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Get ready to add a new acronym to your vocabulary -- KORUS FTA --
the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. On April 1, at the last possible
moment, the U.S. and South Korea reached agreement on a free-trade deal
(FTA) -- the most significant trade agreement since NAFTA.
Click here to read more of this story by Troy
Futility, they say, is doing the same thing over and over and
expecting different results. U.S. trade negotiators are apparently
willing to put that old adage to one more test.
Having been surprised by South Korea's recalcitrance in stepping back
from the zero-tolerance agreement on boneless beef that the U.S.
accepted in 2006 as a hoped-for starting point in re-instituting a full
beef trade with South Korea, U.S. negotiators seemingly hopped back into
the same pot.
At one time, the U.S. contended that failure to fully reopen beef trade
-- even though the issue wasn't part of the free-trade agreement (FTA)
itself -- was a deal breaker. Later, U.S. negotiators seemed to back
away from that position, which some folks chalked up to being a
strategic move to lessen its importance as a bargaining chip in the
South Korean mind. Meanwhile, the South Korea contingent remained
steadfast in its contention that even the mention of opening up rice as
a trade issue in an FTA negotiation was a deal breaker.
When the dust cleared on a U.S.-Korea FTA early this week, both sides
were heralding a great outcome, but the beef issue was still in limbo
and rice was strictly off the books. It seems the U.S. side -- a little
hungrier for an agreement -- was mollified by South Korean assurances
that it would open the market at some later date -- perhaps even by
year's end. Seems like we've heard that song somewhere before.
South Korea needs this FTA, and the U.S. bargaining position will never
be stronger. The Korea Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy on
Thursday said foreign direct investment in South Korea will increase by
more than $3 billion, thanks to the FTA.
Citing a report compiled by the Korean Institute for International
Economic Policy released last year, the ministry said foreign direct
investments worth a combined $3 billion will flow into the nation --
$500 million from the United States, $2.5 billion from European Union
member countries and Japan.
South Korea's textile, automobile, information technology and steel
industries are likely to be among the biggest winners in a U.S-Korea
FTA, the Korea Herald reports, as their export volumes could jump
due to tariff elimination. Ratification of an FTA obligates the U.S. to
immediately remove its 2.5% tariff on Korean autos with below 3,000-cc
engine capacities, with tariffs being phased out over a three-year
period on vehicles with engines of over 3,000-cc capacities. Automobiles
account for 25% of Korean exports to the U.S., with Korea selling
700,000 cars in the U.S. market annually while just 4,000 U.S. vehicles
are sold in Korea.
"Over 95% of Korean exports, in terms of value, are manufactured items,"
said Kim Do-hoon, an economist at the Korea Institute for Industrial
Economics and Trade. The Korea-U.S. FTA means that 94% of Korean
manufactured goods will undergo early tariff elimination.
The Yonhap News reported today that South Korean Vice Finance
Minister Chin Dong-soo said Korea has no plans to renegotiate an FTA
with the U.S. There's been speculation that additional talks might be
held over the beef-market question but Chin said the details of the
U.S.-Korea FTA are done.
Understandably, many U.S. folks are incensed at the outcome of these FTA
negotiations. Beef producers should be, too, and legislators should
stand firm against this FTA until South Korea fully reopens its beef
market in accordance with international standards.
For a summary of the Korea-U.S. FTA, visit www.keia.org/4-Current/USTRKORUSFTAFactSheet.pdf
-- Joe Roybal
Business gurus ask this question in a lot of different ways, but
their point is really quite simple. The problem usually isn't that a
business is making too many mistakes but that it's not making enough
Business gurus make the case that if you're not experiencing failures,
then you're not taking enough chances, stepping outside of the box, or
thinking boldly enough. Such advice is easy to disregard in agriculture,
however, as just about every day presents several minor disasters that
Problems, however, aren't the same as aggressively attempting so many
new things that you're discovering what doesn't work. It's difficult to
break out of a commodity mindset, where everything is essentially done
the same, and your constant focus is on making incremental changes
rather than trying innovative new ideas.
Even when we commit to being willing to accept failure, and to think
outside of the box -- and not just in terms of making incremental
improvements -- there's still a major obstacle. That is trying to create
Being radical isn't something that makes a typical cattleman get
excited. But the important thing to remember is that being radical
doesn't mean you have to reinvent or re-imagine your business from the
beginning. It means implementing five or six new things in your business
that potentially can result in a revolutionary breakthrough.
