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Friday, August 29,2008

Competing proteins pose renewed concerns for beef

by WLJ
Competing proteins pose renewed concerns for beef —Trade issues could flood the U.S. market with lower-priced pork and poultry, limiting beef gains in the fourth quarter. Fed cattle trade wrapped up early last week at mostly steady money despite weakness in the boxed beef complex and a steady decline in the futures market. In Texas and Kansas, cattle traded at $99 live with good volume moving ahead of the holiday. Corn Belt trade was in a spread of $154-156 dressed, with most trade reported at the top of that range. Beef cutout values last week were moving lower for much of the week with disappointing movement out of cold storage warehouses. Midweek trade was light with only 96 fab loads trading, according to last Thursday’s mid-day report. Choice boxed beef was steady with the previous day at $160.98 while Select cuts were off slightly at $154.23. Slaughter volume last week remained robust with 505,000 head processed for the week through Thursday. That number was down from the previous week’s harvest, but it remained above the year-earlier level of 500,000 head. Cow slaughter numbers for the year remain well above year ago totals, indicating that the current downward slide in calf production and total domestic herd size is likely to continue for at least the next year. For the week ending Aug. 9, cow slaughter stood at 132,292 head, sharply higher than year earlier totals of 106,950 head. High input costs are pinching producers and strong cull cow and calf markets are making liquidation and heavy culling an attractive option. The strong cow and cow beef markets are largely the result of a sharp decline in the amount of beef being imported to the U.S., making domestic cull cows a more attractively price option for ground beef producers. Last week’s cow cutout value stood at $139.38, down slightly from the previous week as a result of a decline in demand after buyers met their pre-holiday needs. The 90 percent lean traded at $174.23 while the 50 percent trim was also down slightly from the prior week at $92.71. Most of the wholesale fabricated cut trade for the holiday weekend demand had been filled the previous week, so the light movement was of little surprise to analysts last week. The next key factor in determining market direction will be weekend clearance levels. There have been some excellent beef feature prices advertised recently which should help support retail sales and future packer buying interest. If movement at the retail level is strong, it could provide support going into the fourth quarter. Of particular concern during the last three months of the year will be competing meats. Pork and poultry supplies are expected to surge for the last few months of 2008 and pork especially will pose a significant threat to beef prices. There were reports last week that Russia and China, both large importers of U.S. pork and poultry, will sharply curtail purchases. That could flood the domestic market with cheaper protein options for U.S. consumers who will be the key to sustaining beef prices during the expected tight supplies later this year. Exports have been highly supportive of the domestic beef market this year when consumers have slowed their discretionary spending as a result of a weak economy. Exports have largely picked up the slack with an increase of 31 percent in volume for the first half of the year, totaling 831 million pounds. If consumers, faced with higher living expenses, turn away from beef in favor of pork and poultry, the improvement in cutout prices needed to sustain profit margins in the beef industry could falter. News that China and Russia would cut back their pork buying was adding to the gloom in the hog trade last week and futures markets were trading limit down. To make matters worse, the delisting of several processing plants in Mexico by USDA was adding to trade concerns last week. Analysts noted that the request to block exports from plants that did not meet U.S. standards could cause Mexico to curtail purchases of product from the U.S. As the largest buyer of U.S. beef, Mexico’s withdrawal from the market could have severe consequences for beef prices in the U.S. Feeder cattle Last week’s cash feeder cattle market marked the first time in recent weeks that feeder cattle prices have slipped lower, even as lower corn futures made buyers more optimistic. The trend towards placing heavier feeder cattle continues, with yearlings continuing to be in heavy demand, although quality runs of lighter weight calves have also become a source of appeal to many buyers at local auction markets. "This marks the first time in over two months that the weekly nationwide yearling trend came in lower," points out USDA Market Reporter Greg Harrison. "In fact, several markets noted that the buyer demand for calves was actually better than the yearling feeder demand for the first time in recent memory." Harrison noted that good rains in southern winter grazing regions have given many operators reason to get back into the market for lighter weight calves which can be backgrounded and resold as heavy, placement-ready feeders come spring. "Heavy rains across the southern Plains have perked up the late grass that many backgrounders will use to warm-up lightweight calves before turning them out on early wheat pasture, which should have a good start this year from ample subsoil moisture," he said. Potential feeder cattle buyers are beginning to get used to the roller coaster corn markets, which Wall says now draw less attention than they have during recent periods of high grain futures. "However, drastic grain market volatility is now the norm where only a few years ago, a nickel change would stir attention," said Harrison. "The CBOT [Chicago Board of Trade] September corn contract has settled with more than a 10-cent move on every August trading session but one this month. This has feedlot owners shaking their head in confusion on when is the best time to secure feed inventories." Last week’s auction at the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City, OK, saw 8,583 head of feeder cattle available for sale. Compared to the previous sale, feeder steers and heifers were $1-2 lower, with steer and heifer calves steady with good demand. Recent rains across most of the region, along with cooler temperatures, have revived the grass and improved wheat pasture prospects. Quality of the feeder cattle offered continued to decline with several full or lighter muscled cattle included. Steers weighing an average of 679 lbs. sold for $113.44, while heifers weighing 654 lbs. sold at $108.75. The Joplin Regional Stockyards near Joplin, MO, received 4,900 head for sale last week where steers remained steady and heifers under 500 lbs. were $2-5 lower. Heifers weighing 500-700 lbs. were $1-3 lower, with weights over 700 lbs. steady. Demand and supply was moderate, with the bulk of the offerings being weaned calves and yearlings. Feeder steers weighing 682 lbs. sold for $115.04, while 674 lb. heifers brought $104.40. There were 2,627 head of feeders received last week at the Winter Livestock Feeder Cattle Auction in Dodge City, KS, where compared to the week prior, steers and heifers from 700-950 lbs. sold $1-3 lower, mostly $2 lower. There were not enough steers and heifers of 700 lbs. and under for a good market test, though a lower undertone was noted. Buyers paid $113.22 for steers weighing an average of 738 lbs., and $105.32 for heifers weighing 711 lbs. To the north in McCook, NE, at the Tri-state Livestock Exchange, there were 1,850 head of feeders offered for sale last week, though no comparison was available due to no recent sale. Steers weighing 704 lbs. brought an average of $116.25, while feeder heifers weighing 669 lbs. sold at $113.94. Last week’s sale at the Winter Livestock Auction in La Junta, CO, saw receipts of 1,187 head where trade was active on calves and yearlings and included good demand for both classes. No price comparison was available as the last covered auction was in July. Steers weighing an average of 687 lbs. sold for $116.75, while 669 lb. heifers brought $102.70. There were 961 head available for sale in a light run last week at the Stockland Livestock Auction in Davenport, WA, where feeder cattle were firm in the light test. Trade was active with moderate to good demand. Steers weighing 739 lbs. sold for $100 at this sale, while 731 lb. heifers sold for $98.19. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

