June 25, 2019

• It’s been a rare occurrence in recent years, but U.S. year-over-year milk production was down 0.4 percent in May, according to USDA’s Milk Production report. Cow numbers were up slightly from April but down 89,000 from one year ago.

• A quick look at the major milk-producing states showed Texas up 5.4 percent, Idaho up 1.4 percent, California up 1.3 percent, New York up 1 percent, Michigan up 0.4 percent, and Wisconsin down 0.4 percent.

• USDA estimated cattle and calves on feed for slaughter (feedlots of over 1,000 head) totaled 11.7 million head on June 1. The inventory was 2 percent above one year ago and is the highest June 1 inventory since such estimates began in 1996. Marketings of fed cattle during May totaled 2.07 million head, 1 percent above 2018.

• Here’s some tips from the University of Arkansas on making hay between storm fronts.

• Summer annual forage seed inventories are dwindling.

June 18, 2019

• Last week, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives tabbed the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act (FEEDD Act). It would create an emergency waiver authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow producers to graze, hay, or chop a cover crop before November 1 in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood, or drought. With this waiver, producers would not have to take a further discount on their crop insurance.

• Cows, calves, and steers on pasture gain significantly more pounds per day when supplied with water pumped to a trough compared to drinking directly from a pond, according to this article from the Noble Research Institute.

• In total, farm tractor sales through May are up 6.4 percent compared to 2018, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Two-wheel drive tractors were up 6.3 percent while four-wheel drive tractor sales are 22.2 percent higher.

• The deadline to submit corn silage samples for the World Forage Analysis Superbowl in Madison, Wis., is July 12. All other sample types are due August 29.

• In conjunction with the Deep South Stocker Conference, the University of Georgia-Extension is offering an Advanced Grazing School on July 16 and 17 in Athens.

June 11, 2019

• For the first time this year, China led all trade partners during April in the amount of U.S. alfalfa that was imported but not by much. The U.S. exported 60,943 metric tons (MT) to China, up slightly from March but down 37 percent from April 2018, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

• Japan followed China by purchasing 56,944 MT of U.S. alfalfa in April, down about 6 MT from March but 14 percent more than one year ago. The April alfalfa import totals for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also higher than April 2018.

• Total U.S. world alfalfa hay exports from January through April totaled 806,252 MT, just slightly below the 2018 pace but 16 percent (151,212 MT) behind 2017 totals.

• A good summary of Cornell University’s research on the performance of alfalfa-grass mixtures was recently posted by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

• Extension specialists from Auburn University recently offered these considerations for determining optimum stocking rates on cow-calf operations.

June 4, 2019

Alfalfa will be included in the next round of government facilitation payments being used to somewhat offset losses incurred by trade war tariffs. At this time, it’s unknown what the payment rate might be, but total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings.

• USDA reports that U.S. farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $14.71 per hour during April 2019; this was up 7 percent from April 2018. Field workers received an average of $13.80 per hour, up 8 percent, while livestock workers earned $13.61 per hour, up 6 percent. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $13.73 per hour, was up 8 percent from the 2018 reference week. Regional pay scale rates can be found here.

• Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market (feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more) totaled 11.8 million head on May 1, according to USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report. The inventory was 2 percent above one year ago and was the highest May 1 inventory since USDA began measuring this metric in 1996. Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.93 million head, 7 percent above 2018.

• This is a good time to review how wet hay and straw are subject to heating and methods to monitor high-risk stacks.

• Ohio State University Extension offers these tips to speed up hay drying.