Ag Briefs: Ag tractor, combine sales make first decline since July 2021

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


February ag commodity prices look better than previous year

The average price received by farmers for corn during Feb. 2022 in Wisconsin was $5.84 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This was 45 cents above the January price and $1.10 above February 2021. 

The Feb. 2022 average price received by farmers for soybeans, at $14.70 per bushel, was $2.20 above the January price and $1.70 above the Feb. 2021 price. 

The February average oat price per bushel, at $6.22, was 84 cents above January and $3.23 above February 2021. 

All hay prices averaged $153.00 per ton in February. This was $2.00 below the January price and $14.00 below the Feb. 2021 price. The Feb. 2022 alfalfa hay price, at $160.00, was unchanged from the previous month but $19.00 below Feb. 2021. The average price received for other hay during February was $129.00 per ton. This was $5.00 below the January price but $11.00 above February last year. 

The average price for milk was $24.00 per cwt, 60 cents above the January price and $6.80 above February 2021.


Ag tractor, combine sales make first decline since July 2021

Ag tractor and combine unit sales had their first decline since July 2021, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

U.S. total farm tractor sales fell 21.1% for the month of March compared to 2021, while U.S. self-propelled combine sales for the month dropped 10.2% to 343 units sold. The 100+ horsepower 2WD segment was the lone growth sector in the U.S. market, up 7%, while mid-range tractors between 40 and 100 horsepower fell 14.1%, and the sub-40hp segment led losses, down 25.5%.

4WD tractors were nearly flat for the second month in a row, dipping down just 2%, or four fewer units sold for the month. Total farm tractor sales are now down 7.9% year-to-date, while combines are down 19.2% for the same.

Curt Blades, of AEM says, “Inventory levels are down more than 10 percent in both the U.S. and Canada, and this is the result of supply chain difficulties catching up with this segment of the manufacturing industry.”


WI Ag educators named Kohl Teacher Fellows

Wisconsin agriculture educators were among a slate of outstanding educators that were honored as this year's Herb Kohl Teacher Fellows. Fellowship recipients are educators who have been chosen for their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in  their students, their ability to motivate others, and their leadership and service within and outside the  classroom.

Wisconsin ag instructors receiving the honor include: Josh Capodarco, Portage Community School District; Candice Franks,  Badger High School, Lake Geneva; Tracy Heinbuch , Plymouth School District; Amanda Seichter, Pardeeville Area School District and Michelle DeBauch, Gillett School District.


Farmers anxious to start field work

Cool, wet conditions are preventing soil from drying out enough to let farmers begin fieldwork this spring. According to Wisconsin USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, just one day was suitable for fieldwork for the week ending April 10, 2022.

There were a few reports that some farmers were able to spread manure this week, and in southern Wisconsin winter wheat fields were starting to green up. Topsoil moisture condition rated 2 percent very short, 7 percent short, 62 percent adequate and 29 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture condition rated 2 percent very short, 18 percent short, 64 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus.


Long time Ag advocate Bob Karls dies

Longtime agriculture advocate Bob Karls of Madison, Wis., passed away on April 2, 2022. According to his obituary, Karls dedicated the entirety of his professional career and over 30 years of service to the Soybean Farmers of Wisconsin, working tirelessly and selflessly as an advocate for farmers both regionally in Madison and in Washington D.C, inspiring many future soybean and agricultural advocates alike.

Karls has served as the executive director of the Wisconsin Soybean Association and Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board since 1990, and was among the co-organizers of the annual Wisconsin Corn/Soy Expo each year since its inception.


AgSource acquires agronomy lab, updates brand

AgSource Cooperative Services announced its acquisition of Dairyland Laboratories, Inc. Agronomy Services Division in Stratford, Wis.

Dave Smercina, vice president of laboratory operations for AgSource, said the company expects minimal changes in how customers interact with the Stratford laboratory.

Effective March 23, all soil, plant tissue and manure analyses, as well as nutrient management services, will be provided by AgSource.

Another change for the AgSource brand was recently announced by URUS, the parent company of the AgSource and VAS brands. Effective March 1, both companies will operate as independent brands under the URUS umbrella.

wing our teams’ pride, passion and value to shine for our members and customers.”


Nonprofit group trying to stop new pork plant

A nonprofit group is urging city leaders in Sioux Falls to place a moratorium on the construction of a $600 million pork processing plant.

Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls say the plant, which will handle about 6 million hogs per year, will be a detriment to every day life in the area.

