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by WLJ
2007 March 26
Colorado residents stepped up to the plate in an effort to help Colorado’s farmers and ranchers who experienced devastating losses when blizzards swept across the state late last year. Residents from across the state, some not even involved in agriculture, made numerous selfless contributions during an evening of country music, poetry, and fun. Operation Blizzard Benefit was held at the Colorado State Fairgrounds on March 18 and so far, donations of cash and hay have totaled more than $680,000. The silent auction, alone, raised approximately $18,500 and there were a total of 3,358 concert tickets sold. It has been reported that
by WLJ
2007 March 26
Prioritize what’s important It was a great week last week because I was able to take the entire week off and go to bull sales, get out in the country, and visit with you all. Bull sales are, for the most part, quite strong. Cattlemen are being a bit more selective about the bulls they buy, but the discussions are still focused on moisture and snowpack which is now concerning western producers a great deal. Many producers in California never received their winter rain, which grows the bulk of their feed. There is speculation that cowherds will be culled very hard
by WLJ
2007 March 26
In a year that is likely to be filled with congressional bills dealing with agricultural topics, including a new Farm Bill, members of Congress opened the floodgates last week. U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-WI, Jim Gerlach, R-PA, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer, D-CA, introduced a revised version of The Healthy Farms, Foods, and Fuels Act that originally was introduced in 2006 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The newly introduced legislation, if eventually passed into law, would: Double incentives for better water quality to $2 billion a year; Provide farmers $300
by WLJ
2007 March 26
Cascades and Colorado front range snowpack above normal. With temperatures rising at spring’s onset, climatologists are warning producers to be cautious with their stocking decisions. Snowpack conditions are very similar to last year and with spring runoff already beginning, water conditions could deteriorate quickly if April storms don’t materialize across the central U.S. Nebraska State Climatologist Al Dutcher said last week that with the exception of eastern Colorado, much of the high Plains region is facing dry conditions similar to those which caused drought conditions last year. “The eastern two-thirds of Nebraska is looking pretty good right now. In fact, they are
by WLJ
2007 March 26
Cash fed cattle trade stalled out early last week as boxed beef cutout values and choppy trade stalled the market slightly ahead of the cattle on feed report due out on March 23. Both feeders and packers were holding firm on their positions last week, neither willing to give ground to move cattle. As of press time last Thursday, asking prices were firm at $100-102 in the south and $162 plus in the north, while packers were holding steady with offers in the range of $94 in the south and $95-97 in the north on a live weight basis. Dressed
by WLJ
2007 March 26
Spring is here and with it comes baby calves, blue skies, and lush, green pastures. People are not the only ones looking forward to the sweet aroma of fresh, green grass. After a long winter, cows are more than happy to consume the sweet forage. However, ranchers need to be careful as the rapidly growing grass can be fatal to mature cattle. Grass tetany, sometimes called grass staggers or hypomagnesemia, is a serious, often fatal metabolic disorder which can be characterized by low levels of magnesium in the blood serum of cattle. It primarily affects older cows nursing calves under two
by WLJ
2007 March 26
During congressional testimony last week, several beef industry representatives said any potential Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea should hinge on whether or not the country agrees to accept U.S. beef imports and drop its continued unscientific trade barriers. Since agreeing to resume imports of U.S. beef last year, South Korean officials have rejected the three shipments of U.S. beef sent to the country. In all three cases, inspections revealed minute slivers of bone, causing the entire shipment to be rejected. U.S. trade officials have strongly criticized South Korea for its continued protectionist stalling. Last week, USDA’s Economic Research
by WLJ
2007 March 26
It’s no secret that R-CALF United Stockgrower’s of America (R-CALF) has been experiencing some internal conflicts and has appointed new leaders and directors. The organization has been the source of much scrutiny and some longtime members have reportedly left the organization. Interestingly, some of those members and directors have made the decision to establish a new organization which they have named United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA). Organizers announced the creation of the new organization on March 15. One of R-CALF’s previous directors, Jon Wooster, a cattle producer from San Lucas, CA, has been named USCA’s interim president and Chase Carter, a
by WLJ
2007 March 19
Careful what you wish for At first glance, it might appear that the “Golden Rule” of trade, also known as “treat other countries like you want to be treated,” isn’t working very well for USDA. There are those in the agriculture industry and in Congress who would paint a similar picture of the beef business. They point to increasing market openness as a sign of impending disaster for U.S. producers. Increased competition from foreign producers will drive down prices for U.S. cattle, seems to be the current line of thinking. However, a check of prices last week shows that probably isn’t the
by WLJ
2007 March 19
Almost three months have passed since sequential storms rocked the Plains states but we are just beginning to see the significant impacts the storms had on the cattle feeding industry. Feedlot operators are continuing to see a higher death rate than they have seen in the past several years. In fact, Chris Reinhardt, extension feedlot specialist at Kansas State University, says that on average, the feedlots affected by the storms are experiencing about twice the death loss this winter than they would have seen in a normal winter. Unfortunately, even though pen conditions have improved with the warmer temperatures and
by WLJ
2007 March 12
As a result of the growing appetite of the ethanol industry for raw materials used in the production process, U.S. corn farmers will need to produce record harvests this year to avoid a supply crunch and further jumps in price. Already there are concerns across many sectors, including ethanol plants and, in particular, among livestock producers, about corn shortages later this year. Those concerns are adding to calls for increasing the use of cellulosic materials in the ethanol production process. The biomass available for cellulosic ethanol is much greater, however, the technology lags far behind corn-based ethanol production. Currently, 114
by WLJ
2007 March 12
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has declared Argentina free of hoof and mouth disease (HMD) with vaccinations except for an area of approximately 10 square miles in the northern portion of the country, the Argentinian Agriculture Secretariat reported last Wednesday. “With this certification from the OIE, the country is showing the best sanitary condition in recent years,” the Agriculture Secretariat reported. The certification comes ahead of a USDA proposal to resume imports of fresh and frozen beef from the country. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulation was originally published in January of this year.
