Agriculture receipts set new record

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By Steve Moore

Hundreds of Kentucky farmers traveled to Louisville last week for the Annual Farm Bureau Convention, and the UK Ag Economics team discussed the economic data for the present year, with an outlook for 2014.

Last week, we mentioned UK College of Agriculture had a new dean. When now retiring Dean Scott Smith started his tenure in 2001, Kentucky agriculture receipts were $3 billion. The new number for 2013 is estimated to be a new record of $6 billion. And the net farm income is probably going to be above $1.5 billion. Where has this huge growth been seen? Poultry, horses, and cattle are the big leaders at the state level. The state has also seen modest growth in grain and tobacco.

So, what does the forecast for 2014 hold? Dr. Will Snell showed reasons to be optimistic about tobacco for at least the short term.

The latest news about the final tobacco buyout payment scheduled for January 2014 still has the sequester cuts taking 7.2 percent out of the payment. Economists are not so optimistic about grain crop prospects. In short, there is a much higher chance of losing money in 2014 than in 2013 because prices have moved lower and are expected to remain in the current trading range.

Producers will weigh two primary tools aimed at reducing revenue risk in the form of crop insurance and forward contracting. Lower feed prices, on the other hand, may improve margins in the dairy industry, and may even lead to increased cow numbers. A bright spot for our local beef industry is the combination of a tight supply and cheaper corn, which may provide a considerable strengthening of calf prices by spring.

Lots to think about as plans and strategies are developed for agriculture next year. Best wishes for good outcomes in your operation.


While the calendar still has a few days until Dec. 21, winter weather is officially here. As animal stewards, we can consider ourselves lucky that our livestock don’t have to deal with temperatures that consistently dip into the negative digits. However, when they do, we need to respond with feeding strategies that satisfy the increased need for energy. Here are some ideas to consider when feeding livestock this winter.

One of the most important aspects of feeding ruminant livestock during the winter is being able to provide a source of good, quality forage. While we probably have an abundance of hay, it may be difficult to find really good quality hay due to extra rainfall this summer. Stockpiled pasture grasses are many times the best quality forage we have. Strip grazing techniques can ensure these high quality forages are used most efficiently.

It’s best to provide hay in some sort of feeder. In most situations, a good feeder will reduce the amount of wasted hay by 20 percent or more. If your hay is of high-nutritive value and your livestock are maintaining their body condition scores throughout the winter, you may not have to provide a source of grain (supplement) at all. To determine your hay’s nutritional levels, have it tested. We can provide details on testing at the Henry County Extension Office at 845-2811.

We talk a lot about feed, yet water, clean and in liquid form, is an essential nutrient that we need to monitor very carefully during the winter months. In general, livestock tend to increase water intake when consuming more dry matter or harvested forages. But, they tend to not want to drink really, really cold water. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you provide fresh water daily on a free-choice basis. Be sure to check water supplies at least twice a day.

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