FARMERS AND FOOD GROUPS INNOVATE TO KEEP OPERATIONS VIABLE AS THE CORONAVIRUS SPREADS

FARMERS WHO SELL DIRECTLY TO CUSTOMERS AT FARMERS’ MARKETS AND THROUGH CSAS ARE COMING UP WITH NOVEL SOLUTIONS AT BREAKNECK SPEED TO KEEP THEIR CUSTOMERS FED AND THEIR OPERATIONS VIABLE.

By : Leah Douglas

For Jody Osmund, who runs Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm with his partner, Beth, in Ottawa, Illinois, the shuttering of public spaces to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus presents a significant challenge. He typically distributes his farm shares at brewery taprooms around the Chicago area, which allows him to share a pint with customers while supporting local businesses. So how should he proceed when many bars and restaurants are closed, and heath guidelines demand that people keep their distance?

Enter the pool noodle.

Osmund used the noodle to mark out a safe distance between him and the members of his community-supported agriculture program at this week’s distribution site. “I’d take their name and get their CSA share. Then [I] would set it down for them and back away before they would pick it up,” he described via email. “It was a little awkward, but the pool noodle was disarming and brought a little levity.”

As the spread of the coronavirus causes many cities to curtail public gatherings, farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers’ markets and through CSAs are coming up with novel solutions at breakneck speed to keep their customers fed and their operations viable.

Some food distribution groups are even rethinking their entire delivery model, trying to ensure that farmers still have a market and customers still have access to fresh food.

Their adaptations include, of course, improving sanitary practices by frequently washing hands and offering sanitizer to customers. Farmers at markets are wearing gloves, handling produce themselves rather than having shoppers select items, and eliminating sampling. Those who distribute CSA shares are pre-bagging and bringing them to customers’ cars or operating in the parking lots of the closed business or churches where they would otherwise distribute.

Some organizations are piloting home delivery for the first time, as many shoppers are self-isolating or quarantined at home. Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Market Mobile program typically delivers wholesale orders of local produce and other farm goods to restaurants and universities across the state. But this week, the group rolled out a new system that allowed individual households to place orders online and have food dropped off right at their door. Continue reading

Perspectives on 2019 Corn and Soybean Acres: Impact of Prevent Plant

Source: farmdoc daily(9):151, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, August 15, 2019.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture released county acreages for crops and prevent plantings based on acreage reports filed by farmers.  Even though prevent plant totaled 19 million acres in the United States, planted corn acres in 2019 are only slightly lower than 2018 values.  With notable exceptions, corn acres decreased in counties that had large areas of prevent planting and increased in acres with little prevent planting.  Soybean acres fell over the vast majority of counties in the United States.

FSA Acreage Data

FSA released their first set of 2019 county-level acreage data on August 1 (see Crop Acreage Data of FSA).  This data indicated that there were 85.9 million acres of corn planted in the United States, down by 1% from the 2018 plantings of 86.4 million acres (see Table 1)

The 2019 planting number (85.9 million acres) is expected to increase as FSA continues to update values monthly until January 2020.  From 2011 to 2018, corn acreage in the final January report averaged 1.8% higher than the initial August report.  However, in recent years, the increase has been much lower.  From 2016 to 2018, the January value was .7% higher than the initial August value.  A 1.3% increase – the average from 2011 to 2018 – would increase 2019 planted corn acres to 87.4 million acres.  A .7% increase – the average from 2016 to 2018 – would increase planted acres to 86.4 million acres, roughly the same as the planted acreage for 2018. Continue reading

Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill) of 2018: Summary

Source: Carl Zulauf, Emeritus Professor, and Ben Brown, Program Manager – Farm Management Ohio State University, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics

Some information is beginning to come out regarding the new Farm Bill.  The complete farm bill is 807 pages.  Click on the following link to read the complete 9 page summary compiled by Dr. Carl Zulauf and Ben Brown  Farm Bill-196wwqa

2018 Farm Sector Income Forecast, November

Source:  USDA ERS

Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $9.1 billion (12.1 percent) from 2017 to $66.3 billion in 2018, after increasing $13.8 billion (22.5 percent) in 2017. Net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $8.5 billion (8.4 percent) to $93.4 billion. In inflation-adjusted 2018 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decline $10.8 billion (14.1 percent) from 2017 after increasing $13.0 billion (20.2 percent) in 2017. If realized, inflation-adjusted net farm income would be 3.3 percent above its level in 2016, which was its lowest level since 2002.

See a summary of the forecasts in the table U.S. farm sector financial indicators, 2011-2018F, or see all data tables on farm income and wealth statistics.

Net farm income and net cash farm income, 2000-18F

[In the text below, year-to-year changes in the major aggregate components of farm income are discussed only in nominaldollars unless the direction of the change is reversed when looking at the component in inflation-adjusted dollars.]

Summary Findings

Continue reading

Drying and storing wet soybeans

Source: Michael Staton, Michigan State University Extension

Due to the cool and wet conditions, soybeans harvested at this time of the year will need to be dried on the farm or at the elevator. Some elevators will accept soybeans up to 18 percent moisture while others will reject loads that are above 15 percent moisture. Contact your elevator prior to delivery and understand their discount schedule. Information on understanding soybean discount schedules is available in “Understanding soybean discount schedules” from Michigan State University Extension.

Commodity soybeans used for domestic crush or export can be dried using supplemental heat. However, food grade and seed beans should not be dried with supplemental heat. Proper management is essential to minimizing damage when using supplemental heat. Keep the drying temperature below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Understanding soybean discount schedules

Source: Michael Staton, Michigan State University Extension

 

Every elevator that receives soybeans has a discount schedule. Discount schedules are important because they communicate how and when various shrink factors and discounts are applied at delivery. Discount schedules vary from elevator to elevator and can be somewhat confusing. This article lists and explains the major shrink and discount factors pertaining to soybeans and provides examples of shrink and discount calculations.

Test weight

Test weight is a measure of density (mass/volume) and is measured in pounds per bushel. The standard test weight of 60 pounds per bushel is always used to convert the scale weight of soybean loads to the number of bushels contained in the load. This is true even if the actual test weight of the load is lower than 60 pounds per bushel. Therefore, test weight does not impact the number of saleable bushels harvested from a defined area (acre or field). However, most grain buyers will begin discounting soybean loads when the test weight falls below 54 pounds per bushel. Discounts are applied to the gross weight of the load before shrink factors are applied. The only advantage of having test weights higher than 54 pounds per bushel is that the beans will take up less volume in storage and during transportation.

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