CATCH THE BUZZ – Three Today Planted Acres in US Down, Farm Bankruptcies in US Up, and Ohio Butterflies Declining. Is There a Connection?

USDA reports show historic unplanted acres

The USDA released reports Aug. 12 confirming the historically-dire planting situation and correcting previous acreage estimates. From Farm and Dairy.

Historically heavy rainfall this year has led to historically high prevented planting acres.

According to an Aug. 12 Farm Service Agency report, farmers reported more than 19 million prevented planting acres this year with 73% of those acres in 12 Midwestern states that have faced heavy rainfall.

This is the most prevented plant acreage since FSA began releasing the report in 2007, and is 17.49 million acres more than reported last year.

An updated U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service acreage report, also released Aug. 12, confirms Midwest planting for several crops was hit harder than originally reported.

This update follows a June 28 NASS report that overestimated the number of acres planted. NASS resurveyed farmers, following widespread criticism of the original report.

In addition to more information from these farmers, NASS used satellite-based indicators and FSA-certified acreage information to update the acreage report.

According to the update, corn acres are down 2% and soybean acres are down 4% from the June 28 estimate.

The new report estimates 90 million acres of corn and 76.7 million acres of soybeans planted as of Aug. 1.

The previous June 28 report estimated 91.7 million acres of corn and 80 million acres of soybeans planted.

A USDA press release also noted the 2.71 million acres of cover crops planted so far, higher than the 2.1 million acres at this time last year.

NASS said during July, it contacted farmers in 14 states, including Ohio, who had reported corn, soybean, cotton or sorghum acreage as not yet planted for the June 28 report. Heavy rainfall this year delayed or prevented many farmers from planting these crops.


And Bankruptcies in Ohio are stable, but across the US, they are up…

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Farm bankruptcies across the nation are up, but Ohio’s rate remains among the lowest in the Midwest, according to a new analysis by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Ohio had nine new farm bankruptcy filings from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. That’s compared to 45 in Wisconsin, 39 in Kansas, and 32 in Minnesota—the three states in the nation with the highest number of new filings during that period.

Farm bankruptcies in Ohio have been stable in recent years, with a total of under 10 annually since 2017, said Robert Dinterman, a post-doctoral researcher in agribusiness at CFAES. Dinterman and Ani Katchova, associate professor, analyzed farm bankruptcy trends in the past decade.

Currently, Ohio has 1.2 farm bankruptcies for every 10,000 farms. That’s less than half of the national rate of 2.6 for every 10,000 farms, Dinterman said. The only other Midwest states with a lower farm bankruptcy rate than Ohio’s are Missouri and Kentucky.

“Ohio is particularly resilient and has not seen the massive increase of farm bankruptcies that some states have,” Dinterman said.

In Nebraska and Kansas, land values have been on the decline for the past three years, which has contributed to an increase in farmers filing for bankruptcy, Dinterman said. The value of land is the biggest factor that influences farm bankruptcy filings because a lot of people use their land as an asset against debts.

Ohio farmland owners have fared much better than their counterparts in many Midwest states. In Ohio, land values are up this year, by 1.5% on average, just slightly below the U.S. average of 1.9%.

Wisconsin and Minnesota bankruptcies are high because both states have a concentration of dairy farmers, and those farmers have been struggling from slumps in milk prices, Dinterman said.

Nationwide, farm bankruptcies are up for the third consecutive quarter, he said.

“It’s not cause for alarm, but something to watch,” Dinterman said.

Bankruptcies nationally are expected to rise with the passage of the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019, which will more than double the debt limits for those who can file for a farm bankruptcy from $4.4 million to $10 million, Dinterman said.

Farmers or family fisherman who file for bankruptcy, pursue Chapter 12 bankruptcy. After filing, individuals have to keep their agricultural businesses open while they work to pay off their debts over a period of three to five years. A certain level of those debts is forgiven.

Some farmers have opted to go out of business without first filing for bankruptcy, so national bankruptcy numbers do not account for those closed down businesses. Also, farmers can file for other forms of bankruptcy, but U.S. courts do not track the profession of those who file so it’s difficult to know the total number of farmers filing for bankruptcy.

At the same time that farm bankruptcies are on the increase nationwide, net farm income is declining. Aside from 2017, net farm income in the nation decreased every year since 2013 and is currently about half of the historical high of 2013, Katchova said.

“Sustained low income is putting strain on farmers—especially farmers with a lot of debt,” she said.


Meanwhile, from other Ohio research….

Butterfly abundance declines over 20 years of systematic monitoring in Ohio, USA

  • Tyson Wepprich , Jeffrey R. Adrion, Leslie Ries, Jerome Wiedmann, Nick M. Haddad

Severe insect declines make headlines, but they are rarely based on systematic monitoring outside of Europe. We estimate the rate of change in total butterfly abundance and the population trends for 81 species using 21 years of systematic monitoring in Ohio, USA. Total abundance is declining at 2% per year, resulting in a cumulative 33% reduction in butterfly abundance. Three times as many species have negative population trends compared to positive trends. The rate of total decline and the proportion of species in decline mirror those documented in three comparable long-term European monitoring programs. Multiple environmental changes such as climate change, habitat degradation, and agricultural practices may contribute to these declines in Ohio and shift the makeup of the butterfly community by benefiting some species over others. Our analysis of life-history traits associated with population trends shows an impact of climate change, as species with northern distributions and fewer annual generations declined more rapidly. However, even common and invasive species associated with human-dominated landscapes are declining, suggesting widespread environmental causes for these trends. Declines in common species, although they may not be close to extinction, will have an outsized impact on the ecosystem services provided by insects. These results from the most extensive, systematic insect monitoring program in North America demonstrate an ongoing defaunation in butterflies that on an annual scale might be imperceptible, but cumulatively has reduced butterfly numbers by a third over 20 years.