Beef Checkoff revamps, revitalizes and relaunches BSE Web site

by WLJ
Beef Checkoff revamps, revitalizes and relaunches BSE Web site Oftentimes, information is outdated by the time it reaches the mailbox. In an effort to provide the latest facts about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly called "mad cow disease"), the Beef Checkoff-funded Web site BSEInfo.org recently was overhauled to include new and updated content and an easy-to-search Web structure. Although the U.S. hasn’t had a case of BSE since 2006, this disease remains important to the beef industry and the scientific community and frequently receives media attention. "The latest update to BSEInfo.org reflects the industry’s commitment to providing the most current, scientifically valid information about these diseases. The Beef Checkoff is dedicated to investing in educational tools such as the site in order to eliminate confusion and misinformation among numerous audiences," says cow/calf producer Austin Brown III, Cattlemen’s Beef Board member from Beeville, TX. "The site also explains the measures we take to protect beef safety. We rely on our industry and media partners to share the facts about beef, and want to be sure to provide credible and complete information about how animal health and public health are protected from this disease." A highlight of the site is the Scientific Resource, which was reviewed by nine leading international experts in BSE and related diseases. These transmissible spongiform encephalopathy experts served as scientific reviewers for sections about prions, BSE, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, scrapie and chronic wasting disease. "The validation from these folks not only lends credibility to the site among external audiences, but also speaks to the standing of this resource within the scientific community," continues Brown. Media partners worldwide covering BSE can locate the best resources, determine who to contact to arrange an interview, and find the foremost experts through this site. In addition, the revised Web site now contains updated BSE basics; information about BSE in the news; beef industry statements; answers to frequently asked questions; and beef industry facts. BSEInfo.org also serves as a portal to other government, international and industry Web sites, and interactive maps highlight the geographic distribution of BSE cases. A premiere Web site in its subject area, BSEInfo.org continues to be one of a very few sites to offer a comprehensive range of scientific information about BSE and related disease, typically hosting more than 2,000 unique visitors per week, many from other countries. Visit the revised site at www.BSEInfo.org. For more information about checkoff-funded programs, visit www.MyBeefCheckoff.com. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

