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BEEF'S COW CALF WEEKLY    February 23, 2007  |  A PRISM BUSINESS MEDIA PUBLICATION
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    Table Of Contents
> Thanks For Your Feedback
> Producer Choice In Marketing Is At Risk
> Upbeat Short- And Long-Term News In Ag Outlook
> Meat Industry Competition Legislation Debuts
> U.S. Red Meat Exports Continue To Increase In 2006
> Hereford Sire Summary Available
> Horse Slaughter Bill Takes Aim At Third Plant
> Limousin Exchange Features Bull Listing Service
> Pastureland Survey Shows Lease Rates Still Climbing
> Agriculture Groups Oppose User Fees
> Report On Alternative Marketing Arrangements Released
> Bill Would Curb Use of Antibiotics In Livestock
> Tips For Preventing Pinkeye
> Grazing School For Novices
> Michigan Plans Nine Marketing, Management Seminars
> School For Successful Ranching Is March 23-24
> Take Action Now To Control Stable Flies Later
> Two Feeds Publications Available Online
> Wyoming, Nebraska Team Up For Ranch Practicum



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    To Our Readers
      Thanks For Your Feedback

A big "thank you" to all of you who took the time last week to register your feedback regarding the new look of BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly. We're still in the process of evaluating and tweaking the final look but many of you commented that you liked the fewer number of linked articles -- five of 18 articles linked last week vs. the previous week's 18 links out of a total of 26 articles. For this week, we've retained that same number of linked articles -- five.

Classic e-newsletter design suggests formats be brief -- both in the number of items and their length. But we've always felt it a better reader service to present all the news of the week -- in a concise format -- and allow readers to select what they want to read. Readers have indicated they like this approach but the previous all-in-one format made for a large total file. The use of links minimizes the load time of BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly on your computer, and allows us to track -- on a weekly basis -- items of the most reader interest. In last week's issue, for instance, the most read article was the piece on the University of Nebraska's Sandhills Calving System.

In addition, this week, we've changed our headline treatment on individual stories to increase readability. Some readers complained that the blue field behind the reversed headline type was too light, so we have changed the headline style to black.

Keep your comments coming to jroybal@beef-mag.com.

    Our Perspective
      Producer Choice In Marketing Is At Risk

USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration published the final report of their Livestock and Meat Marketing Study, which was commissioned by Congress to determine the impact of alternative marketing arrangements (AMA). See "Report On Alternative Marketing Arrangements Released" elsewhere in this week's issue.

The study held few surprises, and confirmed what other studies continue to show. That is that the impact of AMAs is negligible and is likely beneficial to the industry as a whole. Nonetheless, the economic studies continue to be commissioned and the outcry to eliminate any move away from a commodity system will continue.

It's increasingly clear that the upcoming farm bill will be a focal point for those trying to eliminate producer choice in marketing their cattle. Economists and experts have always discounted this movement, believing that the numbers tell the story, but they've missed the point. This movement is against change, and it's about uncertainty and a fundamental belief that someone else is in control of the industry's future.
-- Troy Marshall

      Upbeat Short- And Long-Term News In Ag Outlook

USDA released its 10-year ag outlook last week, and there was much good news in the report -- even for the short term. Admittedly, one must realize that, while looking out 10 years is a good exercise, it's likely not a very accurate one.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall

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    Industry Structure
      Meat Industry Competition Legislation Debuts

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the "Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Acts" to "correct deficiencies in USDA's enforcement over agricultural markets and provided needed protections for producers involved in production contracts for agricultural commodities." Harkin said, "Producers need to have a fighting chance in an industry that is becoming far too consolidated and vertically integrated."

Click here to read more of this story by
P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

    Foreign Trade
      U.S. Red Meat Exports Continue To Increase In 2006

For the third consecutive year, Mexico led all markets in volume and value for U.S. beef and beef variety meats in 2006, reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Meanwhile, overall exports of U.S. beef and beef variety meats worldwide increased 39% in volume to 655,920 metric tons (mt) and 50% in value to $2.04 billion in 2006 compared to 2005. This was despite no market access to Korea, and limited access to Japan. In Mexico, the volume of U.S. beef products increased 32% to 371,087 mt and value jumped 33% to $1.17 billion over the 2005 figure.

