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What is a Government Farmer?


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#21 luke strawwalker

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 03:31 AM

There is far more at your local USDA office other  than the FSA,free lunch line . NSRCS/ conservation district and FSA and The extension service/ County Agent . All those are important resources  for me . It is not all about free lunches. . Many farmers in this area want nothing to do with it  but when there is a program that pays ,they are first in line trying to late file and get the bucks and then complain about having to comply. 

Extension service is a good resource, for sure... don't believe EVERYTHING they tell you, particularly when it comes to "farm income" or "expenses" of certain recommendations, trials, or projects they do... but I got a lot of good info over the years from the field trials and research stuff they do.  My biggest gripe with them is how they and the friggin' state make the pesticide licenses such a TOTAL PITA to get and keep... they don't do much of ANYTHING to help the farmer on that score... lets face it, in this day and age, you SHOULD be able to do the class(es) and take the test online, or at most, sit in a quiet room or in front of the secretary at the extension office and take the friggin' test, just to make sure "nobody is cheating" and be done with it, but NOOO... gotta go halfway across the state to some friggin' training program that they only do maybe once or twice a year... over half the farmers in the US work a "day job in town" and farm on the side, time off, nights, and weekends, but you gotta go to a bunch of extension meetings to get your CEU's to keep your pesticide license... meetings they ONLY schedule in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, never "after work" or on weekends... SO to go to a meeting you have to TAKE TIME OFF WORK that you need to be saving for field work or harvest... That always irritated the sh!t out of me... 

 

As for NRCS, I'm sure they help in SOME areas where you have a lot more issues to deal with like wetlands, drainage, and highly erodible land, etc... but here they're pretty much a joke... When I went to check on cost-share for cross-fencing and water installation to back pastures, they printed out a rule book half an inch thick and their requirements were SO extensive it would have cost me 10X the cost to do it "their way" to qualify for cost-sharing to get half back, than it did to just do it "my way" and be done with it... and it works JUST AS WELL for 1/10th the cost... PLUS then you're in a "contract" with them for 20-30 years that you have to keep it up per their requirements, or they can come back on you and demand the money back with interest... even 20 years later... FORGET THAT!!!  They don't do windmills or solar wells or stock ponds for cattle in our area-- every idgit that buys a 10 acre horse "ranchette" in our area would be in there wanting a windmill or pond dug, so they don't even offer... Otherwise I've never had anything they do remotely apply to me or be of any use to me... 

 

As for FSA, well, the programs are mostly a joke now... the payments have dwindled to nothing compared to the old days, and the requirements are higher than ever for "compliance"... I wouldn't even bother with it anymore myself, if I was row cropping grain.  The only exception *might* be if I were crazy enough to try farming cotton again; the loan program on cotton was pretty good, if it even still exists... I know a few years ago they dropped cotton from even being a program crop, just the way they dropped wool and mohair back in the 90's, and tobacco in the 2000's... used to be pretty good amount of wool and mohair being produced out around Junction and Sonora back then, but when the program went away, it's wasn't profitable anymore, so all the wool and mohair buyers went out and the wool and mohair ranchers sold off all the goats and sheep and switched to cows... some of those rock-covered juniper infested hills, a cow will nearly walk herself to death trying to find enough to eat, but I guess it makes them more money than sheep and goats, they're almost all gone now!  My wife's cousins used to farm tobacco, they had quota, but sold it when the program ended and it became simply unprofitable to grow unless you had a BUNCH of acres, and they didn't... at the same time, the bigger guys were all scrambling to pick up ANY quota they could for a good price, just so they could increase acres or production or whatever to be profitable, and so they soon found it was more profitable to sell the quota than to grow tobacco, so they quit and put their tobacco fields into grass and hay for cows... Still farm a little corn and beans on the southern hills of SW Indiana, but some of 'em are hanging that up too from what I hear... 