by WLJ
2007 March 12
The Arizona Senate has made a move to protect livestock owners from being required to participate in a mandatory individual identification plan in case the federal government ever decides to move forward with a mandatory program. A bill proposed in the Senate meetings regarding animal identification was passed last week and is moving to the House. The bill, which was originally sponsored by Sen. Karen Johnson, R-District 18, was intended to prevent the state’s ranchers from being forced to comply with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). “The person who was initially proposing the legislation was contacted by a rancher and
by WLJ
2007 March 12
Are your cows qualified? Maybe you had to sum up your qualifications when you applied for an off-farm job. Perhaps your Future Farmers of America (FFA) Star Farmer application required it or, if you never actually had an “official” résumé, you’ve helped a son or daughter fill one out. A good résumé makes a positive difference. The idea is to fit everything you want to say about yourself on one standard page and then hope the person reading it understands your value to the company, organization or community. Have you ever thought about what you’d put on your herd’s résumé? What accomplishments
by WLJ
2007 March 12
Last week, the New Mexico Board of Livestock stated that a case of bovine tuberculosis (TB) has been confirmed in an Eddy County dairy cow. That comes after another animal, related to an infected herd in Colorado, was also traced to a New Mexico operation. New Mexico Livestock Board officials are now busy tracing the history of the dairy cow to determine where the disease originated. The infection was discovered in February as a part of routine testing, known as slaughter surveillance, which is conducted at all state and federally inspected plants in the U.S., said state veterinarian Dave Fly.
by WLJ
2007 March 12
Let ’er rip The USDA’s proposed rule that would lift the current ban on importing beef and cattle over thirty months old, also known as “Rule 2,” is just about complete. The comment period closes this week, March 12, and then could go into effect shortly afterward. It doesn’t seem like the timing for opening the Canadian border to older cattle could be any worse. Last week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced a small breach in their feed ban system. Actually it wasn’t a breech in the ban, or a problem with protocol. It was a simple situation of human
by WLJ
2007 March 12
Last week, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision affirming the Texas state law which bans the sale of horse meat for human consumption. Without issuing a reason, or a single dissent, the 19 judges of the full court rejected a petition by the plants seeking full court review of a three-judge panel’s Jan. 19 decision which upheld the Texas horse slaughter ban. The slaughter plants had claimed the Texas law at issue was unconstitutional, an argument that was dismissed by the court in its January opinion and again by its decision denying a rehearing of
by WLJ
2007 March 12
Relatively active, and substantially higher fed cattle trade took place last Wednesday, bucking the trend of late week trade over the previous few months. Fed cattle prices on approximately 20,000 head were trending as much as $4-7 higher last week, with prices reportedly in the range of $98 live basis in the southern Plains, an increase of $4 over the prior week. In the north and Corn Belt, dressed prices were reportedly as much as $7 higher in some areas, with prices in a range of $154-155 dressed in Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. Last Thursday, in the wake of
by WLJ
2007 March 12
About 8,000 cattle and deer from nine Saskatchewan, Canada, farms are under quarantine after receiving feed that included banned meat and bone meal in violation of Canada’s feed ban requirements which were first enacted in 1997, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said March 2. Two of the farms are in the Swift Current area, and the other seven are in the Saskatoon region of the province. The contamination occurred when misidentified ruminant meat and bone meal was distributed from a Saskatoon processor to a nearby feed mill, said CFIA Chief Veterinarian Dr. George Luterbach. The meat and bone meal was
by WLJ
2007 March 12
Weather rivals corn as the dominant market factor Weather is rapidly rivaling corn as the dominant market factor in 2007. Storms that began mid-December have turned the live cattle trade into a full-blown “weather market.” Analysts say this is the worst winter weather in years to hit cattle feeding country in terms of severity and breadth. Cattle on feed from Wisconsin to the southern Plains have been hurt. Beef packers are starting to realize that the impact of the bitter weather will be seen in cattle supplies and carcass quality into the summer. Add to this, corn at $3.50 to $4


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