Pasture Walk Features Financial Climate

June 2010

The financial climate for cow-calf producers has been “stormy,” but a Pasture Walk in NW Iowa provided 39 producers and agri-business staff with information on how to “weather” the storm.

The availability of ag credit and government loans for pasture-based production was tightening. High corn prices were reducing available acres for grazing and creating historically high rental rates for pasture. While some producers were exiting the industry, others were adjusting animal numbers to accommodate the carrying capacity. This would affect the marketing plans for their calves. And because of changes in BSE rules, renderers were no longer accepting carcasses from animals over 30 months-of-age.This was not the typical pasture walk. While intensive grazing was discussed, there were a variety of financial presentations. Participants learned how to compute a pasture rental rate, how to use video auctions to forward contract the market price of their calves, how to successfully submit a loan application and work with their local lender, how to access federal grass-based loan programs, and methods to legally dispose of animal carcasses.

One local beef producer, who has close to 400 acres in paddock grazing, commented that the information on the financial aspects of grazing and the options for carcasses was a good mix along with the traditional “pasture walk” information.

-Jerry Sindt, District Conservationist
Woodbury County Natural Resources Conservation Service

Prior to the Pasture Walk, one of the participants stated, “I am coming particularly to learn how to establish a pasture rental rate.” After the program, one of the co-sponsors commented, “Good program last night! I was impressed with the good turnout as well. Who knows – there might still be some cows left if we keep up this programming.”

The Pasture Walk was cooperatively sponsored and funded by Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Beef Center, Woodbury County Natural Resources Conservation Service, Woodbury County Soil and Water Conservation District, Woodbury County Cattlemen’s Association, Farm Credit Services of America and Iowa Forage and Grasslands Council.