March 28, 2017

· Wildfires in the Texas Panhandle caused at least $21 million worth of damage based on Texas A&M AgriLife Extension calculations. Current estimates are that about 2,500 cattle were lost and 975 miles of fencing will need to be repaired or replaced. The damage estimate is expected to rise as equipment is accounted for and unforeseen damage is tabulated.

· Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on March 1, 2017. This was slightly above one year ago, according to USDA’s March Cattle on Feed report. Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.65 million head, 4 percent above 2016.

· Milk production in the United States during February totaled 16.7 billion pounds, down 1.2 percent from February 2016. However, production was 2.3 percent above last year after adjusting for the leap year, according to USDA’s March Milk Production report.

· The number of milk cows on U.S. farms in February was 9.37 million head, 56,000 head more than February 2016, and 4,000 head more than January 2017.

· Included in Donald Trump’s proposed 21 percent cut to the USDA budget is a reduction in statistical services and county-level staff. Rural clean water initiatives and business services are also being targeted.

March 21, 2017

· Donations to those impacted by the wildfires in the High Plains continue to pour into collection sites. Some locations report having all the hay donations they need in the short term, so it’s advised to call ahead. Other supplies such as fencing materials, feed supplements, milk replacers, and monetary donations are still being sought.

· Since December 1, the dry urea fertilizer price in Illinois has risen by 19 percent to over $360 per ton, according to Purdue University’s David Widmar. The prices are taken from those documented in USDA’s Illinois Production Cost Report.

· Widmar also reports that the retail price of diammonium phosphate (DAP) has climbed 3 percent since January lows, while potash has risen 12 percent since August 2016. Prices of all fertilizer types still remain below early 2016 levels.

· As part of National Ag Week, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation will announce the launch of a $6.6 million initiative to improve cover crops across the United States.

· AGCO recently announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to acquire the forage division of Lely Group. Lely’s forage division is a leading manufacturer of balers and loader wagons in Europe.

March 14, 2017

· Wildfires have now torched over 1 million acres of High Plains' rangeland. There have been a multitude of tragic stories. Donated hay, fencing supplies, and money to those ranches that have been affected are still needed in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas.

· Sixteen states spanning from Texas to New York had their warmest February ever recorded. Another seven had their second warmest.

· Washington was the only state in the U.S. to have a below normal February for average temperature.

· California specialists warn to be on the lookout for fiddleneck and groundsel this spring. Both weed species are poisonous to cattle and horses.

· In Marquette County, Wis., vandals cut open the length of a 200-foot bag of corn silage. There’s a $1,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

· USDA reports that farms with over $1 million in gross cash farm income accounted for half of the value of U.S. farm production in 2015, up from about a third in 1991. Most million-dollar farms (90 percent) are family farms; only 10 percent are nonfamily farms.

March 7, 2017

· For those grazing dual-purpose wheat in the High Plains, monitor the crop closely for signs of the first hollow stem, an indicator that cattle need to be pulled off the wheat to preserve grain yields.

· It’s being reported that at least some, and perhaps most growers in California’s Central Valley will receive a 100 percent water allocation this year after one of the wettest winters in recorded history.

· Timothy hay exports from the Pacific Northwest to Japan in January totaled 29,139 metric tons, up 48 percent from a year ago, according to the Hoyt Report.

· A 2015 study from Connect Iowa indicates that one in five Iowans do not have access to broadband internet (greater than 25 megabytes per second). A majority of those without higher speed connections live in rural areas. Twelve rural Iowa counties had over 60 percent of their residents without high-speed access.

· Recent reports suggest the European Union regulators will likely approve the Dow-DuPont merger. Little resistance is also expected on the U.S. front.