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by WLJ
2007 December 20
Going global Big news in the packing business. Swift and Company finally did something; they sold the business. There has been speculation for several years that they would go public and make a lot of money that way. Some spectators felt that it wasn’t in good enough shape to go public and that an outright sale was the only way to go. But, from the get-go, HM Capital and Booth Creek Management, George Gillette’s company, seemed to have always had their eye on a fast trade. It never seemed that they were going to make Swift any better than
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Nevada ranchers and farmers plagued by two straight devastating wildfire seasons will receive millions for livestock loss compensation under a war spending bill approved by Congress and sent to President Bush for his signature. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, who worked to include the funding in the measure, said it would help to cover increased feed costs, fence repairs and rehabilitation of private fire- damaged rangelands. While the legislation designates $1.2 billion for livestock loss compensation nationwide, no breakdown by state was immediately available. “In Nevada, more than 3 million acres were burned by wildfires in the last two
by WLJ
2007 December 20
After several months and countless hours of negotiating, Wyoming and the federal government have reached an agreement on how the state will manage the wolf population, estimated at more than 300 packs in Wyoming alone, once its protection under the Endangered Species Act is lifted. Montana and Idaho have already developed a wolf management plan and the two states are in the process of working toward delisting wolves. Wyoming was supposed to be a part of that process but, until now, had been unable to come to an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) officials. The first procedural step has
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Despite packers being somewhat short-bought last week, the country trade got started off early last Wednesday with feedlot managers in Nebraska taking lower money for more than 55,000 head of fed cattle at a weighted average price of $147.42 dressed basis, nearly $4 lower than the previous week’s trade. Live trade was off $2-2.50 at $92-92.50 in Nebraska. Colorado live sales sold $1.50 to $2.50 lower at $92.50 and dressed sales sold $3-4 lower from $146-147. Live sales in the western Corn Belt sold $1-3 lower at $93 and dressed sales sold $2 lower from $148-149. Trade in the southern
by WLJ
2007 December 20
As the rush to discover feed byproducts that may be comparable to corn continues in the wake of higher priced grains and demand for ethanol, U.S. scientists may have found a viable alternative. Scientists at the University of Missouri (MU) are well on their way to proving that glycerine can be fed to cattle and may be comparable in its nutritional value to corn. Glycerin is chemically classified as alcohol and is a byproduct that comes from soybean oil as a result of the trans-esterification process when producing biodiesel. In a study that began in May, Dr. Monty Kerley, professor of
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Real illusions: How we trick ourselves about finances We all like to think that we make rational and wise decisions when managing our money. But most of us are influenced far more by our emotions than our brains. Why do smart people make irrational investment decisions so commonly and so easily? The fascinating study of behavioral economics and decision science fills many books, but let’s look at a few of the ways in which investors’ minds play tricks on them. The timid bunny — Worrying over risk Why do so many people bank their money in savings accounts, CDs and money markets when
by WLJ
2007 December 20
State officials in North Dakota have announced more testing and entry requirements for Montana cattle after an outbreak of brucellosis in that state. The North Dakota Board of Animal Health issued an order last week, calling it a precaution, after seven cows from a ranch near Bozeman, MT, were diagnosed with brucellosis. North Dakota has been certified as brucellosis-free since 1982. Dr. Susan Keller, the state veterinarian, said the requirements for cattle from Montana include a health certificate and identification number. Cattle and bison 18 months or older that are capable of reproducing must have tested negative for brucellosis within
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The cattle market is a rollercoaster. Based on the interactions of supply and demand with weather, politics and other variables, it can take you for a wild ride. Within the greater beef market amusement park, other roller coasters ride similarly twisting tracks. A five-year trend-line of fed cattle grading USDA Choice (Fig. 1) starts out nearing its peak of 55.5 percent Choice in mid-February. From there, the tracks plummet for nine weeks to less than 50.5 percent Choice, bouncing into a summer recovery before dipping below 51 percent again in early fall. Then the supply of Choice cattle climbs that
by WLJ
2007 December 20
After several weeks of speculation surrounding the fate of Greeley, CO-based Swift & Company, the financial firm that owns Swift announced last week that the third-largest meatpacker in the U.S. will be sold to JBS S.A., the company that controls Brazil’s leading beef exporter, Friboi. The deal, when it is finalized, will make JBS the biggest meatpacker and exporter in the world. In the process, industry analysts expect the deal will improve the current state of the U.S. export market, opening opportunities in places the U.S. is lacking access. “JBS is a very young and aggressive company,” said one source close
