How Many Cattle Should Go in the Pasture?

Cattle are in the pasture, but how many should be there?

The answer to that question is the heart of a beef operation. Proper utilization of grass is critical.

Overutilization will impact the plant community negatively; underutilization impacts the plant community by not allowing for the proper stimulation of plant growth. The answer relates to what is the proper stocking rate for a given pasture.

Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist, says, “Setting the stocking rate is one of the most important decisions that ranchers or land managers make. The stocking rate is the number of specific kinds and classes of animals grazing or using a unit of land for a specific time period.

“Regardless of which grazing management system is employed, vegetation type grazed or kind and class of livestock involved, stocking rate has the largest impact on the health of the grassland resource and animal performance of all management tools available,” she adds.

The stocking rate discussion becomes a discussion of carrying capacity.

“When setting the stocking rate, knowing the carrying capacity of the pasture is critical,” Meehan notes. “Carrying capacity is a measure of how much forage a grazing unit has and is able to produce in an average year. The carrying capacity is the maximum stocking rate possible that is consistent with maintaining or improving forage production and vegetation composition, and other related resources.”

Determining carrying capacity is not simple. However, the time producers take to better understand how carrying capacity is determined is very beneficial. A visit with a range specialist to get a broader understanding of major land resource areas and ecological sites is helpful, but in the end, the correct answer to just how many cattle are turned out and how long they will be grazing a set pasture is critical.

The better the understanding and acceptance of the information that calculates the stocking rate, the less likely a producer is going to arbitrarily adjust the number of cow-calf pairs turned into a pasture and/or the period of time they will be in a pasture.

The temptation to simply look at the waving grass, open the gate and come back later to adjust the number of cattle is not good. Do not give in to quick thoughts, but rather come to appreciate the amount of current and historical information involved in the evaluation of ecological sites and summer forage availability, and correctly calculate the number of cattle.

The number of cattle is converted to animal unit months for proper calculation of full-season grazing plans.

“Carrying capacity is also defined as the amount of forage available for grazing animals, expressed as the number of available animal unit months, or number of animal units grazed for one month,” Meehan explains.

So how does one actually bring the vast amount of knowledge known regarding grazing systems and stocking rate to a practical level? Meehan answers the question.

“The most accurate way to calculate carrying capacity is to calculate forage production using the clip-and-weigh method,” she says. “This method requires the harvesting of standing forage at a given time to predict available forage. The available forage is measured by hand clipping and weighing plots within a grazing unit.”

The process is a valuable tool as cow-calf producers prepare for the summer’s grazing season.

“To ensure the health of your grazing resources, it is important that the stocking rate does not exceed the carrying capacity,” Meehan stresses. “Although these calculations are complicated, through the help of modern computer skills, these averages are easier to get, and certainly through the assistance of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or NDSU Extension, through their local offices, the needed information can be gathered up and reviewed.”

She adds: “A variety of factors can influence the amount of forage available for livestock consumptions, including precipitation and management. Many producers are seeing a decline in forage production as a result of the 2017 drought. It is important that they are adjusting their stocking rates to prevent overgrazing, resulting in further loss in forage production.”

NDSU Extension has developed a set of grazing management tools:

The ultimate goal: a healthy plant community for grazing.

Source: Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University

Soybeans Under Pressure

Soybean prices continued to move lower last week as trade issues and a strong start to the growing season continue to pressure prices. At this time, very little positive news is entering the market to support soybean prices on either the supply or demand side.

According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs, the potential size of the soybean crop and trade uncertainty continue to be the main forces behind soybean price weakness.

Slight changes may be forthcoming for 2017-18 marketing-year demand estimates in the June WASDE report. Soybean crush continued at a robust pace through the second half of the marketing year. April crush estimates by the USDA came in at 172 million bushels.

Current USDA estimates of crush during this marketing year total 1.365 billion bushels, 6 percent above last year’s total over the same period. The current pace implies that the crush during the remaining four months of the year must total 625 million bushels, 2 percent higher than the crush of a year ago over the last four months, to reach the USDA projection of 1.99 billion bushels.

