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DHS says ag is ‘critical infrastructure’

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week included agriculture in its list of critical infrastructure, allowing businesses to continue operating as usual amid current and potential re­­strictions created to stem the spread of the COVID-19.

The DHS extended the designation to the entire food and agriculture production system. Farm groups had been concerned about the potential for movement restrictions put in place to limit exposure of the virus, including the potential for halting shipments of inputs needed for the upcoming planting season.

The ag industry is facing a long list of unforeseen complications as the virus hits thousands of people across the country. Farm groups are concerned about labor issues should critical workers become infected and are also worried about the approval process for H-2A workers seeking to come to the U.S. to work during the upcoming planting season.

Survey shows gains in corn and bean acres 

U.S. farmers are expected to plant 94.631 million acres of corn in 2020 and 83.74 million acres of soybeans, according to an annual survey conducted by commodity brokerage and analytical firm Allendale Inc., Reuters reported last week. The survey of farmers in 30 states was conducted between March 2 and March 13.

It found projected corn plantings would be above the latest USDA forecast for 94 million acres and above the 89.7 million acres planted in 2019.

Projected soybean plantings would fall below the latest USDA forecast for 85 million acres but above the 76.1 million acres planted to soy in 2019.

U.S. cattle herd grows

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on March 1, the USDA said last week in its monthly Cattle on Feed report. The inventory was slightly above March 1, 2019. Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.71 million head, 8% below 2019. 

In Iowa, cattle and calves on feed in feedlots with more than 1,000 head totaled 670,000 head, unchanged from February, but down 6% from March 1, 2019. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of fewer than 1,000 head had 625,000 head on feed, down 2% from last month and down 3% from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 108,000 head, down 19% from last year.

Beef and pork slaughter set records in February

Both beef and pork processors set new records last month in pounds produced, according the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture Livestock Slaughter report. Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.45 billion pounds in February, up 7% from 4.17 billion pounds in February 2019. 

Beef production, at 2.13 billion pounds, was 7% above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.58 million head, up 5% from February 2019. Pork production totaled 2.31 billion pounds, up 6% from the previous year. 

Hog slaughter totaled 10.7 million head, up 6% from February 2019.

Survey shows higher corn and bean acres 

U.S. farmers are expected to plant 94.631 million acres of corn in 2020 and 83.74 million acres of soybeans, according to an annual survey conducted by commodity brokerage and analytical firm Allendale Inc., Reuters reported last week. 

The survey of farmers in 30 states was conducted between March 2 and March 13.

It found projected corn plantings would be above the latest USDA forecast for 94 million acres and above the 89.7 million acres planted in 2019.

Projected soybean plantings would fall below the latest USDA forecast for 85 million acres but above the 76.1 million acres planted to soy in 2019.


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