Longtime TCFA Exec Charlie Ball Passes
Charles E. "Charlie" Ball, longtime executive vice
president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA), was buried
June 8 near his childhood home of Paris, TX. He died June 4 in Amarillo.
Ball was a trained ag engineer and worked as an ag writer for 24 years.
Ball was chief author of the Beef Research and Information Act signed
into law in 1976 by President Ford. It set up a collections program
designed to raise $30-$40 million/year for research and market
development. The next year, it failed in referendum but set the stage
for the successful national checkoff effort in 1988.
Ball was the author of three books -- "Saddle Up," a book on western
horsemanship; "The Finishing Touch," a history of TCFA and the
cattle-feeding industry; and "Building the Beef Industry," a history of
the people, places, politics and issues that shaped the beef industry.
He received many awards during his life, including being named to
BEEF magazine's "25 Who Made a Difference" in 1989 and the
"BEEF Top 40" in September 2004.
Expected Export Market Reopenings
Surprise. Surprise. Despite hopeful reports the past
couple of months, it appears the Pacific Rim's ban on U.S. beef will
Last week, South Korea reported its inspection of U.S. packing plants
revealed some shortcomings to address before it will begin importing
U.S. beef again.
As for Japan, they're supposedly in the midst of conducting public
forums with its consumers. That comes before an audit of U.S. plants,
and according to various reports last week, before more procedural steps
Japan is saying must also be taken.
We've said it before, while this market is obviously important to the
future fortunes of the U.S. beef business, when it does open it won't
likely have much impact on the short-term market, given current
fundamentals. Moreover, until the zero-tolerance conditions of beef
trade with these countries is adjusted, once the border does open, it
will likely only be a matter of time before it gets closed again.
Seeing is believing.
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Weather And Crops
Drought Zaps Wheat Crop
It's no surprise to folks in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and
other drought-stricken areas: winter-wheat production is down
significantly from beginning projections.
Lots of folks plowed wheat ground under, some took a stab at harvest if
they had their own combines, and custom crews either stayed home or
close to home.
Officially, World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) projects the
total U.S. wheat crop to be down 59 million bu., based on lower
winter-wheat yield. Wheat feed and residual use has been lowered by 25
million bu.; ending wheat stocks are lowered 32 million bu. to 416
million. The projected price range for 2006-2007 has been raised by a
dime to $3.60 to $4.20/bu.
The word is still out on corn, although emergence is on par with last
year and 4% ahead of the five-year average, according to the National Ag
Statistics Service (NASS) for the week ending June 4. All told, 71% of
the crop is reported to be in good or excellent condition, compared to
64% last year.
Unsurprisingly, the heat continues to depress pasture conditions
compared to last year. NASS says 46% is rated at good or excellent
compared to 57% last year. More telling, 25% is rated as poor or very
poor compared to 13% last year.
It's worth noting, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)that the last five
five-year periods (2001-2005, 2000-2004, 1999-2003, 1998-2002,
1997-2001) were the warmest five-year periods in the last 111 years. The
next warmest five-year period was in the 1930s (1930-34), when the
western U.S. suffered from an extended drought coupled with anomalous
warmth. The warmest U.S. year on record was 1998, where the record
warmth was concentrated in the Northeast as compared with the Northwest
For the week ending June 4, according to NASS:
Pasture -- States with the worst pasture conditions -- at least
30% of the acreage rated poor or worse -- include: Alabama (30%);
Arizona (78%); Colorado (67%); Florida (45%); Kansas (30%); Nebraska
(38%); New Mexico (79%); Oklahoma (37%); and Texas (51%).
