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    Table Of Contents
> Agriculture Has Reason To Celebrate Earth Day
> Will National ID And COOL Be Married Up?
> Groups Provide Testimony On Livestock Competition
> U.S. Pushes Japanese Ahead Of Expected OIE Ruling
> State Senator Calls For Labeling Of Cloned Food
> GIPSA Invokes New Rules For PSA Violations
> Consider Price Protection On Your Fall Calves
> CWD Test Results All Negative In North Dakota
> Corn Planting Lags; Ethanol Outlook Mixed
> Economic Outlook Positive
> Fire Ant Research Looks Promising
> Hog Lagoon Restrictions Move Forward
> Retail Gasoline And Diesel Prices Increase Again
> Death Tax Repeal Measure Introduced
> Herseth Promotes Postponing FSA Office Closings
> Legislative Priorities Abound For Cattle Industry
> AFBF Calls For Rejection Of Antibiotics Legislation
> Moving Cattle Safely From Ranch To Rail
> Registration Open For BIF Meeting In Colorado
> Risk Management For Women Seminar Set

    Our Perspective
      Agriculture Has Reason To Celebrate Earth Day

Since 1970, April 22 has been celebrated as Earth Day, and is now observed by 500 million people and governments in 175 countries. It's one day that millions of people pause in the midst of their busy routines to step outside and enjoy the spring sunshine while pondering their personal contributions to the earth.

Coincidentally, Nebraska native Julius Sterling Morton was born on April 22. You might recognize him as the founder of Arbor Day, a national tree-planting holiday initiated in 1872. In the U.S., you can celebrate this holiday by planting a tree next Friday.

For ag folks, celebrating the earth and the environment is something we do every day. We get our hands dirty caring for the soil, livestock and wildlife and are thankful we've been entrusted with such a grand task. We can learn from those honored folks in the cattle business who have been Environmental Stewardship Award Program nominees (check out what past winners have done at; type "ESAP" into the site search).

Yet, there is still much to learn. No-till farming has reduced soil erosion, conservation programs continue to create habitats for wildlife, and effective manure management helps keep waterways clean and safe.

The take-home question is: how is your operation making Earth a better place? Your answer is what we need to communicate to the non-agricultural industry to debunk misconceptions about our business. We all have a great story to tell -- whether it's putting up duck houses, planting trees to reduce wind erosion, or implementing strategies to reduce and utilize manure waste -- it's our story, and it needs to be heard.
-- Alaina Burt

      Will National ID And COOL Be Married Up?

There's a lot at stake for the cattle industry in the upcoming farm bill. The cattle industry has always taken pride in not being subsidized and not accepting undue government meddling in our business. It's also always been a strong advocate for individual choice and allowing the marketplace to work. Some argue the industry has paid a price for such independence, while others argue it's a cheap price and well worth it.

Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall


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    Industry Structure
      Groups Provide Testimony On Livestock Competition

The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture Livestock Subcommittee held hearings this week to review competition issues affecting the livestock and meat industries. There was a wide variation of opinions expressed by the various farm organizations, producer groups and industry about the study that concluded that restrictions on the use of contractual agreements would have a negative economic effect on packers, producers and consumers.

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

    Foreign Trade
      U.S. Pushes Japanese Ahead Of Expected OIE Ruling

Washington is muscling Tokyo to provide a concrete deadline for softening its 20-months-of-age requirement for U.S. imported beef, the Kyodo News reports. Citing unnamed sources, the article says the U.S. is hinting it may carry the dispute to the World Trade Organization.

The news comes just ahead of a planned trip to Washington by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this month. During the meeting, Tokyo expects President Bush to prod Abe to settle the issue.

