PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- Changes in federal crop insurance will give farmers more flexibility heading into spring planting while markets offer a mixed bag of prospects.
"Six bumper crops in a row, globally speaking, have built some big stocks here in the U.S. and around the world," said Joe Camp, a manager with Agrivisor. "Weather-wise, cyclically speaking, we could be due for a weather hiccup around the world, maybe not in the U.S."
A coming El Nino already is prompting worry in South America, where crops will be harvested as U.S. farmers head into the fields. "It's dry in Brazil and wet in Argentina, which fits with the pattern of El Nino in South America," Camp said.
Domestically, expectations are calling for more corn acres at the expense of soybeans, with higher ethanol exports and continuing questions about soybean exports amid tariffs.
"We're seeing positive response to developments with U.S.-China trade talks," Camp said.
Camp was a featured speaker Friday afternoon at a winter crop meeting at the Pike-Scott Farm Bureau in Pittsfield sponsored by Country Financial and Illinois Farm Bureau. Similar meetings are planned Jan. 18 in Quincy and Feb. 8 in Carthage to help farmers prepare for a successful growing season.
A brand-new multi-county enterprise unit provision allows farmers to combine acreage in two contiguous counties within a state into one enterprise for crop insurance purposes.
Another change allows producers growing white and/or waxy corn under contract to use the higher contract price as the insurance guarantee instead of the yellow dent corn price.
Such changes come about "because they've heard enough from the farmers in the countryside, which gets through the legislators," said Brenda Dozier, crop underwriting senior trainer for Country Financial and another featured speaker.
With another change, units of high risk acres and non-high risk acres in the farming operation can be structured independently from each other, so "they can tailor it exactly to their risk management needs," Dozier said.
Dozier, one of the featured speakers at the sessions planned across the state, said the meetings help farmers start thinking about their risk management choices for 2019.
"The point of getting the information out there is to get the thought process started," Dozier said. "Then they will get with their actual insurance agent to make their personal decisions."
Also new for 2019 is Country Financial's new supplemental insurance policy that works in conjunction with a farmer's federal crop insurance policy and boosts their coverage level by another 5 or 10 percent on all non-irrigated corn and soybeans acreage based on soil type and productivity indexes for individual fields.