Archive for Friday, July 13, 2012

Local corn crop called a ‘disaster’

Heat, drought blamed for poor turnout

Kent Nunemaker, of Lawrence, foreground, co-owner of Nunemaker-Ross farms, installs new belts on a silage cutter Friday while Lyle Nunemaker, Lawrence, center, and C.J. Bunce, of Perry, repair brakes on a 1978 International truck. Friday’s rain delayed a plan to cut corn for silage but provided an opportunity to do some farm equipment repairs.

Kent Nunemaker, of Lawrence, foreground, co-owner of Nunemaker-Ross farms, installs new belts on a silage cutter Friday while Lyle Nunemaker, Lawrence, center, and C.J. Bunce, of Perry, repair brakes on a 1978 International truck. Friday’s rain delayed a plan to cut corn for silage but provided an opportunity to do some farm equipment repairs.

July 13, 2012


Recent rain has greened up some lawns, but not Pat Ross’ 2,400-acre corn crop. It’s beyond saving.

The rains shut off in June and July, when Ross’ corn needed it most. Ross, of North Lawrence, could only watch out his office window, as storms passed over him and his crop wilted.

“It’s emotionally draining to see them wither and die,” said Ross, of Nunemaker-Ross Farms. “It’s probably the largest loss of crop in the smallest period of time I think I have ever seen.”

According to the National Weather Service, just 0.18 of an inch of rain fell in Lawrence between June 1 and July 12. That’s 5.5 inches less than average. Temperatures in July are supposed to be in the 90s, not 108 degrees.

“It’s devastated it (the corn crop) with the hot, dry temps,” said Matthew Vajnar, Ottawa Co-op grain merchandiser.

Vajnar called the local corn crop a “disaster,” estimating it would yield 0-20 bushels per acre. This is the worst year he has seen since Ottawa Co-op purchased the South Lawrence Co-op elevator in 2001.

This year follows the worst Kansas crop in 29 years, with the state averaging 107 bushels of corn per acre in 2011, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Ross doesn’t plan on harvesting 20 percent of his crop. Instead, he will cut it for silage to feed his 600 cattle. He said he has been fortunate with them. He has only lost three to the heat.

Ross has it bad, and the rest of Kansas hasn’t fared much better.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared 82 Kansas counties federal disaster areas because of drought.

“Almost the entire state is seeing significant deterioration of corn and soy beans but also hay and pasture,” said Adrian Polanski, Kansas Farm Service Agency executive director and former Kansas ag secretary. “If it continues another couple of weeks of hot and dry weather, certainly the crops are going to continue to be damaged and have even greater yield loss.”

Polanski said the drought has affected about 150,000 Kansas farmers and land owners. Those in the disaster areas will qualify for emergency government loans.

Douglas County and Ross don’t qualify. He has given up on his corn crop. With crop insurance he may break even. Ross must now put his hope in his 2,200 acres of soybeans, also damaged by the drought. Ross said the recent rains helped the crop, but it needs more precipitation.

So Ross is left again, looking out his office window for rain.

“I’m an optimist,” he said. “I think about all farmers are. I keep saying it will come, it will come.”


riverdrifter 5 years, 11 months ago

Duh. It was all over 10 days ago. Field choppers, silage boxes and silos long-since abandoned are being greased up and drug out of retirement.

Hudson Luce 5 years, 11 months ago

Too bad the local farmers can't legally grow hemp, it would do fine in the current conditions:

LogicMan 5 years, 11 months ago

So that nobody would care that they and their farm animals are starving?

Alceste 5 years, 11 months ago

Poor ole Nunemaker-ross Inc received payments totaling $1,068,992 from 1995 through 2011 in federal WELFARE payments.....and that don't include the crop insurance subsidies which amount to a tidy little sum. Alceste do think Nunemaker and Ross'll both survive.....and nicely at that.....

