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BEEF'S COW CALF WEEKLY    March 2, 2007  |  A PRISM BUSINESS MEDIA PUBLICATION
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    Table Of Contents
> Some Facts & Myths Regarding Higher Corn Prices
> Bill Seeks To Rescind China's Favored Trade Status
> Korea, U.S. To Talk Over Ag Sticking Points Next Week
> Tariff Removal Would Idle 60% of Japanese Farmland
> Cowboy Obstetrics: Assisting With Calving
> After Claiming Oscar, "Queen" Dines On Burger
> Colorado Ranchers Still Hoping For Aid
> Corn Planting Intentions Highest Since World War II
> Herefords Herald 17% Increase In Breed AI Use
> USDA Projects Corn To Settle In At $3.30-3.50/Bu.
> W.D. Farr Scholarship Available
> Weather Blamed For Drop In On-Feed Numbers
> Cellulosic Grants Announced By Department Of Energy
> Coalition Releases Renewable Energy Plan
> Groups Ask USDA To Release CRP Acres For Corn
> Is Geothermal Energy In Your Future?
> Late-Gestation Nutrition Draws More Scrutiny
> SDSU Produces How-To On Pasture Lease Agreements
> Understanding What Vaccine Label Claims Mean
> Wyoming Offers March 6 Estate-Planning Program
> Wyoming Plans April 10 Rangeland Management Class
> Arizona Bill Would Prohibit NAIS Participation
> Forage & Grassland Council Sets Annual Meeting



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    Our Perspective
      Some Facts & Myths Regarding Higher Corn Prices

Everyone's speculating that higher corn prices will fuel a drive to make cattle bigger on grass, with an end-result of fewer days on feed. The reasoning is quite simple -- cost of gain will be significantly cheaper in grazing programs than in the feedyard.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall

    Foreign Trade
      Bill Seeks To Rescind China's Favored Trade Status

Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation this week to rescind Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for China. The legislation would subject China to an annual review of Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status.

Dorgan said, "Since 2001, the first year China operated with PNTR status, our trade deficit with China ballooned from $83 billion a year to well over $232.5 billion in 2006. It's not difficult to see why. China has engaged in systematic labor abuses, intellectual property theft and piracy, currency manipulation and unfair barriers against U.S. exports. If PNTR status means a country is playing by the rules in international trade, it is absurd to continue to apply that status to China. Congress can -- and must -- send a clear message that China needs to stop cheating and start trading fairly. Rescinding its PNTR status sends that message."

The legislation isn't expected to move forward this year. Former President Bill Clinton advocated PNTR legislation which became law in 2000.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Korea, U.S. To Talk Over Ag Sticking Points Next Week

Korean and U.S. negotiators will meet for high-level talks on agricultural sticking points to a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. The meeting led by Min Dong-seok, Korea's deputy minister of ag trade policy, and Richard Crowder, chief ag negotiator of the U.S. Trade Representative, comes ahead of the eighth round of FTA talks set for March 8-12 in Seoul, the Korea Herald reports.

"On the first day of talks, negotiators will aim to narrow differences on concessions for key sensitive areas, as well as discuss related agricultural issues in their proposed bilateral FTA," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement. "The final day of talks will focus on beef import quarantine measures."

The push is to conclude an FTA deal by the end of March in order to sneak under the wire of the expiration of President's trade promotion authority (TPA). TPA gives the administration the ability to negotiate trade deals with only an up or down vote by Congress.

In other beef news, Korea says it plans to fully adopt a DNA screening test on imported ag products in late March -- and eventually to include beef -- to prevent fraudulent labeling, the Korea Herald reports. The National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service says the decision was prompted by cheap imports, particularly rice and beef, being fraudulently labeled as homegrown goods, which are significantly more expensive than their imported counterparts.

The reports says the agency claims to have identified the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers that could identify 30 types of Chinese rice that are difficult to differentiate from Korean rice. The remaining 50 types will be catalogued for reference by the end of the year. Once all the SNP markers are catalogued, tests will be able to identify Chinese imports with 80-90% accuracy, the agency says.

