2023 Journal of the ASFMRA

2023 Journal of the ASFMRA

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Suitable Fieldwork Days Required to Plant Arkansas Rice Crop

By Bayarbat Badarch and K. Bradley Watkins

This paper examines the number of acres planted per fieldwork day and the number of fieldwork days available for planting the entire rice crop in Arkansas using Arkansas’s crop progress and condition report data from 1981 to 2022. The average maximum acres planted per suitable fieldwork day in Arkansas rice crop is 58,926, and the average minimum number of suitable fieldwork days required to plant the entire Arkansas rice crop is 23. The average number of weekly fieldwork days for Arkansas’s optimum rice planting window (late March through the third week of May) is 4.5 days.


Coping with Delayed H-2A Worker Arrivals during the Pandemic

By Cesar L. Escalante, Watson L. Cowart, and Vanessa P. Shonkwiler

Agricultural demand remains essential under all economic conditions. The recent pandemic is a case in point when the farm sector’s real concern was not declining market demand but rather supply chain disruptions, such as the constrained mobility and availability of needed foreign contractual workers. Enforced border entry restrictions and strict screening procedures disrupted the flow of arrivals of foreign workers with approved H-2A visas. A survey was conducted among southeastern U.S. farms with approved H-2A petitions to verify if there were any H-2A labor supply disruptions during the pandemic. Results indicate that more than half of H-2A workers arrived 3 to 5 weeks later than expected. Popular farmers’ coping strategies include maximizing family labor contributions, reducing off-farm employment hours, and resorting to less labor-intensive production alternatives.


Managing through Drought with the Livestock Forage Disaster Program

By Allison E. Wilton, Bart L. Fischer, and Joe L. Outlaw

Production agriculture is an inherently risky business. For livestock producers in particular, drought is one of the most common disasters they face. While the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) was permanently funded by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill to help livestock producers manage these risks, producers still face a number of management decisions that impact their bottom line. In this study, we examine the interaction between LFP and various alternative management strategies using simulation analysis. We find that LFP does not fully offset the losses incurred due to drought—regardless of management strategy—particularly in the case of longer-term drought.


STAX and SCO: Finding Their Place in the Farm Safety Net

By Natalie A. Graff, Henry R. Nelson, Joe L. Outlaw, Bart L. Fischer, and Henry L. Bryant

The Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) for upland cotton and the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) are area-wide crop insurance tools that serve as complements to individual crop insurance policies. Consideration of STAX and SCO requires producers to make tough decisions regarding other safety net programs: Agriculture Risk Coverage-County (ARC-CO) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). This article describes STAX and SCO and shows how they work in relation to ARC-CO and PLC, using an example cotton farm in Texas. The example farm models the impact of safety net decisions on 2022 crop year payments and provides insight into producer decisions.


Alternative Public Land Management Policy Impacts: Ranch and County Level

By Thomas R. Harris and Ethan Grumstrup

A dynamic Monte Carlo linear programming model of a cattle ranch in Elko County, Nevada, provided a range of assets under management (AUM) valuations under alternative reductions in public land grazing permits. Employing these ranch level results into a county level input-output model, we derived a range of county economic, employment, and household income impacts for alternative public land policies. Estimation as to possible ranges in AUM valuations and county level economic impacts provides information to policy makers not only during periods of average economic condition but also under unfavorable economic conditions. Here Manski’s credible interval scoring was employed for policy analysis.


Grower Production and Economic Efficiency in the Semi-Arid Southern Great Plains

By Lixia H. Lambert, Hannah E. Shear, and Jason Warren

Agricultural production competitions that focus on a single crop, relatively similar field conditions, and similar growing conditions can provide valuable information to extension educators, researchers, and growers on input and resource management. Using data collected from a grower competition in the Oklahoma panhandle, a semi-arid region, we estimated the relative production and economic efficiency scores for competing grower teams. Efficiency was measured using data envelopment analysis (DEA) procedures. Results show that comparatively lower fertilizer application rates and higher rates of irrigation generated the highest efficiency scores. Limited application of fertilizer and irrigation may achieve technical and cost efficiencies, but it is not an optimal decision if the producer’s objective is to maximize profit.


Economic Analysis of Subsurface Tile Drainage Spacing

By Michael Langemeier, Eileen Kladivko, and Edward Farris

This study examined the optimal tile drainage spacing using data for the 1984–2021 period for a drainage experiment in southeast Indiana. Four drainage spacings were compared: 16 feet, 33 feet, 66 feet, and 133 feet. Gross return per acre was highest for the 16-foot spacing. However, net return per acre was highest for the 66-foot spacing. The 66-foot tile drainage spacing also had a higher certainty equivalent of net returns and was the preferred drainage spacing using second-degree stochastic dominance (SSD). Sensitivity analysis related to the discount rate used, the cost of tile installation, and the useful life of the tile drainage system confirmed the attractiveness of the 66-foot spacing. The conceptual framework developed in this study would be useful when examining the feasibility of installing subsurface drainage in poorly drained soils in the U.S. Midwest.