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The Bush administration said last week that it will fight to keep Creekstone Farms Premium Beef from testing all harvested cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). A federal judge ruled in late March that USDA had no authority to restrict private industry from conducting private BSE testing. In his decision, U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that “prohibition of the private use of rapid test kits to screen cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is unlawful.” Robertson’s decision was set to take effect June 1, however, USDA’s decision last week to challenge the appeal will delay any testing by Creekstone until
by WLJ
2007 December 20
By a vote of 378-46, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $93.6 billion agricultural appropriations bill. The bill, once it is complete, will provide funding for USDA and its subsidiaries and programs for the coming 2007 fiscal year which begins Oct. 1. However, before any spending plan is finalized, it will need to pass through the U.S. Senate and be agreed upon by both houses of Congress. The approved House bill provides $18.4 billion in
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has proposed an easing of bluetongue restrictions on imports of cattle from the U.S. In a mid-May announcement, CFIA listed a set of regulations which is expected to pave the way for allowing greater numbers of feeder and breeding cattle to be shipped into Canada. It will also reduce direct costs for producers by eliminating the need for the approximately $15 per head testing fee. “After carefully weighing the relevant
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The October 2003 feeder cattle contract settled at $106.98. The transactions during the month deemed suspicious involved 4,531 head of feeders sold and reported at exaggerated prices in order to move the index maintained by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). The fraudulent transactions were allegedly between the two feeders and the broker, Todd Delay. There were a total of five suspicious transactions according to CFTC that involved the three, totaling 36 percent of the volume used to calculate the CME feeder cattle index.
by WLJ
2007 December 20
An agreement to provide water for withering crops in northeast Colorado has fallen through and farmers are now faced with the loss of thousands of acres of sugar beets, onions, corn and other crops. Last week, a plan to divert water from the Colorado cities of Boulder, Highlands Ranch and Sterling was rejected by the towns and several farmers who would have been party to the agreement. The failure to reach an agreement means more than
by WLJ
2007 December 20
There was some small progress made with the Northwest Pilot Project which allowed cattle to be shipped north during winter months. However, it was bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that really got this issue on the front burner. When I accompanied a group of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) members on a fact finding mission to Canada a year-and-a-half ago, it was evident that U.S. cattlemen intended on using bluetongue and anaplasmosis as trade bait. The opportunity
by WLJ
2007 December 20
R-CALF has tried to get this import rule overturned five times, this last time, the judge even said his hands were tied. The only real logic I can think of is the attorneys want to keep the clock running on the cowboys’ nickel or R-CALF leadership can’t find another issue to mobilize their membership. This issue on importing cattle under thirty months old doesn’t threaten the U.S. cow herd in any way. Remember, this disease is not contagious. About the only thing
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Despite predictions about adverse weather conditions harming crop progress, corn planting in most states was nearly complete last week and in many areas, emergence is well ahead of normal. Across the northern Plains and Cornbelt where adequate moisture has fallen, crop planting is well ahead of its normal pace. In Ohio and Wisconsin, corn emergence is 16 and 17 percent ahead of normal. Ohio growers have seen 88 percent of their crop emerge and Wisconsin, 64 percent.
by WLJ
2007 December 20
U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson allowed Creekstone to seek a motion for summary judgment by June 23. USDA will have until Sept. 15 to respond to the request. Robertson’s decision will accelerate the final ruling in the case by several months. The Arkansas City, KS,-based premium beef packer filed the suit in March in an attempt to challenge USDA’s claim that it has the legal authority to control access to and the use of the kits needed to perform BSE testing. For
by WLJ
2007 December 20
IFBF’s carbon credit aggregation pilot program facilitates management practices in which farmers help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere. Now after two-and-a half years, the program is expanding to national markets. Storing or holding the carbon in the ground helps reduce CO2, one of several greenhouse gases contributing to the warming of the atmosphere. The CO2 can be stored in the soil through no-till planting, restoring wetlands, converting cropland to permanent grass or trees, planning
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Memorial Day beef sales were good, and the post Memorial Day trade was better than expected. The boxed beef cutout was at $154.66 at mid week with the Select product $23.35 behind at $130.34, a very wide Choice-Select spread which is indicating a good supply of calf fed cattle in feed lots. Boxed beef trade volume was moderate but very steady with 300 loads trading every day last week. Slaughter volume remains very good. The week


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