USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement July 12, designating most parishes in Louisiana as eligible for lower emergency loan rates and greater Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) flexibility. Even though the state has gotten more rain than many states further north and west, the drought hit producers in many areas at critical times, damaging pastures for livestock forage as well.
“Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation's economy and it is increasingly important that USDA has the tools to act quickly and deliver assistance to farmers and ranchers when they need it most,” Vilsack said. “By delivering lower interest rates on emergency loans and providing greater flexibility for haying and grazing on CRP lands, we're keeping more farmers in business and supporting our rural American communities through difficult times.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a supply and demand report from the USDA on grain that cut corn yield estimates by an unprecedented 20 bushels per acre between its June and July report, as well as a drop of 3.5 bushels per acre for soybeans. However, it was balanced by disappointing drops in domestic use and exports of grain as a whole.
Greg Fox, a grain marketing specialist with the Louisiana Farm Bureau Marketing Association said while the markets dropped in the wake of the report, they’ve since resumed their upward trend on one overriding factor.
“Weather,” Fox said. “It’s all about the weather and right now we’re facing 100-degree temperatures in the corn belt with only spotty showers for most of those areas. That’s what has been driving these markets lately and will continue to drive them higher until something changes.
“We’ll have a couple of days of lower trading due to profit-taking,” he added. “Don’t be fooled by that. Until we see some major rainfall and soon, the markets will keep climbing on weather concerns.”
Even with the negative export and domestic consumption numbers, both the USDA and private analysts have revised their price estimates for the grains come harvest time, with soybeans going up a dollar and corn more than $1.20. That’s good news for Louisiana growers, who have gotten timely rainfalls for most areas and a good bit of irrigation in dry ones.
“We got between an inch to three inches in Morehouse Parish recently,” said Sam Little, a retired grain farmer there.
Morehouse Parish had been hit particularly hard in this summer’s drought, but most of the crops in the parish have some kind of irrigation. However, Morehouse isn’t in the clear yet.
“The rains certainly helped, although it’s not going to finish the bean crop,” Little said. “What it does help with is fuel costs. Some farmers were pumping $50,000 in water every month from the drought.”