For a breakdown of export statistics by market, click here: usmef.org/TradeLibrary/files/06_12_BVMPlus.pdf

Meanwhile, year-end numbers show U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports continued their record-breaking volume growth for a 15th year, totaling 1.26 million metric tons (mt), a 9% increase over 2005. Their value also increased 9%, reaching more than $2.86 billion.

And exports of U.S. lamb and mutton plus lamb variety meat increased 55% in volume in 2006 to 13,934 mt and 66% in value to $27.8 million over 2005.
-- USMEF news release

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    Industry News
      Hereford Sire Summary Available

The Spring 2007 Hereford Sire Summary is available in print or online. The summary includes a detailed listing of 2,051 bulls. Sire entries not only include EPDs, but also $Profit Indexes for cattlemen who want one number rather than many. Those four indexes are Baldy Maternal Index, Brahman Influence Index, Certified Hereford Beef Index and Calving EZ Index.

To request a sire summary, call the American Hereford Association at 816-842-3757. Or visit www.hereford.org and look under the "Whole Herd TPR" tab, then under the "EPD Search & Reference" tab.
-- American Hereford Association news release

      Horse Slaughter Bill Takes Aim At Third Plant

A bill introduced in the Illinois State Legislature could signal the end to horse slaughter in the U.S. Illinois is the only state where continued horse slaughter isn't threatened following a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in mid January that ruled as valid a 1949 Texas law banning horse slaughter for human consumption.

The three-judge panel ruling in New Orleans affected two of the nation's three horse slaughter plants -- Dallas Crown Inc. at Kaufman, TX, and Beltex Corp. in Fort Worth. Spokespeople for the Texas plants say they are weighing their options, which includes an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A third plant, unaffected by that ruling, is Cavel International, Inc., in DeKalb, IL. The three plants, which USDA says harvested 100,000 horses last year, produce horsemeat for the European Union and other countries.

The Illinois bill sponsored by State Rep. Bob Molaro (D-Chicago) would prohibit transportation of horses into Illinois for the sole purpose of slaughter for human consumption. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and the Illinois Department of Ag supported a similar bill when it was last introduced, Molaro says, and it's anticipated they will support it again.
-- Joe Roybal

      Limousin Exchange Features Bull Listing Service

Bull buyers can search for Limousin and Lim-Flex® herd-sire prospects by visiting www.nalf.org and clicking the "Limousin Exchange: Bull Listing Service" link. Both private-treaty and public-auction sale offerings are included in the searchable database.

Users can identify a variety of criteria -- including state, owner, sire, expected progeny differences (EPDs), coat color, horned or polled status, percent blood, sale date and type, and price -- to obtain info on the bulls that fit their needs. Also included in a bull's listing are his name, registration number, tattoo, birthdate, pedigree, ultrasound-scan data, owner contact information and additional comments. Users can sort the results according to any given trait.
-- North American Limousin Foundation news release

      Pastureland Survey Shows Lease Rates Still Climbing

Lingering drought and strong cattle prices combined to push private grazing rates up 4.5% this year to $13.80/animal unit month (AUM) across the Western U.S. This year's rise follows a modest 0.8% gain last year, according to the latest USDA January Cattle Survey.

Click here to read more of this story by
Mike Fritz, Mercator Research LLC, Monona, WI

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    Government
      Agriculture Groups Oppose User Fees

Thirty-nine ag organizations have written members of the House and Senate urging Congress to oppose the Administration's proposed $96 million in "user fees" for government-mandated food safety inspection programs. The groups said, "Meat, poultry and egg products inspection is a public health and safety program required by federal law and funded through tax dollars for over a century. These new food safety taxes will be charged directly to the meat, poultry and egg products sector, who will be forced to pass this additional cost onto tax-paying consumers."

