Category Archives: Farm Bill
Farm Bill: A special thank you to Leann Nelson and her staff from the York/Hamilton
County Farm Service Agency (FSA) for their help in Friday’s Farm Bill meeting in York! We had 130 pre-registered with at least double that actually attending. Greatly appreciate their help keeping coffee going and the help with set up and tear down! Farm bill decisions are complicated. For this column, I will provide a little perspective and also some first steps for consideration. In future columns, I will walk through options for decision making using the Texas A&M tool and other calculations.
Perspective: We need to keep in mind the current decision is for the 2019-2020 signup only…not the life of the farm bill. The decisions for the 2014 farm bill were extra daunting when we had to speculate what would happen with prices for the duration of the farm bill in addition to considering base acre reallocations. So, this two-year decision followed by the opportunity to change annually from 2021-2023 may be a blessing and take a little pressure off as you’re not ‘stuck’ with your decision for five years.
First Steps: Currently you need to: make an election for 2019/2020 and enroll for 2019, enroll for 2020, and determine whether or not you will update your yields. Your program election and enrollment for 2019 need to be complete by March 15, 2020; enrollment for 2020 by June 30, 2020; and your PLC yield update deadline is September 30, 2020. With making crop insurance decisions these winter months and having RMA data fresh on your mind, consider looking at yield updates now instead of waiting. My recommendations for first steps:
1-Contact your local FSA Office asking for their yield spreadsheet that shows your yields and base acres for each farm number. The spreadsheet will also show what actual yield is necessary in order to update your PLC yields. Even if you choose ARC-CO for your program election, it’s important to at least look at PLC yields as this gives you the opportunity to increase them in the event you ever choose PLC in the future. Because of the adjustment factors, a substantial yield improvement may be necessary to update PLC yield. So, knowing what yield you actually need in order to update can save you time before going through all your RMA data. Any yield updates will apply only to the 2020 year and beyond (not to 2019).
If you choose to update yields, you will need to use actual yields (designated with ‘A’) on your crop insurance forms (not APH). Sometimes crop insurance units are on the same sheet encompassing several farm numbers-so be aware of that as you will need to separate them out (irrigation practice doesn’t matter). If a crop insurance unit includes multiple FSA numbers, you can pro-rate those bushels to split the unit using acres. You also could go back to yield map data or scale tickets if you prefer. Ultimately, keep records of how you determine your yield updates as you will need them if you are spot-checked anytime before the end of this farm-bill period. The landowner also needs to sign off on the yield update and Power of Attorney (POA) is acceptable. The 2014 and 2018 farm bills specified that PLC yield could be certified from a minimum of 0.01 acres planted 1 year of the farm bill period. Randy Pryor shared that with me and he would recommend planting at least 1 acre. He had a grower with milo base acres who planted a 25 acre milo plot one time during the last farm bill period; it yielded well allowing him to update his milo yield. We don’t know what future farm bill rules will entail yet something to consider for the next 5 years if rules for PLC yield updates end up the same as the previous farm bills.
2-If you have any idea on farm program elections for 2019-2020, make an appointment now with your FSA Office and go ahead and enroll for 2019. They will also work through the enrollment paperwork for 2020 if possible. You can always change your election prior to March 15, 2020! All Farm Bill information can be found at farmbill.unl.edu.
Keeping Stress Levels in Check Webinar: A free webinar will be offered December 17 geared for farm and ranch families. The webinar will take place over the noon hour (12:30 p.m. CST) and can be accessed at go.unl.edu/stresswebinar. This webinar will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment.
York County Corn Grower Plot Results and Banquet: The results of the York County Corn Growers plot can be found at: https://jenreesources.com/2019/11/03/2019-york-county-corn-grower-plot-results/. Special thanks to Ron and Brad Makovicka for their dedication and work in hosting! Also appreciate all the seed companies who participate! The York County Corn Grower’s Banquet will be held Tuesday, November 26 at Chances ‘R in York with social at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from any York Co. Corn Grower director or at the York Co. Extension Office.
Fall Nitrogen Application: With November here, a reminder to check soil temperatures before applying anhydrous ammonia to crop fields. Soil microbial activity and the rate of conversion of ammonium to nitrate is very low when the soil temperature is less than 50oF. Thus, apply fertilizer-N (and manure) when the soil temperature at the 4” soil depth is below 50°F and trending cooler. Daily and weekly soil temperatures (taken 4” below the surface of bare soil) can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soiltemperature.
