COVID-19 – Agricultural Resources

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought the need for business continuity planning to the forefront.  China’s influence in agriculture is wide-ranging.  In the case of the COVID-19 public health situation, there will almost inevitably be some unexpected consequences as supplies become limited or unavailable.

A farm business continuity plan will help pinpoint contingencies in critical areas related to employees/staff and could include backup plans for work practices, transportation, communication, service and supply chain, and cash flow.

Farms could involve suppliers, and customers where appropriate, in developing these plans.  Farms may consider running outage scenarios to assess the possibility of unforeseen impacts.  This is also a good time to review important community contact information including your county Emergency contacts and Public Health Department.

CFAP Payment Applications —NEW

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) requires farmers to convert their 2019 crop production and unpriced crop inventories on hand on January 15, 2020 to dry grain equivalents.  Paul Mitchell, Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economic Extension State Specialist and Director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison offers the attached resources for calculating payments. The CFAP Payments for WI Farmers and the CFAP Tools  give you guidelines to use when calculating these items. For a resource and tool to convert crops to dry grain equivalents, see the UW-Extension CFAP Resources and Conversion Tools Press Release 6-8-20 .

Farm Aid mini grants to farm families available starting June 6 – NEW!

Farm Aid, in partnership with WFU and other organizations, is currently awarding $500 emergency relief grants to help farmers in the Great Lakes region. If your operation has been negatively impacted, please consider applying. These funds are available to help with household expenses including groceries, medical expenses, housing bills, etc. Applications will be reviewed on a weekly basis until the funds run out. The online application opens June 6th at

Strategies to Reduce Milk Production – NEW!

The current dairy market situation with reduced demand for products has caused excess product to build up at some dairy processing plants. To reduce milk supply, some dairy producers have been instructed to reduce milk shipped with some feeding excess milk to calves, heifers, and lactating cows, or disposing of milk into manure storage facilities or land spreading. However, it may be more cost effective to reduce production using the strategies presented in this Strategies to Reduce Milk Production It is likely one strategy alone will not meet the needed reduction, so a combination of several strategies may be needed. Using a combination of strategies at lower intensity may also reduce negative impacts on animal health and welfare that may occur with more intense changes. To minimize impacts on future production, we suggest to selectively reduce production of mid- to late-lactation cows and avoid changes for transition and early/peak lactation cows. When considering these options, make sure to consult your veterinarian, nutritionist, cattle sales outlet, and Extension personnel to discuss available options and scenarios.

Managing A Farm during COVID-19  – NEW!

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought the need for business health, safety and continuity planning to the forefront. Now is the time to communicate with employees and family members regarding plans to keep them safe, healthy, and working especially during the busy planting season.  This is also a good time to review important community contact information including your Emergency contacts and Public Health Department.

While much of the negative impact on Agriculture by COVID19 is out of our control, there are things you can do now to reduce or prevent the impact of COVID19 on the health and productivity of your farm.  Please do not fail to take care of yourself. View the Managing a Farm During COVID-19 webpage for information to use.

Crop Input Resources for Low Margins – NEW!

During these times of lower profitability each management decision is also a financial opportunity that can help a farm achieve a profitability. The following University resources are designed to help you approach each crop production and marketing decision as an opportunity to be more efficient and with a financially beneficial mind set.
Crop Production Management
Videos include:
1. Crop Budgets and Market Plans in Low-margin Years
2. Corn: Survive and Thrive on Low Price Projections
3. Soybean Inputs that Deliver Highest ROI in a Low-Margin Year
4. Fundamental Soil Fertility Strategies for Success, in Corn, Soybeans, and Small Grains
5. Disease Management in Low Margin Years – Field Crops
6. Managing Insects Economically Using Conventional Hybrids and Thresholds
7. Practical Weed Management for Low Margin Years
8. Tillage Considerations to Reduce Operational Costs
9. Precision Ag Technology in Low-Margin Years

Grain Management Considerations for Low-Margin Years

Economic Risk and Profitability of Seeding Rates for Field Crops
Optimal seeding rates for yield goals can help lower seeding cost and improve profits

Soybean Seeding Rate Recommendations

Corn Seeding Rate Recommendations

Forage Seeding Rate Recommendations

Planting Equipment Calibration Resources
Properly calibrated planting equipment both ensures uniform seeding across all rows and ensures accurate seeding rates saving money by not using excess seed.

