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News in agriculture
Dr. Victor Martin

First, the Drought Monitor from Tuesday showed the area of abnormally dry conditions expanding in South central and Southwest Kansas. A few patches of moderate drought appeared southwest of Barton County. This doesn’t factor the rains occurring from Tuesday evening onward. Parts of this area received from one to over three inches of rain while others less than half an inch. It is still a race for grain sorghum and soybean development. These crops need rain and a late fall. There is a great deal of agricultural news lately. These items are presented without comment and listed in no particular order.

• ASF, African Swine Fever, is continuing to resist control efforts in China. China is far and away the largest pork producer in the world and pork is a mainstay in Chinese diets. This presents challenges for the government. Logically, the U.S. would be able to step in and would sell pork, however, the problem is the second bullet point.

• The “trade war” between the U.S. and China shows no signs of abating. The understanding from earlier this summer that China would purchase U.S. agricultural products went out the window with the latest round of tariffs. China is looking to other suppliers, Brazil, Russia, etc., and is spending large amounts of capital on its own infrastructure and in Africa and Asia on agricultural production. History shows that markets once lost don’t tend to come back. In 1980, the U.S. cut off food exports to Russia over their invasion of Afghanistan and those markets never really returned.

• The USDA crop report was released this week and left many in the industry confused. Their acreage in corn and soybeans was higher than expected as was the average and total yield. This didn’t help the markets. They also reported over nineteen million acres under prevented planting. Outcry from the agricultural community was swift. The report relying on what producers reported and satellite imagery, seemed far too optimistic. Many are of the opinion that the report didn’t accurately reflect crop progress. It will be an interesting fall. The Pro Farmer crop tour starts next week and may provide a more accurate estimate.

• Reports are Brazil is bringing another 600,000 plus acres into crop production. They are working to fill in the void left by the U.S. trade conflict, not only for crops like soybeans and corn but also beef. China is investing in Brazil’s infrastructure to speed up the export channel.

• Finally, the Tyson plant fire, which has shut down beef processing for six to eight weeks, had a significant impact on the beef industry. This one plant accounts for six percent of cattle slaughtered in the U.S. It slaughters approximately 6,000 head per day. This past Monday, bids for finished cattle were significantly lower. The problem is we have a tremendous number of cattle on feed that need to be processed and there really isn’t much, if any excess capacity. So packers can offer less and will likely win in the short term.

One last thing, this was the hottest July for the planet since records started in the late 19th Century.

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.