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by WLJ
2007 December 20
Humane treatment of animals in the food chain is getting some significant traction among chefs and restaurants in the U.S. On the heels of prestigious restaurants such as Wolfgang Puck, Equinox, and Marcel’s making the decision to improve animal welfare in their supply chain, Burger King, the nation’s No. 2 fast food chain, has recently announced their intention to purchase a portion of their products from farms that observe humane animal treatment practices in their operations. “With its new policy changes, Burger King is signaling to agribusiness that the most inhumane factory farming practices are on the way out,” said Wayne
2007 December 20
Someone you should get to know—your waste management professional Change in the world of livestock is not new and comes in many forms. Today, the most obvious is the little spots that are starting to show up on the hillsides as spring calving gets under way. The spring sun certainly brings a new light to the operations and it doesn’t take much time for the newborn calves to take advantage of the weather. These are good changes because the inventory is growing again. Along with inventory growth comes the opportunity for additional revenue. Great news for producers, but you quickly notice
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Lower corn adds to feeder prices. For the second time this year, cash prices topped the $1 level last week. Packer buyers raised the stakes, bidding cash fed cattle prices $4-5 higher on a dressed basis in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt. Additionally, prices were $3-4 higher on a live basis last Thursday in the southern tier where buyers paid $100-100.50 live basis. Volume was reportedly good in all regions, with more than 70,000 head trading hands through last Wednesday. The jump in market prices, coupled with a decline in corn and the likelihood of continued upward gains in the
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Humane marketing You have to love it when all the stars align and the fed cattle markets go over a buck. The last time we saw $1 plus fed cattle was the fall of 2002. Then we got a Christmas present from Canada, a nice case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Ever since then, it’s been a struggle to get the markets back to pre-BSE levels. Congratulations! Here we are at a $1, and it could go higher. Our industry has experienced good demand for nearly 10 years. However, since the day BSE showed up, and our foreign customers shut
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef and other meatpackers have the right to test all the animals they slaughter for mad cow disease, a federal judge ruled March 29. U.S. District Judge James Robertson immediately put his ruling on hold, pending a possible government appeal. If the government does not appeal by June 1, the ruling will take effect. According to Robertson’s decision, the USDA’s “prohibition of the private use of rapid test kits to screen cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is unlawful.” The ruling held that USDA has authority to regulate the use of diagnostic tests in general but that it
by WLJ
2007 December 20
With USDA’s greater-than-expected corn acreage estimate March 30, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns felt comfortable that there would be less pressure to find more crop acres through early opt-out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The secretary waited until the grain markets closed to announce there would be no penalty-free early release for landowners with CRP contracts. Johanns said in an interview with DTN that the Prospective Plantings report was one of the “last pieces of information” he was waiting to review before deciding on whether to make the “very, very unusual move” of a CRP opt-out. With corn acres
by WLJ
2007 December 20
With USDA’s greater-than-expected corn acreage estimate March 30, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns felt comfortable that there would be less pressure to find more crop acres through early opt-out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The secretary waited until the grain markets closed to announce there would be no penalty-free early release for landowners with CRP contracts. Johanns said in an interview with DTN that the Prospective Plantings report was one of the “last pieces of information” he was waiting to review before deciding on whether to make the “very, very unusual move” of a CRP opt-out. With corn acres
by WLJ
2007 December 20
OIE is key to Korean trade resumption It took nine months of intensive negotiations for the U.S. and South Korea to agree to a free trade agreement (FTA). It took about the same time for the U.S. to realize that Korea was going to use every trick in the book to keep U.S. beef from entering Korea. One lesson from all this is: Never underestimate the intransigence of a country’s agriculture department when it is hell bent on defending its farmers and growers. Remember how upbeat everyone was a year ago? Korea looked like it would be reopening its market to
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Chronically sick cattle in a feedlot present a variety of problems. Cattle that are classified as chronics do not perform well, lose money, and sometimes cannot be saved. Additionally, in today’s society, animal welfare is becoming more important to the consumer and chronic cattle in a feedlot can add fuel to the fire of animals’ rights groups. There seem to be many opinions regarding what constitutes a chronic animal. Some experts say a chronic is an animal that has reached a point where they have a significant and permanent decrease in their rate of gain. Some feedlots define chronics in economic
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The large jump in expected plantings caught some analysts off guard. “Prior to the report, I had expected that 87.5 million acres would be planted to corn, which is up 12 percent from year-ago levels,” said Terry Francl, American Farm Bureau Federation senior economist. “These numbers all represent a substantial increase, but you also have to look at it from a historical perspective and then you will see that today’s report is only a 10.6 percent increase from 2005.” The jump in acres expected to be planted to corn is likely due to farmers responding to an intensifying demand for corn-based
