READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, April 2nd

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, April 2nd

USDA Stocks/Prospective Plantings Reports Show a Lot of Soybeans

A DTN recap of the USDA Grain Stocks and Prospective Planting reports today shows the U.S. definitely has its share of soybeans, with a whole lot more on the way. Quarterly soybean stocks rose to a record 2.11 billion bushels. That’s 21 percent higher than March of 2017. Soybean acres also officially took the lead over corn acres in 2018’s planting intentions. USDA estimates 89 million acres of soybeans will be planted in 2018, with corn right behind at 88 million acres. Both of those estimates are down from last year, by one percent for soybeans and two percent for corn. USDA says the lower numbers are a consequence of a lot of grain stocks on hand, along with lower commodity prices. The estimate of 2.11 billion bushels of soybeans follows a disappointing marketing quarter for the crop. Between December of 2017 and February of this year, only one percent of the total soybean stocks were moved, nine percent lower than the same time frame from the previous year. USDA estimates that corn stocks were at 8.9 billion bushels as of March 1, three percent higher than last year. The report says farmers are projected to plant 47.3 million acres of wheat, three percent higher than a year ago but still the second-lowest acreage number since the early 1900’s. Cotton producers are predicted to plant 13.5 million acres, up seven percent from last year and higher than most pre-report expectations.


Conaway Says Democrats Wrong to Oppose SNAP Changes

House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway says Democrats are not accurately portraying the changes he’s proposing to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Politico quotes Conaway as saying that Democrats on the committee will see the difference between what he’s proposing and “what they’ve been told Republicans are doing,” and will see the value in the idea. Conaway’s proposals include tightening work requirements and eligibility for the SNAP program. The proposals include eliminating broad-based categorical eligibility, breaking the connection between SNAP and a program that subsidizes utility expenses for low-income households, and imposing stricter work requirements on roughly five million people. Democrats also oppose what would be a mandatory employment and training program at the state level. An estimated one million people would no longer be eligible for the program. Democrats also say benefits would be slashed by $20 billion over a decade under the Conaway plan. Conaway says he doesn’t know where that $20 billion figure came from but says no one would be kicked off SNAP. The one million people leaving the program would either have a job that pays more than 130 percent of the poverty level, or they decide not to work at least 20 hours a week or enroll in a training program.


Community Bankers Announce Farm Bill Recommendations

As Congress ramps up its work on a new Farm Bill, the Independent Community Bankers of America released a white paper with its recommended principles for the new bill. ICBA President and CEO Camden Fine says his association believes a new farm bill is vitally important to the nation’s producers and the independent community bankers who work so closely with them. “A new farm bill provides a multi-year framework for farmers and their community bank lenders to engage in longer-term business planning,” Fine says. “It also offers an essential portfolio of risk-management tools.” The white paper asks Congress to adequately fund commodity programs and crop insurance, both of which are key risk-management tools that enable producers to obtain farm loans. They also are asking Congress to enhance the USDA’s Farm Loan Programs. They provided more than $7.7 billion worth of loans to producers in 2017. The loan programs supported 42,000 farmers and ranchers by increasing loan limits, providing greater flexibility for loan approvals while eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens. Other recommendations included sustaining USDA Rural Development Programs, as well as reforming the Farm Credit System.  


Cargill Installs Controlled Atmosphere “Stunning” System in Canada Operation

Cargill announced today that it’s installing a $22 million Controlled Atmospheric Stunning system at its poultry facility in London, Ontario. Cargill credits the investment to increasing customer and consumer demand for better animal welfare standards in food production. There are also electric stunning systems available to processing plants. Both electric and atmospheric systems are acceptable, approved, and proven as more humane ways to harvest animals. However, Cargill says more and more consumers are in favor of CAS systems in poultry facilities. Cargill first began using a controlled atmosphere system at a U.S. poultry plant more than ten years ago. They were also leaders in the use of third-party remote video auditing. Cargill’s global head of poultry welfare says, “We are dedicated to animal welfare because it’s the right thing to do.” Cargill says it’s made more than $900 million in investments to its North American protein business in recent years.


USDA: No Consolidation in Cow-Calf Operations for Five Years

There’s no question that agriculture has seen its share of consolidation across several sectors. The one major exception is beef production, more specifically as it relates to cow-calf and stocker production. A recent report from the Economic Research Service at USDA shows that all areas of livestock production, with the exception of beef, have fewer and larger operations. James MacDonald, a senior economist with the Economic Research Service, says developments in confinement feeding, along with changes in housing and feeding, brought down the need for a lot of additional labor on farms. Each farm family can more effectively manage larger herds and flocks. Back in 1987, the average beef cow herd was 89 cows. Also back then, the midpoint dairy herd was 80 cows. Ten years later, the average beef cow herd had grown to 100 animals while dairy had grown to 140 head. The latest data shows no change for the average beef cow herd, while average dairy cow herds were up to 900 back in 2012. The midpoint broiler farm doubled between 1987 and 2012, coming in at 680,000 birds. Mid-sized hog operations are 33 times larger than they were three decades ago.  


MLB Fans to Consume a Lot of Hot Dogs This Season

As the season kicks off today, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Major League Baseball fans will consume around 19 million hot dogs this season. Fans will also consume up to 4.6 million sausages during the summer season. The combined hot dog and sausage total could stretch all the way across the United States from Seattle, Washington, to Atlanta, Georgia. That hot dog total by itself would reach as high as 5,332 One World Trade Centers, the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the sixth-tallest in the world. Hot Dog and Sausage Council president Eric Mittenthal says baseball and hot dogs have been a love affair for multiple decades. “Year after year, hot dogs continue to hit it out of the park at the concession stand,” he says. “There’s simply no replacing the unshakable bond between baseball and hot dogs.” Los Angeles Dodgers fans are expected to consume more than 3 million hot dogs, the largest number in the league. San Francisco Giants fans take the top spot in the sausage race by consuming a projected 475,000 this season. The Milwaukee Brewers are the only team in baseball that’s expected to sell more sausages than hot dogs.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service