Government officials last week indicated that USDA wants to get more farmers to complete its surveys after responses fell to a record low of 66.5 percent in a Sept. 30 grain stocks report.
USDA has formed an internal committee to improve response rates, and was also working with farmer groups such as the National Corn Growers Association to encourage farmers to respond to the surveys.
North Dakota Corn Growers Executive Director Dale Ihry says it’s something his group is certainly aware of.
Some analysts have speculated that farmers are reluctant to report huge crop yields that could potentially depress prices.
The government is concerned about dwindling response rates in part because crop yield data at the county level is one factor used to calculate compensation payments to farmers under the 2014 Farm Bill.
USDA surveys tens of thousands of U.S. farmers. Their responses about planted and harvested acres, yield and on-farm stocks help determine production estimates for dozens of crops including corn and soybeans.
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans last week. The train arrived in Kennebec on the state-owned, rehabilitated rail line from Chamberlain to Kennebec and Presho that had not been used in over two decades.
“This is the first of many trains to load grain from our Wheat Growers facility, and we are so excited to share this moment with producers in the Kennebec territory,” Dale Locken, Wheat Growers CEO, says. “Producers in the area are having a good year so far with excellent winter wheat and soybean yields, and now that the rail line is back in business, their crops will go by rail instead of being trucked out of the area to another location.”
The rail rehabilitation was funded by private, state and federal funds. Wheat Growers built the $40 million grain and agronomy facility in Kennebec when the state committed to rehabilitating the rail line for heavy use.
“There’s a lot of local pride in this facility, because producers in the area formed the Rails to the Future group that raised a million dollars to help get the project going,” Kennebec Location Manager Todd Longville says. “This first train has brought additional excitement about the new opportunities we have here in Lyman County.”
The Grain Terminal is a state-of-the-art shuttle loader facility with a rail shipping capacity of 80,000 bushels per hour with a continuous loop track. That, combined with a total truck receiving capacity of 60,000 bushels per hour, gives it the fastest dumping speeds in the industry. The new site has a total grain storage capacity of 4.08 million bushels.