UI Extension surveys farmers markets prices
A roundup of agriculture news, compiled by The News-Gazette's Don Dodson
URBANA — Illinois produce farmers can get a better handle on what the market is bearing, with University of Illinois Extension staff collecting data on what's charged at farmers' markets.
UI Extension is compiling price averages from 11 farmers' markets around the state, including Urbana's Market at the Square and markets in Mattoon and Charleston.
Illinois researchers are working with counterparts in Kentucky and Tennessee, and the results of findings for all three states can be found at uky.edu/Ag/CCD/price.html.
The pricing report for the week of July 7-13 listed 23 commodities. Here are some averages for the Urbana market and how those compared with averages for other markets around the state:
— Sweet corn: 50 cents an ear or $6 a dozen; on par with most but higher than Mattoon's $5 a dozen.
— Snap green beans:$3 a pound; on par with most, but Charleston and Mattoon had averages of $2.50 and $2 a pound, respectively.
— Tomatoes:$2 a pound for small, $3 a pound for regular; on par, but Benton in southern Illinois had an average of $1.25 a pound.)
— Zucchini:$1.75 a pound or $1 per squash; generally the going rate, but Charleston's average was 50 cents per squash.
— Peaches:$3 a pound; higher than Mattoon's $2.50 a pound and Machesney Park's $2 a pound.
— Raspberries:$6 a pint; Machesney Park's average was $4 a pint.
"Having access to this pricing information allows farmers to better understand how to set prices that support profitability of their farm while remaining fair to consumers and competitive with other producers," said UI Extension educator Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant.
Cash rents under pressure to decrease
URBANA — Some farmers who rent the ground they farm will need to renegotiate cash-rent arrangements, given the drop in commodity prices, a University of Illinois agricultural economist said.
Gary Schnitkey said projected returns for farmers in 2014 and 2015 will be "considerably below" their returns from 2010 to 2012, and in some cases, rents may need to be dropped for the grower to have positive returns.
"This will be a difficult process for both land owners and farmers," Schnitkey said in a UI news release. "Renegotiating cash rents down presents farmers with a delicate situation, with the potential to lose farmland as a result of the negotiations."
Schnitkey said that in renegotiating 2015 rents, land owners should be aware that economic conditions for farms have changed.
"Since the fall of 2013, commodity prices have decreased. ... The prospects of large crops have put downward pressure on prices. Incomes in 2014 will be below those of 2010 through 2013. Prospects are for continued low returns going into 2015," he said.
If landowners want higher average returns, they will need to bear some of the risk associated with agricultural returns and vary cash rents from one year to another, he said.
That can be done through variable cash leases and share rental arrangements, he added.
Grain-bin safety demonstration planned
GEORGETOWN — Farmers can learn some valuable lessons about grain-bin safety at the Georgetown Fair next month.
The Young Leaders Committee of the Vermilion County Farm Bureau will host a grain-bin safety demonstration at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at the fair near the D.L. Van Buskirk Livestock Arena. Staff from the Illinois Fire Service Institute will demonstrate harness safety systems that can be used in grain bins to prevent people from getting trapped and dying. The staff will also discuss other factors that people working around grain equipment should keep in mind.
The program is expected to last 30 to 40 minutes.
Other upcoming events include:
— Aug. 14: UI Agronomy Day. 7 a.m. Crop Science Research and Education Center off St. Mary's Road on South Wright Street extended. Field tours depart every half-hour until noon. Lunch available for nominal charge. Researchers discuss topics including soil fertility, insect management, crop production, weed control, corn and soybean genetics, plant diseases, farm economics and agricultural engineering. Topics include: whether soybeans need nitrogen fertilizer, Western corn rootworm resistance in Illinois; the price of cropland; and the quest for high corn and soybean yields. For a full list of this year's speakers and topics, go to agronomyday.cropsci.illinois.edu.
— Aug. 18-20: UI Farm Analysis Solution Tools summer training, ACES Library, 1101 S. Goodwin Ave., U. The first session, financial management, runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 18 and 8:30 a.m. to noon Aug. 19. The second session, farm management, runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 19 and 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 20. Workshop registration fee is $140. Lunch on Aug. 19 and refreshment breaks all days are included in the registration fee, as is parking for the three days. Participants will receive a DVD and a year of quarterly updates, as well as a tools and resources manual. For more information, contact Ryan Batts, 333-1817.
— Aug. 25: UI International Agronomy Day. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., UI South Farms. Includes global food production discussion. Event sponsored by UI Department of Crop Sciences covers agronomy, weed science, crop production, pest management, ag economics. Register at internationalagronomyday.org.