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This will be said many times in many ways, but this is truly a milestone event for our state and our agriculture community.

We have increased and enhanced many of our activities and attractions for 2012, but at the same time, we have not lost track of our core mission and values. The youth competitions and providing a venue for the people of our state to enjoy and stay in touch remain intact. We must be willing to embrace change in order to keep our facility and events as a viable part of life in Wyoming. As communication, transportation and areas of interest change, we must keep in mind the many options that our citizens have on which to spend their time and money.

The youth and educational components of Wyoming State Fair best represent the core values we hold. In order to attract exhibitors as well as spectators we must offer a progressive atmosphere that has entertainment and networking opportunities within a clean, safe environment. In other words “people should want to attend.”

We are striving to maintain a facility and produce an annual state fair that offers a “balanced package” and satisfies many interests. The concept is much like selection for multiple traits in a livestock or horse breeding program, and requires using a long-term, balanced approach. Those who attend state fair this year will notice many improvements to the fairgrounds from one end to the other. The entire state fair staff, Department of Agriculture staff, State of Wyoming Construction Management staff, as well as staff and volunteers from cooperating agencies and organizations, deserve a very big thank you for their efforts in making these improvements possible.

Since the beginning of the planning process for the 100th Wyoming State Fair, our primary objective has been, “This is the beginning of the next 100 fairs, not only then end of the first 100 fairs.”

On behalf of everyone who has served on committees, worked as staff, participated in activities, and contributed toward fund raising, we welcome you to attend the 100th Wyoming State Fair in Douglas and allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy an activity that has been described as “what a fair really should be.”

Our theme for this year, “Times Change, Traditions Remain,” sums it up very nicely!

Please join us!

For more information on the Wyoming State Fair, visit wystatefair.com.

 

 In Wyoming, most of the businesses we have are small businesses. Whether it’s the local bakery, tire shop or a family-owned farm or ranch – these businesses were started by men and women with dreams and with determination. They work hard every day to keep their businesses running in tough economic times and have tried to expand and create jobs in their communities. So imagine their surprise when President Obama recently proclaimed in a campaign speech that, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” 

 If the President would take the time to talk with business owners in Wyoming and across the country – the person with the car wash or the local movie theater owner – he would recognize they have worked extremely hard to build their own businesses. If he toured rural Wyoming, he would hear from the farmers and ranchers who work sunup to sundown everyday just to keep their operations going. The President would find that these people aren’t looking for a government handout, however they don’t think their government should be hostile toward them. 

 On top of insulting America’s job creators, the President and Washington Democrats are burying them under more regulations, under more red tape and increased taxes. Recently, 51 Senate Democrats voted to increase taxes on small businesses. According to a recent Ernst & Young report, these tax increases will hit almost 1 million job creators, slash 710,000 jobs and cut wages by nearly two percent. 

 One of the most detrimental taxes the Senate Democrats included in their proposal is the death tax. They voted to bring back the cost of the death tax to the levels of the Clinton administration – where anything over $1 million in assessed value will be taxed at 55 percent. This tax combined with increased land prices will result in many small business owners struggling to keep their ranches and farms in the family. On Wyoming farms and ranches we often see a member of the family is forced to work in town just to make the money to pay the expenses of keeping the operation of the farm or the ranch going. Under the death tax, if the owner of the farm or ranch were to die, their family’s chances of being able to hold on to that operation are reduced to almost nothing. The only solution for many is to sell. 

 If the death tax is allowed to stand, many farming and ranching families will be forced out of theirlivelihoods. Our country cannot afford for this to happen. Congress will continue to debate and vote on the death tax and other tax proposals in the coming months. It’s crucial that Washington starts listening to the concerns of America’s small businesses and farming and ranching communities who overwhelmingly oppose this tax on their way of life. In the Senate, I will fight to block Washington from reinstating the death tax and from raising taxes on anyone in the middle of a bad economy. 

