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Wednesday, June 20,2007

Farm Bill forum, comment period announced by USDA

by WLJ
20, 2005 Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns last Thursday announced the first Farm Bill Forum and the topics on which USDA will be seeking input from America's farmers, ranchers and rural residents regarding the development of the 2007 Farm Bill. "The next farm bill will affect America's entire agricultural community," said Johanns. "That's why I want to ask America's farmers and ranchers how our farm policy is working and how we can make it better. I believe very strongly that they deserve a voice in this process.” The first Farm Bill Forum will be held in Nashville, TN, on July 7 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. CDT at RFD-TV Northstar Studios. The public is invited to attend and participate in the forum, which will be broadcast live on RFD-TV. In addition to accommodating approximately 300 in the audience, the forum also will accept calls from across the nation. Johanns made the announcement in remarks to the state convention of the Illinois FFA in Springfield, IL. The 2002 Farm Bill, which authorizes many of the programs operated by USDA, expires with the 2007 crop year. Johanns noted that he was approaching the Farm Bill Forums with an open mind. "I do not begin this process with preconceived notions about the direction future farm policy should take," said Johanns. "We will use the feedback we receive to help us determine the best course for a new Farm Bill." Throughout 2005, Johanns and other senior USDA officials will participate in the Farm Bill Forums that will be held across the country. The dates, locations and times of the forums will be announced as they are scheduled and be available on the USDA web site at www.usda.gov/farmbill. The public is invited to attend the forums and present oral comments. Six topics have been identified to provide a framework for the forums. The primary topics addressed at the forums will reflect various concerns affecting rural America such as commodity, conservation, and rural economic development issues. In addition, some forums will be dedicated to other important programs authorized by the farm bill such as food assistance, research and education programs. USDA will seek public discussion on farm policy considerations regarding the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in global and domestic markets; challenges facing new farmers and ranchers as they enter agriculture; appropriateness and effectiveness of the distribution of farm program benefits; achievement of conservation and environmental goals; and enhancement of rural economic growth and opportunities to expand agricultural products, markets and research. The public will be invited to provide comments on six specific questions based on these policy considerations: • How should farm policy be designed to maximize U.S. competitiveness and our country's ability to effectively compete in global markets? • How should farm policy address any unintended consequences and ensure that such consequences do not discourage new farmers and the next generation of farmers from entering production agriculture? • How should farm policy be designed to effectively and fairly distribute assistance to producers? • How can farm policy best achieve conservation and environmental goals? • How can federal rural and farm programs provide effective assistance in rural areas? • How should agricultural product development, marketing and research-related issues be addressed in the next farm bill? Notice of these questions was published in the June 17 Federal Register. Comments will be accepted at public forums and may also be submitted electronically via the Internet. USDA will review public comments received by December 30, including any analyses, reports, studies and other material submitted with the comments, that address the six questions. — 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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Wednesday, June 20,2007

