Report 5-18-21

Texas state lawmakers recently approved a bill that will ban plant-based food products from using the terms “meat” or “beef” to describe the food on labels. The bill is intended to prohibit companies from misleading consumers, about what is in food products, and the bill would also keep companies that produce food from insects, plants or cell cultures from labeling them as conventional meat products. But the bill won’t bar companies manufacturing meat substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, from using the term “burger” to describe and label their products.

Recently, there’s been reports of the increasing cost of flour for bakers as a result of escalating wheat prices. The price of the grain has risen from just under $5 a bushel in late summer of 2020 to over $7 the past couple of weeks. But that rally may be short lived, since Kansas farmers are expecting to harvest a bumper crop this summer.

Speaking of increasing flour costs, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced that world food prices have increased for an 11th consecutive month in April, hitting their highest level since May of 2014, with sugar leading a rise in all the main indices. The food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 120.9 points last month versus a 118.9 March.

Solar photovoltaic installations, more commonly known a solar farms are increasing all over the U.S. There are several proposed solar installations being considered in the Four Corners Region, and there is concern that thye will lead to farm land being taken out of production when solar panels are placed on pedestals in pastures and crop fields. But according to research being conducted by Oregon State University scientists, sheep production is possible under many of these installations and can be a compatible enterprise. Researchers determined that while grass production was lower in the fields with panels, the forage was higher quality, and lambs gained about the same amount of weight as in pastures without panels. A side benefit was that the panels provided shade for the lambs during the heat of the day. The bottom line is that the return to producers was just a few dollars higher per acre for pastures with no solar panels versus pastures with panels.

The most recent USDA crop production report included May1 hay stocks, which is significant, because it’s the beginning of hay marketing year. Total U.S. hay stocks for May1 were at 18.0 million tons, that’s down almost 12% from the same time last year, and about 14% lower than the five-year average from 2015-2019. All of the states in the western half of the U.S. with the exception of Nevada and Washington had significantly reduced hay stocks when compared to a year ago. In the Four Corners states, New Mexico’s hay stocks were 20% less,while Colorado and Utah’s stocks were down almost 44%, and the 56% decline in Arizona hay in storage led the nation. Although hay is often moved from an area of abundance to areas of shortage, theses numbers indicate that if dry conditions prevail in the west, there won’t be much hay to shift around this fall.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”

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