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Published April 01, 2013, 10:46 AM

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South Dakota livestock doing well in drought, USDA needs Census of Ag data, and corn plunges from USDA report.

SD livestock doing well despite drought

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Livestock are doing well in most areas of South Dakota despite drought-reduced feed and stock water supplies. The Agriculture Department says in its latest crop and weather report that feed supplies are rated only 47 percent adequate to surplus, compared with 99 percent last year at this time. Stock water supplies are rated only 44 percent adequate, and about two-thirds of the state’s pastures and ranges are rated in poor or very poor condition. But cattle conditions in South Dakota still are rated 75 percent good to excellent, and 78 percent of sheep are in those categories. The state’s winter wheat crop is rated only 29 percent fair to good because of a lack of soil moisture as winter ends.

USDA still seeking Census of Ag data

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making one final push to collect information for the 2012 Census of Agriculture. “We’re still trying to get people to respond,” says Sue King with USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farmers and ranchers should have received their 2012 census forms by early January, with completed forms due by Feb. 4. But USDA, which wants the census to be as complete as possible, continues to accept information, King says. The agency is doing one last mailing to people who haven’t completed their census forms. If the mailing isn’t answered, USDA will follow up with a phone call or even a personal visit in some cases. Farmers and ranchers who haven’t completed their form also can do so online. The census, conducted every five years, helps USDA officials administer federal farm programs and also helps collect information on agricultural products such as bison, for which statistics aren’t gathered annually. Federal law requires the National Ag Statistics Service to keep all individual information confidential. County-level data isn’t released publicly if disclosure would compromise individual information. Some farmers and ranchers may not see the value of completing the census form, King says. But even if producers won’t use data from the census personally, commodity groups and trade associations to which they belong will benefit from the information, she says. USDA will begin tabulating the forms this summer. The 2012 Census is scheduled to be released in February 2014. “I urge those who have not yet responded to seize this opportunity,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says. “There is still time to be counted if you respond today.” Information:, 888-424-7827 or state NASS offices.

Goehring urges extra attention to livestock during calving

BISMARKCK, N.D. — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner

Doug Goehring is urging livestock producers to take additional measures and if necessary seek advice to ensure their animals have proper nutrition and care during an especially challenging calving season. “This year’s late, wet and cold spring has put additional pressure on livestock and their owners,” he says. “We have heard reports of pneumonia and scours in young calves, as well as decreasing body condition scores in adult animals.” Goehring says producers can get advice from their local veterinarians, North Dakota State University Extension agents and nutritionists in dealing with animal health problems. “It is never too late to improve the quality of a ration by supplementing available feedstuffs, which will help improve the overall health and productivity of their livestock,” he says. Susan Keller, North Dakota state veterinarian, says weather-related problems have been compounded in some herds by poor-quality hay or dwindling supplies of feed. “Lack of adequate nutrition and needed supplements will also possibly cause poor colostrum in cattle calving now,” she says. “This can lead to multiple calf health problems and poorer conception rates within cow herds in the future.”

Corn plunges on higher-than-forecast stock levels

Corn plunged March 28 after the government reported that inventories were higher than expected and that farmers intend to plant the most corn in almost 80 years. Stocks of corn totaled 5.4 billion bushels March 1, the U.S. Department of Agriuclture says in its quarterly grain stocks report, exceeding analysts’ forecasts. While inventories are down 10 percent from a year ago, after last year’s drought, the estimate still exceeded the expectations of traders and analysts, says Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodities Analytics and Consulting. USDA’s survey of prospective plantings also weighed on prices. Corn growers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn for 2013, a slight increase from last year and 6 percent higher than in 2011. That would represent the highest total area planted in the U.S. since 1936, when 102 million acres were planted. “The USDA found a lot more supply than the market was expecting,” Zuzolo says. Traders “are really having to price these reports in.” May corn tumbled 40 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $6.9525 a bushel, the biggest one-day drop in more than nine months. Wheat and soybeans also dropped sharply. May wheat dropped 49 cents, or 6.7 percent, to $6.8775 a bushel. Soybeans for the same month fell 49 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $14.0475. For more information on the report, see page 8.

Briefly . . .

Not guilty plea: A New Salem, N.D., man accused of mistreating horses and mules has pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor charges in Burleigh County. William Kiefer, a longtime Fargo investment adviser, pleaded not guilty in March to similar charges in neighboring Morton County. Authorities seized more than 150 animals from Kiefer’s properties in the two counties in January after finding nearly 100 dead animals.

Spring planting: The planting of crops in North Dakota this spring is likely to begin later than last year. The Agriculture Department says in its latest crop progress and condition report that producers on average intend to begin fieldwork by April 22, compared with April 2 last year. An average starting date of April 22 still would be earlier than the 2011 average start date of May 7. The average snow depth statewide is about 1 foot, compared with almost no snow cover last year at the same time.

— Agweek Staff and Wire Reports