Seasonal weight jump earlier than normal

by WLJ
20, 2005 — Northern tier cattle 30-40 pounds heavier. — Cool weather could intensify front-end supplies. The normal seasonal summer spike in finishing weights of fed cattle started this year several weeks earlier than normal, and analysts are concerned that unseasonably cool weather could make the issue of front-end supplies even more severe over the next couple of months. For the week ending June 12, the average live finishing weights of steers being processed was 1,260 pounds, 18 pounds heavier than last year. Average steer carcass weights for that same week were 824 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than a year ago. The biggest jump in finishing weights has been seen in the northern tier cattle feeding states. Nebraska fed steers averaged a finishing weight of 1,321 pounds for the week ending June 12. That figure is 40 pounds heavier than the same time a year ago. Carcass weights for the state were 23 pounds heavier at 833 pounds. In Iowa, average steer slaughter weights were 1,323 pounds, 30 pounds heavier than a year ago. Southern cattle feeding states weren’t showing increases as big. Weights, however, were still heavier than a year ago. In Texas, for the week ending June 12, steer weights averaged 1,232 pounds, 22 pounds heavier, while Kansas cattle were averaging six pounds heavier, at 1,251. Analysts were very concerned with this trend because a lot fewer cattle are needed to provide even more beef than what was produced last year. “The U.S. processed almost six percent fewer cattle (between June 6-11) than last year, however, beef production was just under four percent of last year’s levels,” said John Ridenour, market analyst with HPP Livestock, Wichita, KS. “If slaughter rates were similar to last year, the U.S. would be producing at least two percent more beef with average finishing weights where they are at.” Several analysts last week said the heavier weights are already leading to an accumulation of cattle being held over week-to-week, or a situation known as “front-end” supplies. Ridenour said that while an earlier-than-normal front-end supply situation was somewhat expected this year, the severity of it could be worse than forecasted. “It’s not surprising that cattle are a little bit heavier when being slaughtered this year, but for a lot of those cattle to be 30 and 40 pounds heavier is shocking,” he said. One of the primary reasons for that extra weight being put on by cattle is the unseasonably cool weather felt by central Plains and northern tier cattle feeding states during the past month to six weeks. Chad Dolittle, statistician with Iowa City, IA-based MW Commodities, indicated that between May 1 and June 10 there were only five days across Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado that were the same temperature or hotter than the previous five-year average. “In a lot of areas, daily temperatures were 12-15 degrees cooler, which made feeding conditions for cattle much more comfortable than normal,” Dolittle said. “We’ve figured that 10-15 degree decline in temperatures probably resulted in cattle gaining at least a half to three-quarters of a pound extra per day than usual for this time of year. Over a month that is an extra 15-22 pounds being added to an animal’s weight.” Ridenour said that if cooler-than-normal weather continues through June and early July, that finished cattle supplies could get even more burdensome on the market. As a result, he indicated that cattle feeders probably need to adjust their feeding regimens, particularly on cattle originally slated for market slots in August and September. “We could see a good two week holdover on slaughter-ready cattle the next few weeks, which means the supply pressure in a couple of months could be overly intense,” Ridenour said. “It’s probably smart for some cattle to be fed less, in order for them to be ready for market a little later than originally projected.” Other market sources said that the most recent developments concerning BSE could slow down slaughter volumes even further, due to a decline in both domestic and export confidence in U.S. beef. “If things don’t improve from a demand standpoint, and management continues to move forward with current feeding regimens, we could see cattle 60 pounds-or-more heavier than the previous few years,” said Ridenour. “That would be very hard to get out from under.” — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ 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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Wednesday, June 20,2007

Closer monitoring of cattle water intake urged

by WLJ
27, 2005 As the official start of summer hit last week, ruminant nutrition specialists reiterated that ranchers need to monitor their animals= water intake and adjust their well output or other water-availability levels accordingly. The minimum requirement of cattle for water is a reflection of that needed for body growth, for fetal growth or lactation, and for replacing fluids lost through excretion in urine, feces, or sweat or by evaporation from the lungs or skin. When temperatures start to hit 65-70, those minimum requirements increase significantly and on a rapid basis. According to past water intake studies, researchers have indicated that nursing cows drink between 17-19 gallons of water between May and early September, when temperatures are normally at their hottest. During the first quarter and last quarter of the year, those same animals historically consumer between 11-13 gallons of water, on average. The increased intake is not only because of fluids being lost associated with evaporation through the skin and lungs, but because of mother cows needing extra water to promote adequate milk production for their calves. ACalves will start drinking water when they are a few months old, however, they still rely mostly on the milk produced by mom,@ said Randy Nieswander, cattle nutrition specialist, Southern High Plains Livestock Consultants, Liberal, KS. A Milk is both the basis of nutrition and hydration for calves. The more water that is taken in by mom, the better off calves will be.@ In addition, research from the University of Nebraska has indicated that mother cows reach their peak milk production period three to four months after parturition, which can happen either at the time a calf is born or a few days prior. As far as bulls are concerned, summer water requirements range between 17-20 gallons, compared to 10-13 gallons the rest of the year. Under normal winter calving situations, bulls are turned out for breeding in June and July, which means they are walking and A working@ a lot more during hot temperatures than they are the rest of the year. As a result they need more water. AWater is a key component to a bull= s recuperative abilities, particularly during a hot weather breeding season,@ said Nieswander. A In addition, the quality and viability of sperm is improved because of increased water intake.@ Breeding stock aren= t the only cattle that need to have increased water intake during the summer. In fact, heavier weights of feedlot cattle are said to have the most need for water during extremely hot temperatures. Cattle weighing 1,000 pounds or more in a feedlot setting are said to require 20 gallons or more of water in the summer, particularly when temperatures get 85 degrees (Fahrenheit) or hotter. In other times of the year, water intake can range widely, usually between 9-14 gallons. In instances where, temperatures get above 95 degrees, water intake can be up to 25 gallons, sources said. According to Nieswander, confinement feeding situations result in cattle feeling like temperatures are 8-12 degrees hotter than the thermometer indicates. ACattle are so closely penned together and shade is usually minimal in feedlots. That means cattle body temperatures get a lot hotter than the temperature actually is, particularly if they are black,@ he said. A That extra heat needs to be combatted, and the only way they can do that is by drinking water and keeping their core temperature down.@ Stocker cattle on grass and lighter weight cattle in feedlots usually drink 13-15 gallons of water during hot summer months, compared to 9-12 gallons the rest of the year. In areas where shade is more prevalent, and temperatures stay mostly A moderate,@ water requirements can remain around 10 gallons per day. Producers with any type of cattle on pasture or grass also need to take into account that water intake will need to be increased if salt or mintrate blocks are freely available to cattle. In situations where salt and supplement intake is more monitored, water intake won= t vary as much. C Steven D. Vetter, WLJ 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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Monday, May 28,2007

