Showing posts with the label farm

CFAP Calculations, Payment Rates, & Explanation

University of Illinois ag policy specialist Jonathan Coppess and ILLINOIS Extension Farm Broadcaster Todd Gleason discuss the USDA CFAP coronavirus direct payment announcement.

CFAP payments for corn and soybeans max out at 1/2 of total production and are subject to other payment limitations. The calculation compares 1/2-of-total-production to 100% of total-unpriced-inventory on January 15th. The smaller of those two numbers is multiplied by the payment rate to attain the full CFAP payment. FSA will provide a spreadsheet for the calculation and other related paperwork starting May 26, 2020.

$0.33.5 for corn
$0.47.5 for soybeans

CFAP funds will be distributed in two checks. The first will be 80% of the full amount. The second will be up-to-the remaining 20% depending on available funding. It could be prorated to a smaller amount.

This payment rate schedule was developed by University of Illinois Ag Economist Gary Schnitkey. The payment schedule is not Illinois specific or an all-inclusive commodities list. See for USDA CFAP details.

MFP Payments and 2020 Cash Rents

MFP payments have had impacts on land rental rates. Moreover, uncertainty about the continuation of MFP in 2020 presents issues in setting cash rental rates. Given this uncertainty, we present the idea of setting cash rents at appropriate levels given the price and yield environment, likely lower than 2019 cash rent rates, with contingencies for cases in which MFP payments occur. By doing this, base cash rent is set at a level that allows the farmer to generate profits and leaves open the option for both parties to benefit if MFP payments occur in 2020.

by Gary Schniteky, ILLINOIS Extension
link to farmdocDaily article

Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments have served as a significant source of revenue on grain farms in 2018 and 2019. Without MFP payments, average farmer returns would be negative in 2019, and far below any level since consistent records began in 2000. Without MFP payments, 2020 returns are projected to be negative. It is unknown at this time if MFP payments will occur in 2020, or the potential level of an MFP payment if the program continues. When developing cash rental rates, we suggest lowering cash rent levels if they are at or above averages for a productivity level, and then having the possibility of higher cash rents if MFP payments occur.

Historic Returns to Central Illinois
Figure 1 shows average operator and land return and average cash rent on high-productivity farmland in central Illinois, with historical values representing actual returns from grain farms enrolled in Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM). Documentation for values shown in Figure 1 is provided in Revenue and Costs for Illinois Grain Crops (click here for download). Historical and projected revenue assumptions also are given in a November 19, 2019 farmdoc daily article. Figure 1 shows returns for farmland given that 50% of the acres are in corn and 50% are in soybeans.

Two lines are shown in Figure 1. The first is operator and land return, representing a return to both the farmer and land owner. Costs for farmland are not included in operator and land return. If farmland is cash rented, the cost to the farmer is cash rent. Figure 1 also shows average cash rent in central Illinois. When operator and land return is above cash rent, a farmer will have a positive cash return on cash rented land. Losses occur when operator and land return is below cash rent.

Between 2006 and 2013, a period in which corn and soybean prices were relatively high, operator and land returns exceeded cash rents by large margins. This period was characterized by higher net incomes (see farmdoc daily, November 19, 2019). Cash rents were rising during this period in response to higher operator and land returns.

Average operator and land returns have been roughly the same as average cash rents since 2013:
  • 2014: Operator and land return was $290 per acre, cash rent was $293 per acre, and farmer return was -$3 per acre.
  • 2015: Operator and land return was $265 per acre, cash rent was $278 per acre, and farmer return was -$13 per acre.
  • 2016: Operator and land return was $291 per acre, cash rent was $273 per acre, and farmer return was $18 per acre.
  • 2017: Operator and land return was $250 per acre, cash rent was $267 per acre, and farmer return was -$17 per acre.
  • 2018: Operator and land return was $355 per acre, cash rent was $274 per acre, and farmer return was $81 per acre.
  • 2019 Projections are for an operator and land return of $273 per acre, cash rent of $274 per acre, and farmer return of -$1 per acre.
Lower returns after 2013 largely occurred because of declines in commodity prices. Returns shown in Figure 1 suggest that cash rents should decline because farmers need to obtain a positive return for the risks, labor, and management of farming. Likely reasons that cash rents farmers are paying have not declined are 1) financial reserves built during the period of high incomes from 2006 to 2012 are allowing farmers to continue paying high rental rates in hopes that higher commodity prices in the future will make those rates profitable (farmdoc daily, October 4, 2016 and October 23, 2018), and 2) positive returns from owned and share rented farmland are used to subsidize cash rent farmland (farmdoc daily, August 22, 2017). Trade disputes, and other factors such as African Swine Fever in China, have considerably diminished chances of higher prices in the near future.

