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Livestock News

by WLJ
2007 November 5
Look before you leap Why would anyone want to invest in beef processing? Do they have any idea how much money it takes to get established? I’ve asked myself these questions many times in the last few years as I’ve watched new entrants to the business come and go. I have no answer to the first question, but 21 years of observing the packing industry on a daily basis has helped me see a couple of patterns. First, most people outside the business have no idea how competitive it is. Second, some people think a new venture will succeed because it is
by WLJ
2007 November 5
Cull cows represent approximately 20 percent of the gross income of any commercial cow operation. Cull beef cows represent 10 percent of the beef that is consumed in the U.S. Therefore, Oklahoma ranchers need to make certain that cow culling is done properly and profitably. Selling cull cows when they will return the most income to the rancher requires knowledge about cull cow health and body condition. Proper cow culling will reduce the chance that a cow carcass is condemned at the packing plant and becomes a money drain for the entire beef industry. At cow culling time, producers often
by WLJ
2007 November 5
R-CALF USA, along with 10 other plaintiffs, announced last week that it will take the lead among 11 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against USDA to stop imports of Canadian cattle over 30 months of age (OTM). The case, filed in Federal District Court—District of South Dakota, Northern Division, was chosen, said R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard, because a large number of R-CALF members reside in South Dakota, making it a logical choice. He also acknowledged the group wished to avoid courts in the 9th Circuit Court where R-CALF has been unsuccessful in several recent attempts at litigation against USDA regulation. The plaintiffs,
by WLJ
2007 November 5
President George W. Bush announced last Wednesday that he has selected former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer to serve as Secretary of Agriculture. Schafer, 61, had served two terms as North Dakota governor, finishing his final term in 2000 before returning to the business world. As governor, he was regarded as a political conservative who focused on the economic development of the state. He also trimmed the number of state government employees during his tenure. The nomination was a bit of a surprise to many, as acting secretary Chuck Conner, who replaced Mike Johanns, who stepped down in advance of
by WLJ
2007 November 5
—Rural communities shown to benefit from renewable fuel boom. A new study has identified the required private capital investment necessary for the renewable fuels industry to achieve the production goals established in the proposed Energy Bill. “The capital cost to meet the 36 billion gallon renewable fuels target by 2022 amounts to $105.5 billion (2007 dollars),” the study completed by John Urbanchuk, a leading analyst of the biofuels industry and a director for LECG, LLC, a global expert services consulting firm, concludes. “Providing the Farm Credit System with greater flexibility to support the financial requirements of the biofuels industry by enabling
by WLJ
2007 November 5
—Industry advocates blast report, calling it anti-meat. An alarming study published last week by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) pointed to a potential link between red meat consumption and cancer development. The report, which was an update to a study conducted a decade earlier, caused ripples of concern in many consumer media outlets and rankled meat and beef industry experts who called the report alarmist, unfounded and biased against meat consumption. The WCRF study focused on a vast number of outside research on the possible cancer-causing effects of an array of different foods, including meat, vegetables and fish, as well
by WLJ
2007 October 29
The beef industry’s struggle with food safety issues and positive consumer-health relations is not new, but a recent focus on Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the production process has spurred new efforts in helping the beef industry stop the harmful bacteria right where it starts. E. coli bacteria are organisms which are normally found in the intestinal tracts of many animals, including humans. They are beneficial, being necessary to the digestive process, and are part of the important mix of intestinal organisms when found in proper balance. Certain strains of the bacteria, however, produce harmful toxins which can attack the lining of
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,


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