Extension Ag Update
September/October 2002
Articles Research Resources Internet Links Ag Facts Education

Internet Links

Brief Highlights of the 2002 Farm Bill
This material describes provisions of the Farm Bill in a concise, easy-to-understand manner.

Farm Bill Decision Tool
This is a downloadable Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that calculates payments under the four options for updating acres and yields. This spreadsheet will aid farmers and landowners in making choices among the four alternatives.

Loan Rates in 2002
This is a link to the USDA website that shows county loan rates for 2002. Also listed are links to U.S.D.A. and other websites describing the 2002 Farm Bill.

Suitability Maps Available for Illinois Alternative Crops
Featuring 414 different crops and their suitability for Illinois soil and climate conditions this site is now available from the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). The site is designed to help farmers identify and find information on crops that they might like to grow. The Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research funded the project.

Choosing between liming materials
Many alternative liming materials are now available. Evaluate which one might be best for your fields.

Optimum calcium to magnesium rations: should you be concerned
Do plants grow better with a specific calcium to magnesium ratio? Learn about the chemical relationship of these elements in the soil and learn the research-based answer to this question.

Identifying Common and Glossy Buckthorn
Color photos and detailed descriptions make identifying buckthorn easy.

Creating Corn Mazes on Farms for Agri-tourism
http://www.cornfieldmaze.com/ or http://www.maizemaze.com/

Retirement Estimator for Farm Families
A new Purdue University website designed for farmers can help take some of the guesswork out of retirement planning. Putting a price tag on retirement dreams is the goal of the "Retirement Estimator for Farm Families" site. The site helps estimate the annual income a family would require for retirement and suggests options for matching expenses with projected available funds. Since it was designed specifically for farmers, the "Retirement Estimator for Farm Families" site includes inputs for income from rented crop and pastureland, income from the sale of machinery, and other farm-related income and expenses. The retirement estimator provides data based on information about family expenses, life expectancy, and sources of income. The information is provided for calculation purposes only and is not kept at the site. In addition to calculating retirement expenses, the site provides links to additional retirement planning resources. It also offers examples of spending patterns for other farm families.

Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Wheat Farms
The average cost of producing a bushel of wheat was $3.97 for producers surveyed in 1998, ranging from about $1.25 to more than $6 per bushel. The cost of producing wheat generally declined as farm size increased. Regional differences in production practices and growing conditions were major influences on production costs and yields among wheat producers. Producers in the Prairie Gateway, a major wheat region, produced wheat at an average cost of $3.63 per bushel, the lowest cost among regions. Most high-cost farms and very large farms were in the Southeast region; these farms tended to be more diversified than farms in other regions, so wheat contributed a smaller share to their total farm income.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Releases 12 Wetland-Related Fact Sheets
The EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds (OWOW) has available online 12 wetland-related fact sheets. The topics include: Wetlands Overview, Types of Wetlands, Functions and Values of Wetlands, Threats to Wetlands, Wetland Restoration, Funding Wetland Projects, Wetland Monitoring and Assessment, Wetland Monitoring and Assessment: A Technical Framework, Wetlands Program Development Grants, Teaching about Wetlands, Sustainable Communities and Volunteering for Wetlands.

National Center for Agricultural Law
The National AgLaw Center's attorneys conduct legal research into the most critical issues facing agriculture today. Based on this research, objective and authoritative publications are produced that are available in print and online. The Center's attorneys have written books, articles, and bulletins on numerous topics including federal farm programs, environmental law issues, and landowner liability.

The Changing Landscape of U.S. Milk Production
The U.S. dairy industry underwent dramatic restructuring during the last 50 or so years. Key structural features of the dairy industry are the quantity of milk produced and the location, number, size, and organization of dairy farms. The questions of where, how much, and by whom milk is produced are important from both a national and a regional perspective. The structure of milk production defines the potential direction of the industry. Dairy farms continue to grow, become more concentrated in certain regions, and become more specialized in producing milk. However, small traditional dairy operations remain scattered around the country.

Income, Wealth, and the Economic Well-Being of Farm Households
Agricultural policy is rooted in the 1930's notion that providing transfers of money to the farm sector translates into increased economic well-being of farm families. This report shows that neither change in income for the farm sector nor for any particular group of farm business can be presumed to reflect changes confronting farm households. Farm households draw income from various sources, including off-farm work, other businesses operated and, increasingly, nonfarm investments. Likewise, focus on a single indicator of well-being, such as income, overlooks other indicators such as the wealth held by the household and the level of consumption expenditures for health care, food, housing, and other items. Using an expanded definition of economic well-being, we show that farm households as a whole are better off than the average U.S household, but that 6 percent remain economically disadvantaged.

Agricultural Productivity in the United States
Increased productivity is the main contributor to growth in U.S. agriculture. This data set provides estimates of productivity growth in aggregate for the period 1948-99, and growth and relativity levels for individual States for 1960-96.