Many drought comparisons were brought up, but
each drought is really different. Rainfall amounts were highly
varied, so select locations received rainfall in a timely manner and
thus had average to better-than-average yields.
In some situations, fields across the road from each other varied
significantly in corn and soybean yields. It was also very evident
in the same field, since some spots held no corn ears and other
areas of the same field were making over 200 bushels per acre.
Soybean yields have also varied, but not near as widely as corn.
Corn yields have ranged from zero to around 200, and soybeans
from 18 to 54.
The effects on crop producers will vary widely. Sure, crop prices
are historically high, but you have to have the bushels to sell to
collect the dollars.
Producers who paid for crop insurance thought they had a bargain
this year, but in many instances it was a significant outlay of
cash, at over $55 an acre for corn revenue insurance. This year was
a bargain, but most haven't had to use the insurance for many years.
Insurance is just that -- it keeps a producer in business for
another year. Top insurance levels are generally in the 85 percent
area, so the other 15 percent is traditionally added back into the
business and for family living expenses.
Another simple fact is, farmers don't stay in the business to
collect insurance. They would much rather raise a bountiful crop.
Corn and soybeans weren't the only things to take a hit on
yields. Hay and pasture acres were also affected. Many of the
pastures were literally burned up in early July, and this led to
feeding hay supplies meant for winter months. The price of hay went
from $3 per bale for small bales to over $10 in some instances.
There was some improvement in both hay and pasture acres with the
remnants of Hurricane Isaac passing our way, but there was some
actual death of plants prior to the rainfall.
Livestock producers will once again bear the brunt of the
drought. Lowered quantities of hay, grain and protein, coupled with
the high prices, will continue to cause livestock production to be a
"labor of love" rather than a money-making proposition.
There isn't an insurance program available for livestock
producers. Producers who raise their own feed are essentially
supplementing the livestock enterprise at the expense of the crop