Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. The rapid and continuing decline of the major crops in the cornbelt is now showing-up in the USDA supply ledger....and the agency is taking action.
The first deals with agricultural disaster declarations. This map shows how many counties have already received the designation. But the changes Vilsack’s implementing - effectively immediately - will drastically change the look of the map.
USDA is also reducing the interest rate for emergency loans from the current rate from 3.75% to 2.25%. The current rate has been in place since 1993. He says making the change will put these rates more in line with commercial farm-loan lenders.
The secretary also announced a major temporary change to the conservation reserve program.
He says all CRP acres are now open for emergency haying and grazing. His department is also lowering the penalty to farmers who use CRP lands in 2012. The payment will drop from 25% to 10%.
The news conference was held just hours after USDA released its Supply-Femand and Production reports. Those reports reflected the dismal crop conditions in the nation's mid-section.
USDA lowered its US corn yield projection by a whopping 20 bushels to the acre after six straight weeks of crop decline. The world AG Outlook Board now sets its average yield at 146 bushels to the acre on corn. As such, corn production prospects were reduced by 1.8 billion bushels from last month.
USDA projects soybean production at just over 3 billion bushels, down 155 million. The harvested acreage is 2.3 million acres higher than the June projection. The soybean yield took a hit - down 3 1/2 bushels to 40 1/2.
Over the past month, there's been a lot of discussion comparing this drought to 1988. AgDay checked with USDA's National AG Statistics Service - or 'NASS' - about the 20-bushel yield reduction. A spokesman told us the department did not project the crop yield for these public reports until the 1990's. So there is no direct comparison. However, Secretary Vilsack said if today's conditions were as bad as 1988, USDA's predictions would have listed the corn yield at less than 130 bushels an acre and 35 bushels on soybeans. Meaning...it isn't 1988 yet.
Corn crops in the lower Mississippi valley bore the brunt of the dryness. Nearly half of the Illinois corn crop is poor to very poor. And it climbs from there. Missouri is 60%, Indiana and Tennessee – 61%, Kentucky at 72% poor to very poor. AgDay national report Tyne Morgan is on assignment in downstate Jackson County, Indiana
Thanks Tyne. Back to the reports...USDA slightly lowered its winter wheat production forecast by 1%, compared to its June forecast. The AG department set production at 1.6 billion bushels. The yield is forecast at 47.7 bushels an acre, up about a half bushel from last month.
We've talked a lot about failing crops in the Midwest; the Pacific Northwest has some excellent conditions for fruit production. Mike Hoffman has details in cropwatch.
Also from the World AG Outlook Board - the forecasts for 2012 and 2013 red meat and poultry production are reduced from last month as higher feed prices are expected to slow the pace of pork and poultry expansion and temper growth in weights. Beef production is forecast higher for 2012 as deteriorating pasture conditions are expected to increase placements in feedlots.
While crops struggle, so is the nation's pasture and range. 50% of the lower 48's grazing land is now called poor or very poor. Only 21% is good or excellent. The southern plains spent most of last year in record heat and drought. Conditions are slightly better this year but the summer is now burning off any improvements.
In other news - more than four dozen large-scale pork producers may be facing lawsuits from the Humane Society of the United States. The activist group gave notice on Wednesday of the pending suits against 51 producers in North Carolina, Iowa and Oklahoma. HSUS says the lawsuits stem from alleged un-reported ammonia releases.
In agribusiness today - the association of equipment manufacturers reports robust sales in June, compared to the same time last year.
BLUE BEAR FARM:
According to the UN's latest food and agriculture organization report, agricultural production needs to go up by 60% in the next 40 years to meet the rising demand for food. That's a tall order. And one that has some Denver city dwellers pitching in. Photojournalist Anne Herbst of the Denver Post introduces us to these urban farmers.
Many of the country's largest shell egg producers are following new rules. The FDA's new egg safety rule went into effect on July 9th.
DANISH FAT TAX:
And we've all heard of New York’s ban on large sugary drinks. Just recently, Denmark put a tax on sugar and saturated fat. Now it’s considering reversing that decision.