What is in this article?:
- Mill's pricing pool termination puts farmers in bad spot.
- Amplifies young farmers' worries.
- Arkansas Rice Growers Association leadership reacts.
The first young farmer says his lender will likely suggest “an inventory loan — ‘You’ll get this much out of the pool. We’ll loan you money against that to get you even.’ But, man, you’ve still got to borrow money on something you already own. And think about all the interest you’ve got to pay back.”
He says his banker “is furious about this. He had several farmers, like me, on FSA guarantees. (2009) was horrible for a lot of farmers. He says a lot of customers have to pay out this year or they’ll be done in farming.”
The pool termination has led to scrambling for money in order to cover expected shortfalls. It even reaches to farmers involved in lawsuits against Bayer that stem from trace amounts of the company’s GM traits getting into the rice supply a few years ago. Thousands of farmer plaintiff cases are yet to be resolved.
(For more, see GM rice lawsuits)
“One of the (plaintiff) lawyers has told us he’s getting three or four calls a day from farmers wanting to know if Bayer has settled yet or if the case” had progressed, says Graves. “These farmers know they’ve got poor milling rice, aren’t going to get a good price for it and they’re looking for another source of funds.
“Next spring, unless they have deep pockets or can survive the low prices the bad-milling rice brings, farmers are going to have fewer options because of this.”
Graves predicts the next Producers meeting with co-op members “will be uncomfortable.”
A farmer who has only a few years in the profession says marketing is not something his generation shies away from. “My father and his buddies just put their rice in the (seasonal) pool and didn’t worry about marketing the crop. They left marketing up to Riceland and Producers.
“Well, my generation says, ‘Nope. We want control. We can do the marketing. We’re not going to just let you give us the average price because we can get a better price.’ And that’s the truth.”
When you sign up for a marketing pool, “you get to decide what price to take and when to take it. The grain is either in storage with the mill, or you’re storing it yourself. That’s why many farmers put up bins — so they have more control. Either way, signing up for the pool is a commitment to deliver it,” says Greg Yielding, executive director of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association. “This is no different than if a producer has agreed to deliver grain and then, later, telling the mill, ‘I found a higher price. I’m not going to honor our commitment.’
“It’s true that, overall, the state’s rice crop was poor. But that isn’t the case all over. I hear from farmers in the northern third that didn’t have the heat farmers in mid- and south Arkansas had. Some of them have good milling yields … and they’re still going to suffer because of this.”
The situation is one of “fairness” says Yielding. “Farmers know the crop was poor and understand receiving a discount. But they were under the impression all parties were contractually bound.”