Custom farming rates from around the U.S.

By Mike Rankin

Custom rate guides are popular documents in those states that continue to do the survey legwork; unfortunately, many do not. Each year, eHay Weekly offers readers a one-stop shop for accessing custom field work rate information from those states that have done surveys in the past few years. Especially for forage crops, custom field work and harvesting is a common practice.

More than the usual number of states have updated their information from a year ago. Conversely, some states have discontinued their survey efforts due to budget cuts. Only a few states survey custom operators every year (for example, Iowa), and many do a survey every two to four years. In some cases, it is the state’s agriculture statistics service that leads the effort while in others it is the land-grant university.

The methods by which surveys are completed vary somewhat from state-to-state. Sometimes fuel is included, and in other cases, it is not. Some states report more detail than others; for example, there may be separate line items for different large bale sizes. Many are based on actual farmer and custom operator surveys, but a few states derive their charges from data compiled in surrounding states.

Most states cite the range of reported charges for a particular operation and the average charge. In addition, some states break out survey results by regions while others just offer a state average. Users need to keep in mind that values are derived from a variety of individual situations — new and old equipment, large and small equipment, and so forth.

Finally, custom rates are usually higher than actual machinery costs. This must be the case if profit is to be made. If you’re looking for insight into actual costs to operate machinery, the University of Minnesota is usually recognized as providing the gold standard with its “Machinery Cost Estimates” publication that is updated each year (Illinois and Iowa State also offer some help).

Below is a list of states with a link to their most recent custom rate guides. Only states that have updated rates since 2017 are included. Pennsylvania and Virginia dropped off from last year’s list. Unfortunately, states in the South and West are noticeably underrepresented, but Idaho was added back to this year’s list.

If you know of a state that was missed, please feel free to contact me (mrankin@hayandforage.com) and it will get added. Some states may be in the process of updating their survey but have not yet posted results.

State custom rate surveys as of March 2021

State

Year

State

Year

Colorado

2019

Missouri

2020

Idaho

2019

Nebraska

2020

Indiana

2019

New York

2019

Iowa

2021

North Dakota

2020

Kansas

2020

Ohio

2020

Kentucky

2019

Oklahoma

2020

Maryland

2021

Texas

2020

Michigan

2019

Wisconsin

2018