AgDay Daily Recap - January 30, 2012

January 30, 2012 05:29 AM

JANUARY 30, 2012

Good morning. The U.S. cattle herd continues to shrink. According to the USDA’s latest inventory, the number of cattle and calves in the U.S. fell two percent last year--below many analysts’ predictions. That makes it the smallest national herd since 1952.
In our beef today report, here's the break down by the numbers. As of January first all cattle and calves--this includes both dairy and beef animals-- totaled just under 91 million head. Last year at this time there were 92 point 7 million head. Breaking it down further, beef cows saw the most significant drop, falling 3 percent from a year ago. The 2011 calf crop is down 1% --the smallest since 1950. One bright spot--beef replacement heifers are up 1%. As far as distribution goes, beef cows moved north over the last year. States in red lost significant numbers of cattle inventory, those in blue gained. The biggest losers were New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The largest gainer on the year was Nebraska--up about 112,000. Having fewer cattle across the country is going to make it tougher on the finishing industry. Marketing specialists say feedlots and packers have watched margins thin out. Rising feeder cattle prices and higher feed costs are already causing challenges. Derrell Peel at Oklahoma State says he expects that to continue in the near term. Finding animals for slaughter is only going to get tougher. Steers over 500 pounds are down about 2%. You can get many more updates on the beef industry, including market and production information from our partners at

Lawmakers who represent some of the biggest chicken producing states say there's power in poultry...and they want to flex that muscle in Washington. Nine congressmen representing five states have created the Congressional Chicken Caucus. The lawmakers say they want to educate other members of congress and their staffs of the concerns and benefits of the domestic chicken industry. So far, lawmakers from Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia have signed-on. Arkansas congressman and caucus co-founder Rick Crawford says the group wants others in congress to understand poultry as it pertains to food safety, trade, labor, immigration and the environment.

USDA released its monthly peanut stocks report on Friday. The Ag Department report shows use of 'shelled edible grade' peanuts is up 4% as of December 31st. Stocks in commercial storage total 3.3 billion pounds. That compares to 3.9 billion pounds a year ago. The 2011 peanut crop struggled with drought in the southeast. Of course, another challenge is herbicide resistance. During the recent gathering of the Georgia Peanut Commission, Farm Director Al Pell talked with one of the leading weed specialists in Georgia. He says palmer amaranth or pigweed is - by far - the number one problem. But they are making progress. Whether it's peanuts or other row crops, Prostko says farmers must be diligent in the efforts to control pigweed. He says progress is being made in the battle, but total eradication is not going to happen.

As farmers reduce the amount of tillage they use on their fields to spare the soil, many began to rely on herbicides to remove winter weeds from their fields. In this report provided by the LSU Agcenter, Tobie Blanchard talks with a weed scientist about the benefits of the winter burn down.

Andy Shissler

Through-out the country, a growing number of school kids are "jumping and pumping" as a way to get healthy. "Jump with Jill" is a fun, interactive stage show that's touring the United States. The show's founder - Jill Jayne - has expertise as a dietitian and as a performer. She's using those two distinctive skills to get kids moving again and to make healthy choices. We get details in this report provided by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. To learn more about that program visit Food and Your Family is next.

In Food and Your Family a lagging economy has tempered growth in the country's restaurant industry. But researchers at Technomic say there is one exception--fast casual dining. Fast casual restaurants like Panera bread, Qudoba or Five Guys is growing at 8% annually. Sales in this corner of the market hit nearly 30 billion dollars and now make up 14% of all quick-service restaurants. Six of the fastest growing restaurant chains in the entire industry are fast casual concepts. Technomoic says other restaurants are now converting their operations to fit the fast casual model.

And if you're eating out it may include coffee. A new survey from Accounting Pricipals says Americans are in love with their cup of Joe. They found about half of the U.S. workforce spent on average $1,000 a year on coffee. It also found men spent more than women and younger workers spent almost twice as much as their more senior co-workers. The results surprised surveyors in these tough economic times. They also found nearly 70% of American workers buy their lunch everyday....adding up to about $2,000 a year.

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