National Ag News for April 17, 2023

Texas Barn Fire Kills 18,000 Dairy Cattle

A Texas dairy farm suffered an explosion and fire that possibly resulted in the largest single-incident livestock death toll in history. Agriculture Dot Com says the Southfork Dairy Farm in Dimmitt, Texas, reports approximately 18,000 dairy cattle died in the blaze. The Castro County Sheriff’s Office said that was about 90 percent of the farm’s total herd. Investigators are working to find out the cause of the devastating fire. “They’re trying to determine if it came from machinery known as a honey wagon that sucks out manure and water,” says Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera. “It may have possibly ignited methane gas.” The farm employs 60 workers, and all were accounted for. One female was trapped inside, and first responders were able to rescue her from the structure and airlifted her to a nearby hospital, where she’s critical but stable. Southfork Dairy Farm had been running for less than a year.

Brazil’s Record Soybean Harvest Continuing

Brazil’s farmers will produce 153.6 million metric tons of soybeans this year. CONAB (KOH-nab), a private company that works under Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, says that’s up 1.5 percent from their outlook last month. The USDA had projected Brazil’s soybean harvest to reach 154 million metric tons, one million tons higher than the previous forecast. USDA data showed that Brazil produced 130.5 million metric tons a year ago. Global soybean stocks were forecast by the agency at 100.3 million metric tons, up from the prior forecast of 100 million. If reached, that would be up from 99.7 million tons a year earlier. Brazil’s CONAB also expects the country’s corn production to reach a record 124.9 million metric tons, slightly higher than last month’s forecast. The forecast for Argentina’s soybean harvest continues to drop, coming in at 27 million metric tons. That’s six million tons lower than the March USDA forecast.

Farmers, Conservationists Ask Court to Strike Down Dicamba

Public-interest groups representing farmers and conservationists filed arguments in court seeking to have the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of dicamba struck down. The arguments are a continuation of an earlier lawsuit that resulted in a 2020 court ruling overturning prior approvals of dicamba as unlawful. The groups say the new litigation was prompted by the EPA’s decision to ignore the court’s ruling and move forward with reapproving the pesticide. “We now have years of incontrovertible evidence revealing that these dicamba products cannot be used without causing grave harm to other farmers and the environment,” says George Kimbrell, legal director of the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case. The petitioners say dicamba drift and runoff damage natural areas and wildlife refuges, injuring wild flowering plants, including some federally-protected species on which bees and other insects rely. Plaintiff groups include the National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, and others.

Vilsack Urged to Deny Petitions on Make Allowance Hearing

The American Dairy Coalition sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack asking him to deny two recent petitions for hearings on the Federal Milk Marketing Order. The petitions from processor groups ask USDA to increase payments from farmers to processors to offset higher input costs. The coalition says holding a federal milk pricing hearing on these “make-allowances” without looking into additional concerns facing dairy farmers is misaligned, and therefore ADC can’t support it. “As a grassroots dairy farmer organization, ADC believes a comprehensive FMMO hearing is needed,” says ADC CEO Laurie Fischer. “We do not support ‘make allowance’ updates based on processors having the ability to voluntarily participate in the cost surveys, which undoubtedly would exclude essential relevant data.” ADC also says farmers need transparency in order to understand how their net payment is calculated, and these make allowances are not line items, but they’re embedded in pricing formulas.

Ford Phasing Out AM Radios Globally

Ford Canada confirms that it’s removing AM radios from all vehicles globally. Ford’s Canadian division says Canada will no longer have access to the AM band in upcoming vehicles. Radio Ink Dot Com says it’s the first confirmation that removing AM from dashboards won’t be isolated to the U.S. A Ford Canada spokesperson says that to listen to AM, all drivers have to do is link their phones to the vehicles entertainment system and stream the stations they’re looking for. Canada has more than 180 AM radio stations. Many of those stations broadcast news and information needed in remote areas that have less than ideal data coverage, making streaming difficult, if not impossible. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters says this marks another profound challenge to AM radio. “It’s unfortunate that the assumption is made that internet streaming of stations will be a suitable substitute in remote Canadian areas,” the group says.  

U.S. Wheat Planted Area Projected at Seven-Year High

The National Agricultural Statistics Service recently estimated the total U.S. 2023-2024 wheat planted area will be 49.9 million acres. That’s up nine percent from the previous year and would be the highest total since 2016-2017. The total winter wheat area is projected up 13 percent as high prices and strong profitability provides major incentives to plant. Hard Red Winter Wheat is projected up 13 percent to 26 million acres, even higher than the January 12 forecast. HRW production regions continue to be impacted by drought, which is likely to affect harvested area and yield. Soft Red Winter Wheat plantings are forecast up 19 percent from the previous year to 7.8 million acres, slightly below the January forecast. Hard Red Spring area is projected down three percent to ten million acres. But the area planted for this class will depend on planting conditions. Durum is projected up nine percent to 1.8 million acres.


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.

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