On the wet side of the fence, states with the most lush pasture
conditions -- at least 40% rated good or better -- include: Alabama
(40%); Arkansas (56%); California (80%); Idaho (90%); Illinois (81%);
Indiana (83%); Iowa (76%); Kentucky (70%); Maine (98%); Maryland (48%);
Michigan (72%); Minnesota (74%); Mississippi (43%); Montana (58%);
Nevada (88%); New York (83%); North Carolina (60%); North Dakota (49%);
Ohio (71%); Oregon (74%); Pennsylvania (57%); South Dakota (45%);
Tennessee (74%); Utah (79%); Washington (74%); West Virginia (47%); and
- Corn -- 94% of the acreage has
emerged, about even with last year but 5% ahead of the normal
- Soybeans -- 89% is planted,
the same as last year and 8% ahead of the five-year average; 70% has emerged, which is 3% ahead of last year and
12% ahead of the average.
- Winter Wheat -- 88% was at or beyond the
heading stage. That's 2% ahead of last year and 4% ahead of the
normal pace. Harvest has occurred on 9% of the
acreage, 6% ahead of last year and 4% ahead of normal. That happens when
you don't have as much crop worth harvesting. Spring Wheat --
97% of the crop has emerged, compared to 95%
last year and 89% for the five-year average.
- Barley -- Emergence advanced to
93%, the same as last year and 5% ahead of normal.
- Sorghum -- 66% of the acreage is
sown, which is 5% ahead of last year and 1% ahead of
- Oats -- Heading advanced to 28% of the
acreage, the same as last year and the average.
Optimize Your Profit In The New Beef
Making the most of current and future industry trends to
maximize profit on your calves is the focus of the 2006 BEEF
Quality Summit, set for Nov. 14-15, at the Clarion Convention Center in
Oklahoma City, OK. Presented by BEEF magazine, the two-day
program is aimed at instructing attendees on how to optimize profit in
the new beef value chain.
The Nov. 14 program gets underway at 9:45 a.m. and focuses on new
opportunities. Opening the session are reps of Wal-Mart Supercenters,
McDonald's and Outback Steakhouse addressing the topic, "How do U.S.
beef consumers define quality?" Next, BEEF magazine economist
Harlan Hughes will address "Quality, profit and the cattle cycle;"
followed by in-depth discussions on "International competition and
opportunities for U.S. quality beef" and "Current international
beef-trade opportunities." That evening a panel of producers will lead
an open discussion on "How we are getting paid for the quality we
The Wednesday program centers on how attendees can link their production
into the new beef value chain. The day's topics include a discussion by
Smithfield Beef Group's Travis Choat on "What to look for in selecting a
marketing partner," followed by a workshop on value-chain production and
Wednesday afternoon, Colorado State University's Gary Smith will discuss
"Why quality matters," followed by an opportunity with attendees to meet
one-on-one with participating market-channel reps.
"This conference is designed specifically for producers and is focused
on practical take-home information that attendees can use to capitalize
on opportunities made possible by the new beef value systems," says
BEEF editor Joe Roybal. "The entire meeting is focused on
providing the background, the education, the tips and the connections
for garnering more money for better cattle."
The registration fee of $195/person ($170 for a second person) covers
the two-day conference program, tradeshow, Tuesday lunch, evening
reception and dinner; and Wednesday's breakfast and lunch. To register,
call 1-800-722-5334 or visit www.beefconference.com.
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PI Calves Cost Both Ways
Based on the growing knowledge about the economic impact
of cattle persistently infected (PI) with bovine viral diarrhea virus
(BVDV), stocker producers may find added production and marketing
opportunity by getting their arms wrapped around it.
Consider a trial conducted by Bill Hessman, DVM, of Central States
Testing and the Haskell County Animal Hospital at Sublette, KS. One of
his feedlot clients, Cattle Empire, LLC, began wondering how prevalent
the disease and pen-infection rate were in their operation. They wanted
to know to what extent PI calves were impacting their bottom line.
According to Hessman, the cost per head exposed to PI in that operation
is $67.49/head, resulting in a total average cost per head across the
entire population of $41.17/head. That's based on the largest PI trial
I've heard of -- 21,743 head across 240 pens.
