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BEEF'S COW CALF WEEKLY    May 18, 2007  |  A PENTON MEDIA PUBLICATION
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    Table Of Contents
> Crop Planting On Schedule. Now It's A Weather Game
> Start Your Business Revolution By Focusing On The Details
> The Myth About Living A Balanced Life
> "The Donald" Coming to a Grill Near You
> Agriculture Safety Camps Scheduled This Summer
> Animal Welfare Hearing Draws The Heat
> Bio-Energy Legislation Moving In Halls Of Congress
> Budget Agreement
> Canadian Cattle Only After COOL Implementation
> Export Forecast
> Farm Bill To Move Forward Next Week
> Gasoline Prices Up Yet Again; Diesel Down Again
> Give Consumers The Freedom Of COOL, Reader Says
> Groups Ask For Rethinking Of CRP Opt-Out Decision
> House Approves Disaster Assistance
> Kansas Relief Efforts Underway
> Labor Standards Agreement Reached For FTAs
> Land Values Continue On The Upswing
> NIAA's ID-INFO EXPO Is Aug. 28-30
> Rising Feed Costs Force Change
> South Korean Pols Push For COOL On Beef & Rice
> Study Says Ethanol Increasing Food Prices
> Texas, Illinois Senate, Pass Horse-Slaughter Bills
> U.S. Hay Stocks Are The Lowest Since 1950

    Our Perspective
      Crop Planting On Schedule. Now It's A Weather Game

The latest USDA crop report shows the percentage of acres planted at 78% nationwide, which is equal to the five-year average. The progress report was a bit surprising, given that there are so many acres going into corn production this year compared to past years.

Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota were the only major corn states significantly behind the five-year average in this latest report. Corn emergence is above the five-year average, as well.

The beef industry will continue to watch weather conditions very closely as it relates to hay and corn production, given the fact that there's simply little room for error on the production front. The good news is that weather conditions have been as close to ideal at this time as you can get on a national basis.
-- Troy Marshall



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      Start Your Business Revolution By Focusing On The Details

Pick up any management or leadership book and you'll undoubtedly read about the importance of innovation, of thinking outside the box, stepping out of one's comfort zone, or taking a radical and bold approach. Such authors will warn against incrementalism (doing what you've always done, but just doing it a little better), and preach the need to embrace creative destruction (where your goal is to destroy your own business with superior products, services and marketing before someone else has the chance to).
Click here to read more of this story by Troy Marshall

      The Myth About Living A Balanced Life

Perhaps it is just that I'm getting old, but the conversations among my peers have changed. It used to be all about cows and the cattle industry; now, it's about family and priorities.

I love self-help gurus like Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar, and I've always felt that one could live that truly balanced life they preach -- one that encompasses the spiritual, physical, social, mental and financial parts of one's life. Yet, I've come to realize that if I spent 90 hours/week on just my family -- being the husband I want to be, the father, the son, the cousin, grandson, etc. -- that I still wouldn't have enough time, in even that area of my life.

Yes, there's definitely a more optimum balance, but there are times (ebbs and flows) in our lives when certain areas will move to the top, and then back again. At any one time, I doubt anyone has his or her life in total balance.

The key seems to be that, over the course of one's life, to be able to look back and have taken care of all those areas. And to look back and say that, at the key junctures, your priorities were right.

I've come to believe all we can do is keep the commitments we make to ourselves, whether they're in our personal or business life. Our priorities change, and that isn't a bad thing.

There was a time when my only focus was on building a great cowherd. I still want to build a truly great cowherd, but I'd gladly trade it for three truly great and well-adjusted kids, and a wife who loves me when I'm 85.
-- Troy Marshall



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    My Perspective
      "The Donald" Coming to a Grill Near You

Just in time for Father's Day, you can enjoy "The Donald" in your own back yard. Well, not in person, fortunately, but Donald Trump and the Sharper Image Corporation have teamed up to allow beef lovers to enjoy the same steaks at home that are served in "The Donald's" restaurants.

