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Montana Ag Network report for Tuesday, April 7

Posted at 2:50 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 16:50:37-04

Montana Ag Network report for Tuesday, April 7, 2020:

#1 U.S. winter wheat is starting off the 2020 growing season with a good-to-excellent condition rating slightly above last year, according to USDA's first weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

In Montana, the winter wheat crop was rated 52% good to excellent, 45% fair and just 3% poor to very poor. Top winter-wheat-producing state Kansas reported 49% of its crop in good-to-excellent condition, slightly below 55% at the same time last year.

#2 As for planting, reporters in Phillips and Valley counties noted producers haven’t been able to get into the fields but they are preparing equipment for planting. No surprise here, just 1% of the spring wheat crop is planted. While 2% of the barley crop is in the ground, behind the 5 year average of 4%. For livestock, 40% of cows have calved behind the 5-year average of 50%. Lambing is on pace with 39% of ewes lambed.

#3 Speaking of lamb, it is one of the main center pieces of Easter and Passover meals. The American Lamb Board understands that despite these challenging times, farmers and ranchers, retailers, and butcher shops are working hard to have lamb stocked in the meat case.

The Lamb Board is also providing educational resources for buying and cooking lamb along with some tasty recipes for this week’s holiday. For more visit

#4 A large pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa is suspending operations after more than two dozen employees tested positive for the coronavirus. The Tyson Foods Plant will last for at least a week and possibly longer. Tyson said it would be diverting livestock shipments to other plants in the region to keep up with demand.

DTN reports that National Beef also announced it was moving up a major cleaning process at the Iowa Premium Beef plant in Tama, Iowa, after a worker tested positive.

This on the heels of a JBS beef plant in Pennsylvania reduced operations due to the pandemic. Also, this week the mayor of Grand Island, Nebraska confirmed 10 JBS employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Leaders in the beef and pork industries stressed earlier on that packing capacity in both industries was already tight and neither cattle nor pork producers could afford plant shutdowns.

#5 Lawmakers are urging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make temporary flexibilities on Farm Service Agency loans permanent for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a bipartisan letter The senators also want USDA to ensure adequate and equitable access to credit and consider making emergency measures such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions effective for the duration of the pandemic.

In all, 43 Senators signed the letter, led by Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota.