LSU AgCenter researchers help develop new varieties, improve pest management strategies and increase crop yields. These advancements help improve the bottom lines of farmers, but there are other ways to strengthen their finances.
Economists in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness help provide timely and relevant tools that producers can use to make sound financial decisions.
“We have designed decision-support tools for growers that allow them to input their own information,” said Michael Deliberto, an assistant professor in the department who specializes in farm management and crop production economics. “They are customizable Excel spreadsheets that can be used to evaluate the potential that changes in price, yield, land rent or input costs may have on their farm’s break-even analysis or cash flow for the upcoming crop year.”
Another way economists can help producers is providing farm policy analysis. Items in the farm bill can be complex, and economists such as Deliberto can provide clarity on certain issues and program mechanics.
Deliberto provides insight on government support, such as the agriculture risk coverage and the price loss coverage programs for rice and soybeans. This service can help growers to pick the program that is most beneficial for their operation.
Most producers rent the majority of their cropland, and the rental arrangement with the landlord is a major financial decision. Deliberto does work in this area so growers can see the differences in land rental plans.
“There are differing land rental choices for producers,” Deliberto said. “We look at a cash option, input cost sharing and a percentage of crop gross.”
Deliberto said becoming informed on the arrangements can help producers in their negotiations with landlords and see which choice is most favorable to the grower subject to price and yield expectations.
A major cost in rice production is the price of seed. AgCenter economists provide analyses on cost and return looking at the seed options growers have.
“We analyze the cost and return on conventional versus Clearfield versus hybrids,” he said. “This decision can affect the cost of inputs significantly.”
In northeast Louisiana, the practice of growing row rice is increasing. Deliberto is working on estimated production costs of using this cultivation practice, which involves using traditional irrigation practices for crops such as corn or soybeans and involves no levees.
“Much of the information is found on the AgCenter website and is accessible to our producers,” Deliberto said.
Information is also shared with commodity groups, crop specialists and field agents.
Deliberto also produces a monthly crop newsletter that provides insight into trends such as acreage and prices both in Louisiana and nationally. He also does a quarterly policy newsletter focusing on rice issues.