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November 3, 2006

Table of Contents
Vote Like Your Future Depends On It. It Does
A Follow-Up To Last Week's Ethanol Discussion
Drought Has A Spiritual Connection To It
USDA Secretary Makes Beef Board Appointments
First U.S. Beef Arrives In South Korea
Peru, Colombia End Restrictions on Beef Imports
Age And Source Verification Pays -- $35/Head
Beef Checkoff Tapped For Foodservice Hall Of Fame
Ferry Transport Of Some UK Cattle Restarts
Five National Beef Groups Unite In Beef Alliance
Looking For Christmas Gifts? Give Western Art
Meet BEEF Magazine's 2006 Trailblazer Honorees
Nominate Your Stewardship Award Candidates
Minnesota Discovers Another Infected TB Herd
Learn How To Compete In the New Beef Industry
SDSU Offers Balanced Scorecard Ranch-Planning Tool
See November BEEF Content At www.beef-mag.com
Nebraska Leads Nation In Premises Registration


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Our Perspective
Vote Like Your Future Depends On It. It Does
With what's at stake it doesn't seem possible, but the experts are predicting a low to moderate turnout in next Tuesday's mid-term elections. At stake is the leadership in the House, and possibly the Senate. Plus, our country is at war, our brave soldiers are in harm's way, and two of the most radical regimes in history are pursuing nuclear weapons. Then there's the Middle East situation, terrorism, and our border and immigration policy. All these are poised to move in radically different directions depending upon the election outcome.

Plus, it's no secret a strong economy means more consumer dollars for beef purchases. Beef's surge in demand the last few years has been due, in part, to the strength of the economy. And it's imperative that the economic steam continues.

The amazing robustness of the economy, however, has been overshadowed, or deliberately minimized, by the focus on foreign policy issues. And don't forget about other important issues, such as Social Security, education and taxes -- all of which likely face a major direction switch if control of Congress changes. If you care about these issues, the importance of this election can't be overstated.

Ag, all by itself, has a huge stake in the outcome, where a new farm bill, rollback of tax cuts, repeal of the Death Tax, and the like are concerned. Ag needs to have its voice heard and its votes counted. Regardless of where you stand, vote early.
-- Troy Marshall and Joe Roybal


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A Follow-Up To Last Week's Ethanol Discussion
Thanks to everyone who sent their comments regarding the ethanol debate ("Adding To The Great Ethanol Debate," Oct. 27 issue). Obviously it's a big topic of consideration in the country and one that promises to have a major impact on the cattle industry.

Perhaps the ethanol debate, false subsidies and the like bring up an even bigger question -- has the cow-calf industry come up with the short straw at the national level in recent years?

Setting aside our own self-inflicted wounds, and inability to unify around a single message, the cow-calf industry always has prided itself on eschewing government intervention. In and of itself, I can't think of a wiser policy for ensuring the future of our industry.

However, other segments of ag haven't held a similar view. Partly because of our operational diversity (many cow-calf producers raise corn, or have ground enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, etc.) our industry has tended to remain silent on a lot of issues that indirectly affect us. The result is successful cow-calf operations today can largely be described as those that can take advantage of government programs in other ag areas.

We've all adapted to the new set of rules, which was the logical and prudent thing to do. But I'd much rather compete on the basis of how good of a product I produce for the beef market, than how well I can take advantage of government-subsidized components to lower my costs.
-- Troy Marshall


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Drought Has A Spiritual Connection To It
We've all seen how even the most secular of men will turn to prayer in times of drought. Those of us in ag have to accept the fact man isn't entirely in charge. When dealing with Mother Nature and biological things, a lot is outside management's control.

This somehow combines to give us a better glimpse of faith. And I have to believe, when compared to other lines of work, it provides a better understanding of the fact there's a higher order of things that occurs outside that which is easily quantifiable.

