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Monday, January 10,2005

Red Bluff: 2005 bull entries increase

by WLJ
Far West and northern tier bull producers appear bullish about the 2005 bull sale season as bull consignments for the annual Red Bluff Bull & Gelding Sale, Red Bluff, CA, are up from last year. Not only is herd rebuilding or expansion projected this year, but sale officials said higher-than-ever calf and yearling prices for 2004 could result in more bulls being demanded and/or more money being paid for herd bulls. This year’s event is scheduled for Jan. 25-29. Bull entries for 2005 total 437, up from the 375 head consigned last year. This year’s bull sale features bulls from 12 different breeds and represent producers from five states—California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Of the total entries, 249 are halter bulls, with the other 188 to be a part of the Range Bull competition and sale. As in years past, approximately 1,000 head of females, mostly heifers, are expected to be sold during the female portion of Red Bluff. This year’s female auction will be broadcast via Western Video Market in addition to bidding done at the sale site. Gelding consignments total 156 this year, with seven mules also entered. Working stock dog numbers were at 15, as of press time, three less than were entered for 2004. Six of the dogs to be offered will be pups, according to Red Bluff officials. This year’s event is a far cry from the first Red Bluff Bull Sale in 1941, which featured two dozen registered Hereford bulls. The first breeds added to the sale list were Shorthorns in 1943 and Angus a year later. Records show the fourth Red Bluff Sale had 350 head of breeding stock from seven different states. Red Bluff started as a venue for producers to evaluate and select bulls in an environment that was “as natural as possible” with bulls competing in both “halter” and “range-ready” competitions. According to Red Bluff sale committee members, the fact that there’s a range-ready division has helped in the development of a buyer base that continues to grow. Bulls in the range-ready division are in their “working clothes,” which allows prospective buyers to analyze the bulls for what they actually are and see what they’ll look like when out in pasture and rangeland situations. The halter show is similar to shows held during major state fairs and stock shows. In both divisions, bulls are sifted by a three-person committee prior to the show. Sifters, and the sale veterinarian, closely inspect all bulls for important phenotypic and production traits. Muscling, conformation, structure, mobility, and production records are all looked at to determine if a bull is eligible to be shown. After being sifted, a committee of three producers judge all the bulls to determine the sale order for the bulls. This year’s sift committee consists of Gordon Bruce, Los Molinos, CA; Buttons Dougherty, Vina, CA; John Owens, Red Bluff, CA; and O.W. Hooton, DVM, Red Bluff, CA. Hooton is the sale veterinarian. The bull judging committee includes Steve Coleman, Molalla, OR; Ken Hufford, North Powder, OR; and Dave Peterson, Powell Butte, OR. Sifters and judges are on a three-year rotation, with a new judge and sifter coming on board every year to replace the one who has worked three consecutive sales. Heifers While primarily known as a traditional bull sale, Red Bluff has diversified its interests over the years. A sale for commercial replacement heifers was added to Red Bluff in 1990, and offers the largest number of head to be sold during the event. This year’s sale is expected to be around 1,000 head of first-calf heifer pairs, fall- and spring-bred heifers and open heifers. All heifer lots will be judged on both quality of individual animals and the consistency within each load lot. The 1996 and 1997 Red Bluff heifer sales were the largest in the event’s history, when 1,500 head were sold each year. Equine, canine participation In addition to cattle, Red Bluff features sales for working geldings, working mules, and stock dogs. The gelding sale at Red Bluff was started in 1963, with a total of 22 horses being shown and sold. The top selling gelding in 1963 brought $400. Last year’s sale saw 99 geldings sell for an average of $6,025. The top selling gelding in 2004 brought $21,000. Working mules are also a popular sale item at Red Bluff. Last year eight mules average $4,875. The top seller sold for $6,400. The record selling mule was sold back in 2003 for $30,000. The stock dog sale at Red Bluff has become one of the more popular spectator events at Red Bluff with audience capacity filled for both the competition and sale. “Interest in our dog work and sale has grown enormously over the past several years. With such a popular event, it is often necessary to adjust scheduling to meet the needs of our buyers and consignors. At the 1998 sale an additional work class was added in order to show the ability of these dogs to work in the open, with a larger number of cattle,” one Red Bluff official said. The dogs are first checked by the sale committee veterinarian, then put through a series of works, one inside and one outside. The dog sale begins after all dogs have worked outside. The sale is in the Don Smith building. Last year, 12 dogs made the sale and averaged $3,708, with the top seller bringing $10,500. — WLJ

