September 16, 2014

USDA crop projections show a big harvest but lower prices

Nebraska farmers are starting to put their combines to good use but some are hitting the fields with mixed emotions. U-S Department of Agriculture statistics shows a projected 4.3 bushel-per-acre increase in corn with an average of 171 bushels per acre. Soybeans should average 46.6 bushels per acre.  Chief Economist Joe Glauber says this much grain means only one thing – lower prices.

Glauber says corn prices have been falling all summer and the latest projection shows another 21% decrease in prices this next marketing year for corn. Soybean prices are expected to drop 23%.

The estimated corn yield for corn now is estimated at nearly 14.4 billion bushels and 3.9 billion bushels for soybeans. Glauber says that much grain at one time will cause problems. He says that will put a lot of pressure on storage facilities as well as continued transportation problems as they have already seen in the Northern Plains. Glauber says the market for corn remains strong thanks to ethanol demand and exports.

HSUS official rejects Gov. Heineman image of group (AUDIO)

An official with the Humane Society of the United States fires back after Gov. Dave Heineman calls HSUS anti-agriculture.

Heineman made the comments in response to a recent Purdue University study which disclosed many consumers get their view of farming from the Humane Society of the United States or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“The Humane Society of the United States is anti-agriculture and they’re out to destroy thousands of job opportunities for young people in this state,” Heineman said when asked for a response to the study. [see earlier story]

HSUS Vice President for Outreach, Joe Maxwell, says Heineman acts as if HSUS doesn’t have a presence in Nebraska, with Maxwell saying the group has thousands of members in Nebraska and has a five-member agriculture council.

“So, he’s just wrong. He’s just distorting the truth.”

Maxwell tells Nebraska Radio Network the governor and other politicians in Nebraska support an industrialized agricultural model that ultimately means fewer farmers and more animal confinement. Maxwell insists HSUS isn’t against farmers, but is against agricultural practices which treat animals inhumanely.

Many farmers, though, don’t see such a fine distinction.

Again, Maxwell, a farmer in Missouri and the state’s former lieutenant governor, blames politicians for building a false image of HSUS.

“We’re aware of distortions. We’re aware of the feelings of many of the farmers and ranchers in Nebraska,” Maxwell says. “It’s unfortunate, but we are working hard every day for them to know who we are.”

Maxwell says HSUS is getting out in the countryside with its agricultural council members to have a dialogue with farmers and ranchers in Nebraska.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Almanac: Winter of 2015 will be bitter cold, snowy

Snowplow3Nebraskans could be in for a rough winter.

The 2015 Old Farmers Almanac is out with its recipes, charts for ocean tides and, of course, predictions about the weather.

Bob Farmer, one of the contributors to the annual publication, says there’s a particularly challenging winter ahead for the Midwest.

“For winter 2015, the prediction is ‘bitter and snowy’ which I think is about the worst prediction of any section of the country,” Farmer says.

The Old Farmers Almanac was first published in 1792 and its weather predictions are based, in part, on a “secret formula” devised by the Almanac’s founder.

Farmer says the updated formula takes into account temperature and precipitation records for the past 30 years, but also measures sunspot activity.

“The backbone of the Almanac is two-fold,” Farmer says. “It’s weather and astronomy and, you know, when the eclipses are and so forth and then of course lots of interesting stories in the middle and trivia and the best days to do certain things.”

The Almanac has suggestions for the best days to go fishing and which dates are best to plant the garden, advice based on phases of the moon.


Farmers see fallout from financial collapse of Pierce Elevator

It appears several dozen Nebraska farmers, perhaps as many as 200, will be left holding the bag as nearly $2-million was not paid by the failed Pierce Elevator when it closed earlier this year.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission denied the claims. John Fecht, who heads the PSC’s Grain Division, says those who were denied didn’t meet the timing requirement under the law for payment.

“Because the elevator closed on March 4th, when you go back 30 days, anything within that time frame coming forward will meet that requirement and get paid,” Fecht says. “They’re in that nine-cent on the dollar range. Anything outside of that is zero, they’re not going to get paid.”

Fecht says the rules are different for warehouse and dealer transactions.

“The only thing is, if you’re truly a storage customer, you’d get payment and if you have checks issued within five business days of closing, so five business days from March 4th going back, those checks all come back in as a storage obligation as well,” Fecht says. “Any checks issued beyond five days aren’t covered.”

Fecht says he thinks the PSC needs to come together and work with the chairman of the Nebraska Senate Ag Committee to try and come up with some solutions for lawmakers to consider that would better protect farmers from these types of situations.

“Anytime you’ve got losses of this magnitude, I think you need to reevaluate where you’re at and can any changes be made, any meaningful changes,” Fecht says. “Our commission asked the same thing at our meeting last Wednesday when this order was presented. I said we need to talk here in the next couple of months and put some ideas on the table.”

Those who stored grain at the Pierce Elevator will get paid in full while those who contracted to sell grain to the closed elevator or paid to buy undelivered grain will get less than a dime on the dollar — or nothing at all. The elevator closed when its credit was cancelled by the Citizen’s State Bank of Laurel.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


New “Forever” stamp series promotes farmers markets

FarmersMarketThere are more than 75 farmers markets operating now in more than 60 Nebraska cities and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is hoping four new postage stamps will help keep those farmers markets on people’s minds.

“A lot of folks have talked about the benefits of farmers markets and that’s certainly true. This postage stamp will give us the opportunity to focus on those benefits,” Vilsack said at a recent ceremony at a farmers market near the White House to celebrate the release of the stamps.

He says the stamps are coming out at a great time, as farmers markets are very popular these days.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in farmers markets across the United States, a 76% increase,” Vilsack said. “Today, we have over 8,268 markets throughout the United States.”

According to state records, the number of farmers markets in Nebraska has grown from 39 to more than 75 in the past 12 years. The number of farmers selling their produce at a farmers market has grown from only 78 a dozen years ago to more than 600.

The artist who created the stamps is Robin Moline of Lakeland, Minnesota. The stamps feature images of fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese, baked goods and cut flowers.

“They show some of what you can get there and the freshness and the spirit of the market,” Moline said. “They’re a community gathering spot. They’re a wonderful place to get good, fresh food, and you get to meet your farmers.”

The new farmers market stamps are on sale now and are “Forever” stamps, good for whatever the price may be for a first class letter, which is currently 49-cents.