Report 3-16-21

Last weekend’s storm dropped some much needed precipitation in the Four Corners Region. Snowtel Snow water totals showed an increase of from eight tens of an inch to just over an inch at many reporting points along the Dolores and Animas Rivers and at lower elevations in the Region. However, the storm that struck the eastern side of the Rocky mountains and eastern plains of Colorado dumping feet of snow in some places, which affected ranchers who wee in the middle of their calving season.

Beef cattle producers have contended for years that cattle markets have been manipulated by large meat packers, which has led to lower cattle prices for producers, but larger profits for the so called big four meat packers. Recently, Sens. Deb Fischer, of Neb., and Ron Wyden, of Oregon, introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021, and Missouri Representative Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., is expected to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. If passed, the legislation would establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. The bill also would require packers to report to USDA the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days and require USDA to report the information daily, which would give sellers an indication of whether the number of cattle in the processing pipeline would affect the price they would get for cattle delivered to the packers. The legislation also would prohibit USDA from using confidentiality as a justification for not reporting all information.

While it may not be market manipulation, higher fertilizer prices are hitting farmers who are getting ready to apply nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers to their fields. Urea, a nitrogen fertilizer has increased by $75 to $100 per ton since the beginning of the year, while prices for phosphorus fertilizer has risen $40 to $50 per ton. But mid west farmers getting ready to plant corn starting next month have seen the price for nitrogen fertilizer anhydrous ammonia increased by 60% since last fall.

Hay stocks have been getting low over the past couple of months, and prices are increasing in the Four Corners Region. Haystocks at the end of 2020, when compared to the end of 2019, were 300,000 tons less in Colorado, 120,000 tons lower New Mexico, 50,000 tons less in Utah, while being 20,000 tons more in Arizona. With the potential for dry conditions during this year’s growing season, hay producers expect that yields will be lower because of limited irrigation water supplies and hot weather, which will lead to higher than normal hay prices for livestock producers and horse owners.

The folks around Providence, Rhode Island need some help to capture a 1,500-pound steer that escaped in early February, while being unloaded at a slaughterhouse in the town of Johnston, just west of the capitol city. The wily steer has eluded the local police for the past six weeks. Now, he’s become a cause celebre, with over 12,000 residents signing a petition to provide him with a home in a sanctuary. What these folks need is a couple of well mounted Four Corners cowboys who would gather the critter without even breaking a sweat.

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