National Ag News for February 24, 2022

USDA Releases Lower Ag Export Forecast for 2023

American agricultural exports in fiscal year 2023 are projected at $184.5 billion, down $5.5 billion from the November forecast. The export forecasts for all major commodity groups are down, with the largest drops projected for corn, sorghum, and soybeans. Corn exports are forecast $1.9 billion lower to $16.6 billion on lower volume. Soybean exports are projected to drop by $800 million to $32 billion on lower U.S. supplies and increased Brazilian competition. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast to decrease by $900 million to $40.5 billion as declines in beef, poultry, and dairy exports offset increases in pork exports. U.S. cotton exports are forecast down $100 million to $5.9 billion on lower volumes. Ethanol exports are forecast at $3.6 billion, down $600 million on lower volumes and a reduced demand outlook. China is forecast to remain the largest market for U.S. agricultural exports at $34 billion, unchanged from November.

Study Shows Transition to Cage-Free Eggs Comes With Problems

A new study funded in part by United Egg Producers and the United Egg Association shows the transition to cage-free eggs will increase costs and reduce profits. It also shows that producers may not be able to make the 2026 deadline. The study says, “Conversion from conventional to cage-free housing is costly for both egg producers and final consumers.” There remains a lot of uncertainty about the extent to which egg producers will be willing and able to continue transitioning to cage-free housing at a rate commensurate with retailers’ cage-free pledges. Roughly 55 percent of consumers surveyed for the study are motivated by price and don’t discriminate between cage and cage-free eggs. Producers surveyed also reveal higher costs and labor requirements associated with cage-free production. Producers are also experiencing challenges in getting financing to convert or build cage-free facilities without longer-term commitments from retailers, particularly as interest rates continue climbing higher.

Cyberattack Temporarily Shuts Down Dole Production

Food giant Dole says it recently was hit by a cyberattack that was determined to be ransomware. Industrial Cyber says the attack disrupted the company’s operations and resulted in the temporary shutdown of production plants. It temporarily halted the company’s food shipments to stores. A company news release says upon learning of the incident, Dole moved quickly to contain the threat and engaged leading third-party cybersecurity experts who’ve been working with Dole’s internal teams to secure the company’s systems. An internal memo on February 10 told employees that “Dole Food Company is in the midst of a cyber-attack and has subsequently shut down our systems throughout North America.” Two grocery stores in Texas and Mexico contacted by CNN said they hadn’t been able to stock Dole salad kits on their shelves for days. Dole didn’t go into detail about the ransomware hackers’ attack methods but did say the company contacted law enforcement.

Mad Cow Disease Found in Brazil

Brazil’s agriculture and livestock ministry says beef exports to China are temporarily on hold after a case of mad cow disease was confirmed in one of the northern states called Para. Reuters says the suspension is part of an animal health agreement made between the two countries and likely won’t last long. However, it is a hit to the bottom line for the country’s farmers as China is the top destination for Brazil’s beef exports. Minister Carlos Favaro says, “All measures are being taken immediately at each stage of the investigation, and the matter is being handled with total transparency to guarantee Brazilian and global consumers the recognized quality of our meat.” The ag ministry also says, “The symptomology indicates that it is the atypical form of the disease, which appears spontaneously in nature, causing no risk of dissemination to the herd and human beings.” Para’s agricultural defense agency confirmed the disease case.  

2022 Annual Milk Production up 0.1 Percent From 2021

The annual production of milk in the United States during 2022 was 226 billion pounds, 0.1 percent above 2021. Revisions to 2021 production increased the annual total to 35 million pounds. Revised 2022 production was down 158 million pounds from the previous USDA publication. Annual total milk production has increased 12.5 percent since 2013. The average number of milk cows on farms in the United States during 2022 was 9.4 million head, 0.5 percent lower than last year. The average number of milk cows was revised down 2,000 head for 2022. The average annual number of milk cows has increased by 1.9 percent from 2013. In the meantime, milk production in the 24 major dairy-producing states totaled 18.5 billion pounds in January, 1.5 percent higher than in January 2022. Production per cow averaged 2,069 pounds for January, 18 pounds above January 2022. The number of milk cows on farms was 8.93 million head.

Biggest U.S. Farms Obtaining More Land

USDA’s annual Farms and Land in Farms Report shows the country’s largest farms with sales of $1 million or more operate nearly 26 percent of U.S. farmlands. The agency also says there were 2.003 million farms in the nation during 2022, a drop of 0.5 percentage points from 2012. Around 88,660 farms, or 3.9 percent of the total, had sales of at least $1 million. Ten years ago, three percent of farms made that category. The average size of the largest farms, by sales, was 2,927 acres or 4.6 square miles in 2022. In 2012, farms with $1 million in sales were an average of 2,481 acres in size. USDA says the average farm size for 2022 was 446 acres, up from 445 acres in 2021. The size of farms in the $1 million or more sales class increased. Farms in every other sales class either decreased or remained the same size.


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.