Market Facilitation Program

July 30, 2019

The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) provides assistance to farmers and ranchers with commodities directly impacted by unjustified foreign retaliatory tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional export markets. Assistance is available for agricultural producers of non-specialty crops, dairy, hogs, and specialty crops.

Assistance for non-specialty crops is based on a single-county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019. Those per-acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019. A producer’s total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings. County payment rates range from $15 to $150 per acre, depending on the impact of unjustified trade retaliation in that county.

The following crops are eligible for payment under this single-county payment rate: alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dried beans, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton, and wheat.

You can find your county’s payment rates below. Payment rates for dairy, hogs, and specialty crops can be found on farmers.gov/mfp.

USDA Confirms Silage Corn Can Be Planted On Prevent Plant Acres

June 24, 2019

This week, farmers in much of the eastern Corn Belt will be eligible to plant cover crops as the late-plant period on prevent plant acres ends there on June 26. Following last week’s announcement about the potential to harvest cover crops on September 1 instead of November 1 many farmers, particularly in the upper Midwest, started to wonder if silage corn would be eligible. According to Richard Flournoy, deputy administrator of product management for the USDA-Risk Management Agency (RMA), silage corn can be eligible for planting on prevent plant acres. 

“A cover crop for crop insurance purposes, we have a broad definition, and it's generally many things that any crop that can be planted for erosion control, soil improvement, or any other type of conservation practice,” he told AgriTalk host Chip Flory. 

Trade Aid and Disaster Assistance Update

June 11, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement on disaster and trade-related assistance:

 

“Whether it’s because of natural disasters or unfair retaliatory tariffs, farmers across the country are facing significant challenges and tough decisions on their farms and ranches. Last month, immediately upon China reneging on commitments made during the trade talks, President Trump committed USDA to provide up to $16 billion to support farmers as they absorb some of the negative impact of unjustified retaliation and trade disruption. In addition, President Trump immediately signed into law the long-awaited disaster legislation that provides a lifeline to farmers, ranchers, and producers dealing with extensive damage to their operations caused by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.

 

“Given the size and scope of these many disasters, as well as the uncertainty of the final size and scope of this year’s prevented planting acreage, we will use up to $16 billion in support for farmers and the $3 billion in disaster aid to provide as much help as possible to all our affected producers."

USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Producers’ Costs for Organic Certification

May 06, 2019

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019.

“Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This also gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help them succeed. Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs from help with field buffers to routine operating expenses to storage and handling equipment.”

2017 Census of Agriculture

April 11, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture, spanning some 6.4 million new points of information about America’s farms and ranches and those who operate them, including new data about on-farm decision making, down to the county level. Information collected by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) directly from farmers and ranchers tells us both farm numbers and land in farms have ongoing small percentage declines since the last Census in 2012. At the same time, there continue to be more of the largest and smallest operations and fewer middle-sized farms. The average age of all farmers and ranchers continues to rise.

Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT) Fee to Increase

March 15, 2019

Section 11110 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 increased the Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT) Endorsement administrative fee from $300 to $655 for each crop in the county.

 

The Federal Crop Insurance Act mandates that the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) offer a catastrophic risk protection plan to indemnify producers for decreases in yield due to natural causes of loss. It covers losses greater than 50 percent loss in yield, indemnified at 55 percent of the expected market price. FCIC generally subsidizes the entire premium amount.

Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) Announcement

March 11, 2019

Producers have the option to elect either Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) for each Farm Number and crop at FSA to receive benefits.  The 2018 Farm Bill allows producers to make an election in 2019, which covers the 2019 and 2020 crop years. 

 

The Federal Crop Insurance Act prohibits producers from having the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) on farms where they elect ARC.  Due to the timing of the 2018 Farm Bill the RMA has provided the following exception for the 2019 crop year only:

 

Producers who purchased SCO policies with a sales closing date of February 28, 2019, and earlier may cancel their SCO policy by March 15, 2019.  Producers who purchase SCO policies may file an ARC/PLC acreage intention report that would adjust the acreage report by specifying the intended ARC or PLC election by FSA Farm Number. 

 

Refer to MGR-19-003 for complete details regarding this exception. 

BREAKING: CHINA COMMITS TO BUYING MORE SOYBEANS

February 22, 2019

BREAKING: In Oval Office meeting today, the Chinese committed to buy an additional 10 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans. Hats off to POTUS for bringing China to the table. Strategy is working. Show of good faith by the Chinese. Also indications of more good news to come.

USDA To Host 2018 Farm Bill Implementation Listening Sessions

February 12, 2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Bill Northey, announced that USDA is hosting a listening session for initial input on the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA is seeking public input on the changes to existing programs implemented by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Each agency will take into account stakeholder input when making discretionary decisions on program implementation.

