DairyCast Industry

Agriculture Spring Prep

Agriculture Spring PrepReady for Spring? Spring in the U.S. means different things to different frames and ranches. What do those on the ranch or farm do to prepare for the seasonal changes? This #AgChat brings in questions about the time of year and what decisions need to be made before the next season arrives.

Biofuels Causing Tension in the Feed Grain Markets?

Feed Grain and Ethanol The weather is seriously stressing many crops this year. Corn, specifically, is also being stressed because of the demand for biofuel (ethanol) and livestock animal feed.



Dr. Thomas E. Elam, FarmEcon LLC, released a presentation and detailed analysis of why the USA Renewable Fuel Standard, in this current weather and economic environment, needs to have flexibility in its application [background via EPA]. Dr. Elam's key point: Ethanol policy has increased and destabilized corn and related commodity prices [detailed analysis paper PDF] [summary slide deck PDF].



Dr. Bob Wisner, Iowa State University, and Joel Newman, President and CEO of American Feed Industry Association, provide some highlights of the report titled "Future Patterns of U.S. Grains, Biofuels, and Livestock and Poultry Feeding". This is a another report that highlights the conflicts of having corn being used as a feed grain and a source of energy (ethanol): "Biofuels: A Major Driver of the Changing Feed Cost Environment" is one of the first executive summary points [audio] [report PDF].

Grain in Bottles or Feed?

Economic Grain Situation and Outlook
What is it with the Grain Situation? I am NOT opposed to ethanol. I do prefer it aged in oaken barrels or pretty glass bottles! sums up how Dr. Meyers feels about corn used in ethanol. This presentation (with lots of charts for the data included) shares some other thoughts about the markets, grain, and the future of animal feed [video].

Dr. Elwynn Taylor - Weather Outlook

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What's Up With The Weather? High temperatures across the USA have been a departure from the 1981 2010 average. The persistent heat from the summer of 2011 had more than 70 days over 100 degrees in some spots across the USA and every state has had temps over 100 degrees. What are the impacts on agriculture going forward? What should we do?

Working With Media: It Can Be A Slimy Business

Media Deconstruction On Agriculture Stories
Video via DairyCast.com
Agriculture has been in the main stream media several times this year. Janie Gabbett, Meatingplace Executive Editor, provides a perspective on where people get their news, how stories about agriculture spread, and what farmers and ranchers need to be aware of.

Impacted by Regulation?

Regulation Impacts on Producers and Animal Health Professionals
Audio via DairyCast.com

Regulation Impacts on Producers and Animal Health Professionals Modern animal ag has become a math problem: reduced land use, more people, more food consumption, less water, and transit costs changing. Add in the need to be global and the need to understand animal welfare and the idea of raising livestock become more complex. Dr. Anthony A. Frank, President, Colorado State University, suggests farmers and ranchers need to avoid the trap question "Do you want safe food or affordable food?" and that the real answer is to provide both and turn back to the dialog within the middle ground [audio].

Dairy Production Flash Back to 1970

Sesame Street Milk Song highlights some of the ways milk was produced in the early 1970's. What has changed in 40 years?

Markets Make The World Go Around

milk markets Markets Make The World Go Around Markets exist to help smooth the flow of information and make the future more predictable. But sometimes it takes a Ph.D. to figure out what is going on when corn goes above $8 and you are sitting on several thousand bushels.

To help figure out markets in general, look in to the video Backwardation Bullish or Bearish (less than 5 minutes, from The Khan Academy). This is a very simple video but it helps set the tone about markets and what they might do. For a more advanced look at futures markets, check out this Yale University Forwards and Futures class lecture (~1 hour 10 minutes).

New Views on Dairy Farm Opportunities and Revenue

Meet Claudia, The High-Tech Cow
Photo and story via NPR Planet Money.
The dairy industry is different. The reality is that set milk and feed prices are a thing of the past and many dairy operations need to approach revenue with a new look. Fulper dairy farms, in upstate New Jersey, is tackling what were perceived negatives and turning them into positives with revenue generation potential.

One of their negatives turned positive? Land. The land prices in their region is expensive because it is so close to New York City (about 90 miles). But that negative turns out to be a revenue generating positive. New Yorkers want farm fresh food and being close means dairy products like cheese have more value in the city.

Global Green Revolution in Animal Agriculture?

Global Green Revolution in Animal Agriculture Dr. Frank Mitloehner provides some practical reference stories from Europe on the viability of standard small operations that would struggle to produce the quantity of food for the growing population. His example story is from the first ‘Bioenergiedorf’ (bioenergy village) Jühnde, in the heart of Germany, where the inhabitants are implementing 21st century energy production systems on top of dairy operations utilizing 1960's production technology.
Most of the dairy barns have not been modernized since the 1960s-’70s, and the scale of production has always been extremely small, especially to someone like me, who is used to California dairies and other concentrated feeding operations. A 100-head dairy is considered a large operation in this idyllic village and other places throughout central Europe.
Dr. Mitloehner highlights that the small dairy farm approach traditional in Europe actually creates a larger carbon footprint than larger operations with 1000's of cows. Dr. Mitloehner advocates for a global green revolution in animal agriculture, "coupled with technology transfers, to supply a growing demand for animal protein, while providing environmental stewardship by using sustainable and modern production practices."
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