Farmers worry for future as rain halts planting

Local News

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Right now is an extremely stressful time for farmers.

All of the rain in central Illinois has delayed planting, pushing it to the last minute. With few options to save their businesses, it’s creating more problems than some expected. 

When farmers’ livelihoods are on the line, it’s not easy looking at the rainy forecast ahead. UI Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin says it’s been 25 years since we’ve had this severe of a delay in corn planting. Some farmers have no corn planted at all. 

Fields are bare at a time when most crops should’ve been planted already. Farmers like Derric Eisenmann are falling behind. He says, “We have months of work to do and we only have two or three days.”

Good weather, like we had on Wednesday, won’t last past the next day. There’s more rain to come. Non-stop patches of rainfall have soaked fields and much of it hasn’t dried up. The delay in planting is widespread. Irwin says, “As of last weekend, only about a quarter of the Illinois corn crop was planted. Normally it would be more like 85-90%.” 

Irwin has noticed the effects this has had on farmers mental health. He says, “There’s tremendous pressure on the farmers regarding what to do in this big of a mess.” 

It’s created a grim outlook for some like Eisenmann. He says, “It makes you kind of sick because we’re out doing things that you know you should probably wait on. The ground needs to dry a little more.”

Many are backed into a wall with few options. They can wait out the rain and still plant, risking reductions in yield, or forego planting and collect crop insurance. But if farmers don’t plant, that could cause prices to go up for things people buy everyday in the future. 

Irwin says, “We’ll probably end up with pretty high corn prices, that feel through to livestock prices like milk, meat, and eggs, then a little bit into processed goods.” That could happen by next year. 

Time is running out to plant. But many farmers can’t turn back. Eisenmann says, “We’ve bought products and they’re sitting there. It’s not like Walmart where you can just return it. We’ve paid rent for land and that rent is due whether you get a crop in or not.” 

The optimal planting window for corn has passed. The typical deadline for soybeans is fast approaching. For the farmers who do decide to plant, they’ll be relying on hope for a decent yield. 

Health professionals recognize the pressure this is putting on farmers. Carle hospital will be hosting mental health first aid classes this summer. Amy Rademaker, Carle’s rural health & farm safety program coordinator, says, “It’s very taxing. With the weather the anxiety has gone up, depression has gone up. We have tariffs that we’re now dealing with.” The classes will be available to both farmers and their families. Click this link for more information.

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