2018 Market Facilitation Program (MFP)

September 04, 2018

Eligible producers or owners of the following designated commodities are eligible for MFP for the 2018 crop or marketing year:

 corn
 cotton
 sorghum
 soybeans
 wheat
 dairy
 hogs

From September 4, 2018, through January 15, 2019, County Offices can accept CCC-910, 2018 MFP Application, from persons and legal entities who had an ownership interest in one or more of the designated commodities in the 2018 crop or marketing year.

USDA Announces Details of Assistance for Farmers Impacted by Unjustified Retaliation

August 27, 2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of actions the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will take to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation by foreign nations. President Donald J. Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets in the long run to help American farmers compete globally. As announced last month, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, consistent with our World Trade Organization obligations.

“Early on, the President instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs. After careful analysis by our team at USDA, we have formulated our strategy to mitigate the trade damages sustained by our farmers. Our farmers work hard, and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them,” said Secretary Perdue.

2019 Wheat Crop Enterprise Budget

August 20, 2018

The University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture has released the 2019 Wheat Crop Enterprise Budget. Crop budgets are available as a printed manuscript and as interactive files that allow users to change inputs and prices to fit each producer’s unique situation. Budget summaries present side-by-side comparisons for surface irrigated, center pivot irrigated, and non-irrigated crops. Inputs in the budgets are Cooperative Extension Service recommendations as determined by field trials from the Crop Research Verification Program (CRVP) for each crop. Interactive budgets can be utilized to evaluate alternative costs and returns for optimal profit potential. Input decisions should be evaluated with an understanding that yield and revenue maximizing inputs are not necessarily the inputs for maximizing profit. County agents can provide information for Extension input recommendations. The 2018-9 crop enterprise budgets are available at https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/economics-marketing/farm-planning/budgets/crop-budgets.aspx.

Celebrating Wetlands

May 02, 2018

May is National Wetlands Month, making it the perfect time to celebrate one of nature’s most productive ecosystems.

This year, NRCS celebrates 25 years of protecting wetlands. During this time, NRCS has helped thousands of landowners enroll acreage – in record numbers – to protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on their property.

USDA Implements up to $2.36 Billion to Help Agricultural Producers Recover after 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

April 06, 2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will make these disaster payments to agricultural producers to offset losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and devastating wildfires. The 2017 calendar year was a historic year for natural disasters, and this investment is part of a broader suite of programs that USDA is delivering to rural America to aid recovery. In total, the Act provided more than $3 billion in disaster relief by creating new programs, and expediting or enhancing payments for producers.

“America’s farmers feed our nation and much of the world, and throughout history they have known good years and bad years.  But when significant disasters strike, we are ready to step in and provide the assistance they need,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA is working as quickly as possible to develop procedures and a system by which affected producers can access disaster assistance. For producers new to FSA programs, we encourage you to visit your local USDA service center now to establish farm records.”

China to Impose 25% Tariff on U.S. Soybeans

April 04, 2018

Beijing pulled the trigger after Trump proposed $50 billion of levies on a slew of Chinese goods from gas turbines to lithium batteries.

China’s Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday said it plans to impose 25% duties on imports of the commodity in addition to other U.S. agricultural produce including wheat, corn, cotton, sorghum, tobacco and beef. They’re among 106 products ranging from aircraft to chemicals targeted by Beijing in retaliation against proposed American duties on its high-tech goods. 

The announcement ended weeks of speculation over whether Xi Jinping’s government would go as far as targeting a commodity that it buys in such huge volumes from the U.S. Beijing finally pulled the trigger after Donald Trump’s administration earlier in the day proposed $50 billion of levies on a slew of Chinese goods from gas turbines to lithium batteries.

“China’s response carries both economic and political weight as agricultural states are major supporting regions for Trump,” said Monica Tu, an analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. “The tariffs on U.S. imports including soybeans is China’s response that matches the scale of proposed U.S. tariffs.” 

USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2018

January 31, 2018

FSA today announced that starting Nov. 1, 2017, farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. The enrollment period will end on Aug. 1, 2018.

Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year.

The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018 enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in previous years must still enroll during the 2018 enrollment period.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office.

The 66th Annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show

January 17, 2018

2018 Mid-South Farm & Gin Show

March 2 & 3, 2018 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 North Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103. 

Show Hours:

  • Friday, March 2, 2018 - 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Saturday, March 3, 2018 - 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Cash Prize Drawings Daily - MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN (must be over 18 years old)

  • 12:00 p.m.

  •  2:00 p.m.