U.S. nearing tipping point in corn-based ethanol production

by WLJ
A new study conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University (ISU) conservatively estimates that the increased prices of corn driven by the demand for corn-based ethanol have already increased U.S. food retail prices by $14 billion annually. The study examined the impact of ethanol and other biofuels on the future and what kind of effect it could have on crop markets, the livestock sector, exports and grain-based food retail prices. The study found that if corn were to reach $4.42 per bushel, which is not out of the realm of possibility, as opposed to the historic $2 per bushel prices, and if crude oil prices range from $65 to $70 per barrel, U.S. food retail prices could rise $20 billion annually. “What we have learned from this study is that there are serious consequences associated with an increased ethanol-usage mandate,” said Gregg Doud, chief economist at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “We recognize the importance of the United States diversifying its energy sources to enhance energy security,” said J. Patrick Boyle, president and chief executive officer of the American Meat Institute. “But this study clearly shows that we are reaching a tipping point and over-reliance on corn-based ethanol to meet stringent government mandates would further drive up retail food prices, reduce domestic meat and poultry production, and erode our vital meat and grain export markets.” In one of the scenarios, which includes high crude oil prices, the study predicts that U.S. ethanol production could reach as much as 30 billion gallons by 2012. This scenario predicts that we could be using more than half of the U.S. corn, wheat, and other coarse grain crops to make ethanol, significantly limiting the amount of grain available for livestock production. “The additional feed costs associated with increasing the price of corn from $3.50 to $4.50 per bushel on a 750 pound steer, decreases its value to the rancher by $100/head when the finished product is worth $90/cwt.,” said Doud. The study predicted that if season average corn prices over a 10-year period ending in 2016 increased to $4.42 per bushel, beef retail prices would increase 4 percent while production would decline by 1.6 percent. In the pork industry, production costs would increase 36.8 percent. Production would decline by 9.2 percent and retail prices would increase 8.4 percent while exports would decline by 21 percent. The poultry industry would be severely impacted as well, with broiler exports expected to decline by 15 percent while retail prices would increase by 15 percent. “After policymakers read this study, our question to them is, ‘How do you plan to address the loss in cow/calf producer’s income if we increase the feedgrains-based fuel mandate and we don’t produce a record corn crop?” said Doud. Many people believe that cellulosic ethanol could help alleviate some of the pressures put on the corn industry to raise enough corn. Quite to the contrary however, the ISU study found that the vast growth of ethanol availability will come from corn. The study also determined that neither corn stover nor switchgrass, when used to produce ethanol, makes any economic sense. It was concluded that with all of the considerations such as conversion, handling, and logistics, it would not be economically feasible to produce cellulosic ethanol unless the government subsidized the operations with more than $270 per acre. Additionally, the study looked at what the impact would be if USDA were to allow some of the land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to be removed to grow corn. It was found that although CRP land could help to alleviate some of the financial stress on livestock producers in the short term, shifting 11 million acres of the 36 million acres in CRP lands would only have a mild effect for a short amount of time. The study showed it would only add about 1 percent to corn supplies and would lower the prices by 7 cents per bushel in the short term. “This could drive many producers right out of the cattle industry,” Doud said. “All we’re asking for is the ability to compete on a level playing field with the ethanol industry for that bushel of corn. Market forces must be given the opportunity to function, and policymakers need to carefully consider the negative implications that can be brought upon cattle producers as a result of continued government interference in the marketplace.” — RaeMarie Gordon, WLJ Editor  

