Monthly Archives: January 2021

2021 Farm Bill Decision Tools

You will need your FSA156EZ form (or your Notification of your 2020 program election, shown above) which can be obtained from your local FSA Office. It will show you farm numbers, base acres, PLC yields for each of your farms. For counties that have split irrigated and non-irrigated yields for specific crops, there will be a Historical Irrigated Percentage (HIP) listed on your 156EZ as well. For counties that had combined irrigated and non-irrigated yields, there will be no HIP (as shown on this form). You will need to add a HIP for the Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Aid. If one isn’t listed on your FSA156EZ or if your HIP has changed the past 5 years, use your best estimate.

Considerations: We’ve had good market prices recently. However, remember ARC-CO is based on a 5-year Olympic average where the high and low are thrown out. This average is based on 2015-2019 (2020 doesn’t come into the picture until the 2022 decision. And, if it’s the high, it gets thrown out then…so it may take a couple years of high prices). And, the reality is that PLC corn price of $3.70 may also not trigger depending on the MYA price.

Another consideration for the 2021 election is county yields for ARC-CO payments (looking at years 2015-2019 where the high and low are thrown out). Because different weather events hit portions of counties, and because some counties have separate payments for irrigated and non-irrigated acres, it’s important to look at your individual county data to make decisions.


Farm Bill Tools:

Texas A&M: https://www.afpc.tamu.edu/tools/farm/farmbill/2018/
Illinois “What If” Tool: https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/policy-toolbox (Use the ‘What If’ tool in the right column of the page. I just downloaded the spreadsheet). Don’t use the left-hand tool as it looks at the entire 5 year of farm bill.

The Texas A&M tool uses a default price of $3.91 and runs 500 possible scenarios using the data inputted. The Illinois “What If” tool uses a default price of $4.00 for corn and provides one potential payment based on the data inputted. Both tools provide input into the ARC-CO and PLC decision. The Illinois tool also provides input into ARC-IC if you are considering that option.


Texas A&M Tool

For the Texas A&M decision tool, go to: https://www.afpc.tamu.edu/tools/farm/farmbill/2018/. You will need to login using the username/password you’ve used in the past. If you’ve never used one before, you can create one on the login page. If you forgot your login info., please email info@afpc.tamu.edu or call 979-845-5913. It’s a good idea to keep your login with your farm bill paperwork. Upon logging in, I found some of my data was here from the past, so hopefully yours was saved too. If it’s not there (or if you have new farm numbers), you will need to click on “new farm”.
Upon clicking “new farm”, the above screen will appear. Enter your FSA Farm Number, State, County, and one crop for that farm number. Then click “Save”.
If you have more than one crop associated with that farm number, click on “add another crop” and repeat the steps until all crops are added for the farm number.
Once all your crops are entered for the farm number, click on “expected payments tool”.
You will then see a screen which allows you to enter the base acres, PLC yield, and HIP from your FSA156EZ form. If the form didn’t list a HIP, you need to enter your best estimation of % irrigated acres on the field. If you put a “0”, it assumes completely non-irrigated. You can then put in an expected price. To begin with, I just click the “Use These” button to get a feel where the calculations start. Then click “Calculate”. The tool will provide numbers that you can click on to obtain additional information. You can continue to recalculate playing with price if you wish. At this time, I’m not using the “Advanced Settings” option.
Explanation on payment numbers from the website, “This decision aid characterizes probabilities of different levels of expected FSA payments. These characterizations are based on 500 possible future realizations of market prices and county yields. The expected payments are an average across these many possibilities. Values displayed in the results will not match the payments you might calculate using single specific price and yield realizations. To see the likelihoods of different levels of payments, click on an individual expected payment in the results table.” So when you click on a payment number, for example PLC, each percentile shows the maximum potential payment based on the numbers inputted into the tool. In this example, there’s a 75% chance of a payment $11,200 or less and a 90% chance of a payment $21,442 or less. (NOTE: please don’t get too excited about this as they clearly state the values displayed won’t match payments calculated using single specific price and yield realizations). You can then go back to “Home” at the top of your screen and repeat by inputting the base acres, PLC yield, and HIP for other crops within the same farm number. (NOTE: always be sure to check the crop on the upper part of the screen, as for some reason, it seems to default to soybean). You can then repeat all of this for every farm number you have.

