Harvest lessons learned from 2020

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corn kernels and dollar bills
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

Hello, Northeast Ohio. Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year as it has something for every sense. The sound of leaves crunching underneath our feet, the taste of hot apple cider, the cool autumn breeze, the smell of corn harvest and the sight of the brilliant orange and red colors across the landscape.

Fall also signifies the end of a growing season. The words of Solomon ring true when he wrote for everything there is a season and a time for every matter. Harvest is followed by a long winter’s rest before the seeds of this year’s harvest bring life back to our fields.

In a sense, farm managers can mimic nature. We can harvest the lessons learned from 2020, take a deep breath during winter, and then chart our 2021 business strategies.

Autumn is the time when Ohio State University extension traditionally releases its budgets and other resources to help farmers as they plan for the new year. This fall also brought the release of another federal program to help farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Today, I would like to take a quick look at each of these.

2021 crop budgets

Barry Ward from OSU extension recently released his crop budget forecasts. He said to expect “more of the same” when it comes to input costs for corn, soybeans and wheat in 2021, and he expects some softening will occur with variable inputs such as fertilizer, fuel, and interest rates. He also shared that he expects land rentals to remain stable even though CAUV tax valuations should continue to decline. For any producer who has not received the 2021 budget estimates for corn, soybeans and wheat, they can be found at farmoffice.osu.edu.

Ohio farm custom rates

One of OSU extension’s most popular bulletins has also been updated, the Ohio farm custom rates bulletin. This guide helps farmers and landowners alike as they negotiate the price to hire farming tasks and operations. For instance, if my combine is giving me fits during this year’s harvest, what price should I expect a neighboring farmer to charge to harvest my corn or soybeans? A landowner may also wish to know the cost to hire a farmer to mow, rake and bale their hayfield.

Other rates that can be found in the bulletin include the expected costs to brush-hog a pasture, spread lime and/or fertilizer, prepare soil, plant crops, harvest silage and much, much more. The Ohio farm custom rates can also be accessed at farmoffice.osu.edu

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program #2 (CFAP-2)

The COVID pandemic has created disruption in many areas of agriculture. Instead of our usual market cycles, farmers saw prices move up and down in ways they could never imagine. To help farmers mitigate the pandemic’s impact, the Coronavirus Food Assistance program (CFAP) was released in April. Just recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced additional assistance through a second round of the program.

Nearly all agricultural commodities are eligible for CFAP-2 payments. One significant change for row crops is that CFAP-2 will make payments based on 2020 plantings. This means that many crop producers who were not eligible for assistance in round one will now be eligible.

Livestock assistance is being provided based on the number of eligible animals in the herd between April 16 to Aug. 31. There is also assistance for specialty crops and livestock.

Dairy producers are also eligible for assistance. Dairy payments will be equal to the sum of two parts. The first part will equal the producer’s total actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31, multiplied by the payment $1.20 per hundredweight.

The second payment will be based on the estimated daily average milk production from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, multiplied by 122 and then multiplied by a payment rate of $1.20 per hundredweight.

Eligible producers can sign up for CFAP through Dec. 11. Complete details about the CFAP-2 program can be found at the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) website at farmers.gov/cfap. The USDA has an excellent spreadsheet which producers can use to calculate the assistance which they are eligible. You can also receive more information by contacting your local Farm Service Agency office.

Closing thoughts

I hope each of you glean as much as you can from this crazy year and take time to make plans for a better 2021.

I would like to share a quote from Howard Graham Buffett who stated, “Each of us has about 40 chances to accomplish our goals in life. I learned this first through agriculture, because all farmers can expect to have about 40 growing seasons, giving them just 40 chances to improve on every harvest.”

Have a good and safe day!

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David Marrison is an associate professor and Extension educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension. He can be reached at 740-622-2265 or marrison.2@osu.edu.

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