Here are the FACTS from :

When is Brownback, Roberts, and Moran going to do something about all these WELFARE recipients?????

deec 5 years, 11 months ago

You beat me to it. The farm subsidy programs are one of the biggest scams out there. Granted most farmers (half to two thirds depending on the state) don't use them. The "farmers" who do, like my 86 year old neighbor lady who lives in town, or the governor of Kansas, or a certain local developer, are more than happy to take welfare.

davidmcg 5 years, 11 months ago

Then don't drive a car. The gas has corn in it and the body panels, seats, bumpers, dashboard, steering wheel and roughly 65% of any car made since 2000 is made from corn, not petroleum. Don't use shampoo or other health product, its corn. Don't go see a doctor, corn is in most medical tools and drugs. The plastic in your computer, dvd's and cellphone are made from corn, your tv also. If you have any plastic cups or plates, they are made from corn. Corn byproducts are in almost everything you touch, use or depend on everyday. Don't drive down a city street. That reflective tape on road signs and the lenses on stop lights are made from plastic, not oil.

tecuani 5 years, 11 months ago

The reason there is corn in everything is because our government has made it so damn cheap because of subsidies. Not because it is so special! Corn farming is inefficient, not drought resistant and nutritionally lacking compared to just about every other crop on the planet.

chootspa 5 years, 11 months ago

That particular egg came after the chicken. When we had the ever-normal granary system, the price of corn was not artificially low. The shift into subsidy programs manipulates the market to the point that people think of excuses to use up our artificially cheap corn.

deec 5 years, 11 months ago

Cattle don't eat grass anymore. They eat corn, dead animals, manure.

davidmcg 5 years, 11 months ago

Really? Are you a cattleman/rancher? The only ones that eat corn are in feedlots a month or so before slaughter. The rest of the time, they are on pasture or eating hay rounds/silage.

chootspa 5 years, 11 months ago

Does that month or so before slaughter magically transform a ruminant into an omnivore?

chootspa 5 years, 11 months ago

Your steer eat a little too many prions, if you know what I mean.

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

It's hard to feel too sorry for someone with 4,400 acres of good farmland at today's prices.

davidmcg 5 years, 11 months ago

I doubt very much anyone who farms or raises cattle wants you to feel sorry for them or expects you to feel sorry for them. Just understand, almost everything you use, need or desire comes from a farm someplace. When farmers/ranchers suffer, that sufferring eventually makes it to the end consumer in the form of shortages/no supply to higher prices.

tecuani 5 years, 11 months ago

Whoopdy Frickin' doo. And if a farmer grows corn, he is paid handsomely and excessively by American tax dollars. He didn't say anything about cattle farmers or other farmers. These are corn farmers. Spoiled rotten by Uncle Sam to the detriment of the entire nation.

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

Funny thing, my family has been farming in Kansas for over 150 years. I know more than a little bit about farming and farmers.

Anthony Mall 5 years, 11 months ago

Wanna complain about farmers??? Ok, stop eating!!! Farmers are underpaid, work 12-16 hour days, and take crap from liberals who don't want to get dirty... Fuel prices, fertilizer prices, equipment all go up and some farmers need the assistance... People take advantage of it but to blame all is irresponsible... Boycott farmers and stop eating, driving, and feeding your pets...

tecuani 5 years, 11 months ago

Corn farmers get so much assistance, perhaps you should educate yourself about that. there is a reason there is a Corn lobby.

Jock Navels 5 years, 11 months ago

such extreme either/or rants from the right....nobody is saying do without corn or corn farmers. I am originally from a corn and cattle farm in Nebraska. But the large corporate family farms of today utilize huge government WELFARE checks. I would think the right would approve of stopping the government support of these "farmers" and let the invisible hand of the free market have full reign in the agriculture industry. No, wait...Monsanto.

chootspa 5 years, 11 months ago

This. This. This. Nobody is saying that real family farmers don't work hard and don't deserve to earn a living. Far from it. The direct subsidy program incentivizes the wrong business model and actually keeps many farmers poor. It's ironically exactly the sort of thing that people who are against welfare claim will happen, and yet this system of government welfare is never truly on the chopping block, probably because of the huge corporate interests that benefit from the model either by getting welfare checks, by selling patented corn and farming items, or by using artificially cheap corn in their manufacturing processes. Get the government out of my life, but don't touch my farm subsidy.

If you want to keep farmers from going bust without handing them welfare checks, we should shift back to a buffer economy like we used to do as a reaction to the droughts in the '30s. The price if corn would be higher, but really it should be. People would figure out other things they could put in food and plastics and fuel.

deec 5 years, 11 months ago

Right. Without subsidies they'll get aid what the market pays them. Will food prices go up? Of course. Maybe then we'll stop being a nation of corn-stuffed over-eaters. Obesity-related disease cost 147 billion in 2008.

2/3 of farmers receive NO subsidies. I respect those farmers. The welfare hogs at the government trough...not so much.

