By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaNet farm income should keep rising throughout 2004 and the rest of this decade, according to the 2004 Georgia Farm Outlook and Planning Guide, compiled by the University of Georgia Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.The demand for food and fiber at home and for U.S. farm exports will continue to climb. And supplies are tighter now than in the past.All of that is good news for Georgia farmers, said Don Shurley, the UGA Extension Service economist who edited the outlook.Exports, exportsThe economic health of major Georgia farm commodities like cotton, peanuts and poultry and the future growth of other commodities like vegetables depend greatly on how well they can compete on world markets.”Because we can grow so much of our crops, we generally have more than we can consume in the United States,” Shurley said. “We have to be able to successfully export our commodities.”The continued weakening of the U.S. dollar in international trade markets will make U.S. farm goods easier for other countries to buy in 2004.”When the U.S. dollar weakens,” Shurley said, “farm prices usually respond positively due to increased demand for U.S. exports.”High cotton?Georgia cotton farmers had a great year in 2003. They had a lot of cotton, and the world wanted it. Foreign mills demanded it to make clothes. China, a U.S. cotton competitor, needed it because they had a bad cotton year. And the weaker U.S. dollar helped make it all a little more affordable.These same positive price factors will continue into 2004. But prices probably won’t be as good as in 2003, according to the report.When cotton prices are good in one year, farmers tend to plant more cotton in the next. If they plant more and growing conditions are good, U.S. and world production will likely be high. This will increase the supply and reduce prices.It’s tough to predict, but cotton prices in 2004 will probably be around 60 cents per pound. They got as high as 84 cents in 2003.Powerful peanutsGeorgia peanut farmers can expect better prices in 2004. When prices for other commodities climb, that tends to increase peanut prices, says Nathan Smith, a UGA Extension Service peanut economist.Peanut shellers hope to woo growers into planting peanuts instead of other crops like cotton this spring. They’re contracting peanuts right now for about $400 per ton, $20 higher than 2003 prices.Strong cattleDespite one U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in late 2003, Georgia’s cattle outlook is good.U.S. consumers are still demanding beef, and U.S. supplies are relatively tight. This translates into favorable prices for cattlemen, said Curt Lacy, a UGA Extension Service cattle economist.In 2003, a Georgia cattleman could get around 90 cents per pound for a 500-pound steer. He can expect in 2004 to get around 85 cents per pound, still a strong price.According to the outlook, per capita consumption of major Georgia vegetables like bell pepper, tomatoes, sweet corn, onion and cabbage increased by 3 percent to 5 percent in 2003. It’s expected to increase slightly in 2004. Any increase in exports due to the weaker U.S. dollar will help growers, too.Details about these and other Georgia crops can be found in the outlook guide in late January at www.agecon.uga.edu.
Leading Ryanair Chase hopefuls Don Cossack and Champagne Fever will clash in the feature Grade 2 Ladbrokes Ireland Kinloch Brae Chase at 2.45. The line-up is completed by last year’s winner Texas Jack and Smokey Joe Joe.All eyes will be on the exciting Vroum Vroum Mag in the Leading Light Coolmore NH Sires EBF Mares Novice Chase at 3.15 as she bids to make it three wins from three starts on Irish soil for trainer Willie Mullins.The champion trainer will also fancy his chances of landing the WT O’Grady Memorial EBF Novice Hurdle which is off at 1.35 with Milsean who is a leading fancy for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival despite only having a maiden hurdle success at Navan to his name this season. This afternoons seven-race card at Thurles begins at 1.05.