Texas Agriculture March 18, 2016 : Page 14

Farmers take action to combat low prices By Jessica Domel News Editor farmers money is soil sampling. “If you don’t soil sample, you don’t know what’s in your soil, and you don’t credit that,” Dr. Clark Neely, assistant professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension small grains and oilseed specialist, said. “That’s a pretty minimal upfront cost, but it could save you money in the long run.” Although commodity prices are low, there is good news. Thanks to El Niño, most of the state received some much needed rain over the fall and winter. Al-though the state is slowly drying out again, that moisture helped many farmers get the start they needed on spring crops. “The positive side is just hoping we’re going to be in good shape mois-ture-wise, but we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to manage costs and get to the end of the day and still be profitable,” Verett said. There is a downside to the mois-ture, however. Neely urges wheat growers to be on the lookout for rust in their crop this year. “As things continue to stay moist or wet, that’s really conducive to the development or spread of rust,” Neely said. There have been reports of leaf and stripe rust already across Cen-tral and South Texas up into the Rolling Plains and Oklahoma. “If it’s cool and wet, it could con-tinue to spread,” Neely said. While corn, wheat and other grain farmers could benefit from farm bill safety net programs in times of loss, cotton farmers are not eligible for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The lack of a safety net and low commod-ity prices have many cotton farmers worried about the future of the crops EXPERIENCE THE KAWASAKI STRONG FAMILY OF VEHICLES 14 It’s no secret commodity prices are low across the board this year. To make ends meet, Texas farmers are searching for ways to minimize costs and maximize yields. “From the price standpoint, no-body’s too happy about cotton pric-es or, quite frankly, any commodity prices right now,” Steve Verett, exec-utive vice president for Plains Cot-ton Growers (PCG), said. Farmers are looking to a number of options in hopes everything pen-cils out this year—from inputs all the way to harvest. “I think some are giving some pretty serious consideration to go-ing away from traited (biotech) seeds and going back to conven-tional seed,” Verett said. “I wouldn’t say that’s a big movement, but cer-tainly there’s more who are consid-ering that, especially in light of the Roundup-resistant or glyphosate-re-sistant pigweed.” Farmers can also check their planters and make adjustments be-fore putting seed in the ground. “If your target is three seeds per foot, but you’re off by just half a seed per foot, and you get three-and-a-half instead of three seeds per foot, the difference is about $8-$9 an acre on just half a seed per foot,” Verett said. That error could end up costing farmers about $17 per acre, accord-ing to Verett. In some places, farmers are look-ing at fertilizer prices, which are lower than they have been, and opt-ing to spray earlier rather than later. “Typically, a dryland farmer would not spend the money early, especially if it’s dry, but the combi-nation of pretty good moisture and fertilizer prices being down, I think they’re taking a little more gamble there in hopes that we’ll be able to grow a crop and hedge against rising fertilizer costs,” Verett said. Another option that could save BR UTE F ORCE ® 750 4X4i EPS TER YX4 ™ LE MULE PRO-FX ™ EPS LE MULE PRO-D XT ™ EPS LE MULE ™ 4010 4X4 CORPUS CHRISTI CORPUS CHRISTI CYCLE PLAZA 361-852-7368 cccycleplaza.com KATY WILD WEST MOTOPLEX 281-392-8850 wildwestmotoplex.com M ARCH 18, 2016 NEW BRAUNFELS WOODS CYCLE COUNTRY 830-606-9828 WoodsCycleCountry.com SAN ANTONIO ALAMO CYCLE-PLEX 210-696-2000 alamocycleplex.com KAWASAKI CARES: Warning: ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing. Never carry a passenger. Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Never ride on public roads or pavement. Avoid excessive speeds and stunt driving. Be extra careful on difficult terrain. Kawasaki ATVs with engines over 90cc are recommended for use only by persons 16 years of age or older. Read Owner’s Manual and all on-product warnings. Kawasaki also recommends that all ATV riders take a training course. For more information, see your dealer, call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887, or go to www.atvsafety.org. ©2016 Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. 16WRKHRD4WC6X5C

Farmers Take Action to Combat Low Prices

Jessica Domel

It’s no secret commodity prices are low across the board this year. To make ends meet, Texas farmers are searching for ways to minimize costs and maximize yields.

