August 22, U.S. Department of Agriculture – (National) Agriculture Secretary announces changes to emergency loans, crop insurance.
The Agriculture Secretary made a series of announcements August 22 that continue ongoing work to help farmers, ranchers, and businesses impacted by the most severe drought in 50 years. He said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) intends to file special provisions with the federal crop insurance program to allow haying or grazing of cover crops without impacting the insurability of planted 2013 spring crops, a move that can help provide forage and feed for fall and winter for livestock producers. In a separate step, he will modify emergency loans, allowing loans to be made earlier in the season helping livestock producers offset increased feed costs and the cost of liquidating herds. Also August 22, the Secretary designated 33 additional counties in 8 States as natural disaster areas — 23 counties due to drought. In the past 6 weeks, USDA has designated 1,821 counties in 35 States as disaster areas — 1,692 due to drought.
August 23, Bloomberg News – (National) Beef cattle herds shrink amid drought.
The worst U.S. drought in half a century and record feed prices have spurred farmers to shrink cattle herds to the smallest in two generations, driving beef prices higher, Bloomberg News reported August 23. Beef output will slump to a 9-year low in 2013 after drought damaged pastures from Missouri to Montana, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated. The domestic herd is now the smallest since at least 1973, and retail prices reached a record in July, USDA data show. Feedlots lost $300 a head in August fattening cattle for slaughter, after corn had surged 61 percent since June 15, University of Missouri data show. Beef output in the United States, the world?s largest producer, will drop 3.9 percent to 24.58 billion pounds in 2013, the lowest since 2004, the USDA estimated. The domestic herd across ranches, feedlots, and dairies dropped to 97.8 million July 1, the smallest for the date in at least 39 years, the latest data show. The domestic price of beef will rise as much as 5 percent in 2013, more than any other food group including fruits, cereals, and dairy products, the USDA estimated.