February 25, 2020
• Year-over-year milk production in the U.S. was up 0.9% during January, according to USDA’s Milk Production report. Production was also up 2% from December. Monthly average production per cow moved over 2,000 pounds for the first time since May 2019.
• Cattle and calves on feed for the U.S. slaughter market totaled 11.9 million head on February 1 (feedlots over 1,000 head). The inventory was 2% above one year ago, according to USDA’s Cattle on Feed report. Placements in feedlots during January totaled 1.96 million head, 1% fewer than one year ago.
• It’s now time to check bermudagrass pastures before the weeds make their springtime debut.
• USDA’s Farms and Land in Farms summary pegged the number of farms in the U.S. for 2019 at 2,023,400, down 5,800 farms from 2018. Total land in farms, at 897.4 million acres, decreased 2.1 million acres from 2018. The average farm size for 2019 is 444 acres, up 1 acre from the previous year. Texas has the most farms with 247,000.
• A little over 50% of the farms counted by USDA have sales totaling between $1,000 and $9,999. Another 30% are between $10,000 and $99,999.
February 18, 2020
• With CBD-laced products all the rage, researchers at Tarleton State University are studying the effectiveness of the oil and pellets for treating various horse ailments.
• Corteva AgriScience will stop making chlorpyrifos, the active ingredient in Lorsban insecticide, by the end of the year. California had previously announced that it will ban the insecticide, which is often used for alfalfa weevil control, in early 2020.
• The coronavirus is making food a lot more expensive in China, according to a CNN report. Chinese consumers normally spend about one-third of their income on food. The price of pork, which is already under pressure from African swine fever, jumped by 116% compared to a year ago. Vegetables are 17% more expensive. The virus is having a significant impact on distribution channels.
• Largely as a result of food delivery apps, CBS News reports that U.S. restaurants will soon be making more money on their food eaten outside their doors than inside.
• There are a plethora of forage conferences and events coming up over the next several weeks. Check them out here.
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.