As Gov. Tony Evers calls on lawmakers to deal with the state’s dairy crisis, a state agency is hoping to ease some mental stress by helping farmers plan for the future of their farms.
The University of Wisconsin-Extension is hosting a series of workshops called “Cultivating Your Farm Future” across the state in the next couple of months designed to help farmers dealwith the financial future of their farm and possibly relieve some stress that’s led to a greater risk of mental health issues among farmers.
“With the farm stress and the low commodity prices we’ve had in the last five years planning for the future, it’s really hard to do that when you’re just planning for the next day,” said Kaitlyn Lance, an agriculture educator and certified farm succession coordinator for UW-Extension in La Crosse County.
For more information, click here.
Wisconsin farmer groups are applauding Gov. Tony Evers’ plans for a special session on the financial crisis facing the state’s farms.
Evers signed an executive order Thursday, calling the Legislature into special session next week to consider a package of bills aimed at helping the dairy industry and farmers across the state.
The proposals create several new grant programs, including one for dairy processing plants, producer education programs and a Small Farm Diversity grant. That program would award up to $50,000 each year to farmers looking to add a new agricultural product to their farm or pay off existing equipment debt for a new product. The grant could also be used to fund start-up costs for new farms.
For more information, click here.
GILMANTON, Wis. – Excessive snow and blowing wind create a nasty combination – a danger that caused a record number of farm buildings to collapse this past winter. Weather events can’t be controlled so farmers need to do what they can to prevent damage.
That starts with building design, says Aaron Halberg, resident professional engineer at Halberg Engineering.
“We should avoid all possible loss,” he said at a presentation sponsored by University of Wisconsin-Extension in Buffalo County
Carl Duley, UW-extension agent, said collapsed buildings aren’t a new issue but buildings are becoming bigger, which puts more stress on construction materials. This past winter collapsed buildings in west-central Wisconsin had more than $12 million in damage. That included poultry sheds, machine sheds, livestock barns and grain bins that ranged from one to 50 years old. Damaged buildings continued to drop throughout the spring.
Once snow piles up, wind can change the depth and density of snow on a roof. Rain on the snow can increase the weight by 5 pounds per square foot for every inch. Ice dams can form along the edge, holding snow back from sliding off the roof. Something as small as screw heads showing through a roof is enough to hold snow on a roof.
Wisconsin has no binding building code for post-frame buildings, although standards do exist. Halberg referred to ASCE 7, a minimum-design load, as a source for building design – with the caveat that codes are a minimum. A project may need greater design loads. Factors such as building use, the presence of animals or humans, and siting need to be considered
Halberg recommends dealing with people who have been in the business for a while – those with a good design reputation and warranty on the work. He warns that the cheapest building might be just that – cheap.
“When I see a collapse, it’s usually one or two details that were missed,” he said.
Duley gave an example.
”Steel isn’t steel isn’t steel,” he said.
If a builder downgrades the steel, connectors can rust. That results in less building integrity.
Design should start with load considerations, Halberg said, and then trusses, trusses to posts, overall connection and bracing. Every link in the chain is important. Designers should consider what happens when doors are open or closed as well as extra dead weight such as solar panels or insulation.
Once building construction starts it’s expensive to make changes in the load rating and can be complicated. In existing structures it may be possible to fix a weak spot by reinforcing purlins, adding material to trusses or bolstering connections.
For older sheds, lean-tos are a popular way to cheaply add more building. But they can put stress on the original building. Also they catch snow; they need to be properly attached.
If a structure fails it’s important to have insurance to cover losses. Several issues will determine whether insurance will pay for damage and how much they pay, Duley said.
- insurance for snow load
- building that’s covered but not equipment or animals
- falling objects
- buildings too old for insurance
- replacement cost vs. depreciated value
He said farmers should consider coverage for loss of production.
Insurance companies use three categories for coverage.
- Actual Cash Value
- Replacement Cost Value
- Functional Replacement Value
The actual cause of damage will be considered – whether for example it was snow load or snow load with wind. If the snow was there previous to the wind damage will be considered.
“We don’t ask enough questions,” Duley said of insurance agents. “The biggest message I have about insurance is to read your policy and know what’s in it. Have a conversation with your agent.
“Not all policies are the same; don’t assume anything.”
Halberg and Duley both said owners deserve enough information to decide what’s best for their buildings.
“We need to be moving in a smarter direction in building design.” Halberg said.
The Spring 2019 issue of the Countryside Compass is now available online!