Grain Drill Calibration

Resources complied by Division of Extension UW-Madison Agriculture Agents: Nick Baker, Rock County, Mike Ballweg, Sheboygan County, Kevin Jarek, Outagamie County, Steve Okonek, Trempealeau County, and John Thompson, Winnebago County

COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program for Farmers

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Farmers are eligible for PPP loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Farmers must have fewer than 500 employees and less than $1 million in net revenue. If farmers already have a relationship with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), the SBA is encouraging those farmers to work with FSA first.

Applications opened April 3, 2020 for small businesses.

What costs are covered?

  • Payroll costs, including benefits;
  • Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
  • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
  • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020

Loans will be forgiven as long as:

  • The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

Loans can be up to two months of your average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% of that amount, capped at $10 million.

The PPP loan cannot cover pay for those employees whose principal address is not within the United States, nor can it cover their costs of paying independent contractors (those who get 1099s instead of W2s). Independent contractors and other self-employed individuals can apply for their own PPP loans starting on April 10, 2020.

Applicants for these loans must already have a lender relationship with a bank or institution that have a relationship with SBA. Therefore, the first recommendation is for farmers to call their current lender(s) to see if they have that SBA relationship and ask if they are ready to accept PPP applications. Make that call today if possible.

You will need to provide your lender with payroll documentation such as payroll processor records or payroll tax filings. Independent contractors will have to provide their 1099-MISC forms. Self-employed individuals will have to provide their income and expenses from their sole proprietorship.

Here are links for more information from the U.S. Treasury:

General Information about the Paycheck Protection Program

Paycheck Protection Program Borrowers Information Sheet

Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application Form

Dairy Policy & Supply Chain Disruptions  – NEW!

Thursday, April 16, 2020 | 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Register by 4:30 pm, April 15 at

Over the last several weeks, the dairy industry has experienced increased turmoil.   We’ve heard about milk being dumped, grocery stores limiting milk purchases, dairy markets sliding, and processors asking farms for reduced milk production.  What is going on and what can we do?

The “Dairy Policy & Supply Chain Disruptions” webinar hosted by UW-Madison Extension, will be the first webinar in the “Farm Management Through a Crisis: Part of the Supporting Farmers During Challenging Times Series” will discuss the current agriculture markets, supply chain disruptions, and stress management tools to get us through these tough times. 

April 16 Agenda:

  • COVID-19 Impact on National Dairy Policy, Pete Kappelman, Senior Vice President, Member and Government Relations, Land O’Lakes Inc.
  • Taking Care of You: Stress Management, Renee Koenig, Extension Human Development & Relationships Educator
  • Market Supply Chain, Adam Brock, Director of Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory Compliance at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

There is no charge for the webinar, and it is open to everyone who has an interest in this topic. Please register for this free webinar at:  Registration deadline is 4:30 pm on Wednesday, April, 15. Connection information will be emailed before 9:30 am on April 16.

Please direct any questions to Extension Agriculture Educators Steph Plaster at or Amber O’Brien at

This program is sponsored by University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension with special support from the following Extension Educators: Amber O’Brien, Calumet County; Scott Gunderson, Manitowoc County; Kevin Jarek & Sarah Grotjan, Outagamie County; Scott Reuss, Marinette County; Kimberly Schmidt, Shawano County; Aerica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County; Liz Binversie, Brown County; Greg Blonde, Waupaca County; John Thompson, Winnebago County; Joe Zimbric, Fond du Lac & Dodge Counties; Tina Kohlman, Fond du Lac County; Mike Ballweg, Sheboygan County; and Steph Plaster, Ozaukee & Washington Counties.

