Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. Another week passes and another serious decline in the condition of the nation's corn crop...and that's our top story on AgDay. A quarter of the corn crop is good to excellent, down five points from last week. To put that into perspective - when USDA released its first corn condition rating in May 72% was good to excellent. This is a nearly 50 point difference. As far as progress – 6% has dented, 22% is at dough stage. One of the most telling points of the report is that a fourth state has now been added to the list with single digit quality in their cornfields. Illinois joins that dubious list along with Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. USDA says none of the Illinois corn crop would be called "excellent" this week and just 7% is good. Turning now to soybeans - there was a three point decline in the condition rating from last week. 31% is good to excellent. A third of the crop has its pods starting to set. 79% of the crop is blooming.
There are several developments this morning regarding the condition of the crops and the government response to this drought. And we begin our "drought watch" coverage with the latest condition ratings. Following last week's visit with the president, AG Secretary Tom Vilsack announced some additional steps as part of the USDA's efforts to help farmers and ranchers dealing with the drought. Several of the steps involve temporary changes to conservation programs that will help livestock producers.
While USDA expands its efforts to help producers respond to the drought, there are tools missing.
At least two livestock programs have expired and need Congress to pass the 2012 Farm Bill order to be restored. I talked exclusively with House AG Committee Chairman Frank Lucas last week about the drought and what can be done to help.
In today's cropwatch, we're hearing from farmers who are so grateful for recent rains. And we hit the bike trail with a good friend of ours. Meteorologist Mike Hoffman has more in cropwatch.
In our dairy today report, milk may be one of the first commodities to see a rise in prices as drought stretches across the country. That's according to a spokesman with the National Milk Producer’s Federation. He believes shoppers could pay an extra 10 to 15 cents more for a gallon of milk starting next month. The heat and dry weather makes it hard on dairy cows to produce. Tempering those prices are production numbers from earlier in the year. According to the USDA April to June milk production is up 2% over a year ago. January to march production was more than 5% higher. Part of the reason for the increase is cows are producing more milk. In June production per cow averaged just over 18-hundred pounds, 7 pounds more than 2011. There are also more cows in the parlor. From April to June dairymen milked 9.26 million head, 66-thousand more than last year at this time.
The Summer Olympic Games begin this Friday in London. These finely tuned athletes often have very specific diets. Back in ancient time, the early Olympic athletes had figs on their training tables. The fruit was considered a token of honor in Greece. Figs were also presented to the Olympic winners. While you may not be too familiar with it, figs have a following. And they have their own festival. Charlotte Fadipe has details in this report from California Bountiful TV. According to the California Fig Advisory Board there are about 93-hundred acres of figs grown in California. They're centered around the central valley. This years "fig fest" is coming up August 11th in Fresno, California.
FOOD AND YOUR FAMILY:
There aren't too many things more tasty than good cheese. Now researchers say that dairy snack may help fight Type 2 Diabetes. And according to the Beef Checkoff, Americans’ tastes have changed since 2005.