  •  4:00 p.m.

USDA Policy Reminder: Annual review of payment eligibility for new crop year.

December 27, 2017

All participants of FSA programs who request program benefits are required to submit a completed CCC-902 (Farming Operation Plan) and CCC-941 Average Gross Income (AGI) Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information to be considered for payment eligibility and payment limitation applicable for the program benefits.

Participants are not required to annually submit new CCC-902s for payment eligibility and payment limitation purposes unless a change in the farming operation occurs that may affect the determination of record. A valid CCC-902 filed by the participant is considered to be a continuous certification used for all payment eligibility and payment limitation determinations applicable for the program benefits requested.

Participants are responsible for ensuring that all CCC-902 and CCC-941 and related forms on file in the county Office are correct at all times. Participants are required to timely notify the county office of any changes in the farming operation that may affect the determination of record by filing a new or updated CCC-902 as applicable.

Changes that may require a new determination include, but are not limited to, a change of:

• Shares of a contract, which may reflect:

– A land lease from cash rent to share rent.

– A land lease from share rent to cash rent (subject to the cash rent tenant rule).

– A modification of a variable/fixed bushel-rent arrangement.

• The size of the producer’s farming operation by the addition or reduction of cropland that may affect the application of a cropland factor.

• The structure of the farming operation, including any change to a member’s share.

• The contribution of farm inputs of capital, land, equipment, active personal labor, and/or active personal management.

• Farming interests not previously disclosed on CCC-902 including the farming interests of a spouse or minor child.

• Financial status that may affect the 3-year average for the determination of average AGI or other changes that affects eligibility under the average adjusted gross income limitations.

Participants are encouraged to file or review these forms within the deadlines established for each applicable program for which program benefits are being requested.

Monsanto: Education Key Under New EPA Dicamba Requirements

October 16, 2017

On the back of drift complaints, the filing of class-action lawsuits and, most recently, new EPA requirements for dicamba-tolerant crops, Monsanto continues to push an education-heavy approach to solve problems with the technology.

The company would also clearly like to see Mid-South farmers, battle scarred in a lengthy fight with pigweeds, hop on its wagon while claiming self-preservation. It remains to be seen whether Monsanto is able to bring aboard a growing group of increasingly vocal Arkansas farmers petitioning state regulators for, among other things, a 2018 spraying cut-off date later than the proposed April 15.

Shortly after the EPA release, Scott Partridge, Monsanto vice president of global strategies, spoke with Delta Farm Press.

“We’re pleased and excited that this technology will be available for growers throughout the (2018) growing season,” said Partridge. “Based on what we submitted voluntarily to the EPA, the requests we made with them, the EPA worked diligently with states and academics to come to a place where they’ve approved our voluntary submission of a label to make this a restricted-use pesticide.”

The EPA release contained six points of emphasis regarding the technology’s labelling and over-the-top applications. Were all six part of Monsanto’s package to the EPA? Did the agency add or subtract anything?

The new requirements “were all part of what we proposed to the EPA and they approved,” said Partridge. As for other companies involved, “BASF and DuPont also worked (with the EPA) at the same time. We didn’t do it together. I understand…both of (the companies) also are restricted-use pesticides with a similar philosophical approach to application we arrived at in our proposal.”

Industry shows signs of a rebound after a three-year decline.

September 14, 2017

The agriculture industry is used to weathering peaks and valleys, and this past decade provides ample evidence of that. From 2009 to 2013, net cash farm income saw a robust period of growth, only to fall back down again from 2014 to 2016. 

Is 2017 showing signs of a comeback? USDA projections certainly prompt the question. The agency’s 2017 Farm Sector Income Forecast, issued earlier this week, forecasts 2017 net cash farm income at $100.4 billion. That’s $11.2 billion – or 12.6% - higher than 2016. Net farm income (a broader profit measure) is also up $1.9 billion – or 3.1% - over 2016.

Cash receipts are forecast up 4% in 2017 but face a very uneven distribution across the agriculture industry. For example, livestock and dairy captured healthy gains, for the most part, with broiler cash receipts up 15%, milk up 11.1%, hogs up 14.6% and cattle/calves up 5.7%. Meantime, crop cash receipts are only forecast up 0.3% from 2016. Stronger performers include soybeans (6.3%), cotton (26%) and vegetables/melons (6.8%). Corn receipts will likely decline for the fifth straight year.

Farm debt-to-equity and debt-to-asset ratios were virtually unchanged from 2016. Real estate proves to be a double-edged sword here – providing the reason for both higher farm sector assets as well as higher farm sector debt.