“From the price standpoint, nobody’s too happy about cotton prices or, quite frankly, any commodity prices right now,” Steve Verett, executive vice president for Plains Cotton Growers (PCG), said.

Farmers are looking to a number of options in hopes everything pencils out this year—from inputs all the way to harvest.

“I think some are giving some pretty serious consideration to going away from traited (biotech) seeds and going back to conventional seed,” Verett said. “I wouldn’t say that’s a big movement, but certainly there’s more who are considering that, especially in light of the Roundup-resistant or glyphosate-resistant pigweed.”

Farmers can also check their planters and make adjustments before putting seed in the ground.

“If your target is three seeds per foot, but you’re off by just half a seed per foot, and you get three-and-a-half instead of three seeds per foot, the difference is about $8-$9 an acre on just half a seed per foot,” Verett said.

That error could end up costing farmers about $17 per acre, according to Verett.

In some places, farmers are looking at fertilizer prices, which are lower than they have been, and opting to spray earlier rather than later.

“Typically, a dryland farmer would not spend the money early, especially if it’s dry, but the combination of pretty good moisture and fertilizer prices being down, I think they’re taking a little more gamble there in hopes that we’ll be able to grow a crop and hedge against rising fertilizer costs,” Verett said.

Another option that could save farmers money is soil sampling.

“If you don’t soil sample, you don’t know what’s in your soil, and you don’t credit that,” Dr. Clark Neely, assistant professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension small grains and oilseed specialist, said. “That’s a pretty minimal upfront cost, but it could save you money in the long run.”

Although commodity prices are low, there is good news.

Thanks to El Niño, most of the state received some much needed rain over the fall and winter. Although the state is slowly drying out again, that moisture helped many farmers get the start they needed on spring crops.

“The positive side is just hoping we’re going to be in good shape moisture-wise, but we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to manage costs and get to the end of the day and still be profitable,” Verett said.

There is a downside to the moisture, however. Neely urges wheat growers to be on the lookout for rust in their crop this year.

“As things continue to stay moist or wet, that’s really conducive to the development or spread of rust,” Neely said.

There have been reports of leaf and stripe rust already across Central and South Texas up into the Rolling Plains and Oklahoma.

“If it’s cool and wet, it could continue to spread,” Neely said.

While corn, wheat and other grain farmers could benefit from farm bill safety net programs in times of loss, cotton farmers are not eligible for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The lack of a safety net and low commodity prices have many cotton farmers worried about the future of the crops and farms, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, according to Verett.

“[U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack] has indicated a willingness to try to do some kind of emergency cost-share program,” Verett said. “He firmly believes he does not have the authority to add cottonseed as an ‘other oilseed,’ but I think the case that we made over the last three to four months, of which Farm Bureau was a big help, conveyed to the secretary the dire situation that cotton is in. He’s sympathetic to that. He wants to do something.”

Right now, it looks like Vilsack is considering the cost-share program that would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for those farmers who are still waiting on financing or waiting for word from their banker.

“We will certainly continue to work to see about adding cottonseed as a more permanent relief for farmers as we go forward,” Verett said.

While USDA and farm organizations like Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) and PCG continue to iron out details of possible help for cotton farmers, growers must still move forward without any definite safety net.

“With these prices, the only way to overcome it is some help from Mother Nature through good weather and adequate moisture and out-yield the price,” Verett said.

And farmers aren’t the only ones trying to figure out what to do in this situation.

Lenders like Capital Farm Credit are also faced with difficult decisions.

“We ask our farmers to be diligent in their forecasting and in their budgeting and to be realistic in that. If the economics are telling you that a scale back this year is what’s in order, then heed that,” Scot Vidrine, manager of the direct lending division of Capital Farm Credit’s Agribusiness department, said. “The importance of that is making a decision to shrink today may be a decision to allow you to expand next year or to have the ability to make that decision next year. Careful management like that is the kind of thing we look for in our long-term relationships and the kind of thing we see in the best of our managers.”
TFB continues to cover the situation both in print, online at TexasFarmBureau.org and on the air via TFB Radio Network and its affiliates.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Farmers+Take+Action+to+Combat+Low+Prices/2425581/294126/article.html.

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