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News Update

August 31, 2011

Excessive Summer Heat May Cause Fall Calves
to be Born Earlier than Normal

Oklahoma cattle producers with fall-calving herds need to be aware that calves may be born earlier than normal this year because of the extremely hot summer experienced by the Southern Great Plains states.

“It’s a good idea for producers to begin their routine heifer and cow checks at least a week to 10 days prior to the normally expected first-calving date,” said Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University (OSU) Cooperative Extension emeritus cattle specialist.

OSU animal science research studying early fall (August) and late fall (October) calving cows indicates that calves may start coming several days ahead of “textbook gestation table” dates.

Data from two successive years were combined for 50 Angus x Hereford crossbred cows. The “early” and “late” fall calving cows had been artificially inseminated in early November and early January, respectively. Semen from the same sire was used for all cows. All cows were exposed to a single cleanup bull for 35 days at four days after the AI season.

The weather prior to calving was significantly different for late pregnancy in the two groups. The average maximum temperature the week before calving was 93° F for the “early” fall group. The average maximum temperature the week before parturition in the “late” calving group was 66° F.

“There was a 100% survival rate for calves in both groups and both groups of cows had excellent re-breeding rates of 93% and 96%, respectively,” Selk said.

The average gestation length for the “early” cows was six days shorter (279 days) as compared to the “late” cows (285 days) in year one. The average gestation length for the “early” cows was four days shorter (278 days) as compared to the “late” cows (282 days) in year two.

USDA Offers Sustainable Agriculture
Grants to Farmers, Ranchers

Farmers and ranchers with innovative ideas on improving their operations through sustainable agriculture practices can apply for funding to try out those ideas.

The USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) offers competitive grants for on-farm research, demonstration and education projects, said Debi Kelly, University of Missouri Extension SARE state co-coordinator.

For the round of grants to be issued in 2012, about $400,000 will be available to farmers and ranchers in the USDA’s North Central Region, which includes Missouri.

“Projects should show how farmers and ranchers plan to use their own innovative ideas to explore sustainable agriculture options and how they will share project results with other producers,” Kelly said.

Since 1992, SARE has issued more than 800 grants to farmers and ranchers studying such topics as alternative grain crops for animal feed; biological weed and pest control; marketing; energy alternatives and conservation; rotational grazing; livestock and crop production systems; and soil and water conservation.

Three types of grants are available: individual grants ($7,500 maximum); partner grants for two farmers/ranchers from separate operations working together ($15,000 maximum); and group grants for three or more farmers/ranchers from separate operations working together ($22,500 maximum).

The deadline for applying is Dec. 2. SARE will evaluate proposals and budgets in early 2012 and send out grant contracts in the spring.

In September, MU Extension’s Beginning Farmers program will host three Monday evening webinars on the SARE farmer/rancher program:

Each 90-minute webinar starts at 7 p.m. For those unable to participate, recordings of the webinars will be available through the Missouri Beginning Farmers Online Learning Community.

For information about connecting to webinars or joining the Online Learning Community, see For information about SARE grants in the North Central Region, see The website includes a downloadable document containing the detailed call for proposals, sample budgets and grant proposal form.

If you have questions, contact Debi Kelly at 1-800-433-3704 (in Missouri only) or 573-882-1905.

New Law Gives More Rights to Property Owners

A new law signed this week by Governor Pat Quinn allows Illinois landowners or lessees the option of using purple paint markings on trees or posts on their property as a “no trespassing” notice. The “Purple Paint Law” is designed as an alternative which Illinois landowners can use to protect their property from trespassing.

The new law — Senate Bill 1914 — was signed by Governor Quinn on Aug. 22 and took effect immediately.

While the new “Purple Paint Law” gives Illinois landowners or lessees the option of marking their property with a series of defined purple paint markings on trees or posts, additional notice is still required through 2012. Until Jan. 1, 2013, those landowners using purple marks must continue to issue a “no trespassing” notice either by oral or written notice to individuals or by posting appropriate signage at the main entrance to the property in question.