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-- Burt Rutherford

      Agriculture Safety Camps Scheduled This Summer

The most precious thing any ranch produces is its next generation. Keeping them safe and healthy is the goal of the Progressive Ag Foundation, which will sponsor 350 "Safety Days" for children throughout the U.S. and Canada this summer.

The workshops teach rural children and their parents how to stay safe and healthy on the ranch, farm and at home. Sessions include all-terrain vehicles, animal safety, bicycle safety, chemical safety, electrical safety and machinery safety, among other things. For a list of dates and locations, or to host an event in your area, visit www.progressiveag.org.
-- Progressive Ag release



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      Animal Welfare Hearing Draws The Heat

The House Agriculture Livestock Subcommittee last week held a hearing on the status of animal welfare in American agriculture and the steps animal agriculture producers have implemented to improve animal welfare, as well as new proposals related to these issues. Meanwhile, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) told the committee members that the House Agriculture Committee hadn't conducted a "serious hearing on animal welfare since 2000." HSUS says the U.S. has "fallen short as a caring nation in providing the basic protections and are sorely and embarrassingly lagging behind Europe on animal welfare."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Bio-Energy Legislation Moving In Halls Of Congress

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved S. 987, the "Biofuels for Energy Security and Transportation Act of 2007." It would increase the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to 36 billion gals. by 2022.

Starting in 2008, the new RFS will require 8.5 billion gals. of renewable fuel, and increase gradually to 15 billion gals./year by 2015. After 2015, a complementary "advanced biofuels" standard takes effect. This requires 3 billion gals./year of advanced biofuels in 2016, and increases to 21 billion/year in 2022.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association has raised concerns that this new RFS requirement of 15 billion gals. of ethanol would require nearly 43% of all U.S. corn production to meet.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced the "Energy Independence through Bio-Diesel Act," which would create a 2% national standard for bio-diesel. Walberg said, "Creating a national standard for bio-diesel will encourage the technology and economics of scale necessary to make America the leader in renewable sources of energy."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent



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      Budget Agreement

House and Senate conferees reached an agreement on the FY '08 Budget Resolution. A $20-billion reserve fund for agriculture is created, but requires an offset (increased new revenues or reduction in spending) in other areas. Thus, there is no new money for the farm bill at this time.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Canadian Cattle Only After COOL Implementation

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced legislation that would require country-of-origin labeling (COOL) to be in place before the U.S. can import Canadian cattle over 30 months of age. Dorgan said, "There is no longer any excuse for delaying implementation of COOL. Consumers have the right to know where their meat is coming from, and to make their own decision -- fully informed decisions -- about whether they want to be putting beef from Canada on their dinner table, under the current circumstances. It is clear that Canada has a continuing problem with Mad Cow Disease, and American families have a right to know whether their beef is coming from Canada."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Export Forecast

USDA is forecasting agricultural exports to reach $78 billion for fiscal year 2007, an increase of $9.3 billion over last year, and the fourth consecutive year of record exports. USDA now estimates the U.S. world market share at more than 19%.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent



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      Farm Bill To Move Forward Next Week

The House Agriculture Committee plans to begin moving the 2007 farm bill forward next week. The conservation title of the farm bill will be marked up by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research. Also, the House Livestock Subcommittee will consider livestock issues next Thursday. Other titles of the farm bill will be considered by the various subcommittees after the Memorial Day recess.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has indicated he'd like the farm bill to be considered by the full House Agriculture Committee beginning the week of June 11.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Gasoline Prices Up Yet Again; Diesel Down Again

For the third consecutive week, gasoline prices were up, increasing 4.9¢ to $3.103/gal., as of May 14. Prices are 15.6¢/gal. higher than this time last year and have now reached an all-time nominal high. Meanwhile, retail diesel prices fell for the fourth consecutive week, decreasing 1.9¢/gal. to $2.773/gal. Prices are 14.7¢ lower than at this time last year.

