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BEEF'S COW CALF WEEKLY    February 16, 2007  |  A PRISM BUSINESS MEDIA PUBLICATION
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    Table Of Contents
> About Our New Look
> Covering The Basics Can Lead To The Remarkable
> Korea Heads Toward The Final End Game
> Thinking Big And Thinking Small
> Japan Suspends Beef Imports From Tyson Facility
> Trade for America Coalition Formed
> K-State to Hold Cattle Risk Management Workshops
> Horse Genome Assembled; Info Available
> Long Rumored In Trouble, eMerge Pulls The Plug
> Retail Gas, Diesel Prices Up Second Straight Week
> Ag Committee Chairman Puzzled By Johanns Comments
> Bill Proposes To Upgrade E-85 Infrastructure
> Bill Seeks To End Elections On Unionization
> Does The Death Tax Need A Repeal Or An Overhaul?
> Learn About Estate Planning At www.beef-mag.com
> Senate Ag Committee Organizes
> Researchers Close In On Cattle Abortion Vaccine
> American Cowman Launches Community Blog
> Sandhills Calving System Aids In Fighting Scours



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    To Our Readers
      About Our New Look

Last week's issue of BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly launched a new look and reading format for our 40,000 weekly readers. A handful of you wrote to commend the look, and others to condemn it for the extra steps the new format entails. I appreciate all your feedback.

For the record, I too prefer the all-in-one format. Unfortunately more and more of the business side of publishing -- consumer and trade media -- is being defined by the electronic side, which means we need hard numbers to document that readers visit our electronic sites. The new format -- by use of the links -- is designed to drive traffic to the Web site, which the old format failed to do.

In addition, the ability to track the items that are most read allows us to better tailor the content of BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly to the information readers most desire and find useful. For instance, of the 26 items in last week's newsletter, the most read items had to do with value-added calf programs, proposals on the new farm bill and industry trends. We wouldn't know that based on our old format.

The new format is still in flux. You'll notice, for instance, that we've linked fewer stories this week than last. Depending on the feedback we get from you, the reader, we'll continue to tweak until we find the optimum formula. In the meantime, pass on your thoughts to me at jroybal@beef-mag.com.

    Our Perspective
      Covering The Basics Can Lead To The Remarkable

Marketing is my passion. I'm 100% convinced that, as an industry, we spent the better part of the last 30 years focusing on lowering costs and improving efficiency, only to watch our market share and profitability plummet. Don't misunderstand me; it's vital to be a low-cost producer and to continually fine-tune efficiencies. After all, they're the keys to survival in a commodity business.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall.

      Korea Heads Toward The Final End Game

If there's going to be a U.S./Korean free trade agreement (FTA), it must be submitted to Congress by March 30. That means that within the next 30 days or so, the industry will know whether it will reach the promised land or be sold down the river once again.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall

      Thinking Big And Thinking Small

I've always loved the quote by Daniel Burnham: "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood." I've always felt there was something magical when someone attached themselves to something bigger than themselves, and those who changed the world for the better usually set off in their own direction, not following the paths of others.

Thinking big has been absolutely essential in ag because economies of scale have been so important in a commodity business. With its big fixed overhead costs, bigger has usually been better. Our industry has been so good at making incremental improvements that the only truly sustainable competitive advantage has gone to those who have been innovative and developed a new way of looking at our business.

Still, I've always felt uneasy standing before a group of cattlemen and quoting Tom Peters by saying: "Our challenge is to not only re-invent, but re-imagine the very nature of our business." I'm uneasy not because I don't believe innovation is far more important than optimization, or that focusing on creating value rather than lowering costs is the way to prosperity. I'm uneasy because, along with thinking big, there's the implied concept of also taking big risks.

The relationship between risk and reward isn't new; it's one of those universal laws we must always keep in mind. Being willing to try something radical and bold, and setting big goals, are essential to becoming truly successful.

I recently tried to think back about those in the industry who really stepped out there and truly succeeded. They were willing to think outside the box and do things that may not necessarily have been mainstream at the time. Nichols Farms, John Burbank, Kit Pharo, Gardiner Angus Ranch, Patsy Houghton, Certified Angus Beef, the American Red Angus Association -- leading the way in the performance revolution, Five Rivers, Superior Video Auctions, Jackie Moore, Gary Smith or Pat Goggins are just a few who come to mind.

