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BEEF'S COW CALF WEEKLY    April 13, 2007  |  A PENTON MEDIA PUBLICATION
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    Table Of Contents
> Light At The End Of The Export Tunnel?
> Competition Means Winners & Losers
> Expect Every Acre Of Corn That Weather Will Allow
> Happy Days Are Here Again
> McDonald's Sets March Sales Record In Japan
> $2.81 Gas, $2.82 Diesel Forecast For Summer Averages
> Colorado State Offers Ag Camp
> Liver Flukes Is Topic Of RFD-TV Broadcast
> Long Run Of Profitability Hasn't Spawned Expansion
> Rural Development Money Available
> West Nile Warning: Mosquito Season Approaching
> Animal Fighting Legislation To The President
> Animal Welfare Requirements For Federal Meat Purchases
> Hearings To Address Livestock & Meat Issues
> Livestock Waste Legislation Gains Cosponsors
> USDA Farm Bill Proposal
> APHIS To Halt Cattle Imports From Coahuila
> Exotic Antelope Killed To Control Ticks
> April Issue Content Of BEEF Magazine Now Online
> Fred Provenza To Lead Grazing Behavior Workshop
> Managing Freeze-Damaged Alfalfa
> Time To Graze Winter Small-Grain Pastures
> Webinar On Ethanol's Effects On Livestock Is April 26



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    Our Perspective
      Light At The End Of The Export Tunnel?

It's been a long, tortuous route to get the market reopened with Korea. The subtleties and nuances of international negotiations are something most cattlemen aren't well suited for. Still, despite the fact the South Korean market is still essentially closed to U.S. product, it does appear Korea will allow bone-in beef, and effectively reopen its market to product under 30 months of age, in late May.

Korea indicated this week it would reopen the market if the U.S. was officially designated as a "controlled-risk country" for BSE by the OIE, as that group is expected to do in late May.

One industry observer commented recently how happy the U.S. beef industry should be to regain one of its top-three export markets for beef, while allowing South Korean negotiators to evade the appearance of caving in to U.S. demands in the recently concluded free-trade agreements (FTA). This resolution, he postulates, will allow South Korea to garner domestic support for the FTA, while the third-party designation by OIE will help calm Korean consumers.

I'm sure he's right. When the border reopens -- as I think it will -- it will be a win-win situation for both sides. But I still think the process took at least a year longer than it needed to be.
-- Troy Marshall

      Competition Means Winners & Losers

Remember that bumper sticker from the mid 1970s, when agricultural economics became so disastrous that there were farmers crashing tractors into the local bank in protest? It said: "Don't cuss the farmer with your mouth full."

Click here to read more of this story by Wes Ishmael

      Expect Every Acre Of Corn That Weather Will Allow

After USDA's recent report indicated that more acres were going to be planted to corn than any time in the last 60 years, the corn market responded by softening significantly. Meanwhile, people have started to talk about why the eventual acreage will actually be less than projected.

For one thing, fertilizer costs are rising, which will encourage a shift. Meanwhile, the basis has narrowed between corn and other grains, which may keep some acreage shift from occurring. And, with wet conditions in parts of the Corn Belt, and wetter than normal conditions expected the next 30 days, some corn simply won't be planted on time. Those acres likely will shift back to soybeans as a result.

I've always believed in the saying that "rain makes grain," and that concern about too much moisture at planting time usually ends up to be a positive from a harvest standpoint. This year is somewhat unique in this regard, as most farmers are trying to plant significantly more acres to corn, with the same equipment and labor as in the past. This means the window for error has been reduced.