Costa Rica, Belize, Qatar and Ghana open to U.S. beef

by WLJ
Costa Rica, Belize, Qatar and Ghana open to U.S. beef Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer last week reviewed the success from recent openings of U.S. beef markets into Costa Rica, Belize, Qatar and Ghana recognizing international trade standards for U.S. beef and beef products from cattle of all ages. "The opening of these diverse markets demonstrates the global appetite for U.S. beef and the understanding and confidence nations place in America’s science-based international standards for safety," said Schafer. "I think it is important to review this pattern of opened markets for their strategic placement in the world marketplace where surrounding nations and world travelers can once again enjoy the quality of American beef." Officials from the USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative have made a concerted effort to restore markets for U.S. beef and beef products from cattle of all ages in line with international standards of the World Organization for Animal Health. More than 100 countries currently allow the entry of U.S. beef and beef products. Costa Rica and Belize are both Central American countries with strong tourism sectors. In addition, Costa Rica is an important port and gateway to other Latin American markets. In calendar year 2003, the U.S. exported more than $2.6 million in beef and beef products to Costa Rica. Belize, the second smallest and least populated country in Central America, relies on foreign imports from countries such as the U.S., Belize’s number one trading partner. Qatar, bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia, has one of the highest per capita income levels in the world and blossoming hotel and tourism industries. Exports of U.S. beef and beef products to Qatar topped $1.2 million in 2003, and strong growth is expected. The West African nation of Ghana has become an important trading partner in Africa due, in large part, to a stable and vibrant democracy, and economic reform. The Ghanaian market is a relatively new one for U.S. beef. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

Russia may pull out of trade deals

by DTN
Russia may pull out of trade deals Amid fraying trade relations between Moscow and Washington, Russia said it would slash U.S. import quotas for chicken and pork, both big export products to the region from the U.S, reported the Wall Street Journal. After U.S. officials said Russia’s war with Georgia had cast doubt on Russia’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO), Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last Monday called for pulling out of trade deals that Russia had signed when it was expecting quick admission into the trade body. Then Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said last Wednesday that Moscow plans to reduce quotas for imports of chicken and pork by "not tens but hundreds of thousands of tons." Russia has helped the American meat industry grow for the past decade. Russia was the biggest importer of U.S. chicken meat in 2007, spending $741.5 million on U.S. imports, according to the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. In 2005, the U.S. and Russia entered into an agreement that allowed U.S. producers of poultry, pork and beef to export a specified quantity of product to Russia at a lower-than-usual tariff. That agreement, which was extended through 2009, was a way for Russia to bolster its free-trade credentials ahead of WTO accession talks. Russian officials now say WTO membership is a long way off—Western officials have called for blocking the talks to punish Russia for its war with Georgia—and so observing the deals is no longer in Russia’s immediate interest. Officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) say they haven’t been officially notified of Russia’s decision to cut some meat import quotas. "If Russia decides to step back from those ... commitments, that will obviously further delay its aspirations to join the WTO," said USTR spokesman Sean Spicer. — DTN

