Drought Relief in Nebraska

Posted in Latest News on Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Clarkson, NE, August 20, 2012

The farmers in Clarkson, NE have just received a gift they didn’t think was possible amid the worst drought in a century: a daily supply of lush, LivingGreens(tm) grass to feed their livestock.

The gift has been brought to the area and set up at the Gall Farm in Clarkson, NE by All Season Greens of Montana and Integrity Integrated Resources (I2R) based in Texas. The two companies have teamed up to produce hydroponic growing chambers that may well prove to be the salvation of livestock farmers for years to come. The first feed out from the system in Nebraska is scheduled for Saturday, August 25, 11:00 am at the Gall Farm, xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Clarkson, NE 68629. The public is welcome to attend.

The system that has been installed in Clarkson is a good will gesture from the manufacturers. They send the unit to distressed areas to help farmers feed their livestock. “Between the drought and terrible forest fires we have thousands of animals with virtually nothing to eat.” said David Oberst, President of All Season Greens. “We just felt it was the right thing to do,” said Jerry Smith, President of I2R. “With these growing systems farmers can produce 1,000 pounds a day of fresh living green grass for their animals. That’s gotta taste pretty good to them in all this heat and disasters around the country.”

The system operates based on the principles of hydroponics that farmers have experimented with for centuries. The patent-pending technology from All Season Greens has achieved a breakthrough by providing the first truly plug and run growing chamber that can produce LivingGreens(tm) in sufficient quantity to feed livestock through the winter and even through the worst of droughts. The ASG1000 system grows either barley or wheat from seed to lush grass in just 6 days. Everyday a thousand pounds of premium grade feed is harvested from the system and the farmer starts a new batch which will sprout and mature six days later.

“It’s amazing,” said Rick Dake, a dairy farmer in Norwood, MO who has been feeding his dairy cattle a diet of LivingGreens(tm) sprouted from barley seeds for more than a year now. “You can actually look in the chamber and see a tray day-1 growth when they have already started to germinate in less than 24 hours.” The day-3 seeds have started a healthy root mass, “and then by day 5 you actually have barley grass growing.” Barley LivingGreens reach a peak maturity by day 6 and are generally 5 – 6 inches tall.  “And the nutrition is off the charts,” explained Dake. “My dairy cows absolutely love it. I think they know how healthy it is for them, because they eat the whole thing – grass, roots and all.”  “I have had excellent breed back rates since I started with living greens and they have no health problems at all. No mastitis, no foot problems, the milk has just been excellent.” Dake has also been doing a backgrounding experiment with some beef cattle. “Even in the worst heat we’ve seen here in Southern Missouri in over 60 years the calves have been putting on about 2 ½ lbs / day, with a diet exclusively of LivingGreens(tm) and LivingGrains(tm).” Dake feels pretty lucky, he hasn’t had to sell his calves early and at low prices like a lot of farmers have had to. “We have plenty to feed them because we aren’t dependent on a corn-based feed diet.”

Carl Blake the owner of Rustik Rooster Farm, a specialty swine farm in Ionia, IA credits the ASG1000 with keeping him in business. “With the price of corn my feed costs were out of control and getting worse, “ he explained.  “Now that I have a couple of ASG1000 systems I can survive the drought, feed my pigs better than ever and at a cost that is about ½ of what I used to pay.”

More information can be found on the All Season Greens website, www.allseasongreens.com, or by calling 406-260-6862.

