WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY DOESN'T BODE WELL FOR PLANTING... Mother Nature has a terrible sense of humor and farmers in the Upper Midwest aren't amused. The flip of the calendar to May feels more like February. Following is a storm summary for the Central Rockies to Upper Midwest issued by the National Weather Service at 10:00 a.m. CT today: "Light snow is falling across parts of the Central Rockies with a band of moderate to heavy snow continuing across the Central Plains into the Upper Midwest. Winter weather advisories are in effect for central Iowa and parts of southeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Winter storm warnings are in effect from southeast Minnesota into northern Wisconsin."
Snow accumulation of around 10 to 12 inches was common today in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. A Mitchell County, Pro Farmer Member today told us he has contacted his seed corn dealer to discuss the possibility of switching some acres to shorter-season varieties (he's still waiting on an answer). "In my 65 years I have never seen anything like this before. We're blanketed with a foot on snow on May 2. We haven't turned a wheel on the planter," he said.
What are the impacts in your neck of the woods? Send your comments (include your location) by clicking here.
FINAL HRW TOUR RESULTS... The Wheat Quality Council's HRW tour revealed yield prospects in Kansas of 41.1 bu. per acre, which compares to 49.1 bu. per acre last year and the five-year tour average of 42.3 bu. per acre. Last year, USDA pegged the 2012 Kansas wheat yield at 42 bu. per acre.
As is a tradition, tour participants submit their best guess for the wheat crop and those estimates are averaged. The average guess for the 2013 Kansas wheat crop among tour participants is 313.1 million bu., which compares to the five-year average guesstimate of 341.3 million bushels. Last year, USDA estimated the Kansas wheat crop at 382.2 million bushels.
NWS 6-10 DAY: DRIER CONDITIONS HEADED TO NORTHERN PLAINS AND WESTERN CORN BELT... The National Weather Service forecast for May 8 through 12 calls for below-normal precip across the Northern Plains and western Corn Belt, while above-normal precip is expected in Indiana and Ohio, as well as the far Southern Plains. Illinois is expected to see normal precip. Meanwhile, cooler-than-usual conditions are expected across Nebraska, Iowa and southern Illinois southward, while the Northern Plains and upper Midwest as well as the eastern Corn Belt are expected to see normal temps. Click here to view the related maps.
DROUGHT MONITOR REFLECTS MINOR CHANGE FROM LAST WEEK... The National Drought Monitor reflects very little change in the overall drought footprint from last week, with 60.12% of the contiguous U.S. still covered by some form of drought compared to 60.21% last week and nearly equal to 59.42% last year at this time.
The monitor notes that periods of locally heavy rain provided drought relief in central and southern portions of the nation, but dry weather with sharp temperature contrasts led to worsening drought from the Central High Plains into central and western Texas. Click here for related maps.
USDA WORKING ON A PROGRAM TO DEAL WITH RUSSIAN RACTOPAMINE DISPUTE... While 2012 was the strongest year ever for U.S. beef exports to Russia and a solid year for pork exports, meat trade with the country slowed dramatically at the end of the year as Russia began to more actively enforce its zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine feed additive residues. Meat exports to the country formally came to a halt on Feb. 11, 2013. Since that time, Thad Lively, senior vice president for trade access at the U.S. Meat Export Federation, says the industry, along with USDA, has been "developing a program that will meet the Russian requirements." Lively continues, "We are comfortable that the program that USDA has developed -- with a great deal of input from the beef and pork industries -- will satisfy Russia’s requirement and is workable within existing production practices in the United States. So the next step here obviously is for USDA to present the elements of this program to the Russian vets and then take the process forward." The two sides are reportedly discussing a potential visit to U.S. slaughter facilities by Russian inspectors starting May 13.
WILL STABENOW LAY EGG IN FARM BILL MARKUP?... Veteran farm bill observers say Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is flirting with adding more hurdles in getting a farm bill completed if she puts the so-called Egg Bill in the coming farm bill draft. She co-sponsored this legislation for national standards of housing hens and supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP). Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 on April 25 for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens and the labeling of eggs. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced companion HR 1731 in the House.
The bills would require a phase-in of larger cages over 15 to 18 years at a cost UEP has estimated at $4 billion. State laws would be nullified and new state laws or ballot measures regulating egg production would be prohibited.
The bill has strong opposition from agricultural groups that fear such legislation would set a precedent leading to national production and welfare standards for other livestock. Those groups include the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and other meat and dairy groups. Some opponents have dubbed the measure "Hilton for hens," which sums up the emotionality behind this topic.