It’s hard to ignore the impacts the drought is having on farmers and ranchers across the country. Corn is being cut for silage, cows are already being fed winter forage supplies, pastures have dried up, and forest and grass fires are quickly devouring acres of land. And there’s little relief in sight. As a result, producers have to make adjustments to their usual management plans....More
The latest USDA Crop Progress report (week ending Aug. 12) shows 59% of U.S. pasture and range in the 48 states to be in Poor or Very Poor condition. That total percentage remains steady from last week, but considerably worse than last year’s 39% figure....More
Agriculture isn’t a top-level issue in national politics anymore. We’ve done such a good job of producing food and fiber that our numbers are just too small. But the 2012 drought puts those up for re-election in a bit of a quandary – how do you cut the deficit but earmark funds to help those impacted by the drought?...More
At the start of 2012, most in the U.S. beef industry were thinking that this was the year that expansion would begin in earnest. Instead, this season’s disastrous crop prospects have many thinking that maybe it’s time to collect on land appreciation and get out of the business....More
Tomorrow’s USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report is arguably the most important of the year so far. This will be the first report that USDA estimates of corn and soybean yields will be based on actual observations rather than trend yields and assumptions....More
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) stands with 156 U.S. Representatives and 25 U.S. Senators in their quest to bring commonsense to Washington, D.C., and relief to rural America by encouraging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Lisa Jackson to implement a waiver to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)....More
Many farms are starting to, or plan to, harvest drought-stressed corn, hoping to salvage it as livestock feed. University of Illinois beef extension specialist Travis Meteer answers some frequently asked questions.
Q: Do I need to test for nitrates?
A: Yes, elevated levels of nitrates have been well documented across the state. Cattle are valuable, and the test is inexpensive.
Q: When do I test for nitrates?...More
I’m counting my blessings, as we got a sprinkle of rain last week. Even though it was hardly enough to get the ground wet, I will take any moisture we can get in this epic drought that is impacting 56% of the nation....More
One of the oldest sayings in business is “Fail to plan and plan to fail.” While that’s good advice, it’s impossible to plan for every contingency. Still, having a plan in place for major natural disasters is a good idea. Question is, is it too late for this drought?...More
Every day that goes by brings another day of devastating drought to much of cattle country. While ranchers have faced hard times before, this year is shaping up to be one for the record books. However, while it’s impossible to go through a drought unscathed, you can minimize the damage....More
Some heat-stressed cows are delivering premature calves, ahead of normal fall-calving season.
With a heat wave and severe drought, fall-calving season might become as labor intensive as winter calving, say University of Missouri Extension specialists. Farmers who have calved both spring and fall prefer the normally trouble-free ease of fall calving.
"Cows under stress need to be watched closely," says David Patterson, MU beef reproduction specialist.
Even before the drought, livestock producers daily faced the difficult decision of figuring out which feed source was the best buy when it comes to providing protein and energy sources to their livestock.
This dilemma is even greater as feedstuff prices continue to increase due to the current drought, says Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Beef Cow/Calf Field Specialist.
To aid livestock producers in this chore, Rusche and Tracey Renelt, SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist together developed a Feedstuff Cost Comparison Spreadsheet....More
It’s impossible to have a conversation about farming or ranching nowadays and not have the “D” word come up – drought that is. Short-term, the drought is playing havoc with prices and price predictions. For the next 12 months, however, CattleFax anticipates corn prices will stabilize while cattle prices continue to rise....More
July data indicates domestic consumers are pulling back on their spending in response to a sluggish economic turnaround. At the same time, input costs are rising for livestock producers as ongoing drought continues to work its deleterious effects in important crop production areas. The result is a double whammy for producers struggling to control costs and plan ahead....More
The U.S. is experiencing the worst drought since 1956, with 56% of the nation suffering from dry and hot conditions. This epic drought is baking crops, scorching pastures and dwindling hay supplies....More
July’s cattle-on-feed report represented a slight rise in the feedlot heifer population vs. last year. The overall trend during the past several years has been relatively flat – hovering around 37%-38%....More
USDA's latest Crop Progress report (July 30) shows U.S. pasture and range conditions continuing to fall in quality. For the week ending July 29, 29% of pasture and rangeland in 48 states was categorized as Very Poor, while 28% was Poor, 26% was Fair, 15% was Good and 2% was in Excellent condition. Last week's Crop Progress report cited 26% as Very Poor, 29% as Poor, 27% as Fair, 16% as Good and 2% as Excellent....More
With the announced Aug. 2 opening of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ground in all Iowa counties for emergency haying and grazing for certain practices, producers may be wondering whether to use their land for those purposes. The Iowa Beef Center (IBC) at Iowa State University (ISU) is offering a new spreadsheet that estimates hay cost per bale or ton and grazing cost per day for CRP forage.
In recent history, drought has been isolated to various regions of the country, rather than a widespread drought threatening most of the country. Last year, for example, drought was centered primarily in the Southern Plains....More
Expanding drought conditions are pushing more cows to slaughter, further reducing the potential for U.S. beef production in the coming years. The official USDA cow slaughter statistics are published with a two-week lag and still show cow slaughter levels that are about 3% lower than a year ago....More
As drought exerts a tighter grip on the nation’s breadbasket, rural economies are feeling the effects. One of the segments of the rural economy that is being hit hard is biofuels. Low supplies and high prices for corn and soybeans are forcing ethanol and biodiesel plants to reduce production or shut down completely....More
As livestock producers we often focus on productivity per cow. But that focus, along with intensive selection for growth, hasn’t done much to improve ranch profitability over the last 40 years. In fact, it could be argued that, in constant dollars or buying power, profit per acre has even decreased. Thus, the real measure should be profit per acre or whole ranch profitability....More
Government estimates on U.S. pasture and range conditions for the week ending July 22 indicate a slight deterioration compared to the prior week. Overall, in 48 states for the week ending July 22, USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NAAS) reports that 26% of U.S. pasture and rangeland was graded as Very Poor, while 29% were regarded as Poor, and 27% as Fair. Pasture and rangeland categorized as Good and Excellent were 16% and 2%, respectively....More
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new flexibility and assistance in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's major conservation programs to get much-needed help to livestock producers as the most wide-spread drought in seven decades intensifies in the United States. Vilsack also announced plans to encourage crop insurance companies to provide a short grace period for farmers on unpaid insurance premiums, as some farming families can be expected to struggle to make ends meet at the close of the crop year....More