Extension Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Specialists Javed Iqbal, Charlie Wortmann, Bijesh Maharjan, and Laila Puntel shared additional considerations for fall Nitrogen application in this week’s CropWatch: Apply anhydrous ammonia rather than other N fertilizers; Limit fall application of N to silt loam, silty clay loam, and finer textured soils; Use nitrification inhibitors to slow the conversion of ammonium to nitrate, especially on sand-dominant soils; Avoid fall application on wet soils; and Consider applying a lower base rate of nitrogen in the fall and plan on applying the rest at planting, or as a side-dress application.
On-Farm Research Protocols are available for anyone interested in fall vs. spring nitrogen management studies, inhibitor studies, or other potential on-farm research studies by contacting your local Extension educator. For growers within the UBBNRD interested in on-farm research studies that have a water quality focus, you may be eligible for additional support through the UBBNRD. In some instances it may cover district staff and equipment use; in others, it may cover a portion of the costs of lab analysis of soil, plant tissue, or water samples. If you’re a grower interested in this type of study, please contact the UBBNRD or your local Extension Educator to talk through your study idea and for additional information.
Farm Bill Meetings: Joint Nebraska Extension and Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) producer education meetings are scheduled at 28 locations across the state from late November to mid-December in advance of the coming ARC/PLC enrollment deadlines in early 2020. The meetings are free and open to the public. Advance registration is encouraged for planning purposes for materials and facilities. Attendees can register for any of the meetings conveniently on the web at farmbill.unl.edu or by calling or visiting their county FSA or Extension office. The educational programs will feature information and insights from FSA specialists and Extension experts, as well as other relevant information from local agencies.
Nearest locations for this area of the State include: Nov. 25. Community Center, Red Cloud (1-4 p.m.); Dec. 3 ENREC near Mead (9-Noon); Dec. 4 Ag Park in Columbus (9-Noon); Dec. 5 College Park in Grand Island (1-4 p.m.); Dec. 5. Opera House, Bruning (1:30-4:30 p.m.); Dec. 6 Fairgrounds Cornerstone Building York (9-Noon); Dec. 16. Extension Office Lincoln (9-Noon); Dec. 17 Fairgrounds 4-H Bldg. Beatrice (9-Noon); Dec. 17 Fairgrounds in Kearney (1-4 p.m.).
Farm Bill: I need to clarify something I mentioned last week and I apologize for misunderstanding this. I heard the farm bill presentation for the third time this winter and after asking this question, realized I had misunderstood and incorrectly informed you all last week. This is in regards to base acres and which crops were planted the past 10 years. I incorrectly told you that (for example) if you had sorghum base acres and hadn’t planted sorghum the past 10 years, that your payments would be reduced. It is true that this idea was proposed in negotiations (so keep in mind for the future). However, that idea did not pass; the correct statement is if you planted a crop that is not approved for program payments, your base acre payments will be reduced. So, for example, if you planted industrial hemp instead, which currently is not an eligible crop for program payments, your base acre payments would be reduced. So just wanted to correct this on my end.
York County Corn Grower Tour Feb. 5: The York County Corn Grower’s Association is sponsoring a tour on February 5th. We will meet at the York County Extension Office at 6:45 a.m. and plan to leave for Grand Island by 7:00 a.m. Morning tour stops include the Case IH Axial-Flow Combine Plant followed by Hornady which produces bullets, ammunition, and reloading products. Lunch will be held at Kindaiders Brewery in which attendees will also receive a tour. The group will then tour Klute Manufacturing near Bradshaw which produces Warren dump boxes, Circle D and H&H trailers, pickup flatbeds, and vehicle accessories. The final stop will be the York Agricultural Education Program which was recognized as one of the top six programs in the nation by the National Association of Ag Educators. Attendees must wear closed toed shoes and be able to walk without a cane/walker based on the requirements of the places we’re touring. Please RSVP no later than Feb. 4th to the York County Extension Office at (402) 362-5508.