All regions reported gasoline price increases. East Coast prices for regular grade, self-service were up 2.3¢ to $2.981/gal. In the Midwest, prices jumped 9.8¢ to $3.172, while prices for the Gulf Coast rose 4.5¢ to $2.915. The largest increase was in the Rocky Mountains, a 10.3¢ jump to $3.193/gal., while West Coast prices were up 0.5¢ to $3.378. The average price in California fell 1.1¢ to $3.45/gal., but is still 12¢ above last year's price.

For diesel, East Coast prices fell 2.3¢ to $2.758/gal., while the Midwest was down 1.4¢ to $2.74, and the Gulf Coast fell 3.1¢ to $2.713. The only region to increase was the Rocky Mountains -- up 0.3¢ to $2.998/gal. West Coast prices fell 1.6¢ to $2.919, while California diesel was off 2.2¢ to $2.952/gal., 29¢ lower than at this time last year.
-- U.S. Energy Information Administration

      Give Consumers The Freedom Of COOL, Reader Says

Regarding the May 11 article, "COOL More Valuable As A Non-Reality:" If someone wants to buy foreign beef, give consumers the freedom to buy it. If someone wants to "buy American," give him or her the freedom to do it.

Those of you who fear freedom in the marketplace realize that if consumers are given a chance to make informed, intelligent, free choices they just might choose to buy a product not imported, processed or branded by you. But that's what sometimes happens in a free society. Referring to freedom as "populist" or "protectionist" sounds more than a little ominous to me.
Joe Zwack
Dubuque, IA

      Groups Ask For Rethinking Of CRP Opt-Out Decision

Thirty-seven agricultural and livestock organizations have written USDA Secretary Mike Johanns asking him to reconsider his decision to not allow producers to opt out of their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts for 2007 without penalty.

The groups wrote, "Even with a large crop in 2007, another substantial increase in corn acreage will be required again in 2008 to meet the rapidly increasing production of corn-based ethanol. Although non-environmentally sensitive cropland in CRP cannot provide all the additional cropland for corn next spring, this CRP acreage can, nonetheless, provide a good measure toward meeting the anticipated, necessary expansion of cropland for corn next year. Given the dynamic challenges in the next 18 months, it is also critical the CRP not be expanded through a general sign-up in 2007 and 2008, and we encourage the department to limit new enrollments to targeted situations with the highest environmental value."

Groups signing the letter included: American Bakers Association, American Meat Institute, American Feed Industry Association, National Chicken Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and The Fertilizer Institute.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      House Approves Disaster Assistance

The House of Representatives passed a $3.5-billion agricultural disaster assistance package for producers recovering from weather-related damage in recent years. The package includes assistance for farmers who lost 35% or more of their crop in 2005-2007, and for livestock producers in counties that experienced USDA-designated natural disasters during that time.

Producers can apply for a disaster payment for only one of those three years and, for the first time, only farmers who had insured their crop are eligible for payments. The White House has threatened to veto this disaster bill saying the "generous safety net" of the 2002 farm bill and crop insurance makes the disaster bill "unnecessary and unwarranted."
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Kansas Relief Efforts Underway

Residents of the area surrounding Greensburg continue to recover from a devastating tornado several weeks ago, and several cattle organizations have come together to help producers affected by the storm.

The Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association each donated $5,000 to help relief efforts initiated by the Livestock Marketing Association. The money will be used to buy fence supplies to help cattlemen repair and replace fences destroyed by the tornado.

According to KLA's Matt Teagarden, most of the stray cattle have been gathered, but emergency management officials say help is still needed from fencing crews and in picking up debris from wheat and other crop fields. Those who wish to help storm victims with a donation can do so by mailing a check to KLA at 6031 S.W. 37th, Topeka, KS 66614. Specify in the check's memo line that the contribution is for the Greensburg relief effort. If you can help with fence building or picking up debris, call Jeff Scott with the Stafford County Emergency Management office at 620-546-6304 to coordinate efforts.