 

If it wasn't for artificial demand via ethanol and corn sugar, half the corn farmers in the country would go broke... without the cotton program, which had a 3 year tapering-off "transition" payment, I figured in about 3-5 years probably half the cotton farms in the country would just switch to beans and corn or sorghum... cheaper to grow and more profitable, because cotton's SO expensive to grow there's no money in it without the program payments.  A lot of rice farmers in this area have hung it up too... they cut the subsidies and changed the rules, and a lot of landlords started just keeping the land and the payments and shredding it twice a year with a bush-hog and keeping the payments on the rice fields themselves... and a lot of farmers cut loose land that wasn't high yielding or cost too much to irrigate anyway... I was at a field day one time and two rice guys were talking near me, and I overheard the one guy telling the other they weren't planting a grain of rice that year... no money in it... His grandpa was about to have a fit, because they'd ALWAYS grown rice, and he couldn't imagine doing anything else, and he said he'd put pen to paper and had figured that they WOULD lose money on every single rice acre they planted, so he wasn't planting ANY... switching it to cotton and sorghum (cotton's cheaper than rice to grow, but higher than corn and sorghum and soybeans and wheat and everything else small grain).  

The rice program is a joke too nowadays from what I've heard... 

 

Later!  OL J R :) 



#22 luke strawwalker

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 03:53 AM

luke, reading some of your points reminding me of the ole saying...I'm from the government and here to help you...

 

Over the years have seen some fields when they were planted knew it was only for crop insurance payment. 

Yep, seen that too... 

 

Some REALLY beautiful red medium loam soils up near College Station, over toward Snook and back toward the Brazos River-- bottomland and plains... They grow some BEAUTIFUL crops out there, cotton, corn, sorghum, and beans mostly... I went up there years ago because there were a few good parts places and a place that sold older equipment at good prices... One time I was up there around the end of May, so the cotton should have been about six weeks old or so, about ready to start squaring and about a foot and a half tall... Well, I pass this one field and there's probably 200-300 acres of cotton, JUST popped out of the ground maybe 2 inches tall at most... some of it still cotyledons... I was just shocked and amazed... I mean, NOBODY plants cotton THAT late and can get a crop... the bugs simply eat it to the bone... ONE YEAR we had a spell where it rained like every other day for about four months straight... it was the winter and spring of '96, because that's when I was in the police academy... I mean we had friggin' ALLIGATOR WEED growing in the cotton fields, it was SO wet (that stuff only grows IN STANDING WATER, like slow moving creeks and ponds!)  Anyway, that year EVERYBODY planted their cotton within about a week or ten days in the middle of May-- I know because I took my state peace officer's licensing exam on Friday, and we had a week off before graduation the week after that, so I went home and put the disk and hipper on the two tractors, and hipped the field, disked in the Trifluralin, set the disk off and hitched up to a fertilizer knife applicator and knifed in the fertilizer, and then hipped the fields up pulling the drag harrows behind them to smooth the beds, and then planted the crop, all in that week we had off.  Of course then the rain shut off like a valve closed and everything burned to a crisp, we didn't even get a stand because we had an old blackland planter that ripped the row down nearly flat and we lost all the moisture and it never rained to bring the crop up... So the next year I bought an ancient 7100 Deere planter with peanut hopper bottoms and plate bottoms, and swapped it over to Kinze meters... save the moisture and get a better stand!)  We had another year like that a few years earlier, but it didn't turn into a blazing drought with less than 1/10 inch of rain over about 3 months like it did in 96, and everybody was about 3 weeks or so late planting, but EVERYBODY planted within about week's time, all at once... EVERYBODY made GOOD cotton that year, very few bugs... BECAUSE it was simply TOO WET for ANYBODY to slip out there and plant some a couple weeks early (which they used to do trying to get the "first bale in the county" and get printed in the paper and the buyer's would compete to buy it for a dollar a pound, nearly double the usual price, so THEY got in the paper too), there was no place for the early hatching bugs to start to munch and multiply, and then move into EVERYBODY ELSE's fields about the time the early cotton started getting "tough" and the younger cotton was tender and juicy and like a free buffet for the bugs to come raging in and feast and multiply... In the average year, this is EXACTLY what happens, and so the last guy to plant basically inherits everyone else's bugs as the fields start to mature one by one and the bugs have feasted and multiplied and move on looking for more tender sweet juicy pickings, and eat the last guy out of house and home!  

