Producer Page: Most Valuable Crop??

Most Valuable Crop??

What would you say is the most important crop we raise here in Southern Minnesota?  

Must be corn!……………wrong.

Then it is definitely soybeans!……wrong again.

Far and away the most valuable things we raise are…………………our children (and grandchildren).

I wanted to drive home this point as we head into the busiest and most dangerous time of the year on the farm.  Did you know that nearly 300 children under age 19 die per year in farming accidents in the USA? (source: Iowa State University) and nearly 1 in 8 total farm accidents happen to a child.  Here is a list of common perils that face our youngsters.

Tractors/Machinery are by far the biggest causes of tragedy.  Make sure that you do not allow a young person to operate any equipment that they do not have the skill or judgement to handle.  Take a lot of time to train carefully!  Put tractors and combines in park when exiting the cab and take the keys out of the ignition when young kids are around.  Make sure that no-one is in the way when backing up equipment.  Put all hydraulically controlled equipment in the down position when it is parked (ex-front end loaders, tillage equipment).  Keep PTO shields in place.

Livestock can be unpredictable--- Young children may see any type of livestock as a potential pet or plaything.  Make sure the kids are supervised and are educated about how to approach animals and to avoid certain animals in some situations.

Flowing Grain---1/3 of all grain suffocations happen to children under 14.  Flowing grain is fascinating to kids but will suck them in just like quicksand in seconds.  Keep kids away from grain wagons and trucks, and away from augers and bins.  You will not be strong enough to grab a child out of a stream of flowing grain. This should be a no-go zone period.

Pesticide/chemicals---I know this isn’t spray season but……do you have all containers of herbicide, insectide, anti-freeze etc. put away safely?   While you are busy attending to your farm work, that grandchild from the city may be exploring in your shop.

Falls---Grain bin ladders are especially dangerous.  Block accessible ladders and steps and store portable ladders out of reach.  Fence off and secure manure lagoons and farm ponds and wells.  Aid children when entering and exiting machinery.  Also don’t prop up heavy items that could fall on kids (ex. –Dual tires, drag sections) a small child can be trapped and suffocated very quickly. 

Electricity---Very dangerous and very deadly to curious youngsters.  Cover all electrical boxes and exposed wiring.  Replace frayed cords.  Unplug tools after use, so Junior doesn’t pick up the circular saw to imitate his uncle or Grandpa.

Prevention---If you are concerned about safety on your farm, maybe you should consider hiring a baby-sitter if you don’t have enough family around to properly supervise a young one.   Everyone on the farm should know where people are working and when to expect people back.  Even small children can be taught to dial 911 and ask for help in an emergency.

In closing, are you really that busy that you can’t take a few moments to tend to safety for kids??  Really?

Mark

 

Mark Producer Page headshotAbout Mark Warmka

Mark has worked at Peoples State Bank since 2003, serving as lead agricultural lending officer and bank Senior Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors. Mark has an extensive background in the financial services industry, possessing both investment and insurance licensing and is fully accredited as a crop insurance agent.

He and his wife, Kate, an elementary teacher in Blue Earth, live on and manage the home farm near Easton. Their daughter, Amanda, is a Physician Assistant at UHD Hospital and daughter, Sara, is teaching and coaching at Fairmont Public Schools. 

You can reach Mark by email or at 507-553-3155.

» More blog posts by Mark here

Producer Page: Insurance Insights

Insurance Insights

As we are rapidly approaching harvest, I wanted to remind you of a couple of crop insurance related items that you should tend to now.

Silage Appraisals--- If you chop silage in your operation, remember that you need to have that silage corn field appraised before you harvest.  Contact your crop insurance agent and request this service.  A company appraiser will come out to your farm and estimate the yield.  You don’t want to forget this and have to delay your harvest waiting for an appraiser when the crop is ready.

Co-mingling of Grain--- A lot of us have 2016 grain remaining in the bin.  If you are not going to get that hauled away before you start combining the 2017 crop, you will again need to contact your crop insurance agent.   A company adjuster will be sent out to measure the old crop grain in the bin.  That way the company will know the bushels that were in the bin prior to the new harvest.  This becomes important for keeping your production history accurate and for loss claims.  If you have a yield or revenue loss but forget to have the prior crop measured, the old grain may have to be included in the total and could prevent you from having a claim.

Unit Production Records--- Get organized now for tracking your yields on a field by field basis.  It doesn’t take that much more effort to do so.  Even if you are using “enterprise units” for your federal crop (as most farmers do), having good unit by unit records will provide you with the flexibility of switching back to an individual unit policy if the situation is right.  In addition, it is just good agronomic management to what each field is doing so you can position your inputs and varieties in the most favorable place.

If you have any questions about these topics…..please give me a call.

Mark

 

Mark Producer Page headshotAbout Mark Warmka

Mark has worked at Peoples State Bank since 2003, serving as lead agricultural lending officer and bank Senior Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors. Mark has an extensive background in the financial services industry, possessing both investment and insurance licensing and is fully accredited as a crop insurance agent.