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Friday, August 29,2008

Food-vs.-fuel debate changing

by DTN
Food —Argument shifting from bushels to acres Heavy rains flooded Midwestern cornfields in June, raising questions about what a severely crippled corn crop would mean to the ethanol industry. But improved seed hybrids and ideal weather may be turning the food-versus-fuel debate on its head. An August USDA production forecast of a 12.3-billion-bushel corn crop in the face of seemingly catastrophic corn losses in some parts of the Corn Belt has left ethanol supporters scratching their heads. "It was surprisingly high," said Rick Tolman, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). "Every year we have better germplasm traits that make that plant less susceptible to the environment. The flooding was bad, but when it dried, we had good moisture. We’ve had a pretty cool summer, and the heat stress is not there." The flooding raised doubts about the future of the ethanol industry and the ability of farmers to overcome crop disasters to continue meeting demands for food, feed and fuel. If the USDA forecast holds up, however, the debate could be shifting. Bradley D. Lubben, an assistant professor and extension public policy specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said perhaps the focus should be on future land use. "The current food-versus-fuel debate is a great illustration of the role of politics over economics," he said. "As the adage goes, politics always trumps economics. In the short run, we are calling it a food-versus-fuel debate because the public perceives that the cause of food price rises can all be blamed on fuel prices and policies. That significantly shortchanges the analysis." One way to characterize the issue, Lubben said, is that "we are not competing for bushels; rather, we are competing for acres. The true test of supply response will be how we allocate acres among multiple uses, including crops, forages, grazing land and habitat, among other uses." Talk about how a transition away from corn ethanol to cellulosic ethanol will solve the food-versus-fuel problem is "an argument over bushels," he said. "The real argument will be over acres, and at present technologies, gallons of ethanol from cellulose could require as many acres of grasses and biomass as gallons of ethanol from starch from corn," Lubben said. For instance, in 2007, higher market prices encouraged more corn production, and producers planted 15 million more corn acres. In 2007, those extra corn acres largely came from other crops, Lubben said, mostly from soybeans and some cotton. In 2007 and 2008, he said, the prices for other commodities "joined the rally" and enticed acres back into other crops. Hosein Shapouri, an ethanol economist with USDA, said there are about 36 million acres of land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). About 8 million acres of the CRP land are suitable for production of corn and soybeans, he said. In addition, there are 60 million acres of cropland in pasture, Shapouri said, and some of that acreage could be used for production of corn, soybeans and other commodities. Corn hybrid technology has made drastic improvements in the past 60-plus years. According to USDA, 85 million corn acres were harvested in 1944—the same as 2007. Yet the total corn production increased from about 2.8 billion bushels in 1944 to around 13.1 billion bushels in 2007, along with a dramatic increase in bushels per acre from 33 to 151, according to USDA numbers. By 2030, NCGA’s Tolman said, many of the major seed companies have told corn growers to expect 300-bushel corn to be possible. "Agronomists shake their heads at that number," he said, "but seed companies say it’s doable." Tolman said the corn industry has changed profoundly from the development of a biofuels industry. Farmers, however, believe they should have been getting $5 corn all along, and hope to see those prices even after cellulosic ethanol begins commercial production within the next five to 10 years. "It takes stronger prices to produce," he said. "There was no future in $2 corn. We see the cellulosic piece as evolutionary and not revolutionary. Frankly, corn is the first source of cellulose. We want corn to move into a higher value." That future could include using corn to produce more industrial chemicals and biodegradable plastics, for example. Most cellulosic-ethanol technologies in development right now will rely heavily on the ability of the U.S. farmer to produce so-called ‘energy crops’ such as switchgrass, miscanthus, prairie grass, wheat straw, corn cobs and, someday, corn stover, or the leafy part of the corn plant. Chris Hurt, an agriculture economist at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN, said emergence of biofuels has changed the agricultural landscape. "Fuel and food markets are now fairly closely linked by biofuels," he said. "But this is not to say that each will have all the grains and soy products they would like to have, or that usage in each category will be at the same levels as pre-2006." The ethanol-investment surge was a phenomenon moving from a planned capacity of about 6.1 billion gallons at the start of 2006 to a planned capacity of about 13.6 billion in August, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. So the surge in corn demand is coming in the 2007 to 2009 crops and totals about 3 billion added bushels of potential usage over those three crops, he said. Hurt said it’s rare to experience a demand surge "as large and well defined as the ethanol surge we are going through right now." As a result, he said that a "less dynamic period" for corn will unfold in 2010 and beyond. "I think it is also clear that food will compete effectively with fuel for corn supplies," Hurt said. "In fact, in the long-run, food will probably be able to outbid fuel because of the greater overall value of food compared to fuel uses for corn." — DTN -vs.-fuel debate changing.

