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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
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Importance of tax opinion letters for ranch and farm activities A great number of companies do not make a profit but, instead, have operating losses for an extended period of years. Of companies that have decided to start selling stock to the public in initial public offerings, about 75 percent of them have never made a profit. Their newly issued stock is being bought in droves—and is somewhat akin to buying lottery tickets, in my opinion. Many people do not make a profit in their farming ventures—and the IRS is well aware of this fact. For most farmers and ranchers,
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The high cost of owning machinery oftentimes prompts many farmers and ranchers to consider custom hay harvesting. There are many different factors that should be considered when trying to decide whether or not hiring out during harvest is advantageous to your operation. Over the past 30 years, not including the last five or six, custom harvesting of forages was rapidly declining. Now, however, the number of acres of forages being custom harvested is increasing. The decision of whether or not to custom harvest can be facilitated by acquiring a sound understanding of the advantages and disadvantages associated with hiring a custom harvester.
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Access to fresh, clean water is perhaps the most important key to livestock production of any sort. Livestock can last as much as a week or more without feed. However, more than a day or two without water can be devastating to a herd. Most cattle herds get their water from creeks, ponds or springs, however, as more focus is placed on water quality improvements, riparian areas are being fenced off, meaning that livestock producers need to supply alternative methods of getting water to their animals. New advances in livestock waterers can net producers big benefits in terms of savings
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Cattlemen have long been plagued with the chore of handling heavy, small square bales or trying to flake off pieces of large round bales while balancing precariously on a moving truck bed in an effort to feed cows. Well, producers may have a different option in using tub grinders. The reduction in labor is significant, but there are many other beneficial factors associated with using this kind of equipment as well. Cattlemen always try to adhere to the old adage, “waste not, want not,” and especially as it applies to hay usage. Roughage is an essential part of the cattle’s
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Safe and well constructed cattle handling facilities are critical to producers who are targeting high quality markets or hoping to capitalize on grid premiums. Bruising, abscesses and dark cutting carcasses can often be traced back to injuries sustained at one point or another during processing, either on the ranch or in a feedlot. Injuries that reduce the value and quality of the eventual beef product result from facilities and equipment that are either poorly designed, constructed, and/or maintained. It has been estimated that bruising alone costs the cattle industry $22 million per year. One of the most advanced and user
2007 December 20
Life does not come easy Perhaps the absence of sunlight may be dragging the day down. However, the knowledge that this will pass and brighter days are ahead certainly should reinforce the positive. Tramping through snow (dearly needed moisture), while attempting to get an assessment of the current calving scenario, is never easy. There are times when reports of twins and triplets certainly boost the available calf numbers, but the loss of any calf is always significant. The greatest impact is standing over a lifeless calf wondering what else could have been done. This business we call the cow business and our
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Keep it American If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the packing industry has been on its ear for several years. Oh, they have brief periods of profitability that last as long as a bad cold, but the fact is, beef packing has been a lousy business. The lack of profitability is the mother of desperation, or in the packing industry, we might call it liquidation. Since the turn of the century, every major packing company has gone through a merger, a purchase, or a redesign. At this point, these guys will do just about anything to save their company.
