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January 12, 2007

Table of Contents
Kickoff For The Industry's Super Bowl
Beef Cook-Off ® Introduces Innovative New Categories
2007 Looks Better For Feeding, Worse For Cow-Calf
Central Plains Prepares For Round Three
Colorado Governor Brands PETA As "Losers," "Frauds"
National Animal ID System Pays Off During Blizzard
Permanent Ethanol Tax Incentives Proposed
Energy Legislation Introduced
Permanent Disaster Assistance Bill Introduced
Peterson Aims For September Passage Of New Farm Bill
September 2007 Implementation Of COOL Proposed
Cattle Can Use Snow As A Water Source
Holistic Workshops Planned For South Dakota
Protect Against Frozen Vaccines Stored In Refrigerators
Range Management Workshop Set For Evanston, WY
Setting Some Goals For The New Year
Wisconsin Is National Leader In Premises Registration
Send South Korea A Message


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Our Perspective
Kickoff For The Industry's Super Bowl
I'm not talking about the National Football League, but rather the Super Bowl of cattle shows -- the National Western Stock Show. Cattlemen from across the country and the world will converge on Denver, CO, the next two weeks for what's billed as the biggest cattle show in the world.

If the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) was just another cattle show its sheer size would make it significant, but it's truly a unique event. It begins with the pen and carload shows that highlight nearly every major beef-producing breed. It also attracts a good number of the nation's leading performance breeders -- folks you won't likely find in a show ring at any other time unless it's with their kids.

NWSS is also unique in its number of cattle sales. Literally thousands of head will exchange hands over the next couple of weeks, while the "stock show" is considered to be a bellwether event for the upcoming bull sale season, setting the tone for prices.

Like the other big stock shows (Houston, Kansas City, Forth Worth, etc.), NWSS draws hundreds of thousands of people and exposes them to modern ag and cattle production. These are folks who would have absolutely no contact with cattle producers otherwise. It's one of the industry's greatest showcases.
-- Troy Marshall


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Beef Marketing
Beef Cook-Off ® Introduces Innovative New Categories
The Beef Checkoff-funded, 27th National Beef Cook-Off is accepting entries for the Sept. 11-13 event in Chicago, IL. America's premier amateur beef-cooking contest is focusing on a "Seize Life" theme, encompassing the essence of the contest's new categories and the role beef plays in an active lifestyle.

This year's event will demonstrate how beef satisfies consumers' appetites, enabling them to enjoy the food they're eating and also feel good about their choices. Underscoring the industry's commitment to innovative beef dishes, the cook-off is introducing four new categories: New Dynamic Beef Dishes, Nuevo Latino Beef Recipes, Kids in the Kitchen, and "Small Plates, Big Taste" Grilled for Everyday Entertaining.

Twenty-five national finalists, including five parent/child teams, will compete for the "Best of Beef" grand prize of $50,000 and eight other cash prizes -- with a total of $110,000 up for grabs. Family chefs are encouraged to enter their original beef recipes by March 31, 2007.
For more info, visit www.beefcookoff.org/.
-- Beef Checkoff release


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Industry News
2007 Looks Better For Feeding, Worse For Cow-Calf
Red ink was the story for cattle feeders in 2006, Livestock Info Marketing Center (LMIC) analysts say. Meanwhile, many cow-calf operations did rather well in 2006, despite widespread drought, higher production costs and lower cattle prices.

LMIC analysts expect cattle feeders to better the dismal results of 2006, while cow-calf returns in 2007 may be near those of 2006 if corn prices stay under control.

"In 2006, annual average cattle feeding returns based on all production costs and feeding in a commercial Southern Plains feedlot were the worst on record (LMIC estimates go back to 1975). Average monthly losses per steer sold in calendar year 2006 were about $75/head. For the year, only three months had positive returns (January, August and September) and five sale months had losses exceeding $100/steer," LMIC reports.

Meanwhile estimated cow-calf returns over all cash costs of production, plus pasture valued at rental rates, remained positive in 2006, reporters say. But those returns declined significantly from 2005, thanks to higher production costs and lower prices for calves and cull cows. In the Southern Plains, LMIC estimated returns over cash costs plus pasture rent were about $48/cow, the lowest cow-calf return since 2002, and $87 less than 2005. In the LMIC calculated cow-calf returns, the last negative returns year was 1998, the report says.

