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Agriculture Today

Farm costs continue to climb

Farm costs continue to climb

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Wilson County News
October 9, 2013
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Feed tops the list of costs for agriculture production in the wake of the 2012 drought, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service Farm Production Expenditures summary.

U.S. livestock producers’ feed costs totaled $54.4 billion, according to a USDA report.

While the livestock production side increased by 2.4 percent from 2011, U.S. crop production totaled $200 billion, or an increase of 17.4 percent from a year prior. Chemicals, fertilizers, and seed costs accounted for 27.8 percent of crop farms’ total expenses.

Cattle numbers

With an increase in crop production and decline in crop yields across the nation, feed and hay costs also increased. This did not include the transportation costs involved to get the hay to the ranchers in need. Cattlemen across the nation responded by reducing their herds. A reduction in the number of feeder cattle at feedlots -- capacity of 1,000 or more head -- also followed. A “Cattle on Feed” report from the USDA totaled 9,876,000 head, or a decrease of 7 percent, from a year ago when numbers were 10,647,000.

With cattle and calves being the top commodity in Texas, the state’s feedlots mirrored the nation’s percentage. Texas cattle inventory as of Sept. 1 totaled 2,430,000 head. Texas feedlot numbers were down by approximately 370,000, from 2010’s inventory of 2.8 million head.

While Texas and other states declined, California’s feedlot numbers increased. California’s feedlots equaled 105 percent from September 2012 for a total of 505,000 head.

2013 crops

The nation’s cattle feedlot numbers may increase if the USDA’s forecast of record high corn production in 2013 is realized, but the buildup of the cattle inventory will not come overnight.

According to the September USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report, U.S. corn producers planted 97.4 million acres. Officials forecast 89.1 million acres will be harvested, with an average yield of 155.3 bushels per acre anticipated.

If realized, the 13.84 billion bushels of corn would be a new record production for the nation.

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently addressed the corn ending stocks from last year’s 661 million bushels to the anticipated record crop.

Farm Bureau economist Todd Davis estimates corn “prices to decline from a marketing-average price of $6.90 per bushel for 2012-13 to a projected $4.80 per bushel in 2013-14.”

Government officials also anticipate 357,000 more acres of hay will be harvested this year, with the increase due to the number of acres planted with alfalfa.

The soybean harvest, estimated at 76.4 million acres, would be the second-largest harvested area on record. If the anticipated 3.15 billion bushels harvested are realized, this would be the fourth-largest on record.


Mother Nature will determine if these predictions will come true.

According to the USDA report, 56 percent of the nation’s corn and 54 percent of the nation’s soybeans were rated in good to excellent condition as of Sept. 1.

Dry conditions returned to the south-central part of the nation in August, with Texas and Oklahoma cotton farmers’ crops rated in very poor to poor condition by early September. Meanwhile, in South Central Texas and the lower Rio Grande Valley, 45 percent of the cotton crop was in good to excellent condition.

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