Dan O'Brien

Dan O’Brien, K-State grain economist, discusses where grain prices are headed at the recent WIBW Radio Farm Profit Conference in Osage City, Kansas.

Weather, livestock and crops were the key topics at the recent WIBW Radio Farm Profit Conference in Osage City, Kansas.

Mary Knapp, Kansas state climatologist, kicked off the event by discussing the 2012 weather outlook for the over 160 folks in attendance.

Knapp commented favorably on the current above-average temperatures and dry January.

“If we are going to have a dry month, January is definitely a good one to be dry,” she explained.

According to her, January was the 12th warmest on record.

Knapp told those in attendance that the outlook for February looks somewhat favorable as well.

“Looking at the next eight to 10 days in February things don’t look too bad,”she said. “It looks like  it will be wetter than average which may not be good if you have a calf crop coming on. On the other hand, this is not a bad scenario for those with row crops.”

When reviewing the weather map for the month of February, according to Knapp, the overall February outlook, which is made in mid-January, looks equally likely to be wetter or dryer than normal.

“As we look out further than that, into February, March and April it appears we could be drier,” she said.

When looking at the overall drought outlook the climatologist expected some improvements in the eastern part of the state but the drought is ongoing.

“March, April and May look drier which is not too encouraging,” Knapp explained. “Temperatures also look to be higher than normal in that period.”

Looking into the summer months Knapp said the precipitation outlook for June, July and August will depend on whether we continue in a La Nina cycle or make the shift to an El Nino cycle.

“Up to this point, we started our winter needing moisture and we got some, meaning normal spring rainfall patterns are going to be more likely, which is favorable for us,”she said.

Switching gears from weather to livestock, Bill Brown, Kansas livestock commissioner, was next on the program.

Brown discussed the current USDA animal traceability program which is in the works.

“Kansas leads every state in the country when it comes to in-shipments for feeding and breeding livestock,” he explained. “That means Kansas has the highest risk of livestock disease transfer then any state in the union.”

This alone, according to Brown, is reason enough to get serious about being able to trace livestock back to their point of origin.

The proposed traceability program which replaces the USDA proposed National Animal Identification System, is just as the name implies, according to him.

“This is not a tracking program, we do not track animals and I don’t use the word track,” he said. “We are trying to trace animals back to their source.”

Tracing animals back to their source is essential in the event of an animal disease outbreak, he said.

According to the USDA, rather than attempting to identify every animal, every premise and every animal movement to achieve trace-back within 48 hours of a disease outbreak, the new USDA approach is aimed at designing a simplified program to achieve basic traceability with simplified identification means, including branding, to respond to a disease outbreak.

“This is not meant to prevent disease as much as it is meant to be able to trace them,” he explained. “We have our work cut out for us when it comes to trace-back ability.”

The Animal Disease Traceability Program establishes minimum standards for movement of animals and the following regulations have been proposed:

•Only applies to interstate animal movement

•Requirements apply to all species including goats, sheep, poultry, cattle and horses

•Animals moved interstate would have to be officially identified

•Animals moved interstate must be accompanied by an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI)

•Some exemptions will be included in the program including such things as commuter agreements

Although there is a lot to look at when working on a program like this, Brown said he is proud to have a lot of good organizations to work with including the Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Cattlemen’s Association and Kansas State University, to name a few.

“The United States is the only country that doesn’t have a system like this in place and if we ever have an outbreak we are toast,” Brown said.

When it comes to the timeline for the ADTP, the commissioner hopes to have it on track before the next election.

K-State Extension Grain Economist, Dan O’Brien was the final speaker on the program and discussed where grain prices were headed for 2012.

According to him, the world economy, sluggish demand and the weather are all going to be key factors in whether or not grain prices stay at, or move above, where they are today.

“Planters are going to be the determining factor this spring for both corn and soybeans,” he said. “How much seed goes in the ground will determine how we set our production potential up.”

In addition to production and supply and demand the economist said, for soybeans, South America production and what happens in China are also factors.

O’Brien concluded by saying, absent a crop problem and continuation of La Nina weather, it is hard to see projections of price for corn to be over $4.50-$5.00, soybeans will be at $10.25 to $10.50.

“If we have a short crop we will stay where we are at now but there is an increasing likelihood for lower prices into fall.”