He and his wife, Kate, an elementary teacher in Blue Earth, live on and manage the home farm near Easton. Their daughter, Amanda, is a Physician Assistant at UHD Hospital and daughter, Sara, is teaching and coaching at Fairmont Public Schools. 

You can reach Mark by email or at 507-553-3155.

» More blog posts by Mark here

Producer Page: Don't worry?!

Ouch……that is about all you can say about the market reaction to the latest USDA crop report.  But, rather than sitting around and worrying about things you can’t control (USDA, the weather etc.) your time is better spent by taking action to control the controllables in your operation.  Here is a list of suggestions:

  1. Your attitude—Be proactive and forward looking.  Your grandparents faced much tougher challenges than anything you wrestle with (Great Depression, World War II, Dust Bowl, etc.)   You can get through a market setback.  Take time to give back to your community and the less fortunate, as it will pay you back many times over in many ways.

  2. Review your management—If you are disappointed with your marketing the past few years……take steps to make improvements.  Write down a plan, select a marketing advisor, place orders to sell, be willing to sell in increments.   Do you have any idea where you are at in terms of profit & loss at any given time?  If not, make a concentrated effort to improve record keeping.

  3. Understand Maximum Economic Yield concept—In lean times especially, you need to understand the relationship between your production costs and your final yields.  Begin by knowing your cost of production by bushel or acre and making rational decisions on attainable yield goals.  As a profitable farmer, you need to get as much yield as you can….But…. you cannot chase contest field yields by pouring on inputs when the cost of the treatments exceeds the value of the additional bushels.  For example, set a realistic yield target and fertilize according to university recommendations for that goal with a solid soil test program. 

  4. Cost control—Look ahead to 2018 and carefully review your operation.  A marketing plan doesn’t only consider sale of corn and beans, it can also include timing and source of fuel & farm input purchases.  You can defer equipment purchases and capital improvements until cash flow improves.  You can be proactive on tax and health insurance cost management by working in advance with professional advisors to get your best values rather than waiting till the last moment and accepting a bad result.

  5. Lean Forward—Have a long term plan!  You should have a 3-5 year business map.  Cash flow projections and succession plans are potential parts of this concept.  A good relationship with your lender is important, so that he or she understands what you are trying to achieve and can help you get there.  Even more important are your family relationships…..it is essential that your spouse is on board and understands your business.  Echo that thought for any children or siblings who have a stake in your operation.   They can help by providing perspective!  Avoid keeping them in the dark until some sort of financial crisis. That can only lead to poor decisions and breaking of familial bonds.

  6. Risk Management—The lack of solid risk management is the biggest threat to most farms.  Do you have appropriate crop insurance?   Do you have adequate property insurance?  How about liability coverage?  Do you have an estate plan?   What are you doing about the potential threat to your asset base from long-term care costs?  Have you done an inspection of your farm to eliminate safety concerns (bin steps, electrical systems, PTO guards etc.)?  Have you informed your spouse or business partners about what they should do if you become incapacitated?  Do you have regularly scheduled medical care?  If you have not addressed these concerns…..WHY NOT?  The sudden event can wipe out a lifetime of hard work if a risk management process is not in place.

There…you see you don’t have time to worry, you have a list of things to do.  And these things will improve your operation and outlook.

Time to get busy!

Mark

 

Mark Producer Page headshotAbout Mark Warmka

Mark has worked at Peoples State Bank since 2003, serving as lead agricultural lending officer and bank Senior Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors. Mark has an extensive background in the financial services industry, possessing both investment and insurance licensing and is fully accredited as a crop insurance agent.

He and his wife, Kate, an elementary teacher in Blue Earth, live on and manage the home farm near Easton. Their daughter, Amanda, is a Physician Assistant at UHD Hospital and daughter, Sara, is teaching and coaching at Fairmont Public Schools. 

You can reach Mark by email or at 507-553-3155.

» More blog posts by Mark here

Tick, tick, tick...

The clock is running out! This is not about a basketball game in the fourth quarter, it is referring to the time you have left to report your acres to the FSA office. The annual deadline is July 15th and that is fast approaching. The Faribault County office does not require appointments for this process, so you can just show up….but you may have to have some patience as other producers will also be there as well.

Don’t forget to bring that report (the FSA 578 form and map photos) to your crop insurance agent immediately after you are finished at the Farm Service Agency. Crop insurance agents are also working on that deadline to submit your planted acreage for multi-peril insurance.

A couple of other items that pop up this time of year---Many of you used the FSA grain loan program, and those bushels are coming to town now. Remember to “call before you haul”. You need to release bushels with the FSA before you remove the grain from the bin. It has been frustrating to get grain hauled to some warehouses or ethanol plants this summer, so be aware of your expiration dates on existing releases, as you may have to call again for an extension of time to haul. I know it seems that you are being hassled about this, but remember that the FSA staff is just doing their job and that your grain is technically collateral on a loan from the US taxpayer.

One last item……This is ditch mowing season, please avoid any Evel Knievel type dare-devil driving on steep ditch banks. Slow down and be careful.  

Good Luck Out There!

Mark