The trial began in July 2004 at one of the firm's starter yards
(10,000-head capacity) where cattle are limit-fed for 60 days and aren't
implanted. Every animal was tested. PI animals were removed from some
pens and left in others so Hessman and Cattle Empire owners, Paul and
Roy Brown, could get a handle on how PI calves influenced pen health if
they'd been in a pen then removed, left in a pen, or whether they
existed in an adjoining pen to a non-PI set of calves, or ever had.
All said and done, the prevalence rate of 0.4% was just slightly higher
than what's usually been seen in smaller trials. But, at least one PI
calf was discovered in 71 of the 240 pens for a pen-infection rate of
31%. In other words, about one out of every three pens had been exposed
to a PI calf.
Despite longstanding industry conjecture, when Hessman tracked the
source of the calves, the infected ones weren't any more likely to come
from one particular state than another (10 states were represented).
What did increase the likelihood was the order buyer.
Of the 15 buyers who bought 300 or more head represented in the study,
the PI-prevalence rate, by buyer, ranged from 0 to 2%. It turned out
that buyer behavior contributed to the fact some were more likely to
send PI calves. In particular, Hessman said calves bought as singles or
doubles through the auction were more likely to be infected.
The resulting pen rate of infection was just as startling. Of the buyers
purchasing three or more pens, the rate ranged from 0 to 70%.
These findings mirror those from a smaller trial (2,284 head in 24 pens)
in which cattle were tested in Cattle Empire's finish facilities. Using
close-out performance to compare between PI pens and non-PI pens, they
found a prevalence rate of 0.31% and a pen infection rate of 21%. In
sum, the economic damage in that trial was $47.43/head in the pens
exposed to PI.
Keep in mind the bulk of the damage came from lost performance in the
cattle exposed to PI animals, not to mortality and morbidity among the
infected animals. Hessman points out that while many PI calves die early
on, some survive all the way to slaughter. Tracking those in Cattle
Empire's starter-yard trial, only 25.6% of the calves died during the
60-day starter phase. Of those, 64% of the deaths were due to mucosal
disease and 27% were due to respiratory disease. In the smaller trial in
the finish yard, 71% of the PI calves survived to slaughter.
Suspicions are that the damage would be at least as significant and
probably more so.
Consequently Hessman says cow-calf producers and stocker operators may
find added marketability for PI-screened calves. Spun differently,
buyers may be willing to pay more for calves that already tested.
Using Cattle Empire's starter-yard trial, Hessman points out the $41.17
cost that PI calves levied on the entire population is equivalent to
about $8.23/cwt. on a five-weight calf. That's not what cattle feeders
would likely be willing to pay, but at least part of that would provide
added negotiation power for produces with screened calves or PI-free
That's in addition to the economic advantages of identifying and
removing PI animals from the herd to begin with. For stockers, Hessman
emphasizes that by getting rid of PI animals, you'll likely see improved
health and performance, along with additional marketing opportunity.
At the very least, it seems this kind of economic impact might make
buyers more willing to at least share in the cost of screening calves
they're considering for purchase.
It's already apparent that such major feed yards as Cattle Empire are
trying to wrap their arms around the problem. Judging by the
conversation at the recent Elanco Professional Stocker Operators
Symposium, where Hessman presented this information, at least some of
this nation's largest and cost-progressive stockers also are in the
midst of trying to sort out PI calves as early in production as
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Yearlings Boost Market Floor
"Feeder buyers were aggressive this past week following
last week's $2 gain in the fed-cattle market and the expectation of
tight supplies of yearlings through the summer," say Ag Marketing
Service (AMS) specialists. "Feedlots reluctantly accepted lower packer
bids on Friday, after a week of downside pressure from the CME board.
Slaughter steers and heifers sold $1.50-$2 lower from $81-$81.50.
