National ID Is Dead
USDA effectively and quietly knocked the National Animal
Identification System (NAIS) in the head last Wednesday. It did so with
the unheralded publication of the "NAIS User Guide," which replaces all
former NAIS draft documents. This document, for the first time,
emphasizes NAIS as a voluntary program rather than as a steppingstone to
a mandatory one.
In fact, at the very beginning, the guide explains, "USDA is not
requiring participation in the program. NAIS can help producers protect
the health and marketability of their animals -- but the choice to
participate is theirs."
Late last month at a community outreach event in Kansas City, Chuck
Conner, USDA Deputy Secretary, and Bruce Knight, USDA Under Secretary
for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, paved the way for the agency's
"Since we've had some confusion on this, we need to be as clear as we
can be. This is 'voluntary' with a capital V. Not a currently voluntary,
then maybe a mandatory system. This is a permanently voluntary system at
the federal level," Conner said.
"We're making it crystal clear that NAIS is voluntary -- no ifs, ands or
buts," explained Knight. "Farmers can choose to register their premises.
They can choose to participate in individual animal or group
identification. And they can opt to be part of tracking. Or not."
The guide goes on to explain, "Participation in NAIS is voluntary at the
federal level. Under our current authorities, USDA could make the NAIS
mandatory, but we are choosing not to do so -- again, participation in
every component of NAIS is voluntary at the federal level. The NAIS does
not need to be mandatory to be effective; we believe the goals of the
system can be achieved with a voluntary program. As producers become
increasingly aware of the benefits of the NAIS and the level of
voluntary participation grows, there will only be less need to make the
Absent from the "NAIS User Guide" are the suggested timelines and
benchmarks for achieving an effective level of producer participation.
Instead, USDA emphasizes its belief that market demands will provide the
necessary incentive for participation.
That's possible, though it hasn't been the case, thus far. It's hard to
imagine, too, the need commerce will see for a system cohesive and
coordinated enough to provide the industry-wide, 48-hour trace-back NAIS
was designed to provide. Consequently, the only real incentive for
animal ID remains to be the value individual producers see in it for
So, it seems NAIS is over, at least for the tenure of the current
You can find the complete "NAIS User Guide" at animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/naislibrary/documents/instructions_guidelines/NAIS-UserGuide.pdf.
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Market Demands Some ID Today
Though NAIS has apparently become road-kill on history's
highway, there's no question the market is paying for verification of
certain practices and product attributes that must be substantiated via
individual animal ID.
For example, it seems everyone is chattering about source and age
verification, and more recently Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) for
the European Union.
Premiums for age -- specifically for cattle 20 months of age and younger
and eligible for export to Japan -- have been running $3-$4/cwt. on
feeders and $2-$3/cwt. on fed cattle, according to Bill Mies, eMerge
Interactive vice president of national accounts.
That's when premiums are available, though. According to Mark Spire,
Schering-Plough Animal Health bovine technical services manager, sources
for age premiums are dwindling. He explains packers are typically able
to meet still-paltry Japanese demand by pulling from their regular
Both of the gentlemen visited with BEEF recently about the
differences and similarities between Quality Systems Assessment programs
(QSAs) and Process Verified Programs (PVPs). Both are USDA programs used
to verify source, age and other cattle attributes.
"The biggest misunderstanding in the country, and I think one that has
slowed adoption of source and age verification, is some mistakenly think
these are steps in a national animal ID program," explains Mies.
"They're amazed to discover these (QSAs and PVPs) are private-industry
programs aimed at getting them more money for their cattle."
Spire emphasizes there are lots of folks, including government
officials, who continue to wrap NAIS -- and its purpose for national
animal disease surveillance and animal health monitoring -- with animal
ID needed for market-driven programs such as QSA and PVP. "This
confusion has delayed the widespread adoption of both types of USDA
programs," he says.
You can explore QSA's and PVPs in more detail in the upcoming December
issue of BEEF. The next issue of BEEF Stocker Trends will
also provide more info about these programs.
Weather And Crops
Corn Prices Lose Some Momentum
Though the cost of corn remains high, at least it seems
to have found a practical top for the time being.
"The recent run-up in corn prices appears to be over, at least for now,"
says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University ag economist. "Much of the
price increase was based on expectations about new ethanol demand but
the fact is most of that increase isn't a reality yet. Corn futures also
indicate corn markets have topped for now. It's possible corn prices
could actually retreat somewhat depending on how feed use, exports and
other market segments adjust to the higher prices over the winter,
although prices are likely to remain well above year-ago levels. At any
rate, corn prices aren't expected to continue increasing anywhere near
the rate seen recently, if at all."
