BILLINGS — Montana Ag Network report for Friday, January 31, 2020:
#1: Livestock organizations continue to work on finding a permanent solution to the ELD and Hours of Service issue for livestock haulers. Benny Cox is the American Sheep Industry Association’s president from San Angelo, Texas and during the ASI convention in Scottsdale, Arizona a few days ago told me it’s a big deal for everyone and for good reason. And certainly those in the U.S. livestock industry would prefer a permanent solution to ELD’s and hours of service be found sooner rather than later instead of the current short term fix of passing waiver extensions.
#2: The USDA reminds agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program 2020 general signup to enroll by February 28th. This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10 to 15-year term. FSA administrator Richard Fordyce says it’s critical that they make their final determinations and submit offers very soon to take advantage of this popular conservation program. CRP has 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the cap to 27 million acres. To enroll in CRP, contact your local FSA county office or visit the Farm Service Agency’s website.
#3: In comments submitted to USDA, the American Farm Bureau Federation said improved testing rules, an expanded testing timeline, and clarity around hemp transportation would help farmers grow and market this new crop. The comments relate to USDA’s Interim Final Rule regulating hemp production nationwide. During the Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention, members voted to support an increase in the allowable THC level in hemp up to 1%. The vote gives Farm Bureau leaders and staff the flexibility to engage in discussions with regulators and lawmakers about the appropriate legal limit on THC. Current law limits THC content in hemp to 0.3% or below.
#4: And with winter wheat prices remaining at or less than the cost of production and with a very wet planting season, it is no surprise that many U.S. farmers chose to plant slightly less winter wheat for harvest in 2020. The USDA recently assessed hard red winter planted area at 21.8 million acres, down 1% from 2018. Planted acreage is down year-over-year in several major hard red winter producing states with the largest decreases reported in Colorado, Montana and Nebraska. Winter wheat across Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas is mostly in the good to excellent categories but in Montana, protective snow cover may become an issue as crop progress continues this winter.