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Monday, April 25,2005

Western Wanderings: Remembering Bill Tackett

by Jerry York - WLJ Field Representative
Recently the Livestock Marketing Association announced that during this year's World Championship Livestock Auctioneer Contest it would present a Rookie of the Year Award in the name and memory of Bill Tackett. Bill Tackett was a friend of mine, and he was a great auctioneer. Bill passed on in September 2001. I first met Bill in 1974, when I made my first trip to Ruidoso, NM, for the All American Futurity and Sale with Mack Jones. Following that, I had the pleasure of working in front of him at future Ruidoso sales and at the Keeneland Thoroughbred sales in Kentucky. Bill was as smooth as silk, and his chant was as easy to listen to as it was for him to do. It seemed as though all he had to do was sit down and open his mouth, and it just rolled out. Bill was born in Arkansas and lived most of his life in Oklahoma. He started selling when he was 17 years old and as a young man he sold seven sales a week including Exeter, Lamar, Springdale, Hominy and Coffeyville as well as others. As he gained experience, the horse world took notice and he became a highly sought after auctioneer for such prestigious sales as Ruidoso, Keeneland, and Heritage Place, selling Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds. Bill loved to sell, and, even with the schedule he kept, he found time to work small local sales, selling everything from purebred cattle to jars of honey brought to the sales yard by the weigh man. A rancher friend of Bill's was on the seats one day and declared in a loud voice, "Well, I saw him selling million dollar horses in Kentucky last week and a jar of honey at Pryor auction this week." That was Bill. He loved selling, and he was so good at it. A friend of Bill's, Smokey Hand, wrote a poem about Bill and the last few lines are "Whos the World Champ...We'll never know, 'cause he didn't have time to go. From the Queen of England to Johnny Brackett, The Gentleman's Name? Mr. Bill Tackett." I have no doubt that if Bill had ever taken the time to enter the World Champion Livestock Auctioneer contest, he would have won it hands down. So the word is out. Whoever wins the first Bill Tackett Memorial Rookie of the Year Award, you have some big boots to fill and a sterling reputation to uphold. Wander, wander: Recently I wandered down to Reno to help with the IL Ranch Horse Dispersal and had a great time. The horses from this famous ranch were sold under the management of two Idaho horsemen, Terry Russell and Jeff Peck. There were over 100 head of horses in the sale and the majority of them were ridden through the sales ring. This took a number of good cowboys to accomplish and, as you can imagine, there was some excitement as all of this took place. With that many ranch horses there is bound to be a few that just have to express their individuality. The morning of the sale was a nervous time for all of us involved in the sale, as a spring snow storm clogged the interstate the day and night before, and on the morning of the sale a bad accident closed the highway and traffic was being rerouted. We started a little late to accommodate those stuck in that mess, but when we started auctioneer Rick Machado rolled through the horses in front of a large crowd in good time. When the last horse went through the ring, there was a loud sound of relief and the sale averaged an impressive $2,519 on 121 head of horses. Congratulations to Terry and Jeff on a great job of getting the horses ready and making it all happen and to all of the proud new owners of "an IL horse". More wandering: Following a successful cow sale for Dwight Mebane, Western Stockman's Market, Famoso, CA, Rick Machado, Jimmy Settle and I stopped by Jeff Oswood's Stallion Station in Porterville, CA. Jeff was gracious as always and spent some time with us showing us the stallions he is standing and some of the mares in his care. Oswood will breed some 400 mares this year for his clients and has earned a reputation for getting an extremely high percentage of the mares settled. That evening I was invited to a pre-Western Video Market sale at the home of Richard and Nancy Stober, just outside of Madera, CA. It was a class party, and anyone that knows the Stobers would know what I mean. The guest list was like a Who’s Who in the livestock industry, and everyone lucky enough to attend had a great time. I have known Richard for a long time, and first got acquainted with him in the late seventies when he came back to Denver to manage the Denver Livestock Market. Richard is a familiar figure at all of the livestock events on the West Coast and has been involved in every aspect of the cattle business as well as wielding a pretty mean auctioneer's gavel. Thanks Richard and Nancy for your wonderful hospitality. Until next time, I'm going to keep wandering the west where you will meet only the best.