Impacts of MFP payments
In 2018, trade disputes between the U.S. and other countries began impacting agriculture, with the tariff battle between China and the U.S. receiving a great deal of attention. Soybean prices declined throughout the year as the trade dispute continued. On central Illinois farms, prices averaged $8.85 per bushel for soybeans produced in 2018, down from the $9.81 average from 2013–2018.

Although soybean prices were down, returns were positive for central Illinois farmers, at the highest level since 2013 (see Figure 1). In 2018, operator and land return exceed cash rent by $81 per acre. Both exceptionally high yields and MFP payments contributed to this higher return. In 2018, MFP payments accounted for $62 per acre of return, with most of that coming from soybean acres (see farmdoc daily, November 19, 2019). Without the MFP payments, farmer return in 2018 would have been $19 per acre, in the range of returns in other years since 2013.

In 2019, farmer return is projected at -$1 per acre. Returns are down in 2019 because of much lower yields. MFP payments have a large, positive impact on returns. For 2019, MFP payments for central Illinois grain farms are estimated at $82 per acre, up by $20 from average 2018 levels (see farmdoc daily July 30, 2019 for a list of payments by county). This $82 level assumes that all three tranches of MFP payments are paid. Two tranches totaling three quarters of the payment amount have been paid.

The third tranche, if confirmed, would be distributed in early 2020 with the remaining quarter of the payment. Without a MFP payment, 2019 returns are estimated at -$83 per acre, the lowest farmer return since 2000 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 also includes projections for 2020. Operator and land return is projected at $232 per acre, cash rent at $270 per acre, and farmer return at -$38 per acre. The 2020 projection is based on a return to trend yields. Exceptional yields like those in 2018 would be needed to get positive returns given prices of $3.90 per bushel for corn and $9.00 for soybeans. However, prices may fall to lower levels if exceptional yields occur. As a result, crop revenue increases alone likely will not lead to higher farmer returns. Positive returns in 2020 may be dependent on some level of support, such as the continuation of the MFP.

MFP Payments in Perspective
In the last two years, MFP payments have been a significant source of revenue on Illinois grain farms. In 2018, MFP payments represented 8 percent of total gross revenue received from corn and soybeans production. In 2019, MFP’s share is presented at 11 percent (see Figure 2).

Government payments have not accounted for that large of a share of gross revenue on Illinois grain farms since the early 2000s. In the early 2000s, government support to farmers through the Agricultural Market Transition Act, Market Loss Adjustment, and marketing loan programs represented a higher share of gross revenue. For example, government payments were 25% of gross revenue in 2000, 23 percent in 2001 (see Figure 2)

Cash Rents Corn and soybean prices fell and were at lower levels in both the early 2000s (beginning in 1998) and since 2018. Those lower prices then led to governments payments. In the early 2000s, those payments were legislated through Congress. The MFP payments come through different authority, with levels determined through a process that is not transparent (see farmdoc daily, November 21, 2019 for more discussion of the MFP program). Also, the levels of MFP payments from one year to the next are not known. For 2019, administrative officials indicated that MFP payments would not occur up to May 2019. In actuality, MFP payments on most farms will be higher in 2019 than in 2018.

Counterfactuals are difficult to prove, but it seems likely that farmers in the early 2000s would have had to make larger adjustments in response to lower commodity prices had government support not existed. In the end, land returns likely would have declined, and cash rents fallen.