To make money in 2007, cattle feeders must be more disciplined in their cattle-buying decisions and feed input costs, LMIC says. Meanwhile, while cow-calf operations face lower calf prices in 2007, cull-cow prices should strengthen.

"With normal weather, cow-calf production costs will at least stabilize in 2007 and could even be a little below 2006 in many regions. Still, cow calf returns will be similar to 2006's and well below the profit levels posted in 2004 and 2005," LMIC reporters say.
-- Joe Roybal


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Central Plains Prepares For Round Three
Ranchers and feedyard operators in the Plains had some very nice weather the last several days to aid their recuperation from the first two major storms that hit the area. Yet another storm was expected to move in arriving at about the time you read this.

The newest storm wasn't expected to bring precipitation on a level with the others but did promise to deliver frigid temperatures. And much of the area isn't expected to get above freezing for more than a week, with lows well below zero, adding even more stress for the cattle and people who care of them.

The winter market has been tough to materialize. At the time of this writing, packer and feeders were as much as $6 apart on asking and bidding prices. There's been a lot of talk about packers scaling back hours to try to drive beef prices and improve packer margins. All the talk must have helped as the beef complex took a huge jump on Wednesday, and cattle feeders are expected to win this latest standoff.

Meanwhile, cattle death losses in Colorado were at 8,000-10,000 head, with concerns that the final total could reach 15,000.
-- Troy Marshall


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Colorado Governor Brands PETA As "Losers," "Frauds"
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens castigated People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) last week after the fringe group criticized efforts to save cattle stranded by the recent holiday blizzards. Owens leveled words like "a bunch of losers" and "frauds" and advised radio listeners to KRFX to refrain from contributing to the activist group.

"The entire situation could have been avoided for cattle and other farm animals if factory farms weren't doing these things and keeping them outdoors all the time," a PETA spokesman said in a KRFX radio interview. "You're going to save them and then and in six months they're going to be killed and end up on someone's plate, so I don't know that it's really the most noble cause."

Later, Owens told the same radio crew, "they're frauds. I just signed an executive order to have the Colorado National Guard, at some risk to those men and women, try to save these cattle and it's amazing that PETA doesn't want us to feed freezing cattle.

"It's a strange group of people," Owens told listeners. "Don't send money to PETA."
-- Joe Roybal


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National Animal ID System Pays Off During Blizzard
Premises registration paid off during livestock relief efforts in the aftermath of the recent Plains blizzards, says Colorado's Department of Ag. Telephone calls directly to ranchers in southeast Colorado, made possible by premises registration info of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), helped evaluate the safety of those ranchers' families and the well being of Colorado livestock during the blizzard recovery operation.

Those with registered premises were called early on by state animal health officials. The phone calls helped locate animals and find out if they have had access to feed.

"Starvation and dehydration are certainly animal health concerns and we are pleased that we could utilize the system in this emergency situation," said Colorado State Veterinarian John Maulsby.

Added Colorado Division of Emergency Management Director, George Epp: "Having direct access to livestock owners gave us the opportunity to quickly assess the situation. Protecting the health of Colorado livestock is a top priority to this operation and NAIS was a big help."

Aerial surveillance crews continue to search for additional herds. Meanwhile, the Colorado and Wyoming National Guard continue with hay drops to stranded livestock. More than 70 tons of hay had been delivered by helicopters and a C-130 military transport plane by last weekend.
-- Joe Roybal


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Permanent Ethanol Tax Incentives Proposed
Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) introduced the "Renewable Fuels and Energy Independence Promotion Act" this week. It would make permanent the biodiesel and ethanol tax incentive, as well as the small agri-biodiesel producer and small ethanol producer credits.

Pomeroy said, "We must do everything we can to encourage the production of renewable fuels as our nation strives for energy independence. Making this tax credit for biodiesel and ethanol permanent is a critical component of that effort." The biodiesel tax credit expires in 2008 and the ethanol tax credit expires in 2010.

Meanwhile, The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Iowa Pork Producers Association told the Senate Ag committee this week of their concerns with the "rapid rise" in ethanol demand. They cited a study by Iowa State University's Center for Ag and Rural Development (CARD) that said "current crude oil prices and government policies allow the ethanol industry to pay up to $4.05/bu. for corn."