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Monday, April 18,2005

All markets move higher

by WLJ
Fed cattle trade was stronger last week on very light trade volume. Northern Plains feeders started trading Wednesday afternoon establishing the live market at $149 dressed while Southern Plains feeders were holding the line at $92, which is where most live trade occurred. The fed markets were generally $2.00 higher over the bulk of the prior week’s trade. Only 66,000 head traded on the national scene as of Thursday afternoon. Meat traders are having a difficult time trying to figure the market out and have adopted a hand-to-mouth buying pattern. There was some light featuring at the major grocery stores last week, and some retailers are only featuring beef as a “percent off” the regular price rather than a fixed price because of the erratic meat markets. Retailers can offer better features with poultry and pork products rather than beef. Slaughter volume has been marginal with only 582,000 head passing through packing plants during the week ending April 5. The industry should start to see slaughter volume grow, but that will be difficult because finished cattle just aren’t there. Last week daily slaughter was slightly softer with 462,000 being processed through Thursday 8,000 head below the pace the week before. The latest packer margin index showed packers earning $7.00 per head on an average buy of $90.48 and an average production cost of $91.07 Perhaps the most interesting development in the market is the Choice-Select spread, which is at $16.64. It’s normal to see the spread widen at this time of year, but it has happened very quickly and is wider than normal. The cutout would also suggest that Choice product isn’t getting any greater value, but Select is being discounted more. The latest choice cutout was at $155.51. And Select was at $138.87. These meat markets have a softer tone to them as boxed beef movement is moderate and erratic. The cow beef cutout was at $116.47 down several dollars from a couple weeks ago. And the 90 percent lean product was also down $10.00 from a couple of weeks ago. With lighter cattle and fewer Choice cattle, there is much less fat on the market; 50-50 trim has gone ballistic and is trading at $92.03 where a normal trade range would be in the $40s. Jim Rob at the Livestock Market Information Center (LMIC) said that a more normal pattern of imports is resuming on the lean beef, which has put pressure on the component used for hamburger production. We may have seen the slaughter cow and bull market top out last week, when some $70 slaughter cows were reported. Carcass weights were starting to make their seasonal down trend. The LMIC reported that from January through early April, Federally Inspected (FI) cattle dressed weights averaged nearly 15 pounds above a year ago. Some of the year-to-year increase in average cattle weights has been due to heavier cow weights coupled with relatively small cow slaughter. Slaughter steer and heifer weights also have been above a year ago. But, so far this year cattle weights have been rather normal from a seasonal perspective. By late March, FI steer dressed weights averaged 806 pounds compared to 796 pounds last year, a yearly increase of 10 pounds. For the same period, averaged dressed weights for steers were only 3 pounds heavier than the prior five-year average weight of 803 pounds. On a weekly basis, steer weights have seasonally declined most every week this year. Last year, steer weights bottomed out in late April and should post a yearly low in late April again this year. At the end March, FI heifer dressed weights averaged 747 pounds, 14 pounds heavier than 2004’s and around 4 pounds heavier than the prior five-year average. On a weekly basis, heifer weights have declined on average 2.5 pounds per week since the beginning of the year. Feeder cattle Feeder cattle and calf prices were stronger than the prior week. A limited supply of yearlings is keeping feeders very aggressive on buying replacements. The latest feeder cattle index was at $110. Feeder steer prices last week at Oklahoma City were steady to $2 higher with exception of seven weights, which were up to $4 higher than last week. Feeder heifers were steady to $1 higher and stocker cattle were steady with seven days earlier at Oklahoma City. Stocker cattle are probably close to their seasonal high for the year. However, all replacement type young animals are expected to continue very strong. When the Canadian border opens to live cattle the prices of feeder and stocker cattle are likely to be pushed lower. But the border is not likely to be opened for at least two months and may be longer. The court system moves quite slow, said Ron Plain, economist at University of Missouri. Jim Robb at the LMIC said that lightweight cattle prices have surged to new all time highs. Most of the recent price spike-up can be attributed to producers buying lightweight cattle for spring/summer grazing programs. In the Southern Plains and Southeast, many of the lightweight cattle for pasture have already been purchased and most of the recent price strength was in the Midwest and Central Great Plains where pasture green-up will begin in the next few weeks. Lightweight cattle prices have posted the largest increases. In the Southern Plains, for the first quarter of 2005, the year-to-year increase in 500- to 600-pound steer prices was $19.39 per cwt. over a year ago (18 percent). For the quarter, the annual price increase for 700- to 800-pound steers and slaughter steers was $14.92 (17 percent) and $8.82 (11 percent), respectively. Besides good grazing in most of the U.S., with notable exceptions in parts of the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest, fundamental support to feeder cattle and calf prices has come from several sources. The key sources of price support include: 1) cyclically tight feeder cattle supplies; 2) rather strong slaughter steer prices; and 3) large year-to-year declines in corn and other feedstuff prices. On a quarterly basis, lightweight feeder (under 600 pounds) cattle prices are forecasted to set an all time record high in the second (spring) quarter of 2005, eclipsing the levels set last summer. Calf prices will likely remain strong for the balance of the year, but are forecast to be below 2004's by the fourth quarter of the year. Still, U.S. operations are expected to receive calf prices this fall that are the second highest ever for that quarter. But, 12 percent below a year earlier. For calendar year 2005, cash calf prices are forecast to be above 2004's, setting a new all time high. They are also forecast to set the annual high for this cattle cycle. Feeder steers (700-800 lbs.) prices are expected to remain strong in 2005 with annual average prices slightly below 2004’s. Red ink for cattle feeders will limit upswings in feeder cattle prices for the balance of 2005 and will likely keep prices below 2004’s for the last half of the year. In the Southern Plains during last summer’s quarter, 700-to 800-pound steer prices averaged over $117.00 per cwt., a price level will likely not be eclipsed again this cattle cycle, said Robb. After strong year-to-year increases for slaughter steer prices in early 2005, the balance of the year will bring slight increases, at best. For the remainder of the year, slaughter steer prices are forecast to mirror the normal seasonal pattern, setting seasonal lows this summer. Of course, uncertainty on the international trade front hangs over the outlook. Slaughter steer prices are forecast to average in the mid- to upper-$80s per cwt. in the second quarter, down $1.00 to $4.00 from the first quarter average. Prices will follow the seasonal trend this year, bottoming out in the third quarter, averaging in the low $80s per cwt. For the fourth quarter, prices may struggle back up to the mid-$80s. A very strong first quarter could pull the annual average slaughter steer price for 2005 slightly above 2004’s. — WLJ © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 18,2005

