Michelle Rook / Special to Agweek
Fed and feeder cattle cash prices have been strong this fall, much to the surprise of many in the industry. At the same time, live and feeder cattle futures also pushed into new contract highs to start November, with prices in the deferred contracts looking very positive into 2018. Some analysts have attributed the strength to the extremely long position held by the hedge and index funds, while others are pointing to the rally in the stock market. However, according to industry participants there are many other factors.
After a challenging growing season, South Dakota farmers are finding some surprisingly good soybean yields as they harvest this fall. Doug Hanson, a farmer from Elk Point, S.D., started the season planting the soybean crop late and into mud, and then the weather changed. "From June 20 onto the rest of the summer it just quit raining," he says. The soybean crop finally got some rain in August and recovered, only to face another challenge with late season hail. "It nailed some of our fields about 10, 12 percent damage so there's some stuff on the ground," Hanson says.
The drought made for a tough summer for many farmers and ranchers in South Dakota. And while some areas have received some late beneficial rains and are recovering, not everyone has been that fortunate. Cattle producer Myron Williams of Wall, S.D., says this is the second year of drought in western South Dakota, and it hasn't broken yet. "It started a year ago last March and it hasn't (broken)," he says. "I don't think we've had over a half inch since then at any one time. There are areas that have done better, but in our area ... we just haven't had it."
MADISON, Wis. — The mood was positive among dairy producers and industry representatives at the 51st annual World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., despite the challenging market the last few years. Producers attending the show say 2017 has been slightly more favorable for the industry than 2016, with low feed costs and milk prices at or slightly above breakeven. "On my farm the price of milk was just a little bit better, depending on what they're using for different marketing tools," says Allen Merrill, a dairy producer from Parker, S.D.
BROOKINGS, S.D. — Sheep producers got updates on lamb promotion, research and industry policy priorities in the next farm bill at the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association Convention in Brookings, S.D., on Sept. 28-30. American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick provided an update on federal policy and says they're asking Congress to renew a critical animal health research program in the new farm bill.
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — With a large amount of old crop corn still in storage and another big crop coming on in Nebraska, grain storage will be a real challenge for farmers this fall. While farmers do not expect they'll top last year's state corn or soybean production figures, it will still be a big harvest in Nebraska. "I don't think it's going to be a record crop, but it's going to be a good crop," says Greg Greving, who farms near Chapman, Neb.
Near YANKTON, S.D. — Dakota Plains Ag Center LLC held its grand opening Sept. 7 for a new $40 million grain facility northwest of Yankton, S.D., at Napa Junction. After years of planning and 17 months of construction, it becomes one of the largest grain terminals in southeastern South Dakota. It also ushers in a new era of grain marketing for farmers in the region. Matt Winsand, general manager, says the facility has around 1.2 million bushels of upright silo storage, and nearly 5 million bushels of ground storage.
HURON, S.D. — While many state fairs have changed over the years to cater to a more urban crowd, the South Dakota State Fair has remained rich in agricultural tradition. Dating all the way back to 1885, the fair has held true to its roots. "It's to showcase agriculture," says South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Mike Jaspers. "We are considered one of the true dirt fairs in the country here left. And that's really the whole reason for the fair — to showcase agriculture, have kind of a homecoming for South Dakotans to get back to our roots."
MITCHELL, S.D. and MORGAN, Minn. — Lawmakers are holding farm bill listening sessions and hearings around the country ahead of the writing of the next farm bill. With the current low commodity prices, they want to know how the new legislation can help. At Dakotafest in Mitchell, South Dakota's Congressional delegation heard what farmers need from a farm bill to help with low prices. "The feedback we received today was very helpful," said Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D. "I think folks are looking for some changes in the commodity programs so they work better for them."
RENNER, S.D. — This year's drought in North and South Dakota has been devastating to cattle producers. The drought hit early in the season. Pastures quickly dried up, forcing producers to either sell off a portion of their herd or find ways to stretch their feed sources. However, a revolutionary Renner, S.D., company that exhibited at this year's Dakotafest in Mitchell is providing a welcome solution.