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Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 23, 2006
Over the years that I have been traveling, I have had the opportunity to attend quite a few benefit auctions and banquets and, for the most part, they are all the same. But as with everything, there are exceptions. A couple of weeks ago, Geri and I had the opportunity to attend the Magic of the Vine benefit dinner and auction held on the grounds of the Jim and Sue Coleman estate. The Coleman’s generously hosted this wonderful event in conjunction with their annual female sale that was held the next day. The benefit was for the Angus Foundation and
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
What to compare? How do you know if you are doing better or worse than you were in your business five years ago? You probably have a gut reaction that popped into your head immediately when you read that question. Did you hear yourself put a question mark at the end of your answer? “Better…I guess,” you might have thought to yourself. If you are not sure, then we have some work to do. I know you like the part of the business that allows you the freedom to work with the animals and be part of the best industry in
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
Constitutional debate Since the U.S. House of Representatives voted two months ago to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, there has been a great deal of head scratching about what to do next. The most common belief in the industry, with many basing their argument on private property rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, seems to be that the bill is unconstitutional. There is, apparently, a widespread belief that the government can’t ban the slaughter of horses because it would prevent horse owners from doing as they please with their property. In fact, the opposite is true. The government
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
Short bought packers last week jumped into the market early and got trade started at levels lower than the prior week. A combination of factors, including seasonal softening beef demand at the consumer level and a sharp decline in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) live cattle contracts on Monday worked against cattle feeders who, last Wednesday and Thursday, sold cattle in a range of $86-$87 live and $135-$138 dressed in the north and $87-88.50 in the southern Plains. Packer interest tapered off once moderate trade had developed, indicating they were not interested in buying more cattle than necessary to meet
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
Johne’s disease (which is pronounced Yo-knees) was identified more than a century ago, but it remains common and oftentimes costly, even in today’s industry. In 1895, the first case of Johne’s was documented by a German veterinarian, Dr. H. A. Johne. Johne’s is a disease that affects the intestinal tracts of ruminants and has been documented across the globe. The perception among cattle producers is that Johne’s is predominately a “dairy disease.” Quite to the contrary, there have been several documented cases of the disease in beef cattle herds as well. In 1997, a study was completed by the National
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
— Negative per head returns finally take their toll. Three of the four major packing companies last week took a step toward improving profitability when they announced immediate cuts in the processing shifts at their beef plants. Analysts had been predicting the move for weeks as projected packer margins fell farther and farther behind break-even prices. Bob Price at North American Risk Management Services, Inc. said the cutbacks were a result of all the usual concerns, such as poor margins, lower priced competing meats, and difficult trading conditions overseas. The largest of the companies announcing cutbacks, Springdale, AR-based Tyson Foods, said the
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
Pasture restoration Over the years, I have had people state to me, “I have cheatgrass in certain areas of my pasture. What should I do?” I usually can't answer that question right away. Mainly because in most circumstances, cheatgrass is not the real problem, it’s a symptom of something. Cheatgrass, being an annual plant, must come from seed each year and is usually the first plant on site after some kind of disturbance has occurred. I usually ask myself when on-site, why the heck is the cheatgrass growing here in the first place? Now I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go through a
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
According to an announcement made last week, USDA will begin accepting feeder cattle prices reported on a delivered basis with a freight adjustment. The alteration will improve prices which are reported to the marketplace. USDA, in making the announcement last week, said the delivered basis transactions will be included with those already being collected and reported on a free on board (F.O.B.) basis, and will be eligible for inclusion in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Feeder Cattle Index. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) pushed USDA to make the change after much discussion by its membership over concerns about the low
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the October crop production report on Oct. 12. Contrary to many pre-report estimates for the crop, USDA lowered expectations. Corn production is forecast at 10.9 billion bushels, 2 percent lower than last month and also 2 percent lower than the actual production in 2005. NASS predicted national yields would average 153.5 bushels per acre harvested, down 1.2 bushels from last month, but still 5.6 bushels higher than 2005.   “The USDA Crop Production report released this morning was a bit of a shocker and supports the recent run-up in corn prices in both the
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 16, 2006
The U.S. is unprepared for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a study conducted by the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance (CADMS) in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) concluded. The research, funded by USDA and the Department of Homeland Security, shows there are a few keys to controlling the spread of the disease in the event of an outbreak. One of the most pressing concerns of the industry right now is a potential introduction of FMD. Researchers found that since there has not been a recent case of FMD in the U.S., it
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