Some of the groups signing the letter include: American Association of Meat Processors, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Sheep Industry Council, Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and United Egg Producers.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Report On Alternative Marketing Arrangements Released

USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) released the "GIPSA Livestock and Meat Marketing Study" on the use and impacts of alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) in the livestock and meat industries. The report indicates AMAs increase the economic efficiency of the cattle, hog and lamb markets, and the economic benefits are distributed to consumers, as well as to producers and packers. The study's general conclusions are:
  • Use of AMAs during the October 2002 to March 2005 period, including packer ownership, is estimated at 38% of the fed-beef volume, 89% of the finish-hog volume, and 44% of the fed-lamb volume sold to packers.
  • Packer-owned livestock accounted for a small percentage of transactions for beef and lamb (5% or less), even when the small percentage of partial ownership arrangements is included, but accounted for a large percentage of transactions for pork (20-30% depending upon assumptions).
  • Given the current environment and recent trends, moderate increases in use of AMAs are expected in the lamb industry, but little or no increase in beef and pork.
  • Cash-market transactions serve an important purpose in the industry, particularly for small producers and small packers. In addition, reported cash prices are frequently used as the base for formula pricing for cash market and AMA purchases of livestock and meat.
  • The use of AMAs is associated with lower cash market prices, with a much larger effect occurring for finished hogs than for fed cattle.
  • Many meat packers and livestock producers obtain benefits through the use of AMAs, including management of costs, management of risk (market access and price risk), and assurance of quality and consistency of quality.
The study concludes: "In aggregate, restrictions on the use of AMAs for sale of livestock to meat packers would have negative economic effects on livestock producers, meat packers and consumers."

The study was authorized by Congress in 2003 to assess the effects on the market of packer ownership of livestock more than 14 days in advance of slaughter and examine AMAs. The study was conducted by RTI International. See the report at: www.gipsa.usda.gov.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

    Animal Health
      Bill Would Curb Use of Antibiotics In Livestock

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the "Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act." Slaughter said, "When we go to the grocery store, we should expect that the food we buy will not inadvertently expose our families to dangerous strains of resistant bacteria. However, the practice of over-using antibiotics in raising livestock -- even when animals are not sick -- is one of the leading contributors to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As a result, our risk of exposure to increasingly stronger bacteria is becoming a frightening reality."

According to Slaughter, this legislation would:
  • Phase out the non-therapeutic use in livestock of medically important antibiotics, unless their manufacturers can show they pose no danger to the public health;
  • Require this same tough standard of new applications for approval of animal antibiotics;
  • Provide for federal payments to farmers to defray their costs in switching to antibiotic-free husbandry practices, with a preference given to family farms;
  • Authorize grants for research and demonstration programs on means to reduce the use of antibiotics in the raising of livestock;
  • Require manufacturers to report the amounts of antibiotics they supply for animal use, the animals to which those drugs are given, and the uses for which those drugs are supplied.
  • Doesn't restrict use of antibiotics to treat sick animals or to treat pets and other animals not used for food.
Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Tips For Preventing Pinkeye

While it may seem premature to discuss a disease in February that tends to cause problems from June to August, now is the time to plan a strategy to prevent infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) or pinkeye.

Click here to read more of this story by W. Mark Hilton, DVM, Purdue University

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    Tips for Profit
      Grazing School For Novices

The Texas A&M University Ag Research and Extension Center in Overton will host two Grazing Schools For Novices -- March 27-29 and April 3-5. The grazing school is for novices, those persons with a range of skills who would like to fine-tune their knowledge of soil tests, forage analysis, animal performance, animal working, inoculations, vaccinations -- the whole pasture-animal-care scenario, says Monte Rouquette, one of the school organizers. Cost for either class is $350/person, which includes meals and materials. Contact Jennifer Lloyd at 903-834-6191 or visit jll076@tamu.edu, or visit overton/tamu.edu/grazingschool.htm for more info.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Michigan Plans Nine Marketing, Management Seminars

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension plans nine Winter Beef Meetings on Feb. 26 to update producers on current marketing and management info.