Former USDA economist William Tierney predicts the annual usage rate of corn will be more than 10 billion bu. by the end of 2009 if all ethanol plants currently under construction or planned come on line. The 2006 corn crop is estimated to be 10.7 billion bu.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent


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Government
Energy Legislation Introduced
Two key bills regarding renewable fuels were introduced in the Senate on the first day of session:
  • The Bio Fuels Security Act by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Dick Lugar (R-IN) Barack Obama (D-IL), Joe Biden (D-DE), and Byron Dorgan (D-ND). This legislation would increase the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to 60 billion gals. of ethanol and biodiesel by 2030. The current RFS is 7.5 billion gals. by 2012. The bill would require large oil companies to install E85 pumps at their stations resulting in about 50% of all major brand gasoline stations nationwide having E85 pumps available within a decade.

  • The American Fuels Act by Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL), Dick Lugar (R-IN), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) would increase the production of cellulosic biomass ethanol to 250 million gals. by 2012; require 2 billion gals. of alternative diesels to be mixed into the 40-billion-gal. annual national diesel pool by 2015; provide automakers with tax incentives to produce additional Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs); and a short term 35¢/gal. tax credit for E-85 fuel.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent


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Permanent Disaster Assistance Bill Introduced
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced legislation to establish a permanent disaster assistance program under the farm bill.

The bill would provide for a crop and quality loss program with a 35% loss threshold to be eligible, and a payment rate of 65%. It would require producers receiving crop/quality loss payments to participate in the crop insurance program for the next two years, provide for a Livestock Assistance Program to compensate ranchers for feed losses, and a Livestock Indemnity Program to compensate ranchers for losses.

Dorgan said, "We need to strengthen our farm safety net so our producers don't have to worry that a weather-related disaster will prevent them from staying on the farm from one year to the next."

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Ag Committee, has advocated a permanent disaster program and indicated it will be addressed during the 2007 farm bill debate. Joining Dorgan as cosponsors of the legislation were Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kent Conrad (D-ND).
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent


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Peterson Aims For September Passage Of New Farm Bill
House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) plans to have a new farm bill through the House, House-Senate conference committee, and on President Bush's desk before the 2002 law expires Sept. 30. In remarks to the American Farm Bureau Federation this week, Peterson said he expects the new farm legislation to look "a lot like we have now" with some changes such as a permanent disaster assistance provision.

Peterson said he also believes Congress will pass disaster legislation that will cover crop losses in 2005 and 2006. He expects the House to pass a $3-billion disaster bill among the first items after the body completes its "first 100 hours" priorities.

Peterson also said he expects renewable fuels "to drive this farm bill," and he would like to see 50% of the fuel in America be renewable fuel, but not just from corn.

"We've got to do cellulosic, too," he said. "The issue will become: How do we produce the necessary feedstocks?"

More research is needed to figure out what grows best in different parts of the country, and until enough cellulosic ethanol plants are built to provide an adequate market for switchgrass, straw and other feedstocks, the farm bill might be changed to include a program that pays farmers to produce those crops, he said. "The country needs to start growing them now."

Peterson said he intends to get the bill out of the House before the August recess, while Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, intends to do the same. Then Congress could work out a conference agreement over the August break, finish the tough issues in the early part of September and get the bill on the president's desk for signing by the end of that month.
-- Forrest Laws, Farm Press


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September 2007 Implementation Of COOL Proposed
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) introduced H.R. 357, which would implement mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on Sept. 30, 2007, one year earlier than current law. This issue will be considered during the debate of the 2007 farm bill.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent


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Tips for Profit
Cattle Can Use Snow As A Water Source
Due to recent bad weather in the Plains, the loss of electricity and drifting of snow has left some livestock without access to water sources, says University of Nebraska (UN) animal scientist Rick Rasby at beef.unl.edu/. But Canadian and U.S. studies indicate adult cattle, sheep and horses are able to use snow as their primary source of water, he says.

"Research shows the heat produced from feeding/grazing and normal body metabolism is more than adequate to melt the ingested snow and bring it to body temperature," he says. He adds there were no metabolic differences observed between animals given snow or water, and apparently no additional metabolic energy required for cattle wintered in this manner.

"The Canadians concluded that snow provided producers with an additional option as a water source for livestock during the Alberta winter," he says.

In fact, Quinn Cattle Co. in Northwest Nebraska, working with UN animal scientists, has applied this research with excellent results, Rasby reports. Over a five-year period, the ranch has wintered adult cows from 45 to 70 days with snow as their major source of water.