Since Korea began selling foreign rice in April 2006, 23 of the 24 cases of fraudulent labeling involved Chinese rice, which is 40% cheaper than locally grown rice. There have also been cases of mixing Chinese and Korean rice.

The crackdown will also include beef, with the DNA test being applied to foreign beef within the year, the agency says. Markers that will allow inspectors to detect whether the meat is from homegrown cattle or imported cattle with 90% accuracy are being developed.
-- Joe Roybal

      Tariff Removal Would Idle 60% of Japanese Farmland

Eliminating all tariffs on food imports into Japan would cut Japan's domestic ag production by 42% of total farm output -- a hit of 3.6 trillion yen ($29.5 billion US) -- and eventually idle 60% of Japanese farmland, Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry says.

The estimates were presented this week to a government task force discussing ways to reform Japan's heavily protected farm sector and promote negotiations for free-trade agreements with other economies, the Kyodo News reports.

The study says an ending to tariffs would also impact ag-related industries, depressing Japan's gross domestic product by 1.8% and force the loss of 3.75 million jobs -- about 5.5% of the national workforce.

Commodities most at risk with tariff removal are rice, wheat, sugar, beef and dairy products, with 90% of domestic demand for rice eventually filled by imports, the report estimates. In addition, the "multifunctionality of agriculture," which includes land and water preservation, landscape and nature conservation, and survival of farming-related customs, would be greatly impacted, the ministry said.

The introduction of direct subsidies to farmers has been proposed as an alternative to tariffs, at an estimated annual cost of more than 2.5 trillion yen.
-- Joe Roybal

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    Calving
      Cowboy Obstetrics: Assisting With Calving

About 80% of all calves lost at birth are anatomically normal. Most deaths are due to injuries or suffocation resulting from calving or delayed calving. Knowing when and how to assist (or more importantly, when the situation calls for the timely attention of an experienced veterinarian) can make a big difference in the calf crop from year to year.

Click here to read more of this story by University of Missouri-Columbia

    Industry News
      After Claiming Oscar, "Queen" Dines On Burger

How does a fresh Oscar winner celebrate? For Helen Mirren, who claimed the first Oscar of her 40-year-acting career, it was a burger and champagne, reports the Daily Mail. Mirren, who took the top actress award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in "The Queen" during Sunday's Academy Awards, was the first Brit to claim the best actress category since Emma Thompson won for her role in "Howard's End" 15 years ago. Mirren, along with the film's writer and director, were invited to lunch with the real queen following their Hollywood victory. No word on whether beef burgers will be the table fare there, as well.
-- Joe Roybal

      Colorado Ranchers Still Hoping For Aid

A couple of months ago, ranchers in Southeastern Colorado were dreaming of a white Christmas. Now they're just hoping they don't have a white Memorial Day.

According to Terry Frankhauser, Colorado Cattlemen's Association executive vice president, ranchers in the hardest hit part of Southeast Colorado have had additional winter challenges since the major blizzards hammered the country the end of December and first of January. Colorado officials applied for federal disaster assistance through USDA, which was denied. Now, Frankhauser says, there's an Iraq spending bill moving through the Senate that specifically mentions those blizzards and contains provisions for disaster relief.

With federal dollars uncertain at best, people are taking things into their own hands. According to Barb Wilkinson with the Colorado Livestock Association, Michael Martin Murphy is planning a benefit concert March 18 in Pueblo. Sponsored by a coalition of Colorado livestock groups, the goal is to raise $500,000, with the money going to help producers, with a portion kept in reserve for future disasters. Visit www.blizzardbenefit.org for more info.

"I don't expect a Secretarial designation for the blizzard," Frankhauser says. That's because USDA doesn't have the mechanisms to make a disaster declaration based on a blizzard. "If some of this money gets appropriated, in order for it pass through, they may do it under a special consideration that the Secretary has power to do," he says. "That's where we are today, figuring out where all the puzzle pieces connect."
-- Burt Rutherford

      Corn Planting Intentions Highest Since World War II

The first of what will surely be a number of estimates on planting intentions was released Thursday, and it shows the ethanol-driven euphoria in corn country is at full throat. Allendale, Inc. estimates the 2007-08 corn acreage that will be planted this spring will hit 90.760 million acres, up 12.43% from last year.