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Animal well being would be considered in federal purchases. There are over 10 billion animals harvested in the U.S. each year and animal rights activists are concerned that there is no federal law regarding the treatment of these animals while in a farmer or rancher’s care. Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, and Christopher Shays, R-CT, have decided to do something about animal welfare of farm animals in the U.S. DeFazio and Shays recently reintroduced the Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act (H.R. 1726) which would require that anyone who sells animal products to the federal government for the military, federal prisons, or school
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Both houses of Congress last week began the examination of consolidation and concentration in the livestock industry. The hearings quickly generated a firestorm of controversy among competing interests in the business. In testimony before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry on Market Structure of the Livestock Industry, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President and North Carolina cattle producer John Queen told subcommittee members that livestock markets shouldn’t be restricted by Congressional mandate. “When it comes to market structure and competition issues, NCBA’s position is simple—we ask that the government not tell us how we can or cannot market
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a major step to stimulate ethanol production by issuing a rule last week allowing ethanol plants to operate with fewer environmental rules and less air pollution equipment. The agency rejected pleas by clean-air advocates and increased the amount of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants that will be allowed before an ethanol plant is considered a “major air emitter,” a category that requires more stringent regulation. The change will increase the threshold for installing the best air pollution control equipment from 100 tons of pollution annually to 250 tons. It will also allow ethanol plants
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Trade was slow getting started last week, despite expectations that short-bought packers would come out early to fill demand. As of last Thursday, however, there was only light trade reported in Nebraska and western Iowa at $98 live and $154-156 dressed, although there was not enough volume to call a trend for the week. Offers remained at the $100 mark for live cattle. In the beef, feedlots were asking $158-160 for their show lists. Most analysts were expecting cattle to trade steady to $1 lower than the prior week at $97-98 live and $155-157 dressed basis. The USDA’s monthly cattle
by WLJ
2007 December 20
In an event that is likely to be repeated in the coming months as recovered wolf populations are removed from the Endangered Species List, three animal rights groups sued the federal government last week. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Help Our Wolves Live, and the Animal Protection Institute filed a federal suit last week to halt the process which would remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. Ironically, the suit was filed just days after the results of the spring wolf survey in Minnesota which showed the state has 3,020
by WLJ
2007 December 20
After conducting a detailed investigation into the deaths of 50 to 60 cattle at a former dairy in Addy, WA, state investigators have found no serious animal diseases or toxic contamination of the animals’ feed that could have caused the fatalities. “During this investigation, we have found no threat to the health of people or other animals,” said Washington State Veterinarian Leonard Eldridge. “We have not been able to identify a common cause of death of these animals. Frankly, we may never know specifically what killed the animals that died before the start of this investigation.” When Washington State Department of
by WLJ
2007 December 20
With animal welfare becoming a hot topic in the livestock industry, producers will need to be more aware of how animals are handled both on and off the farm. It is important to adhere to sound livestock handling practices when transporting livestock. There are many reasons to properly handle livestock, ranging from simple economics to animal welfare issues. “These animals are the pride and joy of producers and their livelihood,” said Anne Burkholder, feedlot owner and chairman of the Animal Health and Nutrition Committee at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. “It’s really a big deal when producers put something of that much
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Whole-family decision making On a recent trip to Arizona, my wife and I were faced with some major financial decisions. Tires were showing bulges and the transmission in our van was wearing out. These are those unplanned experiences we all go through once in awhile. There were several times I started to fall back on my old decision making ways, that is: a don’t fix it until it’s broke mentality. However, we have started to make whole-family decisions now based upon a quality-of-life statement, “we want to relax and enjoy life.” Easier to say than do. Now with this new family creed
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The Rocky Mountains provide the backdrop for the annual meeting and 40th anniversary celebration of the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF). The meeting will be held June 6-9 in Fort Collins, CO. It will focus on the future of genetic evaluation and improvement, with a variety of presenters from around the country. The meeting will take place at the Hilton Fort Collins. To register and for program details, go to www.beefimprovement.org under the conventions tab. Pre-registration is due May 15. For information, contact Willie Altenburg, 970/568-7792, willie@rmi.net or Mark Enns at 970/491-2722, Mark.Enns@Colostate.edu. “The BIF meeting is a great opportunity for cattlemen from
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Humans and animals alike look forward to spring. With fresh green grass, the bawling of young calves, and the promise of summer, don’t forget that it is also time to administer annual vaccinations to the equine members of your operation. “Spring is really the time of year that horse owners should do all of their wellness and preventative exams,” said Dr. Karen Unger, DVM, at Littleton Large Animal Clinic in Colorado. The horse has an excellent immune system. However, when faced with new pathogens, the horse’s body has no immunity without a proper vaccination program. Routine vaccinations should be a part of
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Fed cattle marketings disappoint. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) issued the March cattle on feed report April 20 and the result was a mixed bag for the cattle business. The report was considered mostly neutral for the market, however it contained some interesting bits of information for market watchers. Although total on feed numbers were down, placements were up and marketings were down, indicating that feedlots may be falling behind in their marketings heading into the critical summer period. According to NASS, the number of cattle on feed totaled 11.6 million head as of April 1, 2007. The number