by WLJ
2007 December 20
After 10 months of negotiations and eight days of intense talks, the U.S. and South Korea last week reached a much anticipated free trade agreement (FTA). The deal is expected to lead to more than 90 percent of U.S. exports to South Korea being duty free within three years. However, the FTA will depend on approval from legislative bodies in both countries. The fact that there is no clause tied to resuming beef imports from the U.S. could make for a rocky passage through Congress. President Bush has said he intends to sign the U.S.-Korea FTA in 90 days. The current
by WLJ
2007 December 20
It was disclosed last week that Superior Livestock Auction has sold the nation’s largest livestock video auction. The sale will include Superior Livestock Auction, Superior Stampede, the Internet marketing division and Superior Productions, which produces purebred sales and other special events. Superior was sold to Dwight and Helen Mebane of Woody, CA. The closing is to be completed sometime prior to June 1. It was announced that Richard Stober will become the new general manager for the company. The Mebanes are a third generation ranching family with operations in California and Oregon. They are also partners in a Friona, TX, feedlot
by WLJ
2007 December 20
for. April 11, 2005 Many producers are seeking access to federal land when burdened by drought or lack of private land for expansion. Other producers feel their state property taxes are too high. Congressman Chris Cannon, R-UT, addressed both of these issues by introducing H.R. 1370, the Federal Lands Asset
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The herd improvement game It’s the biggest annual cost item in the cattle business, and it’s getting even bigger. Ding-ding-ding: What is feed? That’s right. If you don’t keep a lid on it, profitability of your entire cowherd will be in “Jeopardy.” Cattle for $100: The main ingredient in many cattle rations, this grain is also the staple of all those ethanol production plants that are popping up like mushrooms. Ding-ding-ding: What is corn? Right again. Oh, you want Cattle for $200? It’s the Daily Double and you’ll wager everything— fewer soybean, sorghum, wheat and hay acres, higher land prices and more
by WLJ
2007 December 20
In February of this year, Canada announced it had found the tenth case of a Canadian born cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The animal in question was a seven-year-old bull born and raised on an Alberta farm. According to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokeswoman Karen Eggert, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) traced another calf from the same herd as the infected animal which was exported to the U.S. for slaughter in 2002. The “birth cohort,” which is classified as an animal born within 12 months of the infected animal, was reportedly slaughtered in a
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The genetic package The bull sale season is just about over and for the most part, it was a mixed bag. Moisture conditions remain heavy on producers’ minds in the western Plains and Intermountain West even though we’ve had recent moisture. Holding back replacement heifers may not be a thought for some producers unless it starts to rain. However, those heifers will be valuable as feeders this year. I think that this year we can honestly say there were too many registered bulls on the market. The registered cattle business has been a growth business for quite some time. Most
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Cash fed cattle trade was moderate in the northern Plains by mid-day last Thursday and light in the south Plains ahead of an expected severe winter storm. Compared to the previous week, dressed sales in Nebraska and Colorado traded steady at $160 with a few as high as $161. Live sales were mostly steady to $1 lower with the prior week at $99-100. Prices last week were well above year ago levels despite the slight dip with live and dressed cattle prices approximately 20 percent higher than a year ago. In the southern Plains, prices were mostly $1 lower at
by WLJ
2007 December 20
It is a well-known fact that the demand for a variety of public land uses in the U.S. is at an all-time high. This is mostly due to the country’s changing demographics and needs. Last year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recorded over 56.3 million recreation visits on BLM lands. During the same period, the agency processed almost 9,000 applications for oil and gas permits. Land health is being compromised by factors such as development and expansion of urban cities, catastrophic wildfires, invasive weeds, and unprecedented energy demands. “Demand for public land uses and resources is at an all-time high
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Japan ordered imports halted from a major U.S. meat plant April 6 after a beef shipment arrived in the country without proper papers. The most recent import problems mark the third U.S. plant which has been removed from the list of plants approved to ship beef to Japan. According to Japanese officials, the problem arose when four boxes of frozen beef tongue in a two-ton shipment including 250 cases of beef arrived in Kobe, Japan. The shipment, which did not include proper documentation, originated from Cargill Meat Solutions in Dodge City, KS, the Japanese agriculture ministry announced in a statement.
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns last week highlighted the administration’s Farm Bill proposals related to conservation. Johanns pointed out that a key theme throughout the conservation title is simplification and streamlining of programs, while increasing funding for conservation by $7.8 billion over 10 years. “In the area of conservation, we heard during our Farm Bill forums broad acknowledgment of our successes, but also suggestions to make the programs more user-friendly,” said Johanns. “We are proposing to do just that and to bolster our commitment to conservation through the largest increase in funding for any title within our farm bill proposals.” Under current