Similarly, cash rents likely would have fallen in 2019 as a result of lower commodity prices in 2018 had MFP payments not existed. The extent to which they would have fallen depends on how participants view the permanence of lower soybean prices. If soybean prices will continue below $9.00 for several years, cash rents need to adjust downward if MFP payments do not continue.

2020 Cash Rents
The uncertainty of MFP payments presents an issue for setting 2020 cash rents. If MFP payments do not occur, farmers could face large losses if cash rents levels are set as if MFP payments will occur. On the other hand, MFP payments at the 2018 and 2019 levels could result in good farmer returns, particularly if yields are exceptional. This uncertainty obviously adds to the difficulty in making cash rent decisions for 2020.

As farmers and landowners negotiate rental rates for 2020, several factors should be considered. Cash rental rates have remained relatively flat despite a lower price environment since 2013. The average central Illinois cash rental rate has put farmer returns below break-even in three of the last five years, and likely right at break-even in 2019 including the full MFP payment.

Given the uncertainty about MFP payment, an appropriate approach would be to set a cash rent without the MFP considered in budgeting and allowing for an increase in the rent if the MFP occurs.

As an example, consider 2020 projections. Without an MFP payment, 2020 operator and land return is projected at $232 per acre. This $232 per acre is considerably below the 2018 average rent of $273 per acre. Setting a cash rent at $230 per acre would result in a $2 projected return to the farmer, not a desirable return, but better than a loss that would result with a cash rent at the $273 average for 2019. The lease could then have a clause that shares the MFP payments 50–50 between the land owner and farmer. If an $82 per acre MFP payment is received — equivalent to the average projected payment for 2019 — the farmer would make an additional payment of $41 to the land owner, resulting in total rent to the land owner of $271 per acre ($230 base cash rent plus $41 payments from the MFP payment), and a $43 return to the farmer ($2 projected return with MFP pulse $41 from MFP).

Several notes about the above lease:
  1. A share-rent arrangement has risk sharing directly built into the lease. As a result, MFP payments already are considered in share-rent arrangements
  2. The above lease is very close to a variable cash lease (see farmdoc daily, September 9, 2015 for a discussion of one-type of variable cash leases. Click here for a lease). Variable cash leases would consider possible higher returns due to higher prices or yields. Inclusion of MFP like payments in variable cash leases seems warranted if base levels are low enough such that farmers do not take large losses at base rent levels.
  3. Base levels need to be set low enough so that farmer risks are reduced. Putting a clause for MFP sharing without lowering cash rents simply shifts returns from farmers to land owners, and adds risk to the farmer.
  4. The 50–50 sharing percent is dependent on having the base level low enough that farmer risks are reduced. Given the current economic environment, base rent levels should be well below cash rent levels. A method for determining average cash rents for different cash rent levels is presented in a November 7, 2017 farmdoc daily article.

Adding the Costs of Conservation to a Farm Lease

Farmers and landowners alike are wanting to try more conservation practices. Todd Gleason reports the timing and amount of nitrogen applications along with the use of cover crops can all be written into a farm lease.

farmdoc farm lease page link

(1) Soil Health and Conservation Addendum

The Soil Health and Conservation Addendum is for a landowner who seeks to reach clear understanding with the farm-tenant about practices on the land under lease. The addendum is a fillable pdf and the parties can negotiate the specific provisions to include in the addendum, memorializing the agreement by selecting the specific provisions. The provisions and fillable pdf are designed to be additive: each selected provision will be incorporated in the lease agreement.
Included among the provisions that can be selected are those for tillage practices and cover crop practices. There are also specific provisions pertaining to other conservation efforts that may be present on the farmland, such as ditches, vegetative buffers, terraces or other erosion control measures. The addendum also includes general options that address soil health and conservation efforts for the farmland. Finally, the addendum provides options for the parties to agree to adjustments in the annual rent based on the provisions for soil health and conservation selected above. All of these are only options and the parties are free to adjust or revise the provisions as they consider best and all are again advised to discuss with legal counsel before completing.

