THIS WEEK ON U.S. FARM REPORT
EPISODE # 2032
JULY 21-22, 2012
Welcome to US Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. Be careful what you wish for. This spring while I was watching fields only miles away get rains that sputtered out at the edge of my farm, at least my crops were driving roots as deep and fast as they could to survive. While fields around me aren't flourishing their decline has been gradual compared to those areas where suddenly the water stopped and root systems was less developed. So I think with parts of the Midwest where the drought is late arriving, and where the temperatures are more extreme, markets are now responding to the fading promise of the western crop. It could come down to a race between maturity and plant death.
The drought in farm country has caught the eye of the White House. AG Secretary Tom Vilsack briefed the President this week about the damage drought is causing to crops and livestock. Following that meeting Vilsack said the AG Department needs the tools to help farmers and ranchers during what he called a very difficult and painful situation. “The most important thing is for congress to take action to provide some direction and assistance so people know what’s going to happen and what kind of protection they will have. That is really important and that's whether you want to get to work on the Food Farm and Jobs Bill. They want to develop a separate disaster program, or the extension of existing programs, having that done as soon as possible would be quite possible.” He also announced that another 39 counties in 8 states have been declared AG disaster areas. That’s on top of the 1200 plus counties already announced. This means one out of every 3 counties in this country now has that AG disaster status. Secretary Vilsack also says livestock producers could get hurt most by the drought. He says since there isn’t a disaster program in place like there is for crops with crop insurance, there is a lot of uncertainty among livestock producers. In Arkansas 70% of the state is now in extreme drought. A rancher said he can no longer afford to feed his cattle forcing him to sell off a large portion of his herd. A local livestock auction has seen their numbers double or even triple from this time last year. Meanwhile USDA reports the condition of the US corn crop dipped another nine points in just a week. Less than a third is good to excellent. While the western corn belt had been holding on the area is now seeing significant declines. Iowa and Minnesota are both down 10 points. The condition of the soybean crop is similar to corn. A third is good to excellent which is a 6 point drop from last week. 16% of the crop is setting pods. There is better news for the cotton crop. Almost half is rated good to excellent. Almost holding steady with last week.