Argentinian production is set to come in lower than the current USDA forecast of 1.43 billion bushels and provide some support to domestic crush. “Soybean crush shows no signs of weakening this summer in the U.S. and a slight upward adjustment may occur to the domestic crush total in the WASDE report,” Hubbs says.

Soybean exports currently meet the pace needed to meet the projection of 2.065 billion bushels for the 2017-18 marketing year. As of June 7, soybean export inspections total 1.744 billion bushels. Cumulative Census Bureau export estimates from September 2017 through April 2018 exceeded weekly export inspections by 42 million bushels.

If the same margin exhibited at the end of March continued through this period, exports through June 7 equaled 1.786 billion bushels. With 12 weeks remaining in the marketing year, 23.3 million bushels per week are necessary to meet the USDA projection. Over the last six weeks, soybean export inspections averaged 24 million bushels per week but varied with a low of 19.6 million bushels on for the week ending May 3 and a high of 33.3 million bushels for the week ending May 17.

As of May 31, 332 million bushels of soybean had been sold for export but not shipped. This number exceeds the 279 million bushels necessary to reach 2.065 billion bushels based off of current sales figures and estimated export levels through May 31.

“USDA estimates of soybean exports appear unlikely to be adjusted for this marketing year, but the potential exists for the USDA to lower 2018-19 marketing-year export forecast,” Hubbs explains. “Trade issues and a slight increase to Brazilian crop production place the current 2.29 billion-bushel projection in question.”

While the current marketing year holds some information about price development, Hubbs adds that the soybean production associated with the next marketing year may provide a more significant impact over the next month. The potential for a large soybean crop is placing pressure on prices currently. Initial concerns about the 2018 soybean crop related to planting seem a distant memory as the early season crop condition report put soybean crops in good or excellent condition at 75 percent, the highest level since 2010.

“Recent weather developments in the Corn Belt provide no indication of deterioration in crop conditions over the next few weeks. Historically, there is very little correlation between final soybean yield and early season crop condition reports. Summer weather will determine yield, but the current weather looks promising for a large crop,” Hubbs says.

While some dry areas developed over the last few weeks, approximately 10 percent of U.S. soybean acres sit in a moderate drought as of June 5. The 8 to 14 day weather forecast provided by NOAA Climate Prediction Center shows above normal precipitation and warming temperatures over much of the Corn Belt.

While yield looks promising, soybean acreage is still in question. Soybean planted acreage, as of June 3, came in at 83 percent, well ahead of the five-year average of 75 percent. A slow start to the planting season held out the possibility of acreage changes, particularly in the Northern Plains. Currently, there is no indication of major acreage changes due to planting issues in the Corn Belt.

Since 1997, the average change from the March Prospective Planting report to the June Acreage survey is an increase of 237,000 acres. The most substantial increase occurred in 2014 with a 3.35 million acreage change. A decrease of 3.06 million acres in 2007 was the greatest acreage reduction from March to June. The USDA’s Acreage report to be released on June 29 will reveal any acreage changes from intentions published in the March survey.

“Weather and trade issues will dominate price movements in the soybean market over the next few weeks. Strong crop conditions, a lack of information regarding trade negotiations, and uncertain acreage totals will continue to apply pressure on soybean prices in the near term,” Hubbs concludes. “A change in the weather or trade negotiations, which are both very hard to predict, appear necessary for a rally in soybean prices.”

Discussion and graphs associated with this article are available here: https://youtu.be/FFq0g9FOvuY.

Source: University of Illinois

Farm Bill Passes Senate Ag Committee

Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor reported on Wednesday that, “A Senate panel approved a modest, bipartisan rewrite of federal farm and nutrition programs on Wednesday, sidestepping a fight for now but setting up a clash with House Republicans intent on beefing up work requirements for food stamps.

“The legislation, approved by a bipartisan 20-1 vote, would renew farm safety-net programs such as subsidies for crop insurance, farm credit, and land conservation. It also would extend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, widely known as food stamps, which helps feed more than 40 million people.

The AP article noted, “The House measure, which failed last month because of an intra-GOP battle over immigration, promises greater job training opportunities for recipients of food stamps, a top priority for House leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan. Democrats say the House measure is poorly designed and would drive 2 million people off of the program. A re-vote is likely in coming weeks.”

