Prevented planting, crop insurance, Market Facilitation Program or Trump money – all programs to help the farmer, but it is tough to feed those dollar bills to the cows.
    Cows are the ultimate recycler of feed stuffs nothing else will eat, but there might not be a good enough TMR mixer to get milk out of dollar bills.
    In our area, we are struggling to plant because of unprecedented rainfall this spring. We have about 40% of our corn mudded in the ground as of Sunday night before Memorial Day, and we received another 3.5 inches on Memorial Day. We have already used 2,000 pounds of ryegrass to reseed bad areas in alfalfa fields, and we have another pallet ready to go if it ever dries. Our alfalfa is turning yellow from the roots being waterlogged too long.
    Our plan for now is to use corn we have planted for high moisture combined corn and keep planting corn until June 20 or so for silage. The plan changes daily as we keep getting more rain and hope turns into desperation. We have many crop farming neighbors calling us to see if we would be interested in buying some kind of forage grown on their ground.
    The Trump payments got changed in a hurry last week when it was announced it was going to be based like last year’s payment on bushels of soybeans raised. The purpose of the original Trump payment was to make up for lost export sales of soybeans to China. All of the sudden last week someone at the United States Department of Agriculture woke up and realized that planting of feed grains and forage was in desperate trouble in 2019. Quickly they changed the funds available for the Trump payment to a per acre payment for any planted acre. This was pretty genius even if we do not like government subsidies because it gives us more incentive to keep planting corn and feed grains rather than claim prevented planting. The USDA knows our country is used to affordable food, and if we run short of feed grains the price of milk, beef, pork and eggs will rise dramatically.
    I honestly do not care if I receive a dollar from the government this year. I am going to do whatever it takes to raise enough feed for our dairy. There are 25 families that depend on us, from employees, heifer raisers, breeders, landlords and us, the owners and managers. I learned a long time ago to take care of the cows and the cows will take care of you.
    Tomorrow we are going to try to order BMR forage sorghum seed for 1,500 acres. We will use the seed on our own acres as well as some neighbors’ fields depending on what happens going forward. As I said before, we will keep trying to plant corn until June 20, but we have to be ready for a worst case scenario. We can also plant corn and forage sorghum on the same days if we get a brief period of sun and wind. Joe says the two most valuable pieces of equipment we have this year are the self-propelled chopper and the 40 foot air seeder.
    The other day, I even called the offices of Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, Jim Hagedorn and Collin Peterson to try to influence them to change the date of haying and grazing prevent plant acres from Nov. 1 to a more reasonable date of Sept. 1. I also strongly urged them to allow chopping in addition to baling. Apparently, there is already a strong push for these two changes as my comments to them were well received. Simple changes like this would cost the government nothing but could be a lifesaver for milk and beef prices going forward. Any of my close friends in the dairy industry are probably quite surprised I called our congressmen and senators because they know what I think of politics in general.
    It is now Sunday, June 2 as I finish this article to meet the deadline. We have not turned a wheel in the field since last week Sunday afternoon. The corn that is planted looks tough or underwater. The alfalfa in the poor spots is being overcome with dandelions. The cash crop neighbors are throwing in the towel on planting corn, and some thankfully are talking to us about a forage cover crop. We still have the corn planter hooked up, and we have the triple mower, chopper and trucks ready to go. My weather phone app shows sun for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday show clouds but not rain. Vince and Braxton are finished with school so that adds to the labor force. I hope it is a long week.
    Vander Kooi operates a 1,800-cow, 4,500 acre farm with his son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Rita, near Worthington, Minn. Send him feedback at davevkooi@icloud.com. Follow him on Instagram, @davevanderkooi.