-- Troy Marshall
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The U.S. and South Korea failed to reach an agreement on the
resumption of U.S. beef exports. This caused a strong reaction by many
in Washington, D.C., who indicated they'll withhold support for the
U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement unless Korea reopens its market to U.S.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said
it was "an entirely unacceptable outcome." Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI),
chairman of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, had earlier
written the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA stating that the "FTA
must include the resumption of full market access to U.S. beef prior to
the conclusion of the FTA negotiations."
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) said, "If we aren't
selling beef in Korea, the benefits of this trade agreement and the
potential of the Korean market hold little value to U.S. cattle
producers. Therefore, NCBA is withholding support... until commercially
viable beef trade is occurring based on the internationally recognized
guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health
Similarly, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said,
"Commercially viable trade for U.S. beef based on OIE guidelines must be
in place with South Korea before AFBF will consider supporting the
U.S-South Korea Free Trade Agreement. South Korea continues to
unjustifiably ban imports of U.S. beef without regard to international
Meanwhile, the National Pork Producers Council praised the agreement,
saying it will "generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new pork
exports and ensure that U.S pork exports to South Korea will be on an
equal footing with pork from other countries." U.S. pork exports to
South Korea in 2006 increased in volume by 52%, and by 50% in value,
over 2005 exports. South Korea is the 4th-largest export market for U.S.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C.,
The U.S. and South Korea reached an agreement on a free-trade
agreement (KORUS FTA). U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Susan
Schwab said, "This is a historic moment for our two countries. KORUS FTA
will provide U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers
exciting new market opportunities in a growing, dynamic country. It will
contribute to Korea's successful transformation to a 21st century
Korea is currently the seventh-largest trading party for the U.S., with
two-way trade valued at $72 billion in 2006.
According to USTR, U.S. agriculture will receive the following benefits
under the FTA:
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C.,
- "More than half ($1.6 billion) of current U.S. farm exports to
Korea will become duty-free immediately, including wheat, feed corn,
soybeans for crushing, hides and skins, and cotton, plus a broad range
of high-value agricultural products such as almonds, pistachios, bourbon
whiskey, wine, raisins, grape juice, orange juice, fresh cherries,
frozen French fries, frozen orange juice concentrate, and pet food.
- U.S. farm products benefiting from expanded market opportunities
with two-year tariff phase-outs include avocados, lemons, dried prunes,
and sunflower seeds.
- U.S. farm products benefiting from expanded market opportunities
with five-year tariff phase-outs include food preparations, chocolate
and chocolate confectionary, sweet corn, sauces and preparations, other
foods and forage (alfalfa), breads and pastry, grapefruit and dried
- Other U.S. farm products benefiting from expanded market access
opportunities through tariff rate quotas include skim and whole milk
powder, whey for food use, cheese, dextrins and modified starches,
barley, popcorn, and soybeans for food use.
- Market access was also expanded for beef and pork products, pears,
apples, grapes and oranges."
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April showers bring May flowers; they also give you time to begin
planning and preparing for the upcoming breeding season. Jack Whittier,
Colorado State University (CSU) Extension beef specialist, offers these
-- CSU release
- Purchase replacement bulls or line up artificial-insemination
services at least 30 days before the start of breeding season. New bulls
should be brought into their environment about a month prior to turnout
so they can adapt to their new surroundings.
- Use EPDs along with visual observation to select bulls that best fit
- Have your vet perform a breeding soundness exam on all bulls to be
used this year. It's important to find sub-fertile bulls early to allow
for replacements to be purchased, or for the bull in question to be
treated and rechecked.
- Make final replacement-heifer selections based on performance,
weight, pelvic size and reproductive tract score. Immunize your
replacement heifers for respiratory diseases like IBR and BVD.
- Breed heifers in a short (42-45 days) breeding season. Some
producers like to breed heifers a month before the start of breeding
season for mature cows. First-calf heifers normally take longer than
older cows to return to heat after calving. If first-calf heifers calve
early, they're synched with the older cows for their second calf. In
addition, you can watch the heifers more closely early in the calving
season and provide additional attention if needed.
