The weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report numbers are out for Montana and even though it was a slow start to planting, the crops are coming along this spring.
Barley emerged was estimated at 31 percent, ahead of last year at 6 percent but behind the five-year average of 42 percent. Durum wheat planted was reported at 33 percent complete, which is behind the 5-year average of 52 percent. Fourteen percent of the Durum wheat crop had emerged. Planting of pulse crops continued to progress with 54 percent of the lentil crop planted, ahead of last year’s progress at 50 percent. Dry edible peas planted was at 67 percent complete.
As expected, spring wheat acres quickly increased as 55 percent of the crop was planted last week, compared to 32 percent the week before but behind the 5-year average of 68 percent. Winter wheat conditions were rated as 74 percent good to excellent compared to 58 percent this time last year.
China, on Monday, announced it will raise tariff rates on $60 billion in U.S. imports, including agricultural products starting in June. Agricultural commodities that will cost more in China include citrus fruit, berries, vegetables, and nuts.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said it was not a surprise China is targeting U.S. agriculture products as the trade spat between the U.S. and China continues.
“Anytime a nation wants to take action against the United States they always seem to go to the farm base to try to harm the US producers and harm President Trump politically,” said Perdue. “The President is sending a sincere message that he will not allow that to happen.”
In a tweet early Tuesday morning, President Trump again said the Administration will use money from the massive tariffs on Chinese goods to aid farmers and ranchers during the trade war.
The Administration said it will spend $15 billion more on top of the earlier $12 billion dollars in Market facilitation Program payments. Farm groups are calling for trade not fair not aid.
The American Farm Bureau’s Dave Salmonsen said trade aid will never make up for the cost of lost export markets.
“Farmers would prefer to get back to the situation where we had trade and where we could move beyond the tariffs,” said Salmonsen. “I think everybody was very interested and hopeful and a lot of the messaging was very confident that the we would see a trade deal with China. And we still may.”
The new tariffs may take up to two-weeks to hit goods still in transit, leaving a bit more time to reach a trade deal. Still, U.S. farm income is depressed, bankruptcies up, and existing tariffs continue to punish farmers in lost Chinese purchases and higher farm equipment costs from metals tariffs.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has named a new director to oversee its administration of public lands in Montana and the Dakotas. BLM acting director Brian Steed said John Mehlhoff assumed the Billings-based post on May 12.
He’ll be responsible for management of about 13,000 square miles of public lands and more than 700,000 square miles of federal mineral estate in the three states. Raised on the family homestead in North Dakota, John earned a degree in Petroleum Engineering from Montana Tech.
-Reported by Lane Nordlund/MTN News