Check out the stories covered in this edition:
- Learning how to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
- AgSolver – analyzing profitability on your acres
- How economic times are driving credit policy enforcement
- Important tax benefits
- Changes in the Grain Division
- Lengthening your usefulness of feed bins
- Spotlight on the Heck Dairy in Mondovi
- What sets Countryside apart from others
- What to look for with LP tank tilt this spring
- Countryside’s commitment to Drive to Feed Kids
- HVAC spring tune up
- Countryside’s Internship Program and partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College
Countryside Cooperative Spring 2019 Compass
We urge all of our customers to order a summer fill. That way, they won’t need to worry about whether they have propane in their tank when they start their furnaces in the fall—and they won’t have to compete for the attention of their driver who is also delivering to farmers drying their corn. After summer fill, we encourage our customers to consider one of these three options for paying for propane needed to heat their homes, farm shops and businesses this winter: budget pay, full pre-pay or deposit contracts.
Budget Payment is for people who don’t want to pay a big $400 bill all at once during the winter. Budget pay spreads out the customer’s payments over the entire heating season. The first payment is made in July and the last payment is made in May, with June being a reconciliation month. However, Countryside Cooperative will still take new budget pay customers for a couple months after the Budget Payment program starts.
Full Pre-pay Contract is for anyone who wants to lock in their price on the number of gallons they know they will use over the winter. Aside from summer fill, this option will give a customer the best price. It saves 10 cents/Gal. over the next option, the Deposit Contract, and is usually much better than cash-on-delivery. Last year, Full Pre-Pay customers paid 40 cents less than the cash market. Full Pre-Pay customers can decide whether they want to watch their supply tanks and order when they get low, or let the co-op auto-fill their tanks. As it sounds, Full Pre-Pay customers pay the full amount on the gallons they expect to use at the time the contract is signed. All contracts must be completed by predetermined date, and the number of gallons of propane under contract must be taken between October 1 and April 30. If, on April 30, a full Pre-Pay customer still has not taken all the gallons they have under contract, the remaining money will be rolled back into their accounts.
Deposit Contract is for people who want to lock in a price but do not have the money to sign a Full Pre-Pay Contract and do not want Budget Payment. A Deposit customer pays $0.20/Gal. down on a specified number of gallons at an agreed upon price, at the time the contract is signed. When the gas is delivered, they pay the balance per gallon. The price the Deposit customer ends up paying is more than the Full Pre-Pay price, but will usually be less than the cash price. Last year, the Deposit customer paid $0.32/Gal. less for their propane than the cash market. As with Full Pre-Pay Contracts, the Deposit Contract runs for a predetermined timeframe. Unlike the Full Pre-Pay customers, however, Deposit customers lose whatever they have paid toward each gallon of propane under contract but not pulled by April 30. So they need to be conservative about their estimation of what they will use.
It would seem that the people most interested in the above contracts would be homeowners, farmers operating livestock facilities, or commercial businesses. However, in recent years, many farmers have contracted propane as a way of lowering the expense of grain drying. I regularly call our crop drying customers and give them the option to contract. Lately, all of them have been pulling the trigger early, contracting what they think they’ll need for the fall. Anyone who bought propane for heating under the Budget Program or signed a Full-Pay or Deposit Contract last year will be sent another new contract in July and encouraged to sign. In this mailing, they will be told how many gallons they used and encouraged to allow for any abnormalities in temperature last winter or changes in use when they contract this year. If you have never purchased propane from Countryside Cooperative under these three programs, please call our energy department at 715-672-8947 or toll-free 800-236-7585. We will send a contract out and help you estimate your use.
You didn’t really see it, but there was a propane shortage this winter. Your supplier, Countryside Cooperative, was put on allocation. But because we have enough storage, we had sufficient propane to supply all of our customers throughout the winter.
We’re currently considering adding two 30,000 gallon tanks to our propane storage, which will bring our total storage to 600,000 gallons.
Every year, Countryside Cooperative sells 8 1/2 to 9 million gallons of propane. Our storage, although large compared to others, would not be enough in the case of a severe shortage. And, prices would rise dramatically.
This is the main reason to consider pre-buying your propane: to lock in both price and supply.
The difference between pre-buying propane and buying propane off the truck this past winter was 40ȼ/gal. That’s a significant savings. Put that together with the protection pre-buy offers from a serious shortage, and Countryside’s pre-buy program is very attractive.
With the political tensions in the Middle East this spring, propane prices have been rising rather than falling.
We’ll be sending out a pre-buy agreement soon to everyone who has pre-bought propane in the past. But, we’ll send one to you—if you call us.
You have two options for pre-paying your 2018-19 propane: You can 1) lock in a price by putting down 20ȼ/gal. for a specified number of gallons, or you can 2) lock in an even lower price by totally pre-paying for a specified number of gallons. Choose the option best for you.
Call Countryside Cooperative’s energy office at 715-672-8947 and ask to speak to an expert about propane pre-buy.
Top off your tank in the off-season
We will start our annual propane summer-fill program in July and run it until August 31. Have your tank filled in the off-season, be ready for the coming heating or drying season, and take advantage of what normally is the lowest price of the year.
If you want your tank summer-filled, call the energy office today.