As I look back on 2023, I have bittersweet memories from an agriculture point of view. I guess one could say this about most years, but 2023 had numerous extremes, some of which I’ll remember for the rest of my days.
I’m just thankful agriculture had some good to help ease the pain of the bad extremes.
Agriculture will always remember the winter of 2023, as 90 percent of ranchers and farmers in the region had never witnessed anything like it before. Even some who remembered the Blizzard of 1949 said last winter was worse.
At various times, the severity of last winter shut down all operations where ranchers and farmers couldn’t even get out of their yards to feed their livestock. Statistics show over 15,000 head of livestock were lost last winter just in Wyoming.
No one knows the actual loss of livestock, and the same can be said for the loss of wildlife and the damage caused by huge snowfall.
The cost of last winter had to be the greatest of all time. Everyone has a horrible story to tell, and just when you think you have heard the worst of it, you’ll realize you haven’t.
The summer of 2023 was good for most and will be remembered for a long time as well. The amount of grass over the rangelands and meadows was unheard of, and the forage stayed green into September.
The rains over the summer and fall wiped out a three-year drought over most of the region. The summer season was a great payback from Mother Nature for the drought and hard winter.
We will remember 2023 for its high cattle prices from last spring through summer and fall where they dipped some, but were still higher than they had been in some time. The year 2024 looks to be higher for cattle, which is good news for prices – producers are receiving what their cattle are really worth.
While beef exports were down in 2023, they were still strong worldwide.
Wool and lambs were higher, but all of the imported lambs into the country put a damper on fat lamb prices.
Yields were good for farmers with grains and hay. Most crops didn’t need irrigated until late June because of all the moisture we received.
On a negative note, with inflation and supply issues, inputs were at a record high and really hurt agriculture. These costs and higher interest rates were tough to deal with daily.
I can’t think of anything good coming out of the White House. From endangered species regulations and unreasonable policies towards federal lands, there are some producers who are at risk. No one knows the damage this will cause agriculture in the future.
Agriculture has been blamed by extremists on the climate change front, but despite the hype coming out of the recent climate change conference, livestock and food were not in the final draft.
Food security is important to all consumers and most trust America’s farmers and ranchers to provide a product which is nutritious, safe and sustainable. Alternative meat is losing its shine.
People just don’t want to eat glorified dog food.
We will always remember 2023. There was plenty of good to go with the not so good.
Dennis Sun is the publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net