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Deadline to plant looms for farmers

Soggy conditions delay, disrupt ability to plant typical crops in Illinois

Area farmers are still lagging behind the rest of the country in planting due to soggy fields.

Illinois farmers have just 24% of their corn crops planted compared to their usual May 19 average of 89%, according to a May 20 report from the USDA.

“We’re in the period now where statistically we’re losing yield,” said Streator farmer David Isermann. “That period between May 10 and May 15 is the spot where you lose yield potential, and we’re already at the 21st. We’re losing a percent a day.”

Just 11% of the corn planted has emerged, a far cry from the 71% percent that is typical by May 19 and the weather for the upcoming week is forecasted to continue its uncooperative trend with rain.

“As of this morning or right now I’ll say we won’t be in the fields, if it doesn’t rain anymore it’ll be a week or 10 days,” said Ottawa farmer David Myer. “It’ll be the first of June before we can even plant. I’m considering the insurance option on a few acres because my fields need to be drained. We might be better off taking the insurance.”

The Federal Cross Insurance program used by local farmers starts to pay out one percentage less every day from June 5 through June 25 and after that, it doesn’t pay out at all. The earlier farmers decide not to plant, the more their insurance program pays out but Isermann said the insurance program only pays from 60% to 85% of a farmer’s 10-year average profit.

“It could end up being better for us to plant the crop but we have to weigh the risks,” Myer said. “There are only so many things we can do. We’re running it too risky if we plant a crop that doesn’t grow.”

With the National Weather Service calling for rain on four out of the next seven days, farmers may have to continue putting off planting, forcing their yield down even further from its current plight.

“It all depends on the weather going forward,” Isermann said. “I don’t know that there’s going to be any work done in this immediate area for at least a week.”

The inclement weather isn’t the only roadblock farmers are facing this year as trade negotiations with China are still ongoing but relief could be coming in the form of the USMCA, a form of legislation that renews NAFTA agreements with Canada and Mexico, removing tariffs on steel coming into America and on agricultural products going to Canada and Mexico.

“The tariffs getting lifted off of Canada and Mexico are a great thing because they’re a huge consumer of our corn,” Isermann said. “They use it to feed their cattle. The rest of the USMCA isn’t that big of a deal for the American farmer or agriculture. It’ll help other parts of the country more than us.”

Isermann said the negotiations with China are still something that needs to be solved before anyone celebrates the USMCA as a victory.

“The relationship with China really needs to get fixed and we know they’re bad actors but we rely so heavily on their products and them on ours,” Isermann said. “This just needs to end.”

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