Tough year ahead for Wisconsin producers 

Feed challenges Supplies tight following summer drought

Wisconsin’s agriculture secretary says producers in that state could be strapped for money next year because of drought and tighter banking regulations.

Ben Brancel, who met with several Canadian producers as well as representatives from North Dakota, Colorado and Minnesota during the seventh international roundtable discussion at Canadian Western Agribition, said the state is known for dairy but that industry extends much further.

“We have 1.27 million dairy cows,” he said in an interview. “All of those will end up in the meat chain.”

Dry conditions this past year have created feed and cash challenges for producers of those cows.

Acreage that normally went into corn harvest was turned into corn silage and resulted in less income from cash crops.

“Our biggest problem was forages,” Brancel said. “We didn’t have the hay production that we normally have.”

The state’s beef producers rely on pastures for grazing, as do some dairy producers, and many pastures quit, he said.

“Our producers are feeding up carryover stocks,” he said.

“We will burn through our inventory produced this summer, so next year is going to be a very definite challenge.”

The cost of feed coupled with the shortage of cash will lead to increased borrowing, he said.

However, the difficult economic times in the United States have resulted in tightened banking regulations and increased scrutiny when it comes to risk assessment.

“Our banking industry, our credit industry in general, is more reluctant to give higher-risk loans, which means some of our producers that have made their payments year after year, but it’s not easy, now are going to be in asking for more money,” Brancel said.

This will move their loan portfolios into a higher-risk category and make it more difficult to borrow.

Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association general manager Chad MacPherson said the annual roundtable is designed to keep the lines of communication open in the increasingly integrated North American market.