Nebraska Ag Technologies Association Conference: Learn about the latest developments in precision agriculture technologies January 31 at the Nebraska Agricultural Technology Association (NEATA) Conference. The group’s annual meeting and agriculture industry conference will be held at the Kearney Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Kearney. Conference topics will include precision economics, nutrient and water management, data collection, and precision equipment. Featured guest speakers include Brian Arnall, precision nutrient management extension specialist, Oklahoma State University; Jim Smith, executive director, Blueprint Nebraska; and Cathy Anderson, chief specialist, Nebraska State Farm Services Agency Office. Attendees will also be able to choose from 10 breakout offerings. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To view the conference program and register, visit https://neata.org/. The fee is $175 when pre-registering and $195 the day of the conference. Students may register for $25.
Managing Ag Land for the 21st Century: This workshop for current and future landowners and tenants will cover current trends in cash rental rates, lease provisions, and crop and grazing land considerations. There will be two meetings in the area. One on Feb. 12 at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva. The other will be held on Feb. 25 at the Butler County Event Center at the Fairgrounds in David City. Both meetings will begin with registration at 9:15 a.m., with the program starting at 9:30 a.m., and ending by 3:00 p.m. There is no charge for these programs. To attend in Geneva, please RSVP at (402) 759-3712. To attend in David City, please RSVP at (402) 367-7410.
Hamilton County Ag Day will be held Feb. 13 with registration at 9 a.m. and program from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The program will include updates from Nebraska Corn Growers, Farm Service Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Additional topics include Managing Soil Microbes 101, Stalk and Grain Quality Concerns with Corn, Land Rental Considerations for 2019, Pivot Wheel Track Management, Corn Stalk Grazing Economics, Benefits of Corn Stalk Grazing, and a weather update from Al Dutcher. There is no charge for the program but please RSVP to (402) 694-6174 for lunch count.
Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference will be held Feb. 14 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (former ARDC) near Mead. The program runs from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m. Topics and presenters include: “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” David R. Montgomery, professor of geomorphology, University of Washington; “Rebuilding and Maintaining Life in the Soil,” Jay Fuhrer, soil health specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bismarck, North Dakota; “How My Farm has Responded to Cover Crops and Crop Rotation,” Ray Ward, founder, Ward Laboratories; “Northeast Nebraska Farmer’s Perspective on Cover Crops,” Jeff Steffen, Crofton farmer; “How I Graze My Cropland Without Owning Livestock,” Scott Heinemann, Winside farmer; and a farmer panel. There is no fee to attend, but individuals must pre-register by 5 p.m. Feb. 8 to ensure meals and resource materials are available. Seating is limited. To register, call 402-624-8030, email email@example.com or use the form at https://go.unl.edu/tmj5.
Thank you to all the committee members, sponsors, exhibitors, presenters, attendees, and media coverage of the York Ag Expo last week! Great to see so many turn out for the educational sessions as well!
Farm Bill: I was extra pleased with the excellent questions and discussion with the afternoon educational sessions at the York Ag Expo. The following are the major changes that Dr. Brad Lubben, Extension Farm Policy Specialist, shared during the Farm Bill
presentation. Farmers will have the opportunity to make a new election for either ARC-CO or PLC for the years 2019-2020 (a two year decision), after which the decision will be a yearly one (beginning in 2021) until the end of the farm bill period. There’s more changes to the ARC program than PLC. For ARC, the primary source of yield data will most likely be RMA crop insurance data instead of NASS survey data. The 25% factor used to establish ARC-CO coverage by irrigated or non-irrigated practice is no longer in effect. Instead, a farmer can make a request to the FSA committee if not less than 5% of the acreage was irrigated or not less than 5% was non-irrigated during the 2014-2018 crop years. Coverage is now tied to a physical county regardless of administrative county. The plug yield in ARC-CO increased from 70% to 80% of the transitional yield. There will also be a trend yield adjustment similar to the Federal crop insurance trend-adjusted yield endorsement. When Brad showed what this looked like if applied to the previous farm bill, it increased the bu/ac in all the examples he showed. Thus, he speculates it should improve the ARC-CO benchmark. Regarding PLC, producers will have the opportunity to consider updating yields on farms. There’s a specific equation that will be used and because it’s focused more on the 2008-2012 period to help those farms most effected by drought, it may not provide a benefit to all farms. It would still be worth working through the equation just to make sure for your individual farms. The other change to PLC is the equation for the effective reference price. In 2014, several of us in Extension worked individually with you to help you through these decisions using decision support tools. Money was not provided in this farm bill to support the computer tools so we’re still waiting to see if they will be developed. We’re assuming they will be. Yet the decisions this time may be more straightforward with making a decision for the first two years followed by annually vs. the life of the farm bill like what happened in 2014. All resources and information can be found at http://farmbill.unl.edu. Regarding ARC vs. PLC decisions, Brad shared the following points:
- Under stable, lower price levels, PLC support will kick in before ARC support for downward price movement.
