Crop-insurance claims by farmers for prevented planting are up by 48 percent this year, said Bloomberg, a reflection of the cold and rainy spring. Growers filed claims on 2.3 million acres of corn and nearly 2.2 million acres of soybeans, said the news agency, based on its review of federal data.
The fall harvest will not begin for weeks but the USDA already forecasts a modest increase in costs of production for the major field crops in 2016, up 1 to 2 percent an acre compared to this year.
The federally subsidized crop-insurance program grew dramatically over the past two decades. It covers 44 percent more acres and, with creation of revenue insurance, the average level of coverage climbed to 75 percent in 2014, a 17-point increase from 1996, according to economists Carl Zulauf of Ohio State and Dan Orden of Virginia Tech.
A farmer with 1,500 acres of highly productive land in central Illinois could see net income this year that is a fraction of last year - around $7,500 versus more than $103,000 in 2014, says U-Illinois economist Gary Schnitkey.
When Congress first experimented with a revenue-support program for farmers, there were few takers. Only 8 percent of "base" acres were enrolled in the so-called ACRE program in 2013.
Corn and soybeans are the two most widely grown crops in the nation, forecast at 174 million acres this year, or slightly more than half of the land devoted to the two dozen "principal" crops of the United States.
After the fall-off from record-high corn, soybean and wheat prices in 2012, Purdue economist Mike Boehlje says growers can expect to "bounce along close to break-even for five to 10 years," reports DTN.
Corn and soybean growers will need to trim their cash flow again in 2016 if commodity prices repeat this year's comparatively low levels, says economist Gary Schnitkey of U-Illinois.
Growers may be prevented by bad weather from planting 1.1 million acres of their intended record 84.6 million acres of soybeans, says economist John Newton of U-Illinois.