ASG Visits the Annual TSCRA Trade Show

Posted in Latest News on Friday, April 13, 2012

All Season Greens made its first trade show appearance at the Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association Annual Convention & Trade Show on March 30th and 31st.  There were approximately 2,300 attendees and about 230 exhibitors. Despite being one of the smallest companies exhibiting, ASG, was truly the talk of the show because of the industry’s need for a less-expensive way to feed!  ASG displayed their trailer-sized demo system, which produces 100 pounds of LivingGreens feed a day, to show a scaled-down representation of its signature ASG 1000. The ASG team gave ongoing demonstrations of the watering and lighting systems in the hydroponic growing chamber and they also had an eye-catching display of 6 days of growth on a table for the booth visitors to see and feel.  Growth progression from dry seed to living green feed captured the attention of many people and a common reaction from viewers was, “it’s too good to be true!”  Throughout the show, ASG had many of the same visitors returning to the ASG booth three or even four times to bring along a friend. Some of these repeat visitors even gave their own pitch of ASG’s product to their friends!  Many visitors could see the viability of ASG’s growing chamber simply in the fact that it only costs $80/ton or $4/cwt to produce LivingGreens™. They were also impressed with the 50 cents (or less) per pound weight gain for their beef. The other major benefits that struck home with the trade show attendees included: being able to produce your own feed 365 days a year without being reliant on the weather, the highly nutritious feed value of LivingGreens™ and the fact that it is not necessary to have as much grazing land for cattle raising because pasture grass would not be needed.  Although ASG’s booth was hidden away in a back corner of the large tradeshow room,  hundreds of visitors made their way to the booth by word of mouth or out of curiosity at the sight of the vibrant LivingGreens that were displayed on the table.  Some people were actually in awe of the fact that the seeds were grown on no medium and that the specially designed trays were the only material necessary to grow the LivingGreens™.  Next year, All Season Greens will be back at the TSCRA Trade Show and, if space allows, will be promoting on site their signature production model, the ASG 1000.

ASG Receives ETL Certification!

Posted in Latest News on Saturday, February 4, 2012

All Season Greens’ systems have received ETL certification for electrical safety after rigorous testing by the National Testing Research Lab, INTERTEK.  ASG’s electrical control panel also acquired an additional UL “Industrial Control Panel” certification during this process.  What exactly does this mean to you, the consumer?  In taking this important step, ASG is assuring that their products conform to a higher standard of safety and quality compared to the competition.  Both ETL and UL are recognized leaders in the field of safety compliance certification, and an appliance without any ETL or UL certification cannot be presumed safely constructed.  More specifically, environmentally controlled hydroponic growing chambers lacking this qualification can potentially place the consumer and their property at risk due to hazardous electrical malfunctions during operation.  Furthermore, many insurance providers will not insure an uncertified appliance or cover damages or losses resulting from a malfunction of uncertified electrical equipment. When you purchase an ASG growing system, you can feel confident that you are getting the safest, highest quality product available on the market today!

ATLANTA — There is a shortage of organic milk across the country, and in areas such as the Southeast, Publix stores from Florida to Tennessee have put up signs in dairy cases anticipating the shopper’s frustrated refrain: “Where’s my organic milk?”

The answer is there is not enough, and consumers can expect a sharp price hike.

The main reason is that the cost of organic grain and hay to feed cows has gone up dramatically while the price that farmers receive has not. That means that farmers feed their cows less, resulting in lower milk production. At the same time, fewer farmers have converted from conventional dairying to organic.

Through it all, the demand for organic milk has grown.

“It’s a double whammy to have higher sales than you expect and less milk,” said George L. Siemon, chief executive of Cropp, the farmers co-op that produces Organic Valley milk and much of the milk sold as supermarkets’ store brands. “We’re sweating bullets over it.”

The shortages have been most noticeable on the East Coast, but most areas of the country have seen short supplies in recent months. Target said it has had difficulty keeping organic milk on shelves nationwide. Wegmans, a chain with 79 stores from Massachusetts to Virginia, said it has seen shortages of milk from Horizon, a major national brand.

And Publix, with about 1,050 stores in five southeastern states, said shortages started showing up in November in both its store brand, Publix GreenWise Market organic milk, and national brands such as Horizon and Organic Valley.

“Supplies are sporadic,” said Kimberly Jaeger, a Publix spokesman.

Dairy industry executives predicted the shortage along with plans by processors to increase the amount paid to farmers means that retail prices will rise in the next several weeks by as much as 10 percent. That means that a half-gallon of organic milk that typically sells for $3.99 may go as high as $4.39.