(2) Nutrient Management Addendum

Similarly, the Nutrient Management Addendum is a fillable pdf that provides for selecting basic provisions that can be incorporated into any lease. Among the options are those pertaining to adherence to the Maximum Return to Nitrogen (MRTN) for nutrient application on the land subject to the lease, as well as for requiring specific application practices such as split application. Options also include for soil testing, adoption of nutrient management plans and the application of manure, such as an agreement to avoid application on frozen ground.
This addendum also provides options for the parties to agree to adjustments in the annual rent based on the provisions for soil health and conservation selected above. All of these are only options and the parties are free to adjust or revise the provisions as they consider best and all are again advised to discuss with legal counsel before completing.

(3) Conservation Habitat Addendum

This addendum provides specific options pertaining to wildlife habitat on the farmland that is subject to the underlying lease. This addendum provides for general descriptions of the critical area and options for agreeing to basic maintenance or integrated pest management practices. The addendum also provides space for the parties to agree to any adjustments to the rent due to the conservation habitat on the farmland subject to the lease. Again, these options create or alter legal rights and both the landowner and the farm-tenant are advised to consult with their respective legal counsel before completing the addendum.

Tidbits from the ILLINOIS Fam Tax School

Farmers generally try to get their taxes in order before the end of the year. This season they may need to consider MFP and Prevented Plantings payments and how to best make charitable contributions.

The tax implications of the MFP payments are that the money is taxable in the year it is received. One-half of the MFP payment has already been or will be delivered shortly. It is expected 25% will be delivered in a second check in November. And if needed the third check, another 25% of the total, is likely to come in January. The first two checks are taxable in 2019, and the final portion would be taxable in 2020.

Another payment farmers may not be used to dealing with involves the Prevented Planting portion of crop insurance says Bob Rhea, “Those payments are either taxable when received, or under certain circumstances, could be delayed until 2020 the year after the disaster occurred. So, they should visit with their tax professional as they determine, especially as we near year end, whether those should be taken as 2019 income or used under the election to be treated as 2020 income.”

Rhea presented during this fall’s ILLINOIS Farm Tax School Seminars. He reminded the tax preparers in attendance that farmers also have a unique way to make charitable contributions, “IRS has prescribed some specific steps to validate a contribution with grain. One of those is that the grain must be delivered to the charity. The charity must be the owner of the grain in inventory, and the producer should notify the charity that he has provide x-number of bushels in their name at a certain location. The charity then, from that point, takes the risk and makes the sale and handles the cash proceeds from there.”

In simple terms the producer delivers grain in the name of the charity to the grain elevator, notifies the charity, and the charity then makes the sale.

Cash Rents and the 2019 Growing Season

Professional farm managers in the state of Illinois have completed a cash rent survey. Todd Gleason reports it is a fairly go indicator of where cash rents in the state can be expected to go. He talked with University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey about the results.

Interviews from the Farm Progress Show

How Harvey Will Impact Fuel Supply Infrastructure
Dave Chatterton, Powerline Group - Champaign, Illinois

Monday Todd Gleason spoke with Dave Chatterton at the Powerline Group about how Hurricane Harvey is impacting the nation’s fuel supply infrastructure.

Southern States Crop Tour Review
Jeremy Wilson, Crop IMS - Effingham, Illinois

The corn crop in the south is good. Very good in fact. Todd Gleason talks with Jeremy Wilson from Crop IMS.

Discussing Dicamba Damage with Robb Fraley
Robb Fraley, Monsanto Company - St. Louis, Missouri Doug Maxwell, Crops Researcher - University of Illinois

Monsanto’s Robb Fraley dropped by the University of Illinois tent at the Farm Progress Show to talk about dicamba and soybeans. Todd Gleason has more…

Recruiting Higher Ed Ag Students to Illinois Universities

Recruiters from Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, and the University of Illinois are planning to work together to keep more agricultural students in state. Todd Gleason discussed the reasons why with them during this year’s Farm Progress Show.