 

SO, here's this HUGE cotton field just breaking the ground good in the middle of all these other fields for miles around it that's already got cotton a foot and a half high in it about to start squaring ahead of bloom...  I'm shaking my head in amazement and I get to the parts place and get my stuff and I'm chit-chatting with the owner and telling him about the field of SUPER LATE cotton I saw, and wondering what the h3ll they were thinking... "INSURANCE COTTON!" was his instant response... "we got guys who do that every year... they KNOW that the bugs will eat it into the ground, which is why they plant it... when the bugs eat it and it's a total loss, they take the insurance claim and plow it under... 

 

To me, that's nuts... why plant a crop *INTENDING* to never produce it?? I mean, Dad and Frank, the neighbor, used to have a laugh with their inside joke, Dad would go over to drink coffee and eat kolaches with him and he'd say, "Well, Did you get your cotton planted?"  "Yep, how about you??"  "Yep, sure did-- time for us to go file for our disaster payments!"  LOL:)  Course that was mostly a joke, though the extended drought of the 50's was tough and a number of bad years piled up there when Eisenhower was in office... But I always figured if you were just out to "farm the system", why bother... if you don't want to produce a crop, just get out of farming... 

 

Later!  OL J R :) 


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#23 Tim/South

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 09:31 AM

Luke, Is the pesticide test not offered online? I took the chemical applicators class and test online.

The cross fencing program through NRCS is not a complicated ordeal. It requires H-Braces. Other than that, the requirements are normal, at least in how we always fenced. It pays $1.80 per foot which is much more than cost of material with T-Posts and barb wire.
FSA is a life saver when we have a natural disaster like tornadoes, flood, drought, lightening strikes on cattle etc.
FSA is handling the Corona relief package the government passed for cattle owners. Not really an FSA program yet they have the chore of processing applications.
Most things in life are as simple or as complicated as we want to make them.


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#24 luke strawwalker

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 11:45 AM

Luke, Is the pesticide test not offered online? I took the chemical applicators class and test online.

The cross fencing program through NRCS is not a complicated ordeal. It requires H-Braces. Other than that, the requirements are normal, at least in how we always fenced. It pays $1.80 per foot which is much more than cost of material with T-Posts and barb wire.
FSA is a life saver when we have a natural disaster like tornadoes, flood, drought, lightening strikes on cattle etc.
FSA is handling the Corona relief package the government passed for cattle owners. Not really an FSA program yet they have the chore of processing applications.
Most things in life are as simple or as complicated as we want to make them.

Not here, not that I've found out about anyway... Every time I check the closest testing place/date is about 6 months out and at least 200 miles away... which is total BS IMHO, considering that EVERY county has an extension office... it's not exactly rocket science anyway, but like the CDL's, the harder they make it to get them the more hoops you have to jump through, the more inept the licensees are LOL:)  Typical gubmint bureaucracy.  

 