Organic milk sales are growing, even though organic milk costs significantly more than conventional milk. Sales of whole organic milk increased 17 percent from January through October, measured by volume, compared to the same period last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Reduced-fat organic milk sales rose by 15 percent. At the same time, total conventional milk sales fell 2 percent.

While the shortage may frustrate consumers, it reveals a bitter truth for organic dairy farmers, who say they simply need to be paid more for their milk.

“If it doesn’t happen, the milk’s not going to be there,” said Tony Azevedo, an organic dairy farmer in Stevinson, Calif., and the president of the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, a farmer group. “And you’re going to have more and more consumers that are going to be turned away.”

The alliance sent a letter to major milk processors such as Organic Valley and Horizon this month, spelling out the economic difficulties facing organic dairy farmers. The letter cited the sharp rise in the cost of hay and grain fed to cattle, which is partly because of increasing demand for corn for ethanol.

It said that to make organic dairy farms profitable, processors would have to increase the amount paid to farmers by $5 for every 100 pounds of milk. That amounts to an increase of about 20 percent.

The alliance calculated that such an increase, if passed on to consumers, would lead to a retail price increase of about 22 cents a half gallon.

“I’ve got farmers that can’t pay their bills,” Mr. Azevedo said. “The wolf’s knocking at the door.”


Texas Drought Takes Cow Numbers Down By 600K

Posted in Latest News on Saturday, December 17, 2011

LUBBOCK  (AP) — The worst drought in Texas’ history has led to the largest-ever one-year decline in the leading cattle-state’s cow herd, raising the likelihood of increased beef prices as the number of animals decline and demand remains strong.

Since Jan. 1, the number of cows in Texas has dropped by about 600,000, a 12 percent decline from the roughly 5 million cows the state had at the beginning of the year, said David Anderson, who monitors beef markets for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. That’s likely the largest drop in the number of cows any state has ever seen, though Texas had a larger percentage decline from 1934 to 1935, when ranchers were reeling from the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, Anderson said.

Anderson said many cows were moved “somewhere there’s grass,” but lots of others were slaughtered. He said that in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas, about 200,000 more cattle were slaughtered this year, a 20 percent increase over last year.

That extra supply could help meet increased demand from China and other countries, but the loss of cows likely will mean fewer cattle in future years.

“Consumers are going to pay more because we’re going to have less beef,” Anderson said. “Fewer cows, calves, less beef production and increasing exports.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that beef prices will increase up to 5.5 in 2012, in part because the number of cattle has declined. That follows a 9 percent increase in beef prices in the past year.

Oklahoma, the nation’s second-largest cattle producer, also saw about a 12 percent drop in cows, Oklahoma State University agriculture economist Derrell Peel said.

Anderson said beef production nationally will be down 4 percent next year.

In Texas, the problem is primarily due to the worst single-year drought in the state’s history. From January through November the state got just 46 percent of its normal rainfall of about 26 inches.

The drought was the result of a La Nina weather pattern, which brings drier than normal conditions to the southwestern states. Forecasters have said La Nina is back, meaning another dry year for Texas, Oklahoma and other nearby states.

The lack of rain coupled with blistering summer heat caused pastures to wither, leaving rancher with the choice of buying feed for the cattle or selling them.

Betsy Ross, a 75-year-old rancher from the small central Texas community of Granger, said she sold all but 80 of the 225 grass-fed animals she had in January. With feed costs up 40 percent and her pasture parched, Ross said she didn’t have any other option.

“It’s not a profitable year, heavens no,” she said. “If you can’t keep them on grass when they’re grass fed you’re not going to make any money.”

About 200 miles north in Sulphur Springs, Texas, part-time rancher Dwyatt Bell said producers in his part of the state sold off up to half their herds. Bell said high prices for cattle have helped offset increases expenses, but many ranchers still are struggling to stay afloat.

“It’s been a rough year,” he said.

Across Texas, the drought has caused an estimated $5.2 billion in losses to farmers and livestock producers, and that figure is expected to rise

Nationally, the number of cows has dropped by an estimated 617,000 this year, a 2 percent decline from the 30.9 million animals on Jan. 1. That number would be larger, but states in northern plains such as North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, increased their cow herd.