What separates such people from the pack is their ability to put together a big vision while thinking small. They took big ideas and visions, broke them down into small and achievable goals, and allowed their expertise and understanding to grow as they progressed toward their bigger goals.

I haven't had the opportunity to discuss these things in detail with all of these individuals, but I'm willing to bet when they first conceived their big ideas, they weren't in a position to achieve them, or they lacked the capital, wisdom, etc., to fully implement them.

By starting small and taking action, they avoided the pitfalls of thinking too big -- the lack of knowledge and expertise to implement the full vision, and paralysis that comes with focusing only on the really big things. By thinking small, they positioned themselves to do something really big.
-- Troy Marshall

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    Foreign Trade
      Japan Suspends Beef Imports From Tyson Facility

Japan today suspended beef imports from a Tyson Fresh Meats facility in Lexington, NE, after being notified that a beef shipment was in possible violation of the 20-month age limit. Kyodo News reports an importer told an animal quarantine office on Feb. 5 that two boxes among 473 boxes of frozen beef from the Lexington facility failed to be covered by a U.S. government certificate identifying beef as from cattle aged up to 20 months. A U.S. probe showed that the two boxes were erroneously shipped to Japan, the Japanese government said.

The frozen beef arrived at Yokohama port on Feb. 1. No risk material was found in the shipment, the government said.

The government said it will suspend procedures for imports from the Lexington plant until details are made available. Imports from the plant have totaled 23.5 tons since U.S. beef imports into Japan resumed last summer, the report says.
-- Joe Roybal

      Trade for America Coalition Formed

A new coalition, Trade for America, has been formed to urge Congress to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA is the authority given to the President to negotiate trade agreements with other countries and requires Congress to approve the trade agreements without amendments.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) are members of the coalition, and maintain that the president needs TPA to continue to negotiate trade deals, which have been extremely beneficial to producers. "Expanding our market access and lowering tariffs through trade agreements in the best way for U.S. cattlemen to grow their businesses, and we need TPA to facilitate these agreements," says NCBA chief economist Gregg Doud.

The effort to extend TPA will be met with stiff opposition from unions. The United Steel Workers said, "Fast Track Authority must be replaced with a new way of giving Congress authority to negotiate trade deals that benefit workers first." TPA expires June 30.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

    Risk Management
      K-State to Hold Cattle Risk Management Workshops

High corn prices and fluctuating cattle markets have producers facing some particularly challenging circumstances. That's why Kansas State University (KSU) Extension is hosting nine Cattle Risk Management Workshops throughout Kansas.

James Mintert, KSU livestock marketing economist, says participants will gain hands-on experience in using Livestock Risk Protection Insurance, forward cash contracts, futures contracts, and options on futures. Mintert and Kevin Dhuyvetter, KSU Extension farm management specialist, will lead the sessions.

Dates, locations and contact numbers for the 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. workshops include:
  • Feb. 23 -- Tonganoxie, Leavenworth County Fairgrounds Administration Building, 913-250-2300.
  • Feb. 26 -- Newton, Harvey County Courthouse Community Room, 316-284-6930.
  • March 13 -- Hoxie, 4-H Building, 785-675-3268.
  • March 14 -- Anthony, Kanza Bank, 620-842-5445.
  • March 15 -- Chanute, Chanute Memorial Building, 620-244-3826.
  • March 20 -- Emporia - Lyon County Extension Office, 620-341-3220.
  • March 21 -- Wilson, St. Wenceslaus Parish Hall, 785-472-4442.
  • March 26 -- Sublette, Haskell County Fairgrounds Commercial Building, 620-675-2261.
  • March 27 -- Dodge City, Ford County Fairgrounds Fair Building, 620-227-4542.
-- Joe Roybal

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    Industry News
      Horse Genome Assembled; Info Available

The first draft of the horse genome sequence is now in public databases and available for use by biomedical and veterinary researchers, leaders of the international Horse Genome Sequencing Project announced last week. The $15-million effort to sequence the 2.7 billion DNA base pairs was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), reports TheHorse.com.