Last month, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said Japan should act swiftly to relax its import restrictions with next month's anticipated announcement by the World Organization for Animal Health granting controlled-risk BSE status to the U.S. The Kyodo News says invigorated U.S. pressure on the Japanese is coming on the heels of South Korea's announcement it will allow the importation of U.S. bone-in beef as part of recently concluded free-trade agreement negotiations, though nothing is set in stone.
-- Joe Roybal

      State Senator Calls For Labeling Of Cloned Food

A bill introduced in the California Legislature would require the clear labeling of meat and milk from cloned animals, reports State Sen. Carole Migden's SB 63 had its first legislative hearing in the Senate Health Committee this week.

Midgen, who was joined in her proposal by the Center for Food Safety and Consumers Union, argues that if FDA ultimately allows meat and milk from cloned cows into the food chain, such products should be labeled.

"People have the right to know if food is organic, if it contains pesticides or growth-promoting hormones, or if it's from cloned or natural-bred animals. Consumers certainly don't want to wrestle with moral issues like cloning while they're doing the family grocery shopping," she says.
-- Joe Roybal

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      GIPSA Invokes New Rules For PSA Violations

USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) today published in the Federal Register changes to the rules of practice governing proceedings under the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA). The changes, effective immediately, will allow GIPSA and alleged PSA violators to settle cases in a more timely and less costly manner. It also provides GIPSA with another enforcement tool to obtain compliance in lieu of letters and warnings.

Click here to read more of this story by

      Consider Price Protection On Your Fall Calves

With the unheard-of volatility in corn prices and a virtual guarantee that high-cost feed won't go away, cow-calf producers might be wise to consider some sort of price protection to ensure against a wreck waiting to happen.

Click here to read more of this story by
Larry Stalcup, BEEF magazine

    Industry News
      CWD Test Results All Negative In North Dakota

North Dakota's wild and farmed deer and elk populations remain free of chronic wasting disease (CWD), testing by the state's Game and Fish Department shows, the Bismarck Tribune reports.

Last fall, North Dakota hunters submitted samples for testing from 2,993 wild deer, 37 elk and four moose collected during the 2006 hunting season. All samples tested negative. Since 2002, nearly 8,500 North Dakota deer and 147 elk have tested negative for CWD.

Wildlife veterinarian Erika Butler says the state will continue its aggressive surveillance program, testing suspect animals throughout the year and continuing the agency's hunter-harvest surveillance in the fall. CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. No evidence exists that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.
-- Joe Roybal

      Corn Planting Lags; Ethanol Outlook Mixed

Early plantings make good yields, according to Robert Wisner, grain-marketing economist at Iowa State, and the cold, rainy weather so far this spring isn't helping with the livestock industry's need for a bin-buster this fall.

USDA's planting progress report Monday will give a good indication of where we are, but Wisner thinks we'll be considerably behind past years. For example, he points out that on April 23 last year, Iowa farmers had planted 26% of their corn acres. Planting progress this year is considerably behind that pace.

USDA's planting intentions report indicated 90 million acres will be planted to corn this year. Wisner thinks actual acres will be a little less than that due to the weather, but we'll still plant plenty of corn this year. Corn acres, based on the planting intentions, will be up almost 16%, an increase of 12.3 million acres, assuming 90 million acres planted. Those acres will come from soybeans, down 8.4 million acres; cotton and rice, down 3.2 million acres; and spring wheat and flax, down 1.2 million acres.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Economic Outlook Positive

The U.S. economy is doing well, according to Jason Henderson, executive of the Omaha branch of the Kansas City Federal Reserve. But inflation may be lying in wait.

The U.S. has seen solid Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth since 2004, he says, and the economy grew at a solid pace in 2006. For 2007, the Fed predicts real GDP growth will be 2.5-3% and 2.75-3% in 2008. Unemployment will remain at a healthy 4.5-4.75% for '07 and '08. Both those indicators give strong signals that the economy is on track.

However, several risks are looming which may play a role in economic performance, he says. Those include declining housing starts, high energy prices, whether business investment remains strong, and inflation. With low unemployment comes higher wages, and Henderson points out that if economic production slows, we may see inflationary pressures increase.

