Northern corn farmers and crop insurance

The late spring is causing headaches for northern Minnesota corn farmers, and U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson has asked federal officials to give them some slack. Federal crop insurance won't fully cover corn crops planted after May 25 and May 31 for grain and silage, but Peterson sent a letter on May 20 asking USDA Risk Management Administrator Brandon Willis to change  those deadlines and move the dates farther ahead. "In many parts of my district, wet weather has prevented farmers from even getting fields ready for planting, much less actual planting," Peterson wrote. "My growers would rather produce a corn crop than collect a prevented planting [insurance] claim."  Peterson is the ranking Democratic member of the House Agriculture Committee. USDA reported Monday that growers have planted 53 percent of the corn crop in Minnesota, but Peterson noted that much of that work has been done in southern Minnesota, not in the northwest part of the state that he represents. Older Post Ukraine, Russia and Cargill Newer Post Well-known climate expert Seeley wins U of M ag prize Continue Reading

These farmers edged out the winter wrath and managed to save their crops

Sam Accursio and his sons started their field-side vigil at midnight. With one eye on the weather and the other on their green bean crop, the Redland-based farmers nervously waited in Friday’s predawn hours to see if temperatures would dip low enough to harm their vegetables on the final, chilliest night of South Florida’s cold snap. By the time the sun rose, it was clear: They made it through unscathed. By his measurements, the coldest it got was 34 degrees, not enough to freeze and damage the delicate vegetables. Although temperatures dipped lower farther north, early indications show that the Sunshine State’s agriculture industry is OK. “We dodged a bullet,” said Charles LaPradd, agricultural manager for Miami-Dade County. Sam Accursio, owner of Sam S. Accursio & Sons Farms in Homestead, watered his crop throughout the night and early morning of Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, to prepare for a freeze that could have damaged his acres of green beans. The temperature dipped to 34 degrees, two degrees above freezing. His crop was not damaged. CHARLES TRAINOR JR. [email protected] South Miami-Dade’s agricultural sector has a $2.7 billion economic impact on the county. Low temperatures could devastate the acres of beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, onions and strawberries that depend on a frost-free growing season. While farmers in other parts of the United States plant crops that can withstand — or even rely on — low temperatures, the Redland farmers specialize in crops that can’t handle the cold. Besides California, South Florida is the only other area in the nation producing large-scale harvests in the winter. “This is the best time of year for us,” said Margie Pikarsky, the owner of Bee Heaven Farm in Redland. “We’re producing things other areas can’t.” Her five-acre organic farm survived the cold, but as she and her team packaged Continue Reading

Hemp has a steep climb before it can overtake Kentucky’s other top crops

A hemp revolution is underway, but the diverse plant is a long way from reigning supreme as Kentucky's top crop.Poultry and eggs still rule the roost — followed by cattle, soybeans and corn, which rake in the most money for state farmers. More than tobacco. And much more than hemp.But the hemp industry is growing. Related: Not all hemp oils are the same. Here's what you need to know Read this: Are you breaking the law when you buy hemp products? Farmers planted just 33 acres of hemp in 2014, the year a new federal law gave states the authority to approve and oversee the growing and processing of a crop kin to marijuana but with negligible amounts of mind-altering THC.That number tripled to 933 acres in 2015. Then it grew to 2,350 acres last year and now spreads across 3,200 acres, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which oversees the industrial hemp program.Hemp profits were estimated at under $5 million last year, said University of Kentucky agriculture economist Will Snell. That's a mere sliver of the $5.4 billion brought in by all crops combined. Snell said that translates to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of farm earnings coming from hemp.Nationally, hemp sales are at nearly $600 million annually, according to a March report by the Congressional Research Service."There are a lot of interests in hemp," said Jeff Harper, a spokesman for the Kentucky Farm Bureau."I think farmers see it as a potential for another tool in the toolbox to diversify." More: From beer to bedding, hemp products are easily found at some stores that may surprise you Read this: Hemp is 'the next big thing' in pain management as growth and research expand in Kentucky Could it ever rival the success of tobacco at its prime?"I don’t really know," Harper said. "We'll see where it goes."Eighth generation Kentucky tobacco farmer Continue Reading

Soybean outlook: Valuable crop follows in footsteps of robust corn harvest

When farmers harvested a record corn crop this year, many expected a similarly robust soybean season. Both grains are important to the poultry industry, the state's agricultural leader.And, as farmers harvest their soybeans in early November, they are using superlatives to describe the outcome."I think everyone is pretty excited about the soybean crop this year," said Richard Wilkins, a Greenwood farmer who planted 250 acres of beans in 2017. And that includes 63 acres he was recently harvesting in Milford, just east of the Abbott's Mill Nature Center.Throughout Delaware, farmers are seeing similar results as they work to harvest the remaining soybeans in the field."Statewide, this has been a very good bean crop," said Michael Scuse, Delaware agriculture secretary.Secretary Scuse is speaking from personal experience.On the family farm in Smyrna, Scuse said they planted a total of 700 acres of beans. About 200 acres were double-cropped, meaning they planted soybeans late, after harvesting winter crops like wheat and barley."We're pleased because our bean crop has been very good this year," he said. MORE: 2017 corn crop may set records in Delaware after wet summer MORE: What a rainy summer means for lower Delaware wineriesScuse also said that timely rainfall in early summer helped overcome the typical yield variance between irrigated and non-irrigated soybeans. "With all the moisture we've had, there isn't much difference between irrigated and non-irrigated" yields, Scuse said.Laurel farmer Corey Atkins just finished harvesting 200 acres of soybeans with a similar praise for this year's crop."Across the board, beans have been good this year," he said.According to agriculture department statistics, Delaware farmers planted about 158,000 acres of soybeans this year, 5,000 less than in 2016.The estimated yield for 2017 is about 50 bushels per acre, just under the national average, Last year, the yield in Delaware was a much lower 41.5 Continue Reading