The meetings will be held in Mt. Pleasant, Clarksville, Cadillac, West Branch, Lawrence, Jackson, Gaylord, Stephenson, Escanaba and Pickford. All meetings will be held in two sessions -- from 1-3:45 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

Among the topics are cattle and corn prices in 2007 and beyond; feeding, finishing and backgrounding Holstein and beef steers; mandatory radio-frequency ID; and feeding and storing distiller's grains. Registration, which includes materials and refreshments, is $20 for the first person from each farm and $10 for each additional representative. College, 4-H and FFA members are free.

For more info, contact Steven Rust at rust@msu.edu or 517-432-1390; or Nancy Perkins at perkinsn@msu.edu or 517-355-8401.
-- Joe Roybal

      School For Successful Ranching Is March 23-24

"Running Your Ranch Like A Business" is the theme for the 2007 School For Successful Ranching. Sponsored by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), the March 23-24 program is in conjunction with TSCRA's annual convention in Ft. Worth.

This year's topics include managing native and improved pastures, business principles, bull selection, basic herd health and nutrition, fences and fenceline weaning, land fragmentation, adding market value to your calf crop and theft-prevention tips. Sessions run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 23, and 8 a.m. to noon the following day.

Register by March 14 at www.texascattleraisers.org, or call Mark Perrier at 800-242-7820, Ext. 118.
-- Joe Roybal

      Take Action Now To Control Stable Flies Later

Steps taken now can pay off in controlling stable flies this spring, Kansas State University Extension entomologist Albert Broce says.

"Spring and early summer populations of stable flies in pastures most often develop at winter-feeding sites of hay in round bales," he says, where wasted hay mixes with manure to provide ideal larval habitat for stable flies. Broce says heavy stable fly populations can cut stocker cattle gains by as much as 1/2 lb./head/day during a 4- to 6-week period in spring and early summer.

Hay and manure ratios of 1:1 to 5:1 provide the best conditions for developing stable fly larvae. So lessening the amount of wasted hay, or controlling or reducing the accumulation of the hay-manure medium will help cut stable fly production. His suggestions include:
  • Frequently move the placement of the feeding tub to prevent accumulation of the hay-manure medium over one spot.
  • Use feeders, such as cone feeders, which have been demonstrated to lower (although not prevent) the amount of wasted hay.
  • Unroll the round bales on pastures, but not on the same site; or spread the accumulated hay-manure medium to allow it to dry.
For more on fly control, visit www.beefcowcalf.com, and type "fly control" into the "Search Titles" box on the opening page.
-- Kansas State University news release

      Two Feeds Publications Available Online

"Cattle, Corn, and Alternative Feeds" and "Coping with High-Priced Corn" are two publications from South Dakota State University Extension specialists designed to help cow-calf producers deal with the surging price of grain. Both are available free of charge and online.

Click here to read more of this story by Joe Roybal

      Wyoming, Nebraska Team Up For Ranch Practicum

Wyoming and Nebraska are teaming up to present the "High Plains Ranch Practicum," an eight-day, five-session, hands-on program designed to give participants the skills and application of management tools needed to be successful in today's complex ranching industry.

A joint effort of the Extension programs of the universities of Wyoming and Nebraska, the program begins in June and concludes in January 2008. Sessions will be held in Scottsbluff, NE, and Lingle, WY.

The course will provide ranchers tools to understand and integrate four areas of ranch management: range and forage resources, range beef cow production, unit cost of production and cattle marketing. Participants will also benefit from instruction and current research in range livestock production, financial management, and marketing systems.

The program is limited to 35 participants, who must apply by May 1. A $500 fee covers materials, instructor costs and meals. Applications and more info is available at HPRanchPracticum.com, or call 308-235-3122 or 307-322-3667.
-- Joe Roybal



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