Smith-Lever Resolution

April 2nd, 2014

The Iowa Senate has launched the centennial celebration of the Smith-Lever Act, the founding legislation of the nationwide Cooperative Extension System. Representatives from ISU Extension and Outreach took part in the event at the Iowa Capitol. Watch the video.

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New farm program to provide enrollment decisions

March 27th, 2014

Contributed by Steven D. JohnsonFarm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension, sdjohns@iastate.edu, 515-957-5790.

Johnson_Steve_smThe 2014 farm bill is now law and the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) officials are writing rules and regulations to carry out new programs. The five-year farm bill eliminates direct payments, Counter-Cyclical Payments (CCP) and ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) programs for commodity crops. Replacing them are some new risk management options that farmers must choose from by FSA farm number.

Crop insurance remains the backbone of the farm financial safety net. It will be augmented by the new farm program. Farmers can invest in their own risk management by buying crop revenue insurance so they are protected annually should a decline in yield and/or a drop in futures price occur.

To protect farmers from multiple year downturns in cash prices or a decline in revenue, the new bill introduces two new programs.  Farmers will choose between a revenue program that covers price and yield losses — Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and a price-only program known as Price Loss Coverage (PLC). It will be several months before the new USDA farm program sign-up begins – probably next winter.

Crop coverage options

Farmers who choose ARC will have to make another decision of whether to enroll in county ARC on a commodity-by-commodity basis or choose an individual farm ARC that combines all the program commodities on the farm together.

Payments for the county ARC occur when actual county yield times the national marketing price for a commodity is below the ARC revenue guarantee for that crop year. Farm ARC would issue payments depending on whole farm revenue, since program commodities are combined. The program covers losses on 85% of the base acres for the county option and 65% of base acres for farm coverage.

The ARC guarantee provides a range of revenue protection from 76% to 86% of historical revenue, with farmer-purchased crop insurance expected to cover deeper losses. Farmers who enroll in ARC may not buy (Supplemental Coverage Option) SCO insurance beginning in 2015 because they are very similar products.

PLC is a target-price program that makes payments when national average cash crop prices drop below a “reference price” set in the farm bill. The reference prices are: $3.70 per bushel for corn, $8.40 per bushel for soybeans and $5.50 per bushel for wheat. Beginning in 2015, PLC enrollment also allows the purchase of SCO insurance to reduce the traditional crop insurance deductible levels. Only farmers enrolled in the PLC program may buy SCO insurance and county yields are used.

Farmers along with their landowners on rented ground have to make a one-time, irrevocable decision to enroll a farm in ARC or PLC for the life of the five-year farm bill. If a farmer doesn’t make a decision, farms are automatically enrolled in PLC beginning in 2015.

To help decide on which program to use, farmers may have to review historical planted acres due to the one-time choice of reallocating base acres using the average for the years 2009 through 2012. However, the reallocation of acres by crop cannot exceed the total historical base acreage. In addition, farmers might want to compare yield information for their farms to their county yields for the years 2008 through 2012.

Payment triggers for both the ARC and PLC programs are based on marketing year average prices. Thus any payments for revenue or price losses won’t be made until the year following a loss.

More information to come

It is too early to know for sure which program will be best for Corn Belt farmers, as the final rules and regulations are not yet known. Once USDA releases the information, farmers and landowners should have time to make enrollment decisions.

A preliminary analysis of the two programs suggests, for 2014, ARC’s price coverage level is more favorable for corn and soybeans while PLC’s reference price is more favorable for other crops such as peanuts, rice, barley and wheat. However, farmers will need to consider how the two programs will work over the life of the five-year farm bill; or through the 2018 crop year.

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AgDM website updates for March 2014

March 25th, 2014

Charles Brown Joins ISU Extension and Outreach

March 11th, 2014

charlesBrownCharles Brown, of rural Ottumwa, joined Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Feb. 24 as a farm management specialist serving the 12-county southeast Iowa agricultural community. Brown becomes one of eight extension farm management specialists that provide educational opportunities around the state. Through meetings, presentations, Ag Decision Maker newsletter and website, and individual consultations they connect farmers and agribusiness professionals with university research and resources.

“Charles brings a wealth of knowledge and experience about farm financial management, risk management and the economics of farming to the ISU Extension and Outreach team,” said John Lawrence, director for Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach.

Brown, a lifetime resident of the Ottumwa area and graduate of Iowa State University, has served southeast Iowa farmers throughout his career as a financial and business planning consultant with Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. Over the years, he has worked closely with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists partnering with Extension and Outreach to offer seminars and workshops, served on the Wapello County Extension Council and several boards at Iowa State University – Center of Agriculture Law and Taxation board and Iowa Grain Quality Initiative committee.

“I have always enjoyed working with ISU Extension and Outreach and believe it is important for people to have a place to go for unbiased information,” said Brown. “Farmers have had several very good years recently, but the next few years will be different. There are things they will need to think about as they consider their finances and how to manage their risks. I’m looking forward to being their extension farm management specialist and bringing information to them so they can make those decisions.”