"They stressed the importance of cattle knowing how to eat snow because it is a learned behavior," Rasby says. "It's also critical that adequate snow is available, and it doesn't form a hard crust that prevents cattle from obtaining enough snow to meet their needs."

Rasby says reports indicate no adverse effects to the fetuses of such dams, but lactating cows are unlikely to obtain enough water from snow and suffer a reduced milk output.
-- Rick Rasby, University of Nebraska


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Holistic Workshops Planned For South Dakota
The South Dakota Grassland Coalition is partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to host five, free workshops on holistic resource management (HRM) across South Dakota in January, February and March. HRM is a goal-centered, decision model.

Featured speaker is Wayne Berry, a producer and associate professor of economics and farm management at Williston (ND) State College. He's also certified as a holistic educator by the Center of Holistic Management in Albuquerque, NM.

The workshop will focus on managing resource profitability, which includes the process of setting the three-part goal, making consistently sound decisions and monitoring for continuous improvement.

Workshops are Jan. 25-26 in Ipswich; Feb. 20-21 in Rapid City; Feb. 22-23 in Bison; and March 6-7 in Mitchell. An advanced-level workshop is Feb. 6-7 in Kadoka. For more info, contact Kelly Stout at 605-224-1818 ext. 5, or kelly.stout@sd.usda.gov; or visit the appropriate local NRCS office.
-- Kindra Gordon


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Protect Against Frozen Vaccines Stored In Refrigerators
Chances are, when you purchased a new refrigerator for the house, you moved the old one to the barn. Problem is, in addition to being worn out, these old units can be very inefficient compared to modern refrigerators. They freeze items placed near the rear element; in the summer, they barely keep cool because the doors don't seal well.

Freezing is one of the worst events that can happen to livestock pharmaceutical products. It's something that can easily happen to everything in the old 'fridge over a large part of the country during the winter.

The above scenario is much too often the case, says Ron Torell, University of Nevada (UN) Cooperative Extension livestock specialist.

"Improperly stored vaccines are a leading cause of immune-response failure," he says. "Not only can this mean money down the drain, but when we use these improperly stored vaccines, we get a false sense of security that our cattle are protected."

Most labels suggest storing vaccines between 35°F and 45°F.

Temps above or below those recommended on vaccine labels will adversely affect all vaccines, killed or modified-live, says Mike Lathrop, Pfizer Animal Health technical services vet. The impact depends on the vaccine, and the duration and degree of variance.

Killed vaccines, as well as many modified-live vaccines, include an adjuvant to enhance the immune response. When vaccines with an adjuvant freeze, the adjuvant, or portions of the adjuvant, usually separate from the antigen(s) in the vaccine.

"The result is we can no longer expect or have confidence the vaccine will function to the level of the efficacy claims stated on the label," Lathrop adds.

David Thain, DVM, UN Extension vet, says there's also the possibility freezing may increase the amount of free endotoxin in a bacterin, which can increase the potential for adverse reactions.

"We recommend throwing vaccines out that have reached temperatures outside the ranges recommended on the label," Thain says.

In 2005-2006, UN Extension conducted a field study of refrigerators used by ranchers to evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of these vaccine-storage facilities. Researchers found 25% of the refrigerators failed to maintain vaccines in the safe range, and several refrigerators actually froze vaccines to 10°F for an extended period of time.

Refrigerators that froze vaccines in winter allowed heating to unsafe levels during summer. In another part of the study, 100% of "feed store" refrigerators maintained adequate temperatures during the entire period.

"Even if you purchase a good refrigerator for the barn, an extended subzero cold spell will freeze everything if the unit isn't in a heated room," Torell explains. "Turning the refrigerator off will do no good. If the ambient outside temperature is zero degrees for an extended period of time, the refrigerator will not maintain temperatures within the safe range."

He also warns a refrigerator that's seldom opened creeps down in temperature, just like a refrigerator that's continually opened will creep up in temperature. Vaccines stored on the door will be warmer, while vaccines near the freezer compartment will be colder.

A good refrigerator stored in an environmentally controlled room is a must. A thermometer that records minimum and maximum temps can be purchased for $14 and allows monitoring of pharmaceutical products in storage.

Torell also recommends buying only enough pharmaceutical products for your immediate needs.