Future ethanol production and demand for distiller's grains will
lead to lower cattle prices and higher consumer meat prices, David
Anderson, a Texas Cooperative Extension economist, told attendees of the
2007 Texas Ag Forum in Austin recently.
Click here to read more of this story by
Retail gasoline prices jumped 9.7¢ to $2.707/gal., while diesel
rose 11.4¢ to $2.79/gal., for the week of April 2, reports the
Energy Information Administration. The increase represented the ninth
consecutive week of increases for gasoline, which is now 11.9¢/gal.
higher than at this time last year. Meanwhile, diesel prices are now
17.3¢/gal. higher than at this time last year.
All regions reported higher gasoline prices, with the East Coast up
9.6¢ to $2.671/gal., the Midwest up 9.6¢ to $2.614, and the
Gulf Coast up 12.3¢ to $2.565. In the Rocky Mountains, prices
jumped 8.1¢ to $2.619, and the West Coast was up 8¢ to $3.096.
California was up 7.6¢ to $3.228/gal., 48.5¢/gal. over last
Meanwhile, all regions reported price increases for diesel. The East
Coast was up 10.7¢ to $2.764/gal., the Midwest up 12.5¢ to
$2.78, the Gulf Coast up 12.3¢ to $2.766, and Rocky Mountain prices
up 10.4¢ to $2.884. The West Coast jumped 8.2¢ to $2.885/gal.,
while California rose 7¢ to $2.939 -- 12.7¢/gal. over this
time last year.
-- Joe Roybal
Operations stopped last week at the last remaining U.S. horse
slaughter facility -- Cavel International in Dekalb, IL, after a U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia ruled it illegal for horse
plants to pay USDA for voluntary inspection services. USDA had agreed to
allow paid voluntary inspection for the nation's three remaining horse
slaughter plants last year, after Congress cut off funding for federal
Click here to read more of this story by
Association and Burt Rutherford
Producers expect to harvest 63.1 million acres of all types of hay
in 2007, up 4% from 2006 harvested acres, according to the USDA Planting
Intentions report released last Friday. About 60.8 million acres of hay
were harvested in 2006 -- 21.4 million acres in alfalfa, and 39.4
million in other hays.
Harvested hay acres are expected to increase in 2007 throughout the
Great Plains and Southeast. Because last year's drought reduced hay
production and supplies, harvested area is expected to increase by more
than 100,000 acres/state throughout the Great Plains and in Alabama,
Missouri and Minnesota.
South Dakota anticipates the largest increase -- 700,000 acres more than
in 2006. Harvested acres in the Pacific Coast region, Tennessee Valley,
the Northeast and much of the Corn Belt are expected to decline or
remain unchanged from 2006. Iowa is expected to register the largest
decrease in harvested area, with a decline of 100,000 acres. California
hay growers expect to harvest 50,000 fewer acres.
USDA predicts U.S. corn plantings to increase by 15% in 2007 to 90.5
million acres -- the highest acreage planted in 63 years. Those
increases are expected to come at the expense of cotton and soybean
acres, down 20% and 11%, respectively. Meanwhile, wheat plantings are
expected to be up by 5% over 2006 at 60.3 million acres. The 2007 winter
wheat planted area, at 44.5 million acres, is 10% above last year and up
1% from the previous estimate.
-- USDA release
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Year-round grazing is a reality in the Southeast, an advantage that
Clemson University and Auburn University want their home-state producers
to take to the bank. The two universities have joined Pasture-Based Beef
Systems for Appalachia, a research program also involving USDA, Virginia
Polytech and West Virginia University.
"There's a growing demand for forage-fed beef across the country," says
Steve Meadows, resident director at Clemson's Edisto Research and
Education Center (REC). Over the next five years, he'll supervise
development of a herd of 150 brood cows to help identify the genetics
for herd improvement, develop suitable forage systems and produce a
Besides being leaner than grain-fed beef and containing greater
concentrations of desirable fatty acids and antioxidants, pasture-raised
animals contain less total fat and saturated fat per serving, he says.
Research also shows such beef contains almost twice the amount of
conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) -- a potent anticarcinogen naturally
produced in beef cattle -- than grain-finished beef.
The search for the best cattle breeds for forage systems has already
begun with 30 head of Angus and Hereford. The project will also look at
which forage species are suitable for finishing cattle in the
geographical area and how they impact meat quality. Edisto REC intends
to have beef ready for tenderness and taste-panel testing within two
"More than ever, consumers want their food to be produced in an
environment that minimizes the use of pesticides and antibiotics,"
Meadows says. "This project minimizes animal confinement, reduces the
concentration of animal waste, and replaces cereal grains such as corn
and oats with forages that grow readily here."
