Looking forward to 2022, inflation and input costs are new challenges

Mitch Breunig

As 2020 ended, I think we all took a collective deep breathe and said good riddance. Between Covid-19 shutdowns and cancelled events, to low markets and production limits it was a tough year for everyone. We entered 2121 with a sense of renewed optimism that the upcoming year would be more like normal. Well, be careful what you wish for!

Mitch Breunig 2020 Cals Honorary Recognition Honoree

2021 started to bring a new set of challenges we had yet to encounter. The growing season seemed to start out very well as we were able to get planting done in a timely manner, although a late frost caused us to all spend a keen eye looking at our beautifully emerged just planted crops and for the moment hope it wasn’t damaged. The corn and soybeans appeared to make it though with little or no damage, but we later discovered our wheat wasn’t so lucky. We had streaks in the field where the plants had absolutely no grain. It was still a good crop, but we lost about 20 bushel per acre from the potential we had.

Soon after that a new word started to rear its ugly head—drought. As it usually is when this happens, fields separated by less than a couple of miles as the crow flies experienced different results based on the timeliness of the rain that did fall.

It was quite remarkable in our area as we were approximately 10 to 12 inches short of precipitation for the season. The rains that did come were never of the multiple inch kind and whatever drops that did come soaked in and was used by the crops.

It was a great year where no-till and conservation tillage helped keep the water on the fields. As we continue to deal with climate change, I believe these practices will become more valuable. In the end the yields were better than expected and along with tremendous prices made this a profitable growing season.

Another term we became familiar with in 2021 is supply chain and its influence on how we live and manage our businesses. We have become used to being able to call and get a replacement part or new machine within days. This is not the case currently.

We purchased (ordered) a new chopper for forages in January, because our old one was worn out and ready to be replaced. We waited all spring and summer and finally received it in September when we had finished 4th crop alfalfa. So, we put it in the shed, and we will have it for next year. Thankfully the other one made it through the season with only a few minor repairs.  It sounds like this was the norm across the country as we have heard all about the great container and chip debacles.

As far as events, it seemed like we have started to move back to a more normal world thanks to vaccines and people ready to get back out. We were able to attend several county fairs and cattle shows this summer. Attendance at these events were very good. We also showed at World Dairy Expo and the cattle show was very big, however, we missed our international friends who were unable to attend. It was also great to get back to watching sports in person as the Packers and Badgers welcomed spectators back to their stadiums.

Looking forward to 2022 it appears inflation and input costs are the new challenges. It started with lumber and steel and has now moved on to fuel, fertilizer, chemicals, and food. The cost to grow the next crop will we be very expensive. We are hearing of acreage debates and switching from corn to beans for even wheat. One thing that has always been the case is that high prices cure high prices and just because prices are high now there is no guarantee that they will be high at harvest. Risk Management and marketing are as important now as ever. Understanding your cost of production and locking in a profit on a portion of your production is very important. If Covid-19 taught us anything the Black Swan can show up when you least expect it.

As always we enter a new year with a sense of renewal and optimism remember, control the controllable and everyday is a gift take advantage of it!

Farmer Mitch Breunig is owner of Mystic Valley Dairy, LLC, in rural Roxbury, near Sauk City