Only a Few Days Left to Register for the Census of Agriculture 2017!

If you are a new farmer or rancher, or have not been contacted by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), then you have until the end of June to register for the Census of Agriculture.

To qualify to be counted in the Census, you only need to have a place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products have been produced and sold, or would have been produced and sold under normal circumstances in a particular year (here 2017).

So, if you are a farmer or rancher, please make sure that you are counted for the Census!

At 177 years old, the Census of Agriculture tells the story of U.S. agriculture. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. The data are valuable to those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, even farmers and ranchers themselves. Census results help shape farm programs and boost services for communities and the industry. The Census of Agriculture is a farmer or rancher’s voice, future, and opportunity. For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540.



Ogallala FREE Workshop- FSA Disaster & Loan Programs (including limited liability entities) and The Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program

You are welcome to attend a free workshop on Farm Service Agency livestock disaster programs, direct and guaranteed loan programs, and the Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program. There is no charge for the workshop.

June 29, 2017 at the Petrified Wood Gallery (418 E 1st St, Ogallala) from 1pm-3pm

To register (and for questions) call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

The workshop will provide an overview of livestock disaster programs (LFP, LIP and ELAP) administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and an overview of FSA loan programs (both direct and guaranteed operating and ownership loans, including those programs targeted at beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as the micro loan program and the recently expanded farm storage facility loan program). The workshop will also address some of the issues that arise under these programs when farm and ranches use limited liability entities as part of their business and/or succession planning. There will also be discussion of the benefits and requirements of the Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program (NextGen), including requirements for use of this program by family members. The workshop should be useful for established farm and ranch owners, for their successors, and for beginners. (This program is also being offered for CLE credits to bar members.)

 Joe Hawbaker, Agricultural Law attorney, with Hawbaker Law Office, Omaha

Amy Swoboda, Food and Farm Attorney with The Beginning Farmer Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska

This workshop is made possible through the Nebraska Network for Beginning Farmers & Ranchers and the Beginning Farmer Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska, under an outreach grant from the Farm Service Agency, USDA. 

March Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

These FREE farm and ranch clinics are being held in:

March Clinics:

Norfolk clinic – Friday, March 3rd

Norfolk clinic – Thursday, March 16th

Fairbury clinic – Monday, March 27th

To sign up for a clinic or for more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline:  1-800-464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor the farm finance clinics.

Farm mediation                  Legal Aid of Nebraska

Nebraska DriftWatch 2015 Renewal Now Open

DriftWatch is an online map that shows specialty and pesticide sensitive crops for pesticide applicators.  For Nebraska producers and pesticide applicators, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture is the data steward.

What crops are eligible for inclusion on DriftWatch?  First, the crops must be commercial, meaning they are sold in some manner and not strictly for personal use.  Second, eligible crops are:

  • Grapes
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beehives
  • Greenhouse — high tunnel
  • Nursery Crops
  • Orchards
  • Fish Farms
  • Non-specialty certified organic
  • Other (plants grown for seed, cut flowers, flowers for scented products, woody florals, hops, and certain non-herbicide resistant crops)

Certified organic crops, including alfalfa, pasture, and native prairie, are considered eligible if they are part of a commercial operation.

DriftWatch does require annual renewal, which is currently open for 2015.  If you do not renew, your crop locations will not show on the map and pesticide applicators will not see your locations.

While DriftWatch is a voluntary program, it may be a program that is of use to you.  Look into it if you it is a ‘new-to-you’ program or renew if you are already a member and find it useful!


The necessity of financial recordkeeping

I was driving back to Omaha today, letting my mind wander about possible blog topics and it hit me: we have not yet discussed the necessity of financial recordkeeping.  Most people do not find the work of managing finances all that exciting but without it, you will have no idea whether your operation is profitable, where you can grow your operation or, even more basically, apply for loans or other financial products.

What is involved in recordkeeping?

  • You must know the cost of your inputs, such as seed, fertilizer, or hay.  This allows you to project your costs and know the amount you must recoup to break even.  Also calculate any lease payments, the cost of maintenance on machinery, fuel, insurance premiums, and any other expenses related to your operation.
  • Know the market history for your commodities.  How many bushels of corn can you realistically produce and what is the price per bushel?   How many cattle do you have, what weight do you wish to sell them, how long does it take to get to that weight, and what is the market price?
  • Know the details of your loans.  What are the interest rates, what is the term (number of years to payoff), what is the principal balance.
  • Know the cost of your own labor — how much time are you willing to expend on certain products and is the time worth the return?
  • Know your family expenses — how much income do you need, both on-farm and off-farm, to live the lifestyle you want?

With the above knowledge, you can make both short-term and long-term plans for your operation.  You can also calculate your balance statement (or net worth statement).  Such documentation is typically required when applying for loans.  If you have the information readily available, it will expedite the loan application process.

Later this week, we will discuss some of the other information you can glean from your records.  But first, you must have the records!  If you need any help beginning the process of recordkeeping, contact us!  We’re happy to help.