Allan's Blog
Sheep and Goat Count Ends E-mail
Wednesday, 09 November 2011

The USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service will no longer count the number of sheep and goats in the USA after this year. These two surveys are among a dozen or so reports dropped by the USDA to save money in the current budget crunch. Cattle, pigs and poultry will continue to be inventoried.

Organic Grain Acres Decrease E-mail
Monday, 07 November 2011

According to The Cultivator newsletter of the Cornucopia Institute, organic grain acreage is falling due to higher conventional grain prices, lower organic prices and extreme weather. Merle Kramer of the Midwest Organic Cooperative was quoted as saying, "20 percent of the organic (grain) production has gone back to chemical farming." Kramer said the 2008 recession caused organic grain prices to drop like a rock. Organic corn which had been selling for $12 to $14 a bushel fell to $6 a bushel, or roughly the same as the conventional price. Organic grain growers have few nearby delivery points for their grain and often have to wait ten to 30 days to be paid. While organic grain prices have started coming back, organic acres that have switched to conventional farming are unlikely to. Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute said this is likely to put those organic dairy producers who still feed grain in a real bind. "There are only two possible ways to fill the void," Kastel said. "Imports and fraud." Kastel said he has met with officials of the USDA "imploring them to apply the necessary assets to ensure the integrity of the organic grain market."

Selling Cows May Be Best Winter Strategy E-mail
Thursday, 22 September 2011

The drought in Oklahoma and Texas has dramatically increased cow wintering costs in that region according the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma. This has many ranchers considering total cow liquidation. Grass hay in southern Oklahoma is being delivered at a cost of between $120 and $150 a ton, byproduct feeds are $260 per ton and 38 percent cubes are about $380 per ton. If a cow consumes three percent of its bodyweight (including waste) for 242 days, the hay cost at $150 a ton will be $653.40 per cow. However, most grass hay will need to be supplemented if the cow calves while before spring. This will cost an additional $85.50 per cow. Add in $100 for minerals, fuel, machinery use and other costs and you have a total wintering cost per cow of $838.90. Cows are selling for about $700 per head this fall in the drought region. If you think a replacement can be purchased in the spring for less that $1538.90, selling your cows and buying back in the spring would be a strategy to consider.

Lime Increases Winter Pasture Growth E-mail
Thursday, 22 September 2011

Research by the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma, found that liming to increase the soil pH from 4.9 to 6.1 increased total winter pasture yield from cereal rye and wheat by 2,300 pounds. The increase in fall forage growth was particularly dramatic with an increase of 1300 pounds. Spring growth was increased by 1000 pounds. This resulted in an increase in gain per acre of 207 pounds of beef. At an average 2011 value of gain, this was an increase of $186 and $228 per acre from an investment of $40 top $50 an acre. Such dramatic yield increases from lime are likely to be seen only on soils with a pH below 5.5.

Farmers Are Moving To Town E-mail
Thursday, 28 July 2011

Rural America now makes up the lowest percentage of the population in history according to the 2010 census. Currently, just 16 percent of the USA’s population lives in rural areas. This down from 20 percent in 2000. The Great Plains, northern Texas, Appalachia and the delta regions of Arkansas and Mississippi are said to face continuing population declines as young people move away and those who remain move past childbearing years. Even farmers are moving to more urban areas. The USDA estimates that 39 percent of American farming now takes place in counties with more than 50,000 people.

Northern Rain Sends Organic Corn Soaring E-mail
Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Thanks to cool weather, flooding and generally wet conditions in the northern United States organic corn has reached $13 to $15 a bushel in the Northeast and East Coast and $12 to $12.25 in the Upper Midwest in late June. This has put organic livestock producers who feed grain in a real bind. Organic milk production has dropped as dairymen cut back on grain feeding and some organic pork producers switched to grassfed sheep to escape the high grain prices. Existing supplies of organic corn this summer were said to be limited and dwindling. No better time to be a grass farmer.

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