TAIWAN: The government has backed proposals to extend THSRC’s 1 435 mm gauge high speed railway to Yilan County, Minister of Transport & Communications Lin Chia-lung confirmed on October 24.Speaking to local media ahead of a Legislative Yuan Transport Committee meeting to review the Taiwan Railway Administration and Railway Bureau budgets, Lin said a preliminary evaluation had ‘showed that the project is feasible’, although further work would be needed to consider construction methods, funding sources and potential economic benefits.He felt that a new line would help to balance economic development in different regions, relieving congestion on the busy Chiang Wei-Shui highway.Running southeast from Nankang to Yilan, the extension would offer a much more direct route than TRA’s existing 1 067 mm gauge line, which follows a sinuous route along the east coast. However, industry insiders warned that tunnelling through the mountainous region could be geologically challenging, noting that construction of the Hsuehshan motorway tunnel had been delayed significantly by the complex nature of the fractured rock and trapped water.The Railway Bureau is currently looking at a conventional ‘express railway’ which would shorten the distance between the two cities from 87·5 km to 50·9&nsp;km. Priced at NT$66·8bn, this would cut the Taipei – Yilan journey time from 58 to 27 min and provide capacity for up to 7 200 passengers/h. Extension of the high speed line at an estimated cost of NT$100bn would offer a capacity of 18 000 passengers/h with a journey time of just 13 min. Bureau director Allen Hu pointed out that either project would have to be approved by the National Development Council and undergo an environmental impact assessment before any work could start.
May 2019-20 recap at a glanceReviewing the USDA preliminary estimates for May 2020 compared to May 2019:U.S. milk production: 18.84 billion pounds, down 1.1%U.S. cow numbers: 9.37 million, up 37,000 headU.S. average milk per cow per month: 2,011 pounds, down 31 pounds24-state milk production: 17.96 billion pounds, down 1%24-state cow numbers: 8.84 million, up 50,000 head24-state average milk per cow per month: 2,031 pounds, down 32 poundsSource: USDA Milk Production report, June 18, 2020April production, at 18.65 billion pounds, was revised downward about 47 million pounds (0.3%) from last month’s preliminary production estimate. The end result was that year-over-year production increased about 1.2% in April.In case you’re wondering, the USDA National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) estimate attempts to include any dumped milk during the month, with data collected from Federal Milk Marketing Orders and dairy cooperatives.Cow numbers lowerWhile U.S. cow numbers were up from the year before, they were down about 11,000 head from April as more dairy farms faced pressures from lower milk prices and base production restrictions. In the 24 major dairy states, May 2020 cow numbers were down about 12,000 from April 2020.advertisementCompared to a year earlier, May cow numbers are up a combined 72,000 in Texas, Idaho, South Dakota and Colorado but 31,000 lower, collectively, in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and California (Table 1). Cow numbers were reported higher in 11 states and lower in 12 states, with Florida unchanged.Based on the USDA estimates, cow numbers were down 3,000 in Wisconsin compared to a month earlier and down 2,000 head each in Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. South Dakota was the only state to increase the number of cows compared to April.Since bottoming out in June 2019, U.S. cow numbers are up 56,000 head in the 24 major dairy states. Since last July’s low, U.S. cow numbers are up 55,000 head.Milk per cow dropsU.S. average milk output per cow declined by about 1 pound per day, likely due to changes in feed rations to meet milk production base restrictions imposed by co-ops and other milk buyers.A sharp drop in New Mexico, down nearly 6 pounds per day, contributed to the overall decline, with monthly production per cow lower in 17 states (Table 2). Among the major dairy states, only Virginia, Idaho, Illinois, South Dakota and Arizona saw small increases compared to a year earlier.advertisementMichigan remained the national leader in milk production per cow, followed by Colorado, Idaho and Arizona.Volume, percentage growthIdaho led all states in milk volume growth during the month, up 65 million pounds (4.8%) from May 2019, while South Dakota was the leader in percentage growth, up 9.7% (23 million pounds).In contrast, May 2020 milk production was lower than May 2019 in 14 states, with Wisconsin, New Mexico, California and New York down a combined 262 million pounds. With sharply lower milk output per cow, New Mexico milk production dropped 7.2%.Production downturn, demand driving marketsMark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis, and Bob Cropp, dairy economics professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, provided an overview of dairy markets in their monthly podcast.The May Milk Production report represents a significant downturn in milk production, as producers responded to COVID-19-related market signals, Cropp said. While cow numbers were down, the bigger drop came in milk production per cow.Some market analysts had