Production expenses were a mixed bag but projected 1.3% higher overall in 2017. Interest expenses (12.8%), hired labor (5.7%) and fuel (10.8%) are all expected to be higher this year. But fertilizer prices are expected to drop another 9.9%, and feed costs are expected to decline 2.9%. 

USDA’s Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) programs are expected to shift in 2017. PLC could increase by about $1.6 billion, with ARC payments expected to decline by about $1.2 million.

Large increases in PLC payments are forecast for wheat, corn, grain sorghum and flaxseed. Small increases and payments will assist oats, sunflower seed and rice. Small PLC declines are forecast for peanuts and canola, and no payments are expected for soybeans.

Corn base acres should receive the majority of ARC-CO payments in 2017.

Preparation for 2018 Farm Bill - Five-State Tour to Focus on Rural Prosperity

August 01, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that he will embark on a five-state RV tour, titled the “Back to Our Roots” Tour, to gather input on the 2018 Farm Bill and increasing rural prosperity.  Along the way, Perdue will meet with farmers, ranchers, foresters, producers, students, governors, Members of Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees, and other stakeholders.  This is the first of two RV tours the secretary will undertake this summer.  In making the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“The ‘Back to our Roots’ Farm Bill and rural prosperity RV listening tour will allow us to hear directly from people in agriculture across the country, as well as our consumers – they are the ones on the front lines of American agriculture and they know best what the current issues are,” Perdue said.  “USDA will be intimately involved as Congress deliberates and formulates the 2018 Farm Bill.  We are committed to making the resources and the research available so that Congress can make good facts-based, data-driven decisions.  It’s important to look at past practices to see what has worked and what has not worked, so that we create a farm bill for the future that will be embraced by American agriculture in 2018.”

This first RV Tour will feature stops in five states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

U.S. & China Sign Historic Agreement to Provide Market Access for U.S. Rice Exports

July 20, 2017

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reached agreement with Chinese officials on final details of a protocol to allow the United States to begin exporting rice to China for the first time ever.

“This is another great day for U.S. agriculture and, in particular, for our rice growers and millers, who can now look forward to gaining access to the Chinese market. This market represents an exceptional opportunity today, with enormous potential for growth in the future,” said Perdue. “The agreement with China has been in the works for more than a decade and I’m pleased to see it finally come to fruition, especially knowing how greatly it will benefit our growers and industry."

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of rice. Since 2013, it has also been the largest importer, with imports reaching nearly 5 million tons last year. When the new rice protocol is fully implemented, the U.S. rice industry will have access to this critical market, significantly expanding export opportunities. U.S. rice exports can begin following the completion of an audit of U.S. rice facilities by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates

July 12, 2017

This report adopts U.S. area, yield, and production forecasts for winter wheat, durum, other spring wheat, barley, and oats released today by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). For rice, corn, sorghum, soybeans, and cotton, area estimates reflect the June 30 NASS Acreage report, and methods used to project production are noted on each table. The first survey-based 2017 production forecasts for those crops will be reported by NASS on August 10.

Click the link below to read more.

Arkansas Plant Board Votes for Dicamba to be Pulled

June 23, 2017

During a Friday morning meeting, on a 9 to 5 vote, the Arkansas State Plant Board agreed to ban the spraying of dicamba products. As drift complaints are picking up steam the board determined “an emergency exists.”

Over 240 drift complaints (http://www.aad.arkansas.gov/arkansas-dicamba-information-updates) have been made with the vast majority coming out of east Arkansas. Mississippi County in the state’s northeast has 81 complaints alone.

The board also voted to speed up implementation for a new penalty matrix targeting those committing egregious spraying violations. Without picking up the pace the new penalties – up to $25,000 per violation – would only go into effect on August 1. 

The rules now move to the governor’s office.

Scouting Tips for Southern Rust in Corn

June 07, 2017

Southern rust has NOT be found in Arkansas, but given the recent storm activity and warmer weather it is only a matter of time before someone finds it somewhere in the state or at least the mid-South.  Reports of southern rust activity will be posted here or on the IPM-PIPE website.  As of this report, the most common diseases on corn have been northern corn leaf blight and common rust.  Both of these two diseases often subside as temperatures rise, while warm temperatures (often early July) fuel southern rust development.  Because many are out scouting for southern rust, now is a good time to review a few scouting tips for southern rust.

Typically, scouting three to four days after a rain event (or events as been the case recently) when the sun is shining is a good strategy because southern rust pustules will be sporulating a maximum capacity, which makes them often easier to spot in the field.  Though it is possible to find a single pustule on a leaf (often along the edge of the field), most frequently a cluster of pustules are detected in the mid to upper canopy when first detected in the field (Fig. 1).