Mr. Taylor also pointed out that, “The [Senate] measure includes legislation by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that would legalize the production of industrial hemp, which is generally barred because hemp is related to marijuana, even though it contains little of that drug’s key psychoactive ingredient, known as THC…McConnell hopes to bring the measure to the Senate floor before the July 4 recess.”

In addition, the AP article stated, “Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was the sole ‘nay’ vote. He objected to the measure’s hemp provision, saying it should have been handled within the Judiciary Committee that he chairs. He also wants to tighten eligibility standards for farm subsidies to target them to working farmers — closing a loophole that allows family members who do not work on farm to claim them as well.”

DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom and DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton explained on Wednesday that, “The Senate bill lowers income levels for farmers to collect commodity or conservation payments from $900,000 adjusted gross income to $700,000 AGI. Grassley, though, wants to tighten language on active engagement on the farm and re-establish a tight payment cap. His amendments on those issues, though, were stalled Wednesday because of technical challenges with his language. So Grassley now will attempt to bring his payment fight to the Senate floor.”

More specifically, Hagstrom and Clayton indicated that, “An effort led by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to improve the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program did not come up for an amendment vote. Thune noted the program is at risk of losing value to farmers even though more than 77% of all base acres are enrolled in ARC. Still, the committee did not find a way to enhance the program moving forward.

“‘We will not have going forward in Title I a program that provides revenue protection, that provides protection not only against price loss, but production loss, and I think that’s unfortunate,’ Thune said.

“Thune said senators haven’t been able to get budget scores or find offsetting revenue to make changes in ARC work. Thune wants to update base acres as a way to get acres off the base rolls that have not been farmed in several years but that still collect commodity payments.”

The DTN article added that, “[Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kans.)] noted he expects a large share of farmers will shift to the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, but Roberts also said bankers and others have cautioned against changing base acres.

Jeff Daniels reported on Wednesday at CNBC Online that, “The Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday passed the massive farm bill by a 20-1 vote and overcame an attempt to tighten subsidy payments to farmers.

“The draft farm bill, officially known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, contains more than 1,000 pages and covers everything from farm subsidies and food stamps to trade and rural development policy. Farmer assistance includes commodity payment programs, as well as subsidized crop insurance.

“Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, cast the sole ‘no’ vote, because his amendment to limit subsidy payments wasn’t added to the proposed bill. Grassley wants to tighten the federal payments to focus on family-size farm operations.”

The CNBC item stated that, “Earlier in the panel’s meeting, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged that the full Senate will vote on the entire 2018 farm bill before the July 4 recess. McConnell also said he’s ‘hopeful the House will get to theirs, but it will probably look a little different than ours.’

Mr. Daniels also noted that, “The Senate Agriculture Committee considered more than 60 amendments to the farm bill. Several senators speaking Wednesday said the farm bill was needed due to farmers struggling, particularly dairy producers.

“Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., spoke about how dairy farmers in her state are tragically resorting to suicide due to financial distress. ‘Giving them relief now is crucial,’ she said.”

Also with respect to House action, Politico’s Liz Crampton tweeted on Wednesday: “Over in the House, @RepMarkMeadows promises his support for the farm bill now that the Freedom Caucus got what they wanted on immigration. That’s a huge help to @ConawayTX11 as he rallies support ahead of the June 22 reconsideration deadline.”

Source: Keith Good, FarmDoc Daily, University of Illinois

Stay Hydrated During Warm Summer Months

Like many people, I have been busy with yardwork lately.

We have had a proliferation of miniature maple trees popping up all over our yard, thanks to hundreds (maybe thousands) of propellerlike seeds dropping from our tree.

I wander around the yard every day, inspecting my pots and gardens for the telltale reddish stems and pointed leaves. Other than preventing a maple tree forest from sprouting in my yard, I really don’t need to check my plants several times per day.

However, I love to watch plants grow and flourish with sunny days and regular rain. Sometimes, I almost catch my tomatoes growing before my eyes. OK, maybe my imagination is a bit overactive.

We need to stay nourished and hydrated just like plants, especially when we work or play outside in the heat. Along with staying hydrated, be sure to wear a hat that protects your ears and neck, and SPF 30 sunscreen when you’re in the sun.

