Ag Notebook: Good and bad roads, emergency grazing and haying
August 7, 2013
Wyoming highway system ranks high; Colorado low
Wyoming's state highway system is ranked third in the nation in overall performance and efficiency in the latest Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation.
The news wasn't as good for Colorado, which was ranked 41st.
It is a sharp decline for Colorado, which ranked 33rd and 34th in the two previous reports.
Quality roads are essential for agriculture, needed to transport the industry's goods, among other reasons.
North Dakota and Kansas made up the top two states for best, most cost-effective highway systems.
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Alaska, Rhode Island, Hawaii and California have the worst highway systems in study of pavement condition, congestion, deficient bridges, fatalities and cost-effectiveness
Nationwide there was small progress in every category except for pavement condition on rural arterial roads.
Emergency haying and grazing authorized for multiple Colorado counties
USDA Colorado Farm Service Agency State Executive Director, Leland Swenson this week announced that Las Animas, Huerfano, Adams, Arapahoe, Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Kiowa, La Plata, Archuleta, Lincoln, Logan, Dolores, Montezuma, San Miguel, Morgan, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, Yuma, Prowers, Kit Carson, Phillips and Moffat Counties are authorized for emergency grazing and haying use of Conservation Reserve Program acres for fiscal year 2013.
According to Swenson, there may be additional counties added to this list in the coming days as they are reviewed and approved.
The CRP emergency grazing authorization for fiscal year 2013 is effective on July 16.
The last day to hay CRP acres will be Aug. 31 and graze CRP acres is Sept. 30.
In addition, it has been announced that Elbert County is authorized for emergency grazing only.
For more information, go to http://www.fsa.usda.gov.
USDA purchasing lamb to help struggling industry
The federal government announced Thursday it will make available as much as $5 million for purchasing lamb to help an industry challenged with oversupply, low prices and high feed costs.
It came as welcome news in Colorado, which ranks No. 1 in the nation for its number of market sheep and lambs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated the lamb products purchased by the federal government will go toward food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks.
Going back a couple years, the demand for U.S.-produced lamb increased — as drought in other lamb-producing parts of the world caused a shortage in supply — and prices hit historic highs.
It was great at the time, but Harper, along with ag economists, say the industry priced itself out of the market.
Once lamb prices got too high at the grocery store, consumers started buying less.
Adding to the trouble, the U.S. market has recently seen an influx of lamb coming in from other countries, and the ongoing, widespread U.S. drought and the high feed costs that came with it have made things even worse.
Harper said he's now selling his fed lambs to meat packers — JBS USA in Greeley and Superior in Denver — for about half of what he was two years ago.
And because the demand is low, he's had to keep lambs in his feedlot so long that some are weighing over 200 pounds — much heavier than the 145- to 160-pound lambs packers want.
Harper said, though, he now sees "a light at the end of the tunnel," adding that he might get rid of his last overweight lambs sometime next month.