House Ag Committee Members on the Farm Bill
Mike Conaway - U.S. House of Representatives - State of Texas
Rodney Davis - U.S. House of Representatives - State of Illinois
G.T. Thompson - U.S. House of Representatives - State of Pennsylvania

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture held a farm bill listening session at the 2017 Farm Progress Show. Todd Gleason spoke with them afterwards and asked about the compromises which might need to be made to accommodate additional crops and the food & feeding programs.

The New IBRL Building Good for Corn Growers
Vijay Singh, Director IBRL & Agricultural Engineer - University of Illinois

The University of Illinois has built a biofuels processing facility on campus to pilot test new energy concepts. Todd Gleason has more with the Director of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory.

Trump Admin USDA Under Secretary Nominee Ted McKinney
Ted McKinney, Director Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Todd Gleason has a conversation with Director Ted McKinney of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. McKinney has been nominated by President Donald Trump to the post of Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.

Trade & Farm Bill Issues with @ILCorn
Ken Hartman, Newly Elected NCGA Board Member
Roger Sy, Treasurer - Illinois Corn Marketing Board

Illinois corn growers Ken Hartman from Waterloo and Roger Cy from Newman talk with Todd Gleason at the 2017 Farm Progress show about the next farm bill and trade issues.

What’s Next for @FieldView Software
Rick Myrup, Field View - Climate Corp

Big data tools like Climate Corp’s Field View are harnessing crop development and agronomic information from farmers and their equipment. Todd Gleason has more with Rick Myrup.

@NationalCorn Spurlock Discusses NAFA & Farm Bill
Wesley Sprulock, President National Corn Growers Association

NAFTA and the Farm Bill are the hot topics for NCGA. Todd Gleason has more with the Wesley Spurlock from Texas. He is the president of the National Corn Grower’s Association.

Wood Chip Bioreactor Controls Tile Line Nitrate Load

The Dudley Smith research farm in Illinois is tiled and wired. Todd Gleason has more on how the University of Illinois is doing nitrogen loss research near Pana.

Farmers gathered this week for a peek at the nitrogen loss control methods installed in Christian County. It’s a farm that rolls just a bit, but is pretty typical for the area other than the pastures on a portion of it. They came to hear from Laura Christianson. She’s a University of Illinois Crop Scientist, “At the Dudley Smith farm we have a wood chip bioreactor installed. A wood chip bioreactor is a little mini water treatment plant to clean nitrate out of tile drainage. The thing that makes the Dudley Smith bioreactor different is that is has baffles inside it. So, rather than the water just running straight through the wood chips, like most bioreactors, this bioreactor has baffles in it to make the water move in more of an S shape to improve how much nitrate is taken out of the drainage water”.

Early indications are the baffle is working as hoped. Wood chip bioreactors, even without the baffles, can remove between 20 and 40 percent of the annual nitrate load from a tile line. It’s technology farmers are interested in seeing and hopefully, says Christianson, deploying, “I think farmers are interested in wood chip bioreactors because it is something they can do that doesn’t impact their production practices. It is an edge of field practice, so you can keep on in the field however you are comfortable, but this catches that nitrate at the edge of the field before it goes down stream”.

A bioreactor is pretty simple to build. Use a backhoe to make a trench near the end of the tile, put a plastic liner in the trench, fill it with wood chips, be sure to have control structures on the inlet and outlet, and cover it with dirt. The chips will need to be replaced about every 10 years.

What Makes a Top Third Farm

There are just two items that make the difference between a top third farm and an average farm. This University of Illinois study was on a small set in McLean County. This was done to limit the influences of weather and a few other factors. Gary Schnitkey says he wanted to know why some farms made more than others. Turns out, the answer is pretty simple say the ag economist, “What we found were distinct cost differences between the two groups. This was a $45 per acre difference between the average group and the high return group. The $45 came primarily in two items; machinery depreciation and interest cost.”

The more profitable farms tended to have lower machinery and non-land interest cost. The two are related.