Dehydration can be serious. We need to maintain our hydration level to help regulate processes such as body temperature and waste removal, and carry nutrients and oxygen. We mainly lose water through perspiration, exhaling and urination.

Symptoms of dehydration include nausea, sunken eyes, muscle cramps, clammy skin and rapid heartbeat. If you suspect you and/or someone under your care are dehydrated, contact a health-care provider immediately.

Children, older adults and outdoor workers are especially vulnerable to dehydration. Illness, medications and age can affect water needs. When playing or working outside in warm weather, taking fluid breaks regularly is a good idea.

How do you quench your thirst? Do you reach for a soda, lemonade, iced coffee or something else? We have a lot of choices available in the beverage category.

Soft drink consumption has increased five times since the late 1960s. Kids are having sweetened soft drinks at younger ages, and the portion sizes of fountain drinks have increased drastically.

Watch out for these “liquid calories” that provide few, if any, nutrients. Fruit-flavored beverages (punch, lemonade, fruit-flavored drinks), sweet tea, sports drinks and “regular” (not diet) soda contain added sweeteners and calories without nutrients.

Scientists have named sweetened beverages one of the issues linked with higher obesity rates, which can increase our risk for chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Sweetened beverages can promote dental decay. In fact, while diet soft drinks do not have calories, the acid they contain is tough on teeth.

One 12-ounce can of cola has about 10 teaspoons of sugar (as high-fructose corn syrup) and 150 calories. Cutting out one can of sweetened soda daily (and not consuming the calories in another way) could result in a 15-pound weight loss in a year.

Along with choosing healthful beverage options, how much fluids do you need per day? The answer is, “It depends.”

According to research, healthy people usually can use thirst to gauge their needs. The fluid intake of athletes, older adults, young children and people with medical conditions may need to be monitored more closely. On average, we need 8 or more total cups of fluids per day from foods and beverages.

For nutrition and hydration, enjoy more fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily. On average, fruits and vegetables are at least 85 percent water by weight.

Consider these tips as you enjoy the summer season.

  • Quench your thirst with water. Most kids do not need sports drinks to quench their thirst.
  • Make water, low-fat or fat-free milk or 100 percent juice options in your home. However, encourage family members to eat whole fruit more often than they drink fruit juice for the fiber advantage.
  • Take water on the go in a reusable water bottle. If you are purchasing a water bottle, look for one without a lot of crevices that are hard to clean. Reusable water bottles are easy on the environment, convenient and cost-effective. Wash water bottles thoroughly between uses. If your water bottle is dishwasher-safe, run it through the cleaning and sanitizing cycle.
  • Save money at restaurants by ordering water when dining out and drinking water from the tap at home.
  • Enjoy an occasional sweetened beverage but have a smaller portion. Split a can of soda pop or try the smaller cans.
  • Read and compare Nutrition Facts labels to learn more about sugar, calories and nutrients in your favorite beverages.

If plain water is kind of boring, try infusing water with fruit and/or herbs. This week, I’m featuring flavor-infused water ideas as the “recipe of the week.” Maybe you are growing some fresh herbs, such as mint or rosemary; they can be used to flavor water as well as foods. Be creative and invent some new flavor sensations.


How to Make Flavor-infused Water

Start with clean hands, containers, cutting boards and knives. Rinse fruit and herbs thoroughly. Try one of these flavor add-ins. If you would like a stronger flavor, add more of the ingredient. Refrigerate overnight. Don’t mix batches; use up the batch, clean the container and make a new batch.

  • Blackberry mint: 20 blackberries plus 20 mint leaves plus 2 quarts water
  • Citrus water: 1/2 cup sliced oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruit plus 2 quarts water
  • Strawberry kiwi water: 3 sliced strawberries plus 1 peeled, sliced kiwi plus 2 quarts water
  • Watermelon rosemary water: 2 cups seedless water melon (cut in chunks or balls) plus 1 sprig rosemary plus 2 quarts water
  • Raspberry lime water: 20 crushed raspberries plus 2 sliced limes (without rind) plus 2 quarts water

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University

Summer Care for Roses

Gardeners successfully grow a wide variety of roses in sunny Iowa garden areas. This week Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists respond to common questions related to growing and caring for roses. To have additional questions answered contact the ISU Hortline at 515-294-3108 orhortline@iastate.edu.

