo courtesy of beltway beef.com)

USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber (photo courtesy of beltway beef.com)

 

Joe Glauber is the Chief Economist for the USDA, and one of the principal architects of the report.  He said, “Net cash income is projected to be just under 102 billion dollars, a 22 percent reduction from last year.  Net farm income, which takes in the value of stored grain on the farm, is projected to be 958 billion dollars, which is down 35 billion dollars from 2013, almost a 27 percent drop.”

 

Mitch Moreheart, a senior agricultural economist with USDA, told the desmoinesregister.com that one of the biggest reasons behind the drop is a lower commodity price for crops like corn and soybeans.  Crop prices have been at all-time highs in recent years, but Glauber said they’re on the way down:

 

 

Glauber said the recently passed Farm Bill contains reforms that will take another big chunk out of farm income in 2014:

 

 

The USDA website said government payments to farmers will total just over 6 billion dollars in 2014, but that’s close to a 50 percent decrease from 2013.  The loss in government payments means an additional 5 billion dollars in cuts to farm incomes.

 

Some good news ahead

 

While crop receipts will drop roughly 12 percent, Glauber said, “Livestock receipts, by the way, are up marginally.  They’re up at 184 billion dollars.  It’s the first time in a long time we’ve seen crop receipts and livestock receipts at roughly the same level of income.”

 

The livestock sector is getting help from the other bit of positive news in the economic forecast.  “On-farm expenses are forecast to be down, right at 310 billion dollars,” said Glauber.  “That’s primarily due to the lower cost of feed.”  The USDA said it’s only the second time in 10 years that expenses were lower than the year before.

 

Moreheart told the desmoinesregister.com the livestock sector has a very optimistic outlook because it doesn’t cost as much to feed the animals, dairy-farming revenue should pick up, and the beef herd is expected to expand in the near future.

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (photo from politico.com)

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (photo from politico.com)

 

USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke about the income forecast, and said the lower numbers didn’t surprise him.  He did say it’s important to keep perspective on the lower numbers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Farm Bill fight continues

Legislation In Gridlock:

The Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that sets America’s farming and food policy, usually in four-to-five year increments.  According to the American Farmland Trust website (http://www.farmbillfacts.org/2012-farm-bill), the Farm Bill has been around since the Great Depression.  Congress first enacted the bill to support the nation’s farmers and help maintain their land.

A Rochester, Minnesota farm sits and waits for the 2014 planting season.

A Rochester, Minnesota, farm sits and waits for the 2014 planting season.

The most recent version of the Farm Bill expired in 2012, and has been stuck in limbo ever since as Congress haggles over renegotiating the new bill.  America is beginning to feel the negative effects of not having a Farm Bill, and not just on the nation’s farms.

 

Frustrated farmers:

Michael Landuyt farms in near Walnut Grove, Minnesota, with his wife Kari and their three children.  He raises corn, soybeans, and wheat on their fourth generation farm.  They also finish roughly 1,400 livestock per year.  Landuyt said the lack of consistent farm policy does affect his business, mostly when it comes to planning for the future.

Landuyt said the lack of long-term policy “makes it hard to know what the government is going to throw at you.”  Farmers rotate different crops on different fields on a yearly basis.  That’s where long term planning comes in.   Farmers have to buy inputs, like seed and fertilizer, well in advance of the growing season.

For example, Landuyt will take one of his farm fields through a three-year cycle, planting corn the first year, corn the second year, and soybeans on the third year.  In fact, Landuyt said “I’m 90 percent sure of what I’m going to plant on my fields in fifteen years.  Therein lies the potential problem for him.

With the development of a new Farm Bill, the government could impose new regulations on his business that force him to completely change his plans.  If new regulations force him to change plans just ahead of a growing season, that could potentially mean having to purchase thousands of dollars of new inputs on very short notice, which is hard to do. “That’s where it affects me.  It doesn’t affect me today.  It doesn’t affect me next week. But it affects me two to three years down the road,” said Landuyt.

 

Farm Income is struggling:

South Dakota rancher lost thousands of livestock and millions of dollars in an early October storm

South Dakota rancher lost thousands of livestock and millions of dollars in an early October storm

One of the most beneficial parts of the Farm Bill is disaster relief for the nation’s farmers.  Never has this been more evident than the livestock disaster this year last October in western South Dakota.

One of the earliest snowstorms on record dumped massive amounts of snow in South Dakota last October.  According to a story on the Washington Post’s website (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/10/11/blizzard-lack-of-farm-bill-threatens-south-dakota-cattle-ranchers/), tens of thousands of cattle were killed when the storm swept in unexpectedly.  The storm came in so early that the livestock hadn’t even developed their winter coats yet.

A Rochester, Minnesota John Deere implement dealership is one of many businesses who feel the pinch of lower farm income

A Rochester, Minnesota, John Deere implement dealership is one of many businesses who feel the pinch of lower farm income

Thom Peterson, the Government Relations Specialist with the Minnesota Farmers Union, said a Farm Bill would have been a huge benefit to farmers.  “The freak snowstorm in South Dakota killed a lot of cattle.  No Livestock Indemnity Program means no help for ranchers who desperately need it.  That could result in farmers and ranchers going out of business.”

 

Consumers will feel it at the store:

The price of a gallon of milk is set to take a potential price jump in January

The price of a gallon of milk is set to take a potential jump in January

When farmers go out of business, the law of basic economics will kick in.  Lower numbers of crops that go into making the nation’s food supply mean a higher demand.  When food manufacturers have to pay higher costs to get the inputs they need, then the higher costs will be passed on to consumers.

The dairy industry is a good example.  With the expiration of the Farm Bill, milk prices are set to take a jump on January first because of no government subsidies.  Landuyt said if the government isn’t subsidizing the dairy industry to keep milk prices low, then consumers are going to feel the pinch at the grocery store.  He said, “The government isn’t subsidizing the dairy industry to make the farmer rich.  It’s so the farmer can sell milk for three dollars a gallon to the processor instead of six dollars a gallon, which would mean more money for consumers when they run to the store for a gallon of milk.”

 

 

The Farm Bill is more than just farming:

A recent projection of spending for the upcoming Farm Bill

A recent projection of spending for the upcoming Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is a bit of a misnomer.  More than 75 percent of the Farm Bill monies go to funding nutrition assistance programs around the country.  The food stamp program of the past is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.  The lack of a Farm Bill has Jill Martinez of Hunger Solutions in Minnesota concerned.

Martinez said as of right now, 10 percent of Minnesotans are enrolled in the SNAP program.  She said all SNAP programs  are temporarily unchanged from their previous policies.

With potential changes coming to the program with a new Farm Bill, she said, “our biggest concern is that if you need food assistance, you can get it.  We don’t want any barriers to access limited.”

 

On to January for a vote:

Tom Vilsack is the current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and spoke recently as a guest on the agriculture news show Agri Pulse (http://www.agri-pulse.com/Audio-Thursday.asp). He’s tired of waiting for a new Farm Bill:

 

Debate on a new Farm Bill, with a potential vote, is now scheduled for January in both Houses of Congress.  Meanwhile, farmers and consumers are stuck in limbo, along with the legislation that governs the food they raise and eat.