2014-10-27 00:00:00.0 10/27/2014 In This Week's Journal
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ISSUE: 10/27/2014

Congested railways may not clear up until 2016

By Doug Rich

Hobos have a better chance of catching a freight train out of the upper Midwest these days than a load of grain headed for export markets on the coast. Congestion on the railroads in that region will only get worse as farmers begin harvesting a bumper crop of corn and soybeans this fall.

“There are several things at work here,” Deb Miller, vice chair of the Surface Transportation Board, said. “As a consequence of the recession and the slowdown in rail shipping, railroads pared back and certainly were not building up crews and locomotives. Then we came roaring into this year with increased demand for rail service across almost every commodity type so the demand took them (railroads) by surprise. Last year was a very difficult winter in the northern states and around Chicago where we have so much interchange happening and that created a huge backlog. Railroads are struggling both to make the capital investments they need to relieve congestion on the system, get new locomotives and new crews hired.”

A major contributor to the congestion on railroads in the upper Midwest and delays in getting hopper cars to transport grain is increased production from the Williston Basin’s Bakken and Three Forks formations in North Dakota and eastern Montana. Bakken oil production began at the Antelope Field in North Dakota in the 1950s but large-scale production started with the discovery of the Parshall Field in 2007. According to an Aug. 4, report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, North Dakota crude oil production surpassed 1 million barrels per day in April and May.

“The oil production there is just phenomenal, and a great deal of that oil is being transported by rail,” Miller said.

High beef prices continue as inventories are low

By Jennifer Carrico

Beef producers continue to experience high prices, which are expected to continue for a few more years according to Charles Brown, farm management specialist with Iowa State University Extension.

“Cattle inventory numbers continue to be below the previous year, which is a positive influence on prices at all levels,” said Brown.

Commercial beef slaughter for 2014 is down 1.5 percent from the previous year. The outlook for 2015 slaughter is to be down another 5.3 percent. While numbers are down, carcass weights continue to increase. In 2014, carcass weights increased 0.7 pounds at an average of 792 pounds. The same increase is expected in 2015.

“With the decrease in slaughter number and increase in carcass weights, total beef production is only expected to be down 0.7 percent from the previous year. However, 2015 is expected to have a decrease of 4.7 percent even with an increase in carcass weight,” said Brown.

Cattle prices are also supported by lower input costs. Feedstuff prices are lower, leading to higher expected profits.

NSC and ACTH--Double trouble in the fall

By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. Horses are more likely to suffer from laminitis in the fall than any other time of year. Two reasons—high NSC (non-structural carbohydrates) from cooler nighttime temper

Lower feed costs, less production lead to record livestock prices

The marketing outlook for cattle is basically a continuation of the last couple years, with more record prices. University of Missouri (MU) Extension

Calving cows will need more nutrients than regrowing pastures

By Mary Hightower University of Arkansas Extension Cooler weather and a resurgence in rain will be sparking regrowth in fescue pastures, but ranchers with f

Winter calf barn ventilation 101

Many calf barns rely on natural ventilation to provide clean, fresh air to calf pens. But, as the weather cools down and winter approaches, there can be a tendency to close the doors, windows and curtains on the calf



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