We strive to educate our communities and provide the most current information on relevant agricultural topics. Each issue is comprised of articles written by our extension faculty on topics ranging from global trade to the economics of small vegetable farms. 

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Fall 2020 Wheat Planting Decision

Greg Halich  |  September 28th, 2020

Beautiful early-fall conditions are resulting in another early corn harvest this year, and Kentucky grain farmers will soon decide if and how much wheat they will plant this fall.  Compared to last year, there is a significant increase in wheat prices and a slight increase in soybean prices.  These changes will make planting wheat more attractive relative to last year. Read more >>

Economics of Various Winter Wheat Management Strategies

Jordan Shockley  |  September 28th, 2020

Planting season is right around the corner for those in Kentucky growing winter wheat this year.  Are you thinking about adjusting management practices by increasing seeding rates or adding phosphorus in anticipation of increased yields? Have you ever wondered how planting and harvest timings affect winter wheat yields? Read more >>

Specialty Crop COVID-19 Response Project

Emily Spencer

Emily Spencer  |  September 28th, 2020

During this moment of simultaneous disruption and rapid innovation, our project supports LRFS communities of practice by documenting and disseminating innovations and best practices developed on the ground and drawing on LRFS thought leaders to frame research on COVID-19 relate shifts to LRFS markets with the aim of supporting long term resilience.  Read more >>

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (2.0)

Will Snell and Kenny Burdine  |  September 23rd, 2020

USDA has announced a second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments for farmers impacted by COVID-19. CFAP 2.0 will total up to nearly $14 billion nationally, which will be in addition to the funds received from the first round of CFAP payments. Read more >>

Payroll Requirements for Farm Employers

Michael Forsythe

Michael Forsythe  |  September 22nd, 2020

Farming operations come in all different shapes and sizes.  This means their need for employees is also different. When a farmer decides to hire an employee, there are several steps they need to take to make sure all of the payroll requirements are met. 

Government Payments 2010-2019

Jerry Pierce

Jerry Pierce  |  August 25th, 2020

Agricultural government payments were created to help provide financial stability for farms and farmers. In recent years they have become a substantial support to ailing farm income. The first Farm Bill was created to support farm income while ensuring an adequate food supply. Following bills have been enacted about every five years. Read more >>

Managing Risk with Insurance

Lauren Omer Turley  |  August 25th, 2020

With all of the uncertainties we face in agriculture today, it is important to manage risk. We can’t control the markets, the weather, or the dangers of working in agriculture, but there are tools that can help manage those risks. Insurance can be used to protect the operation, supplement farm transition and estate issues, and aid in financial planning. Read more >>

The Chicken or the Egg? The Untold Story during a Pandemic

Jordan Shockley  |  August 25th, 2020

Most people are familiar with the age-old question, which came first, the chicken or the egg?  During a nationwide pandemic, which left the grocery shelf first, the chicken or the egg? The food industry's just-in-time supply chain model strained which left shelves empty at the grocery store.  However, eggs are unique when compared to all other sources of protein. Read more >>

2020 Land Values Report

Steve Isaacs  |  August 13th, 2020

The 2020 Land Values Summary was released by USDA on Thursday, August 6. This annual report indicates the average value of all land and buildings on farms in the US, and by state and region. At the national level, all three categories were unchanged from 2019 with an average real estate value of $3,160/acre. Read more >>

Mid-year Cattle Inventory: Thoughts on Heifer Retention and Feeder Cattle Outside of Feedyards

Kenny Burdine  |  August 11th, 2020

Consistent with the January report, the cowherd is shrinking, but the decreases have been small thus far.  Beef cow numbers were estimated to be down just under 1% from July of 2019.  As expected, this lined up with a smaller estimation for the 2020 calf crop, which is a crucial first step in seeing improvement in calf prices. Read more >> 

Forestry Update Amidst COVID and Trade Distruptions

Chad Niman

Chad Niman, Bobby Ammerman, and Jeff Stringer  |  July 28th, 2020

It is difficult to determine how much of the hardwood log and lumber pricing decline is related to the COVID situation or even the trade war with China. The pricing observed from 2017 through mid-2018 was in part largely due to the higher pricing from the export market of hardwood logs and green lumber to China stimulating the market, alongside steady domestic demand. Read more >>

