Drought insurance, known as Rainfall Index, pays farmers when current rainfall levels land a certain amount below historic rainfall levels, regardless of how the crops perform, according to Cornell Cooperative Extension agent A. Fay Benson. Farmers can review the Rainfall Index, determined by more than 50 years of data from the US government, by month and ZIP code online.
The US Senate will vote on former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's nomination as agriculture secretary today. Perdue promised in his March confirmation hearing to advocate for rural states despite proposed cuts to some federal farm programs.
Once the secretary of agriculture position is confirmed, the USDA has hundreds of politically appointed positions left to fill, said Jon Doggett of the National Corn Growers Association. About 15 positions must be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, and the administration is responsible for filling about 240 roles total, which means those positions are behind schedule following the delayed USDA secretary confirmation, he said.
Vermont House and Senate agriculture committees listened to testimony last week to hear constituents' concerns about the next federal farm bill. Whether the farm bill will be as well-funded as it has been in the past remains "an open question," Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman said.
After four record years of world wheat crops, prices and acreage of wheat planted are down, with US farmers planting about 46 million acres of wheat this year, the lowest number since the beginning of national records in 1919. "It's hard to see what would make the price go up to swell the acres," said Tadd Nicholson of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association.
Iowa farmers have begun planting corn, but wet field conditions have slowed progress behind the five-year average. Farmers are planting as weather conditions allow, but just 2% of the state's corn had been planted by April 16.
Farmers should develop a crop marketing plan to maximize cash flow and profit margins, Steve Johnson writes. Take into account actual production history as well as price and time objectives for the most success.
Let cover crops grow as long as possible to minimize erosion and boost soil health, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey advises. Keep in mind that crop insurance rules maintain specific termination dates, which farmers must heed to stay in compliance.