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2013 Crop Insurance Payments

Some farm operators in Minnesota, Iowa, and surrounding States will be facing reduced yields on some farm units in 2013, due to very late planting, severe storms, and very hot and dry weather late in the growing season. With Federal Crop Insurance, every year is different, and with the multiple options available to producers, there are many variable results from crop insurance coverage at harvest time. 2013 will be no different, with some producers choosing Yield Protection (YP) policies (yield only) versus Revenue Protection (RP) policies (yield and price), and also having differences in the level of coverage chosen, “optional units” or “enterprise units”, etc. that affect final insurance payments. [ read more ]


Harvest Season Underway

Above normal temperatures during the month of September in most of Minnesota has allowed the 2013 corn and soybean crop in many areas to either reach maturity, or be very close to maturity, by month’s end. Most of the early-planted corn hybrids have now reached physiological maturity and are drying down, while some later planted corn may need a bit more time to reach desired kernel moisture content for harvest. Most soybeans are now turning color and dropping leaves, with full-scale soybean harvest beginning in portions of Southern and Western Minnesota. [ read more ]


Farm Safety During Harvest Season

As we enter full-scale Fall harvest for the 2013 growing season, it is a good time for farm families to review the farm safety procedures in their farming operation. More farm accidents occur during the Fall than at any other time of the year, and usually involve one or more farm family members. Special care should be taken with children and senior citizens around farm and grain handling equipment, as these groups are the most vulnerable to farm accidents. The week of September 15-21 was designated as “National Farm Safety Week”, which is intended to bring extra focus on farm safety issues and priorities during the Fall harvest season. [ read more ... ]


Sept. 12 USDA Crop Report

The USDA Crop Production Report released on September 12 made a slight increase in the expected U.S. corn production for 2013, as compared to the August USDA Report, while making a 3 percent reduction in estimated 2013 U.S. soybean production. USDA is now estimating total 2013 corn production at 13.8 billion bushels, which if realized, would result a new record for annual U.S. corn production. Total U.S. corn production was 10.8 billion bushels in the drought year of 2012, 12.3 billion bushels in 2011, and 12.5 billion bushels in 2010. USDA left the anticipated harvested corn acres at 89.1 million acres, which is unchanged from the August 1 estimate. [ read more ... ]


Support For Crop Insurance

Many farm operators across the upper Midwest are facing some crop loss in 2013, due to late and prevented planting this past Spring, and now from very hot, dry weather late in the growing season in some areas. There will undoubtedly be large financial losses to some farm operators in many areas, as well as with associated businesses, and in local communities. The drop in corn and soybean market prices, compared to recent years, will also lead to further financial loss for affected farm operators. The financial losses to corn and soybean producers in 2013 will be somewhat mitigated for farm operators that carry Federal Crop Insurance coverage. [ read more ... ]

2013 FARMFEST Forums Scheduled

FARMFEST will feature an exciting line-up of feature forums in 2013, according to Kent Thiesse, FARMFEST Forum Coordinator. The forums will be held August 6, 7, and 8, in the new Wicks Buildings FARMFEST Center on the FARMFEST Site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, 7 miles southeast of  Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Thiesse said the forum schedule for 2013 has a heavy emphasis on National and State agricultural policy issues, and on issues affecting rural Minnesota. [ read more ... ]


Knee-High Corn by July 4

For generations, the standard measure for corn growth was “knee-high by July 4th, which meant that the corn plant should be able to produce a crop for that year. Of course, most farmers a couple of generations ago had much lower yield goals for their corn than the farmers of today. Today, “waist-high” or higher corn by July 4th is a more typical, and has resulted in some very good corn yields in most areas in recent years. It is difficult to get exceptional corn yields in the Southern half of Minnesota, if corn is only “knee-high” or smaller on July 4th. [ read more ... ]


New Farm Bill defeated in the U.S. House

After nearly two years of discussions and debate, a new Farm Bill appeared a bit closer to being enacted into law; however, on June 20th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted down the new Farm Bill by a vote of 195-234. Several weeks ago, the New Farm Bill was passed by the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, with strong bi-partisan support. Ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Ag Committee, MN Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson, maintained his support for the new Farm Bill, as did fellow-Ag Committee member, MN First District Congressman (D) Tim Walz; however, MN Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan (D), also on the Ag Committee, opposed the new Farm Bill. Minnesota’s Congressional delegation was split 4-4 on the vote for a new Farm Bill. [ read more ... ]


