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Farm living expenses rise

[MAY 14, 2003]  URBANA -- Total noncapital living expenses for Illinois farm families rose an average 2.9 percent between 2001 and 2002 and are up 4.5 percent since 2000, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"The total noncapital living expenses of 1,216 farm families enrolled in the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association averaged $44,475 -- or $3,706 a month for each family," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist. "The sample farms, which were mainly grain farms, were located primarily in central and northern Illinois."

In addition to the living expenses, the average farm family spent $4,380 in 2002 to buy capital items such as the personal share of the family automobile, furniture and household equipment, said Lattz.

"The grand total for living expenses averaged $48,855 for 2002, compared with $48,097 for 2001," he said. "This represents a $758 increase per family."


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Income and Social Security tax payments decreased in 2002 compared with the year before. The amount of income taxes paid in 2002 averaged $9,867, compared with $11,475 in 2001.

"The amount of taxes paid was at its lowest level since 1990," said Lattz.

Medical expenses were higher in 2002 compared with 2001. In 2002, medical expenses averaged $6,335.

"This is the first year medical expenses averaged over $6,000," Lattz said. "Medical expenses include out-of-pocket costs for health insurance, along with doctor and hospital expenses."

The complete report is available online at http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/

[University of Illinois news release]

Corn, soybean costs drop
across Illinois in 2002

[MAY 13, 2003]  URBANA -- Total costs per acre to produce corn in Illinois dropped an average of 5 percent from 2001 to 2002, and total costs per acre for soybeans also dropped over the same period, according to a University of Illinois Extension study.

"Total costs to produce corn for all combined areas of the state were $401 per acre in 2002," said Dale Lattz, U of I Extension farm management specialist, who wrote the report, "Costs to Produce Corn and Soybeans in Illinois-2002," based on data from the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association record-keeping project. "This figure represents a 5 percent decrease in one year.

"Total costs per acre to produce soybeans also decreased, from $338 per acre in 2001 to $326 per acre in 2002."

Driving the decreases, Lattz said, were reductions in fertilizer, non-land interest charge and land costs.

"For corn, total costs per acre were the lowest since 1995, when they were $395 per acre," said Lattz. "Total costs per bushel were the highest since 1997. Total costs per acre for soybeans were the lowest since 1995."

The entire report is available online at: http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/

Production costs varied among the state's regions and soil types. Total per acre costs for corn averaged $411 in the northern section and $416 in the central section for areas with high soil ratings. Costs were $391 per acre in the central section for farmland with low soil ratings and $350 per acre in the southern section. Soybean costs in the high soil areas of northern and central Illinois were $337 and $341 respectively. Costs in the low soil areas of central Illinois were $312 per acre and $275 per acre in southern Illinois.


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"Costs were lower in the southern part of Illinois primarily because of lower land costs," said Lattz. "The total of all economic costs per bushel in the different sections of the state ranged from $2.59 to $3.61 for corn and from $6.24 to $8.09 for soybeans.

"Variations in this cost were related to weather, yields and land quality. Southern Illinois had the highest costs per bushel to produce corn and soybeans because of below average yields caused by last summer's dry weather."

Farms located in the 22 counties north and northwest of the Illinois River constitute the northern region. Farms from 36 counties below a line from about Mattoon to Alton are in the sample for southern Illinois. The remaining 44 counties make up central Illinois.

[University of Illinois news release]

StarLink settlement deadline

[MAY 13, 2003]  URBANA -- Most Illinois farmers face a May 31 deadline to submit a claim in order to receive their share of a $110,000,000 national settlement recently approved by the U.S. District Court in Chicago, said Don Uchtmann, University of Illinois Extension agricultural law specialist.

"Although quite a few Illinois producers have submitted their claim, many others are eligible to participate in the StarLink settlement and receive about $1 or $2 per acre, maybe more, for each acre of non-StarLink corn harvested as grain in 2000," said Uchtmann.

The exact payment per acre depends on how many U.S. farmers submit claims.

"If a particular farm operator doesn't submit a timely claim, that farm operator's share of the settlement will just be distributed among others who do submit timely claims," he said.

"The settlement is a compromise between farmers who filed the class action lawsuits and the companies that developed and sold StarLink seed. The class action settlement is intended to compensate all farmers who grew non-StarLink corn in year 2000 for damage they allegedly incurred because of the StarLink incident."

