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Ag briefs: Crop values drop in 2019

Wisconsin State Farmer

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN

2019 saw 8 grain explosions in 2019

While agricultural grain explosions are usually preventable, the U.S. recorded eight of them last year, according to a Purdue University report.

Kingsly Ambrose, agricultural and biological engineering professor collects annual statistics on the number of national agricultural dust explosions and has just released the statistics from 2019: 

  • There were eight grain dust explosions reported in 2019, four fewer than in 2018. These explosions resulted in one fatality and four injuries.
  • Grain dust explosions occurred in six different states: three in Iowa and one each in Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and Georgia.

“When the grain is getting handled or processed, dust gets separated and suspended in the air and settles around the facility,” Ambrose said. “If there is an ignition generating spark, maybe due to the malfunction of a machine, friction or an electrical failure can ignite the dust. Although the primary explosion might be quite small, due to the amount of existing dust, the secondary explosions can be catastrophic.”Ambrose

The best way to avoid grain dust explosions, Ambrose said, is for grain facilities to follow rigorous housekeeping practices, regularly maintaining equipment and providing extensive employee training.

MADISON, WI

Crop values drop in 2019

The production of Wisconsin’s field and miscellaneous crops was valued at $3.28 billion in 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Values summary.

This represents a 10 percent decrease from 2018. The value of corn for grain production totaled $1.67 billion, down 13 percent from the previous year, with production down 17 percent.

Wisconsin’s corn price averaged $3.70 per bushel, an increase of 18 cents from the last marketing year. Down 23 percent from 2018, the value of soybean production was $683 million, with production down 24 percent. The average price increased 6 cents from the previous year to $8.55 per bushel.

Value of production increased from 2018 to 2019 for potatoes, oats, barley, alfalfa hay, and all forage. Value of production decreased from 2018 to 2019 for winter wheat and other hay.

DENVER, CO

Snowpack levels promise sufficient water

Colorado's mountain snow measured slightly higher than normal for this time of year, boosting confidence that water for crops, cattle and residents will be adequate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Colorado Snow Survey data showed the statewide snowpack at 106% of the norm between 1981 and 2010, The Denver Post reports.

There is a significant variation between snow levels in the state's northern and southern mountains, which has been a trend over the past decade.

Forecasters anticipated that dry soil from last year's warm, arid fall likely will reduce water in streams and rivers once snow melts.

Snowpack in Colorado's high mountains serves as a natural reservoir, holding water until spring when rising temperatures melt snow and send water into streams and rivers.

KANSAS CITY, MO

Pig farmers provide 40K servings of pork

To kick off its national forum meeting, the pork industry announced that nearly 40,000 servings of pork will be donated to Harvesters – The Community Food Network. The donation, made by Prairie Fresh® Pork on behalf of attendees at the industry’s annual meeting, will help fight food insecurity in the Kansas City area. 

“Helping to fight food insecurity in our local communities and across the United States is important to all pig farmers,” said David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer representing Arkansas. “The donation allows us to live out our We Care commitment during Pork Forum while providing safe and nutritious pork to those in need right here in Kansas City.”

Harvesters serves a 26-county area, including Kansas City, where one in eight individuals is food insecure.

BISMARCK, N.D.

Perdue names 16 more North Dakota counties as disaster areas

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has designated 16 North Dakota counties as natural disaster areas due to extreme weather last year ranging from drought to excessive moisture. 

The announcement, combined with a disaster designation issued in November, means that all of North Dakota's 53 counties are now disaster areas, meaning farmers and farm-related businesses statewide are eligible to apply for federal emergency loans, the Bismarck Tribune reported. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says for farmers and ranchers, the loans can be used to replace needed equipment or livestock, reorganize a farming operation or refinance. 

Last fall's designation came after the wettest September on record for North Dakota, according to the National Weather Service. The wet weather and an historic early October snowstorm put a halt to harvest and led to flooding in some areas. President Donald Trump also issued a disaster declaration.

Perdue's designation this week covers excessive snow, excessive moisture and flooding, but it also factors in high winds, hail, and drought. Many northern counties were extremely dry last summer. 

WASHINGTON D.C.

Meat donations top 28K lbs.

Exhibitors at the Annual Meat Conference , co-hosted by FMI, The Food Industry Association and the North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute), last week in Nashville, Tennessee, donated 28,000 pounds of meat and poultry products to The Nashville Food Project , a nonprofit that seeks to increase access to healthy foods in homeless and working poor communities across Davidson County, Tennessee. 

The donation will provide 90,000 meals over six months.

An EF-4 tornado and related storms struck the Nashville area while the Meat Conference was held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. The storms killed 25 people and devastated many surrounding communities.

FRESNO, CA

Gold Leaf acquires 1,850-acre almond orchard 

Gold Leaf Farming has announced the acquisition of 1,850 acres of producing almonds located along the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. According to PRNewswire, the Seller was a multi-generational family partnership with a long history of farming in California. The Mendrin Group served as exclusive advisor to the Seller in the transaction to Gold Leaf Farming.

"As younger growers, we aim to build on the success of past generations of California farmers while leveraging technology and sustainable practices wherever possible," said Brandon Rebiero of Gold Leaf Farming.

"The market for almond and pistachio orchards in California is strong, with the number of buyers easily outnumbering quality orchards available to purchase," stated Al & Josh Mendrin of The Mendrin Group.