Recent trade mission successful

International markets offer incredible opportunities to Indiana agriculture.  Gina Sheets, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director of economic development recently returned from a trade mission to China and Japan.  Sheets says the China mission focused a lot on community, business and agriculture development.  She says day one started by highlighting Indiana’s production agriculture.  Specifically, she says at each table during the luncheon, Indiana businesses that were represented were matched with potential business partners.

Sheets says those conversations highlighted Indiana products like popcorn, Indiana hardwoods and she says hopefully an opportunity for Indiana beef eventually.  She says a trip like this is mutually beneficial.   Sheets tells Brownfield the government entity hosting the group in the Zhejiang province has the opportunity to help their businesses access international markets.  Which furthers trade development and brings dollars back into their state.  She adds Indiana was doing the same thing, helping businesses in Indiana look for new international export markets in China and in return bring that revenue back into the United States.

From China, the majority of the delegation headed to Japan for another trade mission  led by Lt. Governor Becky Skillman.  Sheets says the delegation learned investors in Japan have a good feeling about Indiana’s business climate, especially the agriculture sector.   She says the Japanese delgation shared indicators of continued and future investment in Indiana, including the agriculture industries.

The delegation returned from Japan September 28th

AUDIO: Gina Sheets, ISDA Director of Economic Development (9:17mp3)

Weather slows crop maturity

Corn and soybean crops have been slow to reach maturity as Indiana saw mostly cool, wet and overcast weather last week.  Corn and soybean harvest are well behind last year with both falling 23 days behind a year ago.

While a majority of the state’s corn crop has reached the dent stage, just 65 percent has matured.  That number is 32 points behind a year ago and 10 percentage points behind the five-year average.  Only 10 percent of Indiana’s corn crop has been harvested, over 50 percent behind year ago totals.  Only 33 percent of the corn crop is listed in good to excellent condition compared to 57 percent last year at this time.

With just 77 percent of soybean acreage shedding leaves only 5 percent of the crop has been harvest.  Last year at this time 94 percent of the crop had dropped its leaves and 60 percent of the crop had been harvested.  Moisture content of this year’s crop is averaging around 14 percent and just 41 percent of the crop is listed in good to excellent condition.

In other crops around the state, 7 percent of the winter wheat acreage has been seeded compared to 25 percent last year at this time.  Recent rainfall has continued to help the pasture conditions as 19 percent is now in good to excellent condition.

A cold, windy week in Wisconsin last week

Cold, windy conditions didn’t do much for crop progress in Wisconsin last week. Wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour knocked some corn down on Thursday while freezing temperatures ended the growing season for a few more spots in the Badger State. Temperatures averaged 1 to 5 degrees below normal while precipitation ranged from just under an inch at Eau Claire to more than 2.5 inches in at Green Bay. Soil moisture improved across the state now listed as 76 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. Just 2 percent in the very short category.

The Wisconsin corn crop is 57 percent mature with 73 percent of corn silage made and 5 percent combined for grain. All numbers are slightly behind the five-year average for this date. Shell corn moistures are running from 19 to 30 percent, given this week’s forecast for sunshine and highs in the 70’s, many expect that number to come down substantially. The crop is rated 74 percent in good to excellent condition compared to 76 percent a week ago.

97 percent of the Wisconsin soybeans have turned color and 74 percent have dropped their leaves, again slightly behind the five-year average. The soybean crop is also rated 74 percent good to excellent condition compared to 75 percent last week.

The cranberry harvest is underway in Portage and Oneida counties.

Read the full NASS report here:

Fire danger could slow Iowa harvest

Dry and windy weather in Iowa has resulted in numerous field fires and law enforcement in some parts of the state have asked farmers to temporarily cease harvesting due to the elevated risk of fires. As moisture levels continue to drop, more farmers are harvesting corn, but the primary harvest has been on soybeans according to the weekly report from the Iowa Field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Top soil moisture is now rated as twenty-two percent very short, thirty-six percent short and forty-one percent adequate, with only one percent surplus. Subsoil moisture is also short with forty-six percent rated adequate to surplus.

