National Ag News for May 22, 2022

Winter Wheat Harvest Finds Disappointing Yields

The 2023 Wheat Quality Council’s Winter Wheat Tour wrapped up last week with disappointing numbers. After scouting for three days, the tour calculated an average yield of 30 bushels per acre. While an estimated 8.1 million acres of wheat were planted last fall, the winter wheat crop has suffered from a multi-year drought that cut yields and resulted in abandoned fields in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The official tour projection for the total production of wheat to be harvested in Kansas is 178 million bushels. Kansas Wheat says that number shows tour participants thought abandonment might be quite a bit higher than normal at almost 27 percent. The production number is the average of estimated predictions from tour participants who scouted 652 fields across the area. Based on May 1 conditions, NASS predicted the crop to be 191 million bushels, a yield of 29 bushels per acre, and abandonment at 18.5 percent.

Updates Begin on Improving Mississippi River Infrastructure

The Army Corps of Engineers held a groundbreaking ceremony marking the beginning of repairs to a lock and dam on the Upper Mississippi River that’s crucial to shipping corn and other commodities. Lock and Dam 25, almost 50 miles north of St. Louis, hasn’t been extensively repaired since it was constructed in the early 20th century. Funding for the project was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Illinois Corn Growers Association, long at the forefront of advocating for updates to the Lock and Dam, applauded the development. “Our hope is this will be the beginning of a waterfall of infrastructure work on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers,” says ICGA President Matt Rush. Lock and Dam 25 is crucially important to corn growers as 60 percent of corn and soybean exports are transported on the Mississippi River. The river is important in shipping products both domestically and abroad.

USDA Previews Emergency Relief for Agricultural Producers

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack plans to roll out $3.7 billion in Emergency Relief Program and Emergency Livestock Relief Program assistance to crop and livestock producers. The funds will help producers who sustained losses due to a qualifying natural disaster event during calendar year 2022. USDA is sharing the information early to allow producers time to gather documents in advance of program delivery. “U.S. ag producers nationwide endured crippling natural disaster events in 2022, including a mega-drought, hurricane, flooding, and wildfires,” Vilsack says. “While we have streamlined our delivery of natural disaster assistance, funding is limited and significantly less than the estimated losses.” He also says they’re designing payment factors to help as many producers as possible to offset the significant financial impacts resulting from these ongoing and widespread natural disasters. Producers who have participated in FSA programs likely have the required forms on file. Contact your local USDA Service Center with questions.

Senators Ask BLM to Withdraw Draft Rule

South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds and 15 other senators sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management asking them to withdraw the proposed Public Lands Rule. The bureau says this rule would let conservationists lease federal land. The senators say it’s intended to set conservation equal to other land uses. The proposal would negatively affect western states, including South Dakota because their economies rely on public land for cattle grazing, energy development, and tourism. “It’s clear that anti-grazing and anti-development organizations would abuse this tool to attempt to halt ranching and block access to our nation’s abundant energy reserves located on public lands,” the letter says. Supporters of this rule say land conservation is necessary to protect the environment. They argue that the rule will not impede current land uses. The BLM website says the bureau will host public meetings, virtually and in person, to discuss the proposed rule.  

Bill Incentivizes Use of Cover Crops

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and several state representatives introduced bipartisan legislation to incentivize farmers to plant cover crops to help boost environmental conservation. The Conservation Opportunity and Voluntary Environment Resilience Program (COVER) Act would provide farmers who plant cover crops a crop insurance discount of $5 per acre. It will also lower the long-term cost of crop insurance by making the Pandemic Cover Crop Program permanent, authorizing additional funding for technical assistance in accessing the Good Steward Cover Crop Program, and creating a Soil Health Pilot Program. “Farmers are the original conservationists.,” says Brown. “By utilizing cover crops, they can increase yield, decrease pesticide use, and reduce runoff into waterways, which is good for everyone.” Planting cover crops slows erosion, promotes soil health, improves water availability, suppresses weeds, attracts pollinators, helps control pests and diseases, and increases biodiversity. Cover crops increase yields and reduce crop insurance losses caused by prevented planting.

Beef Output Will Drop in 2024

U.S. beef production in 2024 will drop eight percent to 24.7 billion pounds amid tighter supplies of cattle. A USDA report says aggregate domestic beef disappearance will fall more than seven percent to 52.8 pounds per capita on a retail-equivalent basis. That’s the lowest level since record-keeping started in 1970. The declining output will push cattle prices to new highs in 2024. A “core portion” of the beef herd is still seeing drought conditions in the Southern Plains, despite improving conditions. That resulted in a shortage of hay. Inventories on May 1 dropped 13 percent year-over-year to the lowest point in a decade. Despite recent rains, for some producers, the very-low hay supplies may not offset poor pastures to sustain herds this summer and allow producers to retain breeding stock,” USDA says. “As a result, culling continues at a relatively high rate.” On a positive note, feed prices will likely decline.


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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