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LAST WEEK'S ARCTIC BLAST WILL COST LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS MILLIONS IN LOSSES
Source: blog by Keith Good, University of Illinois

To view the complete report, click here.

Wall Street Journal writer Jacob Bunge reported on Thursday that, "Brutal winter weather continued to batter the U.S. agriculture industry, as companies and farmers contended with snow, ice and cold temperatures that disrupted processing, snarled transport and killed livestock across the Midwest and South.

"Winter storms are sowing challenges from Kansas to Alabama, state and industry officials said. Energy shortages forced meat-processing plants to temporarily close, while ice buildups kept grain barges off rivers and cattle ranchers struggled to save calves born onto frozen ground in the middle of the night.

"The processing and transport disruptions, as well as the loss of animal life, are projected to cost agriculture companies and farmers millions of dollars. Farmers and state agriculture officials said it remained too early to tally all the costs."

Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Volume 108, No. 7 (February 17, 2021).


The Journal article explained that, "Clay Burtrum, who raises cattle near Stillwater, Okla., has spent the past few days driving his pastures on the lookout for cows giving birth. On Monday afternoon, he said he grabbed a still-wet newborn calf and set it in the passenger seat of his truck with the heater on high, drying it off before returning it to its mother.

Mr. Bunge added that, "In Arkansas, Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward said he was monitoring natural gas and power availability to the state's chicken industry, which he said processes around tens of millions of birds each week. Prolonged disruptions at any point in the heavily interconnected industry, from the hatcheries where chicks are born to the farms where they are fed and the plants that process them, could have impacts on other parts of the chain, he said."

Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Volume 108, No. 7 (February 17, 2021).


Also on Thursday, Reuters writer Tom Polansek reported that, "Texas ranchers worked overtime to haul water and hay to cattle to keep them alive during a freak winter storm, but some cows have already succumbed to unusual icy temperatures that also killed chickens, idled meat plants and threatened crops.

"The deaths of baby cows in the top U.S. cattle state and struggles to care for surviving livestock are the latest challenges for ranchers who over the past year have dealt with COVID-19 cutting demand for meat at restaurants and shuttering slaughterhouses."

Mr. Polansek noted that, "The cold will also kill oats [Kaylin Isbell, a rancher in Florence, Texas] planted for young cattle to graze on, she said. As a result, Isbell said she will need to sell the animals earlier than expected, reducing her profit margins.

"Ranchers nationwide were already facing higher feed costs as corn and soybean prices soared to multi-year highs."


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