Farm Horizons, August 2014

Ag land ‘prevented planting’ status still an unknown

By Kristen Miller

Driving along rural roads in Central Minnesota, barren fields have become a common sight this year due to heavy rains at the heart of the planting season.

As a result of the wet fields, many farmers weren’t able to get some or all of their crops in the ground in time. However, just how many acres are considered ‘prevented planting’ may never be made public.

Farmers report both the acres of crops planted and the prevented planting acres to their county Farm Service Agency. In past years, those numbers have been released.

This year, however, they are currently not available and may never be, according to Debra Crusoe, state director for the federal Farm Service Agency in Minnesota. One of the main reasons current data on prevented planting acres is not being released is because that number could ultimately affect the commodities market.

Crusoe, who is also head of the state emergency board, will meet with others in August to review data and determine which counties will be declared secretarial disasters.

For a county to receive this declaration, there must be at least 30 percent crop loss, Crusoe explained. This also must be approved by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsek.

As to whether this year could be defined as historical, Crusoe said this year was bad for the central region (particularly Wright, Carver, Hennepin, and Sibley) counties, but last year was very bad for southeastern counties such as Goodhue, Dodge, Winona and Olmstead.

“With the risk in farming, whether it’s in Minnesota or other areas of the country, there’s always going to be a disaster,” Crusoe said, explaining there are extreme weather patterns anywhere, including rain, hail, or drought.

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