Twelve percent of the corn has been harvested for grain or seed, behind last year but ahead of the average of ten-percent. The moisture content of the corn still in the field is averaging about twenty-four percent, and harvested corn is at twenty-one percent. Corn lodging does remain a greater problem than last year; with sixteen-percent of Iowa’s corn crop experiencing moderate to heavy lodging. Fifty-eight percent of the crop is rated in good to excellent condition.

Just twenty-one percent of the soybean crop has been harvested, behind last year’s thirty-four percent and the normal of thirty-percent. Soybean lodging is slightly worse than the previous year, but shattering levels are nearly identical to last year. Sixty-five percent of the soybean crop is rated in good to excellent condition.


Corn, soybeans close narrowly mixed

Soybeans were mixed, mostly weak, on consolidation and the sharply lower crude oil. Contracts were due for a bounce after recent losses but there’s no real fresh news one way or the other. USDA reports 76% of soybeans are dropping leaves, compared to 87% last year and 83% on average, while 19% is harvested, compared to 34% last year and 25% on average with 54% of the crop rated good to excellent, up 1% on the week. Via Dow Jones Newswires, FC Stone sees the 2011 U.S. soybean crop at 3.157 billion bushels with an average yield of 42.8 bushels per acre. Soybean meal and oil were lower on demand uncertainties and the dollar. Brazil’s Foreign Trade Ministry states September soybean exports were 2.8 million tons, down on the month but up on the year.

Corn was mixed, mostly firm, on consolidation and oversold signals. Still, USDA’s quarterly stocks number was a big surprise and export demand remains slow. According to the Ag Department, 79% of corn is mature, compared to 92% last year and 78% on average with 21% harvested, compared to 37% last year and 23% on average, and 52% of corn is in good to excellent shape, unchanged from last week. The latest crop estimate, from FC Stone, via Dow Jones Newswires, has 2011 U.S. corn at 12.553 billion bushels with an average yield of 148.7 bushels per acre. Ethanol futures were mixed.

The wheat complex was mixed. Chicago was up, seeing a short covering and oversold bounce. Kansas City was mixed in consolidation trade and Minneapolis was lower on a lack of fresh news and the higher trade in the dollar. USDA states 42% of the winter wheat crop planted, compared to 52% last year and 53% on average and 16% has emerged, compared to 21% last year and 23% on average. At least statistically, the spring wheat harvest is over but USDA will be resurveying producers in a few key states and if the numbers change, USDA may release an update November 9. European wheat was up on an oversold bounce after moving near a one year low. Kazakhstan’s Ag Ministry reports 86.8% of the total expected area is harvested with the running total at 22.7 million tons.

Bill keeps ‘hazardous substance’ label off

A bill recently introduced in the US House would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from classifying livestock manure as a “hazardous substance.” The “Superfund Common-Sense Act” was introduced by southwest Missouri Congressman Billy Long and would prevent farmers from being held liable for clean-up of entire watersheds by clarifying a 1980 law. Long says “environmental extremists” have proposed using part of that Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act to “target and regulate modern livestock operations.”

Long says the1980 legislation was created to deal with hazardous substances in the wake of the Love Canal public health threat and applies to 1,300 federal Superfund toxic waste sites. He says increasing numbers of producers use manure as fertilizer – and if included by the EPA – could be held liable for millions of dollars in damages, which Long says would make “no sense.”

Fellow GOP Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho is a co-sponsor of the legislation and is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees EPA funding.

Obama sends FTAs to Congress

President Obama sent the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress today – a long-awaited move in the agriculture industry.

In a statement, Obama calls on Congress to pass the FTAs and the bipartisan agreements on Trade Adjustment Assistance “without delay” saying the administration has worked hard on the agreements “to get the best deal possible for American workers and businesses” and to “help workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.”

American Farm Bureau Federation says it’s very good news for America’s farmers and ranchers and the U.S. economy. Now that the administration has acted, AFBF says it’s up to Congress to expedite the agreements saying that, combined, the three agreements will represent nearly $2.5 Billion in new ag exports and up to 22-thousand-500 U.S. jobs.

The National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are among the ag groups calling on Congress to act quickly and pass the FTAs.

NCBA President Bill Donald says they are “cautiously optimistic” because, while the President’s move today is encouraging, the agreements are far from implemented.