Brown’s office is located at the Mahaska County Extension Office, 212 North I Street, Oskaloosa. He can be reached by emailing crbrown@iastate.edu or calling 641-673-5841.

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Free Online Course on Health Insurance for Farm Families – March 13th

March 7th, 2014

ISU Extension and Outreach Hosting Free Online Course on Health Insurance for Farm Families   Scheduled for March 13th

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides important benefits for farm families: expanded coverage, a greater choice of insurance providers, and tax credits for small employers that offer coverage to their employees. Farmers are affected by ACA regulations in two ways. First, farm families, like other Americans, are consumers who will be making health care decisions for their families. Second, many farmers employ farm workers on a temporary (seasonal) or permanent basis and may be affected by the Affordable Care Act employer mandate provisions. With new options and requirements in health care, farm families are invited to attend a free workshop offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.  The workshop will help Iowa farm families understand how to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects them as consumers making health care decisions for their families and as employers of farm workers. The workshop will take place Thursday, March 13th, 10:00am – 11:30am online at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/acafarmfamilies/.  On the day of the webinar, go the this web address 10 -15 minutes prior to the webinar, click on the ‘Enter as Guest’ button, type in your first and last name, and click ‘Enter Room’. Please be patient and wait while the meeting room opens.

 

Through “You and Health Insurance: Making a Smart Choice for Farm Families” workshop, attendees will increase their knowledge and understanding of:

  • New health insurance options and requirements
  • Features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for farm families
  • Resources to provide additional information about the ACA and health care
    decision-making

“This program is about helping farm families understand their options given the changes in the health care law,” says Joyce Lash, family finance specialist of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

For information about webinar, contact the Mary Weinand, Henry County Extension
mweinand@mail.iastate.edu or 319-931-5087

This program was supported by a grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and do not necessarily represent the [[official]] views of the Department. [[US DHHS.]]

 . . . and justice for all The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Many materials can be made available in alternative formats for ADA clients. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964.

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Meetings and Events, Other, Regulations

AgDM website updates for February 2014

February 20th, 2014

Ag Decision Maker 

Business Solutions for Farms and Agribusiness from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

February Newsletter (pdf)

New and Updated Files

Flexible Farm Lease Agreements

Iowa Farm Outlook

Outlook Information for Crops and Livestock

February Newsletter (pdf)

Livestock: January Cattle Report from USDA

Crops: A Little Bounce in February

AgMRC Renewable Energy Newsletter

National Center for Value-Added Agriculture

February Newsletter (pdf)

Choices – The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues

A Publication of AAEA, Agricultural & Applied Economics Association

Theme Overview: Developing Local Food Systems in the South

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DNR Regulations Workshop on Feb. 20

February 6th, 2014

DNR Regulations for Your Farm WorkshopThe Southwestern Community College Agriculture Department will be hosting a livestock producer workshop called “DNR Regulations for Your Farm: Are you in compliance with upcoming farm inspections?” on Thursday, February 20 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Allied Health and Science Center on the main campus in Creston, Iowa. There is no cost to attend and light refreshments will be provided.

EPA Region 7 and the Iowa DNR recently signed a work plan agreement that established guidelines for evaluations of livestock and poultry farms. This plan obligates DNR to evaluate livestock farms larger than 300 animal units and document whether the farms are in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Over 8,500 livestock farms are expected to be evaluated in the next five years.

Guest speakers include Dan Olson, Iowa DNR Environmental Specialist; Brian Waddingham, Executive Director of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers; and Wayde Ross, NRCS District Conservationist who will explain the work plan, resources available for impacted farmers, and EQIP funding to help producers make necessary changes.

“Livestock regulations are complex, sometimes ambiguous and are constantly changing,” says CSIF Executive Director Brian Waddingham. “For Iowa’s livestock and poultry farms to prosper, farmers must know and understand state and federal regulations and the resources available to help them remain viable on the land for generations to come.  This workshop will help livestock farmers better understand how the work plan agreement will affect them and their farm.”

Questions about the event may be directed to Francine Ide at (641) 344-2225 or ide@swcciowa.edu.

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Annie’s Project Updates

January 28th, 2014

Annie’s Project Farm Business Management Courses for Women

Farm women with a passion for being involved in the business and wanting to learn how to manage farm operation risk have several educational opportunities available to them. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers classes designed to empower women to be better business partners and owners. Farm women will learn how to build networks, and manage and organize critical information. Several different types of classes are being offered across the state during the coming year.

See more at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/article/business-education-farm-women-offered-isu-extension-and-outreach.

Annie’s Project – Four Women Share their Stories with Video

Sara Shepherd is taking over her family’s farm. Julie Van Waardhuizen is fully engaged in farming with her husband. Mother and daughter Rexanne Struve and Brandi Wiig are beginning to look at transitioning the farm from one generation to the next. Although their farming situations vary, these Iowa women all credit Annie’s Project with improving their ability to make sound risk management decisions.

See more at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/article/annies-project-four-iowa-women-share-their-stories.

