AgDay Daily Recap - December 20, 2011

December 20, 2011 03:42 AM

DECEMBER 20, 2011

Good morning. New research shows rural economies are outpacing their urban counter parts. A survey of bank CEO's in rural America indicates the economy there is as good as it's been since June of 2007. And it's gotten better each of the last three months. That comes from Creighton University which just released its latest Rural Mainstreet Index. The index gives a snap shot of the economies in rural, agricultural and energy-dependent parts of the nation. The survey says the rural mainstreet economy is very healthy and the gap between urban and rural health is widening. Hiring in rural America is up nearly 1.5% year over year, while up just 0.8% in urban areas. Economists say tepid loan demand and healthy checking deposits are driving a strong rural economy.

The index also saw an increase in equipment sales and farmland prices. While many things are positive, writers of the research warn fallout from the collapse of MF Global is still lurking. A quarter of bankers surveyed say MF Global's bankruptcy has had a negative impact on farmers. Economists believe in order for rural economies to stay healthy, faith in the markets must be maintained.

Cattle markets remain strong, even after the latest cattle on feed numbers hit presses last Friday. The USDA report shows the number of cattle on feed is up 4% at feedlots with a capacity over one-thousand head. In total there were 12.1 million cattle counted, that's the second highest inventory since the report started back in 1996. Placements were also up 4% year over year...larger than analysts had expected and led by lighter weight cattle.
A shortage of winter-grazing, and rising fed-cattle prices is likely behind the higher placements. However, economists say producers shouldn't automatically expect cattle markets to stay high in 2012.

There's a new member to the World Trade Organization. WTO ministers voted Friday to allow the Russian Federation to "ascend" - or enter - the group. By joining the WTO, Russia agrees to follow the trade rules established by the trading partners. The WTO mediates trade disputes between countries. Russia still has to ratify the agreement and will become a member 30 days after it notifies the WTO. According to the WTO website, Russia has agreed to lower its tariffs on a wide range of products. The average tariff ceiling for ag products going into Russian will be 10.8%. The current average is just over 13%. Tariffs on dairy products will see a five point decline.

In news from our partners at dairy today, USDA released its monthly dairy production figures. They show despite forage shortages in the southwest, the west continues to add cows to the herd. California milk production is up 2.5% with an additional 27,000 cows. Texas had the largest year-over-year increase in milk production - up nearly 8.5%. It added 20,000 cows. New Mexico and Arizona also reporting bigger herds. Overall milk production grew 1.8%.

Changing the way farmers feed their dairy cows can lower their costs without reducing milk production. That was an important lesson this year for producers who live in drought-impacted regions of this country, like Louisiana. In this report provided by the LSU Agcenter, Tobie Blanchard says researchers are working on methods to help farmers produce more milk efficiently. And don't forget, for the very latest news affecting the dairy industry, including production and policy issues, check out

Brian Basting

And then coming-up Friday, it's a special holiday program that the whole family can enjoy. From tree growers to fruit-cake makers, we'll show you how this special holiday is celebrated in rural America. And there's a special rendition of a classic holiday poem. You don't want to miss it. Christmas in the country - Friday on AgDay.

When you think of the holidays, typically you think of people spending time together...usually inside where it's warm. But in Missouri some families celebrate the holidays outside--and at night. These families bundle up and head for the water to take part in a Missouri tradition that goes back generations. Kent Faddis with the University of Missouri explains. Thanks Kent. Gigging season in Missouri began in September and ends January 31st. If that makes you hungry, Food and Your Family is next.

So what's your favorite flavor? That's a question, that for me at least, gets harder to answer every year. In today's Food and Your Family it looks like 2012 isn't going to be any exception. Bell flavors and fragrances has released its top ten flavor trends for 2012.
At the top of the list--salty caramel. It's predicted to have the most impact on food and beverages this year. The flavors are broken up by category, sweet, savory and beverage.
Other sweet flavors in 2012--red velvet, strawberry jasmine and cinnamon chipotle. Savory flavors include things like white truffle oil, kim-chi, absinthe and rose water. And beverages will include the standby lemonade and new flavors like, maqui berry, aloe vera and cucumber mint.

And a new Danish study says a diet rich in cheese is better than a diet rich in butter.
The dairy research is published in the journal of clinical nutrition. It found cheese intake actually lowers LDL or bad cholesterol when compared to butter of equal fat content. The cheese also didn't increase cholesterol levels when compared to normal diets.

We'd love to hear from you! Contact us at 800-792-4329. Or drop an email to You can also check us out on some of that new technology, at

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