StarLink was a genetically engineered corn variety approved for feed use in the U.S. but not for food use or export. After StarLink was discovered in taco shells, aggressive steps were taken to channel all grain containing traces of StarLink into approved uses. But the presence of StarLink throughout much of the 2000 corn supply allegedly scared away buyers and depressed the U.S. price for the entire crop.

Under the court-approved settlement, there are several types of potential claims, said Uchtmann, but the most common type will be the "Corn Loss Proof of Claim" for non-StarLink corn acres harvested for grain in 2000.


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"Since very few farmers 'opted out' of the proposed settlement by the March 21 deadline, over 99 percent of the year 2000 harvested corn acres are potentially eligible for payment. About $70 million will be distributed, pro rata, over the corn acres documented by claimants, but the farm operator must mail the Corn Loss Proof of Claim by the May 31 deadline," he said.

Farmers who lost the original form mailed to farmers before March 21 can get a new form and filing instructions from the Internet. The form is not hard to fill out, especially if the farmer has copies of the Farm Service Agency forms (form FSA-578) showing year 2000 corn acres for each farm. FSA offices can provide a copy of this form if needed. The form asks for acres of corn but does not request yield information.

"It's the farm operator who submits the form," said Uchtmann, "and then the farm operator has a responsibility to account to landlords who shared in the crop."

An article titled "How to file claims by May 31 for compensation from the non-StarLink farmer's class action settlement" is available on the farmdoc website. It provides valuable, practical information and tools and a link to the official "Non-StarLink Farmer Litigation" website, where the claim form can be obtained.

[University of Illinois news release]

Corn progress

[MAY 12, 2003]  With over 90 percent of the corn planted, at least the first time, it is important to scout fields at this time for stand evaluation and pest problems. Beginning with stand evaluation, the rule of thumb is simply that a decent corn stand at this time of year is probably going to yield as well, or better, than a replanted one. With another shower this week, we would be looking at 91 percent maximum yield from a great stand (30,000 plants) planted May 19, and we can go down to a stand of 20,000 plants planted between April 20 and May 4 to achieve at least a 91 percent yield.

There are no guarantees the second time around either. That 30,000 plant stand is hard to achieve. Much of the guesswork comes in from the reason behind stand loss. If herbicide problems, some insect problems (such as maggot or beetle) and disease problems are at the core of the stand problem, then the stand may not dwindle further. If seedling diseases or other insects (such as grubs, wireworms and cutworms) are the culprits, then stands may be further reduced.

Scouting programs may give you the answers needed for your decision. In the case of insects that may further reduce your stands, many of these do not have rescue treatments available for them. That means you either live with what you have, or you replant and use a recommended insecticide at replanting. Black cutworm damage should show up for the first time in Logan County this week, based on moth captures in traps and degree accumulation data. Wireworm and grub problems are also just beginning to be noticed.


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Cool, damp conditions also lead to some of the seedling disease problems, such as penicillium. Many of these problems can't be evaluated until the permanent root system takes over (another three weeks or so). The end result is that stands must be evaluated individually, and you should use the smallest area you are willing and able to manage differently. At any rate, don't plant alongside an existing row. That system generally takes yield from both the old and new planting.

On the soybean side, stand reductions of 30 percent to 40 percent are generally not going to yield less than perfect stands that are replanted. The big thing is the number of gaps and the length of gaps in stands. The other consideration is the amount of shading provided by the soybean stand and the effectiveness of the shading in a herbicide program.

[John Fulton]

Weekly outlook

USDA projections

[MAY 6, 2003]  URBANA -- Market attention will focus on conditions for new crop corn and the uncertainty surrounding old crop soybeans in reviewing USDA reports due next week, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"While corn inventories are the smallest in five years, stocks are more than adequate to meet needs until the new crop is harvested, particularly if the early planting season leads to an early harvest," said Darrel Good. "The focus, then, is primarily on weather and yield prospects for the 2003 crop. The market will evaluate potential crop size in context of the potential consumption of corn in the 2003-04 marketing year.

"The story for soybeans is different. While the market will clearly be interested in the USDA's projections for the 2003-04 marketing year, there is still considerable uncertainty surrounding the old crop situation."

