AgDM April: When subtraction leads to larger pig crops

Pork producers are getting more pigs per litter. They’re also farrowing a higher percentage of their breeding herds. Those trends enable producers to add to pig crops by subtracting females from their breeding herds. But recent exceptional performance gains may not continue.

Recent litter rates have been exceptional. The year-over-year changes have been exceptional. Expect a slowing rate of increase going forward. If nothing else, we will be comparing to a high base period a year prior. This, however, does not mean litter rates will decrease.

Read more from Dr. Lee Schulz in the April Ag Decision Maker newsletter.

Ag Decision Maker

An agricultural economics and business website.

Internal and external uses compete for hay and grazing land

Cow-calf producers need forages. Corn stalks can supplement forage supplies. Still, pasture and hay are the key forage resources. Growing forages takes land.

On-farm land use decisions involve trade-offs. If you choose to grow hay to earn income from cattle, you give up the opportunity to earn income from growing something else, corn for example, on that land. Economists call earnings you forego to use your resources where you choose, rather than employing them somewhere else, opportunity cost. All resources–land, labor, machinery, capital–can be employed somewhere else. Thus, all resources have opportunity costs wherever you choose to employ those resources.

Competition for land is intense

Most agricultural land in Iowa, 25,881,597 acres or 86.3% of the total land in farms, is used to grow crops. Of this cropland, 23,520,694 acres are harvested cropland, 2,078,005 acres are cropland idle or used for cover crops or soil-improvement, but not harvested and not pastured or grazed, 255,065 acres are other pasture and grazing land that could have been used for crops without additional improvement, 27,213 acres are cropland on which all crops failed or were abandoned, and 620 acres are cropland in summer fallow.

Woodland accounts for 1,224,543 acres or 4.1% of all agricultural land in Iowa. A majority of this is woodland not pastured versus woodland pastured at 921,340 acres and 303,203 acres, respectively. Permanent pasture and rangeland, other than cropland and woodland pastured, accounts for 1,687,658 acres or 5.6% of all agricultural land in Iowa (Figure 1). Land in farmsteads, homes, buildings, livestock facilities, ponds, roads, wasteland, etc. is 1,184,367 acres or 4.0% of Iowa’s agricultural land.

Read the full article by Dr. Lee Schulz in the March Ag Decision Maker newsletter.

March Ag Decision Maker Updates

Newsletter (PDF)

New Census of Agriculture reveals more farms, more farmers in Iowa
Profitability of winter cereal rye in integrated crop-livestock systems
Internal and external uses compete for hay and grazing land
Shifts in global competition

Information Files

Crops — Costs & Returns

Crops — Machinery

Livestock — Costs & Returns

Whole Farm — Leasing

Ag Decision Maker

An agricultural economics and business website.

Ag Decision Maker updates – January 2024

Newsletter Articles

Newsletter thumbnail

“Would You Rather” pork market edition

Another strong production year

Keys to understanding cattle market report lingo

Information Files, Decision Tools, and Video

Crops — Costs & Returns

Crops — Storage & Markets

Crops — Outlook

Livestock — Outlook & Prices

Whole Farm — Costs & Returns

Whole Farm — Human Resources

Ag Decision Maker

An agricultural economics and business website.

Rainfall Index (RI) Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) Insurance for 2024

Cows on pasture, photo by Lisa Scarbrough

The Rainfall Index – Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) Insurance policy is an area-based insurance plan that covers perennial pasture, rangeland, or forage used to feed livestock. It provides producers a risk management tool to cover forage losses due to lack of the precipitation needed to produce forage for their operation. The coverage is based on precipitation expected during specific intervals and is not design to insure against ongoing or severe drought. This policy is available for all counties in Iowa.

RMA Frequently Asked Questions

Decision Support Tool

Table 1. Policy Dates for 2024 Coverage in Iowa

2024Date
Sales Closing DateDecember 1, 2023
Cancellation DateDecember 1, 2023
Acreage Reporting DateDecember 1, 2023
Premium Billing DateSeptember 1, 2024
End of Insurance DateDecember 31, 2024
Termination DateDecember 1, 2024
Contract Change DateAugust 31, 2024

Figure 1. Acres covered by Pasture, Rangeland, Forage insurance in Iowa, 2016-2023

2016 through 2023 acres covered by PRF insurance in Iowa
Source: USDA Risk Management Agency, Summary of Business

The video presentation below provides an example of how RI-PRF policy coverage can work. NOTE: policy deadlines mentioned at the end are not applicable for current policies. Refer to Table 1 for current deadlines. Additional revisions released in 2021 can be found on the RMA website.

Additional Resources

Rainfall Index Common Policy – Basic Provisions – 2024

Rainfall Index – Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) Crop Provisions – 2024

Rainfall Index Insurance Standards Handbook

United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency (RMA) offers seven livestock plans and an annual forage insurance plan. Talk to your crop insurance agent to help you decide the option that is right for your operation, or use the Agent Locator to find one near you.

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An agricultural economics and business website.

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