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Wednesday, May 23,2007

Obituary

by WLJ
2005 Eric Loretz Eric Loretz, born August 30, 1923, in Sacramento, CA, passed away May 1, in Elk Grove. He was 81. Loretz lived his entire life around the Sacramento area and in 1936 moved to the home ranch in Franklin where he lived until his death. He served in the U.S. Army until 1946, when he returned home to Franklin to continue his life-long career as a cattle dealer and rancher as well as owner of Cattleman’s Livestock Market, Galt, CA. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Pat, son Frank, Elk Grove, daughter Patricia Loretz and son-in-law Ken Christman, grandson Phillip, and granddaughter Claire Marie Christman, all of Maryland, brother-in-law Paul Franusich, Franklin, CA, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Don and Laura Monseth, Herald, CA, and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers remembrances may be sent to Sutter Hospice, 2800L St., Suite 400, Sacramento, CA 95816, or to the American Cancer Society. © 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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Wednesday, May 23,2007

Post holiday lull expected; fed cattle prices impacted

by WLJ
2005 Fed cattle markets turned softer last week with northern Plains feeders trading cattle $1-2 lower at $141-143.50 dressed, and limited live trade at $88. Southern plains feeders were playing a tougher game and holding for at least $90 as they watched the boxed beef cutout rise for most of the week. At the end of trade Thursday only 127,000 head traded on a cash basis. Formula trade was at $145.32 on cattle priced Wednesday. Slaughter levels remained fairly strong after the prior week’s rally. For the week ending May 14, 649,000 head were slaughtered to fill Memorial Day orders. Last week, by Thursday, packers had processed 482,000 head, up 5,000 from the prior week but down 30,000 head from a year ago. For the week ending May 7, 656,000 head of cattle went through packers’ processing chains. In addition, both live finishing and carcass weights are above last year. That means that even more tonnage is being put on the market, and fewer cattle may be needed once Memorial Day passes. The average live weight of cattle processed for the week ending May 14 was 1,219 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than last year. The average carcass weight was 743 pounds, compared to 734 during the same week last year. Market analysts continued to call slaughter levels well above consumer beef demand. Most sources continued to say that 600,000 or fewer head of processed cattle would meet current beef demand levels. Packers are seeing some positive margins, earning $26 per head on an average buy of $92.21 from two weeks ago. Boxed beef was approximately $3 stronger with Choice trading at $156.88 and select at $140.90 on moderate volume last Wednesday. The Memorial Day retail supply had been bought up and trade volume had slowed significantly compared to the prior week’s “fire sale.” One of the bright spots continued to be the slaughter cow and bull trade, which is seeing some of the best prices ever. On the cow meat side, the cow beef cutout was at $124.36, which is near an all time high. The 90-percent lean market was trading at $159.38 and 50 percent trim was at $85.62. Analysts said that 150 pounds of fat and trim coming off these fed cattle is adding $100 per head to them. The May 1 Cattle-on-Feed report is expected to show feedlot placements up significantly over a year ago, with analysts estimating 99-115.5 percent of a year ago. Most of the additional placements are expected to show up in the 800-pound-and-heavier category. The average analyst guess for total cattle on feed May 1 is 102 percent of a year ago, with the marketing number expected to be 96.5 percent, with one less marketing day. The placement guess is wide open for interpretation. There were a lot of cattle moved off of wheat and winter grass later than normal. Feeders, stockers Heavier feeder cattle brought mostly steady to slightly firmer money, compared to two weeks ago, according to auction reports from across the country. However, lighter weight stocker-type cattle were seen trending $1-5 higher, with heifers showing larger gains than their steer mates. The fact that most cattle being placed into feedlots currently would be market ready after the normal summer lull in the fed market had passed was enough to keep prices mostly steady with the previous week. In addition, there is still a good chance that both Japan and South Korea will be reopened to U.S. beef in the last quarter or third of the year, and that would help fed cattle prices over that period of time. However, a lack of overall feeding industry profitability was said to deter interest in buying heavier weight feedlot-ready cattle for much more than steady money. Most analysts said that northern cattle feeders could show some breakevens in the mid- to high-$80s. However, several sources said that southern state breakevens were in the low-$90s for the most part. In addition corn prices started to spike last week, led by a 10-cent-plus gain in nearby futures contracts, and that hurt cattle feeders’ ability to ante up more money for cattle procurement. July corn futures last Thursday got above $2.11 per cwt, compared to sub-$2 levels most of the previous week. Cash corn trended back above the $2 mark, compared to the $1.95 level