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What farmers are reading this week, March 20-27

COVID-19 continues to impact different areas of the ag industry.

COVID-19 concerns persisted this week with almost every area of agriculture affected by the virus.

Outside of COVID-19 coverage, the Successful Farming staff wrote articles about women in agriculture, a country singer, and more.

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

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, March 13-20

The COVID-19 virus and U.S. agriculture’s supply chain concerns

DES MOINES, Iowa --If they said it once, they said it 20 times during a one-hour webinar, “The U.S. food supply chain is the biggest concern, right now, in this fight against the COVID-19 virus.”

Agricultural economists at the University of Illinois repeated that phrase Friday, during a webinar outlining the COVID-19 virus and its impacts on agriculture.

Read more here.

Get ready, get set: Estimate U.S. 2020 soybean acreage

The planting season begins another year under considerable uncertainty. While trade issues remain, the continued spread of COVID-19 and the ensuing market collapse complicates an already difficult decision. 

Projections from many market observers indicate increases in corn and soybean acreage in 2020. The March 31 Prospective Plantings report provides the initial indication of potential acreage allotments for spring crops and sets the tone for corn and soybean production potential in 2020.

Read more here.

What COVID-19 means down on the farm

Katherine Marcano-Bell, who goes by “LatinxFarmer” on Twitter, has just finished cleaning up after loading hogs with her husband, BJ, on their farm in southeast Iowa. They are contract growers with two finishing sites holding about 11,000 pigs total at a time.

Bell grew up as part of a large Hispanic family in the New York City area and came to Iowa for college, where she met her husband, whose family has farmed for six generations near Keota. They have two young children. 

Read more here.

While you’re at it, disinfect the garden, too

Disease organisms can be moved from one place to another very easily on garden containers and tools.

Brian Hudelson is the director of the Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic at the University of Wisconsin. He says fungi, water molds, bacteria, and nematodes can survive on a surface for years, even in adverse conditions.

Read more here.

How COVID-19 affects the farmland market

In the 2014 book, The Death of Money, author James Rickards writes there are five assets people invest in over time to preserve their wealth. In order of importance, they include gold, undeveloped land (including farmland), fine art, hedge funds, and cash. 

By Rickards’ account, farmland is a good bet in today’s tumultuous economy, says Mark Dozour, former chief economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.

Read more here.

Q&A: Tenille Townes, Singer/Songwriter of In My Blood

When singer/songwriter Tenille Townes attended the National FFA Convention in October, she never imagined a song would be born. After performing at the convention concert and visiting with FFA students at the RAM trucks’ booth, Townes felt inspired to write In My Blood, a song illuminating women in agriculture. We caught up with Townes while her tours were postponed due to COVID-19.

Read more here.

How COVID-19 will impact 2020 planting decisions

The new coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a wide-ranging impact, even on 2020 planting decisions that farmers will make this year. COVID-19 is also raising concerns about farm workforce health and pricing considerations. The following article – written by Gary Schnitkey, Krista Swanson, Jonathan Coppess, and Nick Paulson of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois (U of I) and Carl Zulauf with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University – spells out these considerations. This story can also be referenced here. 

Trade conflicts, prevented and late planting, and policy innovations have presented a difficult decision-making environment to farmers over the past several years. The decisions for this spring are now drastically complicated given the rapidly changing situation with the spread of COVID-19 and its attendant health threats and control measures.

Read more here.

Celebrating women in agriculture

Of the 3,399,834 farmers in the U.S., 1,227,461 are women.

Of all farms, 56% have at least one female decision-maker involved.

Read more here.

Ag machinery parts and service a national priority

Kim Rominger put it bluntly. “In order for crops to be planted, harvested, and brought to market, our members and their employees are critical. No crops means no food, no meats, no fruits, no vegetables . . . nothing to eat. Machinery needs to be maintained, repaired, and key parts must be on hand and accessible,” says the head of the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA).

The EDA along with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) sent letters to all of the 50 state governors asking them to designate machinery manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, and service technicians as essential in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.

COVID-19 will create a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks

Black swan. Unchartered territory. Unprecedented. While these terms have been used to describe COVID-19 over the last few weeks and months, they aren’t helpful to decision-makers trying to the navigate weeks and months ahead of them.

To consider what lies ahead for COVID-19 and U.S. agriculture, we’ve outlined four key sources of uncertainty and a few thoughts.

Read more here.

Meat prices spike, cattle prices fall, and ranchers and lawmakers see market manipulation

Wholesale beef prices have jumped to record levels, as shoppers stockpile meat in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. Yet, this run on beef isn’t helping cattle ranchers. On the contrary, cattle prices have plummeted since January, putting many ranchers on the brink of collapse. “It’s never been worse. The futures market is crashing … and box beef prices are skyrocketing. It’s nuts,” says rancher Mike Callicrate of St. Francis, Kansas.

Callicrate and other ranchers say this illogical price collapse reflects meatpackers’ monopoly power to set cattle prices. Before this shock, the top four beef packers already faced litigation and a Department of Agriculture investigation for alleged collusion and price-fixing.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Manure and cover crops

For centuries, livestock manure has been a cost-effective fertilizer source for crops and increasing soil quality. Cover crops do the same thing and prevent nutrients from leaching. Pairing the two combines their benefits.

Dan Anderson is an assistant professor in the Ag and Biosystems Engineering department at Iowa State University. He says there are variables that can affect how well this works.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Massive Farm Shop Office Addition | Top Shops

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Tip of the Day

Agronomy Tip: Customize Your Nitrogen Management Plan

Two farmers on a phone in a tractor cab. Evaluate your fields for a nitrogen plan, managed by zones.

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