What is the proper way to deadhead roses?
Deadheading or the removal of faded flowers is done to encourage additional flowers on hybrid tea and other repeat-blooming roses. Hybrid tea roses usually have one or two 3-leaflet leaves immediately below the flower. Next (lower down on the stem) are two or more 5-leaflet leaves. The deadheading procedure is different for newly planted and established roses. During their first growing season, it’s usually recommended that the spent flower be removed above the uppermost 3-leaflet leaf. Removal of a larger percentage of the rose’s foliage reduces the plant’s ability to manufacture food and slows growth.

When deadheading established roses, the stem may be cut back to a 5-leaflet leaf. Retain at least two 5-leaflet leaves on each shoot. Use sharp tools (hand shears or knife) to remove faded flowers. Cut about ¼ inch above an outward facing bud and leaf with the cut made parallel to the leaf stalk.

How often should I water my roses?
Modern roses, such as hybrid teas, floribundas and grandifloras, require watering during hot, dry weather. The frequency depends upon weather conditions and soil type. In most gardens, a thorough watering every seven to 10 days during dry weather is sufficient. If possible, apply the water directly to the soil around each plant. Overhead watering wets the foliage and increases disease problems. If overhead watering is unavoidable, morning is the best time to water roses. Morning applications allow the foliage to dry quickly.

An excellent way to conserve soil moisture is by mulching. Possible mulches include wood chips, shredded bark, pine needles and cocoa bean shells. Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch around each rose or over the entire bed. Mulches also help to control weeds.

How do I prevent Japanese beetles from devouring my roses?
Japanese beetles eat the foliage, fruits and flowers of more than 300 plants. When feeding on foliage, the beetles consume the tissue between the veins, leaving a lace-like skeleton. Flowers and fruits are sometimes completely devoured. Roses, raspberries, grapevines, birches and lindens are some of their favorite food hosts.

Control of Japanese beetles is difficult because they continue to emerge from the ground over a period of several weeks. Handpicking is an option when small numbers of Japanese beetles are present. Remove beetles early in the morning when the temperatures are cool and the beetles are sluggish. Collect or shake beetles into a bucket of soapy water and discard.

Spot spraying plants, with insecticides, such as carbaryl (Sevin) and permethrin (Eight), should reduce the beetle population for a few days. Multiple applications will be required to maintain control as these insecticides have short residual periods. Apply insecticides in the evening and avoid spraying flowers to prevent harming bees and other pollinators.

Source: Iowa State University

Future of Beef Revisited – Consumer Issues and Demand

After four decades of engaging consumers and integrating producers, I still ponder.

The sensitivity between consumers and beef producers is increasing, but the sensitivity may not always be on the same tracks. Consumers register their opinion at the checkout counter through product selection and validate their expressed opinions by how they shop and how much they pay.

With the expansion of the internet, the opportunity for consumer validation, along with the expression of any disappointment with a meal, or a particular product or service, never has been greater. The internet expands the ability to monitor consumers, allowing businesses to stock what and when a product is most likely to sell.

Is the situation the same for cattle producers and the cattle they sell? No. So perhaps the balance between consumers and producers has yet to be determined.

How this reality connects to the producer who is selling the cows and calves is probably a loose fit, yet consumer thoughts need to be integrated with production expansion or contraction. After all, that is what drives the business.

In 2006, I reviewed an article by Helen Jensen (“Consumer Issues and Demand” published by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in the online Choices publication, http://www.choicesmagazine.org, Volume 21, No. 3, 2006). She noted several very real impacts for small and middle-sized operations that loom in the future in regard to the consumer and demand.

Have these impacts changed in the last 12 years? Did these impacts actually become drivers for who survived the production process?

The drivers identified in 2006 probably still are present. The first driver is increased income levels, with dual-income families and related lifestyles. Income is not guaranteed, and families continue to budget the dollars they have.

As income declines, spending will shrink, but more importantly, the related lifestyle will not, at least willingly. I guess people really don’t want to give up something they once had.