U.S. Rice Prices Could Be Headed Higher in 2017-18

May 31, 2017

U.S. rice producers could see higher prices for their 2017 crops – and it’s not mainly because of the losses due to the flooding that occurred in portions of Arkansas, Louisiana and California in late April and early May.

The die was already cast for lower rice supplies – and, thus, potentially higher U.S. prices – before unusually heavy rains in central Missouri caused rivers to leave their banks and flood nearly 200,000 acres in the northern Arkansas rice belt.

“The long-grain rice price forecast is up about $1 per hundredweight – around $9.70 to $10.70,” says Nathan Childs, who follows the U.S. and world rice markets for USDA’s Economic Research Service in Washington. “This is based on without factoring in the flooding that occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.”

Dr. Childs, an agricultural economist with the USDA-ERS, was one of the speakers for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Rice Outlook Webinar on May 25. (To view Dr. Childs’ presentation, click on https://youtu.be/D9CjbB4CU_Q.

“You can see prices have been dropping, dropping for a while,” said Dr. Childs, referring to a chart showing season-average prices for long and medium grain rice going back to the 1990s. “But now we’re beginning to see tighter supplies in this country and in some other parts of the world.”

23 Arkansas Counties Declared Disaster – 360,000 Cropland Acres Affected

May 30, 2017

Twenty-three counties in Arkansas have been declared disaster areas by the U.S. Department of of Agriculture, making growers and other property owners in those counties eligible to apply for emergency loans through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.  

 

The declaration was issued May 24 by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and was announced May 26 by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. According to a letter addressed to the governor from Perdue, the acting Arkansas State Executive Director of the FSA requested the primary designation for the 23 counties on May 10 and May 18.

A statement from the governor’s office noted that the declaration from the USDA is distinct from a Presidential Disaster Declaration, which requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complete their own damage assessments.

The 23 primary disaster counties include Boone, Carroll, Clay, Conway, Craighead, Faulkner, Greene, Independence, Jackson, Lawrence, Lonoke, Madison, Mississippi, Monroe, Newton, Perry, Poinsett, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Francis, White and Woodruff counties.

Nitrogen Fertilization of Rice in Uncertain Times

May 30, 2017

Jarrod Hardke, Rice Extension Agronomist, and Trent Roberts, Extension Soil Fertility

After a big rain across most of the Delta, another round is on the way Thursday and Friday. Here’s the first thing you need to do if you haven’t already: run an up-to-date DD50 on your fields (http://DD50.uaex.edu). Before you jump to conclusions on your field being too early or late to fertilize and flood, put the DD50 data behind that decision.

Now that we know where you stand let’s talk options. Much of the rice out there was planted early and needs to go to flood. However, you should wait until the date of ‘Final recommended time to apply preflood N if early N delayed’ found in the DD50 printout before you do anything drastic. Once you reach this date though, it’s time to make a move.

Repeating: if you have yet to reach this date, DO NOT make unnecessary or inefficient N applications, you still have time.

Now for those with fields that are out of time. If you have passed the Final Recommended Time, let’s talk. Have a flooded field right now from the rain? Roll up the gates and hold the water. Start spoonfeeding 100 lbs urea every 7 days – no more than 5 total applications – but evaluate closely after the 4th app to see if the 5th is even needed.

Do you think you can get dried up before the rain forecast on Thursday and Friday? Then you’ll want to go through the more usual scenarios below.

As a general reminder, here are the preferred management guidelines for preflood N:

In order of preference, based on yield response and N efficiency, here are options for applying preflood N based on field situations...

Trump Budget Declares War on Agriculture

May 23, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – President Trump released his detailed, $4.1 trillion federal budget today, and while every area of the federal government except defense and infrastructure saw cuts, the cuts to agriculture and rural areas are disproportionately severe by anyone’s standards.
 
The total mandatory spending cuts proposed far exceed those signaled earlier this year in the President’s Skinny Budget:  $240.7 billion over 10 years, or a 27.5 percent budget cut.  Of that, crop insurance is targeted for $28.562 billion in cuts over 10 years, or a 36 percent reduction and more than 10 percent of the total cuts.  This includes a $40,000 payment limit on premium discounts, a $500,000 AGI means test, and the elimination of premium discounts on the Harvest Price Option (HPO).
 
With respect to the Commodity Title, the Administration proposes cuts of $653 million over 10 years through the imposition of a $500,000 AGI means test, down from the current $900,000. 

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)

May 17, 2017

FSA program that might be helpful:

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farmers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters by offering financial assistance. Eligible practices that could be beneficial to many of you in the flooded areas include debris removal from farmland and grading, shaping, or leveling land.

