Coincidence, possibly. But the timing is perfect. Economists from the USDA’s Economics Research Service and Mississippi State University evaluated one of the primary safety net programs under consideration by Congress in its deliberations on the 2014 Farm Bill. Whether the Congress pays any attention to the evaluation is hard to predict, but their analysis will play an important part in farmers’ decisions when it comes time to sign up for a farm program, should the alternative become part of the new safety net. And it likely will.
Soft landings are desired by airline travelers and economists. But in the case of farmland values, a soft landing is much more preferable than the bursting of some bubble. And when current data on farmland values is examined, it may seem the throttle is being pulled slowly back for a soft entry into price stability. No one is saying land values have stopped rising or are declining; but the rate of acceleration has slowed, and it may be an early indication that the exponential rise in farmland prices has moved into middle age, so to speak.
The first of three steps have been taken toward a new Farm Bill, a 2014 version that will last through 2018 in all likelihood. The initial step occurred Tuesday and Wednesday of this week when the Agriculture Committees, first in the Senate, then the House, approved their version of farm and food legislation. The second step will be chamber approval, which could come as early as next week in the Senate. However, floor approval in the House has not been set, but could be in June. Finally, a conference committee of House and Senate members will meet, likely in July, to merge the divergent measures so Congress can pass a new Farm Bill prior to the August Congressional recess. The members do not want to return to their districts for a third consecutive year and report inaction to an angry constituency. They will already be campaigning for re-election by that time. So what have the House and Senate Agriculture committees cooked up to serve agriculture and consumers?
USDA’s Crop Progress and Condition report for May 13 indicated that 28% of the corn had been planted, compared to 12% last week and 85% for last year with a 65% five year average. Only 5% is emerged, compared to 52% last year and 28% for the five year average. Soybean planting is 6% nationally, compared to the 24% five year average for May 12th. Only 29% of the winter wheat is headed, compared to 51% for the five year average. Wheat conditions remain fairly stable with 39% in poor to very poor condition and 32% in good to excellent condition. 43% of the spring wheat has been planted, but Minnesota and North Dakota are both behind the national average, and were either finished or nearly so last year at this time. A state by state look follows…..
While some parts of the Cornbelt made planting progress in the past week, not everyone did. And many farmers who are concerned about planting corn after the optimum planting dates may also wonder about changing their routine of field work. For example, should corn planting or nitrogen application be first? The answer is easy, and we have some tips to make it easier.