The second driver is a healthy lifestyle. No doubt that obesity and the associated health costs continue to surface as a major concern. As a result, the caloric content of purchased food now is displayed widely. Do caloric numbers change food purchases? Maybe, or maybe not.

The basic farm and ranch products, when served without processed side dishes, have very acceptable caloric content. Will consumers respond?

A quick lunch today of basic farm and ranch products with 300 to 500 calories could be purchased easily. A side of dip and chips could add almost another 1,000 calories, and that was before the potential visit to the automatic soft drink dispenser.

What drives this? If one drops the side dish and drinks water, calories were not an issue.

Consumers and agricultural producers certainly should be on the same page for the second issue. Yes, some progress has been made with increased visibility of caloric numbers, but consumers still need to change some well-engrained eating habits.

The third issue identified by Jensen was a slowdown in population growth. The North American population is aging and more ethnically diverse because of increased immigration. Immigration always is a news topic, but the impact on beef production is probably left to the demand and supply curves.

The final issue is a noticeable change in how markets distribute and sell food. Within the last decade, the walk through an aggressive grocery hub certainly has taken on a new look. Farm and ranch products need floor space, counter space and freezer space. Every cow-calf producer needs to ask, “How does my annual production make its way to the food counter?”

Ask the store as well. Let the business know the floor space is appreciated.

Currently, the production discussion is more likely to occur in the harvesting segment of the industry. Unfortunately, beef producers continue to take a back seat in product recognition.

How is this going to play out in terms of beef production? Jensen narrowed the points to three. The first is, “Food safety will continue to be a paramount consumer expectation.” That’s absolutely true and will remain true. Globalization will drive world health. The beef producer will not be an exception. Sorry, but true.

The second point is: “As North American incomes continue to increase, consumers will choose products on the basis of varied attributes, including taste, variety and convenience.” However, consumers still remain cost conscious, creating an opportunity for the cost-savvy producer within any food center.

Jensen’s final point is: “Continued concentration of large-scale processing, food distribution and retailing may reduce consumer choice in markets.” This challenges individual producer initiatives because the scale of production must compete with the large-scale process of food production.

Source: North Dakota State University

Senate Ag Committee Releases Farm Bill Draft

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported on Friday that, “The farm bill that will be taken up by the Senate Agriculture Committee next week will look a lot like the current farm bill with some tweaks to commodity and conservation programs, but no radical changes from current law.

“But unlike the current battles that plague the farm bill in the House of Representatives, senior Senate committee aides who briefed reporters in a phone call Friday reiterated over, over, over and over again that the Senate farm bill is bipartisan, bipartisan, bipartisan and bipartisan.

The bill tightens income caps for farmers at the highest income levels, but the Senate farm bill does not make any major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that prompted every House Democrat to vote against the House version of the bill last month.

The DTN article noted, “The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark up and vote its bill out of committee on Wednesday, June 13. The 1,006-page bill was posted on the Senate website Friday.”

With respect to the commodity title, Mr. Clayton explained, “The Senate bill keeps the Agricultural Risk Coverage for both the county and individual programs, compared to the House bill, which drops the individual plan that has limited enrollment. To improve ARC, the Senate increases the transitional yield and adjusts the trend yield in the formula calculation. Like the House legislation, the Senate bill also changes yield data used for ARC from reports by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to crop insurance data. ARC payments would be calculated on the physical location of the tract of land as well. The Senate bill would also boost the speed at which ARC data is reported to better inform farmers about potential payments.

“The Senate bill makes no changes to reference prices under the Price Loss Coverage Program.”

In addition, the DTN article pointed out that, “But the Senate bill does tighten up the level of adjusted gross income (AGI) a person can have and still receive farm payments. The AGI would lower from the current $900,000 to $700,000. The tighter AGI cap would apply to both commodity and conservation programs.”