That represents the largest acreage in corn since 1944 when 95.475 million acres were planted, Allendale says. The peak planted acres of 113.024 million occurred in 1932. Assuming Allendale's projected 152.5 bu./acre yield, a record corn production of 12.570 billion bu. may be in the offing.

Some of those corn acres will come at the expense of soybeans. Soybean planting intentions of 65.927 million acres is down 9.595% from last year, representing the lowest level since 1996 when 64.196 million acres were planted, Allendale says. Wheat acres should see a slight bump of 3.149%, if growers plant the 60.493 million acres that Allendale projects. That would be the largest since 2003 when 62.141 million acres were planted.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Herefords Herald 17% Increase In Breed AI Use

The American Hereford Association (AHA) reports a one-year 17% increase in the use of artificial insemination (AI) across the breed.

The "Hereford AI Book" -- the latest version debuted this week -- is one tool AHA implemented in recent years to make the AI sire selection process easier. The 2007 edition includes EPDs and pedigrees on 137 Hereford sires available for AI use, semen and certificate prices, owner contact info, and a general listing of 262 additional AI sires. To request a copy, call AHA at 816-842-3757.

A new feature this year is the designation of "Non-Certificate AI Sires." Calves from these sires can be registered without the purchase of an AI certificate. Begun last spring, 16 bulls are enrolled in the program thus far. By eliminating certificate costs on sires entered in the program, AI use within the breed is expected to increase even more.

To learn more, visit www.hereford.org or contact Jack Ward, AHA chief operating officer and director of breed improvement, at 816-842-3757 or jward@hereford.org.
-- AHA news release

      USDA Projects Corn To Settle In At $3.30-3.50/Bu.

The corn market is in a very volatile position as it tries to adapt to the subsidized demand shift. One thing we can be certain of -- according to all the planting intention surveys and simple economics -- we will see a massive shift of acres into corn production. There will also be massive economic incentives to produce higher yielding crops, with a growth in intensive management strategies.

I have faith in the American farmer to out-produce expectations any time he's given the incentive to do so. Thus, I think long-term corn production will grow significantly.

USDA's latest projections say corn will find a typical price level in that $3.30-3.50/bu. range. Of course, one must consider that with such low carryover stocks, the market is very susceptible to dramatic upside risk if weather conditions inhibit significant gains in corn yields.

Some are arguing that since ethanol doesn't make economic sense outside of massive government subsidies (for perspective there are 42 gals. of crude oil in a barrel of oil. Thus, on a barrel to barrel comparison, the subsidy for ethanol is more than $20/barrel!), the power of the marketplace will develop a far more efficient form of renewable energy. Undoubtedly, this nearly unprecedented level of subsidy isn't sustainable but the prudent thing seems to be to count on this new higher corn basis for the foreseeable future.

Energy demand will only grow with China and India registering incredible economic growth. And while there are a lot of identified reserves in the world, the turmoil in the Middle East isn't likely to go away anytime soon. In fact, there seems to be a growing political sentiment to abandon Iraq and accept failure, which will likely lead to further destabilization in the area. As a result, it makes sense that when building your long-term marketing and production strategies, include this new higher price structure for corn.
-- Troy Marshall

      W.D. Farr Scholarship Available

Graduate students chasing a degree in animal science, environmental science or agriculture have another chance for some financial help. The National Cattlemen's Foundation is accepting applications for the $12,000 W.D. Farr scholarship.

Farr, 96, of Greeley, CO, is still involved in agriculture today, after a lifetime of service to the cattle industry. For more info, visit www.nationalcattlemensfoundation.org/scholarship.aspx or call 303-850-3388.
-- National Cattlemen's Foundation release

      Weather Blamed For Drop In On-Feed Numbers

Everyone knew the severe winter weather would decrease placements. The surprise was just how much lower they were. For the first time since October 2005, the monthly placement figure came in below the previous year. At nearly 1.7 million head, placements were 23% below 2006 and 10% below 2005. It's the second-lowest placement number for the month of January since the new data series began in 1996.