"This is going to require advanced planning and ordering of vaccines," he says. "But a little attention to the seemingly minor detail of proper vaccine storage can pay big dividends."
-- Clint Peck


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Range Management Workshop Set For Evanston, WY
Animal nutrition, grazing management and new plant development for improving pastures and rangelands are topics of a Jan. 30 seminar in Evanston, WY. Sponsored by University of Wyoming Extension and USDA's Ag Research Service (ARS), the 9:50 a.m.-3:30 p.m. workshop is in the Beeman-Cashin Building, and includes lunch.

Seminar topics include: new developments in pasture and range grasses, forage kochia for fall and winter grazing, utilizing legumes to enhance rangeland productivity, seeding and establishing irrigated and dry land pastures, grazing management underpinned by principles of plant growth, grazing strategies for improved pastures, and maximizing range improvement investments.

RSVP by Jan. 23 to Bridger Feuz at 307-783-0570 or brfeuz@uintacounty.com.
-- Joe Roybal


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Setting Some Goals For The New Year
There's been a tremendous amount of good research done on the value of setting goals, the importance of writing them down, making them specific, setting timelines, making them measurable, creating a plan and implementing that plan. Most people have had success by truly setting goals, and floundered in areas where they haven't, so you would think that it would be a very simple and routine process for every individual and business to set goals.

In ag, most of the larger entities, associations and allied industry companies have strategic plans that identify their key result areas and set out concrete goals for the short and long term. But this exercise still is rarely done at the individual producer level.

There are probably a couple of reasons for this. The first is that to set a goal of increasing profit margin by 5% over the commodity market, or increasing weaning percentage by 4%, or cutting death losses in half, etc., entails first having benchmarks by which to measure your progress. Where you were a year ago, or over the last several years?

It would also entail having a system to adjust those numbers according to outside variables that might cause them to fluctuate, whether it be weather, market factors, etc. And the truth is most producers simply do not have that information. Without a system to adjust for outside variables to make year-to-year comparisons, it's a challenge to measure whether you're making progress.

Another reason cattle operators often don't create a strategic plan or set concrete goals is many folks don't think they can afford the time. They simply carry the goals in their head. Unfortunately, unless these goals are written down, and the critical areas and eventual results monitored, progress is stunted.

Without engaging in a true strategic planning and goal process for your operation, odds are that when 2008 rolls around you'll have made small incremental improvements in many areas. In addition, you'll likely have failed considerably in one or two where outside forces will be blamed, and overall profitability will have remained largely unchanged.

It's not too late to make 2007 a very special year for your operational goals. The key is to start the process now.
-- Troy Marshall


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Animal ID
Wisconsin Is National Leader In Premises Registration
As of Dec. 26, eight states have registered at least 50% of their total livestock premises under the National Animal Identification System. Wisconsin leads the way with almost 54,000 premises (105%), followed by Idaho with 95.5%, Indiana with 70.2%, Utah with 64.8%, Pennsylvania with 62.1%, North Dakota with 56%, Michigan 55.7%, and New York at 51.8%. To view results for all states, click here: beef-mag.com/cowcalfweekly/nais-2006-year-end-report.

Based on census data, USDA estimates there are 1,433,582 livestock premises in the U.S. USDA revised the figure last fall from 2.1 million after removing duplications of operations with more than one livestock species. New census data will be available this year, Ed Curlett, public affairs director for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, tells BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly. He says Wisconsin has recorded a 105.1% premises registration record because there are more actual premises than indicated by the current estimate, which is based on five-year-old census data.

Among states with the most premises registered, Wisconsin again led the way with 53,989, followed by Pennsylvania with 26,255, Indiana with 24,428, Texas with 23,204, and Idaho with 17,912.

States with the lowest percentage of registered premises are led by Connecticut at 0.6%, Rhode Island at 1%, New Hampshire at 1.6%, Montana at 3.8%, and MIssissippi at 4.1%.

Animal owners can register their premises online at: animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/premises_id/register.shtml, or by phone, or mail, with their state, tribe, or territorial animal-health authority.
-- Joe Roybal


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Cow-Calf Weekly Mailbag
Send South Korea A Message
It's time we stop trying to deal with the South Koreans on the beef issue. We as a nation should initiate policies to stop, or apply tariffs to, their products coming into this country. As long as they do not negotiate in good faith, we should set up some friendly reminders that we are one of the major consumers of their products.

I realize they are a buyer of our pork and this could impact those producers but who knows how long it's going to be before they find something wrong with the pork and stop those imports (as soon as they find a cheaper supplier).
-- Royce Vincent
Brownsville, KY


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