-- Tom Lollis, Clemson University, Southeast
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The 2007 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Annual Research Symposium
and Meeting is June 6-9 at the Hilton Fort Collins in Fort Collins, CO.
BIF was founded 40 years ago as a means to standardize programs and
methodology -- and to create greater awareness, acceptance and usage --
of beef cattle performance concepts. This year's meeting features
opportunities for producer input on guiding the future of genetic
evaluation and genetic improvement of the U.S. beef herd, as well as
becoming informed about the field's latest research findings and
The meeting kicks off the evening of June 6 with a National Association
of Animal Breeders symposium examining "40 Years of Beef A.I." The
Thursday session begins at 8 a.m. with a look back at BIF history,
before moving into the day's focus of "Performance programs at a
crossroads." Among the day's topics are: "Who benefits and who pays from
genetic improvement," "Are beef genetics research, education and
Extension relevant?" "Does the seedstock industry focus on the needs of
the commercial cow-calf producer?" and "Defining the ideal beef animal
-- how will we get there?"
Friday's morning program will tackle the theme: "Challenges to
conventional wisdom." Topics to be explored include: "Can we build the
ideal animal?" "Why haven't we seen an improvement in quality grade?"
and "Are there benefits to using DNA markers?" Lunch and committee
meetings will make up the afternoon program.
To learn more about the conference agenda, visit: www.beefimprovement.org/2007_BIF_Program.pdf.
-- Joe Roybal
Kansas State University's Beef Cattle and Forage Crops Field Day is
May 3 at the Southeast Agricultural Research Center near Mound Valley.
The program begins at 9 a.m. with presentations on: utilization of
distiller's grains by grazing cattle, cattle economic outlook, cattle
insect control update, post-drought pasture management, and the latest
fescue variety grazing research. For more info, call 620-421-4826.
-- Joe Roybal
Texas A&M University (TAMU) and the Texas Beef Council are teaming
up on a four-part series that tackles beef-quality management of calves
and cull cows. All sessions are in San Angelo.
"Cull cows and bulls typically make up 20% of an operation's income,"
says Dan Hale, TAMU Extension meats specialist. "We aim to help
producers learn how to maximize cull-cow profits." The sessions, which
also will look at feeder calves and fed cattle, include:
Registration is $45. Call Janice Alexander at 325-659-6523.
- Session 1 -- "Feeder-Calf Evaluation And Management," April 26,
Producers Livestock Auction, will cover nutrition, genetics and health
factors affecting the value of feeder cattle.
- Session 2 -- "Cull-Cow Management Dollars And Sense," July 12,
Angelo State University. Participants will tour a cow-processing plant
and observe cattle from holding pens through fabrication of beef cuts.
- Session 3 -- "Factors That Impact Feedyard Performance And Finished
Steer Evaluation," Sept. 27, Angelo State University. Group will review
the feeder calves evaluated in Session 1 as they complete the feeding
phase of the production chain.
- Session 4 -- Beef 706 -- "Finished Cattle And Carcass Value
Wrap-up," Oct. 9-10, Angelo State University. This 1 1/2-day session
will follow the Session 1 feeder cattle through harvest, grading and
-- Burt Rutherford
The "study" published in Human Reproduction ("Study Links
Mom's Beef Diet & Male Infertility," March 30 BEEF Cow-Calf
Weekly) is an indicator of just how suspicious consumers are of
hormone and steroid use in beef production. Never mind that the study is
a complete sham from a scientific standpoint, the fact is that the
public is ready to believe any negative garbage about this practice.
The appropriate response for the beef industry is to stop using these
products (implants). The old adage of "the customer is always right"
isn't a bad one. It's not difficult to produce beef without these
products; much of the rest of the world does.
Suspending use of these products would:
-- Butch Shadbolt
- Garner tremendous positive response from our consumers;
- Reduce the total level of production of domestic beef, resulting
- Increase the quality of U.S. beef, as there's ample evidence that
implants have a detrimental effect on quality grade;
- Open the European Union and other foreign markets to U.S. beef;
- And eliminate possible unknown health risks. If there is heath
issues associated with these products, which I doubt, the risk is
hundreds of times greater for the people involved in cattle production
than it is for the general public.
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