Packers continue to operate at aggressive chain speeds with an estimated
weekly cattle harvest of 707,000, which was 49,000 head larger than the
same week a year ago."
In other words, any short-term bloom left on the market surge last month
appears all but faded.
The lowest fed-cattle prices usually come mid-summer, though so far this
year the market has run against seasonal and cyclical norms. Packers
remain aggressive in their harvest, but growing cold storage stocks and
burgeoning supply leave little doubt they're gaining bargaining
Longer term, both the drought and corn prices continue to be the major
wild cards. As for the drought, cow-auction receipts in Texas have run
beyond average for weeks as some producers have begun dipping below
their oldest cows to conserve feed. The same goes in other ultra-dry
areas. As for corn, feeder-cattle and calf sellers could do worse than
hope for a record crop.
Last week, USDA's monthly World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates lowered
total poultry and red-meat production forecasts a touch, in part because
of a marginal reduction in beef production. But production across the
board is still projected to be higher than a year ago.
The summary below reflects the week ended June 9 for Medium and Large 1
-- 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb., and 700- to 750-lb. feeder heifers
and steers (unless otherwise noted). The list is arranged in descending
order by auction volume and represents sales reported in the weekly USDA
National Feeder and Stocker Cattle Summary:
| State|| Volume ||Steers || Heifers
| Calf Weight|| 500-550 lbs. || 600-650 lbs.
|| 700-750 lbs.
|| 500-550 lbs.
|| 600-650 lbs. ||
700-750 lbs. |
| OK || 40,800
||$117.27 || $112.46 || $114.84 || $110.64
|| $104.83 |
| TX ||34,800 || $120.36
|| $115.66 ||
|| $104.78 || $99.56 |
| MO || 26,400 || $132.59 || $124.73 || $112.32 || $123.10 || $114.77 || $106.00 |
| KY* ||15,200 || $118-128 ||
$109-119 || $95-1055 || $109-119 || $98-1083 || $87-975 |
| AL ||13,100
|| $107-115 ||
$100-110 || $90-98 |
| GA*(***) ||11,300 || $106-134.50 ||
$96-118.50 || $92-102 || $100-118 || $90-109 || $90-1004
| NE ||9,200 || $137.72 || $127.04 || $116.47 || $123.36 || $116.86 || $104.52 |
| SD ||8,800
|| $132.182 || $125.73 || $117.29 || $114.102
|| $112.964 || $107.93 |
||8,500 || $103-122 ||
$90-1143 || $83-1025 || $100-118 || $85-106 || $75-995 |
| TN* ||8,200 || $121.06 ||$111.26 || $103.37 || $111.78 ||$100.56 || $92.81 |
| AR ||8,000
|| $113.35 || $106.79 || $112.22 ||
$105.41 || $97.64 |
| KS ||6,400 || ** || ** || $112.52 || ** ||$114.73 || $108.23 |
| CO ||5,800
|| $119.262 || **
|| $113.592 ||$108.684
| FL ||5,600
|| $100-1152 ||
|| $97-1182 || **
| MS* ||5,600 || $110-1201 || $100-110 || $85-955 || $100-1101
| NM ||4,800 || $116.81* || $114.68* || ** ||
$112.32 ||$106.72|| **
| LA*ND ||4,000 || $108-122 ||
** || $102-118 ||
$100-1152 || ** |
| VA ||3,400
|| $114.78 || $104.45 || $109.66 || $101.11 ||
| IA ||2,200 || ** || ** || $111.83 || ** ||$109.82 || $104.90 |
| MT ||1,500
|| $131.972 ||**
|| ** || **
|| ** |
| WA* ||1,400 || $117.332 || $114.555 || ** ||
** ||** || ** |
* Plus 2
** None reported at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
Please send questions to:
Wes Ishmael, Contributing Editor, BEEF Stocker Trends, at email@example.com
Joe Roybal, Editor, BEEF magazine, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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