BeefTalk: Individual tracking system not ready for prime time

by Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University
The Dickinson Research Extension Center has been actively evaluating the many processes involved in the electronic tracking of cattle. The early prognosis is simple: The industry is not ready for the implementation of a uniform, nationally recognizable numbering system for individual animal identification as called for in the U.S. animal identification plan. This same plan, developed by the national identification development team, also identified the need for a uniform premises identification system. The implementation of the premises allocation process and subsequent utilization of the premises number seems to be on track. The center had excellent success in tracking cattle from premises to premises utilizing existing paper records available from individual producers and local brand inspectors in combination with sale transaction records available through commonly accepted marketing channels. The initial trace, from the calf's birthplace premises (premises 1) to the next owner's premises (premises 2) was 99.5 percent effective. It appears the trace from premises 2 to the next ownership transfer at premises 3 will be more difficult. The primary difficulty will be commingled and re-sorted cattle. The trace from premises 2 to premises 3 can be accomplished, but more personnel will be needed. Cattle can be traced by paper records, provided the records are accurate, legible and completely filled out. It may be very inefficient to trace cattle lots composed of multiple previous owners manually. Once the actual assignment and utilization of premises identification numbers is complete, the tracking of cattle lots from premises to premises should be quite effective. Unfortunately, as noted earlier, premises-to-premises tracking does not and will never track individual animals. The tracking of individual animals will require the implementation of additional technology and associated education throughout the industry. The center, through the efforts of the CalfAid team, actively is evaluating the current state of tracking equipment. The results are mixed and only marginally successful at any point. Two areas of concern surface immediately. The complexity of sorting through the multitude of commercial players and networks literally can bring one to tears. The problem is magnified by the careless and casual use of the term "ISO." The common reply is "yes," we are ISO- compliant. What is ISO? ISO stands for International Organization of Standardization. Therefore, as quoted from the ISO Web site, "ISO is able to act as a bridging organization in which a consensus can be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society, such as the needs of stakeholder groups like consumers and users." The immediate challenge the CalfAid team encountered was the lack of consensus among contributing players in the electronic identification (EID) business, with no regard for the stakeholders involved. The result is the removal of ISO-compliant EID tags that meet the open standard for mass usage in the industry and replacement with EID tags that meet the needs of individual users, more commonly called a closed system. The second challenge, given the lack of true compatibility across systems, is the lack of a defined acceptable level for transponder performance. Simply put, even if the EID tags do meet the true ISO specifications, there is no guarantee the tags can be read with any level of reliability. At least the center is not out of work. More to come. May you find all your ear tags.

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Monday, April 18,2005

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Sausage recall Roger Wood Foods in Savannah, GA, is voluntarily recalling approximately 10,700 pounds of sausage products that may be contaminated with listeria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. Products subject to recall include: 1-pound packages of preferred recipe, BEEF Smoked Sausage, 2.5-pound packages of GREAT GRILLERS, smoked sausage, made with chicken, turkey, pork and beef, 5-pound packages of FAMILY PAK, Chicken, Pork and Beef Wieners, 3-pound packages of FAMILY PAK, Chicken, Pork and Beef Wieners, 4-pound packages of FAMILY PAK, Chicken, Pork and Beef Wieners. The sausage was produced on March 10, 2005, and was distributed to retail stores in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The problem was discovered through regulatory sampling conducted by the state of Georgia. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products. Processing plant moving to SD A change in contractors will delay the construction of a Ridgefield Farms beef processing plant scheduled to be built in Huron, SD. Ridgefield is relocating from its Connecticut home to South Dakota, but cost overruns by its original contractor caused the company to delay construction. The $42 million plant, originally scheduled to open in January of 2006, will now debut four to six months late. It will employ about 300 in the slaughter and processing facilities. New BSE case in Japan Japanese officials revealed April 8 that they have found a new case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the seventeenth since the first case was identified in the country in September 2001. The victim this time was a female Holstein, about 54 months of age. It was found on the island of Hokkaido and was identified when it became unable to stand or walk. Tops closes three stores Tops Markets, a division of Dutch grocer Ahold, will close three more stores in Ohio and lay off 450 employees in that market. In addition to the employees at the three locations (Cleveland, Solon and Sandusky), the grocer plans to lay off butchers and bakers in other Ohio stores. The chain will keep at least one butcher in each location, but ramp up its case-ready assortment to keep labor costs down. It will also outsource some of its baking. The Williamsville, NY-based grocer closed six Ohio stores and laid off 390 in January. Smithfield undecided Responding to published reports that it plans to build a new beef plant in the near future, Smithfield, VA.-based Smithfield Foods said it has had "early, exploratory discussions concerning the feasibility of constructing" such a plant, but has made no decision as yet. State bill favors antibiotic-free meat A bill being heard by the Maine legislature's agricultural committee would order all public school systems, including universities as well as all state institutions, to give preference to suppliers who could provide antibiotic-free meat. The bill concedes that costs for foodservice would rise considerably, about 11 percent at the University of Maine and by undetermined amounts elsewhere. The Maine Farm Bureau opposes the bill, while organic groups favor it. Partnership possible Elected leaders of National Meat Association (NMA) and the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) met in Chicago last week to discussing how each organization could benefit from a partnership. The presidents, Tom Campanile Jordan Dorfman, said in a joint statement that they have two aims: “To better enable our members to successfully operate in the rapidly changing and challenging business environment of the 21st century; and to preserve the culture of both organizations that have each served the industry for 60 years.” They added: “We are excited about the opportunities that this partnering will provide our respective memberships. They will be the first to learn of our progress as more information becomes available.” State Fair Revives Open Beef Show for 2005 The State Fair of Virginia Open Beef Show returns September 26-29 during the Fair at the Richmond Raceway Complex in Richmond. The State Fair Open Beef show will complement the long standing State Fair Youth Beef Show, which in 2004 featured 601 head and 193 4-H and FFA youth participants. The Open Beef Show returns after a ten-year absence for two reasons: to showcase this very important segment of Virginia agriculture and to present more animals for Fair customers during the event. Information is available at www.statefair.com. © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 18,2005