If interested, speak with your local FSA office. Eligibility may require field inspections before any work is done.

The link below offers more information about the program.

Perdue Pledges Expedited Disaster Declaration to Help Arkansas Farmers

May 09, 2017

Arkansas farmers hit by flooding can expect an expedited disaster declaration, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said following a May 7 flyover of northeast Arkansas.

Perdue, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Sen. John Boozman, and U.S. House members Rick Crawford and French Hill, took to the sky to get a first-hand look at the damage caused by storms that hit the Mid-South April 27-30. All spoke at a news conference held in the Arkansas State Police hangar at the Little Rock airport.

Hutchinson also said that “starting Wednesday (May 10), FEMA will be in Arkansas working with our regional teams to assess that damage.” FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The president asked me to come down here and take a close look; obviously, for the impact [to] Arkansas agriculture,” Perdue said. “We’ve had our share of natural disasters in agriculture, but boy, you all are trying to set a record here … Obviously in 2011 and even some last year, and this year as well.”

When asked if the trip was necessary, he said, “There’s no substitute for seeing it. The president wanted me to come and get a first-hand view so I can come back and advocate on behalf of Arkansans to let him know exactly what’s going on here.”

Before he can issue any declaration, Perdue said, an assessment will have to be done. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture issued a preliminary assessment of the damage on May 5, pegging the loss at $64.5 million. Rice was expected to be the hardest hit with 156,000 acres affected. (See: http://bit.ly/2017-Flood-Prelim).

Before the news conference, the delegation met with Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, to discuss the estimates and the situation.

“Dr. Cochran and his team are already about that and will take the Extension service, county directors both from FSA and the Extension service all over the state” to get the assessment done, Perdue said. “As soon as that report is given to the governor, he’ll send it up to us. I’ve committed to him that we will expedite that turnaround on that declaration as quickly as possible.”

USDA Risk Management Agency - Practical to Replant, 2017

May 09, 2017

The RMA issued a new rule in the fall of 2016, effective for the 2017 crop year, regarding the term "practical to replant".
 

This rule changed an assumption in the law concerning each individual crop insurance policy where it is now considered practical to replant through the last day of the Late Planting Period, June 9th for rice, unless shown otherwise.
 

It will be considered practical to replant unless the RMA determines it is physically impossible to replant the acreage or there is no chance of seed germination, emergence, and formation of a healthy plant.

John Minor Crop Insurance attended a meeting, held in Bono, AR, yesterday afternoon, in regards to the new ruling. We visited with representatives from Congressman Rick Crawford's office and Senator John Boozman's office.
 

They invite you to share your concerns regarding the practical to replant rule. If you would like to voice your opinion on the matter, we encourage you to contact the following:

From Congressman Rick Crawford's office - 
 

Christopher Jones, Legislative Director

   Phone: (202) 225-4076

   chris.jones@mail.house.gov

Jay Sherrod, Projects Director

   Phone: (501) 843-3043

   jay.sherrod@mail.house.gov

From Senator John Boozman's office - 

William Ty Davis, State Agriculture Liaison

   Phone: (870) 672-6941

   ty_davis@boozman.senate.gov

Chris Caldwell, State Projects Director

   Phone: (501) 372-7153

   chris_caldwell@boozman.senate.gov

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave. SW

Washington, D.C. 20250

Arkansas' Preliminary Crop Flood Damage: $64.5 million

May 05, 2017

With flooding and other storm effects battering some 937,000 acres of Arkansas cropland, losses to farmers could hit $64.5 million, according to a preliminary estimate released Thursday by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

The weather has struck Arkansas agriculture with some heavy blows in the last decade; row crop farmers suffering an estimated $40 million to $50 million loss last year due to heavy rain; beef cattle producers endured a $128 million loss from drought in 2012; and farmers were hit with an estimated $335 million in losses in 2011 from flooding that mirrored this year’s.

Thursday’s estimate was compiled by Hardke from a survey of extension agents and agronomists this week. Among the factors taken into account: the costs of seed and herbicides already applied, equipment and labor. It does not include the impact of the flooding and high winds to poultry facilities in the northeastern part of the state or farm structures, grain or feed storage or other structures.

There was a glimmer of hope: of the 937,000 affected acres, the crops on 641,300 acres were expected to survive — if no more rain falls. Of the crops affected, rice was the hardest hit. Eighty-nine percent of the state’s anticipated 1.2-million-acre crop had been planted, according to the May 1 National Agricultural Statistics Service report. Seventy-one percent of planted rice had emerged.

