Corn harvest continues to wind down, with less than 10% of the corn remaining to be harvested in most areas of south-central and southwest Minnesota. There are higher amounts of corn left to harvest in some other areas, due to higher moisture corn and wet field conditions.

In addition to causing harvest difficulties, the wet field conditions are also making it difficult to complete fall tillage and fertilizer applications. Most farm operators still have some tillage and fertilizer applications left to be completed – if the soil conditions allow. Fall tillage and anhydrous applications will end once the soil freezes solid for the year.

The wet fields are also a concern for livestock producers who still have a considerable amount of manure to apply to fields this fall. Hog producers with liquid manure prefer to inject the manure into the soil to take full advantage of nutrients. Cattle producers with solid manure prefer to incorporate it into the soil. This may not be possible if the soil freezes prior to application.

Consider Flexible Lease Agreements
The rapid rise in corn and soybean commodity prices in the past two years, and the resulting projected increase in gross crop income per acre for the 2008 and 2009 crop years, has caused many landlords to consider sharp increases in cash rental rates on rented farmland for 2009.

Many producers are concerned that the favorable crop prices may not last long term, and that the gross income per acre in future years may not be high enough to justify the higher cash rental rates being implemented for the 2009 crop year and beyond. In addition, crop input costs for seed, fertilizer, chemicals and fuel will also be considerably higher for 2009. As an alternative to the higher cash rental rates for 2009, some producers and landlords are considering a flexible cash rental lease, which allows the final cash rental rate to vary as crop yields and market prices vary.

All flexible cash leases for land rental contracts will now be considered cash leases by FSA for farm program payment determination during the 2009-2012 crop years, according to revised regulations announced recently by USDA. The revised regulations state that any rental contract with a guarantee plus a bonus will be considered a cash lease, regardless of how that bonus is set up or structured.

Previously, FSA considered any flexible cash lease that was based on actual farm yields, prices or revenues to be a share rent lease, which meant that eligible landlords had to receive a portion of all farm program payments. This requirement was restricting the use of flexible leases in many situations, even though current crop economics strongly favor the use of flexible leases for the 2009 crop year, and beyond. Farm operators and landlords should contact their county FSA office for further clarification and details on FSA requirements for flexible cash leases.

Rural Legislative Forum on Dec. 12
Who will produce our food in the future ? Who will buy it, and who will control it ? These are key questions that will highlight the 26th annual Rural Legislative Forum on Friday, Dec. 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the South Central College Conference Center, 1920 Lee Blvd., North Mankato, MN. The theme of the forum is World Food Issues: The Contribution of Minnesota’s Agriculture Industry. Steve Taff, University of Minnesota agricultural economist, will be the keynote speaker at the forum. The response panel will feature Newell Searle, vice president of Second Harvest Heartland; Joel Rabbe, CEO and owner of Rabbe Farms, LLC at Ormsby, MN; Willis Anthony, farm operator from St. Peter, MN; and John Story, retail meat industry consultant from Mankato, MN. The afternoon session will include several state legislators from south-central Minnesota discussing the upcoming state legislative Session. Forum sponsors include: Minnesota Agri-Women, Minnesota Farm Bureau, South Central College Farm Business Management Program, Region Nine Development Commission and the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Registration is $15/person in advance, and pre-registration is requested by Wednesday, Dec. 3. Cost is $20 at the event, without pre-registration. The registration fee includes the noon lunch and all printed materials. To register, or for more information about the forum, contact the Blue Earth County Extension office at 507-304-4325 or Mnext-blueearth@umn.edu.

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.