Drought becoming a serious concern as planting nears

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 7:08 AM CDT
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - As farmers get more involved in spring planting with every passing day, one of their biggest challenges remain—weather. And so far this spring it’s been dry weather. North and South Dakota are being hit the hardest with drought this spring as all of North Dakota and 78% of South Dakota are in some stage of drought. This week’s Drought Monitor also shows Northern and Northwest Iowa and most of Minnesota are also in serious drought conditions. Drought conditions cover 45% of the country including the Rocky Mountain states, Texas, California and Oregon. With the continuing dry forecasts, those drought areas are expanding causing some concerns already about the size of this year’s corn, soybean and wheat crops.

As the Covid-19 pandemic is hopefully winding down, Americans are getting out more and spending more money at restaurants and grocery stores Latest USDA numbers show demand for cheese and butter has been strong during the first part of the year as restaurants and grocery stores report sales in March of $127.7 billion dollars—their highest totals ever.

A new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would change the way large meatpackers secure their cattle for processing. Right now about 75% of cattle going to market are sold under contract with prices based on criteria set by packers. But this new bill, if passed, would require packers to buy 50% of their cattle on the open market no more than 14 days before slaughter. Similar bills have been introduced before but observers say this bill has a lot of bipartisan support which could push it through to passage.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has just announced a second round of sign-ups for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, better known as EQIP. The program is the main program for farmers and other landowners to secure funding for farm and woodland conservation practices put on the land in 2021. NRCS has money and planning services available for over 120 basic conservation practices. Last year state landowners got over $33 million in EQIP funds. The sign-up period ends on Friday, May 21st.

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