For the week ending Nov. 19, according to the National Ag Statistics
- Corn -- 94% is harvested, which is 4% behind last year and 1% behind the
- Soybeans -- Growers have harvested 96% of the
crop, compared to 99% at this time last year and
97% for the average. Harvest lagged behind normal in the eastern Corn
Belt and Ohio River Valley. Kentucky growers are 15 points behind the
normal pace with just 77% of their acreage harvested.
- Winter Wheat -- 92% of the crop has
emerged, 1% ahead of last year and the five-year
average. 57% is rated good or excellent, compared to 55% at the same time last year; condition
has declined slightly in the past two weeks.
- Sorghum -- 89% has been harvested, compared to 91% last year and 88% for average.
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Ethanol Corn Crunch Both Good And
Reducing American dependence on oil and petroleum
products via increased domestic ethanol production is doable, and could
benefit ag on a net basis, though livestock sectors may pay the price.
That's the aggregate view of two recent studies, one conducted by Iowa
State University's Center for Ag and Rural Development (CARD), and the
other commissioned by the 25 X '25 Working Group. The 25 X '25 program
seeks to have America producing 25% of its energy needs by Year 2025.
"Much of the debate surrounding the current incentives to the ethanol
sector suggests these incentives are driven in large part by a desire to
reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. By stimulating the production of
ethanol to as much as 20% of total fuel use, these incentive structures
appear to be well on their way to meeting this goal," explains the CARD
report. "Other beneficiaries include landowners, who will benefit from a
dramatic increase in corn prices and associated increases in land rents.
"U.S. crop growers will benefit until the higher profits are captured by
higher land values and land rents. Dairy and beef producers who are near
ethanol plants will benefit from having access to DDGs (dry distillers
grains). Owners of ethanol plants will benefit until corn prices rise to
eliminate the current arbitrage in ethanol production.
"Specialized pork and poultry producers who don't own shares in ethanol
plants will lose, as higher corn prices, and eventually reduced
international competitiveness, cause a reduction in production levels.
The transition to these lower production levels will be painful for most
of these producers. Ethanol construction will stimulate rural economies,
as will the flow of profits from ethanol facilities. However, there will
be a reduction in livestock in these same areas and this will eventually
work to offset this advantage," the report says.
Meanwhile, the 25 X '25 study conducted by researchers at the University
of Tennessee concludes:
You can find the complete CARD study at www.card.iastate.edu and the 25 X '25 report at www.25X25.org.
- The 25 X '25 goal is achievable. Continued yield
increases in major crops, strong contributions from the forestry sector,
utilization of food-processing wastes, as well as the use of over 100
million acres of dedicated energy crops, like switch grass, will all
contribute toward meeting this goal. A combination of all these new and
existing sources can provide sufficient feedstock for the additional
15.45 quads of renewable energy needed (a quad is 1 quadrillion BTUs).
- The 25 X '25 goal can be met while allowing the ag sector to
reliably produce food, feed and fiber at reasonable prices.
- Reaching the goal would have an extremely favorable impact on
rural America and the nation as a whole. Including multiplier
effects through the economy, the projected annual impact on the nation
from producing and converting feed stocks into energy would be in excess
of $700 billion in economic activity and 5.1 million jobs in 2025, most
of that in rural areas.
- By reaching the 25 X '25 energy goal, the total addition to net
farm income could reach $180 billion, as the market rewards growers
for producing alternative energy and enhancing our national security. In
2025 alone, net farm income would increase by $37 billion compared with
USDA baseline projections.
- Reaching the goal would also have significant positive price
impacts on crops. In the year 2025, when compared with USDA baseline
projections, national average per bushel crop prices are projected to be
71¢ higher for corn, 48¢ higher for wheat, and $2.04 higher
- With higher market prices, an estimated cumulative savings in
government payments of $15 billion could occur. This doesn't include
potential savings in fixed/direct or Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
- In the near term, corn acres are projected to increase. As
cellulosic ethanol becomes commercially viable after 2012, the analysis
predicts major increases in acreage for a dedicated energy crop like
- The higher crop prices don't result in a one-to-one increase in
feed expenses for the livestock industry. Increases in ethanol and
biodiesel production result in more distillers dried grains (DDGs) and
soybean meal, which partially compensate for increased corn prices.