— Producers can benefit from an appraisal. Ranchers can witness value in having their property appraised, despite their intent to sale. Appraisals are often associated with selling property, but according to real estate experts, the value far exceeds the mere selling component. By having an appraiser evaluate property, giving the landowner an approximate value of their ranch, producers can obtain the given knowledge to use for an array of options. Producers do have the option to sell, but can also use the information to refinance their property, obtain a loan, valuing limited or family partnerships, ranch partitioning, solving probate and estate
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
The cattle oval The bull sales this fall have gone remarkably well. Top range bulls are trading between $2,500 and $4,000. It’s the Angus guys who are consistently getting the big premiums for their bulls and it still seems to be the Angus-sired feeder cattle which are also bringing a premium. The registered female markets are on fire, too. We’ve been seeing some of the elite Angus females trading for several hundred-thousand dollars and it is commonplace to see Angus female sales averaging $10,000 per head and higher. The disappointing thing is, it is—for the most part—only happening in the Angus
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
The USDA Inspector General (IG) issued a critical report last week on Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) oversight of state meat inspection programs. The report found FSIS’ contention that state programs are equal to the federal meat inspection program “may be inappropriate.” The report comes on the heels of the introduction of two bills in Congress to remove restrictions on the interstate shipment of meat from state inspected plants. According to the report, 28 states have their own meat inspection programs. The IG found FSIS has conducted on-site inspections in just eight of those states since the agency released new
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
Fed cattle trade continued its recent trend of slow development last week as packers once again worked hard to convince feedlots they intended to stick to offering prices. As of Thursday last week, bids were still as much as $5-6 below asking prices. Very little trade had taken place and analysts were calling the market steady to perhaps $1 higher at $91 live and $140-142 dressed basis when buyers and sellers finally came together. At those prices, packers were well into the red ink, with an average per head loss, estimated by HedgersEdge.com, of $45.70 last Thursday. Attempts to move the
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
A lifetime of involvement in the agriculture industry led Roland Spencer to begin a new company two years ago. That company, Ranchland Development, Inc., allows Spencer to assist landowners in improving any and all aspects of their operation. From pasture improvement to full-scale property renovation, Spencer and his staff have been working with landowners across the West to enhance the value of ranch properties. The company grew from the culmination of Spencer’s lifetime of experience. “I grew up as a farm kid and had a lot of experience with 4-H and FFA. From there, I received a Bachelor of Science degree
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
Mexico is resuming imports of U.S. dairy heifers, lifting a ban imposed in December 2003 when the U.S. found its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said last week. “My goal is to restore the once-vibrant live cattle commerce between the U.S. and Mexico and to do so in accordance with science-based international guidelines,” Johanns said. He called the agreement on dairy heifers the “first step” in that process. The next step is the resumption of trade in beef seed stock to producers in Mexico. Matt Brockman, executive vice president of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser’s
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
Rest can be death. After spending 10 years in college (I’m a slow learner), not once did anyone say rest—which I call no disturbance—could do bad things to your land. The word over-rest was never mentioned. My focus here is strictly on grasslands. It’s a little known fact, but resting grassland from all kinds of disturbance is the death of millions of acres of what were once healthy grasslands. When I say disturbance, that includes: fire, grazing, insect outbreaks, climatic effect, hoof impact etc. The real principle here is as simple as, “use it or lose it.” I hate to even
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
Ranch properties are still in high demand across the Intermountain West and that is driving prices to record high levels despite stories of a cooling properties market. According to brokers across the area, the inventory of agricultural properties, particularly those of more than 1,000 acres, is in short supply. Kim Stewart, marketing associate with H Bar S Real Estate in Red Lodge, MT, said there is a major shortage of ranches in the $2-5 million category and those available are selling at, or near, asking prices. “Properties in this area haven’t been affected at all by the so-called burst of
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
—Lack of clarity preventing companies from trade. USDA statistics showed last week that no beef has been shipped to South Korea since the border opened. Sources at major packers have said they are concerned about having shipments condemned in the event inspectors find even small fragments of bone in shipments of U.S. beef. Officials with the South Korean agriculture ministry have said they will have a zero tolerance policy regarding any bone fragments in beef products sent overseas. That stand means any product found containing bone fragments could be rejected or destroyed by government inspectors. That is a risk major exporters
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
by WLJ
Oct 9, 2006
Japanese consumers who had expected U.S. beef re-entering the country to relieve them of high prices incurred once Japanese officials slammed the door to U.S. beef trade are seeing a reverse effect. When Japan ceased importing U.S. beef, they received the majority of their beef products from other trade partners, especially Australia. Due to the absence of U.S. beef, other foreign products, as well as domestic beef were priced on the high-end, due simply to a limited supply versus high demand. Now that U.S. beef is back in the picture, intensifying competition and adding to supply, prices for beef have


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