Ag Notebook: Cropland still on the rise, hail takes toll on Colo. fields |

Ag Notebook: Cropland still on the rise, hail takes toll on Colo. fields

Photo courtesy of The Greeley, Colo., Tribune

US Cropland Values Increase 13 Percent

The United States farm real estate value, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $2,900 per acre for 2013, up 9.4 percent from revised 2012 values. Regional changes in the average value of farm real estate ranged from a 23.1 percent increase in the Northern Plains region to no change in the Southeast region. The highest farm real estate values were in the Cornbelt region at $6,400 per acre. The Mountain region had the lowest farm real estate value at $1,020 per acre.

The United States cropland value increased by $460 per acre (13.0 percent) to $4,000 per acre. In the Northern Plains and Corn Belt regions, the average cropland value increased 25.0 and 16.1 percent, respectively, from the previous year. However, in the Southeast region, cropland values decreased by 2.8 percent.

Hail causes hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses for produce growers

Many northern Colorado farmers are playing the wait-and-see game to better understand how an Aug. 3 hail storm impacted their still-growing corn, sugar beets, onions and dry beans.

But some produce growers already know that a lot of damage was done.

Mike Hungenberg, with Hungenberg Produce north of Greeley, Colo., said one of his cabbage fields that was about ready for harvest was “mowed to the ground” by the hail, and estimates the damage to that field alone was about a $450,000-$500,000 loss.

Corn, sugar beets, onions and beans won’t be harvested until closer to fall and are still in growth stages that could allow them time to recover from this weekend’s barrage of hail, farmers said.

That’s not the case for some of the area’s produce, much of which is farther along in its maturity.

Dave Petrocco, who operates Petrocco Farms out of Brighton, Colo., said the hail destroyed 80 percent of the crops at his four farms in the Greeley area — about 650 acres total.

Like Hungenberg, Petrocco estimates the damage done to his crops — squash, green beans, peppers, lettuce and others — will add up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Adding to their frustration is that insurance isn’t available for many of those crops, or is too expensive in some cases.

Estimated Mid-Year U.S. Cattle Inventory Down

The status of cattle inventories in the U.S. is unknown at this time.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service cancelled the report mid-year report, so there are no official July 1 survey-based estimates of cattle inventories by class, 2013 calf crop, or total Cattle on Feed available.

The majority of the group indicated that the beef cow herd was likely down between one and two percent as of July 1.

EPA Maintains RFS Volumes for 2013

The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced last week the finalization of its proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements for 2013 for conventional biofuels, cellulosic biofuels, and the total amount of Advanced Biofuels.

EPA had previously finalized the 2013 volume requirements for biomass-based diesel at 1.28 billion gallons.

The announcement finalizes the requirement for total Advanced Biofuel at 2.75 billion gallons.

The Advanced Biofuel requirement is important to the biodiesel industry because biodiesel — as an EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel under the RFS – can fill not just the Biomass-based Diesel requirement of the program but also part, or all, of the overall Advanced Biofuel requirement. The decision to maintain the Advanced requirement at 2.75 billion gallons offers an additional market opportunity for biodiesel above and beyond the minimum 1.28 billion gallon Biomass-based Diesel requirement for 2013.

Farmers markets report reveals upswing

Farmers markets are booming.

With 8,144 now registered with the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, these markets are becoming one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture. “Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods.” Vilsack made the announcement as a kick off to National Farmers Market Week, held Aug. 4-10. The department also unveiled its newly revamped farmers market directory that allows customers to easily navigate through data.