If you buy more machinery, you have more depreciation and likely more interest costs. Other differences included storage costs, with high profit farms storing less at elevators and their cost of hired labor was lower, too. Over all, these farms usually had lower costs, but these are the cost groups that stood out.

A couple of notes. The most profitable farms expanded acreage at a faster pace than those in the average group. They also had higher average yields for soybeans and did a better job of marketing soybean.

2017 Projected Incomes on Illinois Grain Farms

Net incomes for Illinois grain farms are projected to be lower this year than last. If this University of Illinois estimate holds, writes agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey on the farmdocdaily website, the weakening financial position of farms in the state will worsen. The last half decade has really changed the financial picture for farmers says Schnitkey, “So we had high incomes from 2010 to 2012 and every year since 2012 we’ve been on a downward trend through 2015. This is when we hit a $500 per farm average net income on Illinois grain farms enrolled in FBFM. This is very low and the lowest through the entire period we’ve examined. Obviously this is not enough to maintain the financial position of farms.”

Schnitkey evaluated FBFM net income records going back to 1996. FBFM stands for Farm Business Farm Management and is a record keeping service for farmers. The service has not yet summarized net incomes for 2016. However it is projecting a substantial rebound.

It appears net income for grain farms in the service will average somewhere between forty and fifty-thousand dollars. There are three primary reasons for this says Schnitkey, “What lead to it was higher than trend line yields. USDA estimates the statewide corn yield at 197 bushels per acre. Just three bushels off the record yield set in 2014 of 200 bushels. Soybean yields averaged 59 bushels. It is a record setting yield. Both of those record setting yields lead to higher incomes in 2016 along with very good ARC County payments.”

Those are two of the three factors leading to a better 2016. The high yields and sizable ARC County payments - that’s the farm safety net from Washington D.C. - aren’t likely to be repeated this season. The third factor very well could be repeated. It is lower input costs including cash rents and fertilizer. It won’t be enough thinks Schnitkey.
Quote Summary - For 2017 we used trend yields and commodity prices of $3.80 for corn and $9.90 for soybeans that resulted in lower incomes for the year. Probably something in the $20,000 range per farm.
Schnitkey cautions it is very early in the season, and that at this same time last year 2016 was projected to be a very, very bad year. It rebounded. It is also important to note that while higher than 2015 incomes, the projected 2016 incomes do not result in the building of financial reserves on most Illinois farms. Schnitkey believes most farms will continue to see the erosion of working capital, potentially leading to the need to refinance outstanding operating loan balances.

2016 Gross Farm Revenue & Income

It looks like this year is going to be better than last year for farmers in central Illinois. Todd Gleason explores how gross income has changed for row croppers in the middle of the prairie state.

The gross revenue for corn is $292 per acre. It is tallied from three income sources. The crop is worth $262. There was a $20 farm safety net payment from the ARC-County program and a $10 crop insurance indemnity. The total, again $292, is lower than last year says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey, “Even though we are putting in a very high yield, we are using 231 bushels to the acre for the corn average - the same as in 2014, revenues will be down for corn in 2016 as compared to 2015”.

Schnitkey calculated the gross revenue figures for the farmdocdaily website.

The soybean figures add up in a similar fashion. The gross revenue is estimated to total $718 per acre. It’s a figure much higher than the 2015 gross says the agricultural economist, “We are including very high soybean yields for 2016. Record-breaking yields, in fact, of 73 bushels to the acre. The price is above $9.50, and this may actually turn out to be low as prices continue to climb. Overall, revenue on soybeans will be up from last year and much higher than total costs. So, our bright spot for the 2016 year will be revenue and income from soybeans”.

All in all, on the highly productive soils of central Illinois, 2016 will go down as a high-yield low-income year. Another year in which farmers just-get-by says Gary Schnitkey.
Quote Summary - Get-by year, but better than it could have been without the high yields. Most farmers will maintain equity, but may see some working capital declines. The declines will be more pronounced on farms working a higher percentage of cash rented land. It is better than 2015, but still not up to sustainable levels for the long-run. We need to see higher returns, particularly for corn prices in the future.
There are a series of graphics detailing 2016 central Illinois row crop farm gross income on the farmdocdaily website.

