July 17, 2019

Extension open house provides resources for producers - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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Extension open house provides resources for producers

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Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2019 2:20 pm

Wednesday's sunshine and balmy temperatures were a real boon after the never-ending spring of rain and below normal temperatures. However, as a result, the Extension Open House at the Lake County 4-H Center wasn't as well attended as it might have been had rain persisted into this week.

"It's not always about numbers. It's about being there when people need assistance," said event organizer Sara Bauder, agronomy field specialist with South Dakota State University Extension.

Approximately 20 people attended the third of eight events scheduled throughout eastern South Dakota to provide answers to questions which face local producers as a result of excessive moisture this spring. In addition to Extension experts, the NRCS, and local ag businesses were on hand to address a wide range of issues.

Tim Breske with Breske Crop Insurance, Inc., said he is getting a lot of questions about prevented plant acres.

"I'm getting calls by six in the morning, and I'm still getting calls at 10:00 at night," he said. By midafternoon, he has to charge his phone because the battery is dead.

Breske said there's no one-size fits all when it comes to agriculture.

"Every farmer is in a different situation. Trying to do what the guy down the road is doing is wrong," he indicated.

In addition, some decisions must be made with the information available, and guidelines are subject to change. Currently cover crops on prevent plant acres can't be used before Nov. 1. However, due to the anticipated feed shortage this fall, the USDA has been asked to reconsider that.

"By Nov. 1, there's no feed quality in it and with the feed shortage they're expecting, it's needed," Breske explained.

Producers also do not know how two federal programs -- the market facilitation program and the disaster program -- will affect them. The $3 billion allocated for disaster relief for agriculture must cover both 2018 and 2019. While farmers are expecting huge jumps to payments on prevented plant acres out of this, that will not happen, Breske said.

"Farmers are being misled on that," he stated.

The disaster relief funding will have to cover not only prevented plant payments, but also losses due to the hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding, Breske indicated.

Lynsee Planting, district conservationist with the NRCS, said she's also fielding a lot of questions about cover crops for prevented plant acres. Like Breske, she said each situation must be considered separately.

"It depends upon what you're going to use it for," she explained.

Those who are planning to use the cover crop for grazing need different species than those who are trying to keep a living root in the ground to ensure healthy soil for the next growing season. The nutrients which have been applied also must be taken into consideration, Planting indicated.

"The other question we're getting is the availability of cost assistance," she noted.

Currently, the NRCS is accepting applications as part of its erosion control program. She said the NRCS looks at the soil as a living organism and works to help producers maintain soil health.

Planting observed that since the crop insurance deadlines for both corn and soybeans have passed, farmers seem to be experiencing a sense of relief. They no longer have to make decisions regarding those crops.

"They're looking at how they can bring the rest of the pieces together," she said, explaining that they have moved on to Plan B or Plan C.

She estimates the local NRCS office has at least 15 to 20 calls or visitors per day requesting technical assistance.

For livestock producers, the challenges are just beginning, according to Warren Rusche, beef feedlot management associate with SDSU Extension.

Winter weather conditions well into the spring resulted in losses during calving due to the cold, hypothermia and related issues.

"Those blizzards that blasted through during March and April were tough to deal with," he said.

The mud which followed was difficult not only for the cow-calf operations, but also for the feedlots. Sloughing through mud takes a lot of energy which affected weight gain on steers and heifers.

Looking forward, livestock producers are anticipating the spring planting to have an adverse effect on their feed supply, which will in turn raise prices.

"For the cattle producers, the world revolves around corn," he explained.

"There's been nothing good about 2019 in the ag industry," he continued.

This follows several years where commodity prices have been down. While livestock prices have remained strong by comparison, sooner or later, Rusche expects them to be affected as well.

Like many others in the ag industry, he encourages producers to seek advice.

"Talk to your insurance guy. Talk to your lender. If you're in livestock, talk to your nutritionist to try to figure out what your best plan is," Rusche said. "There's not room for mistakes."

He anticipates rural communities will feel the impact as producers tighten their belts. Everything from Main Street businesses to charitable giving will be affected.

"The issues are real," he said. "The stress is real. I'm concerned about what will happen to our South Dakota communities if this year doesn't improve."

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