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by WLJ
2007 January 8
Fed cattle trade remained at an impasse last Thursday as cattle feeders held out for higher money, despite larger showlists. Bid prices last Thursday were at $89 live and $145 dressed. Most analysts expected that packers would have to pay at least $90 live and $143 dressed basis to get cattle purchased. Last established market was Dec. 29. In Nebraska, live sales traded at $87-88 and dressed sales at $140; in western Corn Belt, live sales traded at $87-88 and dressed sales at $138-140; in Texas, live sales were at $89; in Kansas, live sales traded at $88-88.50 and dressed
by WLJ
2007 January 8
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has concluded its review of “Rule 2” that could result in the resumption of boxed beef and live cattle imports from animals over 30 months of age from Canada. OMB found the Proposed Rule both “economically significant and a major rule.” In a study conducted by USDA, government officials determined that the greatest economic impact will be the effect on cull cow prices. The agency determined the effect on feeder cattle and fed cattle prices will be minimal. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), last Thursday, finally unveiled the tightly held
by WLJ
2007 January 8
In the wake of two blizzards in just over a week’s time, National Guard helicopters dropped emergency bales of hay for livestock trapped by snowdrifts which were as deep as 15 feet last week in eastern Colorado and large parts of Kansas and Nebraska. The New Year’s weekend storm knocked out electricity in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma and left herds of cattle stranded without food or water. Cattle were seen wandering country roads and trapped in fields during spotter plane flights early in the week, bringing back memories of similar conditions in 1997 when more than 30,000 head of
by WLJ
2007 January 8
On Dec. 26, 2006, R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF) filed a brief urging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to remand litigation against USDA back to the Montana District Court and the courtroom of Judge Richard F. Cebull. The Montana District Court is where the arguments were first presented in January of 2005 concerning lifting of the ban that prohibited the import of Canadian cattle under 30 months of age. USDA has been given 30 days beginning Dec. 26, 2006, in which to respond to the filed brief after which time, R-CALF has 14 days to rspond. Bill Bullard,
by WLJ
2007 January 8
South Korea and the U.S. are scheduled to hold talks Jan. 8-9 over a dispute with South Korea’s decision to reject American beef shipments which they said contained banned bone fragments, South Korean officials said last Wednesday. The talks, scheduled in Seoul, South Korea, come weeks after South Korea rejected all three recent shipments of American beef because of bone fragments which South Korea fears could potentially harbor mad cow disease. The two sides will “hold technical consultations” over the quarantine issue of American beef, said a South Korean Agriculture and Forestry Ministry official. At stake is the upcoming round
by WLJ
2007 January 8
—Prices appreciating, but buyers can still find good values. Property values in the Southwest continue to climb, despite rising interest rates and challenging conditions for producers. According to many real estate professionals in the region, sales have picked up after a slowdown last summer. Properties in the Southwest region still represent one of the best values available on the market. Lower than average operating costs, combined with reasonable land costs, have made the area a destination of choice for many ranchers who are looking to take advantage of rising property values to expand or relocate their operations. Arizona According to Harley Hendricks
by WLJ
2007 January 1
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), along with several other agriculture and non-agriculture organizations, submitted petitions pursuing litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Dec. 18, 2006. NCBA submitted a formal petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking review of EPA’s air quality standards that regulate agriculture dust. The Clean Air Act Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM) (dust) revisions were released on Oct. 17, 2006. After extensive efforts put forth by NCBA, EPA agreed that agriculture operations emit only “fugitive” emissions (cannot be captured and measured). As a result, EPA’s
by WLJ
2007 January 1
The last significant fed cattle trade was a week ago Friday when the market was established at $85 and $135 on limited trade prior to Christmas. Heavy winter weather in much of the feeding states has slowed trade significantly. At midday Thursday, just a handful of cattle traded at steady levels with the prior week. Slaughter was much slower last week with the holiday-shortened schedules. For the week through Thursday, 343,000 head passed through packing plants, which was 30,000 lower than the same week a year ago. Daily slaughter was lower, which makes one wonder if Swift has been able
by WLJ
2007 January 1
Two-thousand six was a pretty good year, unless you were a beef packer. Beef packers lost money hand over fist most of last year and the first quarter of 2007 doesn’t look much better. The packing industry has been a pretty exciting industry this last year but one that lost a lot of money. There were a lot of companies changing hands and jockeying for position, trying to gain market share and trying to develop new niche markets. Cattle feeders have had the upper hand over packers, which I think is the first time I’ve seen the balance of power firmly
by WLJ
2007 January 1
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released their draft risk assessment last Thursday confirming that meat and milk from cloned animals poses no risk to the food chain. After more than five years of study, FDA concluded that products derived from cloned livestock are virtually “indistinguishable” from livestock that are bred conventionally. The agency has conducted several risk assessments in which they examined hundreds of individual measures of nutritional and other compositional characteristics and have found no differences between cloned animals and conventional livestock. “We believe that meat and milk from cattle, swine, and goat clones is as safe to eat