While discussing the conservation portion of the Senate draft, Mr. Clayton stated that, “In conservation, Senate staffers said there is no new money, but there are also no cuts. The Senate bill maintains the Conservation Stewardship Program enrollment that is eliminated in the House bill. For set-aside acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program, the Senate bumps up the acreage from 24 million acres to 25 million, compared to plans to go to 29 million acres in the House bill. The Senate plan would cut CRP rental rates to 88.5% of the average NASS rental rate in the county. That compares to the House bill that would lower the average CRP rate to 80% of the county rental-rate average.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg writer Alan Bjerga reported late last week that, “A Senate committee released a farm bill Friday that doesn’t impose new work requirements on food stamp recipients as sought by President Donald Trump and many House Republicans, setting up a potential fight between the two chambers.

“The legislation adds complications to negotiations underway in the House, where a version of the bill failed last month because of an unrelated fight over immigration. Lawmakers in that chamber are seeking to revive the bill with the work requirements included.

Democrats almost universally reject new food stamp work requirements. Unlike in the House, where Republicans can pass legislation without the help of Democrats, a more bipartisan approach is needed in the Senate because the GOP has a narrow majority and often needs Democrats’ votes to pass legislation.

The Associated Press noted Friday that, “The House is planning to take up its version of the bill again sometime this month.”

And Reuters news reported last week that, “The Republican leader of the U.S. Senate said on Tuesday the chamber would likely take up a massive farm bill around the July 4 holiday.”

The article indicated that, “‘In the short term, we’re going to turn to a defense authorization bill and the farm bill before, the one week around July 4th,’ Senator Mitch McConnell told reporters as he discussed the Senate’s agenda.”

Source: University of Illinois

Senate Ag Committee Releases Farm Bill Draft

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported on Friday that, “The farm bill that will be taken up by the Senate Agriculture Committee next week will look a lot like the current farm bill with some tweaks to commodity and conservation programs, but no radical changes from current law.

“But unlike the current battles that plague the farm bill in the House of Representatives, senior Senate committee aides who briefed reporters in a phone call Friday reiterated over, over, over and over again that the Senate farm bill is bipartisan, bipartisan, bipartisan and bipartisan.

The bill tightens income caps for farmers at the highest income levels, but the Senate farm bill does not make any major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that prompted every House Democrat to vote against the House version of the bill last month.

The DTN article noted, “The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark up and vote its bill out of committee on Wednesday, June 13. The 1,006-page bill was posted on the Senate website Friday.”

With respect to the commodity title, Mr. Clayton explained, “The Senate bill keeps the Agricultural Risk Coverage for both the county and individual programs, compared to the House bill, which drops the individual plan that has limited enrollment. To improve ARC, the Senate increases the transitional yield and adjusts the trend yield in the formula calculation. Like the House legislation, the Senate bill also changes yield data used for ARC from reports by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to crop insurance data. ARC payments would be calculated on the physical location of the tract of land as well. The Senate bill would also boost the speed at which ARC data is reported to better inform farmers about potential payments.

“The Senate bill makes no changes to reference prices under the Price Loss Coverage Program.”

In addition, the DTN article pointed out that, “But the Senate bill does tighten up the level of adjusted gross income (AGI) a person can have and still receive farm payments. The AGI would lower from the current $900,000 to $700,000. The tighter AGI cap would apply to both commodity and conservation programs.”

While discussing the conservation portion of the Senate draft, Mr. Clayton stated that, “In conservation, Senate staffers said there is no new money, but there are also no cuts. The Senate bill maintains the Conservation Stewardship Program enrollment that is eliminated in the House bill. For set-aside acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program, the Senate bumps up the acreage from 24 million acres to 25 million, compared to plans to go to 29 million acres in the House bill. The Senate plan would cut CRP rental rates to 88.5% of the average NASS rental rate in the county. That compares to the House bill that would lower the average CRP rate to 80% of the county rental-rate average.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg writer Alan Bjerga reported late last week that, “A Senate committee released a farm bill Friday that doesn’t impose new work requirements on food stamp recipients as sought by President Donald Trump and many House Republicans, setting up a potential fight between the two chambers.

“The legislation adds complications to negotiations underway in the House, where a version of the bill failed last month because of an unrelated fight over immigration. Lawmakers in that chamber are seeking to revive the bill with the work requirements included.

Democrats almost universally reject new food stamp work requirements. Unlike in the House, where Republicans can pass legislation without the help of Democrats, a more bipartisan approach is needed in the Senate because the GOP has a narrow majority and often needs Democrats’ votes to pass legislation.