during the previous week. Analysts said that under normal cattle market circumstances, current corn prices wouldn’t be much of a concern to cattle feeders, however, those sources said these aren’t normal circumstances. “Historically speaking, the feedlot industry is currently paying at least 12-15, if not 20, percent more for cattle entering feeding facilities, and isn’t showing much of a profit, if any, for those efforts,” said Davis Adair, analyst with Chicago-based, ADG Commodities Inc. “In that situation, any spike in other expenses is more closely scrutinized and adjustments will be made quicker and more dramatically.” The CME feeder cattle index, for 700- to 850-pound steers, was $111.98 last Wednesday, about 15 cents higher than the previous Wednesday. “Grass fever” was the term most used by auction market reporters last week when reporting the significant upturn in demand for stocker cattle, particularly calves. Southwest auction barns reported that the two to three inches of rain that fell over the second week of May improved pasture and range conditions immensely and improved the psyches of graziers in the Southwest. In addition, pasture and range conditions across the northern tier and central Plains portions of the country continue are called over 60 percent good to excellent condition. Steer prices were called mostly $1-3 higher last week, while heifers saw gains as high as $7 more than the previous week. Reports indicated that the quality of heifers was much better than previous weeks, with a lot of “replacement types” noted. Most calves and lighter cattle won’t be ready for market until early next year, and by then the largest U.S. export markets are almost guaranteed to be open, which means the prices paid for them at that time should be much better than the previous few winters, sources said. From the heifer side, U.S. beef cowherd expansion is expected to be in full gear next year and several stocker operators are buying higher quality heifers with that in mind. — 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 2,2007

American Meat Institute pushes for China trade

by WLJ
Negotiations to resolve the protracted Chinese ban on U.S. beef should be part of the formal agenda for the upcoming strategic economic dialogue meeting set to occur in mid-May, said American Meat Institute (AMI) President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle in testimony submitted to Congress. “The U.S. has demonstrated its trustworthiness in food safety and animal health matters in accordance with internationally accepted scientific principles and should have access to the Chinese market,” he told the Senate Committee on Finance. Boyle noted that the ban on U.S. beef has frustrated the beef industry and has stymied the ability to get quality U.S. beef into the hands of increasingly affluent Chinese consumers. “As their economy has grown, diversified, and generated greater household wealth, Chinese consumers have become some of the best new customers for the members of AMI,” he noted. According to a recent McKinsey and Company report, it’s estimated that 700 million Chinese households will migrate from poor to middle class in the next 10 years. China was the ninth largest market for U.S. beef in 2003 with sales in excess of $27 million before the ban was put into place. “But the real value of this market is their rapidly growing middle class. The average Chinese consumer’s largest expenditure is food,” he said. In 2006, China imported more than $575 million in pork and poultry products, a 55 percent increase over 2005 values. For 2007, they are already importing 121 percent more pork and poultry products by value than at this same time in 2006. Only four years ago, their exports of pork and poultry were approximately $100 million annually. On March 12, 2007, a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) expert panel recommended a preliminary designation for the U.S. of a “Controlled Risk” country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). “This designation affirms the U.S.’ proactive and effective commitment to preventing BSE and controlling it should it occur. Under such a designation, U.S. cattle and products from cattle of all ages can be safely traded in accordance with international guidelines, due to our interlocking safeguards,” Boyle said. He told the committee that the facts are indisputable, and no nation has acted with as much forethought as the U.S. to prevent a disease, detect it if it existed and control and destroy it if it occurred. “It is imperative that the U.S. and China abide by the OIE’s international animal health guidelines to facilitate trade between both nations,” he said. Boyle told the committee that Congress’ passage of permanent normal trade relations for China and their accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has compounded the country’s economic emergence and its integration into the global economy. “As a member of the WTO, it is critical for China to appreciate the importance of trade based on adherence to the internationally developed and accepted guidelines of the World Animal Health Organization,” he added. “Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the safety of U.S. beef, more than 17 years of controls, and a preliminary expert panel designation, the ban persists,” said Boyle. He reiterated that the strategic economic dialogue coming up in May would be a good opportunity to discuss the ban on U.S. beef.

