Additional conservation programs available for U.S. farmers in the new year

Published: Dec. 28, 2020 at 8:06 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - China doesn’t seem to be showing any ill effects from U.S. trade sanctions and tariffs. New reports out of China show they had a trade surplus last month of almost 75 and a half billion dollars. Chinese officials said exports were up 21% compared to last November. And they said leading that big increases were exports to the United States which were up 46% to just under 52 billion dollars—setting a new monthly record.

Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration approved a line of genetically altered domestic pigs for food use and for human therapeutics. That would mean people who are allergic to red meat would be able to eat pork from this new strain of hogs. It would help them build up immunity to what is called alpha-gal syndrome which is a sugar found in meat from animals like hogs, cattle and sheep. This new line of hogs was developed by the same company that cloned Dolly the sheep many years ago. Currently only about 25 of this new type of hog exist but they are being bred, farrowed and finished at a farm in Iowa.

The December 1st inventory of U.S. hog numbers shows the herd is down about 1% from a year ago. The 77 and a half million hogs on U.S. farms breaks down to just over 71 million head of market hogs and just over 6 and a quarter million in the breeding herd. In Wisconsin, the hog herd is now at 400,000 head—up 10% from last December. The breakdown shows 342,000 head as market hogs and 58,000 breeding animals. Iowa continues to lead the nation in hog numbers with 24 million, 800 thousand hogs on December 1st. Second is Minnesota with 9.4 million head.

2021 will mean more opportunities for farmers to sign up for government conservation programs. From January 4th through February 12th, farmers can get involved in the general Conservation reserve Program which usually involves signing a contract to keep land in conservation practices from 10 to 15 years. Coming in March will be the Grassland CRP. Staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service say they will be available to help farmers increase their chances of being accepted into those programs by helping them consider more conservation management programs like offering their most erodible land or even agreeing to a lower rental rate for the land.

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