March 27, 2018

• A recent report from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) indicates that widespread consolidation has occurred in agriculture during the past three decades. That’s not surprising to hear, but one sector didn’t follow this trend: pastureland and the associated cow-calf sector.

• February milk production in the U.S. totaled 17 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent compared to the same month in 2016. The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.41 million head, 45,000 head more than February 2017, and 1,000 head more than January 2018.

• Cattle and calves on feed for the U.S. slaughter market (feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more cattle) totaled 11.7 million head on March 1, according to USDA’s Cattle on Feed report. The inventory was 9 percent above one year ago. Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.82 million head, 7 percent above 2017.

• “How Grasses Grow,” a new website resource for ranchers, land managers, and landowners, is now available through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

• McDonald's announces it will partner with franchisees and suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald's restaurants and offices by 36 percent by 2030. Sustainable production of food products sourced by the restaurant such as beef and dairy will comprise a part of meeting that goal.

March 20, 2018

• The USDA announced last week that it is withdrawing its Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule that was published on January 19, 2017. USDA determined that the rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program.

• University of Nebraska economists indicated that the average market value of land in that state dropped 3 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year. The 2018 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey shows this decline to be the fourth consecutive year of downward pressure, dropping 17 percent since reaching a high of $3,315 per acre in 2014.

• If pastures were overgrazed last year because of drought, extension specialists in several states are recommending to give those pastures plenty of time to recover this spring even if it means extending the hay-feeding season.

• QS recently released their rankings of the best agricultural colleges. Topping the U.S. list was the University of California-Davis. It was followed by Cornell University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University, Purdue University, and Iowa State University.

• According to multiple reports, the new Farm Bill is being held up by disagreements over changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

March 13, 2018

• January was a down month for alfalfa hay exports, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. In total, the U.S. exported 170,430 metric tons (MT). That was the lowest monthly total since January 2016 and down 11 percent from one year ago. It was also 22 percent lower than December 2017.

• All of our major alfalfa trade partners were down in year-over-year volume during January. China was down 3 percent, Japan down 6 percent, Saudi Arabia down 21 percent, United Arab Emirates down 51 percent, and South Korea down 3 percent.

• At the 2018 Idaho Hay & Forage Association Conference, Peter Ballerstedt, Barenbrug Seeds, gave a presentation entitled “Our Future Depends on Forage Agriculture.” The recording and slides can be found here. It’s worth a watch and listen.

• Oklahoma State University’s Derrell Peel reports fewer acres of graze-out wheat this spring because of the extended drought in the Southern Plains. The USDA’s January Cattle report estimated 1.5 million head of cattle grazing small grains pastures in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. This was down 17 percent from one year ago.

• The eastern half of Oklahoma got some drought relief with recent significant rains. However, southwest Kansas, western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and northeast New Mexico remain in extreme or exceptional drought, according to the latest Drought Monitor maps.

March 6, 2018

• DowDuPont announced last week that their agricultural division would be named Corteva Agriscience. The new entity will bring together DuPont Crop Protection, DuPont Pioneer, and Dow AgroSciences.

• In 2017, the average milk production per cow was 22,941 pounds. According to USDA, Michigan cows led all states with an average of 26,302 pounds and Colorado came in second with cows averaging 26,181 pounds.

• Texas A&M researchers are finding that chemigation may be an option to control sugarcane aphids.

• Forage crops may be a “shining star” when it comes to profitability in 2018.

• The Wisconsin Custom Operators Inc. recently elected their officers and board of directors for the upcoming year.