‘Cautiously optimistic’: Farmers stay hopeful in spite of weather woes

Owner Roger Faivre smiles Monday morning on his farm. His son Josh Faivre said "if you don't find some humor in this somewhere, you go insane."

Noah Thornburgh

DeKALB — DeKalb County farmers stay hopeful late in the planting season, in the face of historically low planting rates.

“If you don’t have hope you go nuts,” said Vickie Faivre, partner at JP Faivre Farms alongside her husband Roger.

By this time last year, their farm had planted all of its corn and soybean crop. Right now, they have 22% of their corn seed down and 30% of their soybeans.

Roger Faivre, who started farming in 1981, and Vickie Faivre, who got into the business in 1989 when they married, said this is the worst planting season they’ve seen.

Even so, Roger Faivre said there’s still the potential for a decent crop, although it’s reduced each day as the window to plant grows smaller. Their revenue also depends on the price of corn as determined by the market, which has climbed more than 17% since the start of May, according to the Chicago Board of Trade.

That climb is caused by the market anticipating a low yield this year. Low supplies cause the price to go up.

Roger Faivre said that price has to continue to go up to compensate their revenue as each day without planting brings their corn yield down.

JP Faivre Farm will plant as much corn as it can as late as possible, he said. He’ll grow what crop he can and take the currently unknown Market Facilitation Program payments from the federal government rather than make a prevent-plant claim, a type of crop insurance claim made when field conditions prevented seeds from being planted.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”center” content=”<p>Farmers get paid by the federal government for crop they plant through the Market Facilitation Program.</p> <p>If conditions prevent them from planting, they can make a prevent-plant insurance claim to their provider. The deadline for full coverage for most insurance companies is June 5.</p> <p>After June 5, the amount the farmer can receive in prevent-plant insurance is reduced every day.</p>” id=”88d93b5d-c98f-4ce3-bf40-ced988990fa1″ style-type=”refer” title=”Crop Insurance” type=”relcontent” width=”full”}}

Josh Faivre, Vickie and Roger’s son and an employee on the farm, has been out of college and working with his father for five years.

“I’ll be here a long time,” he said. “I hope I never see another year like [this one].”

He shares his parents’ hope, saying they can still get all their soybeans planted, since the planting window for beans closes in early July.

Farm owner Jamie Willrett is “cautiously optimistic” about finding a planting window.

“Weather is critical for next three weeks,” he said. “If it doesn’t get planted in three weeks, then you can see extreme volatility in prices, because there’s no option to plant after three weeks — it’s over.”

Willrett was born and raised on a farm, and he has been farming since he left college 37 years ago. He’s never planted corn this late, but he hopes to plant in June.

Managing risk is always a part of the agricultural business, he said. That’s why he’s not made prevent-plant insurance decisions yet and is waiting to see if corn prices will go high enough to make a partial crop viable.

This year, the weather adds a lot of risk to the equation. He said it’s one thing to replant a portion of crop late — which he’s had to do in the past — but half is a different story.

“Everybody takes their turn in a barrel,” he said. “I guess it’s our turn.”

Read our first #NoPlant19 story here.

{{tncms-inline content=”<p><a href="http://www.whiskeyacres.com/" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Whiskey Acres Distilling Company</span></a>, 11504 Keslinger Rd, DeKalb, has a 10%-off-per-bottle discount for farmers every Friday until they can get their fields planted.</p> <p>"It’s our way of saying ‘we feel your pain’," tasting room manager Lisa Miller said. "Hopefully, it’ll be over by today."</p>” id=”f2bc405e-be88-4bbc-9afa-2d8afbd899f8″ style-type=”refer” title=”‘Farmer Fridays'” type=”relcontent”}}