Top stories of 2005

Floods, eminent domain, Hurricane Katrina, soybean rust, fuel prices … A look at what made headlines in Farm and Dairy in 2005.


January floods force farmers in Tuscarawas County, and areas including western Pa. and far southeastern Ohio, to corral their cattle on higher ground. Cars and barns are filled with standing water, locals reportedly ride Jet Skis across golf courses, and roads are turned into rivers. The USDA later declares these places “disaster areas.”


“Keep the border closed.” “No, open it up.” Everyone has an opinion on whether the USDA should open the Canadian border. Farmers fear that having more cattle entering the market will drive prices down. But those fears are unfounded and even after the border is opened, experts say future prices remain optimistic.


Mike Johanns officially replaces Ann Veneman as U.S. secretary of agriculture. He starts off his term by telling Americans he will “always be a farmer’s son with an intense passion for agriculture.”


Just in time for planting season, farmers hear estimates that fuel prices may be near $2.25 a gallon. Little do they know just how high prices will get later in the year.


Ohio and Pennsylvania farmers brace for soybean rust. Experts plant sentinel plots and farmers talk about switching from beans to corn. But all the worries end up being for nothing, and soybean rust isn’t found any farther north than Kentucky. Even then, it is found in November when much of the crop there has been harvested.


Ohio’s largest proposed dairy receives an OK from the department of agriculture. When it’s at capacity, the facility in Hardin County will milk 4,500 cows.


Pennsylvania preserves 210 farms, totaling 22,358 acres, and leads the nation in farmland preservation.


After years of legal arguments over the beef checkoff, the Supreme Court rules the $1-per-head assessment can continue. The future of the pork checkoff, among others, is not as certain.


The country confirms its first case of mad cow disease in a U.S.-born animal. The animal first tests “inconclusive,” but later results confirm the animal from Texas had the brain-wasting disease.


Hurricane Katrina slams into the Gulf Coast. Initial predictions say nearly $900 million in U.S. agricultural production is gone. Livestock production losses are estimated at $30 million and 10,000 cattle are lost in the floods. Due to having no electricity, dairy farmers dump $3 million worth of milk. Ports close, affecting farmers across the country.


Despite excessive rain moving north from Hurricane Katrina in early September, it is too little too late for Eastern Corn Belt farmers. Production losses for drought-stressed corn and beans total $1.3 billion in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin and Ohio. Later reports, however, say Ohio corn yields aren’t as bad as feared.


Japan agrees to re-open its borders to U.S. beef and the first shipments arrive by Christmas. In 2005, approximately $3.14 billion is lost in exports due to that border being closed.