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» April 21, 2008 «
Beef cattle ranchers are reacting to the dry spring by selling cattle or moving their herds to summer pastures early. Those who sell are getting poor prices, as demand for feeder cattle is soft because of the dry weather. Consumers may notice slightly lower beef prices this summer, but the California Beef Council says that is difficult to predict. However, in that some ranchers are selling some of their breeding cows, supplies may be short this fall and next year when consumer prices could jump.
South Korea has agreed to lift its ban on U.S. beef exports. That nation is expected to begin accepting U.S. beef about May 15 after a 20-day comment period for its citizens to express their views. Initially, cattle under 30 months of age will be accepted, but once the U.S. government completes necessary paper work the Koreans will accept all meat. The U.S. Meat Export Federation says the problem facing California and other beef producing states may be the shortage of containers in which to ship the beef abroad.
California farmers are planting crops that offer better returns and use less water, according to a federal government report. Upland cotton acreage will decline 49 percent, pima cotton acreage 31 percent. Corn acreage will increase 3 percent from last year, which was an all time high. Winter wheat acreage is up 20 percent, barley up 53 percent. Even though hay prices are high, it requires more water than some crops and acreage will increase only 1 percent. Sweet potato acreage will increase about 7 percent.
California ranchers are finding an invasive weed called smut grass on their rangeland. It's native to tropical Asia. Farm advisers say the weed generally likes a humid climate, but it has invaded irrigated pastures here. Once in a pasture the weed spreads rapidly unless steps are taken to control it. Cattle avoid the weed, and it can replace grasses that provide cattle nutrients. Smut grass is another expensive weed for ranchers to control.Top