Soggy spring brings crop uncertainty for Ohio and Indiana farmers

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As crop insurance plant deadlines loom, Farm Credit Mid-America helps farmers assess and weigh their options

06.04.19    |    News Stories
Dennis Johnson, a third-generation farmer in Napoleon, Ohio with 64 total years “in the tractor seat” has seen his share of wet springs. But “this is the first time I have ever seen anything like this,” he said as he sat in an office chair, gazing out a window at the barn on the family farm he’s helped operate since he was a child.

It’s a familiar situation for farmers across Ohio and Indiana, where relentless rains have soaked and drowned fields for weeks. The soggy conditions have hindered farmers from entering those fields to plant corn and soybeans during the typical planting timeframe. And now with the final plant deadlines for crop insurance looming, farmers across the region are facing difficult decisions.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, less than 5 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage had been planted by mid-May, compared to 20 percent in 2018. In Indiana, 22 percent of corn has been planted, compared to 94 percent at the same time last year.

As of Monday, June 3, farmers and specialists alike felt confident that seven consecutive days of sun and good weather would make the fields passable again. But the forecast calls for more showers, and the late plant deadline for corn to be fully insured is June 5, quickly followed by the deadline for soybeans on June 20.

“This is really hitting home and forcing our customers to make difficult decisions,” said Lindsey Walls, Crop Insurance Specialist for Farm Credit Mid-America. “We are constantly on the phone and driving out to visit our customers’ farms to talk to them about their unique situation and help them make the best decisions given their individual circumstances.”

Understanding the options

Currently, there are three potential options that Walls and other crop insurance specialists at Farm Credit Mid-America are sharing and discussing with customers:
 
  • Delayed planting: Customers continue to plant into the late planting period, with a 1 percent reduction in their crop insurance guarantee for each day past June 5, up to 20 days for corn and 25 days for soybeans.
  • Prevented planting: Under this option, customers forego planting this season and idle their fields. Through a prevent plant claim, farmers are eligible for 55 percent of the crop insurance guarantee for corn, and 60 percent for soybeans.
  • Switch planting: Under this option, farmers can switch their planting intentions to another insured crop with a later planting deadline (for example, soybeans.) Soybeans planted during the late plant period are still subject to the 1 percent reduction in crop insurance.
 “No farmer enjoys seeing their ground sit idle,” said Walls. “They want to see a crop growing. For the first time in a long time, we’re seeing a situation where they may have absolutely no other option than to file for prevent plant. Every decision is unique and personal.”
 
Specialized tools at the farmers’ fingertips

To help farmers weigh and understand their options, Farm Credit Mid-America developed a proprietary calculator that will help them make the best decision for their operation. A farmer’s crop insurance specialist will enter data from an individual farm to ascertain the challenges and possible payment outcomes. The tool can weigh a variety of scenarios, for example, prevented planting on corn followed by planting soybeans, and present the payment that approach would yield. In the end, farmers are able to make informed decisions.
 
“We know the weather is uncertain, but our customers do not need to feel uncertain about their financial situation,” said Cody Gault, Regional Vice President of Crop Insurance for Farm Credit Mid-America. “Meeting with your lender and crop insurance specialist is critical, since each farmer is going to have to determine the level of risk they are willing to take this season for their farm, and whether or not they’re willing to trust a break in the weather. Regardless of the decision our customers make, we’re committed to standing beside them through this challenging time.”
 
Ready to discuss available options and help identify the best solution for your operation. Contact your local Farm Credit Mid-America crop insurance specialist or call 800-444-FARM.
 
 

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