Mark Currie 5 years, 11 months ago

I have worked on a farm some when I was younger. Most of the farmers I worked for had crappy houses, crappy old equipment etc. I worked cattle, hay, milo, and corn, alfalfa, and on a dairy farm. These were all family farms, and they are still out there trying to make a living. From what I saw it wasn't much of a living. A year like this sent their kids to school in old or homemade clothes, and they drove old Ford or Chevy cars. These guys still exist. What about them? Screw them too?

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

They still exist? Where, in your dreams.

davidmcg 5 years, 11 months ago

Ever been to Jefferson County for example, they are all over the place here. Now there are some well off family farms, don't get me wrong. But the majority here in JeffCO have equipment that is 20 years old or older, old enough that the taxes drop off because they are classics or antiques. Most here have fewer than 500 acres that they own. Most lease/crop share what they do farm. They run that farm 12 to 16 hours, in all weather 7 days a week, no time off for holidays. They drive to places like Lawrence, Topeka, St. Joe and Atchison to buy parts. Those dealers pay taxes into your county. Corporate farming in JeffCO? Yes there is some, but 95% of it here is the small (less than 500 acre) family farm just as it has been for generations and it is disappearing. These famalies don't get a dime in subsidy, they do not qualify. When their crops go bad, they are lucky if they get 40% of the front end load covered because they can not afford the high insurance premium to get more reimbursement. the farm bill? They just reworked it, guess where most of the aid goes? It goes to subsidize that lunch your city and rural kids are eating at school and most of the rest goes to the SNAP card system (food stamps). These family farmers are my neighbors and friends. They kill themselves so you can eat, have medicine and drive a car. Yes they complain, but, they know they are at mercy of the creator and weather. They want the government and you out of their way. They can and do feed us all and could do better if most of us would just say thank you and shut up.

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

If they're still there, they won't be around for long

chootspa 5 years, 11 months ago

There's plenty of faux farms up in Johnson County. Got a development project that hasn't quite funded yet? Don't let it become zoned residential or comercial! Put some crops on a few acres and pretend you've got a farm. Poof, instant lower property taxes.

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

At a minimum you need to a farm a minimum of two sections to make a good living these days. The guy farming a quarter with a chickens, pigs and cows on 20 acres is from a bygone era.

gccs14r 5 years, 11 months ago

It's stupid to try to grow corn out here. It's a very water-intensive crop, and we don't have enough water as it is.

RubyVrooom 5 years, 11 months ago

"According to the National Weather Service, just 0.18 of an inch of rain fell in Lawrence between June 1 and July 12. That’s 5.5 inches less than average."

That's not true. It is showing 1.56 inches in June and we're at 0.58 in July.

sourpuss 5 years, 11 months ago

Doesn't matter as long as they keep voting Republican.

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 11 months ago

Hey farmer Jack, if you worked on a farm once, you know wery well you don't raise the same crop on same piece of ground each year, called rotation. The valley is some of the best ground to grow anything, long as the normal amount of rain come each year. Farming is still hard work even with the modern equipment most farmers have , but you still have to maintain it fuel, different types of oils,tires, all high dollar, and have the know how to make repairs to every thing yourself,.with your car you have a idea how much it cost to keep it well maintained, let alone a fleet of equipment.

Alceste 5 years, 11 months ago

davidmcg writes above: "Then don't drive a car. The gas has corn in it....."

Not by my choosing the farmers lobby had our wonderful legislature passed a law a few years back that permits gas stations to sell gasohol without telling you, provided the amount of corn alcohol is 10% or less. Who wants it or needs it? It's been proven time and again that corn ethanol costs more to produce than it delivers in energy. Of couse what few know is that the very "farmers" who grow the crud also own the local ethanol producing plants around these here parts. They done got a good racket and suckered the American and Kansas public big time. WELFARE. Follow that dollar.....find the hack hick.

Alceste 5 years, 11 months ago

davidmcg1 note above:

"....guess where most of the aid goes? It goes to subsidize that lunch your city and rural kids are eating at school and most of the rest goes to the SNAP card system (food stamps)......".

Utter nonsense. The SNAP (AKA: Foodstamp Program) is NOT set up to help poor people eat! It's set up part and parcel with price supports and price subsidies to phat cat farmers! If the SNAP (AKA: Foodstamp Program) stopped today, trust me, poor people'd find a way to eat....even if it meant hitting people over the head with a lead pipe......; however, were the USDA subsidy system to stop today, these WELFARE recipient "farmers" would begin to understand the meaning of loss.