Be Proactive Rather than Reactive in Hard Financial Times

Tarrah Hardin

Tarrah Hardin  |  July 28th, 2020

When facing hard financial times, like the ones we are currently facing, it is very easy to sit back and let the cards fall and hope that they are in your favor. The past two years have made many producers face some hard decisions about their operation and moving forward. Yet, looking forward and being proactive about where you stand financially can help.  Read more >>

Crop Insurance as a Tool for Managing Farm Risk

Jerry Pierce

Jerry Pierce  |  July 28th, 2020

Crop insurance was authorized by Congress in the 1930s on an experimental basis to insure against crop loss from “unavoidable perils beyond the farmer's control.” This article illustrates the importance of crop insurance as a risk management tool using data from crop farms participating in the Kentucky Farm Business Management (KFBM) program for 2010-2019.  Read more >>

Sacred Cows and Stocking Rates

Greg Halich  |  July 28th, 2020

“How could having fewer cows, and selling fewer calves possibly make you more money?” This beef cattle farmer is focusing on the revenue side of the profit equation. What the farmer is not considering is how much the cost side of the equation could go down by stocking at a lower rate.  Read more >>

Produce Auctions Have Seen Higher Prices Amid COVID-19 Challenges

Brett Wolff and Tim Woods  |  July 28th, 2020

Like all agricultural businesses operating in the midst of the challenges posed by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, produce auctions have had to make some adaptations to comply with social distancing and other recommendations and mandates. Despite some of the challenges, and the shifting market landscape (including decreases in restaurant and farm-to-school purchasing), auctions are generally seeing considerably higher prices and overall sales volume in 2020 so far.  Read more >>

COVID-19 and Food Price Inflation

Will Snell  |  June 29th, 2020

A major disruption in our food supply chain coupled with an initial surge of panic buying by consumers would suggest that food prices would increase. But how much extra are we paying to feed our families? Read more >>

Locally Produced Beef and Coronavirus Impacts

Greg Halich  |  June 29th, 2020

The Coronavirus has had major impacts to the beef supply, as well as other meats in this country since mid-March. Unlike the conventional beef segment, Kentucky beef producers who process and market their own meats locally have seen mostly positive changes. Read more >>

Cattle Markets Continue to Chase Stability

Kenny Burdine  |  June 29th, 2020

USDA has announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) designed to compensate farmers who have suffered lAt its lowest point this spring, federally inspected cattle slaughter was running 35% below 2019 levels.  Last week, federally inspected cattle slaughter was within 2% of 2019 levels and within 4% of the weekly peak in late March of this yearRead more >>

Updates to the PPP Loan Program

Tony James  |  June 29th, 2020

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) administered through the Small Business Association (SBA) continues to evolve and there are some noteworthy updates that have occurred during the past few weeks. Read more >>

Workforce Planning in the Time of COVID

Steve Isaacs  |  June 29th, 2020

Managing a workforce or even (maybe especially) a family business has never been a simple task and it’s become even more difficult in 2020. Strong active leadership and planning (strategic and tactical) are even more important in crisis times. Read more >>

Previous Articles

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Update

Will Snell and Kenny Burdine  |  Updated May 27th, 2020

PPP Loan Forgiveness

Jennifer Rogers  |  May 27th, 2020

What Farmers Need to Know: SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPP)

Jonathan Shepherd, Lacey Williams, Tyler Mark, and Jerry Pierce  |  April 22nd, 2020

Archived Newsletters

2020 Newsletters

January Newsletter

  • Making the ARC vs PLC Decision for the 2019 and 2020 Crop Years
  • Cow-Calf Profitability Estimates for 2019 and 2020
  • Trade Resources for Local Global Marketers 
  • Understanding Equipment Costs on the Small Commercial Vegetable Farm
  • What is Your Tax Management Strategy?