by WLJ
2007 January 1
The ethanol boom has grown into the biggest story in U.S. agriculture. Never before has a nation’s energy and food policies become so entwined. The boom is already impacting animal agriculture. It is starting to change the face of the U.S. cattle feeding industry. Some are warning it could cause a decline in protein supplies as the U.S. converts more feed grains into energy, with higher ration costs eventually meaning lighter cattle and hog carcasses. The most obvious impact so far is the dramatic rise in corn prices since the summer. Corn prices, basis Omaha, are nearly 80% higher than a
by WLJ
2007 January 1
Idaho and Montana ranchers may see relief in wolf protection regardless of the ongoing lawsuits in Wyoming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has announced they will begin taking steps toward delisting wolves in the two states regardless of whether or not Wyoming has submitted an acceptable management plan by the first part of the year. Wyoming’s management plan has been tied up in lawsuits since the reintroduction of wolves over one decade ago. This has impeded Montana and Idaho’s ability to pursue the delisting of wolves in spite of the economic repercussions the reintroduction of the wolves has had
by WLJ
2007 January 1
South Korean lawmakers threatened to reinstate the ban on U.S. beef if the U.S. Congress continues to press the beef quarantine issue. Congress has attempted to negotiate with lawmakers in Seoul to try and come to an agreement that would allow U.S. beef back into the South Korean market. However, the U.S. has been met with nothing but obstacles since the first shipment of beef sent to South Korea was rejected on Nov. 24, 2006. “The U.S. should be aware that if the U.S. Congress continues to press with the beef quarantine issue, it will be viewed by most South Koreans
by WLJ
2007 January 1
On Dec. 22, U.S. and South Korean officials traded questions with regard to uncommonly high levels of dioxin found in the most recent beef shipment which had been rejected on Dec. 6, 2006. The rejection of the third shipment of U.S. beef has caused significant frustration, skepticism, and even anger among U.S. officials and America’s cattlemen. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said the rejection of the third beef shipment “clearly illustrates that South Korean officials are determined to find an excuse to reject all beef products from the United States.” The rejection comes at a time when U.S. officials and cattle producers
by WLJ
2006 December 25
The dry conditions experienced by producers last year forced cattle into feedlots early and made herd-building difficult in most of the central U.S. The result is likely to be a significantly smaller than expected increase in the U.S. cattle herd when USDA releases its numbers in January 2007. Much of the evidence for a slow expansion can be seen in cow slaughter numbers compiled by USDA. According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC), federally Inspected (FI) cow slaughter in 2006 has been well above a year ago. At the same time, heifer slaughter began to consistently surpass year ago
by WLJ
2006 December 25
A group of environmental organizations filed suit last week against U.S. Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dale Hall saying that the agencies used “junk science” to alter a decision by scientists to list the Gunnison’s prairie dog as an endangered species. The environmental groups, including Forest Guardians, Jews of the Earth and Public Employees of Environmental Responsibilities, filed the lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. They seek to have the Gunnison’s Prairie Dog habitat, found in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, protected under the Endangered Species Act. According
by WLJ
2006 December 25
A severe winter storm that spread ice and snow across the southern Plains early last week before moving northward into the central U.S. and Rocky Mountain region, put the lid on any early cash trade last week as transportation was mostly at a standstill on Tuesday and Wednesday. As a result, there was little to no activity to determine a trend, although packers were expected to perhaps raise bids in an attempt to secure cattle close-by last week rather than face production cuts due to a shortage of cattle. What few sales had been reported to USDA as of last
by WLJ
2006 December 25
In the aftermath of the raids at six Swift and Co. plants on Dec. 1, 282 workers were detained for questioning at makeshift facilities in Colorado, Texas and Iowa. Of that group, only 260 people have actually been charged with immigration violations or identity theft, the reported reason for the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids at the plants. In addition, as many as 75 workers who had no criminal record in the U.S., but who were here illegally, agreed to be “deported” without a hearing. Workers detained were reportedly from a number of different countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras,
by WLJ
2006 December 18
The “C” word Words mean more than what’s in the dictionary. Some can be rhetorical devices loaded with positive or negative undertones. Consider “chase” and all its forms. A dictionary says the verb means to pursue in order to overtake or capture; to persistently seek the favor of; or, just the opposite, to drive away. The derisive derivative most common in the cattle industry comes from the centuries-old noun phrase, “wild goose chase.” That is, “an absurd search for something nonexistent or unobtainable; any senseless pursuit of an object or end.” In broader society, we criticize opportunistic lawyers as ambulance chasers. Politicians chase
by WLJ
2006 December 18
It's got to be managed Last week, Swift and Company was singled out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency under the guidance of the Department of Homeland Security. The entire company was subjected to early morning raids at six of its processing facilities because of allegations of identity theft. Nearly 1,300 people were rounded up and evaluated for a free trip home. It seems pretty clear that someone had an ax to grind with Swift because they were the only packing company to be raided. The raids came so fast that folks didn’t have much time to react. Busses


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