Moreover, the integrated nature of the industry allows for the
adjustment of animal inventories as a way to adjust to the environment
and increase net returns. In addition, the production of energy from
manure and tallow could provide additional value for the industry.
- Contributions from America's fields, farms and forests could
result in the production of 86 billion gals. of ethanol and 1.2 billion
gals. of biodiesel, which has the potential to decrease gasoline
consumption by 59 billion gals. in 2025. The production of 12.83
quads of energy from biomass and wind sources could replace the
growing demand for natural gas and coal-generated electricity. These
renewable energy resources could significantly decrease the nation's
reliance on foreign oil and fossil fuels, and enhance the national
security of all Americans.
Southwest Beef Symposium & The
Mid-South Stocker Conference
Jan. 16-17 -- Southwest Beef Symposium, at the
Fifth Season Inn in Amarillo, TX, presented by New Mexico Cooperative
Extension Service and Texas Cooperative Extension Service. To learn
more, visit cahe.nmsu.edu/ces/swbeef.
Feb. 13-14 -- Mid-South Stocker Conference, Cave City, KY,
presented by the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee.
For more info, visit www.midsouthstocker.org. You can also contact Jim
Neel at 865-974-7294 or firstname.lastname@example.org; John Bartee at
931-648-5725 or email@example.com; or John T.
Johns at 859-257-2853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cattle Prices Strengthen
Auction volume last week was only about a third of the
prior week (100,100 head) due to the holiday, but feeder and calf prices
seemed to maintain the strength found the previous week when the market
finally seemed to find at least a short-term bottom.
In fact, while there were too few head marketed to quote a trend, some
calf prices were as much as $5-$8/cwt. early last week, according to
USDA's Ag Marketing Service (AMS). Direct fed cattle sales early last
week were also up 50¢ to $2, at $87-$88.
"October feedlot placements were down by 13% from last year. The
immediate effect is to contribute to a sharp reduction in feedlot
inventories, up 4% from last year, compared to the Oct. 1 level, which
was up more than 8% from a year ago," explains Derrell Peel -- Oklahoma
State University ag economist -- in his most recent "Market Comments."
He writes: "Clearly, the second drought-induced bulge in feedlot
inventories is passing and feedlot totals should continue declining
through the end of the year. Additionally, lower placements means there
simply aren't as many cattle available and feeder supplies will remain
tight through the first half of 2007."
Still, AMS reporters point out, "The big negative factors aren't getting
any relief. Orbiting feed costs, corn at a 10-year high and more than
$3.50/bu., staying in outer space. Corn is up another 15¢ this
week. A year ago, corn was around $1.65/bu. Large areas of drought
conditions are getting dryer and expanding. Winter wheat needs moisture
to germinate. Cattle numbers in feedlots are still above a year ago."
The summary below reflects the week ended Nov. 24 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:
| Summary Table
| State|| Volume ||Steers || Heifers
| Calf Weight|| 500-550 lbs. || 600-650 lbs.
|| 700-750 lbs.
|| 500-550 lbs.
|| 600-650 lbs. ||
700-750 lbs. |
| MO || 22,900 || $111.24 || $102.38 || $100.71 || $98.52 || $98.34 || $99.85 |
| OK || 14,000 || $117.27 || $103.59 || $103.20 || $101.36 || $97.06 || $90.434 |
| TX ||12,100 || $108.01 || $100.68 || $92.35 || $95.03 ||
$93.98 || $88.474 |
| IA ||11,400
||$105.352 || $105.79 || $101.56 ||$99.484 || $101.45 |
| SD ||10,500
||$109.812 || $104.44 || $1049.10 ||$98.87 || $95.41 |
| NE ||8,100 || $114.86 ||$113.922
|| $103.632 || **
| CO ||6,900
||$98.14 || ** ||
$100.84 ||$96.682 || ** |
| WY ||4,300
||$104.592 || **
||** || $94.536 |
| MT ||4,000
|| $106.422 || **
||$98.082 || ** |
| AR ||3,300
|| $92.87 || $989.784 || $910.35 || $85.48 || $85.00 |
| KS ||1,200 || ** || $104.31 || $102.846 || $103.98 ||$95.55 || $90.304 |
| WA* ||800 || ** ||$93.852 || ** ||
** ||** || ** |
| VA ||4,500
|| ** ||$103.61 || **
||$80.55 || ** |
* 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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