Still, the market continues to send the signal that the most profitable crop for 2007 is corn, so expect every bit of corn that can be planted to be planted.
-- Troy Marshall

      Happy Days Are Here Again

South Korea to reopen. Beef demand soaring. Carcass weights down. Supplies to tighten. Fats trade for $100/cwt. or more. Feeders $10/cwt. higher than January. Corn acres higher, corn prices lower. Drought officially ends. Green grass is coming. These are some of the variations on the headlines we'll see this week in industry publications, and the exciting thing is that, for the most part, all seem to be true.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall

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    Beef Marketing
      McDonald's Sets March Sales Record In Japan

McDonald's Holdings Co. Japan says its monthly sales hit 43.05 billion yen in March, the highest level in the company's 36-year history, Japan Today reports. The record sales are attributed to the introduction of a new regular menu and limited-season products, such as the Mega-Mac, as well as offering round-the-clock service, the company says.

A Godzilla-sized Big Mac sourced from Australian beef, the Mega-Mac is a hamburger with four patties, with an extra bun in between, that sells for 350 yen ($2.95 U.S.), about three times more than a standard burger. Originally introduced as a short-term promotion, 3.3 million of the sandwiches were sold in the first four days, eventually reaching a record 11.5 million in three months, reports Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

Its popularity kick-started a mega-burger craze that saw competitors, such as Wendy's ("Big triple," $5.05) and Freshness ("Classic double-double burger," $5.72), join in, MLA says.
-- Joe Roybal

    Industry News
      $2.81 Gas, $2.82 Diesel Forecast For Summer Averages

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) says international tensions are amplifying the effects of already tight international petroleum markets as the summer season (April through September) begins. At the same time, unanticipated refinery problems in February and March, both in the U.S. and abroad, reduced the supply of gasoline resulting in seasonal price increases about a month earlier than usual.

U.S. retail gasoline prices have surged the last two months, rising more than 60¢/gal., but the rapid rate of price increase is expected to slow the next few months. During the summer season, EIA says the average monthly gasoline pump price will peak at an average of $2.87/gal. in May, compared with $2.98/gal. last July. Regular gasoline at retail is projected to average $2.81/gal. this summer, compared with $2.84 last summer.

According to EIA's weekly price survey, regular gasoline averaged $2.80/gal. on April 9 -- 12¢ over the year-ago level. California retail prices of $3.25/gal. are 45¢/gal. higher than a year ago.

Meanwhile, the average U.S. diesel price rose to $2.84/gal. in response to the refinery outages and higher crude oil prices. Retail diesel fuel prices are expected to average $2.82/gal. over the summer, down 6¢ from last summer.
-- Energy Information Administration

      Colorado State Offers Ag Camp

Colorado State University's College of Agriculture is offering 14- to 18-year-old youths a chance to learn about food-animal agriculture and equine science this summer. Called Camp Round-UP, the camp focuses on incorporating math, science and agriculture into an environment that fosters teamwork. Lessons will cover a wide range of animal agriculture, including beef, equine, dairy, sheep and wool, swine, poultry and meat sciences.

The program runs June 16-19 and costs $375; students who register before May 10 receive a $25 discount. Visit www.ansci.colostate.edu and click on Camp Round-UP in the Quicklinks column.
-- CSU Release

      Liver Flukes Is Topic Of RFD-TV Broadcast

A one-hour, live broadcast on liver flukes is set for April 23 at 8 p.m. (EDT) on RFD-TV. A panel of experts will offer tips on minimizing fluke risk, and will take questions at 866-547-9696. The Merial-sponsored program will be rebroadcast April 24, at 4 a.m. and 12 p.m. EDT; and April 29 at 3 a.m.
-- Merial news release

      Long Run Of Profitability Hasn't Spawned Expansion

The U.S. cow-calf sector has been profitable since 1999 and returns the last three years have been the highest the industry has experienced in more than 25 years. Ordinarily, such a record would be enough to encourage producers to increase their herd size, primarily by holding back heifers, says Jim Mintert, Kansas State University economist. But that's not the case thus far in 2007.

Click here to read more of this story by the
Livestock Marketing Information Center

      Rural Development Money Available

Need to upgrade your rural medical clinic or school? USDA is making $62.9 million available for distance learning and telemedicine, $75 million in loan and grant combinations, and $15 million in grants.

