READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, April 16th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

U.S. Drought Monitor: Tale of Two Regions

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows a tale of two regions—the East and the West. The Western U.S., in the latest Drought Monitor released Thursday, shows much of the region in drought categories, with several areas classified in extreme or exceptional drought, the two most severe categories. Comparatively, the Eastern U.S. is mostly drought-free from the Eastern seaboard to the Central Plains. Drawing a line from the eastern border of Texas to the North is where much of the trouble begins. Having missed out on rainfall, conditions continued to deteriorate in south-central Oklahoma and in North, South and West Texas. Meanwhile, much of the West remained dry. Where precipitation did fall, in the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies, it either missed the drought-inflicted areas or wasn’t enough to overcome shortages. Decreases in water allocation and reduced or negligible forage are causing livestock producers to respond by culling and selling herds. Fire crews are also arriving in California earlier than normal.

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KC Fed: Farm Lending Remains Muted in Early 2021

Farm loan demand remained muted at commercial banks in the first quarter of 2021. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reports that a reduction in the volume of operating loans led to an overall decline in total non-real estate lending. Financing activity also declined more notably at banks with relatively large farm loan portfolios, while lending was more stable among small and mid-size lenders. The KC Fed says factors specific to the pandemic in 2020 likely contributed to the reduced lending activity as the year progressed. Substantial government aid through various programs in 2020 provided financial support. In addition, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program accounted for a sizable share of loans reported, and likely displaced a portion of typical financing needs. Despite some challenges for cattle producers, financial conditions in agriculture remain favorable. The outlook for 2021 remained significantly improved from recent years, but rising input costs could also weigh on profit margins in the months ahead.

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Grilling Season Rally Progressing Higher than Normal

This year’s grilling season rally is higher than normal, fueled by vaccine availability, stimulus checks and the opening of ballparks. Cattle market analyst Ed Czerwien writes in Cattle Business Weekly the daily spot Choice box beef cutout ended last week, April 9, at $272.17, which was $19.32 higher compared to the previous Friday. Last year it was $223.93 on the same Friday, which was $6.51 lower, after jumping higher during the panic retail buying amid the coronavirus pandemic last year. However, last year then skyrocketed much higher during the packing plant shutdowns, topping out at $475.00 in early May. Last week, sales totaled 6,865 loads sold for the week, 153 loads higher than the previous week. Exports were reported at 956 loads which was good, but 116 loads lower compared to the previous week and about 800 lower than two weeks ago, which is normal when prices skyrocket higher. 

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NCBA Endorses House Companion of HAULS Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association just endorsed the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety, or HAULS Act of 2021. Introduced in the House of Representatives by Tennessee Republican John Rose and Democrat Darren Soto of Florida, NCBA says the bipartisan bill would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock haulers. The House bill introduced this week is a companion to a bill introduced in the Senate last month. NCBA President Jerry Bohn says of the legislation, “Livestock haulers don’t need more regulatory hoops to jump through – they need the freedom and flexibility to continue transporting animals safely and humanely.” Current hours-of-service rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours of on-duty time, and then require ten consecutive hours of rest. However, when transporting livestock, there is a need for further flexibility beyond the current hours-of-service. The HAULS Act would add a 150 air-mile radius exemption under hours-of-service regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities.

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USDA Extends Comment for Proposed Revisions to Conservation Practice Standards

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently extended the deadline for public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions were published March 9 in the Federal Register with comments originally due April 8. Comments will now be due April 22. NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers, landowners, organizations, Tribes and others that use its conservation practices to comment on the revised conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions to 23 conservation practice standards are available on the Federal Register website. The 2018 farm bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation’s farmers and ranchers better protect natural resources. In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on nrcs.usda.gov. NRCS’s conservation practices offer guidelines for planning, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices nationwide.

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Fertilizer Institute Announces New Tools to Better Understand Crop Nutrition

The Fertilizer Institute recently announced two new updates to crop nutrient use tools. The tools provide the industry with scientifically backed data to better track nutrient use and nutrient balances across the United States. Working together, the Nutrient Use Geographic Information System and the Soil Test Summary are an index of performance, both agronomic and environmental. The tools indicate how well a cropping system uses crop nutrients. The two platforms can help provide an estimate of nutrient deficiencies and nutrients susceptible to loss, providing the fertilizer industry and farmers with insight into improving nutrient use efficiency and nutrient balance. Corey Rosenbusch, TFI President and CEO, says data from the tools position the organization “to collaborate with partners and soil testing labs to aggregate and analyze this information for our members and stakeholders.” Both NuGIS and the Soil Test Summary are collaborations between TFI, the Foundation for Agronomic Research, and Plant Nutrition Canada. You can access both tools online at www.tfi.org.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.