CattleFax again produced one of the most well-attended events at the beef industry convention that was held in Nashville, TN, a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps the most interesting part of their industry forecast is the long range weather forecast from Dr. Art Douglas from Creighton University in Nebraska. He said things are about to change weather-wise, and that a developing El Nino is back in the eastern Pacific and moving water temperatures around, changing the weather pattern here in the U.S. and around the world. El Nino is expected to become stronger this fall and winter. His forecast has already been realized on the West Coast with a huge amount of rain and snow falling last week. The volume of moisture realized may be referred to as a “Drought Buster.”
Back to the weather specifics, Dr. Douglas said in his report, “Since the demise of the last El Nino in early 2010, severe drought condition migrated across the central and western U.S. Drought has become more frequent in the U.S. since the Central North Pacific entered a warm phase in 1998 and the North Atlantic entered a broad warm phase in 1995. Cold equatorial Pacific, La Nina, intensified in the 2011 drought in Texas by diminishing the subtropical jet and favoring a drought high in the Southern Plains. In 2012, the Plains and Midwest droughts were tied to broad cooling from Baja to Hawaii. This cooling favored the formation of strong drought high pressures in the Pacific and the central U.S. This past summer the equator and Baja slowly warmed and moisture improved in Texas and the Midwest, while the main area of drought moved into the West. With the developing El Nino this year, the main area of drought will be pushed into the Pacific Northwest by fall, which was occurring until the West Coast received massive amounts of rain and snow last week.”
Dr. Douglas added, “Moisture is expected to improve from east Texas north into the Midwest. Planting in the western Corn Belt could be delayed due to excess moisture, while temperatures in the Midwest should remain warmer than normal through spring. In the drought-stricken West, precipitation is expected to slowly increase to normal levels by mid-February and reach above normal levels in March, after a warm mid-winter.
“Temperatures in the West will drop to below normal levels March through May. Summer calls for fairly ideal crop weather across the Midwest, with the only threat of drier weather being in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. Temperatures are likely to start warmer than normal in the Midwest and cool by late summer as El Nino effects increase. The Southwest monsoon typically starts earlier than normal with an El Nino, but expect rainfall to decrease as the late summer drought reaches this region and Mexico. The El Nino should suppress Atlantic hurricane activity, while east Pacific hurricane activity should increase off Baja,” Douglas said.
CattleFax also forecasts that the markets will remain strong and that beef exports are expected to continue their growth trend, expecting exports to account for 18 percent of our domestic production by 2020; they currently stand at 14 percent. Their most pressing concern was that the feeder calf supply is having a damaging effect on the beef industry infrastructure.
Other items acted on at the Cattle Industry Convention were relatively few. New resolutions passed included one to suspend funding for wilderness areas along the border, which have no motor vehicle access for border patrol to properly manage.
The animal health committee would like the federal government to provide funding to indemnify brucellosis, tuberculosis, foot and mouth disease and emergency diseases and to strengthen their commitment to pre-harvest food safety interventions.
Then the marketing committee directed National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to work with Congress and appropriate agencies to create low interest or no interest loans for producers who were affected by the Eastern Livestock bankruptcy.
There was not a single contentious issue debated at this meeting, but many constructive discussions took place about issues affecting the livestock industry. The House of Representatives voted on and passed the new Grazing Reform Bill the same day the Public Lands council met, which you will read about in this issue.
Over 8,000 people attended the convention and there are more events for young ranchers and farmers to be involved with every year. I would have to say: “Hats off to NCBA for another successful industry convention.” — PETE CROW