February 11, 2020

• At last week’s Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, Secretary Sonny Perdue discussed the efficiency of U.S. farmers and ranchers, pointing out that consumers in France use 13% of their income to buy food. In the U.S., that same metric is 6%. “We in agriculture don’t often get credit for that $800 billion difference that stays in our consumers’ pockets,” Perdue noted.

• “Livestock producers who set stocking rates based on the traditional cows per acre are making a big mistake,” said Eric Bailey, an extension animal scientist at the University of Missouri. In his remarks at this year’s Cattlemen’s College, Bailey noted that cows are a lot bigger than they used to be. As such, they also eat a lot more.

• December U.S. alfalfa exports totaled 205,998 metric tons (MT), according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). That volume was down nearly 7% from a year ago.

• As expected, exports of alfalfa hay to China were down during December, settling at 71,577 MT. That volume was 24% under the previous month but 10% higher than December 2018.

• In January 2019, Saudi Arabia was the U.S.’s third largest alfalfa hay export customer behind China and Japan. For November and December, they fell to the fifth position.

February 4, 2020

• The U.S. beef cow herd on January 1 numbered 31.3 million, according to USDA’s annual Cattle report. That’s down 1% from the 31.7 million cows that comprised the herd one year ago. Beef cow replacement heifer numbers (500 pounds and over) are also down by 2%.

• The beef herd expansion is over, according to Derrell Peel, a marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University. “The total herd expansion in this cycle was an increase of 2.73 million head from the 2014 low of 29 million cows. That is a total cyclical expansion of 9.4% or an average of 1.9% per year for the five years of expansion,” he adds.

• Peel also notes that although herd expansion has subsided, there is also no indication that a major liquidation is underway.

• The U.S. dairy herd totaled 9.3 million cows at the beginning of the year, essentially the same size as a year ago. Replacement heifer numbers were down by 1%.

• The Environmental Protection Agency finished its regulatory review on glyphosate and announced last week that they found there was no human health risk to using the herbicide when done so according to label directions. How this finding will impact the thousands of lawsuits levied against Bayer is yet to be known.