February 28, 2017

· The average value of U.S. alfalfa hay for 2016 was $138 per ton, according to USDA’s Crop Values Annual Summary released last week. This was $20 per ton lower than 2015. For hay other than alfalfa, the average price finished the year at $117 per ton, only $4 behind the 2015 value.

· Cattle and calves on feed for the U.S. slaughter market in feedlots with capacity of over 1,000 head totaled 10.8 million on February 1. That inventory was up 1 percent from a year ago, according to USDA’s Cattle on Feed report. Placements in feedlots during January totaled 1.98 million head, 11 percent above 2016.

· AGCO, the parent company of Hesston by Massey Ferguson, introduced a new standardized classification system for small and large square balers during the 2017 World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif. The square baler classification system uses rated plunger load (force) to define each of eight baler classes.

· The Wisconsin Custom Operators (WCO) is offering a business development training workshop scheduled on March 17 in Kimberly, Wis. Find more details at http://wiscustomoperators.org.

· A Grassfed Beef Conference will be held in College Station, Texas, on May 2 and 3. Registration is now open.

February 21, 2017

· Farm numbers in the U.S. during 2016 totaled 2.06 million, down 8,000 farms from 2015, according to USDA’s Farms and Land in Farms report. Fifty percent of U.S. farms had agricultural sales of less than $10,000. Another 30 percent included farms with sales of $10,000 to $99,999. Texas has the most USDA-defined farms with 242,000.

· The average U.S. farm size in 2016 was 442 acres, up 1 acre from 2015. The total amount of U.S. land in farms dropped by 1 million acres from 2015.

· Japan imported 490,379 metric tons (MT) of U.S. alfalfa hay in 2016, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. That’s 5.7 percent more than 2015 and second only to China in total volume. It was the highest amount Japan has imported from the U.S. since 2011 when they purchased 585,984 MT.

· Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS USA, said that the biggest challenge facing the beef packing industry is finding and holding a reliable labor force. Bruett made his comments at the Cattlemen’s College, which was held in conjunction with the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.

· According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," January sales of 40 to 100 horsepower (HP) tractors were down 10 percent compared to one year ago. Sales of two-wheel drive 100-plus HP tractors were down 29 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors were down 38 percent.

February 14, 2017

· The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service posted December U.S. alfalfa export totals for 2016 last week. China imported 96,806 metric tons (MT) of U.S. alfalfa, easily leading all other trade-partner countries. This was about 26,000 MT more than December 2015 but less than the 104,596 MT sent to China in November.

· U.S. alfalfa hay exports for 2016 totaled 2,485,427 MT. This was a 27 percent boost over the 2015 total.

· China raised its 2016 U.S. import total by 212,818 MT over 2015 (up 24 percent). The next highest boost in alfalfa hay import total came from Saudi Arabia. It imported 186,072 MT more than 2015, up 260 percent. The United Arab Emirates raised its imports of U.S. alfalfa by 42 percent to 319,820 MT in 2016 compared to 2015.

· The USDA projects that U.S. net farm income will drop to $62.3 billion in 2017, half of the record $123 billion farmers earned in 2013. If realized, this would be down 8.7 percent from 2016 and be the fourth consecutive year that net farm income will decline.

· Most of the drop in net farm income is being attributed to lower crop prices. Overall, livestock sectors are expected to generate similar 2017 cash receipts compared to 2016.

February 7, 2017

· In what was a nail-biter competition, the Forage Quiz Bowl team from Penn State defeated the quartet from Kansas State in the final round at the American Forage and Grassland Council Conference in Roanoke, Va. The teams were comprised of undergraduates from the respective universities.

· Ever-Green-View My Gold-ET, owned by Tom and Gin Kestell in Waldo, Wis., has set a new single lactation national milk record. Calving at the age of 4 years and 3 months, the Holstein finished its 365-day lactation with 77,480 pounds of milk, 1,992 pounds of fat, and 2,055 pounds of protein.

· Brazil and India are expected to lead world countries in beef exports during 2017. Much of India’s export product is carabeef (water buffalo). Australia now ranks third in beef exports and is followed by the United States. Expect U.S. beef exports to improve in 2017 compared to 2016.

· Snowpack measurements in the Sierra Nevada Mountains showed a snow water equivalence of 28.1 inches. The average measurement since 1964 is 18.4 inches. Also, most of California’s reservoirs report storage volumes above historical averages for early February. Water allocations should be significantly higher in 2017.

· World Ag Expo kicks off in Tulare, Calif., next Tuesday. Plan to visit the Hay & Forage Grower booth located on the west end of the Farm Credit Dairy Center (booth 6904).