~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's latest farm and ranch news
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON for Wednesday August 20, 2008!A service of American Farmers & Ranchers, Johnston Enterprises and National Livestock Credit!
-- Oklahoma Energy Chief Beats the Drum for Biofuels
-- China and the US Ink Cooperative Agreement on Biofuels
-- Plains Cotton Disagrees with USDA on Size of the Lonestar State's Cotton Crop
-- Cattle Producers Reminded "There is No Free Lunch"
-- Beef Checkoff Dollars Losing Ground Against Inflation.
-- Names in the News- Detrick Honored- Nichols Elected.
-- Hoop It Up With Winter Veggies
-- Looking at our Agricultural Markets...
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Oklahoma Energy Chief Beats the Drum for Biofuels
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oklahoma's Secretary of Energy, David Fleischaker, has been an oilman before entering a position as a public servant in Governor Brad Henry's cabinet as his Secretary of Energy. He laughed as we talked today at the International Conference on Sorghum as a biofuel feedstock about an oilman being asked to keynote a biofuels conference. But Fleischaker says that he believes that our country needs ethanol and biodiesel as a part of the solution to a finite supply of crude oil.
Fleischaker told those at the Tuesday luncheon that he sees biofuels as an important element to uphold national security, revitalize rural economies and to enhance the environment.
He is also very high on the use of sorghum in biofuels, saying that
sorghum "hits it out of the park" when it comes to being a water
conserving crop, as well as a crop that can produce large quantities of
biomass per acre. He thinks those two attributes will make sorghum a huge
player in the years to come in the biofuel developments around the
Click here for our Top Story from Houston at WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com
China and the US Ink Cooperative Agreement on Biofuels
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Yesterday morning at the International Conference on Sorghum for Biofuel, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of the People's Republic of China signed an important agreement to collaborate on biofuels research. The signing came during a meeting of over 200 scientists, industry leaders and government officials in Houston, Texas. "We have an existing cooperation between USDA and the Chinese Ministry for Science and Technology," said Eileen Herrera, Acting Deputy Director for the Office of International Research Programs at USDA's Agriculture Research Service (ARS). "We cooperate on several initiatives. Signing this protocol represents formal cooperation in the area of biofuels research."
The agreement establishes the intent to cooperate in establishing
processes and infrastructure for conversion of sweet sorghum and other
feedstocks to ethanol. This agreement represents an important step forward
in the collaboration of some of the world's top scientists to contribute
to alternative energy research through the development of alternative
Tim Lust, CEO of the National Sorghum Producers noted the importance of such an agreement. "This is a milestone for the sorghum industry and for our members as the world turns its attention to sorghum. Sorghum's water sipping qualities, short growing season and ability to grow on 80 percent of the world's land, including some marginal agricultural areas, really lends it to biofuels production as the U.S. and the world face pressing issues with energy independence and economic difficulties."
Plains Cotton Disagrees with USDA on Size of the Lonestar State's Cotton Crop
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The size of the Texas Cotton Crop predicted by USDA last week based on August first numbers is larger than what the Plains Cotton Growers are seeing. Their Vice President, Roger Haldenby, says that they see a significantly smaller harvest compared to what USDA has projected. He believes that USDA estimated a best case scenario to the max with their numbers offered last week.
As Texas goes- so goes the US cotton crop numbers. Our neighbor to the south and west of us is easily the largest cotton producing state- and that is especially true with so many cotton acres put into soybeans this past spring in the mid south. Texas cotton crop production was predicted by USDA to drop by perhaps three million bales this year versus last- but Haldenby says it could be worse than that.
We have an audio overview with comments from Roger Haldenby from his Lubbock office on this bone of contention they have with NASS. Click below to jump to that story and the available audio.
Click here for more on Plains Cotton's view on the size of the 2008 Cotton Crop.
Cattle Producers Reminded "There is No Free Lunch"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~That's the word from OSU Extension Livestock Marketing Economist Dr. Derrell Peel who write these words of advice to cattlemen and cattle ladies.
"The saying that "there is no free lunch" may well be the most widely understood economic concept and perhaps the only thing that many people remember from economics class. However, in the turmoil that we are experiencing in agricultural markets, there is no more critical lesson to keep in mind than this one. "No free lunch" means that there are always tradeoffs for everything. Completely accounting for what you have to give up in order to have something else is what economists call opportunity cost.
"In some cases, the money you have to give up to buy a product (as a consumer) or an input (as a producer) represents most or all of the opportunity cost of that product. You have to give up whatever else you could have bought with that money. In other cases the explicit monetary cost may only be part of the full opportunity cost of a product. In other words, the tradeoffs are the real cost of things. Sometimes the tradeoffs are obvious and other times much more indirect. We can think of tradeoffs in three broad categories. The first is "output to output". In other words, choices between alternatives for production. For example, there is no doubt that we can grow enough corn to meet increased demand for ethanol along with other uses. However, since there is not vast supply of unused agricultural resources, increased corn production costs land, fertilizer and other inputs that could have been used to produce soybeans and other crops.