Anderson said it’s unclear whether high beef prices would hurt U.S. sales or limit exports. The U.S. is the world third largest consumer of beef per capita at 85.5 pounds per year. Uruguay is first at 137 pounds per capita.

“Exports have been the strongest part of beef demand all year and they’re expected to remain so but higher prices should constrain their growth,” he said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


The smallest U.S. hay crop in more than a century is withering under a record Texas drought, boosting the cost of livestock feed for dairy farmers and beef producers from California to Maryland.

The price of alfalfa, the most common hay variety, surged 51 percent in the past year, reaching a record $186 a short ton in May, government data show. Hay and grass make up about half of what cattle eat over their lifetimes, so parched pastures are forcing ranchers to find alternative sources of feed, pushing some spot-market corn to the highest ever.

Farmers in Oklahoma and in Texas, the biggest producer of hay and cattle, may harvest only one crop from alfalfa and Bermuda grass this year, compared with three normally, said Larry Redmon, a state forage specialist at Texas A&M University. Cattle that usually graze on fields through September or October are instead being sold to feedlots, where they are confined in pens and eat mostly corn.

“We’re just running out of grass,” Bo Kizziar, the feedlot manager at Hansford County Feeders, said by telephone from Spearman, Texas. With pastures disappearing, Hansford is moving cattle into its 50,000-head feedlot three months earlier than normal, boosting costs as the company buys more corn, he said.

The drought, which is the worst ever in Texas, is compounding a hay shortage caused by farmers shifting this year to more profitable crops, including corn. The U.S. may harvest 57.605 million acres of hay in 2011, the least on records going back to 1909, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Corn was sown on 92.282 million acres, the second-most since 1944.

Ethanol Corn Grab

Surging demand from ethanol refiners, livestock producers and importers sent corn futures up 75 percent in the past year, as of yesterday. The U.S. is the world’s largest corn grower and exporter, and the government said June 9 that, for the first time ever, more of the crop will be used to make fuel than animal feed.

Jeff Oyen, 47, who has run a hay-brokerage business since 1991, converted all 1,000 acres of his farm near Crook, South Dakota, to other crops the past three years, partly because corn, wheat and soybeans offered better returns than hay.

Oyen still trucks about 10,000 bales of hay that he buys from other farmers in central South Dakota to feedlots and dairies in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Oyen said he has shipped some hay as far as Maryland because adverse weather reduced production.

“We are getting lots of calls to buy hay, but we can only service so many customers,” said Oyen, who is selling hay this year for $160 a ton, up from about $100 a year earlier and the most ever at this time of year.

Record Hay Prices

Alfalfa traded at a national average of $180 a ton in June, compared with $119 a year earlier, according to USDA figures. For the year, the average may be more than $165, topping the previous annual peak in 2008, said Katelyn McCullock, a dairy and forage economist at the Denver-based Livestock Marketing Information Center, a forecaster since 1955.

Rising feed costs are prompting a reduction in cattle herds and eroding profit for milk producers. The USDA yesterday forecast retail-meat prices may increase this year as much as 7 percent and dairy products may jump 6 percent, more than the rate of overall food inflation at 3 percent to 4 percent.

“All feed costs are high,” McCullock said. “Rising alfalfa prices will hit dairy farmers’ profitability fairly quickly, and this will lead to increased culling.” In June, the U.S. cow herd was the highest in two years, USDA data show.

Shift to Corn

As cattle producers shift more of their feed rations to grain, regional spot-market prices are climbing. Corn in the northern Texas Panhandle sold for about $6.89 a bushel on July 21, or 9.5 cents above September corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. The spot price was almost twice as high as the same day a year earlier, USDA data show. Some livestock producers in Texas are paying as much as $1.15 more than futures, according to Kizziar, the feedlot manager.

Parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California and western Oklahoma had as little as 25 percent of normal rainfall in the past 90 days, while areas of Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas had about half, National Weather Service data show.

