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US Drought Monitor, April 15, 2014



Warm temperatures and dry conditions were experienced over much of the south this week. Even as the week averaged out above normal, cold air at the end of the current U.S. Drought Monitor period pushed into the region with overnight lows well below freezing and snow in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. The dryness in the Texas panhandle allowed for D4 (exceptional drought) expansion this week. In central Texas, D2 (severe drought) was also expanded while an area of D3 (extreme drought) was improved slightly. Dryness in southern Texas also warranted the expansion and intensification of drought, with D1 (moderate drought) and D2 (severe drought) expanding. Another round of precipitation in the Big Bend of Texas allowed for D0 (abnormally dry) to improve while the extreme areas of northeast Texas also had D0 improve. Southern Oklahoma also had degradation of drought conditions, with D1 and D2 conditions expanding. Read more…

TSCRA Crime Watch: Cattle missing in Central, NW Oklahoma


TSCRA Special Ranger Kent Dowell, Dist. 3 in central Oklahoma, reports the April 9 theft of 50 head of black heifers from a property near Roff in Pontotoc County. The heifers weigh approximately 450 pounds, each, and are branded with a rail 3 – the number 3 with a long bottom running upwards – on the left hip. The heifers also have left ear tags bearing the name SHAD BEEBE and a phone number. If you have any information regarding this case, please call Special Ranger Dowell at 405-941-4117.

TSCRA Special Ranger Bart Perrier, Dist. 4 in northwest Oklahoma, reports 4 head of black cows with calves missing from a property near Bartlesville in Washington County. Some time between March 1 and April 16, the black Angus-cross cow-calf pairs are believed to have gone estray. The cows have a C+ brand on their left ribs and have yellow or white numbered ear tags. The calves are not branded and had not been processed. If you have any information regarding these cattle, please call Special Ranger Perrier at 918-275-4257.

USDA-APHIS: Cervid DPP testing temporarily unavailable


ue to an unexpectedly high number of requests to test cervid (deer) serum samples for bovine tuberculosis (TB) this spring, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has exhausted its supply of ChemBio DPP test kits. The kits are on back order and the manufacturer anticipates that they will be available in early May.

An interruption of about 4 weeks for DPP testing is anticipated at NVSL. Serum samples can still be submitted to NVSL during this time, but they will be frozen and tested when the kits are available. If testing is needed for movement prior to DPP kits being available again, traditional skin testing may be conducted. Otherwise, veterinarians should indicate on the APHIS 10-4 submission form that the testing is for movement, and those frozen samples will be prioritized when DPP tests resume.

If testing is needed for herd reaccreditation, timing of the accreditation will be based on the date the samples are received at NVSL, not the date the test is run.

Questions about submitted samples may be directed to Dr. Jeff Nelson, NVSL, at 515-337-7563 or; questions about herd reaccreditation or movement to Dr. Owen Henderson, VS Cervid Staff, at 970-494-7317 or

Weather will dictate cattle trends this year


Source: Drovers CattleNetwork…

Commercial cow slaughter has run at historically low levels so far this year, partly due to short supplies but also indicating ranchers intend to stabilize or expand their herds. The situation remains volatile though, and with drought appearing to be expanding in the West and Southwest, weather conditions will help determine the direction of herd numbers, according to the April Livestock, Poultry and Dairy Outlook report from USDA. Read more…

Texas crop, weather, for April 15, 2014


Source: AgriLife Today

Sub-freezing temperatures on the morning of April 15 put large acreages of Texas wheat at risk for freeze injury, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. Temperatures were not as low in the Panhandle and Rolling Plains — mostly in the mid-20s — and wheat there was not as likely to have been injured as in the Central and West Central regions. Read more…

Signup begins Tuesday for USDA disaster assistance programs restored by farm bill

Farm Service Agency

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting Tuesday, April 15, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. Read more…

Canada to follow US lead on antibiotics


Source: Feedstuffs

In an April 11 statement, Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) said it is now moving forward, in collaboration with the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), to remove growth promotion/production claims of medically important antimicrobial drugs from food animal production. VDD and CAHI will also work on developing option to strengthen the veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food animals. Read more…

Water police, part 3: EPA’s definition of ‘tributary’

Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Kay Ledbetter

Source: Farm Futures

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, commenting on the new definition of what constitutes a water of the US, says, “To be clear: our proposal does not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act.” However, accepting the government’s definition of ‘tributary’ would vastly expand its regulatory power. Read more…

Economics of using mesquite for electricity dependent on outside factors

Texas A&M AgriLife photo

Using mesquite biomass for electricity generation may become economically feasible if ecological and agricultural factors are considered, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research paper being published in the BioEnergy Research journal. The study estimated the long-term economic feasibility of mesquite biomass in electricity production under five different harvest scenarios. They examined variations in rates of standing biomass accumulation and tree density re-establishment after harvest using an above-ground-only or whole-plant harvest option. Read more…

TDA Market Recap, April 14, 2014

Texas Department of Agriculture

For the week ending April 12, 2014, feeder cattle prices reported by Texas auctions were mostly steady to $6 higher per hundredweight (cwt) compared to their previous sale. However, a few locations also noted lower prices, especially on feeders weighing 700 pounds or more. Texas direct feeder cattle prices were steady on cattle weighing less than 800 pounds, but lower on heavier weights. Tight supplies and strong demand continue to support the feeder cattle market. Read more…

TAHC: Tuberculin shortage resolved


Source: Texas Animal Health Commission

On March 26, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) sent out an announcement stating that the USDA was experiencing a nationwide shortage of tuberculin, the product used for tuberculosis testing. The TAHC has stated that that the shortage of tuberculin has now been resolved and the Texas State-Federal Lab is once again fully stocked with tuberculin.

Beef prices reach highest level since 1987


Source: The Associated Press

The highest beef prices in almost three decades have arrived just before the start of grilling season, causing sticker shock for both consumers and restaurant owners — and relief isn’t likely anytime soon. A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand from countries such as China and Japan have caused the average retail cost of fresh beef to climb to $5.28 a pound in February, up almost a quarter from January and the highest price since 1987. Read more…

USDA announces funding to train and educate next generation of farmers and ranchers

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Mark Kelley.

Source: USDA

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced April 11 the availability of more than $19 million in grants to help train, educate and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

“USDA is committed to the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers because they represent the future of agriculture and are the backbone of our rural economy. As the average age of farmers continues to rise, we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established.” said Vilsack. “Reauthorizing and expanding the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is one of the many resources the 2014 Farm Bill gave us to build America’s agricultural future. Through this program, we can build a diverse next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help farmers, ranchers and managers of non-industrial private forest land – specifically those aiming to start farming and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 or fewer years. It is managed by the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA will competitively award grants to organizations conducting programs Read more…

Can the EPA be farmers’ friend and foe?


Source: Farm Futures

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s attempts to reassure producers that your regulator foe really is your friend creates a conundrum. Read more…

Prevent the spread of invasive species

Caddo Lake giant silvinia in 2006. © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Source:  Drovers CattleNetwork

The USDA has proclaimed April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Here are some tips to prevent the spread of noxious weeds and bugs to your area and other regions of the country. Read more…

Cow/Calf Corner: Pressure builds on cattle prices; Culling order for fall-calving herds when forage is limited

Photo courtesy Oklahoma State University

Source: The Cow/Calf Corner newsletter from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service

April 14, 2014

Pressure builds on cattle prices
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist

With boxed beef prices down sharply from the second rollercoaster high of the year, fed cattle prices may have peaked seasonally. Fed prices are currently holding mostly steady near $150/cwt. but will likely decrease into May as fed cattle marketings increase seasonally. Cattle slaughter typically increases from April through May to seasonal peaks in June. Fed cattle prices typically decrease from April peaks to summer lows in July. Average price change from current market levels would suggest that fed prices could drop to around $140/cwt. by July. Given some bunching of placements in the past couple of months, it would not be surprising to see fed prices drop into the mid $130s, at least briefly, for a summer low. Beef demand, as expressed by wholesale and retail beef prices, will be key through this seasonal supply increase.

Feeder cattle prices have been holding strong as well but are showing signs of weakening from the current peaks. Several factors may contribute to weaker feeder prices in the coming weeks.  Persistent drought Read more…

U.S. beef export shipments and sales increase


Source:  Laura Mushrush, Assistant Editor, Drovers CattleNetwork

U.S. beef export shipments slightly increased by one percent from the previous week to 12,400 metric tons.

The total moved the 4-week average down four percent for the second consecutive week and decreased the 27-week average to 13,265 MT.

Japan continues to be the primary destination, taking in 3,700 MT. Other notable shipment totals include Hong Kong (2,500 MT), Mexico (2,100 MT), South Korea (1,800 MT), and Canada (800 MT). Read more…

USDA designates 6 counties in Texas as Primary Natural Disaster Areas


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated six counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas due to the recent drought.

Those counties are:

Crockett                          Menard                    Schleicher                Irion

Reagan                           Sutton

“Our hearts go out to those Texas farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Texas producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following contiguous counties in Texas also qualify for natural disaster assistance. Those counties are:

Concho                            Glasscock                 Mason                   Sterling

Upton                              Crane                       Kimble                   Midland

Terrell                             Val Verde                 Edwards                McCulloch

Pecos                              Tom Green

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on April 9, 2014, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans Read more…

U.S. may give up demand for zero Japan beef tariffs in trade deal: Nikkei


Sourece:  Reuters

The United States appears willing to accept a big cut in Japanese tariffs on beef imports rather than insist on scrapping the levy, the Nikkei business daily said on Friday, as the two countries seek a trade deal seen as vital to a broader regional pact.  Read more…


U.S. Drought Monitor: April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014, Drought Map, Southern Region


The same storm system that brought good rains to the southeast also caught portions of Arkansas, east Texas, and Louisiana.

Outside of these areas, the remainder of the region was mostly dry.

Although dry, temperatures remained at or below normal, with departures from normal of 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit through portions of west Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

Improvements were made to the D0 in northern Louisiana, removing all of the abnormal dryness this week.

In southern Arkansas, D0 was also improved.

The rains in east Texas allowed for the improvement of some of the D0 and D1 areas, pushing them to the west, while some D2 was also improved to D1. Similar improvements were made to the D0 and D1 areas in southeast Oklahoma.

The Big Bend area of Texas did receive some precipitation, which allowed for improvements to the D1 there.

The intensity of the drought conditions in the Texas panhandle, Oklahoma panhandle, and southwest Oklahoma worsened this week. D4 was expanded in both Texas and Oklahoma while D2 and D3 were pushed farther to the east in Oklahoma.

Read more…