"These were the best of times; these were the worst of times." The author that first put those words on paper was predicting the future. Few years are black and white—all good or all bad. The year 2010 in Indiana agriculture was no exception.
Here's our own recollection of '2010—the year that was.'
Legislature provides farm tax relief- Indiana Farm Bureau says it will save Hoosier landowners more than $70 million over three years. The legislature agreed to a modification in how the price of bare farmland is figured for taxation purposes, and it was a huge boon for landowners. Still, some argued their taxes went up, which was true. They just didn't go up nearly as much as they might have.
Early spring kicks off planting season- A large percentage of the corn crop and a sizable amount of the soybean crop went in early. That and unprecedented heat led to the earliest harvest in history.
Tale of two seasons- Flooding in June dampened enthusiasm for many, especially in central and north-central Indiana. Many flooded-out spots didn't recover. Water sent downstream destroyed corn ready to pollinate in southern counties.
High heat- This year featured about twice the normal number of days that hit 90 degrees F or above. It was truly a long, hot summer.
Drought- For much of Indiana, rainfall was scarce from late July until mid-November.
Wrong call- USDA estimated a record crop for Indiana, then backed off as the result of early August heat and dry weather took its toll. Currently, with the final report yet to come Jan. 12, it's one of the biggest drops USDA has ever made from its opening to later reports.
Prices rally- Less crop than expected and big demand overseas keep corn and soybean prices high.
Profit for 2011 crops approach record high- Purdue's 2011 January crop budget shows the second highest contribution margin, which also means the second largest profit, ever for crop production. Of course, changes in input prices and crop prices can turn that around quickly.
Fertilizer prices up 13%- And some of the excuses are mighty flimsy.
Great Hoosiers pass away- An uncanny number of older, retired ag teachers passed away this year, along with at least three Master Farmers and a former Farm Progress Show host, Scott Clark, West Lebanon, who died in his early 50's. On a personal note, my father, George Robert Bechman, a Pearl Harbor survivor and retired farmer, died August 21 at age 92.
Two surprise announcements- Evan Bayh, already retiring from the US Senate, announced he would not seek another term as Governor. Then only days ago, popular Lt. Governor Becky Skillman announced she would also not run for Governor in 2012.
Huge legislative shift- Republican recapture the House in Congress and the Indiana statehouse, and in a majority of statehouses across the country. It's significant because this legislative session will use recent Census data to determine legislative and Congressional districts.
Congress extends ethanol rebates- Not everyone is pleased- depending on whether you raise livestock or not. Congress also restored the biofuel credit for biodiesel.
Congress sets high estate tax limit, lower rate- Despite the predictions of nearly every economist, Congress at the 11th hour as part of the Obama compromise bill, set $5 million as the exclusion for estate taxes, and a 35% maximum rate. Most expected it would fall back to $1 million and a maximum rate over 50%.