Crop byproducts can stretch hay supplies

by WLJ
Livestock producers should consider using crop byproducts to stretch drought-affected pastures and hay supplies, said Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University Extension Service beef cattle specialist. Lactating beef cows have relatively high nutrient requirements, according to Lardy. Consequently, those cows need an adequate supply of nutrients, particularly protein and energy, to maintain their body condition. Byproducts such as wheat middlings, soybean hulls, barley malt pellets, corn gluten feed and sugar beet pulp all contain highly digestible fiber that the ruminal microorganisms can use as a source of energy, he said. Many counties in southwestern and south-central North Dakota face dry conditions this spring. In some cases, hay supplies are dwindling. The lack of rainfall has livestock producers concerned about forage availability for the upcoming grazing season. Their primary concerns are providing the proper nutrition for their cows and managing the grazing resource properly. "In areas without enough hay or pasture, byproducts can be an economical alternative or substitute for a portion of the hay in the diet," Lardy said. North Dakota processing plants produce thousands of tons of these products daily. Many of these byproducts are priced reasonably this spring, he said. How much of each particular byproduct to feed to the cowherd depends on a number of factors, such as the amount and quality of hay or pasture available, the cows' nutrient requirements and the projected cost of the ration. For more information on specific recommendations, producers should refer to NDSU Extension bulletins AS1175, AS1182 and AS1242 or contact their local Extension office. These bulletins are available on the NDSU Extension Web site at www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/beef.htm. A list of byproduct suppliers is available on the NDSU Web site at www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/dairy/dairyext/coproduct.htm. — WLJ © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 18,2005