Telemedicine technology makes it possible for doctors to examine and direct treatment of patients in remote treatment centers. This gives rural residents access to medical specialists not usually available in rural areas. The distance-learning program finances equipment to expand educational resources to students and educational institutions in rural areas.

Applications for the $15 million in distance learning and telemedicine grants must be received by June 11. Applications for loans, and loan and grant combinations, are accepted year round. Contact your Rural Development state office for information. For a list of state Rural Development offices, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov.
-- Burt Rutherford

      West Nile Warning: Mosquito Season Approaching

Late last summer, Randy Glover thought he was going to die; at times, he wanted to die. The resident of rural Billings, MT, was suffering from West Nile virus (WNV).

Click here to read more of this story by Clint Peck

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    Government
      Animal Fighting Legislation To The President

The Senate passed legislation that would increase federal penalties for transporting animals across state lines for the purpose of staging fights. The legislation would make it a crime to buy or sell animals for fighting, and would make it unlawful to use the U.S. Postal Service to promote animal fighting in the U.S. The bill (H.R. 137) passed the House in March and now goes to the President for his approval.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Animal Welfare Requirements For Federal Meat Purchases

Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chris Shays (R-CT) have introduced H.R. 1726, the "Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act," which would require the federal government to purchase meat, dairy, and egg products from producers who meet certain animal welfare standards. The bill would require animals to be:

Click here to read more of this story by
P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Hearings To Address Livestock & Meat Issues

The Senate Agriculture Committee plans to hold a hearing April 18 to discuss competition issues and the farm bill. We can expect the issues of concentration, vertical integration, packer ban, spot market requirements, and arbitration to be discussed at this hearing.

Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock plans to hold a hearing on the livestock and meat industries on April 17. One focus will be USDA's "Livestock and Meat Marketing Study" released in February. The congressionally mandated study found that alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) increase the economic efficiency of the cattle, hog and lamb markets, and that these economic benefits are distributed to consumers, as well as to producers and packers who use AMAs.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Livestock Waste Legislation Gains Cosponsors

Legislation that would clarify that livestock manure is not a Superfund material has gained a number of cosponsors since its introduction in March. Senate bill (S. 807) now has 17 cosponsors, while the House bill (H.R. 1586) has 85 cosponsors. This legislation is supported by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Chicken Council, and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      USDA Farm Bill Proposal

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said this week that USDA would be sending the complete legislative language for its 2007 farm bill proposal to Congress over the next 4-6 weeks.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

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    Animal Health
      APHIS To Halt Cattle Imports From Coahuila

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service this week announced that, effective April 17, all cattle coming from the Mexican State of Coahuila will be denied U.S. entry. The move is due to noncompliance with the tuberculosis (TB) eradication program. The ban will remain in effect until APHIS has determined that Coahuila is in compliance with TB program guidelines.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Exotic Antelope Killed To Control Ticks

Outside of a few football games and an occasional outbreak during "March Madness," Texas Fever has been pretty well corralled in the Lone Star State. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officials aim to keep it that way.

The Texas Fever of concern to animal health officials is a condition carried by fever ticks that has been the subject of intense effort by APHIS since 1906. Back then, Texas Fever wiped out about 90% of the U.S. cattle industry. By 1943, the effort was successful enough that the only area in the U.S. still infected with fever ticks is a roughly 500-mile stretch along the Rio Grande River that forms part of the Texas-Mexico border.

While the tick riders who patrol this often remote region are successful in keeping the fever ticks controlled on cattle, wildlife is another story -- particularly the exotic wildlife that have come to inhabit many South Texas ranches. While they readily carry and spread the cattle fever tick, they can't be roped and dipped like cattle can.