Good's comments came as he discussed the May 12 USDA projections of potential supply, consumption and average price during the 2003-04 marketing year.

Based on March corn planting intentions of 79.022 million acres, about 72 million acres should be harvested for grain in 2003. Using a trend yield value near 140 bushels per acre, the 2003 crop might be near 10 billion bushels.

"A crop of that size would be about one billion bushels larger than the 2002 harvest," said Good. "The USDA May projection may deviate some from 10 billion bushels, but a large crop projection is generally expected. What the market really wants to see is the USDA's projection of consumption during the 2003-04 marketing year."

Good said the projection of domestic use should be larger than that for the current year, based on increased ethanol production and a likely modest expansion in livestock numbers during the last half of the 2003-04 marketing year.


"Most interest, however, may be in the USDA's projection of marketing year exports," he said. "The early season projection was too optimistic at 2.1 billion bushels last year but was fairly close in the previous two years. This year's projection will, among other things, reveal USDA thinking about Chinese corn exports during the upcoming year.

"A projection for a rebound from the year's anemic level of U.S. exports is expected in next week's report. Even a 10-billion-bushel crop projection may result in only a modest increase in projected stock levels by the end of the 2003-04 marketing year."

December 2003 corn futures are currently trading only about 9 cents above the contract low established in March 2003. The trading range for the contract to date is only 38 cents. History suggests that the range will be expanded by at least 20 cents and more likely by 35 cents. Large crop prospects would likely result in new lows for that contract, while the high to date of only $2.69 still leaves the door open for a new high.


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"The continuation of large exports of U.S. soybeans and prospects for very small year-ending stocks have pushed cash soybean prices to the highest level since the summer of 1998," Good noted. "In its April report, the USDA projected U.S. soybean exports for the current year at 995 million bushels, or 1.05 billion if the larger-than-normal projection of residual use is included in the export projection.

"Exports of 1.05 billion bushels would be 58 million less than exported last year. Through May 1 -- with only 17 weeks left in the marketing year -- cumulative export shipments were reported at 923 million bushels, 29 million more than on the same date last year."

With year-ending U.S. soybean stocks currently projected at only 145 million bushels, supplies may not be adequate to meet the current export demand. Prices may have to go higher to slow the pace of exports, buyers may have to quickly switch to South American supplies, or U.S. users may import some soybeans or soybean products before the new harvest is available. The magnitude of U.S. exports and export sales of soybeans over the next few weeks will have important price implications and may continue to overshadow new crop prospects for now, Good observed.

"Eventually, however, the prospective size of the 2003 U.S. soybean crop will have a significant influence on price," he said. "Based on March planting intentions of 73.182 million acres, harvested acreage of U.S. soybeans should be near 72.1 million acres in 2003. A trend yield near 40 bushels per acre then projects to a crop of about 2.884 billion bushels, 154 million larger than the 2002 crop.


"A crop of that size, however, might result in only a very modest build-up in U.S. inventories by the end of the 2003-04 marketing year if world soybean demand remains robust."

November 2003 soybean futures have reached new life-of-contract highs, trading to $5.65 on May 5. There is some concern that large areas of heavy rainfall this past weekend may delay soybean planting.

"However, history would suggest that it is premature for much concern about the 2003 crop," said Good. "Late summer weather appears to be much more important in determining soybean yields than is spring weather. Still, the trading range to date for November 2003 futures is only $1.12. New highs for that contract are still expected."

[University of Illinois news release]

Honors & Awards

Logan County 4-H meats judging team wins contest

[MAY 16, 2003]  The junior meats judging team from Logan County 4-H placed first in a multi-county contest at Morton. Members of the junior team were David Fulton, Daniel Fulton, Allicent Pech and Colleen Pech.

Individual junior placings were Daniel Fulton, third, and Colleen Pech, fourth. Andrew Fulton placed fourth in the senior division.

The local team was coached by Don Miller.

[News release]

Pictured in the front row are members of the Logan County 4-H junior meats judging team: David Fulton, Daniel Fulton, Allicent Pech and Colleen Pech. In the back row are Tom Carr, a contest official; Andrew Fulton, fourth-place individual in the senior division; and Dave Seibert, a contest official.

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