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AgDM website updates for January 2014

January 23rd, 2014

January Newsletter (pdf)

New and Updated Files

2013 Farmland Value Survey Iowa State University (Decision Tool)

Iowa Farm Outlook

Outlook Information for Crops and Livestock

January Newsletter (pdf)

Livestock: December 2013 Hogs and Pigs Report Summary

Crops: Waiting for the Final Numbers

Choices – The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues

A Publication of AAEA, Agricultural & Applied Economics Association

Theme Overview: Attitudes Toward Risk in a Changing Agricultural Marketing Environment

Food Product Liability Insurance: Implications for the Marketing of Specialty Crops

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Managing Tight Crop Margins in 2014

January 22nd, 2014

Johnson_Steve_smContributed by Steven D. Johnson, Farm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension, sdjohns@iastate.edu, 515-957-5790.

Profit margins for corn and soybean production in 2014 will be much tighter. Both final yields and grain marketing will be critical. For the past several years, with high grain prices and favorable crop insurance revenue protection levels, profitable margins were a given. Since last summer, however, crop prices have dropped significantly while cost of production remains relatively high. Cash corn prices have dropped by 35% from the 2012 average cash price and soybeans are down by more than 10%.

Iowa State University Extension is set to release its annual Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa – 2014 to help farmers figure their potential crop costs per acre and per bushel for various crops, rotations and tillage practices. Estimates for 2014 corn and soybean production are not expected to change significantly from 2013. Profit margins will be tight and final yields and marketing strategies will be critical.

Fertilizer costs are expected to drop approximately 20% in 2014 but will be offset by slightly higher seed, crop protection, energy and cash rental rates. Estimated costs to produce a bushel of corn are expected to be down about 1%, while cost to produce soybeans is up 2%. Thus, cost estimates for most inputs in 2014 should remain fairly flat, except for fertilizer.

Land costs for 2014 aren’t expected to drop significantly, however, flexible cash leases (adjusted for yield, price and costs) are beginning to replace some of the high fixed cash rent leases.

2014 Iowa Crop Cost Estimates

The “2014 Crop Cost Estimates” reflects current ISU cost of production estimates for three different crop rotations, conventional tillage practices and medium yields.

 

Total cost

Expected Yield bu/A

Cost per Bushel

Soybeans after Corn

$557

50

$11.13

Soybeans after Corn

$772

180

$4.29

Corn after Corn

$819

165

$4.97

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While much is still not known about the 2014 growing season, now is the time to plan ahead. Farmers can’t predict with a high degree of accuracy their final yields or highest price available for next year’s crops. However, the decisions they make regarding input buying and revenue risk management such as crop insurance coverage are determined long before spring planting.

Remember, its net revenue—yield times price minus total costs—that will determine if farmers made money on their 2014 crops. Plugging into your budget the harvest prices available next fall as currently reflected in new crop futures shows a potential for some very tight crop profit margins. When making crop estimates, assume average yield expectations.

Land costs for 2014 aren’t expected to drop significantly, however, flexible cash leases (adjusted for yield, price and costs) are beginning to replace some of the high fixed cash rent leases statewide.

Farmers can compare their potential costs by crop rotation, tillage practice and yield expectations. ISU Extension’s release of 2014 crop cost estimates for producing corn and soybeans are made according to crop rotation and displayed as three different medium categories: soybeans following corn with an average yield of 50 bushels per acre; corn following soybeans with an average yield of 180 bushels per acre; and corn following corn with an average yield of 165 bushels per acre.

Looking back at 2013, making pre-harvest sales during spring and summer months proved profitable again. Use of revenue protection crop insurance provided a peace of mind in making those cash sales when futures were above the 2013 spring projected prices for crop insurance of $5.65 per bushel for corn and $12.87 per bushel for soybeans. Those early sales generated fall and winter cash flow and prevented storing a large percent of your crops unpriced. Guessing about potential widespread weather problems and the highest corn and soybean prices proved futile once again for most farmers.

Compare by crop rotation

Compare your potential profit margins by crop rotation. ISU Extension & Outreach’s release of 2014 crop cost estimates for producing corn and soybeans are made according to crop rotation and displayed as three different categories: soybeans following corn with an average yield of 50 bushels per acre; corn following soybeans with an average yield of 180 bushels per acre; and corn following corn with an average yield of 165 bushels per acre.

Johnson uses the accompanying chart “2014 Crop Cost Estimates” showing current ISU cost of production estimates for different crop rotations. Keep in mind land costs are removed to determine a return to land and management. Conventional tillage is used to make rotational comparisons. The average cash price forecast for the 2014-15 marketing year is $4.50 per bushel corn and $11 per bushel soybeans. This assumes a slight drop in U.S. planted corn acres in 2014, an increase in soybean acres, and normal production weather in both the southern and northern hemispheres.

 

2014 Iowa crop estimates

 

Iowa State University Extension released its annual Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa 2014, FM-1712 in early January. The online version can be found on the ISU Ag Decision Maker site http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/crops/html/a1-20.html. Both versions have spaces where farmers can insert their own cost estimates for various decisions reflecting different crop rotations, tillage practices, machinery costs and inputs planned.

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