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Annual 10-year ag projections released by USDA

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WILLMAR — The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released its latest 10-year projections for the farm sector. Released annually in February, the projections include production and consumption for agricultural commodities, global agricultural trade and U.S. exports, commodity prices, and other economic indicators such as farm income and farm prices.

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By Wes Nelson

USDA Farm Service Agency executive director

WILLMAR — The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released its latest 10-year projections for the farm sector. Released annually in February, the projections include production and consumption for agricultural commodities, global agricultural trade and U.S. exports, commodity prices, and other economic indicators such as farm income and farm prices.

The projections are based on specific assumptions regarding the world economy, agricultural and trade policies, weather, and international developments. Therefore, the projections are a description of what would be expected to happen under specified circumstances and assumptions.

Some of the specific assumptions include no domestic or external shocks that would affect global agricultural markets, normal weather patterns, and crop production estimates using trend-line yields. It was also assumed that the provisions of the 2008 farm bill would remain in effect during the entire 10-year projection period.

Using those general assumptions, some of USDA’s key projections included:

* Prices for major crops decrease during the early years of the projection period as global production responds to recent high prices. However, following those near-term declines, prices for corn, wheat, oilseeds and many other crops will remain historically high.

* Total U.S. red meat and poultry production declines in 2013, in response to lower producer returns and two years of drought in the Southern Plains. However, meat production later increases in response to improved returns and improved forage supplies.

* World economic growth and demand for biofuels will support longer run increases in consumption, trade and prices for agricultural products.

* After declines from record levels projected in 2013, the values of U.S. agricultural exports and farm cash receipts rise through the remainder of the decade. Production expenses also rise beyond 2015, but net farm income remains historically high.

* Retail food price increases average less than the overall rate of inflation in 2014-22, largely reflecting production increases in the livestock sector that limit meat price increases.

To view the entire findings contained in the publication “USDA Agricultural Projections to 2022,” visit www.ers.usda.gov/publications.

Sign-up deadline for vegetable program is April 5

Minnesota fruit and vegetable growers have until April 5 to apply for a special program that will allow more flexibility in meeting the requirements of the farm bill, without sacrificing their eligibility for future benefits.

Initially authorized by the 2008 farm bill and subsequently extended through the 2013 crop year, the Planting Flexibility Pilot Program allows producers to plant on base acres specific crops of fruits and vegetables that are harvested for processing purposes. Eligible crops include cucumbers, green peas, lima beans, pumpkins, snap beans, sweet corn and tomatoes.

Without this unique program, planting the above mentioned crops on base acres would be prohibited without the producer agreeing to permanently reduce some or all of a farm’s base acres.

If approved for the program, a farm’s base acres would be temporarily reduced the year that an approved fruit or vegetable crop is grown. The reduced base acres would then be restored the following year.

Seven states, including Minnesota, were allotted a specific number of acres under the Planting Flexibility Pilot Program. Minnesota received 34,000 of the 75,000 total acres allowed annually — far more than any other state.

To qualify, fruit and vegetable producers will need to submit an application at their local Farm Service Agency office by the April 5 sign-up deadline.

When applying, producers will need to provide their local office with a copy of their contract with a processing plant.

Crop Disaster Assistance sign-up ends March 15

The Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program provides weather-related protection for all crops produced commercially but for which multi-peril crop insurance coverage is not available.

Examples of eligible crops include specific fruits and vegetables, such as but not limited to apples, strawberries and asparagus. Other eligible crops would include Christmas trees, sod, honey, ginseng, pasture and perennial forage crops of grass hay, mixed hay or alfalfa stands that are 5 years old or older.

The program sign-up deadline for pasture and spring seeded crops is March 15. To learn more about the program or to apply for coverage, producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

Crop insurance deadline is March 15

The deadline for farmers to purchase and finalize a crop insurance plan with their insurance agent is March 15.

As the spring planting season approaches, the threat of drought is real. According to a recent update to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 25 percent of Minnesota was listed as being in an extreme drought. The extreme drought area included all of southwestern Minnesota, including all of Kandiyohi County.

In comparison, no area of Minnesota was listed as being in an extreme drought one year ago.

According to USDA’s Risk Management Agency, before purchasing crop insurance farmers should consider how a policy will work in conjunction with their other risk management strategies to ensure the best possible outcome each crop year.

Crop insurance agents and other agri-business specialists can assist farmers in developing a good management plan. A list of agents, by county, can be found on the Risk Management Agency’s website at www.rma.usda.gov.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.

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