"The second type of tradeoff is "input to input". When the price of an input increases we look for cheaper alternatives. Thus, high fertilizer price makes other nutrient sources, like animal manure, more attractive. In the case of cattle, high feed-grain prices makes forage more attractive. The third type of tradeoff is "input to output". High input prices (relative to output price) leads to reduced input usage (and less output produced). High fertilizer price suggests that producers should use less fertilizer. High feed-grain price means that feedlots should use less grain to feed cattle. It should be obvious in all of these examples that it is relative prices that drive decision-making. It does not matter what the absolute price of corn is; it matters what corn price is relative to soybean and other crop prices that will determine how we allocate land and other resources to corn and soybean or other crop production. It is the relative price of corn to by- products or forage that determines how much corn will be used for animal feed. It is the price of fertilizer relative to the value of crop production that determines how much fertilizer will be used. In this period of transition, we will continue to see much volatility and uncertainty about these relative prices. Eventually values will adjust relative to what consumers want and are willing to pay for and producer margins will stabilize. In the meantime, not only is the lunch not free, it is very difficult to figure just how much it does cost."
Beef Checkoff Dollars Losing Ground Against Inflation.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The current Beef Checkoff has reached a real critical point in its 20 year life- a fixed amount checked off per animal of a dollar per head has now eroded to where programs that have been in place and have been working for producers now face at the least cuts- and in the future- elimination. We have as our Wednesday Beef Buzz guest Bob Drake, who has been a leader in the cattle industry for years- and now sits on the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion Board- the body responsible for collecting and investing the beef checkoff on behalf of fellow cattle producers.
Drake says that we are now cutting into the "muscle" of many good programs, because the monies are simply not available. He personally would like to see the checkoff raised to $2.00 per head, but he says to get there will require getting all the stakeholders- or what he calls the "base" together on a plan that can be taken to USDA and the Congress sometime next year once Congress and the new Administration are in place. He reminds all those that come together in this effort that a yes vote will need to be sold to grassroots cattlemen as needed and good for the entire industry, as well as their well being in the cattle business.
We have the link to the Beef Buzz page below where you will find today's story with Bob Drake- and you can also take a listen to yesterday's Beef Buzz- also with Drake on the enhancement of the checkoff and how Beef Board leadership has been soliciting ideas from groups representing cattlemen all across the country.
Click here for the Beef Buzz page found on WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com
Names in the News- Detrick Honored- Nichols Elected.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Terry Detrick, Vice President of American Farmers & Ranchers has been awarded the 2008 National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE) Coalition Partner. Each year NASCOE identifies a Coalition Partner of the Year and this year Detrick was recognized at the NASCOE National Convention in Omaha, Nebraska.
Detrick said, "I am honored by this award, not because of what I've done but because of who and what they are. I have a deep respect for what our county FSA employees do for farmers across the country. They are the ones that carry out our USDA programs, explain them to the producers and help them weed through the sometimes exhausting amounts of paper work. It has been my privilege to get to work with them on behalf of our agriculture producers."
Cotton Producer Mark Nichols of Altus was elected president of the Cotton Foundation at its' annual meeting in Savannah, Ga. Charles Parker, a Missouri cotton producer, was elected Foundation chairman. Foundation trustees for the 2008-09 year are: producers; Nichols, Chuck Coley, Georgia; Cannon Michael, California; and Sledge Taylor, Mississippi. Allied industry trustees are: Mark Lindsey, DuPont Crop Protection; Douglas Rushing, Monsanto; Ted McKinney, Dow Agro Sciences; Allen Scarbrough, Bayer CropScience; Neil Strong, Syngenta; Jim Arnold, Helena Chemical; and William Norton, John Deere Des Moines Works.
Hoop It Up With Winter Veggies
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Tod and Jamie Hanley aren't the only Oklahoma gardeners looking for ways to beat the summer heat, but their solution is original: they garden in winter instead, using homemade hoop houses. On Saturday, September 14, from 2 to 6, the Hanleys will treat visitors to their Trebuchet Gardens in Norman to a hands-on workshop. They'll demonstrate how to build low-cost, high-profit hoop houses. "I want people to see just how quick and easy it is," says Tod Hanley.
A hoop house works like a greenhouse, but without powered heat or ventilation. The Hanleys' design keeps their crops happy, weathers the elements, and keeps costs down. That lets the Hanleys extend their growing season, harvesting warm-weather crops earlier and later than other growers, and keeping cold-hardy ones going all winter long. At the field day, they will go through the process of building one of their hoop houses. "We're going to bend some pipes, put in rebar. It'll be very how-to," Tod says. "I'm not an expert on hoop houses," he says. "I just tried a bunch and looked at a lot that fell down." Their hoop houses have withstood 50 mile-per-hour winds that demolished commercial versions, and come cheaper.
To cut expenses, the pair used a homemade pipe bender to form their own
hoops from straight tubing that cost three times less than pre-formed
hoops. Three years ago, the Hanleys built their three 17' by 100' hoop
houses for $600 each, while commercial versions were selling for over
$1000. Growing produce on less than a third of an acre, the couple makes
weekly deliveries to individual customers. They also sell to local health
and natural food stores.
Click here for the Calendar Page found at WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com
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Looking at our Agricultural Markets...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~We sold cash cattle in the southern plains at $99 yesterday- with some 9715 sold at that price according to the Texas Cattle Feeders. That price is a dollar cheaper than last Friday- and the trade comes early in the week compared to most weeks. Carryover from last week's showlists had feedlot operators nervous about having leverage to get steady or better money later in the week- so apparently they decided the best deal was the early week $99 bids.
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