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Indiana farmers expect high yields, potential for storage problems

NAPPANEE, Ind. -- Prices on grain are below the “break even” point for many Indiana farmers. The drop in prices is being attributed to tariffs on exports to China.

Indiana agricultural officials are forecasting higher than average yields for farmers, which could lead to storage problems, with leftover grain from last year’s low prices taking up 25 percent of space in grain storage bins.

Most farmers in Elkhart County don’t have leftovers from last years but they are expecting higher than average yields. One farm in Nappanee is expecting yields of 260 bushels per acre.

“If yields keep running this strong, we’ll run out of room here on the farm,” Bryan Sheets, a Nappanee farmer, said. “Hopefully, the elevators will have room for our overflow.”

The US Department of Agriculture is predicting average yields of 192 bushels per acre. That’s more than 10 bushels higher than the national average in 2017. The USDA said much of that yield went unsold last year due to lingering tariffs from President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China lowering prices.

For many farms in the area, that is not the case.

“2017 crop, we were all cleaned out of our on-farm storage before we started 2018 harvest,” Sheets said.

Data from the General Administration of Customs shows China’s imports of corn from the US is down by more than 60 percent.

Despite those numbers, President of Hochstetler Grain Equipment said many of his clients in the local area aren’t struggling with grain storage problems from leftover grain or lower prices or low export rates.

They all claim they’re going to have storage problems this year but it’s because of high bushels per acre, yield,” Slabaugh said. “They’re not feeling that moving it through the system is affecting them negatively, yet, because of tariffs. All 5 of them resoundingly told me that.”

Five different farms in the local area told Slabaugh that they aren’t struggling from grain storage issues.

However, the state announced this week that licensed farmers can apply to store grain outside, on the ground, if grain bins fill up.

Trump’s administration also announced in July they would provide $12 billion in emergency relief to farmers affected by trade disputes. Interested farmers can apply once their harvest is 100 percent complete through the USDA.

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