- Under modestly increasing price levels, ARC and PLC support may quickly disappear.
- Under substantially higher prices, moving average price in ARC benchmark and moving average price in PLC effective reference price could rachet up support to near equivalent levels.
Survey: Every year in Extension we write annual reports to justify the work we accomplished during the year. Last week I shared a survey link to provide me feedback regarding 2018 efforts. Thank you for those who have responded; I appreciate it!!! The survey truly is anonymous. For those who haven’t responded, I would greatly appreciate your feedback on this short survey at: https://app2.sli.do/event/q2p1sedv/polls. A year ago I changed the way I did my email list and news columns. My hope is that the format is more beneficial for us all in spite of the extra time it takes me each week. I’m genuinely open to and desirous of your feedback. Also, if you’re reading this and would like to be added to my email list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you.
Crop Production Clinics and Nebraska Crop Management Conference: Thank you to all who requested via surveys, emails, or phone calls in 2018 that you wanted to see the Crop Production Clinic back in the area! You were heard and one will be held in York at the Holthus Convention Center on January 17th! You can see the full schedule at http://agronomy.unl.edu/cpc. The Nebraska Crop Management Conference in Kearney on Jan. 28-29 has the same topics as Crop Production Clinics with additional topics and out of state speakers. You can view the registration for that conference at: https://agronomy.unl.edu/NCMC. While I realize many of you attend CPC for specific reasons, there is an opportunity this year to participate in a university research study and be paid for your time. Simanti Banerjee, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, is studying producer behaviors in response to farm bill programs. The study will take up to two hours. Average earnings from participating in the study are expected to be up to $100, depending on your decisions and those of other participants. All information collected is confidential and your responses are anonymous and will not be connected to your name. You can read more and register to participate in this study at this site: https://agronomy.unl.edu/crop-production-clinic-study-consent. Looking forward to seeing those who attend the upcoming CPC and NCMC!
As I work with producers and landlords, I’ve seen a variety of understanding and preparation for inputting information into the Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Tool. Previous blog posts have shared screenshots for inputting information. What I will do with this blog post is share how to simplify the time spent inputting information while checking for accuracy of the information inputted. You will only receive as accurate of information as what you input into the tool!
Hopefully this post was helpful to you in understanding how to simplify your input into this tool, to understand the importance of accuracy, and to understand one way of analyzing data from the Texas A&M Decision tool! You can view more information by checking out these YouTube videos.
I’ve really enjoyed working with producers and landlords on looking at farm bill decisions for individual operations. A quick caution again regarding supplemental coverage option (SCO), you can only take price loss coverage (PLC) into account not PLC+SCO if you haven’t plugged the information into the Texas A&M farm bill tool correctly (meaning 10 years of yield data and all production information broken into crop insurance units for each FSA farm number). You can always discuss SCO with your crop insurance agent but the tool itself won’t provide correct output without inputting numbers correctly. You can simply remove SCO from the tool information by not selecting a crop insurance option on the first home screen of each farm unit you input into the Texas A&M tool. I have screen shots with additional information in this blog post.
I’m willing to work individually with those interested in looking at the Texas A&M tool for your decisions. Please call (402) 762-3644 to set up an appointment. You will need to bring the following with you:
- Your CC yields from FSA (the ones sent in July/August tend to have all your CC yields for all your current base acres). You could also request your FSA 156-EZ form for this information. Or better yet, ask for FSA’s eraser sheet for each of your farms.
- Your base acres and potential base reallocation information FSA sent you.
- Yield production history from 2008-2012 by crop. If you were in the ACRE program during the last farm bill, please also ask them for the screenshot of all your yield production history. Since you had to prove yields with that program, your production information is already in their system. If you weren’t in ACRE, you will need to fill out the price loss coverage form FSA sent you. You can obtain this information from your crop insurance records or from scale tickets by farm if you don’t have crop insurance information. You will not have to prove yields at the time of signing up, but please keep your records as you will need to prove how you obtained this information in the event you are spot-checked. Here’s more information regarding yields.
