Rather than beat a dead (dry) horse this week, let’s change course a bit as quite a bit is happening soon and some other issues are popping up. If the forecast is correct, by the time you read this we will have received some beneficial rain and temperatures will be a chilly 80 instead of over one hundred.
• Sept. 7 is the annual Kid’s Ag Day event for elementary schools in Barton County. Two things make this special. First, the number of people, groups, and businesses involved in making this event possible is impressive. This is especially true when you consider just how busy most in agriculture are this time of year. When you are around these people, from bankers and farmers to the Farm Bureau, you realize not only how committed they are to agriculture and the area but how much they truly love sharing the story of agriculture in the 21st Century. Second, even in an area like Barton County, the general public, especially those under eighteen, doesn’t understand just how complex food production is or where our food comes from.
• Starting September 9th, the annual Kansas State Fair kicks off. If you haven’t been there in a few years, it has transformed from a dusty, hot event with old buildings and flies to a modern, attractive fairground with clean restrooms, air conditioned buildings, a nice food court, and updated livestock facilities. There will be thousands of 4-H exhibits from photos and food to cattle, horses and dog obedience. FFA has a nice presence. It’s a chance to celebrate our heritage and enjoy a corndog or maybe a fried Snickers bar. If any event can bring torrential rains to Kansas, this is the one.
• The latest cattle on feed reports for the southern Great Plains indicates a large increase in numbers and a lot of beef coming our way through say next spring. That doesn’t sound bad, even good for prices. Well, enjoy it while you can. This number is being driven by the drought in cattle country. What’s entering the pipeline are cattle entering early due to a lack of feed and breeding stock that were going to be or were being used to produce the next groups of steers and heifers we were going to eat next year and into the future. Combine this with the increasing importance of the export market to the beef industry and you should expect to pay much higher prices for all cuts of beef starting next year and well into the future. Remember, unlike chicken and even pork, the cattle industry can’t increase production quickly. It takes a certain length of time to go from insemination to the table and try as we might, we can only speed things up so much.
• Since beef is going to become more expensive, you will switch to other protein sources like pork and poultry. With higher feed costs and increased demand from consumers, the prices of these commodities are also likely to increase significantly.
• What can help the situation in the livestock markets? First, an end to the drought will dictate a lot of what happens and when. Second, time, as it takes several years to start increasing cattle production and get it to the table. Finally, more high prices. The old saying goes, “The cure for high prices is more high prices.”
Have a great and safe Labor Day Weekend.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.