In addition, the Kansas 4-H Foundation has established a fund to help affected 4-H youngsters. Call the Foundation office at 785-532-5881 for more info.
-- Burt Rutherford

      Labor Standards Agreement Reached For FTAs

The Administration and Congressional Democrats reached an agreement that will require -- in the text of trade agreements -- participating countries to adhere to certain labor standards. The agreement makes reference to the International Labor Organization's 1998 declaration of five core labor standards that will be included in the text of trade agreements. A key issue for Congressional Democrats, the agreement will let Congress move forward on the Peru and Panama Free Trade Agreements.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Land Values Continue On The Upswing

Farmland values, driven by high crop prices, are surging at a pace not seen since the 1980s in some states, according to the Federal Land Bank of Kansas City's Quarterly Ag Credit Survey.
Click here to read more of this story by Burt Rutherford

      NIAA's ID-INFO EXPO Is Aug. 28-30

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture's ID-INFO EXPO is Aug. 28-30 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City. The meeting will focus on animal traceability issues, country of origin labeling, food safety and consumer demand. Visit www.animalagriculture.org for more info.
-- NIAA Release

      Rising Feed Costs Force Change

Cow-calf producers face the continued challenge of rising feed costs. In an ethanol-dominated world, it isn't going to get any better.
Click here to read more of this story by the American Angus Association

      South Korean Pols Push For COOL On Beef & Rice

Wary, they say, about health concerns with U.S. beef, a group of 19 South Korean lawmakers submitted bills this week to tighten safeguard measures on imported beef and rice, Yonhap News reports.
Click here to read more of this story by Joe Roybal

      Study Says Ethanol Increasing Food Prices

A study released this week estimates that increased corn prices "driven by rapidly expanding" U.S. ethanol production have increased U.S. retail food prices by $14 billion annually. The study also projected the following U.S. commodity impacts if season-average corn prices over a 10-year period ending in 2016 increased to $4.42/bu. (which the study projects would occur if crude oil prices range from $65-70/barrel), compared to the $2/bu. corn price that existed in mid-2006:
Click here to read more of this story by P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C. correspondent

      Texas, Illinois Senate, Pass Horse-Slaughter Bills

The Texas Senate last week approved a bill on the duties and regulations of the Texas Animal Health Commission that contained an amendment saying animals tested by the Commission would be exempt from the state agriculture code that bans the sale of horsemeat for human consumption.

The Senate bill was sent to the state House, where a similar measure was passed that did not contain the horse-slaughter language. With the clock winding down on the regular session, it's unclear whether the measure will pass.

"That debate will continue throughout the session. We've got several weeks left," says Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), who inserted the amendment. "Who knows when we'll have final conclusion on this issue."

Earlier this year, a U.S. Appeals Court halted operations at two Texas horse-processing plants after the Humane Society of the U.S. sued under a 1949 Texas law originally intended to prevent beef processors from adding horsemeat to their products.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate went the opposite direction this week, voting to ban horse-slaughter in the state. The Illinois House overwhelmingly passed a similar bill last month. Illinois Governor Rod Blogojevich promised to sign the measure. Upon his signature, Cavel International of DeKalb, IL, which is the third horse-processing plant in the U.S., will be out of business.
-- Burt Rutherford

      U.S. Hay Stocks Are The Lowest Since 1950

All hay stored on farms as of May 1 totaled 14.99 million tons, down 30% from the 21.35-million-ton total of the previous year. It's the lowest hay stocks figure since 1950, USDA reports, with 38 of the 48 reporting states indicating they had lower May 1 hay stocks than a year ago.

May 1 stocks are down dramatically in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota and Oklahoma. Stocks are up in Wisconsin and in most of the northern Atlantic Coast states, including New York and Pennsylvania.
-- USDA release



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