July 30, 2019

• Milk production in the U.S. during June totaled 18.2 billion pounds, which was down 0.3 percent from June 2018, according to USDA’s Milk Production report released last week. The nation’s dairy farmers are milking 91,000 fewer cows than one year ago.

• The dairy blood bath appears to be ending as milk prices continue to climb. Stocks are down, demand is good, and overall exports seem to be holding steady despite existing tariffs and the lack of a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

• The 2019 Pennsylvania Hay Show will again be held in conjunction with Ag Progress Days in Rock Springs. Entries for the hay show need to be brought to the show grounds no later than 10 a.m. on August 13.

• World Dairy Expo has announced the lineup of speakers who will be presenting on the 2019 Forage Seminar Stage from October 2 through 5.

• Here’s how heat impacts forage growth and what you can do to mitigate its effect.

July 23, 2019

• The number of cattle and calves in the U.S. on July 1 was unchanged at 103 million head, according to USDA’s biannual Cattle report that was released last week.

• Beef cows totaled 32.4 million head on July 1, which was similar to one year ago. Milk cow numbers were down 1 percent at 9.3 million.

• Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter for all feedlots totaled 13.6 million head on July 1. The inventory is up 2 percent from a year ago. Cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head accounted for 84.4 percent of the total cattle on feed.

• Here are some great tips from University of Florida extension experts on how to ensure an adequate forage supply this winter.

• The National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance recently announced that seven new research projects have been funded through the alfalfa checkoff program.

July 16, 2019

• Total U.S. alfalfa hay exports to all trading partners from January through May were up by 2 percent even with China well off their previous pace.

• During May, all of the top five trading partners imported more U.S. alfalfa hay than they did in April.

• As a result of slowing economic growth, the Federal Reserve is expected to lower interest rates when officials meet at the end of July.

• Last week, dairy farmers began to get some relief in the form of Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program payments from the government’s Farm Service Agency. Nearly 10,000 dairy farms have signed up for the program to date, which is a revamp of the previous and largely unsuccessful Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). Sign-up for the DMC extends until September 20, 2019.

• Making the DMC program even more lucrative is the fact that the average price of Premium and Supreme quality alfalfa hay in the top five milk-producing states is now being used in the feed-cost calculation. This has the impact of raising the feed-cost and lowering the income-over-feed-cost margin, more easily triggering a payment or allowing for a higher payment.

July 9, 2019

• How might climate change impact forage production? Here’s how.

• Registration is now open for the National Hay Association’s Annual Convention being held in Acme, Mich., beginning on September 25.

Here’s the problem with rain-damaged hay.

• The University of Kentucky will be holding their Western Kentucky Summer Forage Field Day on August 6 in Horse Branch. The focus of the event will be reclaiming a rundown farm.

• It’s time to start gearing up for the Southeast Hay Contest that is held in conjunction with the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., October 15 to 17. The deadline for hay/baleage entries is September 19. Additional information can be found here.

July 2, 2019

• Hay acres in the U.S. are projected to be down only slightly in 2019 compared to last year, according to USDA’s Acreage report that was released last week. The decline totaled 66,000 acres (less than a 1-percent decline) and current projections peg this year’s hay acres at 52.77 million acres.

• Alfalfa acreage is forecasted to be higher in 2019 by 220,000 acres, up 1 percent from 2018. Leading alfalfa-growing states varied in their acreage relative to last year. Gainers were Montana (up 5 percent), South Dakota (up 3 percent), Nebraska (up 6 percent), Minnesota (up 18 percent), Wisconsin (up 4 percent), and Iowa (up 13 percent). Those with fewer acres included North Dakota (down 8 percent), Idaho (down 3 percent), California (down 10 percent), and Kansas (down 8 percent).

• The precipitous decline in California alfalfa acres is astonishing. The Golden State no longer even ranks in the top 10 for acreage among U.S. states.

• USDA’s acreage estimate for corn, which was done during the first two weeks of June, caused quite an uproar from market analysts and farmers. Corn acres were forecasted at 91.7 million acres, up 3 percent from last year. Worthy of question is why the USDA included prevented planted acres in this estimate. NASS will be doing an acreage recount in July to obtain updated information on 2019 acres planted to corn, cotton, sorghum, and soybeans in 14 states.

• Ninety-two percent of 2019 corn planted in the U.S. has at least one biotech trait, according to USDA. Eighty percent has more than one such trait (for example, glyphosate resistance stacked with some gene for insect resistance).