In a drought, you're especially reminded of the "footsteps in the sand" story and how, at the most difficult times, the Lord was there to carry you. I suspect every man needs to go through a severe drought or two; a rancher or farmer typically gets the added bonus of a few more. It's a test we wouldn't wish on our enemies, but when the rains come and the sun shines we find ourselves in a far better place than the one where we started. For that, we must be thankful.
-- Troy Marshall


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Beef Checkoff
USDA Secretary Makes Beef Board Appointments
USDA Secretary Mike Johanns announced new appointments to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion Board. Among the beef-producer appointments are: Judy Prosser, AZ.; Jack Cowley and Richard Nock, CA; Roger Evans, CO; Jeffrey Clausen and Robert Johnson, IA; Jerald Bohn and Don Hullman, KS; T. Barrett Porter, LA; Charles Markley, MI; Aquilla Ward, Mid-Atlantic; John Schafer, MN; Charles Hull, MS; Jerry King, MO; Kristy Lage and David Lamb, NE; Preston Wright, NV; Margaret McKeen, NM; Roger Pendleton, NC; Lucinda Williams, Northeast; Bill Boyer, OK; Allen Walth and Myron Williams, SD; Jennifer Senn, Southeast; Robert Reviere, Jr., TN.; Peter Case, Justin Dauer, Charles Kiker III, and Walter Lasley, TX; Richard Nielson, UT; Mark Riechers and Nancy Thomas, WI.; Dianne Kirkbride, WY. Appointed to represent importers were: Lawrence Bryant, VA; Greg Silpe, CT; and Michelle Gorman, MD.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent


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Foreign Trade
First U.S. Beef Arrives In South Korea
The first shipment of U.S. beef in three years arrived in South Korea on Monday. The nine-ton shipment from Creekstone Farms Premium Beef is currently undergoing quarantine inspections and is expected to go on sale in about 15 days.

South Korea announced reopening of its market to U.S. boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age in September. But U.S. beef exporters, concerned about South Korea's zero tolerance on bone chips, are unlikely to push exports until the policy is loosened. Before the ban on U.S. beef exports, South Korea was the third-largest market for U.S. product.

A Reuters report cites a recent poll of 651 South Koreans by the Korea Rural Economic Institute that showed more than 70% of respondents indicating no plans to buy U.S. beef. But other consumers are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the cheaper U.S. product.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent


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Peru, Colombia End Restrictions on Beef Imports
Peru and Colombia now allow import of all U.S. beef and beef products, regardless of cattle age. The relaxed rules took effect Oct. 25 for U.S. exports to Peru, and Oct. 31 for exports to Colombia.
-- Joe Roybal


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Marketing
Age And Source Verification Pays -- $35/Head
Last fall, the experts said age-and source-verified cattle received a premium of $20-$30/head. Then we saw those premiums dissipate as the Japanese and Korean export markets failed to open or re-closed.

Iowa State University researchers just released a study looking at data from calves that sold from fall 2005 to February 2006; they found the premium was actually $35/head.

While it's easy to document the premiums on grids, etc., for age-verified cattle, there's been a lot of discussion in sale barns this fall that pre-conditioning and age- and source-verification weren't bringing any premiums. But it's difficult to determine premiums while sitting in a sale barn due to all the variables -- differences in weight, condition, quality, breeding, management, and reputation being just a few of them.

As one veteran order buyer said, "There are no premiums, but we all want to buy the preconditioned ones, and they always seem to cost me more." He grinned and added, "If you aren't seeing the premiums you keep hearing about in the marketplace, the problem isn't with the market, it's you have the wrong buyers."

There's a lot of wisdom in his words. The King Ranch Management Institute held a two-day symposium last week on the "Balanced Scorecard" management approach. In the symposium's customer/marketing/customer service section, it was common to hear producers lament they've had the same buyers for years, but aren't being rewarded for their superior genetics, management etc.

I don't doubt they're correct, but I suspect they're putting the blame in the wrong place. Either those buyers don't realize the extra value, in which case we need to provide it; they don't have a system to capture that value, in which case we need to find new buyers; or they haven't had to pay for it, in which case it's our responsibility to create competition between buyers.
-- Troy Marshall


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Beef Promotion
Beef Checkoff Tapped For Foodservice Hall Of Fame
The beef checkoff program is the first commodity to be inducted into the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) "Supplier Hall of Fame." Cattlemen's Beef Board chairman Jay O'Brien accepted the award on behalf of the beef checkoff program recently in Dallas, TX.