Illinois “What If” Tool

When you go to https://farmdoc.illinois.edu/policy-toolbox, you will see two tools are available. I recommend using the option on the right called “What If” as it allows you to look at yearly elections. My computers haven’t allowed me to download the tool, but they have accepted the spreadsheet option, so I choose to download the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was just updated this past week, so it’s up to date.
Once the excel spreadsheet is downloaded, open it up. At the top of the screen you will see a yellow bar with a button that says “Enable Macros”. Go ahead and do that. You may have to do this once more until it allows you to input numbers. You then input state, county, crop, base acres, PLC yields into the yellow boxes. The election year is 2021. The default price is $4.00 in this tool. For comparison to the Texas A&M tool in this blog, I inputted $3.91. This tool shows results based on single calculations. So, with these specific numbers, it shows no potential payment for either PLC or ARC-CO for York Co. Irrigated Corn.
It also does a really nice job of explaining the payment equations (PLC shown in this picture…although it doesn’t look like this specific explanation was updated for years). Because we’re assuming a higher MYA price than the reference price of $3.70, a PLC payment wasn’t triggered in this example.
The ARC-CO info. is often confusing, so the tool does a great job visually showing how the numbers are determined. In this case, you can see the 2015 and 2016 yields were removed as the highest and lowest with 2017-2019 used for the Benchmark Yield of 234.24. The Olympic average will differ based on county. Some counties also have separate irrigated and non-irrigated yields for various crops, which can provide separate triggers.
The tool does the same in showing the calculation for ARC-CO Benchmark Prices. It uses the higher of the MYA price or Effective Reference price. With lower corn prices for several years, the Effective Reference Price has been higher and that’s what is used to calculate revenues.

ARC-CO Calculation

If you don’t want to use the decision tools from Texas A&M and Illinois, another option is a simple calculation. On my blog, you can click on a link to download a USDA excel spreadsheet which shows data for figuring ARC-CO triggers and payments. I’ve hidden the cells for the rest of the U.S. and only have Nebraska shown; once downloaded, you can unhide cells if you want to look at other states. For the calculation: 

Take your 2021 County Guaranteed Revenue for a specific crop and divide that by 2021 County Benchmark Yield for that crop. For example, York County irrigated corn (irrigated and non-irrigated are combined) shows a 2021 Guaranteed Revenue of $745.35. The 2021 Benchmark Yield (which is an Olympic average yield from 2015-2019) is 234.24. Taking 745.35/234.24=$3.18. Based on these numbers, an ARC-CO payment would not be triggered for corn in York County unless the price went down to $3.18. This is in comparison to PLC in which the trigger is $3.70 for the corn price. This helps with decision making as it leans towards enrolling in PLC for corn. (Again, no guarantee of a payment even with PLC depending on the MYA price). You can also try other figures (ex. trying 240 and 220 bu/ac) if you think the trendline yields may be higher or lower than the current estimate to see other potential ARC Co price triggers. You can use this same calculation for other crops such as soybean, wheat, sorghum, etc. and compare the prices obtained vs. the PLC price for that crop.


Additional Resources:


JenREES 1/17/20

Winter in-person meetings are ‘a go’ for this week for this part of the State. Also, the online pesticide training is available for those who would rather not attend in person. It’s found at: https://web.cvent.com/event/4efa4d41-c770-4a78-99d7-4c4ea75d45ae/summary

Dicamba Training will be conducted by the companies, not UNL. Most have an online training option. Some also have live webinars and in-person meetings. Please see each company’s info:

Bayer (Xtendimax): https://www.cvent.com/c/calendar/7829eb5d-ddef-4c2f-ac2c-a67626018ece
BASF (Engenia): https://www.engeniaherbicide.com/training.html
Syngenta (Tavium): https://www.syngenta-us.com/herbicides/tavium-application-stewardship

Farm Bill: Because the tools are the same as in the past, I’ve updated a blog post (go to the “Farm Bill” category) at jenreesources.com. It shows step by step instructions on how to enter data into the Texas A&M and Illinois decision making tools. Your election this year is for one year only (2021). Some of my data was saved in the Texas A&M tool, so hopefully that’s the case for you individually as well.