The Associated Press noted Friday that, “The House is planning to take up its version of the bill again sometime this month.”

And Reuters news reported last week that, “The Republican leader of the U.S. Senate said on Tuesday the chamber would likely take up a massive farm bill around the July 4 holiday.”

The article indicated that, “‘In the short term, we’re going to turn to a defense authorization bill and the farm bill before, the one week around July 4th,’ Senator Mitch McConnell told reporters as he discussed the Senate’s agenda.”

Source: University of Illinois

Historic Fertilizer, Seed, and Chemical Costs with 2019 Projections

Fertilizer, seed, and chemical costs represent a sizable portion of the total costs of producing corn. In this article, costs for these three inputs are reported for the years from 2000 to 2017. Since 2013, fertilizer costs decreased while seed costs remained stable. In recent years, pesticide costs increased. Looking forward into 2019, it seems reasonable to expect pesticide costs to be at higher levels while seed costs may remain stable. At this point, fertilizer costs are difficult to predict.

Total Fertilizer, Seed, and Pesticide Costs

The sum of fertilizer, seed, and pesticide costs are shown in Figure 1 for:

  1. Corn produced on high-productivity farmland in central Illinois (FBFM, Central Illinois). Central Illinois costs are obtained from Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) as reported in a publication entitled Revenue and Costs for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Double-Crop Soybeans.
  2. Corn produced in the Heartland region as reported by the Economic Research Service (ERS, Heartland), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Heartland region includes southern Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and Nebraska, Iowa, much of Missouri, Illinois, the western tip of Kentucky, Indiana, and western Ohio (see ERS, Farm Resource Regions). Data are reported on ERS’s website.

Click here to continue reading this article on Farmdoc Daily from the University of Illinois. 

Maintaining a Strawberry Bed

Fresh strawberries are a favorite of almost everyone. Strawberries are relatively easy to grow and are hardy throughout Iowa. There are basically three types of strawberries – June-bearers, everbearing strawberry and day-neutral cultivars. Horticulturists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach answer questions about keeping strawberry plantings productive. To have additional questions answered, contact Hortline at hortline@iastate.edu or call 515-294-3108.

How do I keep my strawberry planting productive?

strawberry plant with ripe fruit. A June-bearing strawberry planting can be productive for four or five years if the bed is given good care. One important task is to renovate June-bearing strawberries immediately after the last harvest.

The first step in the renovation of June-bearing strawberries is to mow off the leaves 1 inch above the crowns of the plants with a rotary lawnmower. This should be done within one week of the last harvest. (Do not mow the strawberry bed after this one week period as later mowing destroys new leaf growth.) To aid in disease control, rake up the leaf debris and remove it from the area.

June-bearing strawberries grown in 2-foot-wide matted rows should be narrowed to 8-inch-wide strips with a rototiller or hoe. When selecting the part of the row to keep, try to save the younger plants and remove the older plants. If the strawberry planting has been allowed to become a solid mat several feet wide, renovate the bed by creating 8-inch-wide plant strips. Space the plant strips about 3 feet apart. 

Fertilization is the next step in renovation. Apply approximately 5 pounds of 10-10-10 or a similar analysis fertilizer per 100 feet of row to encourage plant growth and development.

Water the strawberry plants once a week during dry weather. Strawberries require approximately 1 inch of water per week (from either rain or irrigation) for adequate growth. Irrigate the planting during dry summer weather to ensure optimum production next season. Irrigation during the summer months encourages runner formation and flower bud development. (The flower buds on June-bearing strawberries develop in late summer and early fall.)

Control weeds in the strawberry planting by cultivating and hand pulling. Cultivate 1 to 2 inches deep to avoid damaging the roots of the strawberry plants.

Should everbearing and day-neutral strawberries be renovated like June-bearing strawberries?
Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries should not be renovated like June-bearers. Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries are most productive when the plants are maintained as large, single plants. All runners that develop on everbearing and day-neutral strawberries should be removed. Matted rows of everbearing and day-neutral strawberries are not as productive as single plants.

A well-maintained planting of everbearing or day-neutral strawberries should remain productive for two or three years.

Source: Iowa State University

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