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7 ag stories you might have missed

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Check out these 7 stories you may have missed this week.

Let's face it, weather is dominating the agriculture news world. Between temperatures and dry weather, it's a concern for many parts of the United States. Plus, July 4th is here! Let's find out how much the food festivities will cost you. 

It’s no secret that dry weather and drought are impacting agriculture in the United States. In Minnesota, cattle farms are hurting the most.

Nearly half the pastures in Minnesota are in bad shape after the drier-than-normal June, forcing cattle producers to consider other ways to feed their animals. 

"While we are in a wait-and-see period for row crops, we are past the wait-and-see period for anybody who's worried about hay and pasture," said Joe Armstrong, a cattle veterinarian extension educator with the University of Minnesota. "Decisions have to be made before you run out of grass."

That includes weaning calves early to lower the energy needs of cows, hauling in water to replenish their go-to watering holes that are dried up and selling cattle early to reduce herd size.


More drought

And like the northern Midwest, the Southwest is not much different.

Part of the problem in the Southwest is that there was not much moisture released from a lackluster snowpack.

Roughly 9.8% of the U.S. is currently in what climate experts refer to as exceptional drought, the most severe designation, which is characterized by widespread crop and pasture losses and shortages in reservoirs, streams and wells amounting to water emergencies. About 44% of the nation is experiencing some level of drought, with a further 13% currently affected by drier-than-normal conditions.

The agricultural industry throughout the West has suffered in the past decade from a number of climate-related disasters, including a severe drought in 2014-15. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said federal support and relief programs “need to be redesigned to meet the reality of longer-term weather incidents and climate-related incidents that create not just a month, or two- or six-month, problem, but create years of problems and potentially decades worth of problems.” 


Technology in the barn

Technology and the dairy industry. A story out of Colorado shows why it’s important and how it’s helping to make the dairy industry stronger.

A necklace on Bluetooth is attached to 4,500 dairy cows at a dairy southeast of Fort Morgan. Every move the cow makes is recorded by sensors around the farm and finally by computers.

How much milk does the cow make? What time she showed up for milking and if she has a fever. The device can even tell the farmer who is due for a vaccination or a pregnancy check.

The dairy farms are disappearing in Colorado but not the milk production.

In 1996, Colorado had 429 dairy farms and 82,000 cows. Today, there are fewer than 90 dairies but 206,000 cows.


Cattle accident

A truck driver involved in a crash that killed 50 cattle  reported a malfunction in the steering mechanism in Fort Worth, Texas this week.

The malfunction caused the truck to veer into a ditch and flip on its side, killing the cattle.

No citations were issued in the accident.

The driver suffered minor injuries from the crash.

The 18-wheeler had nearly 80 cows.


Thinking outside of the box

It’s fair to say there is a labor shortage across the United States. Agriculture is no stranger to the issue. So much so, farmers are thinking outside of the box. One producer on the Oregon/Idaho border came up with the idea to ask the community to help in the harvest. In exchange, they would get free veggies.

The result? An estimated 6,000 people showed up on a Saturday for the chance to do something many had never done and take home some free asparagus.

The producer, Shay Myers, thought maybe they would get 500-600 people to volunteer. Never, did he think 6,000 people would show to pick the $180,000 asparagus crop.

Myers says he wants the public to "understand the ramifications of what's going on at the border, and the lack of labor that we have in this country."


Best farm dog

Think you have the best Farm Dog? Today is the day to nominate your pooch for American Farm Bureau’s Farm Dog of the Year.

The application period for the best farm dog closes today.

The Farm dog of the Year contest is really a chance to celebrate the important role that farm dogs play in farm families and on working farms

The Grand Prize Winner gets $5,000 in prize money and a year's worth of Purina dog food, as well as being recognized at our convention. And this year, there will be four regional runners that will each win $1,000 in prize money. The People's Choice Pup will also return for the 2022 competition. This is an online version of the contest. The winner will get some bragging rights and also a year's worth of Purina dog food.


July 4th Food Cost

Farm Bureau analysis reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people remains affordable at $59.50, or less than $6 per person. The cost for the cookout is down just 16 cents (less than 1%) from last year, but 8% higher compared to 2019. For more details, check out the gallery here

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