Letters

by WLJ
Keep border closed Dear Pete: First let me introduce myself. I am a past president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association—two years. A past member of the Public Lands Council—five years. Twenty-six years as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives. I am acquainted with Dick and Barbara, also knew Nelson Crow. Reference is made to your article in the March 7, 2005, issue of the Journal, Vol. 84 No. 21. Now Pete, you did not come right out and say you supported opening the border, but it seemed to me you were leaning that way. You have every right to your opinion as I do mine. I would like to see it remain closed for several reasons. The packers claim they cannot get cattle to slaughter, but I do not believe that. They like Canadian cattle because they are about 35 cents per pound cheaper. In 2004, we imported 356,623 metric tons of boxed beef from Canada. If we did not import all the boxed beef, maybe our packers could sell theirs for a profit. We have 33.5 million beef brood cows in the United States. I figured those beef cows at 75 percent calf crop, which would give 25,125,000 cattle to slaughter. There are also 9 million dairy cows in the United States of which their calf crop would add another 8,100,000 for slaughter. That makes a total of 33,225,000 head. Figuring those head at 720 lbs. carcass weight, that gives us 23,920,000,000 pounds of meat. Now there are 296 million people in the United States and at 67 pounds per capita we could feed all of them with 4,088,000,000 more than needed. It would appear there are enough cattle in the United States to supply our needs. I am not going to use the BSE scare as an excuse to keep the border closed. I just want it closed period. There is no way we can compete with foreign labor when we have a minimum wage and union scale. The imports of all kinds of goods are killing us. There are economists who will look you right in the eye and tell you how great these imports are when they know it is not true. I am not a highly educated man, but I can add two and two. There are many more imported items that are hurting us, but too many to cover in this letter. I like your magazine. Please say hello to your folks for me. Denny Jones Ontario, OR Death tax repeal? Dear Mrs. Swenson: The last time I read the Republican proposal to removed the "death tax" it was going to cost me $410,200 MORE!!!!! than if things remain the same. Why? Because instead of reevaluating the property basis at the decedent's death, it keeps the basis the same for the heirs as it was for the decedent. My parents bought their farm in 1960 for $35,000. It is now worth about $1,500,000. The way the inheritance law is now we pay NO taxes at all on the first $1,900,000 (for two people). Next year it is the first $2,000,000. In other words, my brother and I inherit the farm tax free. In addition we get the stepped up basis of $1,500,000 so when we sell it we would pay no taxes. The farm is in a poor location now because of urban sprawl and my brother and I would like to sell it and buy a farm in a more rural location, but if they change the law we will be seriously hurt financially and probably won't be able to stay in farming. The version of the proposed inheritance law I read in the past says that while you don't pay any taxes when you inherit, when you do sell the property you have to pay taxes on the difference between our parent's basis and what it sells for. So if we got $1,500,000 for it we'd have to pay capital gains tax on $1,465,000!!!!! That's 28% x 1,465,000 = $410,200!!!! Screwing the middle income farmers like me and my brother—not to mention all other average Americans—will increase the amount the Federal government squeezes out of the middle class by billions. The only people who will make out good with this scheme are the SUPER RICH who already have more than they need. I think a more fair solution would be to leave the inheritance laws as they are, but change the due date to pay the inheritance tax to the date on which the capital asset is sold. That way people who inherit farms, ranches and businesses that are worth more than $2,000,000 wouldn't have to sell the business to pay the inheritance taxes. Instead they would pay inheritance taxes when they sold the capital asset. That way people who want to continue the family business could do so and not be harmed. Since you wrote the article on this subject that appeared in the March 14, 2005, issue of the WLJ, I assume you are up on the content of the current legislation under consideration. Am I correct in that if this is passed the stepped up basis will be eliminated? If that is so, I would think that most farm and ranch groups should be informing their membership and trying to expose this raw deal, rather than blissfully going along with it until it is too late. I'd really appreciate it if you could get back to me on this and let me know if I am correct or if they have made changes in the proposal that will protect people like me. Sincerely, Larryann Willis Tracy, CA Numbers off Dear Editor: These are prosperous times for many in the cattle industry––especially the ranchers in the cow/calf sector. Prices for all classes of cattle are strong. Weather finally appears to be on our side. Some of the areas of drought that led to herd reductions in the Western region of the country appear to have had some recent relief, so even more producers are going to have green grass and plentiful feed. All of these factors, combined with terrific consumer demand for beef, make for an industry that is faring well. The Beef Demand Index increased by almost eight percent in 2004––the largest year-over-year surge in the history of the index. Per capita beef consumption also rose by about two pounds per person, and per capita spending on beef rose to an all-time high of $240 per year. Consumer confidence in the safety and quality of beef is also at record-high levels. But some—who say they represent the cattle industry—would have you believe that tight beef supplies are driving up beef prices, and that our favorable market conditions are the result of the Canadian border closure. They’re not coming clean with the facts. The hard facts will tell you that strong consumer demand is sustaining cattle prices––not tight supplies. In fact, in 2004, the U.S. beef industry had the second largest net supply of beef (production plus imports minus exports) in history at 27.7 billion pounds. The largest year of supply was 2002, at 27.9 billion pounds. But American producers captured their smallest-ever share of the U.S. beef supply. The United States imported 1.1 billion pounds of Canadian boneless beef in 2004, and Cattle-Fax expects that figure to rise by 15 to 20 percent in 2005. The fact that it will arrive as boxed beef––rather than “on the hoof”––makes little difference to consumers or the price that they pay. But it does mean that cattle feeders, processors and others in the U.S. beef industry miss out on the opportunity to add value to these products. At the same time, we are bringing in Mexican cattle by the truckload. In 2004, the United States imported as many feeder cattle from Mexico as it did from Mexico and Canada combined in 2002, the last normal year of trade. Prior to our borders closing, the United States was a net exporter of beef products, representing a $1.4 billion net to cattle producers. Today, we are a net importer. In other words, cattlemen have lost at least $1.4 billion in value, reports the Livestock Marketing Information Center. Meanwhile, with economic signals strong, we are growing our domestic herd. How do we turn these numbers around and regain our position as beef supplier to the world? Certainly not by disparaging the safety of our product. The tactics employed by activist groups within our industry do nothing but delay the re-entry of the U.S. cattle industry into key export markets, costing our cattle producers an estimated $175 per animal in the process. Regaining full access to markets such as Japan, Korea and even Mexico depends on normalization of trade based on reasonable, science-based regulations—not creating a hysterical, isolationist environment that wrecks consumer confidence, weakens demand and strangles international trade. I urge cattle producers to fully commit to continuing to grow global beef demand and building a stronger and larger U.S. beef industry. The first step in this journey is to see through the empty rhetoric and misinformation that is being spread about our industry and our product. When we look at the facts, we know that science-based, fair trade policies are the only environment that will allow us to grow and thrive. Archaic, isolationist trade restrictions may have surface appeal, but they can only take us backward. Be wary of those who like to tell you they are looking out for “the little guy” or “the independent producer.” Crunch their numbers, and you will find they simply don’t add up. Sincerely, Mike John President-Elect National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Huntsville, MO R-CALF legacy Dear Editor, The R-CALF folks have now been called stupid, arrogant, selfish, and out right greedy in most of the farm press. Borderline state Michigan now has the nation's highest unemployment rate due to major losses in automotive jobs. Here is why it happened: the car people mistakenly thought 'made in USA' would overcome all else, even union wage price cars and rust bucket quality. Hello Toyota-COOL. And, with our big old steel mills and excess capacity car plants, a car company would not want to build a car in Mexico or Canada or Japan or Yugoslavia, would They? They did. R-CALF, you are about to learn a history lesson, and in doing so, you will go down in history as having destroyed part of the future of beef production in this country. What a legacy for your grandchildren. You are selling their future for a couple of short term bucks per cwt. Gary Voogt Marne, Michigan © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 18,2005

