Radio Script 02-04-19

While we’ve heard a lot about international trade recently, we may not think about states in the Four Corners States Region as participants too, but exports from the Region amounted to several billion dollars worth of ag products in 2018. Colorado sent almost $1.9 billion to export markets, followed by Arizona with about $1.5 billion, New Mexico with over $750 million and Utah rounded out Four Corners exports with $430 million.

The USDA’s Interim Final Rule for Hemp didn’t make Colorado hemp producers happy, according to Colorado Agricultural Commissioner Kate Greenburg. The new federal hemp rules would make Colorado hemp farmers use tighter testing requirements for THC levels and they will also have less opportunity to mitigate plants that test above the federal government’s maximum allowable level of .3% THC in their crops.

A new study from Cornell University determined that industrial hemp crops exceeding permitted THC levels is tied to genetics, not geography, which dispels the belief that hemp grown in various areas of the U.S. will produce hemp crops with varied THC amounts. Instead, researchers found that the hemp seed is the most likely factor affecting THC levels, not how a farmer grew the plant, the soil in which a seed is planted , nor hot weather or drought. A research team headed up by Larry Smart, Cornell University Professor of Horticulture determined that that as many as two-thirds of the seeds of a hemp variety that was supposed to produce low THC plants actually produced plants containing THC above the legal 0.3 percent level.

An article in a recent issue of Choices, the magazine of food, farms and resource use, published by the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association pointed out that the $30 billion plus retaliatory tariffs that were imposed on U.S. agricultural exports in 2018 & 19 had a significant impact on U.S. agricultural exports. Recent USDA estimates project that agricultural exports to China for fiscal year 2020 will amount to $11 billion, half of the $21.8 billion in fiscal year 2017 exports. The study found that on average, U.S. agricultural exports subject to retaliation experienced a 71% decline in the Chinese market, and significant declines in exports were also experienced in Turkey, the EU and Mexico.

This is the time of year that farmers and ranchers talk to their lenders to arrange loans to finance their operations for the year. Considering that farm bankruptcies are reportedly 24% above last year, and that farm debt is projected to be a record-high $416 billion, with $257 billion in real estate debt and $159 billion in non-real estate debt, lenders may be especially vigilant when they review loan applications. To help ag producers prepare for meetings with lenders, Colorado State University Agricultural Economists Brent Young and Jenny Beiermann will present a 2020 Ag Outlook & Strategy Forum from 8 am until noon at the Lewis Arriola Community Center on April 11th. Topics include Market outlooks and breakeven analysis for commodities produced in the area, Using commodity insurance in marketing plans, and Using futures an Options to manage risk. Pre-registration is required. Contact Brent Young at 970-522-7207 or area CUS Extension Offices for information.

Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author of the novel Don Quixote wrote, “To be prepared is half the victory.”

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