Farmers Have Concerns
Local farmers have many things on their minds as they go into the new year. For example, dairy farmers eye their feed supply. Will there…
Local farmers have many things on their minds as they go into the new year. For example, dairy farmers eye their feed supply. Will there be enough silage to last until the next harvest? What about hay? And corn for grain? What are milk prices going to be next year? Are there going to be more government regulations that cost them money?
Dairy farmers, as well as grain farmers, wonder what the weather will be. Will it be a normal year that allows them to get crops planted on time? Or, will it be another wet one that delays planting or causes them to harvest in the mud? Or, will it be a dry year with lower crop yields?
Weather predictions for the year do not mean much right now. March or April forecasts can be somewhat more accurate, but the weather will do what it wants to do. Farmers always hope for a decent year, but they know they have to deal with whatever comes their way.
Over the years, many local dairy farms have been converted to grain. Its an easier life when they dont have to milk the cows twice or three times a day. As a result, corn and soybean prices next year are of concern. This fall and winter, soybean prices have been better than corn.
Some local farmers have been wondering if they should switch and plant more soybeans next spring. The decision has to be made soon because they are ordering seed supplies for next year. Should they order more beans and less corn?
Looking back, across the country in 2007 and 2008, much corn was planted. As a result, there was an oversupply and prices hit the bottom. The next year many acres were switched to soybeans.
Because of short crops caused by dry weather in 2010 and 2011, corn prices shot up to levels almost unheard of. In 2012 and 2013, more acres were switched back to corn.
Record crops across the country have caused the current sharp drop in corn prices, even below cost of production for some farmers.
Does this mean there will be a switch to more soybeans next spring? Predictions are that it will, but only time will tell. Soybeans take less money to get in the ground and the temptation to change will be there.
Exports of both corn and beans are an important market for growers. But, it is an uncertain market. China has been a big buyer, but one that is not dependable. With big crops in South America, they have another source if something causes them to want to change.
Another concern for farmers across the country is the farm bill. Right now negotiators in both the House and Senate have been working to put together a bill that could go to Congress soon after the first of the year.
Some predictions are optimistic that a bill will be passed. There again, given the past record of Congress, no one can be certain. The farm bill is important to local farmers because they need to know what kind disaster protection there will be. Also, the food and nutrition part of the bill, which is about 75 percent of the total cost of the bill, is important for families in need. The amount spent on that part has been a sticking point in the past.
So, farmers and the rest of the population have much to think about this next year. The food supply depends on the production of local farmers and those across the country.
Parker is an independent agricultural writer.
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