Arkansas Cotton After Late April Rains

May 01, 2017

Following a weekend of strong storms, Bill Robertson is driving through northeast Arkansas. The Arkansas Extension cotton specialist just left Monette and is “on the edge of Craighead County heading into Mississippi County. There’s a lot of wind damage, power poles are snapped off in places. The ditches are full and fields without good drainage are standing water.”

Yesterday (April 30), at the White River bridge outside Batesville, “the fields were already flooding. The forecast is for the White River level to get 10 to 15 feet higher. There in Jackson County, a lot of rice fields flood when the White River begins rising. 

“One northeast Arkansas consultant told me he had 1,000 acres get hailed out. There are guys worried they’ll lose a lot more acreage.”

The latest NASS report had Arkansas’ planted cotton acreage at 7 percent. Robertson was looking for a number closer to 15 percent.

“Over the weekend, I visited with a number of northeast Arkansas consultants about what they’re seeing. Some haven’t planted a single cotton seed, some are at 35 percent planted. Some farmers in south Arkansas have planted all their cotton ground already.”

Like Dodds, Robertson is keeping an eye on the temperature gauge. “Right now, in my pickup, it’s 52 degrees. Cotton doesn’t grow much if it gets below 60. And then, when the temperature goes above 60 it takes a while for it to get in gear and going again. We need average temperatures – 70 or higher, or 10 heat units daily – to get the feet under this cotton. Cotton’s legs are shaky, right now.” 

Robertson also points out causal agents for seedling diseases love the current conditions. “Hopefully, these conditions won’t get on top of us and the cotton can overcome.”

A few weeks ago, Robertson was worried what a tight seed supply would mean if there were any problems with early planting. Those concerns haven’t abated. “Our varieties of choice are sold out. There are still good varieties out there but your first and second picks are going to be hard to find for replants.”

Farther south, in east Arkansas’ Phillips County, “we got anywhere from an inch to 2.25-inch of rain, says Robert Goodson, county Extension agent. “There may be some bottoms backed up but not much else. Of course, that’s not good for those with bottomlands but the area could be in much worse shape.”

The bigger worry is what will happen when the White and Mississippi rise. On Monday (May 1), at the Helena bridge the water level is 31 feet. By May 11, the level is expected to reach 43 feet.

That would be a rise of 12 feet in 10 days and, says Goodson, “only a foot under flood stage. I’m worried that everything planted inside the levee will be lost.”

Arkansas Regulatory Agency Shake-Up Effort Done for 2017

April 12, 2017

The 2017 Arkansas legislative session is now in the rear-view mirror along with, when it comes to agriculture, several smoldering bridges. Even so, to the happiness of many in the ag community, the Arkansas State Plant Board remains largely untouched.

While rumblings began in 2016, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson began pushing passage of legislation (House bill 1725) that would place state agriculture sector agencies under greater control of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture through a “Type 4 transfer.” That department, critics of the reorganization point out, is run by an appointee of the governor.

On March 15, the bill passed out of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on a voice vote and headed to the floor. By then, despite claims the move would save $600,000 annually, the legislation had gained a soundtrack of loud, widespread criticism.

Rice Producers Bracing for Higher Costs, Tighter Margins

April 11, 2017

USDA forecasts higher production costs for rice making PLC program even more important for producers.

U.S. rice producers are facing a challenging economic environment as they plant the 2017 crop, but it would be much worse without the 2014 farm bill’s Price Loss Coverage or PLC program, according to the chairman of the USA Rice Farmers board of directors.

Blake Gerard, a fourth generation farmer who lives in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and grows rice in Illinois, said rising costs of production and low rice prices have made the PLC program more important than ever for rice growers.

“It is safe to say that the reason I am still in business today is because of the safety net provided by the 2014 farm bill and, specifically, Price Loss Coverage,” said Gerard, testifying during a hearing of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., is conducting a series of hearings aimed at examining the effectiveness of current farm policy in advance of writing the next farm bill. Most farm organizations support the 2014 farm law while conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and some members of Congress want to do away with it.

Gerard said 2017 is proving to be a challenging year for rice producers but that 2018 could be even worse given a USDA Economic Research Service forecast that production costs could be the highest on record – nearly $1,000 an acre for rice.

