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2007 October 29
Load’em up and bring those “doggies” home The fall of the year represents changing times. Colors change, the air becomes crisp, and the growing season comes to a close. It is time to move on. The grain harvest is an early indicator that the time to move from field to bin is here, but the real clincher is the movement of calves. Last week, the Dickinson Research Extension Center started bringing home the calves for weaning and sorting. In the end, cows go one way and calves the other. This activity is motivated by good management principles, which are driven by survival. Soon
by WLJ
2007 October 29
—Cattle 700 pounds and heavier account for 54 percent of total placements. Cattle on feed numbers were down again according to the Oct. 1 USDA cattle on feed report. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, total on feed numbers were estimated at 11 million head, 4 percent lower than a year earlier. However, the number remains 5 percent higher than 2005. Total inventory included 6.83 million steers and steer calves, or 62 percent of the on feed numbers, down 5 percent from last year. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.07 million head, down 1 percent from 2006, an indication
by WLJ
2007 October 29
More Government in beef Just how much government do you want in your business? I don’t know how you all feel but I, personally, don’t want any government involved in my business—the U.S. Post Office is more than enough. When the Farm Bill started in the House there were a few contentious issues, but for the most part, the House delivered a pretty good Farm Bill. We all knew that when it hit the Senate it would get tough and it did. Sens. Charles Grassley, R-IA, and Tom Harkin, D-IA, just couldn’t help themselves and threw in amendments to the Packers
by WLJ
2007 October 29
  After much political maneuvering, a compromise was reached last week in Senate Farm Bill negotiations to allow interstate shipment of state-inspected meat, said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson who has been spearheading the effort to get the measure included in the Farm Bill despite protests by federal meat inspectors’ union representatives and others who oppose the move. Johnson, the president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, announced the compromise after a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., last week and further negotiations with consumer, labor and farm groups and congressional leaders. “The compromise creates a new, optional
by WLJ
2007 October 29
  After much political maneuvering, a compromise was reached last week in Senate Farm Bill negotiations to allow interstate shipment of state-inspected meat, said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson who has been spearheading the effort to get the measure included in the Farm Bill despite protests by federal meat inspectors’ union representatives and others who oppose the move. Johnson, the president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, announced the compromise after a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., last week and further negotiations with consumer, labor and farm groups and congressional leaders. “The compromise creates a new, optional
by WLJ
2007 October 29
Practical rules for good grazing management The following information is designed to help improve pasture management. If folks become aware of the science behind each rule, and how each rule interacts with the other rules, forage production and sustainable profits can definitely be increased. These rules apply best to dry native rangeland pastures, that’s because of their brittleness scale in nature. Brittleness refers to the micro-climate and cycling of organic materials in whatever ecosystem you operate in. Continually wet areas, called non-brittle environments, respond quite differently to grazing than dry areas. Dry brittle environments tend to have short growing seasons; they dry-out with
by WLJ
2007 October 29
The fight over language to be included in the Senate version of the Farm Bill heated up last week as senators angle to have their provisions included in the final language of the bill before it goes to the floor. In two separate press conferences, senators angled for their legislation. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said he would push to include the AgJobs immigration language in the Farm Bill during a press conference on the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill. However, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, Tom Harkin, D-IA, later told reporters the AgJobs measure, which
by WLJ
2007 October 29
  Last week, the U.S. Senate Ag Committee, during the committee markup session, passed an amendment to its version of the Farm Bill that could have a drastic impact on the way cattle are marketed in the U.S. The measure, which would ban packer ownership of cattle for more than 14 days prior to slaughter, was passed as one of 32 provisions that received no debate on a voice vote. Under the proposed amendment to the Packers and Stockyards Act, processors could not “own or feed livestock directly, through a subsidiary, or through an arrangement that gives the packer operational, managerial, or
by WLJ
2007 October 29
  A recently completed five-year study conducted in southern Wyoming has shown that prairie dog habitat adversely impacts cattle weight gains. Conducted in portions of the Pawnee National Grasslands at USDA’s High Plains Grasslands Research Station, it was found that over the course of the study, as prairie dog towns increased in size, weight gains among cattle sharing the pasture decreased measurably when compared to those grazing adjacent pastures without prairie dog colonies. The study is particularly important for producers in the West where prairie dog populations are on the rise, particularly in shortgrass regions. It has long been known that
by WLJ
2007 October 29
  USDA recently issued a press release reporting that the agency had teamed up with three manufacturers to produce 1.5 million radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags for USDA use. The tags, produced by Allflex USA, Digital Angel Corp., and Global Animal Management, will be created to fit the standards of USDA’s National Animal Identification System (NAIS) standards. USDA claimed that the ear tags will be used “specifically for USDA state-federal cooperative disease control and eradication efforts, such a bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis and will be distributed in geographic areas which are determined to be of increased risk for disease outbreak or