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Monday, January 10,2005

Checkoff denies constitutional rights

by WLJ
To the editor, On December 8th, the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard oral arguments on whether the Beef Checkoff is legitimate "government speech." The USDA side argued that the Checkoff is constitutional because federal bureaucrats approve Checkoff Beef Board member nominations and have the power to censor program content. Our side argued that the Checkoff structure amounts to both forced taxation and forced speech and association without the basic right to publicly elected representation. Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe spoke on behalf of the livestock auctions (Livestock Marketing Association) and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) of which Northern Plains is the Montana affiliate. Tribe's main argument was that to force cattlemen to put money into "the elaborate machinery and structure" of the un-elected, NCBA-dominated beef board system that "purports to represent them" is blatantly unconstitutional. He pointed out that we are forced in ways that the average federal taxpayer is not: we do not have the right to vote for representation or the checks of congressional budget oversight and program accountability. The Checkoff structure denies us all of the rights of dissenters that Supreme Court decisions have carefully protected over the years. Instead, the Checkoff program forces a million producers "to be homogenized into one message" and, if allowed to stand, would set the precedent for designing "programs to create ideological conformity in America," which is something that our Constitution clearly prohibits. Tribe conceded that the intent of the Checkoff law was probably not to force such ideological conformity, but observed that "the road to hell is often paved with good intentions." If you are interested, you can read the full hearing transcript for yourself on the Internet at www.worc.org. The discussion is a little hard to follow because Tribe and the Justices interact like some old married couple-interrupting each other and finishing each others' sentences. Although the Justices did not know much about the cattle industry, they did seem to understand that there are basic rights at stake here—including freedom of speech and association and no taxation without representation. Sincerely, Steve and Jeanne Charter Shepherd, MT

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Monday, January 10,2005

Pacific Rim delays Canadian beef reentry

by WLJ
South Korea said the discovery of a new case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada, the third known infection among North American cattle, may delay a resumption in beef imports from the country. South Korea earlier banned imports from Canada and the U.S. following BSE infections. South Korea consumed 443,000 tons of beef in 2004, the fourth largest in Asia after China, India and Japan, according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). “We’ve been banning imports of Canadian beef since May 2003, and resuming imports from Canada may be delayed further,” said Kim Kyu, a veterinary officer at South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The ministry last year held talks with Canada on lifting the ban, pending assurances the meat was safe. China and Japan have not formally announced what its plans for Canadian beef are, but the lack of any action last week was said to mean both countries would probably wait to reopen its borders to Canadian beef until the situation with the U.S. is resolved. Mexico stays open While Pacific Rim and several other overseas countries have further delayed reentry to Canadian beef, Mexican officials said last week there are no plans to tighten its restrictions on beef coming from Canada. Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry said in a statement it would maintain its existing ban on Canadian imports of live cattle, plus high-risk beef products such as cranium, brain, eyes and spinal cord., but that certain bone-in products would still be allowed across the Mexican border. “We will follow the investigation underway by health authorities in Canada,” the ministry said. New sanitary controls allowed Mexico to resume importing lower-risk beef products in August 2003. Mexico’s beef imports from Canada totaled approximately 70,000 metric tons in 2004. — WLJ