Grain Farm Working Capital Nearly Exhausted

Four consecutive years of lower commodity prices has nearly exhausted the financial resources of U.S. grain farmers. Todd Gleason looks into the problem with an agricultural economist from the University of Illinois.

Grain Farm Income & Cash Rent Outlook

by Todd E. Gleason

Urbana, Illinois - Wednesday morning September 7, 2016 University of Illinois Extension Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey presented a webinar looking forward into 2017. The discussion centered on farm profitability, projected income, and cash rents. You may the watch the webinar. What follows is a summary of the hour long content.

The USDA WASDE monthly average corn price is $4.67 from 2006 to 2016. The price of corn has been below this average since the fall of 2013 & Gary Schnitkey believes it is likely to continue to stay below this average through the 2017/18 crop year.

Each year USDA tracks the average marketing year cash price. This price is updated monthly in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. The average cash price for corn from 1975 to 2005 is $2.33, $5.95 for soybeans. This is a long term national average cash price. The USDA projected estimates for this marketing year (2016/17) are currently $3.15 and $9.10. The USDA estimate for the 2015 crops is $3.60 and $9.05. This last set can be used to compute expected ARC County payments to be delivered this fall.

Here is a [link]( to the FarmDoc Fast Tools web page from which you may download an Excel spreadsheet to project ARC & PLC payments.

The following tables detail gross revenue per acre for highly productive central Illinois farmland. These are actual, as derived from the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management records, and projected revenues.


Operator and land returns have been declining for both corn and soybeans for several years. However, returns from soybeans have been out performing corn since 2013. Schnitkey predicts this will continue through 2017. It would be the fifth year of higher returns for soybeans than corn. Raising corn on cash rented farmland has been a loser since 2014.

Total income on all Illinois corn and soybean farm (all types of owned & cash rented combined) for 2016 projects a breakeven income year.

Schnitkey says farmers will face three key decision making factors as they consider cash renting farmland for 2017, and that it might be better to give up some of the land based on these considerations.

Across the board the University of Illinois agricultural economist says farmers might need to rethink crop rotations. Soybeans have proved better for several years, and it may be time to adjust to this reality. This or it needs to get cheaper to plant corn. Back in 2000 it costs $63 less to sow and harvest an acre of soybeans. This year the difference was more than $200 an acre of non-land costs in favor of soybeans over corn.

Last week the professional farm managers in Illinois suggested they'd be lowering cash rents by about $20 next year (ISPFMRA Survey). Gary Schnitkey's number is a more conservative $17 an acre based on the fact not all land is professionally managed. Neither of these would be enough to make a cash rented farm break even given $3.50 corn and $9.00 soybeans (2017 | by expected corn yield across Illinois).

So what's the impact on the price of farmland? Well, says Schnitkey, if interest rates stay low the price of farmland will drop by approximately the same percentage change as the cash rent drops. Because cash rent changes very slowly, this is good news for farmland owners, bankers, and producer owners.

Each Tuesday Gary Schnitkey posts a new article to the FarmDocDaily website. Periodically he and the other agricultural economist at the University of Illinois hosts webinars. You may register for upcoming webinars and watch those that have already concluded on this page.

Farm Economy Beginning to Show Signs of Stress

This is the third year of a financial crunch on the farm. It follows on the heels of a series of tremendous seasons since 2006. The extra money, from then, is now starting to run out.

The financial stress in the ag sector may really begin to show this fall if low commodity prices persist says the Director of the TIAA CREF Center for Farmland Research on the Univeristy of Illinois campus, Bruce Sherrick.

Quote Summary - It is already affecting cash rents and land prices some. However, on a percentage basis not as much as the current cash prices (would suggest) for delivery within this year at least.

