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by WLJ
2007 December 20
August 20, 2007 Are you producing widgets? I wonder where Mack is today. When I knew him, he was a human-resource manager at a big publishing house. He once told me, “Magazines are like widgets. We produce a certain number and sell them through subscriptions and advertising.” Part of Mack’s job was to fire people who showed too much creativity, or tried to break the widget mold, and replace them with more suitable yes-persons. Fortunately, as management also broke the mold, he left publishing. I think he went back to the widget industry, but he could have taken up ranching somewhere. Too
by WLJ
2007 December 20
In a show of cooperation between ranchers and environmentalists, a recent land deal in Yolo County, CA, is highlighting the potential of such partnerships which serve the twin goals of preserving ranch land and preventing suburban sprawl. Audubon California purchased Bobcat Ranch as part of an effort to create a corridor of public and private land running from Vacaville, CA, to Lake County. Unlike some past conservation projects purchased by other organizations, California Audubon intends to leave cattle on the land as an integral part of the ranch’s management plan. That has added to the organization’s credibility when negotiating with
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Producers in every sector of the cattle industry are facing rising costs, but none that impact the bottom line more than the cost of feed. To maintain profitability, producers must be able to identify genetic lines that provide the most feed efficient animals possible. Bovigen is addressing this ever-increasing need with a true technological breakthrough: the industry’s first and only DNA test that can identify an animal’s genetic ability to efficiently convert feed. “Producers can use the new GeneSTAR feed efficiency test to identify up to a $50 difference in feed cost between animals when ration costs are at $165/ton,”
by WLJ
2007 December 20
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials announced a new initiative on Aug. 10 which includes heavier enforcement of labor laws and new processes designed to streamline the DHS’s ability to prosecute violators. The new initiative, crafted by Bush administration officials, takes direct aim at congressional leaders who failed to pass Bush-backed immigration reform measures earlier this summer. DHS will now begin seeking criminal action and increased fines against employers who knowingly violate immigration laws by hiring illegal workers, and will increasingly use ‘no- match letters’ (NML) in its prosecution efforts. The Social Security Administration (SSA) sends NMLs to employers
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Another Colorado rodeo bull was undergoing a necropsy last week to determine whether it had been infected with bovine tuberculosis(TB). If the test results were found to be positive, it would be the second case of the disease found in less than a year, placing Colorado’s TB Accredited Free status in jeopardy. Two unrelated cases found in a single state during a one-year period could lead USDA to delist Colorado. Tests were expected to be completed within a week. Colorado Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president Terry Fankhauser cautioned that the results were preliminary and inconclusive until confirmatory tests were complete.
by WLJ
2007 December 20
USDA Prime, Choice, Select and Standard have been the staples of graded beef, at least since the system was overhauled in the 1970s. The Choice grade may have been made too broad for effective use because in recent years, its upper two-thirds has further segmented into a kind of fifth grade: premium Choice. The industry is half a billion dollars ahead each year because of that. Cattle-Fax published a paper in July called “Value of Quality Analysis,” which considered what would happen if all the premium quality categories and brands went away. “If we went back to a Choice/Select basis
by WLJ
2007 December 20
On Aug. 10, USDA released an updated crop production report, one which saw increases in corn harvest estimates from the previous report issued in July. USDA estimated 2007 corn production to hit 13.1 billion bushels, and increased yield estimates to 152.8 bushels per acre, up from 150.3. Harvest estimates from industry analysts for the August report ranged from 12.640-13.201 billion bushels, with an average of 12.909, nearly 200 million bushels lower than USDA’s number. Yield figures from independent sources were also lower, with an average of 151.2 bushels per acre, compared to USDA estimates placing yield at 152.8. USDA’s supply
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Little things make a big difference. Thomas Dewey and Al Gore would have been presidents of the U.S. if a few more of their supporters had voted in a few precincts. As Ben Franklin wrote some 250 years ago, “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the rider was lost.” And on it goes, building greater significance to that missing nail. What details are you overlooking right
by WLJ
2007 December 20
This summer, hundreds of thousands of supermarket shopping families will be at state fairs across the country partaking in novelty shows, corndogs and carnival rides. They will also take a stroll through the cattle barns, something many have never seen or see only once a year. This rare occurrence is a golden opportunity for agricultural youth and their families to not only show, but tell, how these animals were raised and cared for and the process that takes place between production and the retail market that allows for