The beef checkoff was "a very appropriate choice," said Paul Frumkin, deputy managing editor of Nation's Restaurant News, which produces the award. "They have participated with us for years and have been active in educating members about ways in which beef products can be menued more creatively for the restaurant patron and more profitably for the restaurant operator."

Hall-of-fame induction is reserved for "those select few suppliers who have set a standard of excellence for an entire industry through their outstanding commitment to quality, delivery and service." Other inductees in MUFSO's 47-year history are American Express, Ecolab, Coca-Cola and Rich Products.

Beef promotion in the foodservice industry has been notable, particularly in 2006, when nearly 8.4 billion lbs. of beef, valued at more than $25.7 billion wholesale, was sold via the foodservice channel. Checkoff partnerships with major restaurant chains last year resulted in 10-million lbs. in sales.

Foodservice has played a major role in establishing the Flat Iron, Petite Tender and Ranch Cut steaks -- all products developed with checkoff dollars. The combined sales volume of these three cuts last year totaled 169 million lbs.
-- Alaina Burt


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Activist News
Ferry Transport Of Some UK Cattle Restarts
A new agreement between the United Kingdom's (UK) National Beef Association (NBA) and its main ferry service crossing the English Channel to Europe, P&O Ferries, is restarting live transports of breeding and dairy cattle. However, UK animals destined for slaughter or finishing on the continent, such as veal calves, are still off limits to water crossing, due to activist concerns.

When the UK government lifted the ban on the export of UK cattle and beef last September, after getting the green light from the European Union's phytosanitary experts that BSE was finally at reasonable risk levels, getting live cattle to Europe posed something of a problem.

To ensure the health of the animals making the crossing, producers in the past had to charter expensive ferries to get their animals across, something the average breeder couldn't afford for only a handful of head. On the part of the ferry company, the question of animal rights came into play because of the bad press over the years surrounding the stress on live cattle destined for slaughter and transported into Europe. The question arose especially in terms of veal calves for export.

But a deal between the UK's P&O Ferries and the NBA last September set the stage to begin live-cattle transports not destined for slaughter, which next week ought to reach a full truckload crossing to Europe every day, according to NBA chief exec Robert Forster.

"Our long-standing policy has been to decline the highly contentious livestock destined for slaughter, or fattening prior to slaughter," said Brian Rees, P&O public relations manager "But that's a very different trade to the transport of high-value pedigree animals for breeding. The difficulty for a ferry company is how to make the distinction."

Rees said that to remove ambiguity, NBA agreed in September to provide documentary evidence of the genuine breeding status of animals intended for travel.

According to Forster, a major issue had been that if a ferry wasn't chartered solely for the transport of high health status animals, that status was at risk when in close proximity to others animals being transported. In the past, it wasn't uncommon for 400 veal calves to travel on a single ferry, he said.

As part of the P&O agreement, only one truckload of live cattle will be allowed on each of the company's five daily crossings from Dover to Calais, France, ensuring the health status of the animals and at a rate 1/10th of the price of chartering an entire ferry.

"The NBA stepped in to act as third-party agents as a reassurance to P&O that only pedigreed breeding and milking animals will be transported," Forster said.
-- Meghan Sapp, Brussels, Belgium


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Industry News
Five National Beef Groups Unite In Beef Alliance
One result of the recent meeting of the Five Nations Beef Conference was the formation of the Five Nations Beef Alliance. The meeting of the national producer associations of the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Mexico and Australia confirmed support for animal ID, vigilant quarantine approaches, and a science-based approach to managing animal welfare issues, reports farmonline.com.au/.

The report says the primary aim of the alliance is to increase consumer confidence in beef-product safety; it also will pursue trade reforms to increase access in Asia and the EU. The first chairman of the alliance is Bill Bray, Cattle Council of Australia president.

The Five Nations Beef Conference was established in 1983 and meets every 18 months. It includes officials of the Cattle Council of Australia, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Confederacion Nacional Ganadera, Meat & Wool New Zealand, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
-- Joe Roybal


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Looking For Christmas Gifts? Give Western Art
BEEF magazine is offering a series of signed and numbered, limited-edition art prints by some of Western art's greatest practitioners. Available for $100 each, plus $5 shipping, you can view the offerings at www.beef-mag.com. Just click on "art prints" in the black bar at the top of the opening page.