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Friday, August 29,2008

Grazing wheat likely offers profits this winter

by WLJ
Grazing wheat likely offers profits this winter With grain and harvested forage prices likely to stay quite high throughout the next few months, producers looking for profitable opportunities should take a good look at grazing winter wheat, say experts. Though the costs of grazing cattle are higher than in recent years due to elevated wheat prices, feeder cattle prices have kept in step and may still offer attractive profit margins to good managers. Derrell Peel, ag marketing specialist with Oklahoma State University, said that uncertainty abounds in both the wheat and cattle markets. This makes it difficult to predict how good the wheat grazing prospects look, but for those with sharp pencils, good opportunities will surely appear. "The situation’s pretty volatile right now with all there is going on in the futures markets," he said. "In general, it’s more expensive to do everything now, but that shouldn’t keep producers from looking for opportunities. Even though it costs more to grow the wheat for farmers, the forage is worth more as well." Nervous bankers, along with wheat farmers who might not want to take chances with their valuable wheat crops, could put a dent in the number of acres available for grazing, Peel said. "A lot of wheat farmers, and particularly their lenders, are suffering from sticker shock when they look at the input costs as planting rolls around," he said. "But, by the same token, the value of grazing is high and there are some real opportunities. The budgets that we’ve run show that it looks good for both the farmer and the cattleman to graze the wheat." Ranchers must pay attention to the futures markets to reduce the risk of buying feeders just for winter grazing, and farmers must decide whether revenue from grazing is worth risking lower yields. "There’s definitely a way to pencil in some profits, because the margins are there, but the question becomes whether either party is willing to take the risk," Peel explained. "Is the farmer willing to put up with the additional fertilizer costs and decreased yields, and is the cattle producer willing to go out and buy expensive feeder cattle to graze the wheat with?" Just as all input costs have risen over recent years, so has the cost of grazing wheat, but not without an equal rise in cattle prices—and potential profits. "We used to look at the cost of grazing wheat on a per-pound of gain basis in the area of 30-35 cents," he notes. "Now we’re at least up around 40-45 cents per pound of gain just to pay the production costs. On the other hand, the value of that gain is potentially up around 80-85 cents. Those figures are based on March feeder futures that were up around $115. Since we figured those numbers out, the futures have dropped, but it shows that there are definitely opportunities to lock in some profits if you jump on the futures at the right point." Peel said not using the futures market to reduce the risk of purchasing feeding cattle is unlikely to lead to disaster, but that playing the markets to your advantage is helpful when deciding whether the venture is worth it. "The lesson is it’s one thing to notice futures being elevated to a certain price point, but it’s quite another to act on it. You have to look for opportunities in the market and take them when you can," said Peel. "If you just go out and buy feeders to put out on wheat and don’t hedge them, it’s unlikely that prices will drop significantly by the time you market the cattle. If you can live with that much risk, maybe you don’t need to hedge, but it’s better to just lock something in when you get the chance." The increased costs of grazing wheat are not limited to the cattle producer, notes Peel, who says farmers face additional risk along with discouraging lenders. "Wheat farmers, once they figure in the cost of fertilizer, loss of yield and other factors, are looking at spending about an extra $80 per acre to graze the wheat, but that doesn’t mean they can’t recoup that much and more," he explained. "It costs more money to play the game nowadays, and neither the farmers or the ranchers should ignore an opportunity just because it seems too expensive." Peel said that because of the way the feeder cattle market is rewarding heavier cattle with equal or better price-per-cwt. numbers than lightweight calves, there may not be a large demand for wheat grazing this winter. "We’re also not sure how many calves we will even have out on wheat this year because when you look at the incentives to retain ownership, we really may not see a very big calf run," noted Peel. "In many cases it’s paying for producers to just background the calves and put a couple extra hundred pounds on them rather than to sell them after weaning." Higher input costs may make wheat grazing seem riskier than ever, says Peel, but the tools to manage those risks are still around for good managers to use. "There is opportunity in the wheat pasture situation. The costs may scare some people, but the input costs and your gross revenues are unimportant. The margin is what’s important, and that’s what you need to look for to take advantage of today’s market," he said. "Business as usual is something different than what it used to be." — Tait Berlier, WLJ Editor

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Friday, August 29,2008

47BeefBits2

by WLJ
ICE wants to work with meat packers Addressing the meat industry on the thorny issue of illegal immigration and the difficulty for employers of securing a legitimate workforce, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Julie Myers said the agency and industry need to partner to ensure compliance with the related laws. Though she acknowledged that effective immigration law is lacking in the U.S., Myers said companies are best to approach ICE and demonstrate the intent to cooperate and legalize their labor forces prior to potential enforcement actions. Thus far in fiscal 2008, ICE has issued more than 1,000 individual criminal charges related to illegal employment, including 121 against either employers or managers. AMS to educate on COOL USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will spend the first six months following official implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on Sept. 30 conducting outreach at retail establishments rather than focusing on enforcement. AMS Associate Deputy Administrator Bill Sessions told attendees at National Meat Association’s summer conference that his agency will not enforce the law during the first six months. The goal, rather, will be to educate retailers about its requirements. Sessions said AMS has been writing up guidance documents, which should be distributed soon. USDA schedules hearing on irradiated beef The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has scheduled a public meeting on a three-year-old petition requesting the approval of irradiation for use on the surface of chilled beef carcasses. FSIS will hold the meeting Sept. 18 at a location yet to be announced. The petition was submitted in 2005 by the American Meat Institute in an effort to further improve beef safety. Irradiation is a safe and simple process that uses energy to destroy E. coli O157:H7, salmonella, listeria and other harmful bacteria on food products. The energy passes through the product the same way as in a microwave oven. Food irradiation has been intensely studied and scrutinized for safety. The energy does not leave any residue nor does it cook the product or alter taste in any demonstrable way. Wyoming Beef Council names USMEF rep Wyoming Beef Council members have reappointed Irv Petsch as the Wyoming representative to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Petsch will serve a three-year term representing Wyoming on the USMEF Board. Contributions of Wyoming checkoff dollars provide for a Wyoming director to serve on the USMEF board. Petsch served the last three years as Wyoming’s representative to USMEF. During his first term, he was appointed to a USMEF steering committee developed to determine market availability and how to best use Beef Checkoff dollars to access foreign markets. In his role as USMEF director, Petsch will work to increase the value and profitability of the U.S. beef industry by enhancing demand for U.S. beef and beef products in targeted export markets. New technology predicts tenderness Fresh meat tenderness may be predicted using hyperspectral imaging, according to new research. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln project uses a combination of video image analysis and spectroscopy to determine the muscle profile and biochemical properties of a steak in order to predict how tender it will become during aging. The system, consisting of a digital video camera and a spectrograph, captures multiple images at hundreds of wavelengths with regular intervals, predicting with 77 percent accuracy which of three categories (tender, intermediate and tough) steaks would fall into once cooked and tested. The technology, still two or three years away from commercial application, would mean a boost to the beef industry as it would allow retailers to charge a premium for "guaranteed tender" meat. FSIS launching new food safety assessments USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is rolling out a new methodology of conducting food safety assessments at 5,300 Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point meat processing plants aimed at improving the consistency of inspections and documenting findings. Under the new program, those plants can expect a random food safety assessment at least once every four years, creating a set cycle for all plants, which had not been the case in the past. A new set of questions will also provide a structure by which enforcement, investigations and analysis officers can better collect data for input in a database.

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Friday, August 29,2008

Grazing workshop offers classroom and hands-on opportunities

by WLJ
Grazing workshop offers classroom and hands-on opportunities Livestock and wildlife producers, land managers, and others interested in learning about managing and optimizing their grazing lands are invited to attend a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) workshop in Cresson, TX, on Sept. 10, 2008, at the Bear Creek Ranch. The "My Piece of Texas" grazing workshops are a series that will teach attendees how to estimate forage production, determine grazeable acres, set proper stocking rates, and other grazing management principles. This workshop is one of five in the grazing workshop series. There is a $25 registration fee which includes lunch and a copy of the newly published handbook titled Managing My Piece of Texas. The handbook was peer reviewed by ranchers throughout Texas after being developed by grazing specialists from the Texas GLCI, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and NRCS. Attendees can expect to receive valuable information about managing grazing lands through classroom instruction during the morning session. After lunch, outdoor demonstrations will provide hands-on instruction targeting forage production and management presentations in the field. "Balancing animal demand with forage supply has long been a cornerstone principle of grazing management," said Jeff Goodwin, NRCS rangeland management specialist in Corsicana, TX. "This grazing workshop will not only reinforce those principles, but will cover an array of grazing topics that a rancher can take home and implement right away." Sponsors for the grazing workshop are NRCS, Texas GLCI, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Parker Co. Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and Texas Section of Society for Range Management. For those who plan on attending the grazing workshop, please call the Parker Co. SWCD at 817/594-4672 and RSVP by Sept. 5, 2008. For more information, please contact Jeff Goodwin at 903/874-5131 Ext.3, or Randy Henry at 817/467-3867. GLCI information can be obtained at http://www.glci.org or Texas NRCS Web site at www.tx.usda.nrcs.gov. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