In Texas, wildfires have burned about 3.3 million acres this year, said Holly Huffman, a spokeswoman for the state Forest Service. October through June was the driest nine-month period ever in Texas, and rainfall totals in July look to extend the record into a 10th month, State Climatologist John Nielsen- Gammon said in an interview from College Station.

Grinding Stalks

The drought also will hurt local corn production. Some farmers in central Texas are already cutting crops that have failed and grinding the stalks into silage to feed cattle, Texas A&M’s Redmon said.

“It’s just a dang disaster everywhere you look,” Redmon said. “I haven’t even seen a corn crop this year, unless it’s being irrigated. Those guys just got hammered.”

Lower grain and hay supplies may support corn prices nationally, as southern livestock producers “are going to have to come back to the Midwest for those bushels,” said David Smoldt, vice president of operations at INTL FCStone in West Des Moines, Iowa. U.S. rail shipments of grain during the four weeks ended July 9 were 5 percent higher than a year earlier, USDA data show.

U.S. corn inventories before next year’s harvest may drop to 870 million bushels, the lowest since 1996, as ethanol producers demand record amounts of the grain and livestock demand increases, according to the USDA.

Corn Record Seen

The tightening stockpile “really puts the pressure on Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska to have better than a normal crop,” said Smoldt, who estimates corn might reach a record $8 if hot, dry Midwest weather continues into August when plants fill kernels with sugars and starch.

The U.S. cattle herd, including dairy cows and beef animals on feedlots and ranches, totaled 100 million head as of July 1, the fewest at that time of year since at least 1973, the USDA said July 22.

As of July 1, the U.S. feedlot herd of beef cattle totaled 10.451 million head, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier, the USDA said in a report July 22, as drought forced ranchers to sell more livestock.

Beef producers are culling cows and young females, which means smaller supplies for the next two years or longer, according to Steve Kay, the publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly, a trade magazine based in Petaluma, California. The cattle and calf herd next year may fall to the lowest since 1952, increasing costs for meat processors including Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc., he said.

Smaller Herds

“The drought has dried up any hopes for rebuilding the beef herd this year or next year,” Kay said in a telephone interview. “Hay is getting shorter in supply and prices are running higher. The herd liquidation is increasing. The falling cattle herd is going to put more stress on the cattle-processing industry. Beef is going to continue to be more expensive for U.S. consumers.”

Feedlots also are accelerating sales to meatpackers, which will ultimately result in lower beef supplies and may send cattle to a record by the fourth quarter, said Don Close, a market director with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in Amarillo. Cattle futures reached $1.21625 a pound on April 4 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the highest ever, before retreating to $1.149 yesterday.

“Sale-barn receipts for cows and calves have been extremely heavy because guys are out of feed or out of water and don’t have a choice but to sell their cattle,” Close said. “It’s going to make a tight supply even tighter, as we get down the road.”

Dairy Output Boom

Still, demand remains high for both corn and hay from dairy farms, which are expanding herds as high milk prices offset the jump in feed costs. Average Class I milk prices surged 79 percent to $23.92 in June from two years earlier. U.S. milk production climbed 1.1 in June, while the dairy herd totaled 9.21 million cows, up 0.9 percent from a year earlier, the USDA said July 19.

“When you look at the projected prices for corn, soybeans and hay and the price of milk, the profit margin over feed costs is very slim,” said Steve Bodart, a dairy-industry specialist at Lookout Ridge Consulting in Baldwin, Wisconsin. “We are going to have very tight supplies of hay this winter, and that’s when cow culling will increase.”

Poor Crop Conditions

About 94 percent of pasture in Texas was in poor or very poor condition as of July 17, the worst shape for the date since at least 1995, according to the USDA. Little rain is in the forecast over the next five days, and temperatures in Dallas will top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) for a 25th consecutive day today, according to the National Weather Service.

“Our pasture conditions are terrible,” said George Enloe, a partner at Amarillo Brokerage Co., a risk-management firm in Amarillo, Texas. “It looks like the moon. It looks like it’s the middle of the winter in a real bad year, except it’s 100 degrees outside.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Whitney McFerron in Chicago at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net; Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net