Top it all off.....In 2000, Congress prohibited public disclosure of the names of farmers who receive subsidized crop insurance, a program that has quadrupled in size since 2002, to $9 billion last year. The Congressional Budget Office projected the program will cost $90 billion in the next decade. The cost to taxpayers of the current crop insurance system has soared from $2.4 billion in 2001 to nearly $9 billion in 2011 as a result of high commodity prices and the generous premium subsidies that lead farmers to buy the most expensive insurance available.The Congressional Budget Office predicts that taxpayers will spend $90 billion over the next ten years on the highly subsidized insurance program – far more than $66 billion the CBO predicts will be spent on traditional farm subsidies.

From a July 10, 2012 article:

On the same day that the House will vote to end health insurance subsidies for low income Americans, the House Agriculture Committee will vote to increase crop insurance subsidies for the largest and most profitable mega farms – and will cut nutrition assistance programs to pay for it.

Many of the same House Agriculture Committee members who will vote tomorrow (Wednesday) on a proposal to increase crop insurance subsidies voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2009, including Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN). Other members of the House Agriculture Committee who are expected to support unlimited insurance subsidies for corn and cotton farmers tomorrow but voted against health insurance subsidies for low income Americans in 2009 include Reps. Tim Holden (D-PA), Larry Kissell (D-NC), and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), as well as Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Tim Johnson (R-IL), Steve King (R-IA), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Michael Conaway (R-TX), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), and Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL).

Unlike the health insurance subsidies included in the Affordable Care Act, crop insurance subsidies are not subject to any limits on who can receive subsidies or the amount they can receive......Roughly 30,000 policyholders collected 42 percent of all premium subsidies in 2011. is the source

cra99 5 years, 11 months ago

At least these people are working hard

To set record straight note enormous growth of Food stamps: Food stamp usage is at record levels according to the New York Times, with one in eight Americans now receiving benefits. The dramatic rise in spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the Food Stamp program until 2008 when Congress changed its name to sound more palatable.-appproximately 40 billion annually beginning of 2009 to almost 75 billion end of 2011

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 11 months ago

News flash! When the economy collapses, more people become dependent on food stamps. Elementary, my dear Watson.

Jeremiah Jefferson 5 years, 11 months ago

Man, to hear some of you guys tell it, the farmers are out there rolling in a $250,000 Bently, living in a two million dollar house, with a sea side winter home in Miami Florida complete with a 40 foot yaht.

I would encourage some of you moron desk jockeys who like statistics to go spend a month with a farmer and see for yourselves just how easy that life is, working cattle, milking them, cutting hay, moving and throwing hay, installing and repairing miles of fence, working on equipment that could easily take your hand off or crush you, working the same ground 3-4 times a year, cutting and planting crops and doing it while working around mother natures scheadule, enduring the most extream heat and cold temps from one year to the next, inconsistant fuel prices, constantly patching up and repairing equipment, working 12-15 hours a day, and the list goes on.

Man farming is so dang easy and the money is so good, who wouldn't want to be a farmer? I think everybody should be a farmer its so easy.

I know quite a few farmers in Franklin and Douglas Conty and they are the hardest working individuals I have ever met. I will never forget the day a year or so back that I stopped to talk to one of them who is 80 years old and he was unloading a pallet of 50 pound bags of corn seed like it was nothing. Farming is hard work and all the farmers I know have my respect.

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

I'll bet you they pay less in property taxes on that $10 million dollar farmland than the average 2000 sq ft house in Lawrence.

Alceste 5 years, 11 months ago

Read it and many pieces of property held by an impoverished fool....

Steve Jacob 5 years, 11 months ago

On the world scale, this drought is big. Corn all over the world was looking bad, but the US was going to make up for it. Other repercussions include cattle being sent to market sooner/smaller because the high feed prices and high beef prices down the road.

verity 5 years, 11 months ago

"a farm that was liquidated for 7 million bucks!"

The monetary worth of a farm doesn't mean that the farmer was making a handsome profit working the farm.

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago

Can anyone provide a short summary on how crop insurance plays. The coirn becomes silage, the farmer gets paid somthing for the loss. Does that mean a payment representative of what would have been earned or a paynent covering just costs accumulated??

chootspa 5 years, 11 months ago

My understanding is that the payment is representative of a "target price," whether they experience the revenue loss because of a low yield (ie the weather) or a low price (everyone has a bumper crop forcing the price down.)

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