Monsanto fights to sell Arkansas farmers herbicide linked to crop damage

By Tom Polansek CHICAGO (Reuters) - Monsanto Co filed a petition on Thursday asking Arkansas agricultural officials to reject a proposed date next year that would end sprayings of the herbicide dicamba, which has been linked to crop damage across the U.S. farm belt. A state task force recommended last month that Arkansas bar sprayings after April 15, 2018, to protect plants vulnerable to the chemical, after farmers complained that soybeans and other crops were damaged when the weed killer drifted away from where it was sprayed this summer. The recommendation amounts to an "unwarranted and misinformed ban on dicamba" because the chemical is designed to be sprayed during the summer over genetically engineered crops, according to Monsanto. The deadline "is not based on scientific data, much less on any scientific consensus" about crop damage attributed to the chemical, the company said in a filing with the Arkansas State Plant Board. Monsanto, BASF and DuPont sell dicamba herbicides under different brand names to be sprayed on top of growing U.S. soybeans and cotton modified by Monsanto to tolerate the weed killer. Chemical companies have blamed the damage on farmers misusing dicamba. Specialists, though, say the weed killers are risky because they have a tendency to vaporize and drift across fields, a process known as volatility. High temperatures can increase volatility. In July, Arkansas temporarily banned the use and sale of dicamba herbicides after farmers said the chemical was drifting off target. Monsanto, in its filing, said weed scientists who investigated the reports of damage from dicamba predicted it would probably not cause significant yield losses. The company also called into question the objectivity of Arkansas weed experts Jason Norsworthy and Ford Baldwin, whom Monsanto said advocated bans on dicamba. Monsanto said in its petition that Baldwin works as a paid consultant for Bayer Crop Science, which makes glufosinate, a Continue Reading

WATCH: Frustrated Farmers Parody “Let It Go” to Protest EPA Regulations

Frustrated over Environmental Protection Agency regulations, one family decided to protest by creating their own version of the song “Let It Go” from the Disney movie, “Frozen.” Regulating Puddles?! Judge Nap, Krauthammer Weigh In on 'Insane' EPA Water Rule Some of the lyrics are, “That’s enough. That’s enough. The EPA and the Corps, they will try to justify. But we won’t back down. Don’t need more government anyway.” The seventh generation farming family is fed up with the Clean Water Act. Kacey and Andy Clay, along with their three kids, joined Fox and Friends this morning. Andy said, “We don’t understand why they’re overstepping their boundaries, in my opinion here. So that’s why we teamed up with Missouri Farm Bureau to make this video to try to bring awareness to the general public.” Under the rules, small bodies of water will be regulated and people could be forced to pay up to $37,000 dollars a day without a permit. Waiting for a permit could take a while, cutting into the short time they have to plant crops. Watch the Fox and Friends interview above and the “Let It Go” parody below.   12-Year-Old Girl Can Sell Cupcakes Again After New Law Passes Farmer Faces $2M in Fines for Birthday Party on Her Property Drunk With Power? New FDA Proposal Set to Hit Beer Brewers, Dairy Farmers Continue Reading

Sustainable agriculture benefits farmers, bays

Agriculture around the Chesapeake and Maryland’s Coastal Bays can play a large part in reducing pollution and runoff in their watersheds.Farmers in the area can use multiple techniques to reduce their need for chemicals and protect their land from erosion. These practices are called BMPs – best management practices. Used effectively, these practices can significantly reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in the bays – by up to 60 percent – while also reducing the cost of farming in the long run.When environmentally friendly options are used, the bays and the farmers both benefit.One technique that is used frequently for the purpose of reducing sediment and pollutant runoff is cover-cropping.Cover crops like rye, barley and other small grains are planted directly after summer crops are harvested, to prevent nutrient loss over the winter. These plants soak up any leftover fertilizer and keep the soil from eroding.Maryland has its own cover crop program that provides grants to enable farmers to plant crops needed to protect the bays. Last year, Maryland farmers planted a record-setting 492,244 acres of cover crops as part of the program.Certain tools, like streamside buffers and fencing, are used by farmers to protect streams running through their properties. Buffers are created by planting native plants and trees near streams, creeks and brooks so there is a vegetative area surrounding these waterways.These buffers vary in width, which is dependent on the farm type. Streamside buffers absorb excess nutrients and fertilizers, acting as natural filters while also providing habitat for wild life and helping to reduce loose sediment from entering these waterways.Streamside fencing is also an option for animal pastures that are located on or near streams. Not allowing livestock access to the streams reduces water pollution from waste and cuts down the spread of waterborne diseases and parasites, such as giardia.Protecting streams and tributaries to our Continue Reading