Obituary

by WLJ
Henry Albert Bledsoe Henry A. Bledsoe passed away April 3, at the Wray Community District Hospital. He was 84. Henry was born Nov. 7, 1920, in Plainview, TX, the only son of Daisy Smith and Henry Bledsoe. The family owned ranches at Mule Shoe, TX, but because the nearest hospital was in Plainview that became his birth place. When irrigation began appearing in that part of the Texas Panhandle, the family traded the land in Texas for a ranch in El Paso County, CO, because the family was involved primarily in ranching. Henry graduated valedictorian of his senior class at Ellicott High School and scored a perfect 100 percent on his entrance exams to Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) in Ft. Collins, CO. He entered college at age 14 and was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho. He graduated in 1941 with honors and a degree in Economics and served as a second lieutenant in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). In 1943, he married Lucile Mary Driscoll, and they took up residence on the Timberlake Ranch near Cheraw, CO. Hank and Lucile were blessed with the birth of two children, Sandra Ann in 1946 and Robert Edward in 1947. In 1948, Henry and Lucile purchased the former Sullivan Ranch, north of Wray, and proceeded to add land in Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Together with his family, he incorporated a feedlot, central pivot irrigation, and wheat production into the operation. His management skills advanced corn, wheat, and cattle yields. Henry was president of the Colorado Livestock Association (PCA), the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association, Yuma County Cattlemen’s Association, and Y-W Electric Association. He served as a board member of Tri-state G&T, Trapper Mine Company and the Salt River Power Association. He was also a member of the international Flying Farmers Association. He was elected to the Ninth District Farm Credit Association board of directors, headquarted in Wichita, KS, and served many years as board president. During this time, he also served on the Farm Credit Council in Washington, DC. He was the only person to be elected to two full terms as president. He also served as an advisor to the Federal Farm Credit Board. Henry received the Jerry Litton Award as the foremost, progressive achiever in the agriculture field. The award also recognized his efforts to steer young graduates into the fields of agriculture and agricultural business. Henry received many awards and honors within the livestock arena and banking business. He acquired his private pilot’s license, but after his wife and life-long partner, Lucile, advanced her degrees in aviation, he related that he’d rather that she fly, while he’d ride along and think about business. All with whom Henry had business dealings—without fail—admired his honesty and integrity and have expressed that fact of his life. With Henry, a handshake sealed the deal. In all his activities, he didn’t neglect the home front. Henry was an active member of the Wray United Methodist Church, a 62-year member of BPOE, a former Rotarian, and one of the original 49ers. It has been said that he was the East Yuma County Sandhills Pitch Champion. Henry was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Daisy Bledsoe, and one sister Mary Lily Bledsoe Lauerman. He is survived by his wife, Lucile, whom he called his partner and best friend; daughter Sandy Bowman and husband Jim; and son Bob Bledsoe and wife Becky. His grandchildren are Annabet Soehner and husband Curt; Grant Bledsoe and wife Katie, all of Wray; J.J. Bowman and wife Angie of Lakewood, and Doc Bowman of Madison, WI. Greatest of the great he’d say are Lauren Keithly Soehner, Madalyn Driscoll Soehner, Jaydan Marie Brotton, and Jackson Clark Bledsoe, his great-grandchildren. Receiving of Friends was on Sunday, April 10, at the Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home in Wray. Funeral services were on Monday, April 11, at the Wray United Methodist Church in Wray with Rev. Norman Stott officiating. Memorials may be made to the Wray United Methodist Church in Wray, or the Henry A. Bledsoe CSU Memorial Fund, c/o First Pioneer National Bank in Wray. © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 18,2005