by WLJ
2007 October 22
Beef trade negotiations with South Korea last week failed to produce any meaningful results after a delegation of U.S. officials met with the Korean government in Seoul in an attempt to reduce Korean import restrictions on U.S. beef. The talks came soon after the most recent discovery of a piece of vertebral column in a shipment of U.S. beef sourced from JBS Swift and the resulting suspension of American beef imports into Korea. Beef trade negotiations are a large part of talks between the two nations as they try to forge a workable free-trade agreement (FTA) which would allow more tariff-free
by WLJ
2007 October 22
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) recent efforts to use ‘no-match’ letters (NML) as a tool for prosecuting employers of illegal immigrants has again hit a roadblock, marking the second time since implementing new immigration rules that the department’s efforts have been met with temporary defeat. Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern California U.S. District Court in San Francisco recently issued a preliminary injunction which will temporarily block DHS’s new enforcement measures. The ruling follows a temporary restraining order issued from the same court by Judge Maxine M. Chesney on Aug. 31 which was granted in order to give the
by WLJ
2007 October 22
—%IMF or Marbling Score….. Which is it? How can I tell? With all of the incentives to raise Choice and Prime cattle, it’s easy to see why so much selection pressure has been placed on marbling. However, the industry has done a poor job of explaining how producers can use ultrasound to select for quality grade, how ultrasound “measures” marbling, and why it’s done in such a confusing fashion. Percent Intramuscular Fat, or %IMF, is the common ultrasound term for marbling, but it needs further explanation to fully understand the concept. In short, %IMF is simply an indicator trait for marbling,
by WLJ
2007 October 22
Get it moving It has been a real battle trying to keep fed cattle prices in the $90s. Several weeks ago, the futures markets cratered after some questionable economic news and the fact that there is a more than ample supply of pork and chicken on the market. Feeders gave up nearly $5 the week all that news came out. Last week, feeders battled back and added $1-2 on fed cattle and the futures markets started a slow crawl north. The cattle on feed report that came out last Friday was expected to show much larger placements than a year ago. The
by WLJ
2007 October 22
—Studies begin to question sustainability of the ethanol industry. The ethanol industry, the focus of much attention after corn prices skyrocketed last year, has been experiencing a massive slowdown in recent months. Reports of delayed construction or expansion have caused concern among investors and the industry’s usage of corn may not reach projected levels this year, according to some industry experts. In 2006, approximately 14 percent of the corn crop went toward the production of ethanol, compared with just 11 percent in 2002. Although there is much debate on the matter, this year, ethanol production could use as much as 20
by WLJ
2007 October 22
—Studies begin to question sustainability of the ethanol industry. Fed cattle trade was off to a slow start last week as traders waited for the USDA cattle on feed report before exchanging cattle for cash. Expectations of increased placements and lower marketings did little to dampen hopes of higher cash for the week, however. As of Thursday, analysts were expecting cash trade to develop $1 higher, at $94 live and $141-144 dressed. Cash trade the week prior in the south came at mostly $92.50, while farther north, Nebraska and Colorado cattle traded from $90-92.50, with dressed sales from $140-143. Dressed sales
by WLJ
2007 October 22
—Studies begin to question sustainability of the ethanol industry. FUSDA moved its corn crop expectations higher as part of the Oct. 1 Crop Production report. According to National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the total national corn production will reach 13.3 billion bushels, up 26 percent from 2006. The number was on the low end of analysts’ expectations and the news spurred corn prices to move slightly higher following the report, according to Virginia Tech Commodity Marketing Agent Mike Roberts. Based on crop conditions when the report was compiled, yield will average 154.7 billion bushels of corn per acre nationally, up 5.6
by WLJ
2007 October 15
All the fence building, hay baling, calf weaning and hundreds of other production tasks would be for nothing if the beef consumers of this nation disregarded our products. Beef industry leaders have focused on beef product demand and the results have been encouraging. Near record cattle and beef prices are partly the result of attentive action toward beef eating quality and consumer satisfaction, and we salute NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) as the driving force enhancing beef demand. Consumers choose beef because we like the taste. Even though the science and physiology of taste are complicated, every beef lover understands
by WLJ
2007 October 15
The pre-cattle on feed report estimates released by analysts last week indicate that the number of cattle placed in feedlots last month will be higher than year ago figures. The 2006 drought, which impacted a large swath of the Plains region, drove calves to feedlots early. Other calves were held over by producers to take advantage of premiums for heavier yearling cattle. The result was a dip in placements last fall. This year’s numbers are expected to be closer to the five-year average, however, analysts noted last week there will be distinct differences in placement weights and where calves have
by WLJ
2007 October 15
It’s about time A steer finishes at USDA Prime Yield Grade 2 at the peak of seasonal demand, winning premiums of more than $250. He and his owners wasted no time. The steer was the product of timed breeding one day in April, in a heat-synchronized herd of heifers. They were managed so as to calve 30 to 45 days ahead of the main cow herd. That allowed them more time to adjust to being new mothers before rebreeding a bit later the next year on time-grazed pastures. But that’s another story. Before he was born, a veterinarian confirmed his arrival date.


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