After looking at data, here’s some things that may be helpful for consideration. Yes, we’ve had good market prices recently. However, remember ARC-CO is based on a 5-year Olympic average where the high and low are thrown out. This average is based on 2015-2019 (2020 doesn’t come into the picture until the 2022 decision. And, if it’s the high, it gets thrown out then…so it may take a couple years of high prices). And, the reality is that PLC corn price of $3.70 may also not trigger depending on the MYA price.

Another consideration for the 2021 election is county yields for ARC-CO payments (looking at years 2015-2019 where the high and low are thrown out). Because different weather events hit portions of counties, and because some counties have separate payments for irrigated and non-irrigated acres, it’s important to look at your individual county data to make decisions.

If you don’t want to use the decision tools from Texas A&M and Illinois, another option is a simple calculation. On my blog, you can click on a link to download a USDA excel spreadsheet which shows data for figuring ARC-CO triggers and payments. I’ve hidden the cells for the rest of the U.S. and only have Nebraska shown; once downloaded, you can unhide cells if you want to look at other states. For the calculation: 

Take your 2021 County Guaranteed Revenue for a specific crop and divide that by 2021 County Benchmark Yield for that crop. For example, York County irrigated corn (irrigated and non-irrigated are combined) shows a 2021 Guaranteed Revenue of $745.35. The 2021 Benchmark Yield (which is an Olympic average yield from 2015-2019) is 234.24. Taking 745.35/234.24=$3.18. Based on these numbers, an ARC-CO payment would not be triggered for corn in York County unless the price went down to $3.18. This is in comparison to PLC in which the trigger is $3.70 for the corn price. This helps with decision making as it leans towards enrolling in PLC for corn. (Again, no guarantee of a payment even with PLC depending on the MYA price). You can also try other figures (ex. trying 240 and 220 bu/ac) if you think the trendline yields may be higher or lower than the current estimate to see other potential ARC Co price triggers. You can use this same calculation for other crops such as soybean, wheat, sorghum, etc. and compare the prices obtained vs. the PLC price for that crop.

The windstorm, fairly widespread in this part of the state, impacted many individual corn yields. I don’t know how that compares to average county yields for 2020. In the past, we had those at some point in February, so it will be interesting to look at this later.

JenREES 1-10-21

It was great to have in-person meetings last week! Even though the set up and planning was more taxing, I’m grateful we were able to have them. Also, wanted to thank those who responded to the Extension survey for me; your feedback is greatly appreciated!

In-person Extension meetings are ‘a go’ for this coming week for this part of the State. For Crop Production Clinics, groups are allowed to watch together at Coops or businesses if you prefer. You will still need to register individually. Your ‘ticket’ for recertification is to individually complete the program evaluation and provide the codes provided during sessions throughout the day. Please also know any of the area Extension offices will work with you regarding picking up weed guides regardless of where you said you’d pick them up. Thank you for your patience as we navigate all this together!

Farm Bill: Received a number of calls this week regarding 2021 election sign-up. Honestly, I haven’t had the opportunity to run numbers in the tools yet. Will provide more info. in a future column.

On-Farm Research: This past week, we also peer reviewed all the on-farm research studies conducted in 2020. There were 20 studies where farmers worked with me in this part of the State and I’m grateful to all of them for their efforts! My hope is to share research results in the coming weeks as reports are finalized. Our on-farm research updates will occur on Feb. 25 and 26 and I’m really pumped about the format! The meetings will be morning only, hosted by the local Extension educator, providing more discussion of studies shared by the farmers, and allow planning for the upcoming year. Those attending virtually will discuss as their own group. Please pre-register early to ensure a spot. Registration at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/nebraska-farm-research-network-results-update-meetings-2021.

De-Icing Agents are sometimes needed for safety but can be harmful to plants. You may wish to check what you’re using at home. Common deicing compounds are listed below. These may be used alone or blended together to improve performance or reduce damage to concrete or landscapes. Also, keep products on hand that improve footing on slick surfaces, like sand, sawdust, or cat litter. They can be used instead of traditional deicing products, or blended with them to improve traction and limit deicer use.

