SC Drought Conditions Deepen

South Carolina officials are worried about the lack of rain this winter. South Carolina climatologist Hope Mizzell says this has been the driest winter ever in the Charleston area and the second-driest in the Columbia area.

Mizzell says the Charleston area has received only 1.3 inches of rain since Dec. 1. The Columbia area had received less than 3 inches between Dec. 1 and Feb. 12.

State Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers says the lack of rain seems to be the new normal. Columbia had less than 40 inches of rain only seven times in the 20th century. It's already happened three times since 2000.

Southeast Grain & Feed Association’s Annual Convention Next Week

The Southeast Grain and Feed Association annual convention gets underway on Thursday February 23rd at the Hyatt Regency Savannah. Josh Snellings, president of the Southeast Grain & Feed Association explains that the increase in attendance from the Midwest entities can be attributed to the fact that most of the southeastern states are net importers of grain for the livestock industry:

“The guys in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan areas of the country there, they ship a tremendous amount of corn grain to the southeast particularly to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, on these trains for hogs and poultry, and they also ship a lot to Florida.”
There’s still time to get involved in this year’s convention. To learn more or to register go to

McDonald's to Require Better Treatment for Sows from its Pork Suppliers

McDonald’s is giving its U.S. pork suppliers until May to tell the fast-food giant about their plans to phase out the use of sow gestation crates. In a statement – a spokesman says there are alternatives to the crates that McDonald’s thinks are better for the welfare of sows.

The Humane Society of the United States President lauds the move and predicts it will end the gestation crate debate. Paul Shapiro is Senior Director of Farm Animal Protection at HSUS…

“When a company of the size and influence of McDonald’s is making the type of statement you know that the writing is on the wall, and that gestation crate confinement is going to go by the wayside.”

The National Pork Producers responded by saying that this is an opportunity for the pork industry to respond to its customers, and that the NPPC stands ready to offer it’s assistance.

Wall Street analysts bullish on pork, eyeing China

Hog producer balance sheets are looking so good they are contemplating expansion, but with flat domestic demand predicted, how much pork China imports may once again be the wild card in 2012, according to Wall Street analysts and a new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Chinese Buying Continues to Support US Cotton Market

World Outlook Board Chair Gerald Bange says that US cotton futures remain high because of Chinese purchasing:

“One of the most important things in the cotton market of late has been china’s import picture. China has, for reasons known to China has been importing very large quantities with the express intent of building their reserves.”

Retail Numbers Up, Just Not by Much

Americans were out shopping last month, but maybe not as strongly as some expected. The latest figures from the Commerce Department show retail sales climbed 4-tenths-of-a-percent in January. That's better than December's flat sales numbers, but less than many analysts were hoping for. CBS Moneywatch-dot-com Editor-at-large Jill Schlesinger…

“The increase in sales; it’s not a terrible thing, it’s a good thing, but analyst wanted a little higher number.” is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.