June 29, 2017

Nation’s Hard Red Spring Wheat Conditions Lowest Since 1988

The drought affecting the Dakotas this summer continues to impact crops and pasture conditions, despite rains that fell late last week.  That’s according to the weekly Crop Progress numbers released Monday by the National Ag Statistic Service.  In the agency’s weekly crop progress report, the both North and South Dakota as well as Montana garnered national attention as ratings of Hard Red Spring wheat fell a whopping 10% week over week to just 45% good to excellent and the lowest rating since the historic drought of 1988.

The worst hit area continues to be South Dakota where Hard Red Spring is now rated 57% poor to very poor and just 11% good to excellent.  Montana was the next hardest hit, now 31% poor to very poor and 23% good to excellent down sharply from 43% good to excellent just one week ago.  North Dakota reported 45% good to excellent and 17% poor to very poor with the Northeastern corner providing most of the support in ratings.

For livestock producers, there wasn’t much good news either.  South Dakota showed some minor improvements with pasture and range conditions improving by 5% out of the poor to very poor category.  Still 45% of the state is reporting heavily stressed grazing areas with another 29% considered only fair.  In North Dakota, 53% of the state is reporting poor to very poor pasture and range land with only 18% good to excellent.

Other crops weren’t exempt as South Dakota corn conditions were 45% good to excellent with North Dakota 58% good to excellent.  Nationally, however, things looked much better with 67% of the crop rated good to excellent and broad coverage of rains through this week expected to improve that number next Monday.  Despite the wet start for much of Illinois and Indiana, producers there are reporting the further moisture will be welcome.

Monday was also the initial release of soybean conditions for the 2017 season.  At 66% good to excellent, the crop is just below the five year average of 68%, but still viewed to be in “ok” shape, according to analysts.


North Dakota Dept of Ag Launches Drought Hotline

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has announced a new hotline available for ranchers affected by the drought.

“Ranchers who need hay, or those with hay to sell or with pasture or hayland to rent should call us at 701-425-8454,” Goehring said. “We are also appealing to individuals who are available to move hay to contact the hotline.”

Individuals who contact the hotline will provide their name, contact information and what they need or can provide. They will then be entered into the Drought Hotline database to be matched up with other individuals.  Goehring said North Dakota Department of Agriculture employees will answer calls to the hotline weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Callers can also leave a message on evenings and weekends. The service is free of charge.

Lack of measurable rain combined with higher temperatures and wind have caused drought conditions across the state in varying degrees. Based on the latest crop progress report put out by the United States Department of Agriculture for the week ending June 4, North Dakota’s topsoil moisture supplies were rated at 54 percent short to very short. Pasture and range conditions were rated 70 percent fair to very poor, which could cut forage production dramatically for livestock producers even if rains were to come in late June.  An update of the US Drought Monitor released June 9th shows 13% of North Dakota and 11% of South Dakota are now classified as Severe Drought.

“We are requesting that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) allow emergency haying and grazing of CRP land,” Goehring said. “Once a disaster declaration is attained, farmers and ranchers should check with their local FSA office to see if they qualify for other drought relief programs that may be available to help.”

Goehring will be traveling to drought-stricken areas next week.


Perdue Defends Proposed Crop Insurance Cuts At Montana Ag Summit – Audio

US Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue headlined the Montana Ag Summit in Great Falls, Montana Thursday.  Perdue’s main focus was speaking on ways the Trump Administration is working to strengthen Agriculture, despite ongoing budget challenges.  The recent budget proposal seeks a cut of approximately $4.7 billion dollars or 21% for the 2018 Fiscal year:

Perdue Budget 1

Perdue indicated the administration is looking at changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as well as complete elimination of the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.  But its the proposed cuts to crop insurance that are causing producers the most heartburn:

Perdue Budget 2

So far, the cuts to crop insurance seem to be a non-starter in Congress.  Senate Ag Committee Chair and another attendee to Thursday’s conference, Pat Roberts, voiced his opposition to such cuts during a committee hearing last week, as has Senate Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.  Mike Conaway and Colin Peterson, chair and ranking member of the House Ag Committee have also stated their support for maintaining crop insurance in recent days.

Perdue moves on to Idaho Friday where he will visit the National Interagency Fire Center with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.