Greiman concerned about drought impact on Iowa cow herd
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 08/13/2012 12:57 PM
MASON CITY, Iowa —Ed Greiman, a Garner cattle producer and president-elect of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, told U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that assistance such as loan guarantees would help operations like his.
"I feel that we have pretty good disaster relief for crop producers," Greiman said last week when Vilsack met with farmers, politicians and biodiesel industry officials at Soy Energy in Mason City. "I don't need a loan, and I don't need a handout. What I need more of was what I got as a young guy, USDA giving loan guarantees. If I incur an extra $200,000 of debt this year because of increased costs to my cow herd and the feedlot, I'd like to set that off to the side, trim it out and have you guarantee it, which helps me with the bank and the examiners. I don't want to come to you for money, I want to keep working with the bank on that but is there any way we can develop a program where you back my loans for a little while?"
Vilsack said he would be happy to work with loan guarantees, but it would require that Congress authorize it and give USDA the capacity to charge a fee. He is pessimistic that it will happen soon.
Greiman said what he worries about as a beef producer is the cow herds.
"As a cattle feeder, I'll have one bad turn," he said. "I have high priced feeder cattle I'm going to have to feed some $8 corn to, but the next feeder cattle I buy are going to be cheaper. What really worries me is the cow man."
He just redid the budgets for his cow operation and he's looking at another $100 per head expense for feed. He also lowered value of his feeder cattle by $160 a head because of the increased price of corn.
"So the cow man gets a double whammy," said Greiman who farms with his brother Matt.
Greiman said they're grazing hay ground so they're not putting up hay for this winter, which means they have to chop more silage.
"It's starting snow ball," Greiman said. "I'm trying to buy more silage from my neighbor so I have to borrow more money to pay him. The poor cow guy, his only alternative is to sell cows. So we're selling cows which brings down the price of cattle. I'm worried that we're going to kill that cow factory, and we're not going to have the cow factory left. How do you rebuild that."
Greiman is concerned about losing the cow calf industry in the Midwest.
"Feedlot guys will stick around," Greiman said. "I'm scared to death about what's happening to the cow-calf guys. We already lost 15 percent of the cows in the Midwest. Are we about to lose another 15 percent?"
Greiman said his hay crop will be 60 percent of what ought to be. Some silage corn will produce half of what it usually does.
"My brother was hoping for 15 tons per acre," Greiman said. "After being out in it, I'm saying 10 ton. We usually shoot for 20 to 22 ton. It will take twice as many acres for silage. We'll be chopping some silage next week, which is almost a month early."