Featured are such noted artists as Keith Christie, Steve Devenyns, Tim Cox, Mick B. Harrison, Harold Lyon, Bill Owen, Jim Rey, Jack Sorenson and Craig Tennant. The prints are each personally signed and numbered by the artist, and printed with high-quality inks on acid-free paper. For more info, contact Marilyn Anderson at 951-851-4710.
-- Joe Roybal


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Meet BEEF Magazine's 2006 Trailblazer Honorees
Bob and Nancy Montross, De Smet, SD, are BEEF magazine's 2006 Trailblazer Award nominees. Read their story in the November issue of BEEF or visit www.beef-mag.com.

Awarded annually by the BEEF editorial staff, the Trailblazer recognizes producer volunteers of foresight whose efforts helped promote or realize significant research, programs or actions that moved the industry forward and that came to fruition in that calendar year.

The Montrosses have been tireless grassroots promoters of beef and were among the founding members of the South Dakota Beef Bucks program, a non-profit organization that has spurred more than $750,000 in beef sales via gift certificates redeemable at restaurants and grocery stores for the purchases of beef. In 2006, the organization introduced the first-of-its-kind, South Dakota Beef Bucks VISA(R) debit cards.

"Bob and Nancy's continued tireless efforts on behalf of promoting beef serve as an example to all producers regarding the important and creative roles the grassroots can play in better serving U.S. consumers while building demand for beef products," says BEEF Editor Joe Roybal.

As 2006 honorees, the Montrosses are featured on the cover of the November issue of BEEF. Formal presentation of the 2006 Trailblazer Award will be made during the 2007 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Nashville, TN, Jan. 31-Feb. 3.
-- Joe Roybal


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Nominate Your Stewardship Award Candidates
Nomination season for the 17th Annual Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) is now open. Any organization, group or individual can submit a nomination on behalf of a U.S. cattle producer.

Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and sponsored by Dow AgroSciences and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the program recognizes outstanding stewardship and conservation achievements of U.S. cattle producers. A committee representing academia, conservation groups, and federal and state agencies selects seven regional winners. Those seven regional winners then compete for the national award.

Deadline for 2007 ESAP applications is March 17, 2007. Visit www.beefusa.org/esap or call 202-347-0228 for a copy of the application.
-- Joe Roybal


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Animal Health
Minnesota Discovers Another Infected TB Herd
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) said this week a cow from a farm in Beltrami County tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB). Minnesota has now detected bovine TB in seven beef herds in two counties.

As part of the disease investigation, MBAH asked northwestern Minnesota cattle producers within 10 miles of an infected beef herd or infected white-tail deer to test their cattle for TB. As part of this testing, two animals from a Beltrami beef herd tested suspect for bovine TB. Subsequent testing at the National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, IA, confirmed TB in an 18-month-old beef heifer. The other animal was negative.

The state can apply for Accredited TB-free status two years after depopulating the last infected herd, pending completion of a thorough disease investigation. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is testing hunter-harvested white-tailed deer in the affected area, as well as testing statewide this fall. During the past 12 months, two white-tailed deer have tested positive for TB within one mile of a previously infected cattle herd.

More info is available at www.bah.state.mn.us.
-- Joe Roybal


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Tips for Profit
Learn How To Compete In the New Beef Industry
You know you're trying to raise good-quality cattle. Your 2006 calves are the best you've ever produced. And you know adding to, and capturing, the value in your cattle will improve your bottom line. But how do you do it? Who's looking for cattle like yours? And what new or different markets can be available to you with just a few changes in your management?

Get the answers to these questions and more by attending the BEEF Quality Summit, Nov. 14-15, in Oklahoma City.

Sponsored by BEEF magazine, leaders from across the beef-value chain have been pulled together to provide insights from their perspective that can help beef producers align their production with the optimum markets for their cattle. The BEEF Quality Summit will change the way you think about your business!

The summit opens Tuesday, Nov. 14, with a focus on how beef consumers define quality, delivered by some the biggest players in the retail beef business -- execs from McDonalds USA, Wal-Mart Supercenters, and Outback Steakhouse.