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Monday, January 10,2005

Rock Springs Ranch bull test

by WLJ
The 60 day average weight was 968 lbs. with a progressively concentrated ration, currently maintained at 30 percent. Shipping fever was at a minimum this year, but some low level respiratory infection briefly resurfaced. The highlights of the 60 day progress report show the Black Angus led by test bull #116 with an ADG of 4.13 lbs. He is owned by Henson Cattle Co. of Enterprise, OR. Tied for second are bulls #108 and #119 with an ADG of 4.11 lbs. Bull #108 is a Jan. 22 calf sired by Hyline Travel Agent. He is owned by Ye Ole Bovie Ranch, Mountain Home, ID. The #119 bull is an Algoma Fame R7 son born Sept. 16, 2003, owned by Blue Mountain Angus, Prairie City, OR. Red Angus bull #301 is still out front with a 4.41 lbs. ADG. He is a PAR-LOC New Era 1757K son born Feb. 25. Second place Red Angus is bull #302 with an ADG of 3.86 lbs. He is a March 20 calf sired by Lorenzen 2320. Both bulls are owned by the Morin Ranch, Hereford, OR. Gelbvieh are led by the #604 bull with an ADG of 3.38 lbs. He is a Jan. 18 calf sired by D9076 Supreme J969. Following is the #602 bull born Christmas Day and sired by ECC 509Y. Both bulls are owned by The Bull Mart, Burns, OR. Still leading the Shorthorn on test is the #502 bull, a March 5 calf with an ADG of 3.06 lbs. currently weighing 921 lbs., sired by Wolf Ridge Samson and owned by the Moe Ranch, North Powder, OR. The second annual Rock Springs Test Sale is scheduled for March 28, 2005. Butch Booker will be the auctioneer for the sale. For further information contact Bob Ebbers at 541/372-2991. — WLJ

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Monday, January 10,2005

Tyson suspends some beef operations

by WLJ
— Four plants shut down for 3-5 weeks. — Washington plant to single shift. Tyson Foods last week announced it was temporarily shutting down all shifts in four of its cattle/beef processing facilities and suspending one of two shifts in another facility. The company’s formal statement said the shutdowns are expected to last three to five weeks. There was some indication, however, that one or two plants may be “dark” for a longer period of time. The four operations suspending all shifts are in Denison, IA; Norfolk and West Point, NE; and Kuna, ID. The second shift is being discontinued at Tyson’s cattle facility in Pasco, WA. Officials with the company said continued negative processing margins, tight cattle supplies and the absence of key export markets were primary reasons behind the decision. Despite boxed beef movement being better than expected for December, company sources also said they considered 2004 domestic beef demand “lackluster,” and that it needed to pick up before bringing all plants back on line. "We have been running at less than 75 percent of capacity over the past two months, which is 10 to 15 percent below historical levels,” said Tyson Chairman and CEO John Tyson. The operational suspensions are expected to reduce the company's weekly cattle slaughter by 25,000-30,000 head, compared to pre-holiday levels. Cattle market analysts said that at full throttle the five processing facilities affected by the shutdowns could account for 9-10,000 head daily, but that level hasn’t been seen in over four years. U.S. fed cattle marketings were down more than eight percent in 2004, but Tyson said it expects cattle numbers to increase in the coming months. Also, Tyson anticipates the reopening of the U.S. border to Canadian cattle in early March will especially benefit Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest processing operations. Following last Thursday’s announcement, the company cut the top end of its fiscal 2005 earnings guidance by five cents a share. Tyson now expects fiscal 2005 earnings of $1.15 to $1.40 a share, compared with a November estimate of $1.15 to $1.45 a share. The company still expects the majority of its earnings to occur in the last six months of the fiscal year. A Thomson First Call mean analyst estimate projected earnings of $1.29 for fiscal year 2005, ending in October. The company still has all shifts operating at its beef processing facilities in Joslin, IL; Emporia and Finney County, KS; Dakota City and Lexington, NE; and Amarillo, TX. Several market analysts expected the company to ramp up processing chain speeds at a couple of those facilities, especially if boxed beef prices saw a $5-8 increase over the next few weeks. Most sources said it would be easier for Tyson to pick the processing volumes on existing production lines than it would be to reopen plants and not operate at close-to-maximum speed. — WLJ