Well, maybe NRCS is easier where you are, because when I looked at the cross-fencing program, they printed off FOURTEEN PAGES of rules/regulations/requirements for the fencing to meet their standards, all of which had to be complied with in full, or not eligible for cost share.  They inspected after you were done.  I mean they covered EVERYTHING from post spacing, post length, depth, number and type of wires, spacing, staple type and kind, H brace construction requirements, corner construction requirements, you name it.  Then of course there's the "must be kept in place and maintained for 20-25 years (can't recall which ATM) and subject to spot inspection at any time... and if say in 15 years the cattle market went to sh!t and I decided to h3ll with it and sold em all and plowed the fields back up for row crops, well, if they spot check you and the fences are gone, they demand 100% of the money back, plus interest, back to the original cost-share payout.  Same thing with the cattle waterers in the "back 40" cost-share deal... 30 pages of instructions, specifications, and  requirements... First, they determine where you want to put it in relation to the well, measure the distance, and calculate how big a pipe you need... I knew the site I wanted was 400 feet from my old man's well, so he looked in his book and popped up with "Oh, you'll need an INCH AND A HALF water line, minimum... I was like "I got no way to put that in... that big I'd need PVC, and you can't run PVC through a subsoiler with a boot on it!  I was gonna use 3/4 poly tube!"  "Nope, not big enough, too much pressure drop"... I'm like, "I don't give a sh!t what the pressure is at the trough, not gonna be a house there and the cows don't care... if you're putting 10 gallons a minute in the well end of the pipe, you HAVE to get 10 gallons a minute out the other end, since water is incompressible..."  "Sorry, has to be done to OUR specs..."  Then he tells me I have to dig the site out a foot deep, basically a pad big enough for the trough, and ten feet all the way around it, completely backfilled with coarse stone after having a ground cloth installed in the hole... then they have a contractor deliver the trough, which is a double-thick concrete trough about 10x15 feet long, which is SO thick that they have to have it hauled in and set with a roll-off truck with a winch on it, because it's TOO HEAVY to be moved afterwards... they REQUIRE the double-thick concrete for "durability"... THEN once the trough is set, you have to pour a 3 foot wide concrete "sidewalk" all the way around the stone pad, to contain the stones so cattle don't track them out into the field... Gotta have the stonework to keep the cattle from chewing up the ground around the trough with their hooves, and ground cloth to allow water to percolate but contain the cowsh!t in the gravel pad... I mean, it was RIDICULOUS... I was like "h3ll all I wanted was a couple 750 gallon galvanized troughs and a 400 foot poly water line to the back pasture... not looking for a swimming pool at the Hilton... You're talking about something that will cost me $10,000 bucks to install... I was looking for cost share on a $500 job!"  "Sorry, we don't do that... gotta go in by the regulations..."  I just shook my head and walked out... NO WAY was I spending ten grand to MAYBE get five back, *IF* it passed their muster when they came to look at it... 

 

I just bought a roll of poly and a couple troughs and we put it in with a booted subsoiler behind the 5610, Jay running the tractor in low gear idling and I walked along behind rolling the roll of tubing and feeding it down through the subsoiler boot into the ground as we went... works like a champ, been there nearly 20 years, still works fine.  

 

Different areas are probably better... we're too [email protected] close to friggin' Houston, that's our biggest problem.  Later!  OL J R :) 



#25 Palmettokat

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 06:23 PM

I admit there is much I don't know but here our county agents work hard to help us get our pesticide license.  Would say counties in Texas are larger than ours but think they pull about three or four counties together on these test and the continuation education. I did find a company on line who offered the ce but had no reason to check out the details.   

 

On money to help with sprigging grass for pasture or hay here we have a one year requirement to keep it that way, the year it is sprigged. Surprised me. They do check it after being sprigged. I was allowed to get help on a piece of land with only a one year lease. 


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#26 luke strawwalker

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 12:09 AM

I admit there is much I don't know but here our county agents work hard to help us get our pesticide license.  Would say counties in Texas are larger than ours but think they pull about three or four counties together on these test and the continuation education. I did find a company on line who offered the ce but had no reason to check out the details.   

 

On money to help with sprigging grass for pasture or hay here we have a one year requirement to keep it that way, the year it is sprigged. Surprised me. They do check it after being sprigged. I was allowed to get help on a piece of land with only a one year lease. 

Interesting... I don't think we have any sprigging assistance program here, not that I've heard of anyway... 

 

Course being too close to Houston, and all these farms getting chopped up into 5 acre "ranchettes" as the older generation dies off, they'd probably be overwhelmed with requests for everybody wanting to sprig Coastal or Jiggs bermuda or whatever for their horses, "claiming" it was for cattle, but within a few months or a year, the cows would mysteriously disappear and be replaced by horses I bet... 

 

I know Dad had me go to NRCS years ago and inquire about a stock tank/pond and windmill/solar well for cattle program, and they told me flat out "Nope, don't have that here-- we'd be swamped with requests as every city yahoo moving out here would want cost assistance for a shiny new windmill in their backyard and a fishing pond "stock tank" LOL:)  Yup, true enough!!!  

 

Later!  OL J R :) 






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