SD Ag Secretary shares drought impact on livestock market - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

SD Ag Secretary shares drought impact on livestock market

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Even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers intend to plant about 97.5 million acres of corn this year, the most since 1937, South Dakota farmers apparently plan to plant less this year.

A USDA survey shows farmers plan to plant 5.9 million acres of corn in South Dakota. That's down four percent from last year's record 6.15 million acres planted.

Three percent fewer soybean acres are expected to be planted as well. About 4.6 million acres are expected.

Uncertainty about the lingering drought plays a major factor since much of the central and southern part of the state are still in extreme or exceptional drought.

Parched farm fields led to an early harvest in 2012. What most brought in, wasn't anything to brag about. Crops lost in the field create a ripple effect.

"About a third of our crop is fed to livestock here in the state of South Dakota," said Ag Secretary Walt Bones.

A farmer himself, Bones said poor crops meant less green for growers and fewer dollars in the pockets of livestock producers.

"We need a strong and very vibrant livestock sector and those are the folks that need some help right now," he said.

A lack of grain and good hay forced many producers to sell off their livestock.

Bones said, "In the United States our cow numbers are at historic lows. We've never had this few of cows in the United States."

But Bones says the demand is still there, global demand.

"Looking at the worldwide situation when we have a whole bunch of people moving from the poverty level in India, China and all these other countries into the middle class and demanding a different protein source," he said.

Despite less livestock, export contracts must be met. It's a reality that affects all of us at the meat counter.

Secretary Bones said, "Supply and demand will determine what the price is and if people are willing to pay then, yeah, the price will probably go up."

Agriculture is big business in South Dakota. The annual economic impact from just one dairy cow is $14,000 and the impact of one sow $6,000.

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