Focus Shifts To Soybean Planting

The cool, wet weather conditions continued during the week of June 3-9 across the areas of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa, which have been hardest hit with delayed corn and soybean planting in 2013. There was some limited corn and soybean planting completed in wettest areas of Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa, while planting progress was more prevalent in South Central and Southwest Minnesota, and adjoining areas of Iowa. Most of the planting focus has now switched from unplanted corn acres to the unplanted soybean acres. [ read more ... ]


Prevented Planting Options

It’s hard to believe that a mere two to three months ago we were still talking about continued drought in much of the Upper Midwest. Now, in some areas of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa wet field conditions and delayed crop planting has become so severe that producers are considering not planting a portion of their crops in 2013. As of June 1, thousands of intended corn acres are still unplanted in the Southeast quarter of Minnesota, and adjoining areas of Northern Iowa and Western Wisconsin. Very few soybeans have been planted in this region as well, and a significant amount of soybeans also still remain to be planted in many other areas of the Upper Midwest. Producers in the affected areas are now evaluating their crop insurance options for late or prevented planting coverage. [ read more ... ]


General CRP Sign-Up

A General Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up is currently occurring at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices throughout the United States. The General CRP sign-up period will run from May 20 through June 14. General CRP sign-ups were also held in 2012 when 3.6 million acres were accepted into CRP, in 2011 with 3.75 million acres were accepted into CRP, and in 2010 when about 4.2 million acres were accepted into CRP. CRP was originally established in the 1985 Farm Bill, and today has over 700,000 CRP contracts on over 390,000 farms, with just under 27.0 million acres under some-type of CRP contracts. [ read more ... ]


Corn Planting Progress

If you ask someone: “How much corn is planted, or how much Spring fieldwork has occurred in your area ?”, the response is likely to be quite different, depending on where the person resides. A major snowfall event in early May, followed by frequent rainfall events throughout most of May, in the eastern half of Southern Minnesota, as well as adjoining areas of Northern Iowa, has caused significant delays in corn planting. Most of this region has received additional rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches over this past weekend, with substantially more rainfall in some areas, on soils that were already saturated. As a result, less than half of the intended corn acres in this region have been planted as of May 20, with very few soybeans being planted. [ read more ... ]


May 10 USDA Report Summary

The USDA Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WADSE) Reports released on May 10 were regarded as “bearish” for the corn market and neutral to “bearish” for the soybean market in the coming months. Corn stocks are expected to more than double by the end of the next crop marketing year, while the ending stocks for soybeans are expected show more moderate increases for the 2013-14 marketing year, which runs from September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014. Following are some highlights of the latest USDA latest USDA WADSE Reports :

[ read more ... ]

2013 ACRE Program Decision

The “Average Crop Revenue Election” (ACRE) Program was implemented by USDA for the 2009 crop year, as part of the 2008 Farm Bill), and continued for the 2010 to 2012 crop years. For 2013, eligible farm operators will again have the option to enroll in the ACRE Program, as an alternative to the current “Counter-Cyclical Payment” (CCP) Program. The ACRE Program will offer the potential of “revenue-based” payments, based on yield and price, as compared to current “price-only” CCP calculations. The official ACRE program information is available at County Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices, and on the USDA FSA web site at :

[ read more ... ]

Spring Fieldwork Waiting To Begin

Like the start of a big race, or the beginning of a championship game, farmers in Minnesota and Iowa are anxiously awaiting the initiation of full-scale field work. Very cool temperatures and moist soil conditions have existed across the region during most of the month of April, resulting in cold soil temperatures and soil conditions which have not been conducive to the initiation of corn planting in Minnesota and Iowa. A few farm operators have planted some peas and small grain crops in isolated locations in recent days; however, in most areas, soil conditions have remained too cold and wet to begin full-scale Spring fieldwork. [ read more ... ]


2013 Earth Day

For over four decades, an annual event called “EARTH DAY” has been held in late April across the United States, which has been a time for all U.S. citizens to reflect on our Country’s environmental resources, and what we can do individually and as communities to help enhance our environment for the next generation. In recent years, it has become fashionable to point the “finger of blame” at agriculture and farmers for many environmental issues. However, in reality farmers have been some of the best “environmental stewards” in the U.S. in the past couple of decades. [ read more ... ]