Cheese production slips for the second consecutive month

Total cheese production in the United States in August was 868 million pounds, down 0.3 percent from August of last year. Italian type cheese production slipped 0.2 percent from a year ago to 364 million pounds while American type production was 1 percent lower at 347 million pounds. This comes on top of the 2.5 percent decline in July cheese production reflecting the effects of hot weather in the Midwest and Northeast this summer. Year-to-date cheese production is running 1.9 percent above the first eight months of 2010.

Wisconsin cheese production in August totaled 213.9 million pounds, down 1.6 percent from August of last year. Italian cheese production in the Badger State increased 7.3 percent to 111.77 million pounds while American production fell 9.7 percent to 60.1 million pounds. Wisconsin cheddar production fell 15.8 percent to 41.6 million pounds.

California total cheese production in August was 186.9 million pounds down 1.7 percent from a year ago. Italian production in the Golden State slipped 4.9 percent to 114.2 million pounds while American production declined 2.3 percent to 50.4 million pounds. Cheddar output was 0.8 percent lower at 27.8 million pounds.

Rounding-out the top five: Idaho, 68.46 million pounds down 6.6 percent from a year ago; New York 64.2 million pounds up 2.9 percent; New Mexico 56.08 million pounds down 5.2 percent.

Butter production totaled 133 million pounds in August, up 31 percent from August of 2010.

Other product production in August compared to a year ago:

  • Nonfat dry milk, 113 million pounds – 5.1%
  • Skim milk powders, 38.7 million pounds + 156.6%
  • Dry whey, 79.8 million pounds – 2.1%
  • Lactose, 82.9 million pounds + 3.4%
  • Whey protein concentrate, 35.6 million pounds + 1.2%
  • Regular ice cream, 77.4 million gallons + 4.7%
  • Low fat ice cream, 40.9 million gallons + 8.9%
  • Sherbet, 4.2 million gallons + 8.9%
  • Frozen yogurt, 5.4 million gallons + 13.6%

Read the full NASS report here:


Corn, soybean harvests around 20% complete

Late corn development continues to trail the year ago pace but is sticking fairly close to average.

As of Sunday, 79% of corn has reached maturity, compared to 92% this time last year and the five year average of 78%, while 21% is harvested, compared to 37% a year ago and 23% on average. 52% of the crop is rated good to excellent, unchanged on the week and down 14% less than last year.

For soybeans, 76% are dropping leaves, compared to 87% a year ago and 83% on average with 19% harvested, compared to 34% a year ago and 25% on average. 54% of soybeans are called good to excellent, up 1% from last week and down 10% from last year.

42% of winter wheat has been planted, compared to 52% a year ago and 53% on average and 16% has emerged, compared to 21% last year and 23% on average.

The spring wheat harvest has at least statistically wrapped up and USDA is resurveying some of the key production states. Depending on the results, we could get a new crop estimate November 9.

31% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, which is steady with last week and down 13% from this time last year.

Wisconsin food prices up 2% for the quarter

Wisconsin retail food prices increased just over 2 percent during the third quarter. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau says the price of the 16 items in their Marketbasket Survey was $50.55 at the end of September, up $1.06 from the end of June and $5.26 above a year ago.

Prices increased on ten of the 16 items with eggs leading the way, increasing 20 percent. Shredded Mozzarella cheese increased 17 percent, apples are up 16 percent and bagged salad is 13 percent higher than it was at the end of June.

Cheerios, ground chuck, sirloin tip roast, sliced deli ham, boneless chicken breast and vegetable oil were the six items that saw modest reductions in price since the second quarter. The largest decrease was the price of boneless chicken breast falling by 34 cents or 8 percent.

Wisconsin consumers are still paying less than the national average, the American Farm Bureau market basket price was $53.12 for the third quarter, up 4 percent from the second quarter. We are paying more than the national average for bagged salad, whole milk, bacon, ground chuck and boneless chicken breast.

USDA says while food prices are moving higher, the amount going to the farmer continues to decline. Of the $50.55 for the 16 items in the Marketbasket, about 16 percent or $8.08 goes to the farmer. Americans spend about ten percent of disposable annual income on food, the lowest average in the world.

Read more from WFBF here: