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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

Season Continued from page 5 been blessed’ many times when I talk with growers about the harvest. I would agree we have a lot to be thankful for: good crop, great prices and the best harvest conditions you could ever ask for,” said Dave Schwartz, a seed dealer. A severe drought across many parts of the nation largely missed Meeker and McLeod counties, Randy Kath allowing farmers to benefit from higher prices. This summer, many farmers from other parts of the country were turning to Minnesota for feed supplies, including hay. In July, Randy Kath of Steffes Auctioneers in Litchfield said he was getting "getting bombarded" with as many as 25 calls a day from farmers around the country in



search of hay. “We probably got the best crops in the entire country, right in this area,” he said. Hay prices almost doubled as a result of the shortage, jumping from about $150 a ton last year to as much as $250 a ton this year. “It’s an overwhelming demand right now,” he said. Dan Schlangen, an Eden Valley farmer, said some farmers bought in July in anticipation of shortage this winter when demand tends to increase. High crops prices are causing some problems for farmers, who are trying to plan for the future, he said. "I think there’s a lot of fear out there with people wondering where this is going to lead," Schlangen said. Nathan Winter, an agricultural educator with University of Minnesota-Extension, said higher crop prices are causing problems for livestock producers. Price gains for livestock and milk haven’t kept pace with rising feed costs, he said. “I do believe a lot of them are examining their business and trying to stay profitable,” Winter said of livestock producers. Winter said it will take time to determine whether higher prices is the new normal or a transitory phenomenon. Several factors are causing higher prices,


Tomorrow's Tire, Today

“We probably got the best crops in the entire country, right in this area.” Randy Kath, Steffes Auctioneers in Litchfield

including demand from developing nations as more people seek higher protein diets. Government policy affecting subsidies and crop insurance also plays a role in prices. Congress’ failure to adopt a farm bill this year creates uncertainty for farmers, Winter said. Another issue is weather. Many parts of the country are still experiencing a

drought, and it’s not clear whether central Minnesota might experience one next year. This fall, rainfall levels have been below average. Unless the region gets more moisture this winter, crop farming could suffer in the spring. “We haven’t recharged our soil moisture, and so we don’t know what to expect in 2013,” Winter said.

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November 2012

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6 Agriculture