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WLJ

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 10, 2007
A true cowman When Linn Battey was growing up in Texas, he said all he ever wanted to be was a cowboy. Well, Linn did become a cowboy, and a good one. Last week, John Jackson of the YP Ranch, Tuscarora, NV, called to tell me Linn Battey was leaving the YP and going back to Texas. They were having a going away party for him and John wanted to know if I could be there. Over the past years, I have become acquainted with Linn as he attended a lot of the bull sales during the spring with John,
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
An incident at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo last week has spawned a firestorm of controversy related to the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). NAIS is a program which seeks to register premises and livestock for the purpose of traceability and is administered by USDA. Two young 4-H’ers, who were qualified for the livestock sale, were ejected from the fair and prevented from showing their livestock in the market show because their families had not registered their premises with NAIS. The families were given the opportunity to either register their livestock and premises on the spot, or be removed from
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
In its ongoing effort to improve the health and productivity of the public lands, including those recently affected by wildfire, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has initiated a native seed collection effort that is part of an interagency “Seeds of Success” program.  Starting with 12 collecting teams that quickly grew to 35 teams nationwide, BLM and numerous partners carry out the Seeds of Success (SOS) initiative, which is the core of a National Native Plant Materials Development Program. SOS provides seeds from many species of plants to growers, researchers, and administrators of seed in the U.S. BLM’s collecting partners include the
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
Smithfield Foods, Inc. recently announced an export deal with a Chinese firm that would send 60 million pounds of pork to China. China is already a buyer of U.S. pork, but the new contract represents a substantial increase in export levels. The new agreement comes during a tough time for China’s own pork industry as they have been battling disease in the majority of the country’s hog herd since last year. Information leaked after the initial press release showed that COFCO, China’s largest oils and food importer/exporter, was the company with whom Smithfield struck their deal. The company had preferred
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
The end of the line? R-CALF’s staff and board of directors, who have relentlessly pursued the Canadian border issue through the court system, received more bad news last week when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals shot down their latest attempt to stop the flow of beef from Canada. It seems that the courts have been pretty clear in their belief that USDA has followed proper procedure and reached the correct decision when the agency reopened the border two years ago, although R-CALF still believes differently. Last week, the board had yet to decide whether to pursue the case further.
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
Many beef producers struggle with priorities when it comes to genetic selection. One part of them knows the market rewards a focus on the end product. After all, consumers are the ultimate customers. Then their skeptical side kicks in: “Yeah, but the most important thing is to get as many live, healthy calves as possible each year so the cows can earn their keep.” Those torn by this conflict of the mind can take heart in an updated research paper by Twig Marston, Kansas State University. Its long title indicates a comprehensive approach. “The Relationship Between Marbling and Other EPDs with Implications When
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
—Fed cattle prices rise ahead of holiday. Cash fed cattle trade last week was slow to start, with feedlots and packers working hard to outlast one another before coming to the table. As of last Thursday, analysts were still expecting trade at prices $1 higher than the prior week at $93-94 live and $146-148 dressed. However, as of mid-day last Thursday, feedlots were still passing on packer bids and were as much as $2-3 apart. A rising cutout and the expectation that next week’s holiday-shortened schedule ahead would add more strength to the boxed beef market was adding to feeder’s optimism
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
Origin labeling might increase case-ready beef Here’s one consequence of country of origin labeling (COOL) that few people have thought of—more consolidation in the meatpacking industry. How’s that, you might ask? Well, what if retailers decide to ask their meat suppliers for more and more prepackaged fresh meat with the origin label already on the package? Only a certain number of meat companies will be able to supply the volume required. So small players will drop out. I fully anticipate that retailers will ask for more prepackaged beef. That will mean the end of the in-store butcher and the custom cuts in
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
The grace period for Montana’s new horse testing rule has been extended to Sept. 7. The Montana Board of Livestock recently approved a new rule to require all horses coming into Montana be tested for Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA), a respiratory virus that also causes abortion in mares. The new testing requirement was supposed to go into effect on Aug. 20. “That’s just too soon,” says acting State Veterinarian Dr. Jeanne Rankin. “Some of the tests are complicated and take a long time to run.” Also, a stallion could test positive because he contracted the virus naturally or has been vaccinated previously.
