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Archive for Monday, October 8, 2007

Yields, prices are up - but so are costs of planting

October 8, 2007

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Corn is harvested in a field east of Overbrook on Oct. 1. Area corn fields typically are yielding 100 to 140 bushels an acre this fall, up from the annual average of 97 bushels an acre over the past five years, said Bill Wood, of K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County.

Corn is harvested in a field east of Overbrook on Oct. 1. Area corn fields typically are yielding 100 to 140 bushels an acre this fall, up from the annual average of 97 bushels an acre over the past five years, said Bill Wood, of K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County.

Driving through row after row of field corn this fall, Jimmy Gabriel finds himself cracking a bit of a smile.

And it's not just because he's getting 150 to 160 bushels an acre on this particular run, or because soydiesel fuel is burning efficiently in his combine, or because the family farm's 2,500 acres of soybeans are ripening up just fine, thank you.

Gabriel's smile comes from all that - and more. Much more.

"Everything sounds good," he said last week, harvesting corn west of Eudora. "We're getting good bushels and a good price. It's turning out real well."

If only it were so simple.

While area farmers often are bringing in above-average yields on a larger-than-normal corn crop that's commanding higher-than-average prices, a few complicating factors remain.

The biggest: Rising costs for fertilizer, fuel and seemingly everything else required to get plants growing in the fields and grain out to the elevator.

"That's on the flip side," said Verlyn Gilges, of Baldwin Feed Co. "The input costs are up tremendously. It pretty well offsets the increase in price."

Bill Wood, agriculture agent for K-State Research & Extension in Douglas County, said that even with rising costs, he would expect the area's farm economy to be up somewhat this year, driven by revenues from the area's two biggest crops: corn and soybeans.

On Monday, Baldwin Feed was paying $3.08 a bushel for corn - down from $3.50 recently, but still up about 22 percent from $2.65 a year earlier. Baldwin Feed's price for beans was at $8.56, down a bit from $8.80 last week but still up 61 percent from $5.31 a year ago.

Wood is hoping markets for alternative fuels and other forces continue to help boost grain prices in the long term, so farmers can grow - or at least preserve - their profit margins.

"Just like we do, they need a raise every year just to keep up with the cost of living," Wood said.

Gabriel knows that all too well.

Even as he cut his above-average corn crop, he knows his beans won't be as bountiful; an untimely lack of rain in late August and into September kept some berries from filling out, reducing his anticipated yields.

While farming variables remain from harvest to harvest - grain prices, input costs, rain totals and temperature extremes - at least one vital component remains stubbornly constant.

"Our margin gets closer," Gabriel said. "Even though we're bringing more money in, there's more money going out."

Comments

livinthedream 7 years, 2 months ago

The biggest: Rising costs for fertilizer, fuel and seemingly everything else required to get plants growing in the fields and grain out to the elevator.

Crack and Pogo- Have you two looked at fuel and fertilizer prices lately?

speedykitty 7 years, 2 months ago

pogo and plumberscrack,

These are family farms, whether or not you resent their size and relative success.

Until you walk a mile in their moccasins, looking for rain at critical times; and hoping the heat doesn't ruin pollination to develop the kernels on the ears of corn, or an early (or late) freeze doesn't kill the crop, don't be so darned smug in your EWG fueled prejudice

speedykitty 7 years, 2 months ago

My golden years are just fine, thank you, pogo. Remember the one about not having all of your eggs in one basket?

imastinker 7 years, 2 months ago

A farm that has 2500 acres of soybeans is likely not what people think of as a family farm. They probably farm 10000-20000 acres total. Most farmers have a fair amount of CRP ground (1/3?) and a lot in corn as well.

Mkh 7 years, 2 months ago

Pogo/Crack,

Please remember that without our farmers you two would be dead in a matter of weeks. I'm sure that neither one of you has the ability or knowledge to feed your family without the Agriculture industry doing the work for you. Ever hear that old saying about biting the hand that feeds you?

You obviously have no idea what it takes to run a large farm, the cost and risk are incredible. Without subsidies there would be NO Family Farms left, they simply would not be able to function and would all be bought up immediately by the big agriculture companies.

Now with that being said, I've got to say that the new Farm Bill is a wretched piece of legislation. And the corn-based fuel movement is ruining our farming economies. Corn-based fuel is a scam and needs to be immediately stopped and agricultural resources must immediately be ceased in use for making fuels.

However, the rising of tradional fuel costs plays an important role, which is why farmers need to use different farming methods that do not rely on so much fuel. This translates to more manpower work, so will the difference pay off? Hard to say and really will depend on each sitiuation.

Finally, one must realize that part of the reason the expenses and yield prices are soaring is due the massive amount of inflation in the economy and the devaluation of the dollar. Are you really going to blame those problems on the family farmer? Because doing so makes you look like a first rate idiot.