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Monday, April 2,2007

Letters

by WLJ
  Mandatory COOL is the solution To the Editor: In response to John Robinson’s March 19 column, have all the facts on hand before you write such a commentary. On the $1.99 ground beef, there is no mention of the USA cull cow and bull beef market. I hope this is just an oversight. The real crux of this letter to the editor lies within the next several paragraphs of your commentary. Labeling and COOL: well over 90 percent of the consumers of this country believe that beef products carrying the USDA label comes from only cattle born and raised in the USA. “Mandatory COOL is the solution.” Since ground beef’s already mentioned, let’s use it as an example. Remember a DNA test conducted on one pound of ground beef done recently? I sure do! I believe the sample contained over 80 different foreign cattle DNA. Which beef do you honestly think the consumer will buy? Furthermore, there is no comparison to the quality of beef born and raised in the USA, period! Yes, let’s let the consumer decide. Your comments on “Aussie” beef are un-American, you’ve insulted me as well as every other USA cattle producer active or retired. In closing, your comments on seafood labeling are off by 180 degrees. This next sentence is quoted from Mark Vinsel, executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska. “Alaska salmon used to [be] eligible for trade adjustment assistance because of import competition, but fresh salmon prices have gone up so much under the labeling program that many fishermen no longer qualify for payments.” Also, the Southern Shrimp Alliance says it continues to support mandatory labeling and that the program “works hand in hand” with their marketing programs. Sincerely, Kurt Cleek Spearfish, SD Back on track Dear Editor, My family was one of the many Nevada ranching families who suffered severe financial losses due to the mismanagement and abuse of power by now-resigned director Don Henderson and current state brand inspector Jim Connelley in the Nevada Department of Agriculture. These men conducted their unlawful activities with the blessing of the Board of Agriculture Chairman Benny Romero and Vice Chairman Deloyd Satterthwaite. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gov. Jim Gibbons for changing the leadership of this “chaotic, out-of-control” agency, in his efforts to set it back on the right course. The livestock business in Nevada is of major importance to the economy of the state. Between direct and indirect impacts, Nevada’s agriculture generates nearly $2 billion into the State’s economy annually. That’s the lifeblood of rural Nevada. The governor’s leadership will help make the vital functions of the Department operate efficiently and lawfully to serve the taxpayers of Nevada as well as the agriculture industry. Sincerely, Ben Colvin Goldfield, NV  