Time will tell whether the inflationary risk factors come to the fore. However, the Fed's economic outlook for '07 and '08 is generally positive. So far in 2007, GDP is slightly below the long-term trend line of 3% growth, he says. "But that's OK, because we're concerned with inflation." However, he says most market economists expect we'll be back to the 3% historical trend by the end of the year.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Fire Ant Research Looks Promising

For those who live with imported red fire ants, help can't come quickly enough. But, according to USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), help may be on the way.

ARS researchers in Gainesville, FL, are working with an ant-infecting virus that occurs in about 20% of imported red fire ant fields, where it appears to cause the slow death of infected colonies. While the research is in its early stages, it's the first confirmed virus to be recovered from red imported fire ants.

In the laboratory, the virus has proven both self-sustaining and transmissible. Once introduced, it can eliminate a colony within 2-3 months, leading the researchers to think is has potential for becoming a viable biopesticide for controlling the ants.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Hog Lagoon Restrictions Move Forward

The North Carolina Senate voted Wednesday to permanently ban new hog operations utilizing waste-collection lagoons and spray application of the effluent onto fields. Passed by a unanimous vote, the bill permanently extends the moratorium in place since 1997.

The bill would ban the construction of waste lagoons on hog farms as of Sept. 1 and offer farmers up to $500,000 in aid if they voluntarily install more environmentally friendly (and some say prohibitively expensive) disposal systems, reports the Charlotte News & Observer. Existing facilities can continue in use.

The North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC) chose not to fight the measure, the article says. "Just looking at the economic and political climate, we are willing to accept these standards for new and expanding farms and move forward," said Deborah Johnson, NCPC CEO.

North Carolina is the nation's second-largest hog producer -- with 9.5 million swine on more than 2,300 farms, mostly in the eastern part of the state.
-- Joe Roybal

      Retail Gasoline And Diesel Prices Increase Again

Retail gasoline prices increased for the 11th straight week, climbing 7.4¢ to $2.876/gal. for the week of April 16. Meanwhile, retail diesel prices were also up, rising 3.7¢ to $2.877/gal., reports the Energy Information Administration.

Gasoline prices are 9.3¢ higher than at this time last year, and all regions reported higher prices. East Coast prices were up 8.4¢ to $2.839/gal., while the Midwest price rose 6.3¢ to $2.807, and the Gulf Coast saw the largest regional increase at 8.8¢ to $2.763. Rocky Mountain prices jumped 8.2¢ to $2.801, while the West Coast was up 5.7¢ cents to $3.195, and the average price for regular grade in California was up 5.3¢ to $3.305/gal. -- 40.9¢/gal. more than last year's price.

Meanwhile, retail diesel prices are 11.2¢/gal. higher than at this time last year, with all regions reporting an increase. The East Coast price jumped the most -- 4.9¢ to $2.862/gal., while the Midwest price was up 2.9¢ to $2.864, and the Gulf Coast up 3.9¢ to $2.849. Rocky Mountain diesel was up 3¢ to $2.981/gal., while the West Coast increased 3.5¢ to $2.956. Diesel in California price rose 3.7¢ to $3.015, 8.2¢ more than at this time last year.
-- Energy Information Administration release


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      Death Tax Repeal Measure Introduced

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) introduced legislation (H.R.1586) that would permanently repeal the estate tax. Ending the estate tax or "death tax" has been a priority of many agricultural organizations especially the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. With the current budget deficit, the likelihood of passage is remote.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Herseth Promotes Postponing FSA Office Closings

Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) introduced legislation (H.R. 1649) to prevent the closure of Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices for 12 months. Herseth says, "It's common sense that we would wait until we have more information about the specific demands the 2007 Farm Bill will place on our already busy FSA offices before jumping to any conclusions."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

      Legislative Priorities Abound For Cattle Industry

While they may not be scrambling quite as fast as an alley cat at a dog show, National Cattlemen's Beef Association lobbyists in Washington, D.C. don't lack for things to do to keep them busy, says Jay Truitt, head of the Washington legislative efforts for the cattle industry.

Truitt says a series of priorities are hitting all at once and that's keeping things interesting and busy.

