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What farmers are reading this week, April 24- May 1

Planting progress speeds up this week across the Corn Belt.

With favorable weather conditions across most of the Midwest, planting progress jumped from last week across the region.

Outside of the field, COVID-19 continues to affect the agriculture industry and meat plants.

If you missed anything from the previous week, follow the link below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, April 17-24

As meat plants slow, U.S. will help growers kill livestock

The government offered to help livestock producers locate contractors skilled in killing herds or flocks of animals and to provide cost-share funding for their disposal because the coronavirus pandemic has shut down packing plants and reduced consumer demand. The National Pork Board held a webinar on Sunday that discussed step by step “emergency depopulation and disposal” of hogs.

Producers have warned since mid-March of a potentially ruinous backup on the farm of cattle and hogs because of a slowdown at slaughter plants. Hog farmers may be in the worse situation because hogs typically reach slaughter weight of around 250 pounds in five or six months from birth and cannot easily be held from market. Two weeks ago, the president of the National Pork Producers Council, farmer Howard Roth of Wisconsin, said, “Sadly, it is true that euthanization is a question that is coming up on farms.”

Read more here.

USDA sets up National Incident Coordination Center to help livestock producers

Tonight the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the establishment of a National Incident Coordination Center to provide direct support to producers whose animals cannot move to market as a result of processing plant closures.

APHIS is also mobilizing the National Veterinary Stockpile and will deploy assets as needed and secure the services of contractors that can supply additional equipment, personnel, and services. 

Read more here.

USDA announces $15 million for conservation innovation grants

The USDA announced today a $15 million investment to help support the adoption of innovative conservation approaches on agricultural lands.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting proposals through June 29, 2020, for national Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). CIG projects inspire creative problem-solving solutions that boost production on farms, ranches, and private forests, and improve natural resources.

Read more here.

Beef prices hit record-high levels, processing numbers drop

While June Cattle futures prices continue to trade at a steep discount to the cash market, slaughterhouse closures have kept the slaughter pace very slow, and cattle could quickly back up in the country.

The USDA estimated cattle slaughter came in at 85,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 255,000 head, down from 284,000 last week at this time and down from 356,000 a year ago. Beef prices are up 19.6% in just one week to a record high, and this will give plants the incentive to try to catch up.

Read more here.

Iowa leaders ask federal indemnities for hog culling

Farmers across the nation may be forced to kill 700,000 hogs a week because of coronavirus closures and slowdowns at slaughter plants, said four Iowa political leaders in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Monday. Led by Governor Kim Reynolds, the officials asked for federal indemnities to help the farmers stay in business.

Analysts Kerns and Associates estimated that 36% of U.S. hog slaughter capacity was idled on Monday, reported Successful Farming magazine. The USDA announced the creation of a National Incident Coordination Center over the weekend to help producers look for alternative markets for their hogs or to provide assistance in euthanizing them. A USDA official was not immediately available on Monday to report on activity at the incident center.

Read more here.

Best buys of the week

There were far fewer machinery sales this past week as the auction industry winds down for planting. Typically, that would have happened a couple of weeks ago. But then COVID-19 hit and all the live auctions scheduled for March got pushed back to online sales in April.

Read more here.

SF Special: Dealing with grief after tragedy

Grief is all around us this spring as the coronavirus pandemic continues. My father died April 7 and I was not able to be with him or my mother during his illness because of travel restrictions. Talking to others who understand grief is important during these sad times.

Two people who have life experience with grief are Minnesota swine veterinarians Tom Wetzell and Gordon Spronk.

Read more here.

Avoid desire to plant too wet

Yet again a large share of farmers in the Midwest face a wetter-than-usual spring. And after at least two wet springs, there is fear that this season could present another muddy mess to plant through.

Even if instincts are inspiring you to push the throttle ahead, remember that the faster you drive while planting, the more down pressure you need to keep the row unit on the ground, observes Dennis Bollig. And higher down pressure settings can increase soil compaction.

Read more here.

Iowa corn planting races ahead, USDA Progress Report says

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The U.S. corn planting pace is slightly ahead of the five-year pace.

On Monday, the USDA released its Cop Progress Report that includes planting and emergence ratings.

Read more here.

China may miss Phase One target for U.S. farm purchases

The Phase One agreement that de-escalated the China-U.S. trade war calls for China to greatly expand its purchases of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products this year and in 2021. Former USDA Chief Rconomist Joe Glauber said on Tuesday that China will have to accelerate sharply its purchases to meet that goal.

“I think we will be lucky to get the 2017 level of sales,” said Glauber during a farmdoc Daily webinar. In February, the USDA forecast agricultural exports of $14 billion to China this fiscal year. The Phase One agreement considers the 2017 “baseline” for sales to be $24 billion.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Livestock water recycling

A Canadian start-up company is working to replace lagoons and other liquid manure-holding facilities with technology that reduces the overall volume of manure on the farm.

Lisa Fast is the marketing coordinator for the company called Livestock Water Recycling. She says its goal is to make manure management smarter and food production more sustainable and productive. It only takes one hour for the patented nutrient recovery system to transform the liquid manure into fertilizers for crops and the rest into clean water.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

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Agronomy Tip: Create a Crop Scouting Tool Kit

A farmer scouting soybeans. If you plan to spend time scouting your fields, put together a crop scouting tool kit for your comfort and efficiency.

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