Consequently, APHIS officials last week conducted a helicopter hunt of nilgai, a large exotic antelope native to India and Pakistan. In all, 37 were killed in a two-day hunt on a portion of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The meat was donated to a food bank.

In all, officials estimate that 30,000 nilgai roam throughout South Texas. The number in the tick free zone is unknown.
-- Burt Rutherford

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    Tips for Profit
      April Issue Content Of BEEF Magazine Now Online

All the content from BEEF magazine's April issue is now available at www.beef-mag.com. This month, "Market Advisor" columnist Harlan Hughes provides his thoughts on a financial early-warning system for monitoring the economic and business health of a ranch -- beef-mag.com/hughes/financial_early_warning_system/. In addition, grazing guru Jim Gerrish provides some timely insight into whether your pasture can produce enough legume nitrogen on its own -- beef-mag.com/mag/legume_nitrogen/, thereby saving a grazier some valuable fertilizer dollars. And BEEF magazine staffers Burt Rutherford and Alaina Burt deliver a two-part treatment on effective fly control in "Shoo, Fly" and "Be A Good Neighbor," respectively.
-- Joe Roybal

      Fred Provenza To Lead Grazing Behavior Workshop

"Grazing Behavior: Understanding and Managing Livestock, Wildlife, Plants, Soils and People" is the theme of a free, two-day seminar set for May 1-2 at the Prairie Knights Casino and Resort in Fort Yates, ND. Sponsored by the North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center, the seminar will be led by Fred Provenza, a well-known animal behaviorist and Utah State University professor and researcher. Aimed at livestock producers, he'll explore the relationships among soils, plants, herbivores, people and ecosystems, and focus on how behavior influences food and habitat selection.

For more info, visit www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/hettinge/, or call 701-567-4323. Register by April 24.
-- NDSU Hettinger Research Extension Center

      Managing Freeze-Damaged Alfalfa

The Easter-weekend freeze that covered much of the country did a little more than give the Easter bunny the shivers. It also put a pretty good hurt on lots of small grains and hay, including alfalfa.

Click here to read more of this story by KSU Release

      Time To Graze Winter Small-Grain Pastures

Did you look ahead and plant rye, triticale or even wheat last fall to use as extra early pasture this spring? If so, grazing should begin soon, if it hasn't already started, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska agronomy professor. Small-grain pastures can be convenient and profitable, but good management must be used to optimize production and prevent livestock losses.

Such small-grain pastures can be an extremely important resource for spring grazing. Not only do they alleviate the need for spring hay feeding but animals get access to clean grass for excellent gains, and the practice allows more time for drought-ravaged pastures to recover.

To maximize grazing from these small grain pastures, wait until grass is 4-8 in. tall before initiating grazing. Then stock heavily enough to maintain plant height between 6-12 in. Do this by either adjusting the stocking rate according to grass growth, or subdivide the pasture into paddocks and graze rotationally.

Stands, soils, fertility and moisture all will affect stocking rate, so adjust stock numbers for your conditions. With careful management, this system can provide good grazing all the way to June.

One concern when grazing small-grain pasture is grass tetany, which can be lethal but is more common in lactating cows than in dry cows or young stock. Reduce tetany by feeding magnesium oxide supplements mixed with salt, molasses or grain. Monitor consumption carefully and adjust the mixture so cattle consume about 1/4-lb. of magnesium oxide/cow each week.

For more info on grass tetany, visit www.beefcowcalf.com and type "grass tetany" into the "Search For:" box on the opening page.
-- Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska agronomy professor

    Industry Meetings
      Webinar On Ethanol's Effects On Livestock Is April 26

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) will host a one-hour webinar on the impact of ethanol on livestock markets. Set for 2 p.m. CST on April 26, the session will be led by Bruce Babcock, Iowa State University (ISU) economist and director of ISU's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development; and Steve Meyer, author of the CME Daily Livestock Report. Learn more or register at www.cme.com/livestockseminar.
-- Livestock Marketing Information Center



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