44 Farms and Ankony Farms merge Angus cattle operations

by WLJ
44 Farms and Ankony Farms merge Angus cattle operations 44 Farms and Ankony Farms announced the merger of their Angus cattle operations. The new combined Angus cattle program represents a total of 166 years in agricultural production in the U.S. and creates an inventory of over 3,000 registered Angus cattle. The merger provides grassroots purebred Angus operations from the Pacific Coast in Terrebonne, OR, to the Atlantic coast in Clarkesville, GA, to a home in the heartland of America in the Sandhills of North Platte, NE, to the rich river bottom land of 44 Farms deep in the heart of Texas. It is the vision and mission of 44 Ankony Farms to provide consumers around the world with the very finest eating experience through nutritious and delicious Angus beef. 44 Ankony Farms is blessed to be able to provide the highest quality Angus genetics and responsive customer service to cattle breeders throughout the U.S. and the world. The genetically strong and high performing Angus herds of 44 Farms and Ankony Farms were further enhanced by the 2007 acquisition of the entire Angus herd of Bill and Barbara Rishel of North Platte, NE. Their lifelong devotion to the Angus breed, teamwork and friendship have been and continue to be instrumental in the furtherance of the quality of the 44 Ankony Farms program and the Angus breed. The Rishel prefix of B/R is found in more than 1,500,000 current Angus three-generation pedigrees. "We are very excited about the opportunities, extraordinary product quality, and outstanding service that this alliance provides our customers. The knowledge, integrity and commitment to customer service that Virgil Lovell, Tom Hill and Bill and Barb Rishel possess inspires us all," said Bob McClaren, CEO of 44 Farms. The merged Angus programs of 44 Farms and Ankony Farms also includes the ownership of over 220 registered Angus females that record a Dollar Beef Index of $60 or more, which places those females in the top 1 percent of the Angus breed, and more than 274 females that score a Marbling EPD in the top 2 percent of the Angus breed. "I have been in Angus business all of my life and these combined operations represent some of the finest cattle that I have ever seen. It is a credit to Bill and Barb Rishel, 44 Farms and the wonderful men and women of Ankony Farms. These proven Angus genetics can help cattle breeders around the world and provide consumers a great tasting product," said Lovell, CEO of Ankony Farms. With the increased number of animal units, 44 Ankony Farms will be able to further enhance its ability to gather structured carcass data through its association with Prather Ranch in California. The merger also provides opportunities for the furtherance of marketing alliances with Niman Ranch Meat Company, Oregon Country Beef, Painted Hills Beef, Superior Livestock Auctions and Western Video Market. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

Help prevent scours with colostrum management

by WLJ
Help prevent scours with colostrum management Research shows scours can cause up to 18 percent of calf mortality, making it the number one calf killer. A calf’s best defense against scours is colostrum, which carries antibodies that help provide immunity against scours-causing pathogens. "To get the highest levels of colostrum antibodies, you need to start with a quality nutritional program for the mother cows during gestation," said Jon Seeger, DVM, managing veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health. "Colostrum develops during late gestation at the same time major fetal growth occurs. These activities require significant quantities of energy and protein. Cow management should focus on quality nutrition to support this colostrum development." According to Seeger, colostrum management should also focus on enhancing antibody levels in the colostrum. Vaccinating a dam with a scours vaccine helps produce high levels of antibodies in the dam’s blood stream. The antibodies are then transferred to the calf through colostrum, eventually entering the calf’s blood stream through the GI tract. Cows transfer antibodies from their blood into colostrum two to five weeks prior to calving. Vaccinating against scours before this time helps build up the highest level of antibodies in the cow’s blood during the period that the antibodies are being transferred to the colostrum. "Vaccination timing is really important because all antibody transfer from the dam to calf is done through the colostrum," explained Seeger. "If the vaccination isn’t done at the right time to help build a high level of antibodies in the cow’s blood stream—and in the colostrum—the calf won’t get the best protection possible." Producers should also make sure calves nurse early and properly so they get an adequate quantity of colostrum within two hours of birth. Seeger recommends four quarts of colostrum within the first 12 hours of birth and an additional four to six quarts in the first 24 hours after birth. — WLJ

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