Inviting “mommy bloggers” to the dairy farm

Brad Scott and his family milk 1,000 cows and run about 800 acres near San Jacinto, California. A while back he invited a group of “Mommy Bloggers” to visit his dairy farm. “We had a great opportunity to show them we take great care of our animals, we care about the environment…we had the opportunity to show them that what we’re doing on the farm is sustainable.” The bloggers spent two days on the farm and in the end they are telling their followers about the good farm and products Scott and his family produce.

AUDIO:Scott talks about the experience

Vita Plus contributes to IFEEDER

Many dairy companies use World Dairy Expo as a stage to make major announcements; such was the case with Vita Plus which announced a major contribution to the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER). Founded in 2009, IFEEDER is a foundation seeking to sustain food and feed production for the world through research and education. Al Gunderson with Vita Plus is Chairman of the Board for IFEEDER; he says the goals of the foundation fit right into the goals of Vita Plus. Richard Sellers with the American Feed Industry Association says his industry is well-positioned to implement the research needed to meet their goals.

AUDIO:Gunderson and Sellers comment on the effort

Wisconsin’s Ag Secretary talks about how things have changed

Over the years, Ben Brancel has attended World Dairy Expo in numerous capacities, dairy farmer, beef producer, State Legislator, Farm Service Agency Director and for the second time, Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Brancel served as Secretary in the Tommy Thompson administration from 1997 to 2000 and returned to the post last January when Scott Walker became Governor. He says the dairy industry has changed substantially from his first stint compared to currently. We have fewer farmers but we have maintained our milk volume, we have more cheese plants in the state today and Brancel says there are more countries seeking dairy genetics from America’s Dairyland than before. There is also increased demand for many other products from Wisconsin agriculture.

AUDIO:Brancel talks about the differences from his first term

Dealing with these volatile markets

Uncertainty in the economy has made for extreme volatility in financial markets, commodity markets and dairy markets. Steve Schalla with Stewart-Peterson says the swings add increases risk and increased opportunity so it is more important than ever to have a plan in place to cover risk and take advantage of opportunities. Schalla also believes the export market will continue to grow despite the sluggish economy. “They may not be buying big-screen TVs but they’re still buying ice cream.”

AUDIO:Schalla talks about dealing with the risk and opportunity

Soybean export demand to jump

There’s anticipated to be significant growth in the next decade in international demand for soybeans. Economic forecasts indicate soybean exports will jump to 67 percent of U.S. production by 2021, according to Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

“And that’s not to say that consumption in this country would be going down by that time,” said Sutter, during an interview with Brownfield this week, at an event in Quincy, Illinois. “Consumption here would be flat to up slightly; that seems to fit with what we would expect.”

Sutter characterizes our current export market as important because he says there seems to be a delicate balance between domestic and international demand and the supply of soybeans.

“We can’t take this for granted,” he said, “we have to be careful, but we seem to be in a sweet spot in that the world wants what we have to produce.”

Even though anticipated growth is significant, Sutter says the current export figure – 56 percent of U.S. production – is, in itself impressive.

“And when I use that statistic I’m not actually including the meat that gets exported, because certainly there’s an important part of our meat industry in terms of pork, poultry, others that also get exported,” said Sutter, “and that would add another between 5 and ten percent, probably, to that number.”

Sutter says most of that growth is because of increased livestock feed demand in Asia. Improving economies and lifestyles in that part of the world have resulted in growing demand for meat in people’s diets. Another area of anticipated demand growth for U.S. soybean meal is in aquaculture.

Much of the fish raised in aquaculture is produced in Asia, but Sutter said they’re consuming an increasing amount and exporting less. The result, he said, is that an increasing amount of fish consumed in the U.S. is expected to be produced in the Americas “so we think that’s an interesting business opportunity for people to be producing aquaculture to supply the U.S. market in years to come.”

AUDIO: Jim Sutter

Harvest pressure sends corn, soybeans lower

Soybeans were modestly lower on profit taking and spillover from corn. Also, there was continued harvest pressure, outside markets were a negative and the fundamentals remain bearish. On average, the trade expects a slight increase in USDA’s production estimate Wednesday, the 12th. China bought U.S. beans for the second day in a row, 106,000 tons for 2011/12 delivery, but it had little to no effect. Soybean meal was mostly firm and oil was up on end of the week position squaring.

