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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
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
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C.,
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
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
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
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
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
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
-- Joe Roybal
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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
Click here to read more of this story by University of
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
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
-- Burt Rutherford
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
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
-- Burt Rutherford
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
-- AHA news release
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
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
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
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
-- Troy Marshall
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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
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.,
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
-- Burt Rutherford
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
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
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.,
This year Camp Cooley Ranch celebrates 20 years of
ultrasound performance in our Brangus herd. From this work results some
of the most powerful, performance proven Brangus, Angus and Charolais
bulls to ever sell at Camp Cooley. Your search for Quality in
Volume begins and ends at Camp Cooley Ranch. Give us a call or
stop by for a visit!
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on estate planning, see the content of BEEF magazine's
mid-February issue at: beef-mag.com/issue_20070215/.
-- Joe Roybal
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 email@example.com.
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
Herefords - The Efficiency Experts
Adding Hereford genetics to your herd makes perfect business sense in a
cost-driven economy. Excellent conversion, hardiness, fertility,
longevity and even disposition can help reduce input costs. These
Hereford efficiencies are ideal for your herd, your business and your
plans for the future. Low-maintenance cattle, long-term profit. Now
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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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