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Monday, January 3,2005

Agriculture groups urge quick reform of CRP rules

by WLJ
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) needs to refocus on improvements to water and soil quality, according to a news release from four grain-related organizations. Those organizations urged the USDA that substantial changes need to be made in the CRP to sustain growing demand for grains and oilseeds. The CRP should shift away from whole-farm enrollments, the four organizations said in a joint statement submitted in response to USDA’s request for comments on long-term CRP policy. Under the CRP, enrolled acreage is idled under 10- to 15-year contracts, with USDA making annual rental payments and financing up to 50 percent of the cost of establishing ground cover or other approved conservation practices. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA), North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) and North American Millers Association (NAMA) said there is “compelling evidence” that USDA should not simply reenroll the 16.1 million acres represented by CRP contracts scheduled to expire in 2007 and 6.1 million acres in 2008 The organizations recommended that USDA consider allowing a “large number” of the current contracts to expire, and only reenroll or extend those that provide the most significant environmental benefits. They noted that many soon-to-expire CRP contracts represent acres that do not meet USDA’s current environmental-benefits criteria used to evaluate CRP bids. Further, heavy CRP enrollment, particularly in the plains states, has had a devastating impact on some local economies. In addition, the organizations said the CRP has given short shrift to enhancing water quality, which they said arguably is U.S. agriculture’s top environmental challenge and currently accounts for only eight percent of the “non-market” benefits of the CRP. “To enhance the intended benefits of the CRP, idled acres should focus on filter strips, buffers and the most environmentally sensitive lands, with a strong emphasis on substantially improving water quality,” the four organization said. “To make a significant long-term impact on soil erosion, conservation practices should be targeted to working farmland and assist farms to implement soil conservation practices.” The NGFA, NOPA, NAEGA and NAMA said that fewer whole-farm enrollments in the CRP would reduce economic pressure on tenant farmers, which currently account for 70 percent of U.S. agricultural production and whose economic structure will “do much to determine if U.S. agriculture can remain competitive.” There is strong evidence that the CRP and other U.S. farm programs have artificially inflated land values, the organizations said. But the CRP is particularly “pernicious” because its payments flow solely to landowners and the program puts the U.S. government in direct competition with tenant farmers bidding for land, making rental land scarcer and more expensive. The four groups recommended that USDA allow some whole-farm CRP enrollments to be bid back into active production, without penalty, to enable producers to capture opportunities from the current strong demand for grains and oilseeds while at the same time allowing those acres to be “feathered” back into production, thereby easing the transition to a lower-sized CRP. The organizations also urged that the environmental benefits index (EBI) used by USDA to evaluate CRP bids be modified because it currently give equal weight to soil erosion, water quality and wildlife benefits. “Given the environmental challenges facing U.S. agriculture, equating wildlife benefits to the issues of soil erosion or water quality is irresponsible and not a good use of scarce economic resources,” the four organizations said. “Water quality is one of the most critical issues facing U.S. agriculture and this is where the CRP can make a significant contribution by focusing enrollment on buffers and filter strips.” The groups urged USDA to more carefully evaluate the CRP benefits related to wildlife compared to the economic impact of idling land on local economies and U.S. agriculture’s ability to compete in global markets. “A common argument used to defend the CRP is that it is creating a niche industry catering to hunters and fishermen,” the organizations said. “Our members certainly are involved in and support these activities. But should those activities be subsidized through government payments?” One of the most troubling aspects of the CRP cited by the organizations is the damaging economic impact it has on local economies. The groups strongly urged that USDA strictly abide by the stipulation that no more than 25 percent of available land in a county be enrolled in the CRP. The groups cited specific counties where CRP enrollment has reached 40 percent because of measurement error or other mistakes in policy implementation. “Policies need to be chosen very carefully so we don’t take away the lifeblood of communities that are still closely tied to production agriculture,” the organizations said. In addition, the NGFA, NOPA, NAEGA and NAMA recommended that USDA increase the size of the CRP to 39.2 million acres (from 36.4 million acres) as a ceiling, not as a mandate, noting that continued CRP expansion will hamper U.S. agriculture’s ability to produce and compete in global markets. The organizations warned that the size of the CRP already has adversely affected the availability of land to build and grow an economic foundation for the grain, livestock, milling and processing sectors of the U.S. economy. “Creating overall growth opportunities for U.S. agriculture will be much more difficult if the United States becomes a big importer” of commodities for feed, animal and industrial uses. Noting upcoming farm program policy deliberations for the 2007 Farm Bill, the four groups urged USDA to “proceed cautiously” so as not to idle vast amounts of acres in the CRP for another 10 to 15 years. “We encourage an approach that reflects the administration’s commitment to free enterprise and support for U.S. agricultural growth,” the organizations concluded. — WLJ