2013 Custom Farming Agreements

An alternative to leasing farmland is a “Custom Farming Agreement”. In a typical Custom Farming Agreement, the custom operator agrees to perform all the machine operations on the owner’s land in exchange for a set fee or rate. The landowner pays for all seed, fertilizer, chemicals, crop insurance, and other input costs; receives the all grain produced and all eligible farm program payments on the land; and is responsible to store and market the grain. [ read more ... ]


What A Difference A Year Makes

In 2012, most farmers in Southern Minnesota and Iowa began full-scale field work during the week of April 10-17, with most of the corn being planted by the end of April. By comparison in 2013, we are not likely to see much full-scale field work across the region until after April 15, and we are probably a couple a weeks away, at a minimum, from seeing a significant amount of corn being planted. Soil temperatures are still well below minimal acceptable levels for planting corn, and there is still a considerable amount of frost in the ground in many areas. Some portions of Southeast and Central Minnesota still have sinficant snow cover to melt. [ read more ... ]


March 28th USDA Reports

On March 28, 2012, USDA released its “Prospective Plantings Report” and its “Quarterly Grain Stocks Report”.  These were very highly anticipated USDA Reports, due to the uncertainty in grain prices in recent months, as well as with the tight USDA estimated grain stocks that existed in recent months. Typically, these late March USDA Reports are very critical to farm operators and grain traders because these reports tend to have a high impact on grain market prices in the Spring and early Summer. This is the time of the year when many farm operators try to sell remaining grain inventories from the previous growing season, as well as look for opportunities to forward price a portion of the anticipated crop for the current year. In a majority of years, corn and soybean prices usually reach their peak price in the Spring months, from April until June. [ read more ... ]


2013 Farm Custom Rates

As would be expected with increasing fuel costs, average 2013 custom rates for farm work have a1so risen, compared to 2012 custom rates. Most custom rates for farm work in 2013 are listed at 3-5 percent above the rates for similar operations in 2012, with an average increase of about 4 percent. In addition to higher fuel costs, increasing cost for new and used machinery, and rising repair costs, are also factors in the higher custom rates. [ read more ... ]


2013 National Ag Week

“National Ag Week” is being celebrated March 17-23 all across the United States, as well as in Minnesota, with Tuesday, March 19, being designated as “National Ag Day”.  As we celebrate “National Ag Week”, it is a good time to reflect on all the traditions and advancements that help make the U.S. agriculture industry second to none ! [ read more ... ]


2013 CRP Program Update

In 2013, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is celebrating its 27th anniversary, and over two and a half decades of conservation success. CRP was originally established in the 1985 Farm Bill, and today has over 390,000 landowners participating, most of which are farmers and ranchers, and currently has just over 27.0 million acres under some-type of CRP contracts. Another General CRP will be held in 2013, with the sign-up period from May 20 through June 14, 2013, at local FSA Offices. [ read more ... ]



On February 8, USDA released the latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) Report, which showed slight increase in the expected U.S. corn ending stocks for 2012-13, compared to the January estimates. The projected 2012-13 corn ending stocks are now estimated at 632 million bushels, as compared to 602 million bushels in the January report. By comparison, corn ending stocks at the end of 2011-12 marketing year were 932 million bushels, and were just over 1.1 billion bushels at the end of the 2010-11 crop year. The all important corn “stocks-to-use” ratio for 2012-13 is estimated to be near 5.6 percent by the end of the current marketing year, which is slightly higher than the lowest ever stocks-to-use percentage of 5.0 percent in 1995-96. That will put the corn stocks down to slightly over 20 days of usage, which is still quite tight. [ read more ... ]



2013 Farm Program Sign-UP

In early January, Congress voted to extend the 2008 Farm Bill, which expired on September 30, 2012, for an additional year, with a new expiration date of September 30, 2013. This means that most existing programs in the 2008 Farm Bill will continue for the 2013 growing season. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently announced that sign-up for the 2013 farm program will begin on February 19, 2013, at local FSA Offices, and run through August 2, 2013. [ read more ... ]


Lessons Learned From The 2012 Drought

The 2012 crop year and the major drought that affected much of the United States is now behind us; however, many areas of the Western Corn Belt, including much of Southern and Western Minnesota continue to face drought concerns for the coming 2013 crop year. Anytime we have a major disaster, such as the 2012 drought, it is always good to review what happened or didn’t happen, and to use those findings to strategize for the future. Following are some key observations relative to the 2012 drought that can help farm operators and the agriculture industry plan for the coming years :  [ read more ... ]