Halito (Hello) and Happy New Year from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and our Agriculture Department!
The first quarter is always an operationally important and busy time of the year. Currently, we – as well as many of you – are calving heifers and preparing the mature cows to begin calving. In the south and southeast US, most calves (85%) are born in the later winter/early spring. Thus, much of the overall success of these operations for 2023 – both production and financial – will be determined in the next few months. In terms of forage and hay availability and overall condition of our cows, our ranches are fortunate and blessed to be in decent shape. Hopefully, that is the case for you, as well.
I remember in my youth whenever I would wish future endeavors would “hurry up” and get here, my dad always advised me never to wish away time. It’s amazing how the older we get, the truer that seems to ring. However, 2022 will go down – especially as it relates to agriculture – as another very trying year. Not that I am glad it’s gone, but I am hopeful and looking forward to the prospects of a better growing season this year. It is estimated (Jan. 2023 inventory report unavailable before print), due to severe drought across most cattle producing states, the US cow herd has been liquidated to all-time levels. If not for climbing inflation causing higher input costs (feed, fertilizer, fuel), it is clear that larger, much-needed cow-calf margins would be inevitable. Therefore, as in most years, regardless of macro, micro or geopolitical economics, much of our ranching success will simply boil down to the whims of Mother Nature.
Let’s pray she’s in a good mood that lasts throughout 2023.