Drought Management in 2012
By Dallas Mount, Southeast Wyoming Extension Educator

    We are thick in the throes of another drought this year. Many of the old timers I speak with say this one is the worst they have seen. Here in Wheatland and around southeast Wyoming, it is the worst I’ve seen in my short 12 years here. As with all droughts some areas are worse off than others.
    Let’s explore some management options for this year’s drought. Should your approach be different from the last drought? I think so. I’ll discuss three common approaches and then some general principles ending with my personal opinion. Three general approaches include sell animals, feed them or relocate them. I think each of these or a combination of these can be the best choice but it depends on many other factors.
Sell ‘em versus feed ‘em
    When balancing the decision to sell or feed the most economically important factor is the direction of cattle prices. If prices are likely to fall over the next three to five years, it usually makes more sense to sell, but if prices are likely to rise over this time, it may make more sense to feed. If you feed during periods of high prices, followed by periods of declining prices you are paying a high price to keep an animal that will be worth less in subsequent years. Also the calves from that cow will be worth less during the subsequent years. If you sell an animal at a higher price point you can buy back at a lower price point when restocking. Of course no one can predict the market very accurately, but we can assess broad trends and weigh the likelihood of various scenarios. Most cattlemen are very reluctant to sell off too much of their breeding stock, an understandable decision. However, given the severity of this year’s drought this may be an economic reality. Selling can be a difficult decision, especially if you feel your cattle are quality animals and, perhaps more importantly, acclimated to your environment. These factors are certainly to be considered, but I think sometimes we let this guide our decision making to the detriment of our business. Love your spouse not your cows.
    Another economic consideration is the cost of feeding them. Hay prices seem to be around the $200 per ton mark. I expect that hay will increase in value as the season goes on, however some early hay auctions have been a bit softer than one might have thought. If you choose to buy feed to make it through this drought be diligent in your purchases and definitely explore options beyond simply “buy hay.” Dried distillers grains fed with low quality roughage, such as wheat straw or corn stalk, is a good alternative and may be cheaper than $200 hay. Price feeds from an energy standpoint and consider cost of feeding and estimated loss in feeding.
Send the cows to camp
    Relocating the cows is an option that should be explored. Look at the U.S. Drought Monitor (droughtmonitor.unl.edu), find a place that should have grass and make some calls. The decision to depopulate the ranch (sell livestock) is a distinctly different decision than destocking the ranch (removing livestock). You’ll likely be shocked by the price of summer grass as you go east, but balance that out with winter costs of grazing on cornstalks or other crop aftermath that may be more available in those locations.
Flexible stocking
    If your ranch is predominantly upland range or non-irrigated, because of our climate, the forage production on your ranch will vary greatly from one year to the next. To better match stocking rate to forage production many experts suggest that your ranch should be stocked with some type of livestock that are easily sold when a dry year comes. Most of the recommendations suggest that between 40 percent and 60 percent of your total stocking rate should be these types of animals. These can be stockers, short-term cows or other classes as well. Keep in mind that to dedicate 50 percent of your annual forage to stockers, you will likely need twice as many stockers as cows.
Grass is gold
    The thought of depopulating or destocking the ranch might be extremely frightening to some. After all, what would we do if we didn’t have cows? I believe the market for take-in cattle is hot and for many ranches I’ve run the numbers for, it is more profitable than running owned cattle. In southeast Wyoming, by providing full care, you would have no problem getting $35 per month per pair or $20 per yearling for custom grazing cattle. I think the demand and price will go up from here during the year. Long story short, I think you’re in a good situation if you have grass whether you own cattle or not.
My bias
    It always annoys me when an expert talks about a subject but never really gives you their opinion. So, for what it is worth, here is my opinion with the caveat that I’m likely wrong. I think cattle prices will be good this year and likely next year. Beyond that I think prices will begin to soften. With that in mind, if you need to pump an additional $400 in a cow to keep her this year, I expect it will take her profit for the next four to eight years at best to return this investment. By then, if she is worth less than she is today, it was money thrown away. I think if your ranch is in drought, you will be better off to depopulate (sell) deeply this year and wait and see what next spring brings. If you have grass and prices are too high to get back in, take in yearlings or pairs until prices soften to where you can re-enter the game. When you do re-enter I would challenge you to consider stocking the ranch with at least 40 percent of the carrying capacity devoted to stockers or some other type of animal that is easily sold when the next drought hits. There you have it. I’m sure I’m not right on all accounts.
Final thoughts
    Hopefully, if nothing else, I’ve challenged you to think about your own plan for making it through this drought and the inevitable future drought. I was speaking on drought in Colorado recently, and one producer said of the options we discussed, “They all suck.” This may be true from his perspective, but a colleague of mine recently put it another way that I thought is a better way of looking at this drought. He asked the group, “What opportunities does this drought provide?” While it may not feel this way at the moment I think challenging your ranch management team with this question may open some doors to some restructuring options that you may not have otherwise explored.
    Dallas Mount is the Southeast Wyoming UW Extension Educator and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
If it rains now will the grass grow?

    After a good wet year in 2011, drought has returned. I just checked my rain gauge and it looks like the spiders have moved back in. After our dry spring I’m left watching the summer afternoon clouds and hoping for some rain to fall. In early July I was at a branding near Meeteetse, and we went from 90 degrees and choking on dust to two inches of hail on the ground, soaked-to-skin and huddled around the fire for warmth. Besides the welts from the marble-sized hailstones, it felt great, but did all that moisture really do any good? I’m tempted to just say “No,” and leave it at that. Such bad news though, probably deserves a little explanation.
    Grasses in Wyoming are predominately cool season grasses, meaning they grow in the cool spring. Optimum temperatures for cool season grass growth are usually 65 to 75 degrees, with growth beginning when soil temperatures are between 40 and 45 degrees. During our hot, summer days growth comes to a stop, and many grasses enter summer dormancy until moisture and cooler temperatures return. Not all grasses are the same, and even cool season grasses grow and enter dormancy at different times. Those times vary year to year, depending on how long the soil moisture and cool temperatures remain. Last year rain and cool temperatures continued well into June, while in 2012 we warmed up and dried up early in the spring. As a result, in 2011 we had grass growth well into the summer, but this year pastures in May looked like it was August already.
    In country dominated by cool season grasses, summer rains will do little to nothing for grass growth. Some species may green up a little, but don’t count on any real forage production until the cooler temperatures of fall return, and then only if moisture also returns. When we are lucky and get the right combination of temperatures and moisture in the fall some species will readily put on growth. These conditions mirror what happens in the spring of a good year.
    In contrast, warm season grasses depend on summer rains to grow. With moisture they’ll begin to grow in 60 to 65 degree temperatures and thrive in 90 to 95 degree temperatures. A few warm season grasses are found throughout much of Wyoming, like blue grama, but they don’t usually make up a large percentage of the forage. This is because the bulk of the moisture we do get usually comes in the form of spring rains and snows. Since the moisture is here in the spring, most of our forage producing plants take advantage of this timing and grow in the cool of spring. Summer temperatures in Wyoming are usually too high for cool season grass growth, even when moisture is available.
    In short, right now it is too hot for meaningful grass growth, even if you are lucky enough to have some rain. Summer rains may help with fires, and they settle the dust for a short period, but don’t expect them to bring much relief from the forage shortage. Your ranch drought survival plan should be in full implementation. If you don’t have a survival plan, now is the time to create one. Having one on hand can help you today and also the next time drought comes calling. Contact your local UW Extension office for help with a drought survival plan.
    Barton Stam is a UW Extension educator in Sustainable Management of Rangeland Resources and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..