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Soybeans Soybean production is predicted to be down this year. NASS estimated this year’s soybean crop will be just 2.93 billion bushels, down 5 percent from last year and 6 percent from 2004. Yields are predicted to be 39.6 bushels per acre on 73.9 million acres, up 4 percent from last year. The planted acreage this year is the second largest on record, although down slightly from the June preliminary estimate. This year’s crop is progressing well, with 53 percent of planted acres
by WLJ
2007 December 20
After the packer buying spree of the previous week, fed cattle trade was all quiet in advance of last week’s much-anticipated cattle on feed report. Packers had a large supply of cattle procured and show lists at feedlots were generally smaller so both sides appeared content to wait until Friday to trade cattle. As of Thursday afternoon last week, cattle were offered at $88-89 live basis and $140-141 dressed. Packer bids were very light and several dollars below asking prices at $83-84 and $134-135. Analysts last week were
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Industry leaders remain optimistic regarding U.S. beef’s potential in the Korean marketplace, but hopes are diminishing as Korean trade officials refuse attempts made by the U.S. to resume trade. In fact, Korea had made plans in early May to resume trade in mid-June. However, they announced instead on June 7 that trade would not be resumed as planned. Most recently, the trade woes are continuing to linger and show little to no signs of regression. For example, South Korean officials passed the
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The economic impact the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) scare has had on the U.S. alone is massive, not to mention geographical areas where the presence had been more prominent. The threat of BSE introduced in Great Britain in the early 1980s was not brought fully into the public light until the 2003 incident when it hit the U.S. The whiplash created by heavy publicity and little scientific information created a consumer that had a fear of BSE in their beef products. The fear, evident by borders closing and constant media attention, is one many
by WLJ
2007 December 20
It now appears more and more likely that lawmakers will extend the 2002 farm bill beyond the 2007 sunset of the bill. In Iowa last week, witnesses testified saying they were in favor of continuing current farm level support unless an agreement was reached quickly in World Trade Organization (WTO) talks. Farm bill extension discussed Ron Heck, past president of the American Soybean Association, and Keith
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The goal is to enhance and protect the country’s agricultural industry, as well as public health, by preventing a terrorism attack and/or disease outbreak in the nation’s food supply, live and processed. According to DHS, the facility will address biological and agricultural national security risks by co-locating scientists from several federal agencies in a state-of-the-art safety containment facility. DHS said they plan to equip the facility with numerous laboratories that will conduct research in high-consequence biological
by WLJ
2007 December 20
A federal judge recently blocked portions of the new public land grazing regulations issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in a lawsuit filed by environmentalists and anti-grazing activists. In his decision, Federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill blocked BLM from limiting public participation in decisions about livestock grazing on public lands. On Friday, Aug. 11, Winmill told BLM it can’t implement parts of its new national grazing regulations until litigation over the policy has been resolved. As of last week, there
by WLJ
2007 December 20
— Mexican cattle imports also larger than prior year. On Aug. 11, the monthly Canadian on-feed data was released. As with recent reports, the on-feed inventory was well above a year ago but below the level of years prior to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada. As of Aug. 1, the reported on-feed inventory was 13 percent above a year ago. Placements for the month of July were the second highest since the report started and were
by WLJ
2007 December 20
A light snow pack over the winter was followed by a hot, dry summer in most of the country. Those conditions have contributed to a bad fire season, according to Jennifer Smith, public information officer for the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, ID. Despite the fact that the total acreage burned this season is nearly double the 10-year average, Smith characterized the 2006 fire season as “fairly typical,” saying most burned acreage so far this year was the result of the brush fires in Texas and Oklahoma early in the year which
by WLJ
2007 December 20
The anthrax outbreak in Saskatchewan that’s being called the worst in decades may be diminishing. For the first time in weeks, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reporting no additional animals have died of the disease in Saskatchewan. “The rate (of anthrax infection) has certainly slowed down,” CFIA spokesman Greg Douglas said last Wednesday. “It seems a lot of the vaccination efforts have paid off.”
by WLJ
2007 December 20
Forrest Bassford was a pillar and a legend in the livestock publishing business, starting his career in 1930 with the Denver Daily Record Stockman, then moving to the American Hereford Journal. In 1948, Forrest became editor of Western Livestock Journal and the rest is history. There will be many articles written on his career, and that is right and proper, but I would like to give you a view of him that most of you didn’t know.


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