  • Sodium chloride, urea, and potassium chloride have high potential of damaging landscape plants.
  • Calcium chloride is the most effective deicing product at low temperatures, working down to -25°F. It will not damage vegetation if used as directed.
  • Magnesium chloride is sprayed on roadways before a snowstorm to prevent ice bonds from forming, making ice and snow removal easier. It causes very little damage to concrete or metal. It’s also gentle on landscape plants and pet safe if used as directed.
  • Acetates can be found in three forms – calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), sodium acetate and potassium acetate. CMA is a salt-free product and is the safest product for use around pets and landscape plants. CMA is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid (the principal component of vinegar). Studies have shown the material has little impact on plants. It also has a very low level of damage to concrete or metal.
  • Beet juice deicers, a newer organic option, are products derived from beet juice. They contain only 12% sodium chloride (salt), much less than traditional sodium chloride. Beet juice products are fully biodegradable, but shouldn’t be applied where melt runoff will move to aquatic areas.

JenREES 1-3-21

Happy New Year! This past week I’ve received several questions about winter meetings so wanted to better clarify what to expect. Also, area winter program brochures were mailed out last week. If you no longer wish to receive this, please let us know and we’ll update our mailing list.

Risk Dial: For Extension programs, if the risk dial is ‘Red’, in-person events are cancelled. The risk dial is reset every Friday for many district health departments throughout the State. Thus, those who pre-register will be notified by Monday the following week of any cancellations and next options. This week, locally we are in ‘Orange’, so pesticide training in York on Jan. 7 and chemigation training in York on Jan. 8 (both at Cornerstone Event Center at Fairgrounds) are thankfully on! UNL guidelines require masks when the risk dial is ‘Orange’. Thank you to all who have called in to pre-register!

Crop Production Clinics: Technically these are all presented virtually whether you choose to watch online on your own or at an in-person location. I enjoy seeing people and catching up at winter meetings, so I’m grateful we still have in-person meeting options! The following website has the agendas and registration information: https://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc. There’s not an easy way to see where the in-person options are located unless you click on the ‘Register’ button and scroll. Thus, I will list them for you below. For those of you who’ve attended in the past, you know there’s two rooms which allow for various learning opportunities and CCA credits: certification/pest management room and a crop/soil/water room. When watching virtually, you will have the option to switch between the different rooms. There are specific ways built in to ensure those who need recertification and are watching virtually are accounted for and to account for those desiring various CCA credits. Some in-person locations like Hastings, Aurora, Central City are hosting both rooms. In York, on Jan. 14 and 21 at the Cornerstone building at the Fairgrounds, for specific reasons I’ve chosen to only host the pest management room. That works if you only need certification or wanted to watch only those topics. Otherwise, if you needed soil/water credits, it would work best to choose a different in-person location or watch virtually. I just wanted you to be aware of that. For the Nebraska Crop Management Conference, most of us are only able to provide two of the four rooms. When you register for CPC/NCMC this year, you will choose whether you have the weed guide shipped directly to you or to a nearby Extension Office where you can pick it up. In-person locations include:

Jan. 6: Central NE Locations: Hastings, North Platte, Kearney, Holdrege
Jan. 7: Eastern NE Locations: Lincoln, Geneva, Norfolk, Syracuse
Jan. 13: Central NE Locations: North Platte, Hastings, Central City, Holdrege
Jan. 14: Eastern NE Locations: Lincoln, Norfolk, York, Syracuse
Jan. 20: Central NE Locations: Hastings, Aurora, Holdrege, Kearney
Jan. 21: Eastern NE Locations: Lincoln, Norfolk, York
Jan. 27: Nebraska Crop Management Conference Locations: Hastings, Kearney, Seward, Holdrege, North Platte, Syracuse

Chemigation: For those desiring to apply fertilizer and/or chemicals through irrigation systems, you can obtain your initial or recertification for chemigation at an in-person training or online. The online version is also for both initial and recertification and can be obtained at: https://water.unl.edu/article/agricultural-irrigation/chemigation. There is no charge for chemigation training. For those attending in person, please pre-register and please bring a calculator (can’t use smartphone). Area January in-person trainings include: Jan. 8 at 9:30 a.m. at the Cornerstone Bldg. Fairgrounds in York; Jan. 21 at the Fairgrounds in Hastings; Jan. 25 at 1:30 p.m. at the Fairgrounds in Central City.

Crop Budgets are updated for 2021 and available at:https://cropwatch.unl.edu/budgets.

Extension Survey: It’s also that time of year for annual reporting. If you could please help me out by completing this 5 question anonymous survey, I’d appreciate it: https://app.sli.do/event/s8g48y8z. Thank you!

%d bloggers like this: