(Lisa Ferguson- NASS) The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its findings June 30, from the June Agricultural Survey conducted in late May and early June. The survey queried nearly 2,600 farms across Kentucky to determine crop acreage for 2016.
Kentucky farmers planted an estimated 1.5 million acres of corn, up 100,000 acres from 2015. The U.S. corn planted for all purposes in 2016 was estimated at 94.1 million acres, up seven percent from last year. This represents the third highest planted acreage in the United States since 1944.
One of those 2,600 farms surveyed earlier this year in Kentucky was Michael Buckman's farm in Marion County. Buckman, 39, of Calvary, Kentucky, is a lifelong, many-generation corn and soybean farmer in central Kentucky. He bought his farm from his parents in 2011, and has been running it ever since with his wife, Megan.
"I've always been a farmer," Buckman said. "I've either worked for dad or run the farm my entire life. We can trace our family farming back to the Civil War right here in Calvary."
Despite the rainy start to planting and some early hotter-than-usual temperatures, Buckman expects a 1:1 plant to harvest ratio this year, which falls in line with his farm's historical averages. He always harvests all his acres, even in a drought year like 2012, because his insurance policy requires that he harvest even zero-yield acres. He'd much rather get paid for his crop contracts than insurance payouts, but realizes weather is one of the unknowns in farming.
Weather isn't the only uncertainty facing farmers, a fact Buckman knows well from serving as the treasurer for the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, on several district boards through the county extension office, and being involved in the Marion County Farm Bureau and the Kentucky Soybean Association.
"Market instability is one of the biggest issues facing corn growers," Buckman said. "We just want a stable market to know what to (generally) expect each year. A young farmer can't get started, because he can't go out and secure funding with a market that so radically changes every year. That's where the growers associations really work to offset the market instability and make sure the export market and trade programs are available."
Buckman sees the importance of NASS survey data assessing yields and values in adding stability to a farmer's life and answers all those that come across his desk, sometimes answering over the phone instead of filling out the paper survey.