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by WLJ
2006 September 4
In a previous column, I mentioned that Beef Checkoff-funded advertising was “predominantly” seen in agricultural trade publications. What I was attempting to convey was that I believe consumer advertising funds could be better spent through more comprehensive advertising campaigns. Before I ramble, I must first clarify that I am a strong supporter of the purpose and function of the producer-funded Beef Checkoff and even worked on their behalf through Osborn&Barr Communications. According to the 2005 Beef Board financial audit, $45,236,042 was collected. Of that hefty sum of cash, $22,309,397 was spent on promotions. Although consumer advertising is included in this
by WLJ
2006 September 4
— Higher costs may have reduced value of feeding cull cattle. Producers have a variety of differing philosophies when it comes to handling cull cows. Numerous studies have shown that selling unproductive cows contributes a substantial amount of money to an operation’s bottom line. According to the 1999 National Beef Quality Audit, cull cow marketing creates an average of 16 percent of ranch income. In some cases, it could be much more. Feeding culls is normally a proposition which is both risky and potentially rewarding, however, with this year's drought and high fuel costs translating into increased feeding costs, the picture may
by WLJ
2006 September 4
USDA promised $780 million in aid last week to ranchers and farmers stricken by the worst drought to hit the U.S. in decades.   Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the aid while visiting a ranch in South Dakota, one of several states which has been hard-hit by near record dryness and higher than normal temperatures this year. Producers in the Plains, south and western corn belt are struggling with low yields and high prices this year. The relief, although welcome, is just a start, many said after the announcement.   “As I walked a pasture where grass should be high and growing and cattle
by WLJ
2006 September 4
Packers’ behavior is difficult to fathom at times. No more so than in the live cattle market the second week of August when packers paid $5-6 per cwt. more for cattle than the week before. The behavior had market analysts shaking their heads about packers’ apparent aversion to making money, although what really happened was that a major packer was seriously short bought on cattle. The behavior also set me to thinking about how plant competitiveness plays a role in how packers position themselves and how Tyson Fresh Meats (formerly IBP) has been eclipsed as the low-cost processor of fed beef.
by WLJ
2006 September 4
In 2001 an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United Kingdom (UK) resulted in catastrophic economic losses exceeding $15 billion. The cost to livestock producers was estimated to be nearly $1 billion and at least 6 million animals were slaughtered. Any outbreak of FMD in the US today, where the density of livestock animals is high, would likely be as devastating as the one that hit the UK in 2001.   With no recent FMD outbreak to use as an example, it is hard to predict how an outbreak might spread in today’s US. Current information on precise animal locations, movement
by WLJ
2006 August 28
— Report suggests lack of marbling leading challenges. Every five years, the National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) is conducted to access the current successes and challenges of the beef cattle industry as well as to establish goals for future years. The most recent study was conducted between July 2005 and June 2006. The audit includes interviews with beef and beef product export decision makers, purveyors, restaurants, food service operators and supermarkets. In addition, specific quality data was collected at 16 U.S. packing facilities. The audit collected data for live cattle, carcasses on the harvest floor and carcasses after chilling and after
by WLJ
2006 August 28
— Placements 17 percent above last year. — Marketings slightly higher than 2005.   The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) cattle on feed report released Aug. 18 was mostly in line with analysts’ pre-report expectations. The total number of cattle on feed as of Aug. 1 was up 7 percent over 2005, at 10.82 million, the second highest on record behind 2001 when NASS reported 10.89 million head on feed. The Aug. 1 number is down only 50,000 head from the July 1 number. NASS statistics show the normal decline is closer to 300,000 head between July and August. Erica Rosa, agricultural
by WLJ
2006 August 28
— Biosecurity measures mean more record keeping.   In December, those in the animal feed business will have new regulations to comply with in regard to transportation. The new set of rules were not introduced recently. In fact, the rules were detailed in the Public Health and Security Preparedness and Response Act that was passed in 2002. However, the regulations are set to take effect in just three months. The new set of guidelines are reportedly designed to protect the food supply from serious threats that could be introduced during transportation of animal feed and other such products. More specifically, the regulations
by WLJ
2006 August 28
— On feed report does little to move market despite jump in placements.   Fed cattle trade last week was at a virtual standstill with offers last Thursday at $88 live basis and $139-$141 on dressed cattle. Packers were still about $5 below live and $5-6 on the dressed asking prices at press time last week. Trade was expected to be at least steady to higher when it did finally occur last week.   “Producers have every reason to hold firm given the packers’ record of caving in at the last minute and having the economic incentive to add weight,” said Andy Gottschalk
