Good morning. This is Bob Bragg with the April 2nd Edition of Farm News and Views.
In its March Quarterly Grain Stocks Report released last Friday, the USDA reported that the U.S. soybean stocks, as of March 1st, were 2.72 billion bushels, that’s about 600 million bushels more than a year ago. Corn stocks were 200 million bushels lower, while wheat was 100 million bushels higher than a year ago.
After the report’s release, prices on Friday’s grain markets closed lower, but there’s a lot of speculation about how much grain in storage has been lost to the Midwest floods and about the extent of the damage done to farm fields and infrastructure. However, the size of the grain stocks in the report indicate that prices for soybeans, corn and wheat are still going to have a lot of headwind to rise much above the average cost of production for these three commodities, barring some sort of a wide spread catastrophe.
On a similar note, a USDA survey of growers and an initial tally of flooded land released on Monday indicates that Spring flooding in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt will have a marginal impact on corn and soybean plantings. The report concludes that with normal weather and yields, there’ll be limited impact on production of these two crops, because of to the huge amount of cropland nationwide.
The USDA recently reported that licensed dairies in the U.S. have decreased by about 7% from 2017 to 2018. That amounts to the loss of over 2,700 farms last year, leaving about 37,500 dairy farms currently operating. Dairy farm numbers have declined by 42% from 2005 to 2018, due in part by increased productivity per dairy cow and a decline in U.S. milk consumption. Dairy sector analysts forecast a continuation of dairy farm closures unless milk prices improve to profitable levels soon, which may have implications for Four Corners hay producers who ship high quality alfalfa hay to dairies in the southwest.
Over 100 organizations representing water and agricultural interests in the Western U.S. have sent a letter to Congress urging it to use any infrastructure package that is passed to help address severe hydrological conditions in the West. Drafters of the letter call for infrastructure plans that should include funds dedicated to individual states that can prioritize projects on a more local level, for example as does the existing Colorado Water Plan. The letter urges that focus should not be on a single project but on multi use projects that benefit not only agriculture but also carry an environmental benefit. The letter states, “Our existing water infrastructure in the West is aging and in need of rehabilitation and improvement.” It underscores that water conservation, water recycling, watershed management, conveyance, desalination, water transfers, groundwater and surface storage are all needed in a diversified management portfolio.
My thought for the day comes from French author Alain–Fournier, who said, “Life on a farm is a school of patience; you can’t hurry the crops or make an ox in two days.”
Until next week. I’m Bob Bragg.