Managing COVID-19 Instigated Risk on the Dairy Farm  – NEW!

(By Kevin Bernhardt)
I can’t help but realize that many in the dairy industry may face tough conversations as well in the year ahead.  No one really knows where this is all headed for the world, the nation or the dairy industry, but an almost certain outcome is that the hoped-for recovery of prices and profitability may have to wait another year.

The much-needed recovery has stalled.  Has there been an overreaction by markets, probably so, but what is not in doubt is that the pandemic has disrupted worldwide commerce and it will take time to rebuild business, put people back to work and normalize trade and consumption patterns.  Depending on how long recovery takes, it could mean some tough conversations.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House advisor on infectious diseases made a comment that he hoped the critique of him would be that he was too cautious.  That is my hope as well.  I hope that this pandemic all blows over quickly, we get back to normal and have a quick recovery back to profitability.  I will happily be the first to criticize myself for being overly cautious.  Until then I’m reminded of the need to remain optimistic, but plan for potential risks ahead.

Potential scenarios are many and a bit daunting.  Let’s break the challenge down by what risks we may face today versus next week or the months ahead.  There are many resources and more coming.  One resources that addresses multiple risks is read more of Kevin Bernhardt’s COVID-19 Instigated Risks, review the COVID-19 Impacts_Risks.

Feeding Unpasteurized Milk to the Dairy Herd  – NEW!

In cases where a dairy producer is unable to ship their milk to a processor, this factsheet is to provide general information regarding the potential feeding of unpasteurized milk to the dairy herd. Before feeding unpasteurized milk, consult with your nutritionist and veterinarian or your local extension educator/agent. According to Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) regulations, milk can be utilized for animal feed by the farm on which it was produced, but it cannot be sold or distributed as animal feed unless the farm possesses a commercial feed license and the milk is labeled accordingly.

Feeding Unpasteurized Milk to the Dairy Herd

Milk Nutrient Calculator

The U. S. Small Business Administration is offering a loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

Farmers are eligible for PPP loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Farmers must have fewer than 500 employees and less than $1 million in net revenue. If farmers already have a relationship with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), the SBA is encouraging those farmers to work with FSA first.

The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

To learn more about the PPP program, visit the U.S.Small Business Administration webpage.

Growing & Feeding Alternative Forages
Extension Agriculture Webinar offering on April 3, 2020
To join the Webinar on Zoom:
To join via YouTube:

To assist farmers, nutritionists, and agronomists in decisions regarding growing and feeding alternative forages, UW Madison Extension will be offering a Growing & Feeding Alternative Forages Webinar on April 3, 2020.

The 2019 growing and harvest season will go down in the history books as the most challenging one in memory. Alfalfa winterkill, record precipitation, below normal temperatures, delayed planting, excessive mud, and brutal harvest conditions made for a difficult year for farmers and custom business owners who work with farmers.  The effects of Mother Nature from 2019 certainly have had, and will continue to have, an impact on feed inventories and quality throughout Eastern Wisconsin.

Because of the financial impact of feed quality and quantity on the milking herd and replacement animals, UW-Madison Extension iCrops and Dairy Program Areas will  be hosting “Growing & Feeding Alternative Forages” Webinar on Friday, April 3 at 1:00 pm. Participants may join the webinar at

The agenda and speakers for the webinar will include:

  • Tools for Helping to Determine On Farm Forage Inventories, Extension Outagamie County Crops & Soils Educator Kevin Jarek
  • Alternative Forages for Dairy, Extension Dairy Specialist Matt Akins and Extension Forage Specialist Yoana Newman
  • Connecting Forage Quality to Dairy Performance, Rock River Laboratories Director Research & Development and UW-Madison Dairy Science Adjunct Professor John Goeser

Registration is not required.  Please join us for this informative webinar on April 3 at

For information and resources pertaining to farms, visit the Farm Management, Division of Extension webpage, or contact Jackie McCarville, Extension Green County Ag Educator at 608-328-9440 or