by WLJ
2006 August 14
— Yet another shot at a repeal down the drain. The Senate voted late Thursday, Aug. 3, to yet again refuse a repeal of the estate tax, commonly known as the death tax. The most recent rejection was H.R. 5970, a bill that would not only significantly cut the estate tax , but also increase the federal minimum wage. The bill would have essentially increased minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 and by 2015, increased
by WLJ
2006 August 14
Congress passed legislation last week which will greatly enhance the benefits for ranchers who enter into a conservation easement on their property so long as the easement will keep the ranch in production agriculture. According to California Rangeland Trust, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (HR 4) includes provisions that will allow ranchers who donate land for conservation purposes to receive an increased deduction, while ensuring that those lands will remain in agricultural production. The adjusted deduction for conservation easement donations ensures
by WLJ
2006 August 14
— Fed cattle $5-6 higher live and $6-7 higher dressed. — Feeder cattle follow feds higher. Packers stepped up to the plate early last week and paid sharply higher prices for cattle in both the north and south Plains. Trading occurred late Wednesday afternoon at $86 live basis in the south, $5-6 higher than the previous week. In the northern Plains, packers paid $136 live, $6-7 higher than the prior week. Volume was reportedly good with feedlots in Texas, Kansas and Nebraska each trading
by WLJ
2006 August 14
The hay market across the country remains very strong with prices at their highest point in recent years. In fact, in some areas hurt by heat, drought and a lack of production, prices are through the roof, according to brokers. Dryland alfalfa and most grass hay production is significantly below normal in much of the Great Plains and with a lack of carryover from 2005 and crop failures in states like Texas and Oklahoma, the competition for hay is causing some producers
by WLJ
2006 August 7
— USDA halts rule-making process. USDA has rescinded a proposal which would have allowed imports of Canadian cattle over 30 months of age, saying there won’t be a ruling on the case until it has completed its investigation into the most recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The most recent case, announced last month, was found in an animal just 50 months old. That animal had been born nearly four years after Canada’s ruminant animal feed ban was enacted.
by WLJ
2006 July 31
When it comes to the humane treatment of animals, I don’t think there is a stockman alive that would blatantly harm their stock. Some animals need a bit more convincing than others, but that goes for people as well What to do with an animal that has lived its useful life? Our general Christian values force us to treat every person and every animal with respect, and in many cases, terminating an animal is the most respectful option available.
by WLJ
2006 July 31
— Stockdogs fill valuable roles on ranches across the globe. For centuries, stockdogs have served not only as companions to ranchers herding cattle or sheep on the desolate range where an echo travels without interruption for miles, but also as irreplaceable ranch hands. The skill, the know-how and the passion of the four-legged creatures corralling stock in the middle of the range is a fascinating partnership. The vast range provides no assistance—no fence to guide the animals, no high-tech facilities—just the rancher on horseback and the dog, working side
by WLJ
2006 July 31
— Potential energy corridors spider across the land, but will landowners be affected? Innovative ways to effectively and economically transmit energy across the West are stirring controversy among landowners. A map was recently released, showing energy transmission routes, or corridors, across the West. Although economics is at the forefront of the decision making, and the possible establishment of a more secure and stable energy infrastructure for the U.S., the issue with landowners and ranchers is the claim that they have yet to be involved in the planning and preliminary
by WLJ
2006 July 31
The news of Japan didn’t move the market last week and as of Thursday afternoon, trade was still at a halt, despite rumors of packers being short for the week in the north. Previous week trade occurred in the south Plains at $79-79.50. Live sales in the northern Plains traded at $80- 80.50 live basis with dressed sales at $126-127, mostly $126. Brent Snyder, market analyst for Texas Cattle Feeders Association, said the market this week was difficult to call.
by WLJ
2006 July 31
— Drought continues to push cattle to feedlots early. — Analysts say feedlots are slipping behind in marketing efforts. The July 1, cattle on feed report contained a surprise in the form of a much higher than anticipated placement number. After the unexpected drop in placements during May, it appears the placement rate has evened out and drought has continued to pushed a large number of lightweight calves into feedlots early this year.
by WLJ
2006 July 31
Transportation costs continue to skyrocket, not only for those shipping cattle across the country, but also for the general consumer. With no relief in sight, cattlemen may limit shipping cattle, and consumers are already spending less for food in an effort to cut costs. The average retail price for regular gasoline in the U.S. increased by nearly two cents last week and the trend is expected to continue. The average price for a gallon of gas was $2.99 as of last Monday,