Corn was modestly lower on harvest pressure and profit taking. There was no real fresh news and the trade’s pretty much just marking time until Wednesday’s USDA numbers. Ukraine’s repealed its export tax on corn starting July 1, 2012 and France raised its production estimate to 14.9 million tons, up 800,000 from its previous guess. Ethanol futures were mixed with November 2011 through December 2012 lower.

The wheat complex was mostly lower. Chicago was down with Ukraine also suspending wheat export duties in the coming year. Kansas City was lower on forecasts for rain in the Southern Plains but, if that doesn’t happen, consequences for the hard red winter crop could be severe. Minneapolis was supported by its bullish supply and demand fundamentals. European wheat was lower on impending end of the Ukrainian export duties. Tunisia bought 75,000 tons of soft wheat and 75,000 tons of durum.

Future of poultry industry conference

A conference about the future of the American poultry industry will be held at the International Poultry Expo early next year. US POULTRY Chairman Gary Cooper of Oakwood, Ohio says there is likely no other time in the history of poultry processing and production with greater challenges than there are now.

In a news release, Cooper listed the poultry industry challenges of “high input costs, social concerns, government regulations, and international competition, while trying to keep abreast of the increasing global demand for food.”

The International Poultry Expo is set for January 24th through 26th, 2012 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The conference will be on the 25th.

IWLA continues push for conservation/insurance tie

With further funding cuts for USDA conservation programs looming larger, the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) continues to call on Congress to make crop insurance subject to conservation compliance rules.

“That’s a conservation act that can take place that’s not going to cost anything,” says IWLA’s Brad Redlin, “and, in fact, in a worst-case scenario—should we actually see producers violate the compliance expectations—then we’re actually saving the U.S. Treasury money.”

Redline says the decision to tie conservation compliance to crop insurance should be “an easy one to make.”

AUDIO: Brad Redlin (11:57 MP3)


Levees held and harvest better than expected

Harvest is turning out better than expected for a North Central Missouri farmer where Missouri River levees held through the summer. Rob Korff, who farms north of the river at Norborne says they’ve been getting “respectable yields”, all things considered.

“We’ve kind of gone full circle from back in the first week of July when the river was running over the levee south of Norborne and we had a tremendous sand-bagging effort by a lot of people to stop the water and hold it back,” says Korff, “By some miracle of God our levees in our area held and we’re actually having a pretty good harvest.”

Korff says his heart goes out to his neighboring farmers north and south of him where levees did not hold during the flooding.

Most of Korff’s corn harvest is done and he says they’ve had a good week harvesting beans. If it stays dry, he says they could be done with soybean harvest in two weeks.

Although the levees in his area held, Korff says there is some concern about next year, “We’re still protected but there are some areas that need a lot of repair. And, the river has gone down. It’s down below flood stage now at the Waverly gauge,” says Korff, “We’re still letting some water out upstream. Hopefully, they’ll let enough out to be able to hold any major rainfall or snowpack events next year and it will not be another issue.”

Korff says he’s firmly behind efforts to force the Corps of Engineers to make flood control the top priority for the Missouri River. Korff is the new chairman of the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.

 AUDIO: Rob Korff (4:00 mp3)

Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: October 7, 2011

Dec. corn closed at $6.00, down 5 and 1/2 cents
Nov. soybeans closed at $11.58 and 1/4, down 5 and 1/2 cents
Oct. soybean meal closed at $300.10, up 40 cents
Oct. soybean oil closed at 49.07, up 15 points
Dec. wheat closed at $6.07 and 1/2, down 8 and 1/2 cents
Oct. live cattle closed at $121.97, down 37 cents
Oct. lean hogs closed at $94.67, down 7 cents
Nov. crude oil closed at $82.98, up 39 cents
Dec. cotton closed at 101.98, down 75 points
Oct. Class III milk closed at $18.03, up 11 cents
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 11,103.21, up 21.01 points