The horse whose DNA was used in the Horse Genome Project (www.uky.edu/Ag/Horsemap) is a Thoroughbred mare named Twilight from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Researchers obtained the DNA from a small sample of the animal's blood. For more, visit www.Thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=8890.
-- Joe Roybal

      Long Rumored In Trouble, eMerge Pulls The Plug

It's been a possibility for several years. This week, officials with eMerge Interactive announced they'd pulled the plug on the company, effectively ending a sometimes controversial and troubled existence.

Click here to read more of this story by Burt Rutherford

      Retail Gas, Diesel Prices Up Second Straight Week

For the second week in a row, retail gasoline prices were up, rising 5¢ to a national average of $2.241/gal. for the week of Feb. 12, the U.S. Department of Energy reports. Prices remain 4.3¢/gal. lower than at this time last year. The highest gasoline prices are in the West Coast region at $2.536/gal., followed by the Midwest at $2.224, the East Coast at $2.189, the Rocky Mountain area at $2.141, and the Gulf Coast at $2.091.

Meanwhile, retail diesel prices also increased for the second consecutive week, jumping 4.1¢ to $2.476/gal national average. The price is exactly the same as at this time last year. The West Coast sports the highest diesel prices at $2.777/gal., followed by the Rocky Mountains at $2.517, the East Coast at $2.465, the Midwest at $2.429, and the Gulf Coast at $2.394.
-- Joe Roybal

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    Government
      Ag Committee Chairman Puzzled By Johanns Comments

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Ag Committee, says USDA Secretary Mike Johann's comments regarding what he heard during the farm bill forums USDA held across the country in 2005 and 2006 have him puzzled.

"I don't know who he was listening to because what he says is not what I heard at our sessions," Peterson told farmers who crowded into a room at the Pine Bluff, AR, Convention Center, Jan. 25, to hear his views on the 2007 farm bill.

Forrest Laws of Farm Press, a sister publication of BEEF magazine, reports that Peterson says he's met several times with Johanns since assuming his House Ag Committee chairmanship in January. "I've let him know I think he's a little misguided in some of his thoughts on the farm bill, and he would be well-advised to try to modify those so we can try to work together," Peterson says.

On other items, Peterson said he wants to eliminate ad hoc disaster programs, preferring a permanent disaster program with separate funding to avoid the almost annual battle over providing needed disaster aid to producers.

While Peterson says he expects a major emphasis on renewable energy legislation in the next farm bill, he will urge a cautious approach.

"I was serving in the (Minnesota) state senate when we passed a bill to help build the first ethanol plant in Minnesota," he says. "Not long after that, oil dropped to $10/barrel and a lot of guys went broke."

Congress and the renewable energy industry will have to walk a fine line between new and traditional markets for grain. "We don't want to hurt the animal industry while corn growers are meeting this new demand for ethanol," he said. "It's been my experience we can have high grain prices and high livestock prices."
-- Forrest Laws, Delta Farm Press

      Bill Proposes To Upgrade E-85 Infrastructure

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) introduced legislation to upgrade the distribution system for alternative fuel. The legislation would provide grants up to $30,000 to independent gas stations to help install ethanol E-85 pumps. Rogers said, "My legislation helps us 'kick start' the distribution system so more American families can take advantage of this new technology and strengthen our economy, our national security, and our environment." The legislation would:
  • Create a federal "Fuel Economy Fund" by diverting up to $10 million of the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) penalties currently paid by automakers (roughly $20 million/year) from the general treasury."
  • Authorize the Department of Energy to use the fund to issue grants for the establishment of alternative automobile fuel infrastructure.
  • Use the Existing Clean Cities program, and allow qualified entities to receive grants of no more than $30,000/grant and $90,000/station to expand the availability of alternative fuel infrastructure.
  • Explicitly bar "large integrated oil companies" from receiving grants.
  • Provide that no more than 3% of the fund can be used for administrative costs.
Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by John Thune (R-SD).
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Bill Seeks To End Elections On Unionization

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, has introduced H.R. 800, the "Employee Free Choice Act." The legislation would eliminate federally supervised secret-ballot elections for workers to determine if they wish to join a labor union, and would replace the current secret ballot elections with a process known as "card check." If a majority of the employees signed a card indicating their desire to join a union, the plant would become a union plant without an election of the employees.