As a result, the cattle-on-feed (COF) number fell by 3%, the biggest drop since 2003. Admittedly, the overall supply of cattle outside of feedyards is only slightly lower than a year ago, so the lower placement number is largely the result of deferred placements. Still, this is a trend that's likely to continue as the industry adjusts its placement patterns, preferring grass gain to feedlot grain.

While the higher corn prices basically preclude higher prices than a year ago until late into the fall, this shift in placement patterns has the effect of increasing competition for feeder cattle. That's because there will be fewer days on feed available and essentially the same feeding capacity.
-- Troy Marshall

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    Government
      Cellulosic Grants Announced By Department Of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says it will invest up to $385 million for six biorefinery projects over the next four years. The biorefineries are expected to produce more than 130 million gals. of cellulosic ethanol/year. DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman said, "These biorefineries will play a critical role in helping to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, and teaching us how we can produce it in a more cost effective manner."

Companies awarded grants were: Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas, LLC of Chesterfield, MO; ALICO, Inc. of LaBelle, FL: BlueFire Ethanol, Inc. of Irvine, CA; Broin Companies of Sioux Falls, SD; Iogen Biorefinery Partners of Arlington, VA; and Range Fuels of Broomfield, CO.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Coalition Releases Renewable Energy Plan

If the renewable energy debate isn't already heated enough, it got another round of talking points this week when "25 x '25," a coalition of some 400 groups representing agriculture, energy, environmental activists, labor and business, presented a set of 35 specific recommendations to D.C. lawmakers. The recommendations will help advance America toward the group's agenda of supplying 25% of the nation's energy from renewable sources by 2025. Included in the 35 recommendations are:
  • Expanded research and development for cellulosic biofuels and long-term incentives for renewable electricity generation.
  • New infrastructure for expanding delivery of renewable fuels and renewable energy; a new program to ensure increased availability of flex-fuel cars.
  • A new requirement for use of renewable energy by the federal government, new mechanisms for renewable energy credit trading among states, and new funding for renewable energy systems.
  • A new program for improving soil and water quality as well as increased support for existing conservation programs and for renewable energy and efficiency projects in the farm bill.
According to 25 x '25, its action plan containing their recommendations will cost 5% of what America spent on imported oil in 2006 and would result in a dramatic increase in new jobs and economic activity, along with significant reduction in oil consumption. To read the entire action plan and recommendations, go to www.25x25.org.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Groups Ask USDA To Release CRP Acres For Corn

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is among 30 groups asking the U.S. government to allow farmers to plant corn without penalty on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)-enrolled acres. The aim is to increase corn and lighten competition between the ethanol industry and livestock feeders.

Nearly 37 million acres are in the CRP, of which 27 million acres could be tilled without damage, USDA says. The agency estimates 4-7 million acres of CRP land, mostly in the Midwest, could be suitable for growing corn, reports Corn & Soybean Digest.

In a letter to USDA Secretary Mike Johanns, the groups said USDA should "at minimum" permit withdrawal of land from the CRP "without penalty" to return to crop production. The groups also asked Johanns to announce his decision quickly to allow the market to utilize any additional acres that might become available. Johanns has said he will decide by early summer whether to permit land to leave the reserve early.

"Without additional acreage being made available to the marketplace to plant those crops most needed by all grain users in the market, not only will U.S. livestock, poultry and food sectors be less competitive, but the President's renewable fuels goals outlined in the State of the Union Address and the FY 2008 budget would be in jeopardy," the letter writers said.

USDA projects that 20% of the current 2006 corn crop will be used in making ethanol, rising to more than 26% in 2007-08, even with a sizeable increase in plantings to 86 million acres projected for this spring. USDA projects the average U.S. on-farm price of corn could hit a record $3.50/bu. during 2007-08, up from $3-3.40 in 2006-07.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

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    Tips for Profit
      Is Geothermal Energy In Your Future?

Many landowners are familiar with oil and gas leases on their property, and some have looked at the emerging possibility of wind-energy production as a possible income stream. Energy experts say geothermal energy may be a possibility, as well.