Also LOL at you boasting about having enough money for your "golden years"! Obviously you are completely clueless about the devaluation of the dollar and what your savings is actually going to be worth once it crashes. Good luck!

speedykitty 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't find 2500 acres of soybeans all that unusual. A friend with one hired man probably has at least that much. Also, some farmers have quite a bit of CRP, but some of us choose not to have even one acre.
Just put dad and a couple of brothers or sisters and their spouses together in a family operation trying to keep the land together and the bloggers are critical. I know some of those situations.

Mkh 7 years, 2 months ago

2,500 acres is not that large of a farm, and if independantly owned would certainly be considered a "family farm". Comparatively my family's farms total to about 7,000 acres being farmed and have been in the family since 1893. However, with the above average wetness of the winter, we lost over a two thousand acres of prime wheat crop. Without government subsidies there is no way I would have kept that farm active after loosing an entire wheat crop. I just would not be able to afford to. Basically it is an insurance policy. If we hadn't had flooding and would have produced a great harvest I would not have received such a large check from the government.

Now some of you might be asking, Mkh, aren't you a libertarian, how can you justify government subsidies? Well I glad you asked, because there is an important answer. The subsidies are basically used as a check and balance against the corrupt government system that manipulates the finance of farming. Since the inception of the Federal Reserve in 1913, farmers and largley communities in general basically lost all ability to control the market as our central banking system was put into place. Since that time the farmer has been the subject to the manipulation of the Easterm Banking Elites "boom and bust" system. Also their commodies have been artifically priced by these same banking systems (which by the way are unsonstitutional) on the controlled markets. What this equates to is the farmers having absolutely no rights over their land, labor, or product. The banks hold all the cards, they create artiticial interest and inflation on the farmers' land (unless owned outright), on their labor (through taxes), and on the product (commodities market). Therefore, if you all want to follow the US Constitution and abolish the Federal Reserve plus the Income Tax, thererby allowing Freedom back to the farmers so that food can be produced for the people in a natural free market...I'd be all in favor of ending or greatly reducing subsidies for farmers.

Fortunately though, every state in the union has farmers, which is the only way enough pressure was brought to Washington to establish subsidies in the first place.

speedykitty 7 years, 2 months ago

Pogo, is that the name your parents gave you?

"Few use their actual names:.they hide behind corporation names."

Again, don't worry about my golden years. I have lived through devaluations and crashes....

Mkh 7 years, 2 months ago

Pogo, you really have no idea what you are talking about. I'd love for you to walk into the supermarket and try to buy yourself some food if their were no government subsidies. Do you really want an agriculture industry completely dominated by a few multi-national corporations and the government? Because that is exactly what you are arguing for!

Btw, remember that every "welfare recipient" farmer feeds your sorry a$$! Do you ever eat Wheat Pogo?

Speedykitty, so did you live through the Great Depression? Either way, the finacial situation I'm discussing is much worse.

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 2 months ago

Not all farmers participate in the USDA subsity program. And what business of yours is it if a farmer takes a subsity?

livinthedream 7 years, 2 months ago

The article is about a farmer that is not even on your list, pogo? Correct me if I am wrong.

JohnBrown 7 years, 2 months ago

Governments learned a long time ago that you cannot allow agriculture to be completely subject to the raw forces of the free market (boom and bust). In a 'bust' farms go under, then foodstuffs become scarce, then cities riot. Go read some history, Pogo. It's one thing to argue that the current subsidies need to be more efficient; it's completely asinine to think, or argue, that they should be dispensed with.

Mkh 7 years, 2 months ago

"In a 'bust' farms go under, then foodstuffs become scarce, then cities riot. Go read some history, Pogo. It's one thing to argue that the current subsidies need to be more efficient; it's completely asinine to think, or argue, that they should be dispensed with."


John Brown,

Exactly! Well said JB. That is why farmers get subsidies different from other sectors. Subsidies do need to be regulated more closely, but to abolish them would destroy the small farmer and the agriculture industry.

juststrugglin 7 years, 2 months ago

Pogo, you probally are one of those people that need not talk with their mouths full. Several of the names you listed with $$$$ amounts are family farms. There is one listed that has 3 brothers and there father, no hired hands, no extra jobs. Yes they need to make money just like everybody else, Lets see the oil companies ceo's making 6 to 10 figure digits. That makes since. HHAAHAHAHAH You failed to get the cost of the fuel, seed, fertilizer, machinery, and all the other things that it takes to keep it running, Insurance for their families. I could go on and on. You really don't know a whole lot about farming, but you like to feed your family. Every time you stick something, besides your foot, think about where that food is coming from.... Sorry about going on and on, but this has hit a real sore spot.

snowWI 7 years, 2 months ago

I think I read somewhere that the largest farms get the vast majority of the subsidies. Do large farms really need mega subsidies when the smaller farms get a very small fraction of the total subsidy dollars? Oh well, I guess the big farms will dominate and will take over some of the smaller farms that can not compete. I strongly support family farms in favor of the large corporate farms that seem to be taking over certain areas of the US.

farmersdaughter 7 years, 2 months ago

Pogo....what exactly are you calling a corporate farm?

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