Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. There was no decline this week in the condition of the nation's corn crop. But there was a big jump in progress. As USDA data showed us on Friday this year’s drought has shriveled the corn crop to a level not seen in at least 15 years. The crop is down 13% from last year. The AG department does not expect the crop to surpass 11-billion bushels.
We'll begin in Ballard County, Kentucky. A farmer told us he's shelled 340 acres of corn. He's averaging around 50 bushels an acre. The heat did a lot of damage. Mark Wachtman from Henry County, Ohio sent a photo of his crop. Mark is one of the farmers we profiled in our I-80 planting tour this spring. He says these five ears were all picked from the same row. Mark's fields are on the edge of the severe drought area. Further east the crops improve. And one of the few garden spots in the cornbelt is Minnesota. A farmer in Stearns County says he did a yield check and it looking at an average yield of 244 bushels per acre.
Winter wheat harvest has all but wrapped-up for the year. It's at 94%. Montana farmers are still cutting, but it's 30 points ahead. The Pacific Northwest fields are about 6% completed.
The small grain harvest in North Dakota is happening way ahead of schedule this year, thanks to a dry winter and ideal spring planting conditions. Farmers started cutting wheat and durum in mid-July, and some will finish bringing the crop in by early August, that's when the combining crops normally begins. Cliff Naylor from affiliate KFYR reports.
A major southern crop was overshadowed by last Friday’s dwindling corn predictions. Peanut production is having a big year.
Topping our dairy today report - the drought impact on the dairy industry. On Friday USDA reduced its milk production forecasts for 2012 and 2013. The AG department says the forecast for higher feed prices is expected to put pressure on producer returns. It will also encourage a more rapid decline in the cow herd. Milk per cow is also reduced due to tighter feed supplies. Exports are raised for 2012 but exports for 2013 are reduced from last month on tighter supplies. Product prices are forecast higher. The all milk price is forecast at 17-55 to 17-75 per hundredweight.
Dean foods is outlining plans to spin off its White-Wave-Alpro business. That branch includes the company's Horizon Organic dairy brand and its Silk Soy products. White Wave annual sales have climbed nearly 65% in the last five years to more than 2 billion dollars. Leadership says demand in U.S. Organic markets is growing at about 8% a year. Dean Foods is also increasing the price it pays farmers for raw organic milk. It's hoping to encourage an expansion of supplies in the midst of this historic drought.
USDA MEAT PURCHASE:
In agribusiness today - AG Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA will purchase 170 million dollars of meat, chicken and fish from U.S. farmers and ranchers struggling with the drought. The food will be used for federal nutrition assistance programs including food banks. The USDA tells AgDay this is part of the emergency surplus removal program. The program allows USDA to purchase meat and poultry products to assist farmers and ranchers during natural disasters. USDA says this purchase is on top of what it normally buys each year.
Meanwhile, U.S. Pork and beef exports concluded the first half of 2012 on a solid footing.
June pork exports came in 4% higher in value than last year. Volume has been steady but down 15%. June beef exports are still slightly higher in value than a year ago. These results are based on statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat export federation.
It's been a mild hurricane season so far in the U.S., but 'NOAA' thinks it could change. The weather agency has now raised its predictions of the 2012 hurricane season for the Atlantic. After initially calling for 9 to 15 named storms, 'NOAA' now expects 12-to-17 named storms before the season ends in November. NOAA also increased the number of major hurricanes. It says they're increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures now in place in the Atlantic.
The folks who developed the "got milk" campaign are honoring some of the brightest students in this country. Twenty five outstanding high school students each received a 75-hundred dollar scholarship. The award is called the "scholar athlete milk mustache of the year" or 'SAMMY'. We meet one of the winners in this report from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Michelle is headed to Lake Forest College this fall. To meet the other winners, check out the "body-by-milk" website.
One of the estimated six million children with food allergies in this country, as many as 25% had their first reaction - not at home - but at school! Many schools keep medicine on hand just in case of an allergic reaction, but not everyone knows how to use it. In this report provided by Nationwide Children's Hospital, Clark Powell tells us how one doctor is trying to help.