Sherrick says a a couple of things have happened which explain this buffering. The last several years have been really quite good for agricultural incomes. So, farmers have pretty strong balance sheets. It is easier to weather a downturn, says Sherrick, after a few good years, than a bad year after a few bad years, “We are seeing, clearly, working capital crunches beginning to hit people. This is the first year that is material, and lenders are seeing and uptick in volume. As we’ve adjusted to more normal stocks, we are into a period were we think, ”this might be the last year were people can really just stand for what’s going on without making some major changes in how they manage cash rents, or inputs, or financial structures".

This does not mean the price of farm land will plummet. Long term interest rates are very, very low and the rate of turnover in farmland is supper small.

Money is cheap and farmland for sale is scarce.

Quote Summary - If you look at the number of acres that sell, maybe around 2% transfer per year within the agriculturally intense states. Only half of that moves outside of a family. The market is thin, and this helps buffer or slow down changes in farmland values because of changes in short term farm income. The low interest rates help people pay for a longterm investment with a stable cash return that can be rented for perhaps 3% of its value on a cash basis.

Farm land doesn’t look like such a dire situation, then, when you step back from it. It also has shown, very reliably says Bruce Sherrick, a positive correlation with inflation. Even if the price of commodities stay relatively low, it may be that the price of farmland, as an owned asset, will help farms stay afloat.

About NCSA's Blue Waters Super Computer

Blue Waters Website
view Todd Gleason’s photos

Todd Gleason tours the National Center for Supercomputing Applications Blue Waters facility on the University of Illinois campus.

Transitioning to Organic Grains Production

Food & Agriculture Road Map for Illinois

Up next, a plan to make Illinois and the Chicago region into a leading global hub for food and agriculture innovation. We’ll learn about FARM Illinois from Todd Gleason.

Farmland Prices and Farm Solvency Then & Now

There are some big differences between the farm crisis of the 1980’s and the current situation in middle America. Then, as now, commodity price had slumped after soaring for a few years. The price of farmland had skyrocketed, too, just like now. However, unlike today interest rates were high and farmers were deep in debt when the price of farmland finally bottomed 42 percent below its high. Gary Schnitkey wanted to know what would happen today in that kind of worst case scenario. So he ran the numbers.

World Health Organization Classifies Red Meat “Probably” Carcinogenic

Monday (October 26, 2015) the World Health Organization suggested it would be good to limit the amount of red and processed meat we consume. There has been quite a firestorm in the media declaring “red meat causes cancer”.

That’s not actually what the W-H-O said in its press release. It actually classified the consumption of red meat as “probably” carcinogenic to humans. Going on to point out that processed meats, things like ham & sausage or hotdogs & corned beef, if eaten every day does increase the chance of getting colorectal cancer by 18%.

Again - red meat, steaks, pork chops and the like, “probably carcinogenic” but the 800 studies reviewed were inconclusive as a whole; processed meat - “carcinogenic”, but you’d need to eat about two ounces of it every day to increase your chance of getting colorectal cancer by 18%.
So, what does W-H-O mean by “probably carcinogenic”? Fortunately the press release, which you can find online, has links to the classifications. Red meat falls into group 2A: The agent is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Here’s the definition verbatim - “This category is used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations (technically termed chance, bias, or confounding) could not be ruled out.”

Processed meats are in Group 1: The agent is carcinogenic to humans. Again here’s the definition: “This category is used when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. In other words, there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer. The evaluation is usually based on epidemiological studies showing development of cancer in exposed humans. Agents can also be classified in Group 1 based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals supported by strong evidence in exposed humans that the agent has effects that are important for cancer development.”

W-H-O happens to put asbestos exposure and smoking tobacco into Group 1, however, the processed meat paper work explains this does NOT mean these are all equally dangerous. The classifications describe the strength of the scientific evidence (what the research reports studied say) rather than assessing the risk.

How dangerous is processed meat, then? WHO, in the paperwork, points to estimates by University of Washington’s Global Burden of Disease Project. It is an independent academic research organization that attributes about 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide to diets high in processed meat. By comparison the Center for Disease Control estimates 6 million people die from tobacco causes worldwide; 480,000 in the United States from smoking cigarettes. Download Audio

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