March 03, 2024

Indiana farmer welcomes new market opportunities outlined by Vilsack

ORLANDO, Fla. — Northeast Indiana farmer Brian Warpup was happy to hear Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack talk about creating new market opportunities in his speech at the Commodity Classic in Orlando.

Warpup, who raises 3,500 acres of corn and soybeans in Huntington and Wells counties, was elected to the Indiana Soybean Alliance board of directors last year.

He spoke with AgriNews after Vilsack addressed the convention’s record-breaking crowd of more than 10,200 attendees.

What do you think of the ag secretary’s plan to increase domestic fertilizer production capacity?

“With the fertilizer prices in the last year, we had a major increase, double, triple. And I think from what I took from today is trying to get more domesticated a little bit, so we maybe have a little more control over those fluctuations, those highs and those lows in fertilizer prices.

“So, maybe give the United States a little more control, so those inputs aren’t so drastic, which if our inputs go up, our products go up, and since we’re trying to feed the world, food goes up.”

How has the fertilizer market been in Indiana?

“Per ton, when it comes to potash and phosphorus, it has doubled. It’s up over 100%. Nitrogen is not doubled yet, but it got close. It is slowly coming down.

“But, again, when you’re talking about doubling your inputs, if not tripling inputs on some of those prices of fertilizer, the bottom line gets really thin really fast.”

How have you managed those higher prices?

“I feel like I’m a little more strategic on what I do, when I purchase fertilizer, hoping to maybe wait out for the price to break, but also maybe not fertilizing as much or targeting certain areas that may need it or may not need it just to save, to try to budget a little bit better.”

What is your fertilizer program?

“I’m not a urea guy. I do a fall plow down with my N, P and K for dry and then in the spring I sidedress anhydrous ammonia.”

The secretary of agriculture also detailed a new initiative to grow cover crops. Does that program interest you?

“I’m not a 100% cover crop. I do it where I feel it needs it. Secretary Vilsack was pretty adamant about supplementing income and that could be one of those supplemental incomes to the family farm.

“But, like I said, it’s kind of a not a one-size-fits-all on cover crop and I think that’s why I don’t do 100%, because sometimes it doesn’t make sense; a lot of the times it does.

“I am probably 20%. It’s a ryegrass and it’s normally on my higher erodible ground that may be a little more prone to soil leaving, erosion.”

What have you seen in your fields since you started utilizing cover crops?

“When we first started doing it, it was when we had some prevent plant acres and we did cover crops on those prevent plant acres and where we didn’t we saw a substantial yield reduction the following year because there was nothing growing out there.

“I think a lot of the purpose of the cover crops is to have something growing in that field for 12 months out of the year to keep that soil alive and keep a little more vitality within that soil. That’s for that soil health.”

What worries you and what excites you as we look toward the future of farming?

“There seems to be less farmers every year, and the farms get bigger, you know, the family farm, but there still are family farms. And there are multiple ways to kind of pass that down, whether it be to a family or to a neighbor or someone else.

“But I think ultimately in the end it is still a family farm and it’s operated by someone who lives in a rural community and who makes their lifestyle there. So, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of change in that. It might look different, but it’s still going to be the same.”

What are your thoughts on the Commodity Classic, which is scheduled to take place Feb. 29-March 2 in Houston next year?

“This is the fourth time I’ve come here. It’s probably one of my most favorite events that I do all year long, because everybody can come together, people who are here really, really want to be here, and you can use the breakout sessions, you know, to kind of highlight certain things that you want educated on.

“And I really appreciate that being all on one property, with all of the experts, everybody from every company that’s here, that if I have a question, I feel it can get answered in this building.”

James Henry

James Henry

Executive Editor