When determining your yield history from 2008-2012, for combined counties, FSA is looking for a total combined production (not a weighted production based on irrigated vs. dryland acres). If you have crop insurance information, add up the total production in bushels for irrigated and dryland by crop (ex. Corn) for each FSA farm number and total the acres of each production entry. Then divide production by total acres to determine your yield. It’s important you use RMA production data, not APH yield as the APH yield may incorporate other modifications to actual production.
For split counties, I’ve been recommending to keep dryland and irrigated production split on the top part of the FSA PLC form and then the combined yields at the bottom part of the form. This allows you to have the split yield information for the Farm Bill Decision Tool and also the combined yield data that FSA needs. Add up dryland production by FSA farm number and irrigated production by that farm number. When inputting data from a split county into the Texas A&M decision aid, you will need to allocate base acres on a percentage of the irrigated vs. dryland acres. For example, if 50% of the land in one FSA farm number is irrigated and you have 200 acres, then 100 acres would be used for the base acres in the decision tool for irrigated yields and 100 acres would be used in the tool for dryland yields. Your CC yield will remain the same for both irrigated and dryland by crop.
Last week was enjoyable working with farmers on Farm Bill decisions. I’ve decided to work with producers on an individual basis. If you are interested in help looking at your potential options using the Texas A&M model or would like another set of eyes to make sure the data was inputted correctly, please call (402) 762-3644 and Deanna or Holli will get you scheduled for a time.
One caveat is that this model is only as good as the data you input into it and your decisions
are based on where you feel potential prices the next five years will be. You need your CC yields and base acres from FSA as well as production history since at least 2008 (2003 if you wish to run crop insurance tool). Requesting a copy of the FSA “eraser sheet” is a great tool to check on planted and crop production planted acres and to see if reallocated base jives with the computer program. The Texas A&M simulation at https://usda.afpc.tamu.edu/ isn’t difficult to run, but it can be confusing as to what number to input where. Begin by registering at the site by providing an email address and password. Then login and you will see the following screen.
If you do not want to look at crop insurance decision but wish to consider the first three decisions, then for counties such as Clay County with COMBINED irrigated and dryland county yields, completing the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Yield Worksheet (CCC-859) from FSA with your combined irrigated and dryland yields for each FSA number will greatly aid you in inputting the data. For counties with any splits in irrigated and dryland yields, I recommend placing irrigated and dryland production separately on the top of the PLC Yield worksheet, and then combining production by crop towards the bottom of the worksheet. Regardless of if your county has the opportunity for a split irrigated/non-irrigated payment, all CC yields in Nebraska are combined by crop (regardless of irrigation or not), so FSA will want a combined yield by crop on their form.
EACH crop needs to be entered as a separate farm unit. I have created a fake account to walk you through a simulation.
For entering separate crop insurance tracts, the CC yield should remain the same for all dryland tracts under one FSA farm number (same for irrigated). However, you will have to split out base acres amongst the tracts and you need to make sure the acres inputted add up; please double check this!
For your yield update and base reallocation information: For some of you, the base reallocation acres in the tool have been slightly different than what you received from FSA office. That may be because risk management agency (RMA) acres were used and were different than the production acres FSA had on file. You need to use the FSA acres for planted acres when using this model if they differ from the RMA ones.
When running this model, on many farms PLC + SCO looks favorable for some crops. A word of caution, you can consider PLC but should not consider SCO in your decision if you have not broken everything out into crop insurance tracts and included 10 years of production history into the tool. So in the decision of reallocating base acres or not, in the final summary section that gives you total numbers, anytime PLC+SCO is shown for a particular crop and you have not included the proper crop insurance info, you need to re-calculate the final total by hand using PLC ONLY from the table above that area. It normally doesn’t change the outcome that the decision tool provides, but it can. I’m not saying that SCO shouldn’t be considered, what I’m saying is that the numbers provided in the tool are not accurate if you have not inputted the data in the way needed to look at crop insurance decisions.
Some of you have questioned why PLC even lists a payment when prices are inputted higher than the benchmark price of $3.70 for corn, etc. The Texas A&M tool is giving you essentially a bell curve of 500 random outputs with the distribution of that curve around the particular price you input for each crop. So with every given price you input, there’s a certain probability that the price will be at, above, or below that particular price. That’s essentially what the red, green, yellow bars are showing you on the analysis. So you’re assessing where you feel prices will be, what decision will allow you to best sleep at night, the potential of spreading out risk with several farm numbers by choosing different options, etc. You can also view the YouTube videos from Texas A&M with more information!