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Monday, April 2,2007

Public Lands Council cooperating withrecreation groups on public land access

by WLJ
Representatives from the livestock industry and several motorized recreation organizations met to discuss mutual goals for use of public lands. Attendees of the meeting agreed to form the Partnership for Livestock and Motorized Recreation on Public Lands, a group that will work “to ensure that motorized recreation and livestock production on public lands exist in a mutually compatible and beneficial manner.” The meeting was hosted by the Public Lands Council and the Blue Ribbon Coalition. Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Association of Counties, Western Governors’ Association, Tread Lightly!, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, Colorado Resource Advisory Councils, American Sheep Industry Association, Western States Sheriff’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen, American Farm Bureau Federation, Stewards of the Sequoia, and National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council were in attendance to advise the partnership. The partnership will continue to work cooperatively with stakeholder groups and agencies to implement education efforts, promote multiple use awareness, and facilitate communication between the various organizations. The partnership agreed to continue expanding its membership with stakeholders from motorized recreation, the livestock industries and like-minded advocacy groups. Jack Welch, president of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, described the new partnership as a “huge step toward improving our relationships on public lands with our partners.” Brenda Richards, a rancher from Reynolds Creek, ID, said of the partnership meeting, “This group is very supportive of multiple uses on public lands. We look forward to working together to protect public lands resources into the future.” The common goals of reducing conflict and promoting more successful resource management on public lands are important to all stakeholders in the partnership. The partnership working committee is developing educational messages and communication strategies. Stakeholders will continue to meet in the future and further develop partnership efforts.