Miller said, "Today, the procedures for organizing a union and bargaining for better wages and benefits are stacked against the workers." The administration indicated its opposition when Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said, "A worker's right to a secret-ballot election is an intrinsic right in our democracy that should not be legislated away at the behest of special interest groups."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Does The Death Tax Need A Repeal Or An Overhaul?

Repeal of the estate tax, or death tax, as it's often termed by its detractors, has long been championed by ag commodity and small-business groups. Such action is critically important to America's family farms and small businesses, they contend. But is that really the case?

Click here to read more of this story by Joe Roybal

      Learn About Estate Planning At www.beef-mag.com

Agriculture is often viewed as both a business and a lifestyle, a vocation where its practitioners generally consider themselves caretakers of the family legacy. Utilizing the tools to ensure that the birthright is financially healthy, structured to provide for the owners in good health and bad, and passed on according to the wishes of the owners is the purpose of estate planning.

BEEF magazine's 2007 Cow-Calf Issue, an annual single-topic issue aimed at the cow-calf segment of our readership, is just off the press. This year's special edition delves into the estate-planning process. The issue is intended as a starting point for your family discussion on the estate-planning subject. Its aim is to inform readers on the need for such planning, familiarize them with the process and provide a few tips and tools available in estate planning and transfer.

See all the content at www.beef-mag.com.
-- Joe Roybal

      Senate Ag Committee Organizes

Senators Tom Harkin (D-SD), chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), ranking member, announced this week the subcommittee chairmen and ranking members. They include:
  • Nutrition and Food Assistance, Sustainable and Organic Agriculture, and General Legislation: Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman; and Norm Coleman (R-MN), ranking member.
  • Energy, Science and Technology: Kent Conrad (D-ND), chairman; and John Thune (R-SD), ranking member.
  • Domestic and Foreign Marketing, Inspection, and Plant and Animal Health: Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman; and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
  • Production, Income Protection and Price Support: Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), chairman; and Pat Roberts (R-KS), ranking member.
  • Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit: Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairman; and Mike Crapo (R-ID), ranking member.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

    Animal Health
      Researchers Close In On Cattle Abortion Vaccine

Researchers at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine are seeking a vaccine to prevent foothill abortion, a bacterial disease that annually claims up to 90,000 calves at a cost of $6.3 million to California producers.

Also known as epizootic bovine abortion, the bacterial disease is transmitted by bites from the pajaroello tick, which lives in the soil around trees, in dry brush areas and around rock outcroppings of foothill rangelands. Although infected pregnant cows show no obvious clinical symptoms, they abort their calves 6-9 months into the pregnancy. Some infected cows deliver, but their calves are born weak and fail to thrive.

Research has now identified a particular bacterium as the cause of foothill abortion.

"There's evidence that the infected cows and their fetuses are producing an immune response to the bacterium," says veterinary pathologist Jeffrey Stott, who's leading the effort to develop a vaccine. "This is encouraging because it indicates a properly formulated vaccine should be effective in preventing this disease."

Stott and his colleagues are hopeful an experimental protein-based vaccine can be available for immunizing heifers and cows in about three years.
-- UC-Davis news release

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    Tips for Profit
      American Cowman Launches Community Blog

BEEF magazine's www.americancowman.com has launched a community blog. Visit the site to exchange ideas with other family farm-based beef producers about current industry topics. We want to hear what issues you view as the biggest challenge facing cattlemen with herds up to 100 head -- and how you're addressing them. You can also share your success stories on how you market your cattle, what you've done to make your operation more efficient and profitable, or simply what you enjoy most about rural life.

In addition, the latest edition of American Cowman Update is now available. This free, twice-monthly electronic newsletter offers timely news, and production and management strategies. The latest issue includes articles on the use of dried distiller's grains, the surge in farmers markets, bovine viral diarrhea, and some country humor. Read it at www.americancowman.com or sign up for regular home delivery.
-- Joe Roybal

      Sandhills Calving System Aids In Fighting Scours

Neonatal calf scours is a multifactorial disease, says Dave Smith, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension veterinarian. The ideal scenario for an outbreak is to have susceptible hosts (naïve calves) existing in an environment (infected communal calving area) that's conducive to the proliferation of (and continued exposure of the host to) the disease agent, be it E. coli, Salmonella, rotavirus, cryptosporidia, etc.

Click here to read more of this story by Joe Roybal



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