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What was new in farm transition and estate planning in 2019?

By Megan Roberts, Extension Educator
It has been a quiet year for major changes in farm transition and estate planning at both the federal and state of Minnesota level. Nonetheless, there are still several updates to discuss.
Federal estate exclusion is increased for inflation
After the major, far-reaching 2018 federal tax changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, 2019 was remarkably less dramatic for federal changes. The federal lifetime gift and estate exclusion remains at the higher $11 million (indexed for inflation). In 2019, the lifetime exclusion is $11.4 million per person. In November 2019, the IRS announced the lifetime exclusion is $11.58 million per person in 2020.[1]
Although the federal exclusion remains very high and federal tax consequences of gifting or inheritance are likely minimal or non-existent for most farms, farmers should not interpret this as a reason to put off estate planning. First, the new higher federal lifetime exclusion of $11 million (indexed for…
Recent posts

Farm Service Agency and Extension Launch 2018 Farm Bill Crops Education Meetings

Starting this month, the Farm Service Agency and University of Minnesota Extension will begin a series of free education meetings to help crop producers understand decisions regarding the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization of ARC and PLC programs.

The seminars are offered all across the state, being held in 46 different counties and will be led by Extension educators and FSA; no registration is required. Details are available here or by going to

The ARC Program is an income support program that provides payments when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guarantee level. The PLC Program provides income support payments when the effective price for a covered commodity falls below its effective reference price.

All farm producers with interest in the cropland must make a farm program election by March 15, 2020. This election will apply to the farm for 2019 and 2020. Crops grown in Minnesota that are covered by this program include: corn, soybeans, wheat, barl…

Women in Ag Network - November Feature

By Megan Roberts, Extension Educator

November’s Women in Ag Feature is Tiffany Klaphake, Agriculture Program Coordinator for Central Lakes College, AgCentric, and MN FFA Alumni. Tiffany also lives and works on a dairy farm near Sauk Centre. Below Tiffany shares about her experiences growing up on a farm, leaving to seek an education and career in agriculture, and then finding herself back on a farm again.
WAGN: Tell us a little about your background and farm.
Tiffany: I grew up on a 60 cow dairy farm in central Minnesota by the small town of Burtrum. Growing up I was your classic FFA judging, 4-H showing, dairy princess waving farm girl. Being involved in so many agriculture related activities in high school made me want to pursue an agriculture degree in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree, but knew I wanted my degree to be in agriculture. After graduating with an Agribusiness degree from Ridgewater College, I decided to transfer on to the University of Minnesota …

Dairy Margin Coverage

September 20 is the last day for dairy farmers to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage program with your local Farm Service Agency office.Even dairy farmers who have signed up for the program can change their coverage levels or the one year or five-year option for the program until September 20.

Just a reminder, Dairy Margin Coverage is part of the new farm bill. It is the replacement for Margin Protection Program (MPP). DMC uses a nation-wide formula for feed cost and subtracts this from the US all milk price. This is the national milk price to feed margin and is calculated monthly. The premiums for DMC are substantially reduced from MPP, Tier 1 is under 5 million pounds.Tier II is 5 million pounds and up. DMC premiums are listed in Table 1.Discounted premiums are available for Tier I if a farm signs up for five consecutive years of DMC in 2019 – which is a 25 percent reduction in the premium cost. If a dairy farm participated in MPP-Dairy during 2014 through 2017, the farm can get 7…

Beyond the Economics of Prevent Plant Cover Crops

By David Bau, Extension Educator

Wet cool spring of 2019 left many farmers cramming to get their crops planted.  Many were unable to get all the crop planted on time and continued planting even after final planting dates lowering their level of insurance coverage.  Many fields were not planted at all and many acres applied to prevented planting acres.

Some reports show close to 20 million acres in the United States were prevented planted acres. With 11 million prevented plant acres for corn and 4.5 million prevented plant acres for soybeans. This created a problem never experienced by many farmers, what to do with these idle acres.

Some used tillage to control weeds, some used tillage and chemicals to control weeds, others just used chemical control while many others planted cover crops. All of these weed control systems have costs associated with them.

The majority of farmers carry crop insurance that will provide income for these prevented planted acres. If a farmer had 75% coverage…

Women in Ag Network - August Feature

By Megan Roberts and Sarah Schieck, Extension Educators

Our August 2019 "Woman in Ag" feature is Chandra Pagel. Chandra is a special education teacher and a dairy farmer. In addition to her busy career responsibilities, Chandra is active in her community; for example, she and her husband currently serve on the Young Farmers and Ranchers state committee for MN Farm Bureau. Below Chandra shares about her farm and more. Thanks Chandra for sharing your story.
WAGN: Tell us about your farm. Chandra: Together with my husband and his parents, I farm in Southeastern Minnesota. As a family, we care for and milk a small herd of Holstein cows. We raise and house all of our replacement heifers on the farm. In addition, we have a small herd of beef pairs. We grow a variety of crops such as corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and rye grass and utilize cover crops to improve soil health.
WAGN: During the school year you are very busy teaching. How do you balance helping out on the farm when you have a …

Outlook 2019 with Weather and Price Variables

By David Bau, Extension Educator

The spring of 2019 will go down as one for the memory books. Wet, cool and late spring left many farmers cramming to get their crops planted. Many were unable to get all the crop planted on time and continued planting even after final planting dates lowering their level of insurance coverage. Many field were not planted at all and many acres applied to prevented planting acres.

Last winter I prepared crop budget for corn and soybeans total $722 per acre for corn and $469 for soybeans with cash rents or return of investment plus property taxes estimated at $186 per acre. How do the economics look today? Cash corn for harvest of 2019 at Lamberton’s Meadowland Coop was $4.17 and soybean price was $8.30.  The budget used yields of 190 bushels per acre for corn and 52 bushels per acre for corn. Though yield were projected for normal planting dates which did not take place for many Minnesota farmers. 

Using a 10 percent yield loss due to later planting dates…