Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thankful for Ozarks agriculture in 2010

By David Burton
University Extension

Farming can be dangerous, demanding and sometimes financially risky. But even with those downsides, farmers and producers have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says he sees several reasons for both urban and rural farmers to be thankful for 2010.

“For starters, local farmers have seen a groundswell of interest in locally produced food to be thankful for,” said Byers. “Residents of Springfield can also be thankful for the opportunity to legally keep six chickens in the back yard.”

Byers says fruit growers have also had a bountiful harvest in 2010 and vegetable growers have an active grower’s organization (Missouri Vegetable Growers Association) for which they should be thankful.

Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with MU Extension, says in southwest Missouri it seems when one sector of agriculture prospers, another one is not so fortunate.

“Grain prices have shot up which causes happiness for those who have corn, beans, wheat and grain sorghum,” said Cole. “The dry October was really appreciated by those with row crops because it enabled them to harvest hem earlier than normal.”

However, those who produce livestock and poultry may not be so thankful right now.

“Even with prices down, the beef cattle market still remains solid. I think beef producers should be thankful for the current market and future price forecasts for beef look favorable,” said Cole.

Most farmers have also been thankful for the weather this past year.

“We’ve had dry spells and wet spells, cold spells and hot spells but overall, it all averages out,” said Cole. “The good thing is that most farmers have an adequate quantity of hay, even though the quality could be better.”

Rick Mammen, an agronomy specialist with MU Extension, says farmers in the western half of southwest Missouri are giving thanks for both good crops and good prices.

“Often, we have one or the other, but not both at the same time. That doesn’t speak for all of agriculture. The dairy industry has been challenged with high input costs plus marginal product prices,” said Mammen.

Grain farmers in the Ozarks have also been thankful for a late frost which allowed the late-planted soybeans to finish maturing according to Mammen.
With corn and soybean prices more than 60 percent higher than in June, many Missouri farmers are using this good fortune to invest in much-needed upgrades and machinery.

“The ag economy is strong right now compared to the general economy, and that breeds new investment,” said Brent Carpenter, an analyst with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. “Farmers are replacing and buying new and larger equipment, which is showing up not only in strong sales for larger tractors, combines and pickups but also grain bins and computers.”

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