"Korea and Japan are on the cusp," he says, "and we have to what we have to do to get them open." Even if that means opposing the recently-negotiated free trade agreement if Korea continues to refuse to open its beef market to commercially viable trade. "We need another Mexico to keep us shored up," he says, pointing out that our neighbors to the south are now buying around $1.4 billion in U.S. beef a year.

Other challenges include farm bill reauthorization, disaster assistance, tax cut extensions, renewable fuels, environmental issues and the ongoing assault that animal rights activists are waging on cattlemen.

"The horse slaughter bill is just the first step. If they're successful in getting that passed, antibiotics will be the next thing on their agenda and they will work to take away your ability to use any antibiotics in animal production," he says.

Truitt adds that anti-beef groups like the Humane Society of the United States and PETA are becoming significant players in the political game. "We have to create passion on our side," he says, to counter their emotional arguments. "Right now, they are out-generating us on phone calls to elected officials 20,000 to 1 on the horse slaughter bill."
-- Burt Rutherford


Interested in what direction the industry's taking? Wonder what other producers are doing? Want to register your opinion and make your voice heard? Vote in the Producer Poll each week and be part of the big picture.

Click here to answer this week's question: What time of the year do you typically vaccinate your breeding-age cows and heifers?

After answering, find out more about this subject from a Novartis Professional Service Veterinarian by scrolling down the Web page.

Stay tuned next week for the poll results and a new question. Sponsored by:
    Animal Health
      AFBF Calls For Rejection Of Antibiotics Legislation

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) called on Congress to reject legislation (H.R. 962 and S. 549) that would remove important antibiotics and classes of antibiotics from the market. AFBF said, "In order to raise healthy animals, we need tools to keep animals healthy -- including medicines that have been approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration. To restrict access to these important tools will jeopardize animal health and compromise our ability to contribute to the public health through food safety." The legislation seeks to:
  • Phase out the non-therapeutic use in livestock of medically important antibiotics, unless their manufacturers can show that they pose no danger to the public health;
  • Require this same tough standard of new applications for approval of animal antibiotics;
  • Provide for federal payments to farmers to defray their costs in switching to antibiotic-free husbandry practices, with a preference given to family farms;
  • Authorize grants for research and demonstration programs on means to reduce the use of antibiotics in the raising of livestock;
  • Require manufacturers to report the amounts of antibiotics they supply for animal use, the animals to which those drugs are given, and the uses for which those drugs are supplied.
The measure does not seek to restrict use of antibiotics to treat sick animals or to treat pets and other animals not used for food.

This issue will be debated this year in Congress.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

    Tips for Profit
      Moving Cattle Safely From Ranch To Rail

"Master Cattle Transporter Guide" is a new checkoff-funded training program (DVD and print manual) that aims to minimize injury to cattle during transportation.

Click here to read more of this story by the
Cattlemen's Beef Board

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    Industry Meetings
      Registration Open For BIF Meeting In Colorado

Preregistration ends May 15 for the 40th anniversary celebration of the Beef Improvement Federation. Set for June 6-9 in the Hilton Fort Collins, in Fort Collins, CO, the annual meeting will focus on the future of genetic evaluation and improvement with a variety of presenters from around the country.

Visit to check out the program or register. Click on the "conventions" tag. Or contact Willie Altenburg, 970/568-7792, or Mark Enns at 970/491-2722,
-- BIF news release

      Risk Management For Women Seminar Set

Colorado State University and USDA's Risk Management Agency are offering a risk- and financial-management seminar specifically tailored for women in agriculture. The seminar is June 21 in Steamboat Springs, CO.

The one-day conference uses hands-on instruction -- including computer simulation and spreadsheets -- to help participants determine their operation's financial health, measure and set their own risk management goals, and identify the individual risks that may affect their operation. The day's last session is an open forum on the unique risks participants face as female agricultural producers and to provide feedback and advice on how to manage those issues.

For more on the free seminar, visit
-- CSU release

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