A report from the Geothermal Energy Association says 14 Western states have extensive undeveloped geothermal resources that can be used to produce electricity. Included are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The report says the West's geothermal resources appear to be more extensive than most people believe and have the potential to produce up to 150,000 megawatts. The 140-page report documents efforts in each state to develop geothermal resources and defines the challenges and opportunities for expanding geothermal energy production in the U.S. Download an executive summary and the full report at www.geoenergy.org/publications/reports.asp.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Late-Gestation Nutrition Draws More Scrutiny

It's been said you can't starve a profit out of a cow. Based on new and ongoing University of Nebraska (UN) research, you can't starve a profit out of the calves incubating inside those cows, either.

Click here to read more of this story by Wes Ishmael

      SDSU Produces How-To On Pasture Lease Agreements

A report on the latest USDA survey on private grazing rates published in the March issue of BEEF magazine -- www.beef-mag.com -- indicates pastureland lease rates are still climbing. South Dakota State University Extension has produced a free downloadable fact sheet detailing considerations in developing pasture lease agreements.

Click here to read more of this story by Joe Roybal

      Understanding What Vaccine Label Claims Mean

Vaccines are an essential tool for aiding in the prevention and control of infectious diseases in cattle. There are more than 200 vaccines and vaccine combinations available for cattle producers. Selecting and using the right vaccines is an essential part of any successful cattle operation.

Click here to read more of this story by Dan Grooms, DVM, Michigan State University

      Wyoming Offers March 6 Estate-Planning Program

Getting farmers and ranchers started with the estate-transfer process, as well as developing and implementing a plan with appropriate tools, is the aim of a March 6 program in Evanston. University of Wyoming (UW) Extension and the Wyoming Agriculture & Natural Resource Mediation Program will present "Passing It On: Beginning the Farm Transfer and Estate Planning in Wyoming."

The 1:30 p.m. program is open to the public and will include two presentations on transferring an estate, and a walk-through of an estate-planning resource developed by the Wyoming Department of Ag, UW and Wyoming attorneys. Time for Q&A will follow. Cost of workshop materials is $10.

For more info, contact Jaime Hunolt at 307-783-0570 or jahunolt@uintacounty.com.

For more on estate planning, see the content of BEEF magazine's mid-February issue at: beef-mag.com/issue_20070215/.
-- Joe Roybal

      Wyoming Plans April 10 Rangeland Management Class

Basic rangeland management is the focus of an April 10 program, "Wyoming Rangeland Management School 101," set for the Archer Community House in Cheyenne. With registration at 8 a.m. and the program ending at 4:45 p.m., the workshop topics include plant growth, time and timing of grazing, animal nutrition, animal behavior, rangeland monitoring and applied grazing management.

Registration is $20, which includes lunch. To register, contact Joe Hicks at 307-527-6921 or jhicks01@fs.fed.us.

Presented by the Wyoming Section of the Society for Range Management, sponsors include the University of Wyoming Extension, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
-- Joe Roybal

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    Animal ID
      Arizona Bill Would Prohibit NAIS Participation

A proposed Senate bill in the Arizona legislature seeks to prohibit Arizona livestock owners from participating in the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). S1428, introduced by Sen. Karen Johnson, was approved by a full Senate committee this week and awaits further action.

An Arizona Capitol Times article quoted Johnson as calling the NAIS concept "a nightmare."

"The reason for the program is power and control and it's the chip companies that are pushing it. Once they get all these animals chipped then it will be a lot easier to chip people," she said.
-- Joe Roybal

    Industry Meetings
      Forage & Grassland Council Sets Annual Meeting

The American Forage and Grassland Council's (AFGC) annual meeting is June 24-26 in State College, PA. Set for the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel, the event features symposia, scientific posters, student contests, tours, exhibits and networking designed to advance the knowledge and use of forage as a prime feed resource. Visit www.afgc.org, call 1-800-944-2342 or email info@afgc.org for more info.

Founded in 1944 to promote the profitable production and sustainable utilization of quality forage and grasslands, AFGC consists of more than 20 affiliate councils with a total membership of about 2,500.
-- AFGC news release



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