Texas to randomly select herds for TB testing

by WLJ
Texas livestock health officials will randomly select nearly 2,000 of the state’s purebred or seed stock beef herds for cattle tuberculosis (TB) testing this summer, to fulfill disease surveillance obligations of the Texas Cattle TB plan. The blueprint for regaining Texas’ TB-free status was developed in 2002 by cattle industry representatives, with a recommendation for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to implement a TB testing effort. The plan calls for TB testing all of the state’s 811 dairies and about 2,400 purebred or seed stock beef herds. Dairy herd testing has been completed, but only about 500 owners of purebred or seed stock beef herds have volunteered for testing. Federal funds for herd testing expire Oct. 1, so the TAHC is tackling the problem with a high-tech version of drawing names from a hat. “In early March, we reconvened the Texas TB Task Force, which included leaders from the purebred cattle industry, to determine how to get herds tested and meet the agreement made with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has funded the plan,” said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas’ state veterinarian and executive director of the TAHC, the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. “Random selection of herds was seen as the most equitable way to complete a statistically valid disease surveillance of purebred and seed stock cattle herds. By mid-April, a computer program will pick names from a database listing purebred and seed stock producers. We then will contact the ranchers to line up the test that will be conducted by private veterinarians at no cost to the herd owner.” “We will try to accommodate ranchers’ schedules, and if an owner wants to volunteer their cattle for TB testing, we welcome their participation,” he said. “No herd is too small for testing.” Hillman said more than 500 private veterinary practitioners in Texas have completed additional TB training and are on contract with the TAHC to conduct herd tests. To volunteer herds for a test, locate a contract veterinarian, or obtain information, ranchers should contact their local TAHC area office or the TAHC headquarters in Austin at 800/550-8242. Hillman said that dairies, purebred and seed stock beef herds were targeted for testing, because, during the past 22 years, TB has been detected in 15 Texas dairies and six purebred cattle herds in nine counties, including El Paso, Karnes, Comanche, Pecos, Uvalde, Fayette, Culberson, Grayson, Zavala and Hamilton counties. Dr. Hillman stressed that dairy and purebred beef cattle are no more susceptible to TB than commercial cattle, but they usually are maintained in more confined conditions, which are conducive to TB transmission. He said that milk from the dairies is safe, as pasteurization, or heat treatment, kills the bacteria. Meat also is safe, as carcasses are inspected for wholesomeness at slaughter, and cooking meat also kills bacteria. In 2000, Texas gained cattle TB-free status, with the exception of the El Paso Milk Shed, where dairies with low levels of recurring infection were still present. In 2002, the USDA pulled Texas’ “free” status, after two infected herds were detected and depopulated, Hillman said. A third TB-infected herd was detected and depopulated shortly afterward. During the statewide dairy testing, which involved more than 335,000 head, an infected herd was identified in Hamilton County and was depopulated in 2004. “Completing the disease surveillance of the purebred and seed stock beef herds is extremely important,” Hillman said. “It will allow Texas to fulfill its agreement with the USDA and states that receive Texas cattle. We can then move forward to regain TB-free status and avoid interstate movement restrictions on Texas cattle. Secondly, it will provide Texas ranchers the assurance that there is no undetected infection in these valuable herds.” Hillman said other segments of the TB plan are ongoing and include: • Testing dairy and breeding cattle being moved from Texas. • Improved slaughter inspection by the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). • Requiring yearly TB tests on roping steers imported from Mexico. • Continuing work with Mexican states on TB control and eradication. “Cattle TB is not a disease we can learn to ‘live with,’” Hillman said. “The contagious TB bacteria can cause cattle to develop internal lesions, and in rare instances, can cause human illness. Regaining cattle TB-free status must be a priority. In Texas, 2,000 ranchers will make a profound difference by completing this disease surveillance effort.” — WLJ © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 18,2005

What Canada has to say about traceability

by WLJ
Canada's food and feed-processing industries will need to take a proactive approach to the issue of traceability as consumers become more concerned about the safety and quality of what they are eating, according to presentations Tuesday at the Canada Grains Council 36th annual meeting. Delegates at the meeting were told that although agriculture is barely on the minds of consumers, this sector was the driving force behind the need to improve food safety. Scott Dutton, a media relations official with IPSOS-Reid, a marketing-research firm, said a recent survey of 2,000 adults across Canada found that 35 percent of respondents were completely confident in Canada's food safeguards while 55 percent were somewhat confident. The results were considered accurate within plus or minus four percent, Dutton said. Those not confident, one in 10, expressed concerns about animal diseases, such as BSE or avian flu, as well as food contamination and the use of pathogens. Dutton said based on another survey of 1,600 adults in Canada, the food-processing industry in Canada will take the brunt of the blame for any kind of food safety issue that may arise. He said 38 percent of the respondents would blame the food-processing sector for the problem, 15 percent would link the problem back to the farm, 15 percent to the restaurant sector, 10 percent on transportation, 10 percent on the environment at home and about 9 percent on the grocery or retail store. Kathleen Sullivan, general manager with the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, or ANAC, said it was important for feed mills and feed manufacturers in Canada to be proactive and prepare to handle the inevitable traceability issue. She said her organization which was formed in 1996 with a goal of bringing Canadian companies on line to Good Manufacturing Practices and on board with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCPs, in the feed sector. "It is important that consumers know that the feed which is going into these animals and will eventually be used in the food chain is also safe," Sullivan said. Some 179 Canadian facilities are HACCP certified, of which 70 percent are feed producers and 33 percent are commercial feed mills, Sullivan said. She said cost is the problem in getting the smaller feed mills on board with the HACCP program. But she said ANAC is looking at how to streamline these safety programs from a cost perspective. "It is only a matter of time before outlets like Walmart in North America begin demanding audits of their food suppliers," said David Trueman, with DB Information Systems from the U.K. Because of that, he said it would be wise for food processors and feed manufacturers in North America to be proactive in coming up with product traceability lines and additional food-security proposals instead of waiting for government legislators to become involved. Trueman warned Canadian food and feed processors that failure to be prepared for these changes will result in a loss of market. — WLJ © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 11,2005

Appeal focuses on human health risk

by WLJ
A reply brief was filed by the National Meat Association (NMA) last Monday with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the continuing battle over whether to allow imports of younger Canadian cattle. The brief not only sought the higher court= s intervention in allowing this organization to be an intervener in the case of R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America v. USDA, but also asked the court to overturn the preliminary injunction put in place by a Montana-based Federal District Court preventing the border from re-opening last month. According to an NMA news release, the filing was a direct result of a comment made in a brief filed by R-CALF last week that said R-CALF has, A never argued that there was a great risk to human health from resumed imports of cattle and beef from cattle.@ Citing this statement, NMA asked the Ninth Circuit to immediately overturn the preliminary injunction against imports of Canadian cattle and beef, saying the judge= s ruling was based to a large extent on the alleged potential for harm to human health. The 30-page preliminary injunction issued on March 2 by U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull addresses the issue of human health in an item entitled, A Has the USDA failed to adequately assess the impact of its action on human health?@ The A action@ Judge Cebull refers to is USDA= s issuance of a final rule creating a category of regions with minimal risk BSE and setting conditions for importation of ruminants and of meat and other ruminant products from such regions, and naming Canada as the sole region with that classification. Cebull= s ruling says R-CALF alleges that by issuing the Final Rule, USDA has provided no assurance that the risk to human health is minimized, and USDA has not explained the criteria and basis for its conclusion that the increased risk presented by imports of Canadian beef and cattle is acceptable. Cebull cited the Animal Health Protection Act as law in this instance, since this act directs the USDA secretary to protect the health and welfare of the people of the United States. NMA cites excerpts of Cebull= s ruling justifying the preliminary injunction because of an A increased risk to human health@ and also a A genuine risk of death for U.S. consumers.@ NMA said, A Now it appears that these conclusions by the Court had no basis in the record, since R-CALF has effectively admitted that they could not have been based on argument presented by R-CALF.@ When asked about the human health risk quote NMA is citing, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard said, A They (NMA) blatantly misquoted our disease risk assessment expert who in his declaration said that while he did not consider a wide spread health risk to be highly likely under the proposed rule, he said it is not sufficiently unlikely to be dismissed or ignored. In other words, we are being realistic and factual in statements, and yet NMA is blatantly misrepresenting our expert in the caution that he was expressing to the court, which certainly borders on unethical practices on the part of NMA in a court of law.@ Bullard added that NMA= s quote that R-CALF never argued that there was a great risk to human health is not a direct quote. Instead, he said, they have deleted words and omitted commas and substituted them with a period to misrepresent R-CALF= s stance. After reviewing the Ninth Circuit brief filed by NMA, Bullard said NMA suggests the only reason not to allow Canadian beef is it would cause a wide-spread health risk. A That= s not R-CALF= s position at all,@ said Bullard. A We acknowledge that this disease, as we have watched it unfold, is a rare disease. And, our position is that it is a disease with such devastating consequences that we must take every precaution to avoid it and prevent its introduction into this country. NMA= s position is all about their financial self-interest.@ Another aspect of the NMA brief is an allegation that R-CALF has never addressed the risk assessment work supporting USDA= s Final Rule, including three successive studies from the Harvard School of Public Health. A R-CALF now seems more interested in supporting its protectionist preliminary injunction on procedural grounds rather than addressing human health and animal safety,@ said Rosemary Mucklow, NMA executive director. A And today to confirm the priority that R-CALF gives to procedural maneuvering, R-CALF filed with the Ninth Circuit a motion to strike the amicus briefs offered by two cattle feeders, Pioneer, Inc. and Easterday Feeders, and a brief offered jointly by the American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Processors in support of NMA= s appeal to the Ninth Circuit. A R-CALF will apparently use every legal technicality and tactic to keep in place the preliminary injunction from which R-CALF members are reaping huge profits at the expense of the very survival of U.S. slaughter facilities and U.S. workers,@ Mucklow concluded. Copies of NMA= s Reply brief and copies of R-CALF motion to strike are available on NMA= s website at www.nmaonline.org. Copies of R-CALF= s briefs and judge Cebull= s ruling can be found on the R-CALF website at www.r-calfusa.com. A hearing on the merits of R-CALF= s case for a permanent injunction is scheduled for July 27. As of press time last Thursday, it was uncertain whether the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear NMA= s case. C Sarah L. Swenson, WLJ Associate Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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© Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use, without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. 2008 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.