PASTURE AND RANGE:
Good morning I’m Clinton Griffiths. It's a tough summer for livestock producers as feed costs rise and rangelands wither away.
During last week's cattle industry summer conference, cattle fax analyst Kevin Good said drought now covers more than 70% of the US Cow herd. Take a look at this map from the USDA...in green--both the dark and light colored areas are livestock producing areas. The red lines indicate drought. 73% of cattle are under some form of drought. Good says in the last two months drought has raised costs of feed to finish cattle by about 160 dollars per head. While cattle prices have fallen just as much. Oklahoma state economist Derrell Peel says for producers that do have pasture or hay, there are opportunities to make money. Drought continues to force ranchers to liquidate breeding stock. In 2011 drought pushed one million cows from just three states in the southern plains. This year, the trend is continuing but on a national scale. USDA daily estimates show the combined cow and bull slaughter are already more than 10% higher than last year at this time.
The rate of decline in US corn and soybeans slowed in parts of the eastern cornbelt as rains provide relief to some parched areas. Still the percentage of US corn and soybeans rated in "good" or "excellent" condition dropped for an eighth successive week.
Indiana has been in the bullseye of the drought for weeks. Just like the rest of the cornbelt, there have been steady declines. But the crop progress report actually saw slight improvement this week because of recent showers. The corn condition rating is up by two points. There's little else to celebrate though. Statewide 9% of the Indiana corn crop is considered good to excellent. There was a four point improvement to the state's soybeans. 16%is now good to excellent. Farm Director Al Pell talked to some farmers at Soybean College held in southern Michigan.
Some fields in the upper Midwest are just getting by with the little rain that's shown-up. Mike Hoffman has the details in cropwatch.
FARM BILL EXTENSION:
A quick update on Farm Bill negotiations...our partners at Profarmer say the AG leadership of both houses have met to discuss a possible one-year extension of the current law. Profarmer sources in Washington say House GOP leaders may back away from getting a vote on a one-year Farm Bill extension and instead offer a stand-alone AG disaster relief measure.
In Agribusiness today - our corporate cousins at Farm Journal Corn College have expanded their horizons to include soybean college. The classes were held in Coldwater, Michigan. More than 200 soybean growers from through-out the country took part. The student-farmers were learning about the 'systems approach' to higher yields. Basically, our Agronomists are helping growers put-together all the pieces together to come-up with bigger outcomes at harvest time.
Local foods and better nutrition are popular consumer trends. Norm Hyde reports the Virginia master Food Volunteer Program is helping educate people how to cook and preserve local foods. Norm Hyde has details in this report from the Virginia Farm Bureau.
FOOD AND YOUR FAMILY:
Blueberries continue to gain popularity as a super food. Good news for Maine growers expecting a bumper crop. And finally this morning, did you're parents tell you to clean your plate growing up? If so, that may be what your mind uses to say stop eating.