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Monday, January 3,2005

American Wool Trust extended

by WLJ
The U.S. Congress recently approved the Miscellaneous Trade Bill, which includes language calling for a two-year extension of the American Wool Trust. As ranking member of the finance committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) led the effort in the Senate along with Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) in extending the trust through 2008. The American Wool Trust, which was established in 2000 in agreement with the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), utilizes a portion of the wool tariff to advance the marketing potential for U.S. wool, improve wool quality and enhance production information. The Trust has been the instrumental factor in the success of the ASI wool programs over the last four years. The ASI Wool Council has strengthened competition for U.S. wools as well as narrowed the price margins between many U S. and Australian wools to the smallest margin since World War II. In addition, ASI’s support of U.S. wool marketers and warehouses has led to an unprecedented international demand for local wool. “We are extremely proud of the accomplishments we have achieved through the Wool Trust and of our services to U.S. wool growers as well as the domestic mills,” stated ASI Executive Director, Peter Orwick. Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) of U.S. House Ways and Means Committee secured approval for the Wool Trust extension last month. “We appreciate Chairman Thomas’ work with Senators Baucus and Thomas to ensure the wool package, which will continue to provide benefits to U.S. wool mills and suit manufacturers and equitable benefits for U.S. wool growers,” added Orwick. This newest budget provides for programs in the areas of wool-clip certification, poly-contamination reduction, new wool-product development and producer information and research. “With U.S. wools being utilized by eight or more countries now as well as the U.S. military and domestic mills, the extension of the Wool Trust Funding is an exciting opportunity for the ASI Board of Directors,” concluded Orwick. The Miscellaneous Trade Bill now awaits the President’s signature.

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Monday, January 3,2005

Australia blocks Brazilian beef

by WLJ
Australia has suspended imports of beef from Brazil after a suspected case of hoof-and-mouth disease (HMD). The case has been reported on a property in a state of the country which had been recognized as HMD free. Australia’s Minister for Agriculture Warren Truss said Australia has only ever imported a small sample of Brazilian beef for processing, but all import permits have now been canceled. “We do not import beef from Brazil in any quantities and so there's no likelihood of there being significant quantities coming into Australia," he said. “But any risk is too much risk in these circumstances, and so all import permits have been canceled forthwith.” Truss said a full review of arrangements for importing Brazilian beef will ensure Australia's animal health status is not compromised. “We'll need to look overall at our approach to imports from Brazil,” he said. “Once there's a better understanding of the extent of this outbreak in Brazil we'll have a better idea of whether there are any parts of the country from where imports might be safe. But until we're absolutely certain that there are no risks associated with imports from Brazil there'll be no import licences issued.” — WLJ

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Monday, January 3,2005

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Promo boosts steak sales A recently-concluded 15-week retail promotion resulted in a spike in sales of steak cuts most commonly grilled, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The promotion was said to have contributed to a 2.2 percent gain in unit sales over the summer and an 8.2 percent increase in dollar sales. Radio advertising and in-store promotions, as well as a partnership with Kraft's A-1 steak sauce, which gave away grills to contest winners, were some of the high points of the promotion. The promotion ran in 44 U.S. markets from May through Labor Day and was funded by the $1 beef checkoff program. Canada banning implanted veal Canada will no longer accept veal or veal products from calves that have been implanted with hormones effective Jan. 5. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has created a flowchart that reflects these new requirements. The Veal Implant Decision Flowchart should be used in establishments that slaughter calves intended for export to Canada to determine the eligibility of veal and veal products. Canada defines calves as those with a hide-off carcass weight of 180 kilograms—396 lbs.—or less. The export certification requirements for veal and veal products intended for Canada have not changed. Hardees, Carl’s Jr. earnings jump CKE Restaurants, Inc. recently announced its third quarter net income rose to $13.1 million, a $12.2 million increase over the prior year net income of $939,000. Same-store sales grew for the sixth consecutive quarter at company-operated Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants, increasing 7.9 and 4.5 percent, respectively. Consolidated revenue increased for the fifth consecutive quarter to $348.9 million, a 4.2 percent increase over the third quarter of 2003. As of Nov. 1 CKE Restaurants, Inc., operated a total of 3,183 franchised or company-owned restaurants in 44 states and in 13 countries, including 1,017 Carl's Jr. restaurants, 2,047 Hardee's restaurants and 101 La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill restaurants. Chain features pastrami burger Carl's Jr. this winter unveiled a new Pastrami Burger in more than 1,000 restaurants nationwide. The decision to offer the new burger was made after similar products were becoming customer favorites at several western state restaurants, including The Hat in Los Angeles and Crown Burgers in Salt Lake City. The Carl's Jr. adaptation features an all-beef patty topped with thinly sliced pastrami, red onion, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato and mustard, sandwiched between two toasted, seeded buns. The new burger is going for a suggested retail price of $3.79 for a single and $4.79 for the double version. Scotland boasts largest burger A Glasgow, Scotland, restaurant, Baloo Burger Company, has introduced a 10-pound cheeseburger that contains seven pounds of prime Scottish beef, a head of lettuce, 12 slices of cheese, six tomatoes and a family-size jar of mayonnaise. It is said to contain 7,000 calories, costs about $100 (65 pounds sterling), and must be ordered a day in advance to allow time to bake the 18-inch sesame-seed bun. The burger itself takes 90 minutes to grill. It is believed to be the largest burger in the world, beating out a Pennsylvania burger that contains six pounds of beef. Beef production down In its monthly slaughter report, USDA said commercial red meat production for the first 11 months of 2004 was 41.5 billion pounds, down three percent from 2003. Accumulated beef production was down seven percent from last year, USDA said. Veal was also down 12 percent. McD’s wins marketing award McDonald's Corporation was honored earlier this month as the “Marketer of the Year” by Advertising Age magazine, for the brand's marketing achievements around the world in 2004. The award was presented in part for the company’s development and utilization of the “I’m lovin’ it” ad campaign. In choosing the award winner, Advertising Age weighed a number of criteria, including a company's business performance, strong leadership, advertising creativity and marketing effectiveness. Over 750 EU BSE cases in ‘04 European officials reported recently that a total of 767 cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) have been confirmed in the region between January and November this year. The United Kingdom has reported 325 cases; Spain 114; Portugal 75; France 50; Germany 41; Belgium 10; Poland nine; the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Italy each with seven; the Netherlands five; and Slovenia two. Since the end of November, Spain has reported another 17 cases of the disease, bringing it’s total for the year to 131 and 507 since the disease was first discovered.