On Wednesday morning, a panel of producers gives its advice on what to look for in selecting a marketing partner. The panel includes:
  • Ken Bull, who oversees all cattle procurement activities, as well as risk management for Cargill Beef.
  • Tracy Brunner is president of Cow Camp Beef.
  • Travis Choat, director of technical services for live operations at Smithfield Beef Group.
  • Mark Harmon, marketing manager for QSA and value-added procurement at Joplin Regional Stockyards.
  • Mark McCully, supply development director for Certified Angus Beef LLC.
  • Bill Mies, VP of national accounts sales for eMerge Interactive.
  • Bill Roser manager of Wheeler Brothers Feedyard in Watonga, OK.
  • Mark Spire, DVM, technical services manager in the large-animal business unit of Schering-Plough Animal Health.
Economist DeeVon Bailey from Utah State University wraps up the morning program with a discussion on the "Costs, trade-offs and risks of producing for a specific market -- Will it pay to produce for a specific market?"

The BEEF Quality Summit concludes with "Link-up Sessions," a unique opportunity designed to provide small-group discussions with participating marketing channel representatives. Use this time to get questions answered, compare programs and "link up" your current and/or future production for added value and profit.

Registration for the two-day conference is just $195 -- including all meals, giveaways and the tradeshow! Register before Nov. 8 and bring a friend or co-worker for only $50! College students can attend for only $50. Call 1-800-722-5334 to register and receive these discount prices. For complete info on the program, speaker biographies and lodging, visit www.beefconference.com.
-- Bill Zimmerman, conference program coordinator


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SDSU Offers Balanced Scorecard Ranch-Planning Tool
Using the "Balanced Scorecard" business model as a tool for ranch management can help producers "balance" different competing aspects of a ranch. That's the idea behind a new publication from South Dakota State University (SDSU) and Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMU-K).

"Using the Balanced Scorecard for Ranch Planning and Management: Setting Strategy and Measuring Performance" is available online at: agbiopubs.sdstate.edu/articles/EC922.pdf. It's written by Barry Dunn, executive director of TAMU-K's King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, in cooperation with SDSU Extension personnel Roger Gates, Jack Davis and Agustin Arzeno.

The publication introduces the "Balanced Scorecard" model developed by Robert Kaplan of the Harvard Business School and David Norton, and used by thousands of global companies and small businesses since the early 1990s.

Rather than analyze financial records alone, which are only capable of telling of past events, the Balanced Scorecard model also takes into account factors such as customer relationships, ranch processes and investment in family members and in employees' learning and growth.

The publication walks ranchers through the process of defining the vision for the operation and outlining strategies to fulfill that vision. It identifies "perspectives" or basic components critical to the business operation, such as financials, livestock production, natural resources, customer service, lifestyle and education. It identifies measures for tracking progress, and creates action plans to achieve goals. It also evaluates performance to determine if goals are being met and if progress in reaching the vision is being made.
-- Lance Nixon, SDSU


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See November BEEF Content At www.beef-mag.com
Learn about the "perfect beef-cow lease," Uruguay's surging presence on the global beef market, and the array of assistance programs designed to help mitigate the effects of the 2006 drought. Those are just a few of the offerings available in the November issue content of BEEF magazine, now available at www.beef-mag.com.

In "Surviving Dry Times," BEEF Senior Editor Clint Peck tells how federal officials are stepping up to the plate to assist cattle producers impacted by the nation's ongoing drought.

Meanwhile, Wes Ishmael reports that, despite the fact there are more quality-based branded programs and buying grids available today than ever before, fewer U.S. cattle are grading Choice or better than in 1975. In fact, insufficient marbling represents the single greatest quality challenge in the eyes of purveyors, retailers, restaurateurs and packers.

All that and more at www.beef-mag.com.
-- Joe Roybal


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Animal ID
Nebraska Leads Nation In Premises Registration
Nebraska leads the nation in voluntary registration of livestock operations, the Associated Press reports. Nebraska ag officials say more than 13,000 of an estimated 31,000 known locations having been assigned a number. As of Oct. 27, USDA says 323,740 premises have been registered.
-- Joe Roybal


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