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Monday, April 2,2007

Market continues to trade lower

by WLJ
Cash fed cattle trade got underway early last week at prices lower than the previous week. Trading was light to moderate in all feeding regions last Wednesday. Compared to Tuesday, live sales in the southern Plains sold in a narrow range from $95-95.50. There were more than 35,000 head traded in Kansas at $95-95.50 live basis and $152.50 dressed. Compared to the prior week, live sales were $1-1.50 lower in Nebraska where 29,639 head had been traded as of Thursday and in Colorado, cattle traded in a range of $96-97.50. In the western Corn Belt, dressed sales were called $2-2.50 lower at mostly $96. Dressed sales in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt were $1-3 lower from $153-156. The cattle on feed report issued by USDA on March 23 showed market support for the next few months in the form of lower cattle on feed numbers and a reduction in the number of front-end ready cattle in feedlots. Cattle feeders have done a good job moving cattle over the course of the last two or three months and the current state of feedlots should help support the market in the mid-$90 range or better, according to market analysts. Interestingly, the report did show a shift in the placement pattern, with northern tier feedlots placing larger numbers of cattle than southern states. High corn prices have fueled a debate about whether cattle feeding areas would shift to the north in favor of cheaper and more readily available corn supply. Although it remains to be determined whether the shift will be long-lived, it will certainly add a new dynamic to the markets over the next few years. This could be the beginning of several new opportunities for the northern Plains region. Meanwhile, beef product movement remains soft and is expected to remain so for the near-term. However, as spring weather begins to warm things up across the nation and buyers begin to seek beef products for grilling, retail sales should pick up again. Once that begins to occur, many market analysts expect fed cattle prices to move from the mid-$90 range back toward the $100 level by mid- to late-April. Last week, boxed beef prices were showing the signs of some of that market weakness as poor weather conditions spread across the nation. Choice boxed beef lost $1.47 to trade at $152.63 by mid-day last Thursday. Select was trading $1.05 lower at $143.51. Packers were reporting fairly good boxed beef movement, with 468 loads of cuts, trim and grind shipped on heavy offerings of product. Despite the slow movement of beef out of warehouses, packers had not reduced kill levels much from prior week or prior year levels. Last Thursday, packers harvested 120,000 head. That number was 4,000 head fewer than last week and last year. For the week to date total through last Thursday, packers had harvested an estimated 484,000 head, down from 499,000 the previous week, but above the year-ago tally of 482,000 head. The cow beef market also worked its way lower last week, losing $1.01 last Thursday to trade at $104.54. The 90 percent lean was selling at $124.46, down $1 from the previous day and the 50 percent trim was trading at $55.68. Continued heavy slaughter of cull cows has pressured prices lower. Prices are now well below last year’s levels when the cow cutout value was over $114 during the same week. The 90 percent lean was nearly $20 below last year’s level, while the 50 percent lean was above last years price of $45.24. On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), trade last Thursday closed mostly higher with the exception of April and May 2008 contracts, which closed down slightly. The up front contracts were slightly higher, with April adding 20 points to close at $96.37. June was up 52 points, closing at $93.95 and August posted the session’s largest gain, closing up 70 points at $91.72. Feeder cattle It’s easy to appreciate the sight of pastures greening up in the spring, especially after a long and hard winter. It’s even better for many cow/calf producers as the coming grass and a variety of factors continue to positively influence the feeder cattle market. This is good news for producers who have some fall calves to sell. The demand for cattle ready to go to grass remains very good. Thin cattle brought significantly more money at auction markets across the West when compared to their heavier conditioned counterparts. “These thin cattle are worth quite a bit more to me as the pastures around here are beginning to green up,” said Roger White, northeastern Colorado cattle producer. “I plan to turn out several hundred head and graze them through the summer. At least that's the plan.” In addition to the bout of spring fever that is hitting the western regions as many areas are already making it to 70 degrees, the corn futures dropped sharply last week. May corn futures settled at $3.91 per bushel. This is a decrease of almost 40 cents since the beginning of March. The CME feeder cattle index also increased last week from $104.71 to $105.54. “I’m sure with the decrease in corn futures and the optimistic outlook regarding the fed cattle market, cattle buyers are given a little more money to work with,” said White. “These feedlot owners can finally pay a little bit more for these feeder cattle and not take so much risk. From a cow/calf standpoint, this sure is nice to see.” In Galt, CA, feeder steers and heifers were $2 to $3 higher. Steers averaging between 500 and 600 lbs. ranged between $107 and $118.50. Their heifermates sold between $100 and $109.50. Heavier steers averaging between 700 and 800 lbs. sold for $90 to $99 while heifers of a similar type and kind sold between $86 and $94.25. There were several heavier weight heifers. Those weighing between 900 and 1,000 lbs. sold between $72 and $86.25. In Billings, MT, the overall quality was less attractive than the previous week and feeder steers were $2 to $4 lower. However, on thin fleshed five weight steers, there were instances of $4 higher. Feeder heifers were steady to $4 lower. There were instances of thin fleshed 500 lb. heifers being $4 higher. Demand was good for thin fleshed, high quality cattle. There was less demand for plain types. Steers averaging 535 lbs. called for $126 and thin heifers averaging 512 lbs. sold for $116.50. In Fort Collins, CO, stocker steers and heifers sold with a firm undertone noted. A lower undertone prevailed on feeder steers and heifers over 650 lbs. Buyer demand was good on grazing classes and moderate to light for cattle entering the feedlot. Steers averaging 522 lbs. sold for an average of $119.25 while those weighing 695 lbs. sold for $105. Five weight heifers sold for $108 and the heavier females weighing 686 lbs. called for $92.25. Just to the south in Dalhart, TX, feeder steers and heifers were mostly steady except for 500 to 700 lb. heifers which sold mostly for $1 to $2 lower when compared to the previous week. Trade was active and demand was good. Steers weighing between 500 and 550 lbs. sold for an average of $130. Similar females averaged only $107. Oklahoma City, OK, had another large run last week with 7,330 head. Feeder steers were $1 to $3 higher and heifers were lightly tested but were $1 higher. Stocker cattle and calves were $4 to $6 higher. Demand was very good for all classes. There were many consignments of thin cattle offered with weighing conditions attractive to cattle buyers with grass cattle orders. Steers averaging 519 lbs. sold for $131. Fleshy steers at a similar weight only sold for $123 while thin cattle weighing 508 lbs. called for $139.50. Heifers weighing 524 lbs. sold for $115 while females averaging 625 lbs. sold for $111.75. In Lexington, NE, over 2,400 head of steers and heifers trended mostly steady to $3 higher. Offerings with low flesh scores brought a significant premium. Thin steers averaging $524 lbs. sold for $139.93 while fleshy steers weighing 577 lbs. averaged $131.80. Heifers averaging 526 lbs. sold for $121 and heavier weight, fleshy heifers weighing 748 lbs. sold for $97.50. To the north in West Fargo, ND, feeder steers weighing 650 lbs. and less sold $1 higher while heavier steers weighing 650-900 lbs. sold $2 to $3 lower. Feeder heifers sold unevenly steady. There was good demand, especially for lighter weight cattle. Five weight steers averaged $119.91 while those weighing 750 lbs. were worth $106.75. Heifers averaging 480 lbs. sold for $109.75 and the heavier females, which averaged 807 lbs., sold for an average of $93.19.

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