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Monday, January 3,2005

BSE improved U.S. pork market in 2004

by WLJ
— Export, domestic demand both helped. While the Dec. 23, 2003 confirmation of BSE being found in a cow located in Washington-state turned the U.S. cattle industry on its ear, the U.S. pork industry found the ramification from that situation much more to its liking. According to Chris Hurt, livestock economist at the University of Purdue, that single case of BSE was almost singlehandedly responsible for one of the biggest pork market turnarounds in U.S. history. Hurt remembers that the U.S. hog market started out 2004 with cash prices mostly in the $30 range. By April, prices had risen significantly as export demand kicked in. The last few weeks of the year, market hog prices have stayed above $50 per cwt, with some instances of 55 reported. Hurt said U.S. pork producers enjoyed a major boost in export sales this year because of the BSE case that closed most foreign markets to U.S. beef. Japan, the largest customer for U.S. pork, increased sales by 10 percent in 2004 according to Hurt. Mexico, however, was the big surprise increasing their purchases of U.S. pork by over 70 percent. “The Mexicans stopped buying U.S. beef and replaced it with large amounts of pork,” Hurt told Brownfield. Hurt said U.S. consumer demand also played a role. Faced with record high retail beef prices, consumers turned to pork. “Retailers also featured pork more this year as an alternative to high price beef,” he said. As a result U.S. pork prices have remained at profitable levels most of the year and Hurt predicts they will continue to remain high well into next year. He also said he expects consumer demand cooling a bit in 2005 but remaining strong enough to keep cash hog prices at profitable levels. He is predicting a buildup in hog numbers by the end of the third quarter of the new year and that may result in the first serious downturn in hog prices. He also expects trading relations between the US, Canada, and Japan to normalize in the new year which will lessen export demand for pork. A couple of other meat market analysts however, said that prospective third quarter market pressure might not be as great as once thought, particularly with USDA’s most recent hog report showing Dec. 1 sow numbers at a very similar level to last year. “We didn’t appear to expand the number of producing sows at the end of this year, and that means the number of pigs to be born this spring for marketing later in the year won’t be as large as once thought,” said David Logan, analyst with LL Ag Commodities, Indianapolis, IN. “Not having as large of a supply as expected should be more than enough to keep the (live cash) market in the $50s, at least. There could still be some residual hesitance in beef demand also, and that could keep pork demand and prices both elevated.” — WLJ

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