Weekly Futures Recap with Mike Seery

April 02, 2017

Soybean Futures

Soybean futures in the May contract which is considered the old crop which was grown in 2016 settled the last Friday in Chicago at 9.76 a bushel while currently trading at 9.50 reacting negatively to the USDA crop report with estimates of nearly 90 million acres being planted in 2017 continuing to put pressure on this commodity. I have been recommending a bearish position around the 10.48 level & if you took that trade continue to place your stop loss above the 10-day high at 10.08 as the chart structure is poor because prices continue to collapse on a daily basis. I'm also recommending a short position in the November contract which is considered the new crop and will be grown this summer in the Midwestern part of the United States from around the 10.01 level as we are now trading at 9.56 & if you took that trade continue to place the stop loss at 10.04. Soybean prices are trading lower for the 3rd consecutive trading session as the momentum is to the downside while increasing on a weekly basis as we are flat outgrowing too many acres of this commodity in the United States coupled with the fact that Brazil is also raising their estimate to another record crop so stay short as who knows how low prices can go, as I still think $9 in the May contract is a possibility in a relatively short period of time.
TREND: LOWER
CHART STRUCTURE: POOR

Corn Futures

Corn futures in the May contract settled last Friday in Chicago at 3.56 a bushel while currently trading at 3.62 reacting positively off of the USDA crop report which estimated around 90 million acres being planted which was 1 million acres less than expectation. I have been recommending a short position from the 3.80 level and if you took the trade continue to place your stop loss above the 10-day high standing at 3.71, however, in Monday's trade will be lowered to the high of today's session. At the current time I have also recommended short positions in the soy complex as they are down sharply as we are planting too much in my opinion as I think this is just a kickback in price so remain short as spring planting starts next week. Corn prices are still trading under their 20 and 100-day moving average selling telling you that the short-term trend is lower as the grain market in general still looks bearish in my opinion, so I will continue to place the proper stop loss as I'm looking at adding more contracts as the risk/reward are highly in your favor as I do not believe today's price action.
TREND: LOWER
CHART STRUCTURE: EXCELLENT

The White House's Expensive "Cuts"

March 16, 2017

Earlier today, the White House released its 2018 budget, which includes a 21% cut to the US Department of Agriculture.  As my colleague Lara explains here, the cuts proposed would hurt rural communities. This "skinny budget" only focused on discretionary spending; more details are expected about mandatory spending later this spring.  Many USDA expenditures are mandatory, including the most expensive federal farm subsidy—crop insurance—which costs around $6 billion annually.  But surprisingly, given the President’s purported focus on cost-savings, some the proposed changes in the "skinny budget" will make this expensive program even more costly:

  • Reducing technical assistance via the Service Center Agencies will likely cause farmers to lose more crops, driving up indemnities and the federal cost of crop insurance.  That’s because the Service Centers provide key technical assistance to set farmers up for success and help farmers create plans to deal with things like erosion, which is exacerbated by extreme weather.

  • Reducing USAID expenditures will drive down crop prices, in turn, driving up the federal cost of crop insurance, which insures farmers against low prices. That’s because the government typically buys up extra commodities to use for foreign aid, school lunches, etc., in an attempt to stabilize prices.  So instead of spending money to feed hungry people, we’ll be spending money to insure farmers against low prices while extra crops sit in grain bins around the country.

 

What makes these expensive “cuts” particularly mind-boggling is that there actually are opportunities to achieve real cost savings in the USDA, while strengthening the farm safety net and protecting our natural resources.  NRDC thinks crop insurance should incentivize cover cropping, which reduces the risk that farmers lose their crops due to bad weather, saving taxpayer dollars.  Oh yeah, and cleaning up polluted watersequestering carbon, and providing critical pollinator and wildlife habitat in the process.

 

And to stabilize prices and reduce crop insurance payouts due to low prices, crop insurance could encourage diversified farms, the old-fashioned price hedging strategy. But federal crop insurance actually has resulted in more monoculture, increasing oversupply of some crops and driving down prices. Research shows that farms that grow three or four different crops have outsized environmental benefits and equivalent income compared to their monoculture counterparts. Farmers with diversified farms spend less on chemical inputs but more on farm labor—wait, did this just turn into a rural jobs policy?

 

The President’s budget is unacceptable, and rural communities like the one I grew up in will suffer from these policy choices.  If the President were serious about saving taxpayer dollars, he would turn his red pen toward making some real changes to federal crop insurance that would strengthen rural communities, not harm them.

Agriculture Secretary Nominee Sonny Perdue

January 30, 2017

Senator Tom Cotton released the following statement after meeting with the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, former Governor Sonny Perdue:

"I had an excellent conversation with Sonny Perdue today. Coming from Georgia, he has a special understanding of the needs of southern farmers, and I'm confident he'll fight for Arkansas agricultural producers. In fact, he'd be only the third secretary in our history to have actually worked in agriculture in his own right. During our meeting, Governor Perdue and I discussed opening up more federal lands to timber production in Arkansas and rolling back regulations that have been impeding our poultry industry. Sonny Perdue has a well-respected record in both the private and public sectors, and I look forward to supporting his nomination."