said milk production would have to drop as much as 5% to balance supply and demand. At 1%, May’s decline falls short of that level, but several major dairy states did cut back production by 1%-3%, Stephenson said.In addition to tightening supplies, both economists noted dairy markets have also reacted to demand factors, especially government purchases and the reopening of some restaurants in need of refilling their dairy supply pipelines. The price impact has been record-setting.June 2020 Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) Class III and Class IV milk prices are announced on July 1, and they’ll reflect a strong recovery in milk prices. After May FMMO Class III and Class IV milk prices dipped to $12.14 and $10.67 per hundredweight (cwt), respectively, current Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) futures prices have June and July Class III prices at well over $20 per cwt, up more than $8 from May, before softening to under $17 in November 2020-May 2021.June and July CME Class IV futures are up $2.65 and $4.15 per cwt from May, moving back above $15 per cwt in August and above $16 in November.“That shows how sensitive this market is to small changes,” Cropp said.A lot of distressed milk went into cheese production in April, creating a sharp increase in cheese stocks by the end of the month. The next USDA Cold Storage report was scheduled for June 22, and both Cropp and Stephenson were interested in seeing how demand impacted inventories.While milk prices continue to ascend, it’s time to at least consider available risk management tools, Stephenson said.“Know your cost, know your appetite, know your business structure and what you need,” he said. “There are some prices now that are worth establishing a floor.”With current futures prices moving to the optimistic side, there’s plenty of uncertainty on whether those prices can hold. Market direction will hinge on production response to higher prices, as well as food service demand, including whether schools will reopen late this summer and early fall. A second wave of COVID-19 is a threat.“While the possibility is higher, the probability is lower,” Cropp warned, noting he believes actual prices will not surpass current futures prices.View the entire podcast here. Dave NatzkeEditorProgressive DairyEmail Dave [email protected] Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include market commentary.Declines in both cow numbers and milk production per cow resulted in lower U.S. milk production in May as dairy farmers adjusted to COVID-19-related production restrictions and low milk prices.advertisementadvertisement
SIGN UP TO DAILY NEWSLETTERCLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP TACLOBAN CITY – The two minors who were rescued in a clash between troops of the 93rd Infantry Battalion (93rd IB) and alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Kananga, Leyte recently, claimed that women, including minors, were being sexually abused and forced to take oral contraceptives by the Communist rebels.Seized during the 10-minute firefight in Barangay Rizal of the town were oral contraceptives, together with a caliber-.45 pistol and ammunition reportedly owned by a terrorist leader identified as Juanito Selleza, alias Tibor, Larry, and Jay, cellphones, ID cards, and various subversive documents.The two minors were turned over to the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (MSWDO) of Kananga.The army said that anti-pregnancy pills were also recovered in an encounter by the 20th Infantry Battalion (20th IB) a few months ago in Northern Samar.Brigadier General Zosimo Oliveros, commander of 802nd Infantry Brigade, condemned the NPA for their abuse, and utter disregard of the rights of women and children.“This act by the NPA of abusing women including minors is monstrosity at its worst! We hold the NPA and their coddlers accountable against such crimes against the people. Our soldiers will continue to conduct security measures to protect communities from such criminals and we thank the local residents for making sure their own locality is safe from such threats to peace,” Oliveros said.The army added that the armed men took children and used them as human shields in the middle of the clash. Soldiers were not able to fire their weapons, especially when Sellesa took a child with him in his bid to make good his escape.Lt. Col. Roberto Beatisula, commanding officer of the 93rd IB, also condemned the “cowardly act of the terrorists in using civilians especially children as a human shield.”“These NPA terrorists are cowards. To use civilians especially children as a human shield is inhumane, and is a clear violation of human rights. Our troops will do everything necessary to make these NPA terrorists face the bar of justice and pay for their crimes against humanity,” Beatisula said.The clash stemmed from complaints made to the military by some local residents last Sunday, September 13, about the presence of armed men who were conducting illegal activities together with some minors.A firefight broke out when government troops encountered about 10 armed rebels that led to the death of Corporal Nicxon Tomenio, and resulted in the arrest of two NPA members.The members of the group were reportedly the remnants of the same NPA group responsible for the Inopacan Massacre in the 1980s.