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
In South Dakota, the area of severe drought doubled from 19% to nearly 45% the week of July 19, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The total drought area, at all levels, increased from 77% to 90% of the state's land area, says Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension climate field specialist....More
A study funded by major livestock and poultry associations reveals that the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has caused corn prices to shoot higher and become much more volatile while not reducing America’s use of imported oil. What’s more, with drought looming in the Midwest, its inflexibility grants a favorable position in the corn market to ethanol production at the expense of livestock producers and food manufacturers....More
USDA will release this afternoon (Friday) its semi-annual estimate of total cattle numbers. This report will provide the government’s first estimate of the 2012 calf crop which, given the sharp decline in beef cow numbers last year, will almost surely be significantly lower than that of 2011. In addition, the report will provide figures for the numbers of beef and dairy cows on farms as of July 1 as well as the numbers of younger cattle being held for feeding and breeding....More
Soybeans were introduced on Missouri farms as a hay crop, not an oilseed crop. That started back in the dry years of the 1930s.
This year, cow-herd owners short on feed are asking about baling soybeans that won’t make a bean crop.
Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri Extension forage specialist, answers two questions the callers do not ask.
When the subsidization of ethanol began, it was assumed that the beef industry would have to shrink by 10% or more, but the addition of drought has magnified the impact and risks. The focus now becomes just how far the U.S. beef industry can contract without beginning to lose major infrastructure....More
While it may seem wasteful to pay farmers to idle land under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a review of research over the program’s 27-year run shows that CRP has provided economic benefits that outweigh its cost to taxpayers....More
On the heels of last year’s disastrous drought in the Southwest, a promising spring crop forecast has devolved into a looming disaster as high heat and lack of moisture cook Midwest grain fields....More
Economists are calling this the worst drought since 1956. Consumers will soon be paying top-dollar for their groceries as the corn crop sizzles, and ranchers cull their cows as feed resources run short. According to the National Climatic Data Center, 55% of the country is in a moderate to extreme drought as of the end of June....More
The effects of heat stress on reproductive performance of beef cows has been discussed by many animal scientists in a variety of ways. After reviewing the scientific literature available up to 1979, one scientist (Christenson, R.K. 1980, J. Anim. Sci. 51: Suppl II: 53.) wrote that the most serious seasonal variation in reproductive performance was associated with high ambient temperatures and humidity. He further pointed out that pregnancy rates and subsequent calving rates of 10 to 25% were common cows bred in July through September.
Widespread drought conditions so far in 2012 are clearly a large contributor to the current weakness in the cattle complex. There are numerous reports of early marketings of feeder cattle and cow liquidation which leaves no doubt that the drought is impacting cattle inventories and flows....More
University of Illinois Extension announced that the Illinois Drought Resources website has just gone live. The site has been created to ensure that information related to the current dry weather in Illinois is organized, easily found, and available
The site can be accessed at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/drought/.
It contains the most recent information about the impact of the drought on crops, livestock, and home gardens, as well as discussions of financial considerations....More
Things are looking a little crispy around my part of eastern South Dakota. Although we got around 9 in. of total rain in May, we haven’t seen a drop since. Because we were so saturated earlier this summer, I think it helped the subsoil and is helping our corn crop survive this extreme heat and dry weather....More
Drought-damaged corn silage may be worth 75% to 95% of the feeding value of normal corn silage. Allow the corn to stay in the field as long as possible because, if rains come, they may bring more stalk and leaf growth, and more tonnage at harvest time....More
Increasing supplies of beef in the short term are likely as drought-induced culling and lighter placements continue for another year. But those same drought concerns are darkening prospects for the bin-busting crop predicted earlier in the growing season....More
We’ll continue to see hay put up in those areas where hay can be produced on grasslands, but fewer and fewer acres will be put into hay production. I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime down the road I might actually find myself explaining to some wide-eyed and incredulous grandkids that we actually used to feed alfalfa hay to commercial beef cows....More
How your herd has been performing economically should play a critical role in your drought management plan. Producers need to know the economic performance of their beef cowherd during its last normal year before they formulate their optimal drought strategy for this year....More
The surge in farmland values continued through the spring and early summer, but the pace moderated in June, according to the Rural Mainstreet Index. The June Index, which captures the overall health of rural communities in 10 states, declined to its lowest level this year....More
The latest USDA report on pasture and range conditions reveals continued deterioration of America’s grazing lands. Overall, in 48 states for the week ending July 8, USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service reports that 21% of states reported conditions as Very Poor, while 29% were regarded as Poor, and 29% as Fair. States categorized as Good and Excellent were 18% and 3%, respectively.
Last week, 17% of acreage was categorized as Very Poor, 26% as Poor, 32% as Fair, 22% as Good, and 3% as Excellent....More
Normally the Torrington Livestock Market sells about 3,500 head of cattle in May. This year, it sold more than 18,000, says Michael Schmitt, one of the market’s owners. In June, it normally moves about 1,800. This year, it sold more than 17,000 head....More