Farm News & Views - June 6, 2023
Last week, the USDA reported that following record setting 2022 farm exports of $213 billion, U.S. farm exports are set to decrease by 8% this year, due to tightening economic conditions worldwide and lower commodity prices. USDA economists predict a $15.4 billion decline in export sales lead by lower sales of corn, cotton, beef, and soybeans. In the 2023 first quarter forecast, the USDA pegged ag exports in fiscal 2023 at $181 billion. Ag imports were forecast to be $198 billion creating the largest ever trade deficit of $17 billion, and the third agricultural trade deficit in five years. These numbers bring into question the assertions by farm organizations that U.S. farmers feed the world, and therefore must be free of environmental restrictions that might affect how they produce food and fiber.
Climatologists are suggesting that the U.S. will see a shift from La Nina to El Nino conditions this summer. Indicators include waters off the coast of South America that have been very warm since February and have contributed to the erosion of the cold, La Nina waters throughout the spring. They point out that when those cooler waters fade, El Nino often makes a sudden and strong appearance, creating more frequent and stronger storm systems across the southern tier of the U.S., which may increase precipitation in areas that have been very dry due to La Nina for the last several years.
While development of El Nino may bring wetter conditions to areas of the High Plains, it won’t be soon enough to reduce large winter wheat acreage abandonment in the region. USDA estimates suggests that almost one out of every three acres of winter wheat seeded in the fall of 2022 will be abandoned, because of lack of growth due to drought. This expected abandonment of almost one-third of seeded acreage surpasses not only the big Southern Plains drought year of 1951, but also exceeds the winter wheat abandonment rate during the Dust Bowl drought years of the 1930s.
As summer grilling season begins, Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service suggests some meat options for summer cookouts. Consumers will likely see lower prices for pork spareribs and chicken wings, but prices for beef favorites including briskets, steaks and burgers will be higher because of the shrinking beef cattle herd that’s affecting beef supplies as well as continuing consumer demand that’s supporting higher retail beef prices.
A Fort Collins, Colorado couple, Dani and Alex Alvarez have set up a unique business, Sparrow Hill Beverage Burros. They use their mini and micro burros to serve drinks at parties, wedding receptions, business promotions and other events. They have six mini and two micro burros that have had training to desensitize them for contact with people and all sorts of challenges they might encounter as they go about their duties at public and private events. The burros are haltered and have panniers attached to harnesses that carry beverages or other items. In 2022, its official inaugural year, Sparrow Hill’s burros worked at 30 events, 90 percent of which were weddings.
Linus Pauling, chemist and twice a Nobel laureate wrote: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”