From The Fields: Happy Halloween!

By Steven Thomas, BMO Harris Bank, Onalaska

Playoff football, tournament volleyball, and cross country meets dominate the local sports scene. Like many, I am heavily invested in my own community’s success this year with an Onalaska football squad still undefeated and advancing to Level 3 of the playoffs for the first time in 20+ years. This past Saturday, I was fortunate to watch three of our runners compete in the WIAA State Cross Country meet in Wisconsin Rapids. Our hometown favorite, Manny Putz, an Onalaska sophomore, won the D1 WIAA Cross Country meet on a beautiful day posting a 0.2 second margin of victory after an all-out sprint in the last 200 meters to the finish of the 5,000 meters run. From the Braveheart like battle charge at the sound of the starting gun to watching the final sprints at the finish. It is a pleasure to watch these gifted athletes give their all.

Like these runners, farmers are on their annual race to the finish of the 2022 harvest season. Travels across the Midwest reveal steady progress in the corn and bean crop bringing in above average yields in areas that received adequate moisture, below average in areas where moisture was dryer conditions prevailed. Corn that is not drying down quickly coupled with higher drying costs are expected to eat into profit margins.

Dryer conditions this fall have made for good harvesting conditions with few weather delays experienced. The annual ritual of fall applied dairy-generated fertilizer is certainly noticeable around the countryside. Fall seeded cover crops and winter grains have mostly been planted.

During this harvest season, beyond the yields coming in, the biggest discussion with clients has been related to end of year planning. Despite all the inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions and high costs, most clients are looking at solid returns this year. End of year tax strategies will certainly be implemented in the next 2 months as farmers look to mitigate anticipated tax obligations. Meet with the accounts early to develop the plans appropriate for each operation. Tax rates could be adjusted and paying some of the tax burden this year when cash is more readily available can be one consideration. We do anticipate supply chain issues and transportation challenges will continue which could impact chemicals and fertilizer availability that are likely to be prepaid.

Political ads are dominating the airwaves with every candidate trying to make their best case for themselves and make their opponent look as bad as possible. I have my own opinions on those I’ll be supporting with my vote. Fortunately, the election is only a few days away and the ads will stop, but the task of governing in a bipartisan manner with legislative solutions that find common ground and benefit the common good seem to be harder and harder to reach. Your vote is important. Local races, school boards, town boards, school funding referendums all matter. I encourage all to cast your ballot in this very important mid-term election.

Steven Thomas is vice president of agricultural banking with BMO Harris Bank in Onalaska. Thomas also serves on the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board of Directors.