California’s marijuana farmers fear crops could go up in smoke

CALISTOGA, Calif. — Marijuana farmers and dispensary owners across Northern California are nervously watching as wildfires burn through some of the state’s prime cannabis growing areas and destroy valuable crops, which could drive up prices for consumers across the country.“This is right smack in the middle of people’s harvests,” said Eli Melrod, the CEO of Solful Dispensary in Sebastopol, in northern California. “It couldn’t have been worse timing, frankly.”A single marijuana plant can be worth up to $5,000, but pot growers can’t get crop insurance like traditional farmers or the vintners whose grapevines tend to get most of the attention here.Wildfires are burning across parts of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, which are known for both wine and marijuana, particularly among high-end consumers willing to pay a premium for the name.Complicating matters: Marijuana farms are built in remote areas with poor road access and don’t necessarily appear on firefighters’ maps of buildings to be protected. The growers often live largely off the radar, without health insurance or access to traditional job support systems such as unemployment insurance. Black market growers may be reluctant to tell friends and family members of the losses they’ve suffered.“It’s just sad that we live in this underground world where we can’t discuss the true extent of the damage,” said Jessica Lilga of Alta Supply, a statewide wholesale cannabis distribution based in Oakland. “All remaining growers who did not literally lose their crops will be affected.”It’s unclear exactly how many people work in the cannabis industry in northern California and how many cultivation operations exist. Lilga said she’s aware of “thousands” of grow operations but was reluctant to speculate, given the industry’s secretive nature.But any Continue Reading

Neighbors pull together to harvest Iowa farmer’s last crop

It's what farmers in Iowa do for each other, especially in small towns like St. Charles, Truro and Peru, says Lisa Brownlee.Her husband, Van Brownlee, died of a heart attack in May, shortly after he finished planting his crop. He was 58. Three dozen neighbors swarmed Brownlee's fields Wednesday with combines, grain carts and semis to bring in his last crop — about 235 acres of corn and 165 acres of soybeans."It's a really good community," says Lisa Brownlee, pausing, taking a breath. "I'm thankful." RELATED:  How a 93-year-old Iowa farmer became a viral video star It's something Van Brownlee would have done for his neighbors, says Steve Downs, Brownlee's friend since junior high.It wasn't long ago that Brownlee helped bring in a neighbor's hay crop after the man was killed in a farming accident, said Downs, who organized Wednesday's harvest."He was just a good old boy ... a good person who always tried to do the right thing," said Alan Brommel, who farmed a couple miles from Brownlee."That's all I'd wish for people to think about me," he said.The harvest plan spread by "word of mouth, and the calls started rolling in," Downs said.On Wednesday, more farmers showed up than expected, he said. "It's very humbling to be part of this — to see all these people coming out to help," said Brommel, who was combining soybeans. "We're all here for the same reason."Downs said Brownlee loved being a farmer, raising crops and livestock."There weren't many days you couldn't find Van working on farm equipment, feeding cattle or doing chores," said Downs, who lives a half-mile away. "He loved working outside, regardless of the weather.""He always had a chew in and a hat on," Downs said.Brownlee sat on the Interstate 35 school and the local farm cooperative boards and he was active in Madison County's cattlemen and pork producers groups.An Iowa State University grad with an ag business Continue Reading

Iowa has world’s largest cereal plant, but state’s farmers lack market for oats

Once the nation's leading oats producer, Iowa growers now struggle to find markets for the crop.That's the dilemma Earl Canfield faced three years ago: He had about 3,000 bushels of oats, but no place to sell them profitably.Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, the world's largest cereal production plant, does not take in oats from Iowa growers.And most Iowa livestock operations don't include oats in the feed supply of their cattle, pigs and chickens.With no place else to go, Canfield and his family started a business selling small batches of oats, along with their corn and soybeans, to families feeding horses, goats, cattle, pigs and chickens."There’s a constant perception that we can’t grow good oats in Iowa, because we’re in the Corn Belt," said Sarah Carlson, Practical Farmers of Iowa's Midwest cover crop expert. "But we've proven that we can."Iowa has led the nation in corn production for 23 straight years, and about 80 percent of the state's 30 million crop acres are covered with either corn or soybeans.Despite that dominance, developing markets for alfalfa, oats and other small grains could help Iowa farmers address some significant environmental problems, including degraded soil and water quality and increased weed resistance to herbicides, experts say.Canfield said more farmers might be willing to break the steady corn-and-soybean cycle if markets for alternative crops were available."We've had to work hard to get around the lack of markets," the Dunkerton farmer said. "It's been a leap of faith."Quaker Oats buys its oats from Canada, where it can find the quantity and quality the company needs, experts say.But some other companies could be considering a shift.Some large multinational businesses — grain, beef, pork and dairy processors — are exploring adding oats to the supply chain, driven by the efforts of large Continue Reading