Provisions of the new law require that the purple paint marks used to designate “no trespassing” notice must be either:

A vertical line of at least 8 inches (in.) in length. The bottom of the mark shall be between 3 feet (ft.) and 5 ft. high. Each mark shall be no more than 100 ft. from another such mark and be readily visible to any person approaching the property. Or:

A post capped or otherwise marked on at least its top 2 inches. The bottom of the cap or mark shall be between 3 ft. and 5 ft. 6 in. high. Posts so marked shall be no more than 36 ft. apart and be readily visible to any person approaching the property. Prior to applying a cap or mark that is visible from both sides of a fence shared by different property owners or lessees, all such owners or lessees must agree to the decision to post their own property.

Trespassing on property marked for “no trespassing” is a Class B misdemeanor, except when a person trespasses using a motor vehicle if the marked area is an orchard; an enclosed area containing livestock; a barn or other agricultural building containing livestock; or a field that is used or capable of being used for growing crops. Such trespassing constitutes a Class A misdemeanor.

No landowner or lessee is authorized to post purple marks if doing so would violate any applicable law, rule, ordinance, order, covenant, bylaw, declaration, regulation, restriction, contract or other instrument.

The new “Purple Paint Law” does not apply to real property located in a municipality of over 2,000,000 inhabitants.

For more details on the new law, please visit

MU FAPRI Updates Agricultural Baseline
Ahead of Congressional Farm Bill Debates

Tight crop supplies and record farm prices dominate a midyear baseline update from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri.

“Drought, floods and changing economics raise the outlook for many agricultural commodities,” said Pat Westhoff, director, MU FAPRI.

A new baseline update takes those changes into account, Westhoff said, but does not represent a full baseline report. The updated baseline will be used for independent economic analysis of farm, budget and biofuel policies.

Wet conditions and floods delayed and prevented plantings across the Corn Belt and Northern Plains. Droughts across the south and other areas added to the factors changing the outlook.

In the FAPRI baseline, corn prices increase on average from $5.25 per bushel (bu.) to $6.46 for the 2011-2012 crop to be harvested this fall. Likewise, soybeans rise from a projected $11.25 this year to $13.53 per bu. for 2011-2012.

The baseline starts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) August estimates of 2011 crop production. Those estimates showed below-trend yields for corn, soybeans and several other crops.

“Short crops contribute to higher feed costs, which pressure livestock and dairy producers and increase risks,” Westhoff said. “Higher feed prices contributed to slower growth in livestock production, higher meat prices and a decline in domestic per capita meat consumption since 2007.

“However, consumer demand improved for beef and pork, particularly in international markets. Poultry producers remain in a difficult situation,” he added.

“If consumer demand improves as expected during the next couple of years, beef and pork producers should endure higher input costs without further downsizing of herds.”

Consumers will see increasing meat prices into 2012, according to FAPRI.

In the beef herd, FAPRI projects another half-million-head decline in cows to 30.4 million by the start of 2012. By 2016, cow numbers should increase to 31.5 million head. Beef supplies remain low as the cow herd rebuilds. Beef production declines by a billion pounds between 2011 and 2014. That leads to stronger prices the next four years. Fed cattle go from an average of $112 per hundredweight (cwt.) in 2011 to $120 per cwt. in 2015. The baseline ends at 2016 with steers at $116 per cwt.

A similar trend occurs in feeder steers, Missouri’s major livestock product, from $134 per cwt. to $147 in 2014, dropping back only to $138 per cwt. in 2016. Prices are based on 600-650-pound (lb.) steers at Oklahoma City.

Dairy numbers remain steady at 9.1 million cows until dropping to 9 million in 2014.

The average all-milk price, projected at $20.10 in 2011, eases to $19.47 by 2016.

“The update covers near-term outlook for a few commodities and goes out only five years instead of the 10-year annual baseline issued each winter. The update does not receive a full external review,” Westhoff said.

FAPRI assumes that provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill will continue, even though many are scheduled to expire. However, the ethanol tax credit and tariff are assumed to expire as scheduled at the end of 2011.

The next baseline will be prepared in early 2012, starting internally before Thanksgiving.

The update covers corn, soybeans, ethanol, wheat, upland cotton, rice, beef, pork, poultry and dairy. The full update will be posted on the MU FAPRI website

For 27 years, MU FAPRI has supplied economic analysis for proposed agricultural legislation by the U.S. Congress. That included multiple runs on every farm bill.

MU FAPRI is funded in part by the Agricultural Experiment Station of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources in Columbia.


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