February Newsletter

  • USDA Cattle Inventory Report Confirms that Beef Herd Liquidation is Underway
  • Compost Bedded Pack Barn The Solution to the Winter Feeding Problem for Cow-Calf Operators?
  • Farm Income and Debt: Looking into the Future
  • 2020 Potential Revenue Protection Projected Prices and Revenue Guarantees for Corn and Soybeans

March Newsletter

  • Ag, Food, and Credit Markets Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis
    • Macro Issues
    • Livestock Markets
    • Grain Markets
    • Tobacco
    • Specialty Crops and Local Food Systems
    • Interest Rates and Credit Markets
    • Hemp

April Newsletter

  • COVID-19 Continues to Create Havoc for Ag and Food Markets
  • Southern Extension Economics Committee Offers Details on COVID-19 Related Legislation (Labor, Families First Act, CARES Act
  • What Farmers Need to Know: SBA Paycheck Protection Program
  • Increase in 2019 Net Farm Income for Most KFBM Crop Farms
  • Cattle Market Update

2019 Newsletters

January Newsletter 

  • Trying to Make Sense of the Current Cull Cow Market
  • Potential 2019-2020 Corn and Soybean Balance Sheets and Price Potential
  • Nutrient Value of Feeding Hay
  • Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill)

February Newsletter

  • Economists' Viewpoints Surrounding the Hemp Boom: Part I
  • Farm Bill Dairy Subtitle and Changes in Class I mover Calculation
  • Swinging for the Fences: High-Input Grain Farming
  • 2019 Revenue Protection Insurance Safety-Net for Corn and Soybeans

March Newsletter

  • The Economics of Hemp Production in Kentucky
  • 2019 Farm Income Forecast
  • Summer Stocker Outlook for 2019
  • Does 2019 Mark the End of Beef Herd Expansion?
  • Maximizing Value: Spring Application of Broiler Litter of Grain Crop Production

April Newsletter

  • The Impact of Fixed Costs on Hay Enterprise Profitability
  • Depreciation: The Largest Check You’ll Never Write
  • Kentucky Highlights from 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture
  • Census Data Confirms Continued Decline in Kentucky Tobacco Farms
  • Regional Specialty Crop Sales Growth Updated from 2017 Census

May Newsletter

  • May WASDE Quickly Over-Shadowed by Trade and Weather News
  • Can Your Farming Operation Be Too Diverse?
  • Early Observations on the 2019 Kentucky Tobacco Outlook
  • High Tunnel Growth in Kentucky

June Newsletter

  • MFP Payments for 2019
  • Farm Numbers and Concentration
  • Local Food Vitality Index – Louisville, KY
  • U.S. Ag Imports Continue to Grow
  • Historical Net Farm Income (NFI) for Crop Farms in the Kentucky Farm Business Management (KFBM) Program, 2008-2018

July Newsletter

  • Are Farmers Getting Older? Of Course!
  • Lender Relationships
  • Dairy Margin Coverage Very Attractive for 2019
  • Latest Round of MF Payments Announced

August Newsletter

  • Mid-year Cattle Inventory Suggests Halting Expansion
  • August Reports Leave Many Questions Unanswered
  • Protecting Your Broiler Flock (And Wallet) From the Bird Flu
  • Equity, Cash Flow? What’s the Big Deal?

September Newsletter

  • Market Demand for Specialty Small Grains in Kentucky
  • What to do When You Have "Too Much" Money
  • Fall 2019 Wheat Planting Decision

October Newsletter

  • Prospects for Winter Backgrounding in 2019/2020
  • Fifty Years of Net Cash Farm Income
  • Three Ways to Help Farmers Communicate with Bankers
  • USDA Updates Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Ending Stocks for 2019-2020

November Newsletter

  • 2019 National Land Values Summary
  • The Economic Value of Applying Broiler Litter in the Fall
  • Have We Seen the Worst of this Cattle Cycle?
  • Highlights from the USDA's "Interim Final Rule" Governing Hemp

December Newsletter

2019-2020 Kentucky Agricultural Economic Situation and Outlook

Contributors: Kenny Burdine, Todd Davis, Jerry Pierce, Will Snell, Tim Woods, (Ag Economics), Jeff Stringer and Bobby Ammerman (Forestry). December, 2019.