Farmers optimistic about 2012

Published 2:23 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

New Years always hold promise and the year 2012 is no exception.

Jeff Knotts, FSA county executive director for Pike and Bullock counties said that, if commodity prices stay favorable and Mother Nature cooperates by sending showers of blessings, then 2012 should be a good year for area farmers.

Of course, farmers are always expecting “next year to be a better year.”

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“Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s just a better year than expected in spite of weather conditions,” Knotts said.

This year for example.

Drought conditions plagued farmers throughout the spring and summer. The corn crops dried up in the fields except in fields that were irrigated. Cuttings of hay were reduced to one and a half on most farms. The outlook was dismal for peanuts and cotton.

“But prices were good for the cotton and peanuts and they made better than most farmers expected,” Knotts said.

“Peanuts and cotton can take dry spells better than corn, so it ended up being a better year than we thought when it seemed like we just weren’t going to get any more rain.”

Peanut acreage was down slightly from 2011 at 5,5743 acres but up from 2010 when 3,800 acres of peanuts were planted.

“The prices went up so more peanuts were planted,” Knotts said. “Corn prices were up so corn acreage was up to 2,400 acres but the corn got hurt by the drought. Cotton remained about the same that is has been for the last few years at 3,500 acres.

“Hay production was way down because of the drought and that really hurt the farmers who plant for grazing. So, if cotton and peanuts had not come around, it would have been a much worse year.”

Looking forward, if prices stay favorable, then 2012 could be a good year on the farm.

“But, if we don’t get rain when we need it most, it won’t matter about the prices,” Knotts said. “If the prices are good and you don’t have anything to sell, it does you no good.”

The new Farm Bill in 2013 could have a negative impact on the agricultural community.

“Who knows where the new Farm Bill will go,” Knotts said.

“There could be big cuts in program benefits. If farmers lose their base payments that would be very detrimental.”

Knotts said many farmers depend on base payments in peanuts, cotton, corn and wheat to help make ends meet.

“Base payments are paid on five-year crop averages,” he said. “Base payments are supplements paid to farmers for built-up benefits for growing crops. We need the base payments to help keep people on the farm.”

One farmer feeds about 130 people so, highlights the importance of the American farmer, Knotts said.