NEW ULM — The latest U.S. drought monitor for Minnesota shows the worst conditions yet this year with 55 percent of Minnesota in severe drought or worse.
It’s the first time this year most of Minnesota is in severe drought.
All drought categories increased over the past week. Extreme drought increased from at least 10% to 16%.
As of Sept. 7, Marshall’s summer moisture deficit was 7.52 inches. That compares to deficits of 9.32 inches at Rochester, 7.79 inches in the Twin Cities and 5.04 inches at St. Cloud.
Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President and Lincoln County soybean and corn farmer Bob Worth said shallow kernels are being found in fields.
“I think the last week took an immense toll on corn and beans,” said Worth. “They ripened way too fast with this kind of heat. I think they’re hurt a lot more than people realize. The whole summer was dry. The recent heat and wind was too much. This is our third year in a row of drought.”
“Most of what we hear from farmers on chopping isn’t very good,” he added. “It’s unreal to get three drought years in a row. We’ve got no moisture going into next year. We need a lot of fall rain. Thank goodness for federal crop insurance or a lot of us wouldn’t survive.”
South Central College Farm Business Management instructor Wayne Schoper said some of the corn may be used for silage or livestock feeders, if it’s got high moisture.
“I think we’re heading towards a decent harvest. Some beans got August rain, and could yield 50 bushels an acre or more,” said Schoper. “I think most corn will be 180 to 190 bushels, depending on when and how much rain it got.”
Schoper said new crop corn is about $4.60, compared to $6.50 last year, bringing $400 less on 200 bushel corn.
“Forward contracting may help. It’s going to be a break-even year for corn,” he added. “Bean prices of $13 will make more than corn at current prices.
“We need to see input costs come down. Repairs are at an all-time high. Long-term, we hope to maintain or make a little money,” Schoper said. “We have high world stocks of grain. Distribution is the problem.”
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an American activist group that specializes in research and advocacy for agriculture subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants and corporate accountability, reports the federal crop insurance program will continue to get more costly for farmers and taxpayers.
“Currently, the program discourages climate adaptation,” reports the EWG. “Reforming crop insurance to encourage farmers to adapt to a changing climate will help make them more resilient to increasingly chaotic and destructive weather, cut costs and reduce agriculture’s climate crisis contributions that account for at least 11% of U.S. emissions.”
“Without meaningful reform, the federal crop insurance program will become too expensive for farmers and taxpayers,” said agricultural economist and EWG Midwest Director Anne Schechinger. “Lawmakers have many options for undertaking farm bill reforms including reducing premium subsidies for farming on high-risk land and cutting payments to crop insurance companies and insurance agents.”
The EWG reports big agribusiness allies are pushing to trade direct payments for a system that guarantees income – at taxpayer expense – for the wealthiest corporate agriculture businesses that are already doing far better than most of the U.S. economy.
The organization calls for providing every farmer with a free crop insurance policy that covers yield losses of more than 30% and eliminate federal premium and other subsidies for revenue-based or other crop insurance insurance products to save $26 billion in premium subsidies over 10 years.
In addition, the EWG promotes the federal government taking bids from insurance companies to service policies, eliminating windfall profits and encouraging the private sector to develop and offer innovative options for farmers to increase insurance coverage, but not at taxpayers’ expense.
The EWG proposes full transparency requiring the USDA to make available information about who is getting free policies, taxpayer cost for providing policies and how much farmers receive in insurance payouts. The proposal would generate about $80 in savings over 10 years, according to the EWG.