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America last week and agreed with USDA’s decision to resume imports of Canadian beef. For years, R-CALF has been arguing that beef and cattle originating in Canada pose a risk of spreading bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. However, the court disagreed with each of the points presented by R-CALF lawyers. “Having reviewed the merits of this case, we conclude that the agency considered the relevant factors and articulated a rational connection between the facts found and its decision to designate Canada a minimal-risk country,” Judge Cynthia
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Sep 3, 2007
USDA recently announced sign-up dates for the new Livestock Compensation Program (LCP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Crop Disaster Program (CDP). The three ad hoc disaster programs provide benefits to farmers and ranchers who suffered losses caused by natural disasters in recent years. Eligible ranchers and other livestock producers can apply to receive benefits under LCP and LIP beginning Sept. 10, 2007. Eligible farmers can sign up for CDP beginning Oct. 15, 2007, if they suffered quantity losses to their crops. USDA will announce and conduct CDP sign-up for quality losses as soon as possible. LCP compensates livestock producers for feed losses
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 27, 2007
Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is going to be a part of the beef industry in some form or fashion. The Senate will certainly try and make some adjustments in the 2007 Farm Bill, but it appears there is simply no chance to eliminate it. Recently, a polling group, Zogby International, surveyed the general public and found out that 90 percent of consumers would like to know where their food comes from. The survey was an Internet survey, which bothers me in regard to its accuracy, and I would assume that Public Citizen or Consumers Union could have sponsored the
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 27, 2007
The value of farmland in America’s heartland has been appreciating in value even as the value of many other sectors of the real estate market have been declining in recent months. The fact that one’s farm property—whether used for agriculture, livestock or horses—is appreciating in value is of importance from an economic standpoint, and it helps one do battle with the IRS in the event of a hobby loss audit. Under the hobby loss rule if you have losses in connection with any farming activity, whether horses, livestock or agriculture, the IRS may suspect that the activity is engaged in
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 27, 2007
Government agencies and producer organizations in Utah have been working together recently to bring as many resources to the table as possible for the ranchers of the drought and fire-beaten state. Numerous fires of substantial size have burned across the area this fire season, but one blaze stands out in particular—the Milford Flat fire. All told, the fire consumed an estimated 363,000 acres of rangeland, the largest fire in the state’s history. With the large size of the fire also came unprecedented losses suffered by the livestock industry. Figures on the extent of the damage vary, but officials claim 1,100-1,300
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 27, 2007
Do you feel a chill in the morning air? It’s starting to get that fall feeling in a lot of the country. It’s a favorite time of the year for me and it’s the time of the year that Pete and I begin setting up our tour for next spring. Pete and I will be off to Kentucky and Indiana for the pre-tour. This is always a good time as we get to see new country and visit new cattle operations. We are all in the cattle business and working toward the same end product, but it is so interesting
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 20, 2007
—Turmoil on Wall Street could spill over into the cattle market. The big picture economic status in the U.S. appeared to be playing a larger role in the beef market last week as concerns in the stock market looked to threaten commodities as well. Three straight weeks of volatility on the New York Stock Exchange, which has erased the equity market’s gains for the year, spilled over into other areas as investors moved money to safer investments. That shift in investments led to sharp drops in the live cattle contract trade last Thursday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 20, 2007
International opportunity International trade regulations and the games that are played are extremely complex. It seems that an item as simple as beef should be traded with minimal hassle. However, trade in beef, or for that matter, any commodity, has become so complex that many individuals and companies seem to believe that the problems and costs associated with trade outweigh the benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth. If U.S. beef producers are going to remain successful and, most importantly, profitable, we need to focus on international trade. But the rules of the game are complex. For example, the news
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 13, 2007
It was another good week for feeder cattle and calves. Superior’s Winnemucca, NV, sale was red hot and the calf market was much improved from several weeks ago, up $5-8. The ultra-lights were over $150, with a $165 top on some weaned calves. Western Video Auction is having their Cheyenne, WY, sale this week—the 13th and 14th—and I would expect it to be great as well. It is widely accepted that the cow/calf sector will be in good shape for several more years—until that thing called herd build-up occurs. If I recall, this cattle cycle is going into its 10th
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Aug 6, 2007
The Batistas of Brazil are definitely men of action. Within hours of completing their $1.5 billion acquisition of Swift & Company, they had slashed 25 mostly top and middle management jobs at Swift’s Greeley, CO, headquarters. The next day, they told this columnist they planned to return the Greeley beef plant to full processing capacity as soon as possible. Phew. Most people had hardly digested the news of this unprecedented foreign ownership of a major U.S. meat company. It’s obvious though that JBS, the firm that Jose Batista founded in 1953 as a butcher shop, knew exactly what it intended to
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Jul 23, 2007
—Funding for Williamson Act dollars faces veto threat. Williamson Act payments to California counties, which offset tax decreases on agricultural land, could disappear if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger carries out his plan to axe the estimated $40 million in funding during this year’s budget negotiation. His initial budget contained no money for the program, however, after an uproar, the California Legislature added funding for the program to its budget package. However, the program remains in jeopardy; the governor could still use his line-item veto power to remove the funds. The Williamson Act is a program, similar to a conservation easement, which allows California


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