Surveyed Characteristics of Non-Operating Landowners in Texas

By Tiffany Dowell Lashmet and Justin R. Benavidez

A survey of producers and non-operator landowners in Texas yielded data on demographics, land holdings, assets, debts, transition plans, lease types, tenure of ownership, and more. This manuscript isolates and discusses the characteristics of non-operator landowners and their holdings in the state of Texas. This study is the first in a series of publications intended to characterize the needs of landowners and lessees in the state, as well as determine the educational and market needs of those stakeholders.


Automatic Milking Systems: An Exploratory Study of Wisconsin Dairy Farms

By Luis Peña-Lévano, Shaheer Burney, and Jalyssa Beaudry

Automatic milking systems (AMS) are seen as an alternative to manual milking using agricultural labor and have been shown to decrease labor dependence while improving milk yield. This study is based on a survey mailed to 500 randomly selected Wisconsin licensed herds in January 2022. The study shows that although AMS are still in nascent stages, they are already the second most common type of primary milking facility used by respondents. Our survey also shows important implications for adopting AMS  on dairy farms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AMS dairies opted for reducing herd size to reduce milk production, whereas non-AMS dairies used a combination of smaller herd sizes and less animal feed. AMS farmers also claim price risk is the most significant barrier to grow their business, but non-AMS farmers consider labor recruitment and management as the most crucial adversity. AMS adopters also seem to have a more positive attitude toward the future outlook of the dairy industry relative to  non-AMS farms.


Benefit-Cost Analysis of Equipment Purchases for Calf Health Management

By Hallie M. Barnes, Kellie Curry Raper, and Rodney Jones

Lack of access to cattle handling equipment is sometimes cited as a hindrance to cow-calf producer adoption of recommended calf management practices, although those practices are shown to add market value to calves. We measure correlations between equipment access and adoption along with implementing partial budget analysis to calculate break-evens of equipment purchases for specific practice implementation. Break-even measures are calculated in number of head and in years for cash- and loan-based purchases across different operation sizes. This is a first step toward quantifying the benefit-cost relationship of cattle handling equipment with calf management practice adoption.


Cover Crops on Illinois Farms

By Sarah C. Sellars, Gary D. Schnitkey, and Laura F. Gentry

Cover crop use is increasing on U.S. farms, but it remains low. The main reason for low adoption rates is the financial and management challenges of cover crops. Using a unique, field-level dataset from Illinois farms, we find that on average, cover crop fields have a lower operator and land return due to the additional seed, planting, and termination cost. Financial assistance is necessary for cover crop fields to be as profitable as non-cover crop fields. We also consider the carbon sequestration potential of cover crop fields using the Cool Farm Tool and estimate farmer carbon credit payments for cover crops.


Nutrient Loss Reduction in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin

By Reagen Tibbs and Maria A. Boerngen

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Hypoxia Task Force was established to address the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico caused by excess nutrient loading and to coordinate efforts between the 12 states in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin to reduce their nutrient runoff. This case study focuses on the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) and compares it to the strategies implemented by the other Basin states. In the years ahead, farm operators, landowners, and farm managers will be challenged to voluntarily meet nutrient loss goals while balancing the costs of implementing best management practices recommended to reduce the size of the Gulf hypoxic zone.


Estimating the Impact of Swine Feedlots on Residential Values in Southern Minnesota

By Zachary Uter and Joleen C. Hadrich

A hedonic analysis, or revealed preference analysis, was used to estimate the effect of hog barn proximity on prices of rural residents’ real estate in the southern region of Minnesota using Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and county home sales data. Explanatory variables in the dataset include number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, age of home, year sold, feedlot characteristics, and proximity calculated using GIS software. This analysis included 2,795 observations in Blue Earth County, Jackson County, and Freeborn County from 2017 to 2020 and reveals that homes located between one-half to one mileaway from swine feedlots were associated with an increase in value, whereas a distance of less than one-half mile away was not found to have an effect.


Returns to Zone Management Under Varying Conditions

By Mohsina Jahan, Cheryl Wachenheim, Erik Hanson, Xin Sun, and Bryon Parman

A framework for individual-farmer evaluation of the net benefits of adopting precision agricultural technologies was developed and tested. Partial budgeting analysis was used to calculate the net profit effect of adopting precision agriculture technology bundles on three farms differing in input use and location. @Risk was used to account for risk. Results show that adopting zone application of fertilizers and seed can be profitable for farms with moderately variable soils and this is amplified with higher prices, but that adoption of zone application may not be profitable for farms with low input use variation such as those irrigated.