Drought to have greater effect than extended Farm Bill, locals say
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Any continuing problems caused by the drought conditions that hit eastern South Dakota last year will most likely have a greater effect on area farmers than Congress' inability to enact a new long-term Farm Bill.|
Lake County farmers prepared their fields last fall for spring 2013 planting, typically applying fertilizer to the crop fields before winter weather set in.
"There's not a farmer in the local area who wasn't preparing his ground for this year's planting," said Mark Stoller, manager of Madison Farmer Elevator.
The Farm Bill extension is expected to leave in place the grain subsidies for crops such as corn. However, if those rules only stay in place until September 2013, Stoller judged that the grain subsidies would have minor value.
"If you look at what's happened for the past three years, (farmers) haven't really dipped into the subsidies due to high grain prices," Stoller said.
According to Stoller, the agricultural safety net provided by the federal government has limited value for farmers' economic problems.
"Where that safety net stands now, it's far below what farmers would see as a profitable level," Stoller said.
Stoller judged that the amount of precipitation would more likely determine how area farmers choose the amount of planted acres for corn or soybeans.
Corey Gerry, manager of Farmers Ag Center, said the amount of business that Madison's ag fertilizer supply facility will do in 2013 will be determined by the amounts of winter snowfall and spring rains.
"It all depends on what the moisture conditions are," Gerry said. "The drought will have a greater effect on what they plant than anything else."
Gerry said that precipitation and not federal legislation would influence farmers' decisions this year.
"If the dry weather conditions continue, then we could see a reduction in the amounts of fertilizer that farmers apply," Gerry said. "Those decisions would affect us the most."