Locally-owned Wholestone Farms says the plant's design and odor will not be a hazard to the area's quality of life. Wholestone chairman Luke Minion tells KSFY-TV the company has spent five years and about $50 million dollars to make sure new plant's technology on odor reduction will match or exceed the City of Sioux Falls treatment plant.

Wholestone still needs permits from the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources to make sure it meets air and water safety standards.


42% of corn stocks stored on Wis. farms

Corn stored in all positions in Wisconsin on March 1, 2022, totaled 421 million bushels, up 29 percent from March 1, 2021, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 42 percent were stored on-farm. The December-February 2022 indicated disappearance totaled 11.1 million bushels, 92 percent below the 139 million bushels from the same quarter the previous year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Wisconsin on March 1, 2022, totaled 55.1 million bushels, up 41 percent from March 1, 2021. Of the total stocks, 24 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December-February 2022 was 31.4 million bushels, 5 percent above the 29.9 million bushels from the same quarter the previous year.


Ocean Shipping Reform Act moves forward

Last week the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 was unanimously approved during a voice vote of the U.S. Senate. A version of the legislation was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives late last year.

Final negotiations will take place before a final bill can be sent to President Joe Biden for a signature, AgNet reported.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall says farmers have lost out on up to $4 billion in ag exports because of lack of access to export containers, record shipping costs and harmful surcharges.

One of the provisions of the bill is stricter enforcement of federal regulations related to detention and demurrage fees.


Ukraine accuses Moscow of weaponizing hunger

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon of war by deliberately targeting Ukraine’s essential food supplies.

In an address to Irish lawmakers, Zelenskyy said Russian forces “are destroying things that are sustaining livelihoods” including food storage depots, blocking ports so Ukraine could not export food and “putting mines into the fields,” Associated Press reported.

“For them hunger is also a weapon, a weapon against us ordinary people,” he said, accusing Russia of “deliberately provoking a food crisis” in Ukraine, a major global producer of staples including wheat and sunflower oil.

He said it would have international ramifications, because “there will be a shortage of food and the prices will go up, and this is reality for the millions of people who are hungry, and it will be more difficult for them to feed their families.”


EPA to announce decision on small refinery biofuel waivers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will announce a decision as early as Thursday on numerous pending applications from small fuel producers seeking to be excused from biofuel blending mandates, according to two sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported.

The EPA has accumulated a backlog of more than 60 requests for the so-called Small Refinery Exemptions, sought by refineries that argue the cost of blending biofuels like ethanol into their fuel could put them out of business, after a 2020 court decision narrowed the criteria for what facilities should be eligible for the relief.


Varroa-resistant honey bees better winter survivors

Pol-line honey bees, a type of Varroa mite resistant honey bee developed by the Agricultural Research Service, are more than twice as likely to survive through the winter than standard honey bees, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Although ARS developed Pol-line bees in 2014, this study was the first time that they were tested head-to-head alongside standard honey bee stock in commercial apiaries providing pollination services and producing honey. 

In this study, Pol-line colonies that were given no treatment to control Varroa mites in the fall had a survival rate of 62.5% compared to standard bees colonies in commercial apiaries also given no fall Varroa treatment, which had a winter survival rate of 3%.

When Pol-line colonies and standard colonies were treated against Varroa mites in both fall and December, Pol-line bees had a winter survival rate of 72% while standard bees had a survival rate of 56%. 


Mexico to allow U.S. potato imports for first time in 15 years

U.S. potato growers will have full access to the Mexican market for the first time in 15 years. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement while visiting his counterpart in Mexico, Brownfield Ag News reported.

Vilsack says he also met with Mexico’s president and the genetically modified corn ban was discussed. Mexico’s president has issued a ban on GMO corn by 2024.

Vilsack says he emphasized the important role biotechnology can play in meeting the needs of Mexican agriculture and food productivity. 


U.S. export value sets February record, reaching nearly $700M.

Year-over-year U.S. dairy export value surged 23% in February, fueled by elevated international commodity prices and strong sales of higher-value products like cheese. At $696.8M, U.S. suppliers set a February record, U.S. Dairy Export Council reported

U.S. export volume, however, posted its third straight monthly shortfall. Strong U.S. shipments of cheese, butterfat and lactose came close to offsetting declines in milk powder and whey, but fell just shy. The result: a 1% drop in U.S. export volume (milk solids equivalent) compared to the previous year.

U.S. shipments of butterfat jumped 75% to 6,755 MT. That was the biggest month for U.S. butterfat exports in nearly eight years, since April 2014. Nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NFDM/SMP) exports fell 11%. Declines to the top two U.S. milk powder markets—Mexico and Southeast Asia led the decline, but shipments were down to most major buyers.