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Tuesday, November 11,2008

TYSON FOURTH QTR PROFIT UP 50 PERCENT

by WLJ
Tyson Foods Inc. reported a 50 percent increase in fiscal fourth-quarter net income as strength in the company’s beef and pork segments more than offset losses from the poultry business.

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Tuesday, November 11,2008

JBS REPORTS THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS

by WLJ
JBS S.A. recently reported a giant boost in earnings during the company’s fiscal third quarter, citing the depreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar and rising exports. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the Sao Paulo-based beef producer said it netted a profit of $318 million, compared with a loss of $36.9 million in the same period a year earlier. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose to $221.9 million, up from $82.5 million a year earlier.

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Tuesday, November 11,2008

KOREA REFUSES TO RENEGOTIATE BEEF TRADE TERMS

by WLJ
Less than a week after the U.S. elections, South Korea is taking preemptive steps to stop any possibility of renegotiating the terms of the free trade agreement, including beef trade between the two countries.

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Tuesday, November 11,2008

FARM BUREAU URGES CHANGE IN TRADE NEGOTIATIONS

by WLJ
The American Farm Bureau Federation today said a new approach is needed in world trade talks, citing the stalled Doha round of negotiations. AFBF President Bob Stallman said his organization will shortly begin discussions with domestic and international business and trade leaders in an effort to find a new way to move forward.

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Thursday, November 6,2008

Animal production practices upheld as humane by state court

by WLJ
The result of the New Jersey ruling could open the door to similar challenges of those regulations elsewhere by livestock interests. In the New Jersey case, the court upheld many of the livestock practices as legal despite the challengesn by animal rights groups.

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Friday, September 19,2008

Thompson wants to add WLAC's top title to his impressive list of wins

by WLJ
Ty Thompson moved closer to the only World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) title he hasn’t won—that of champion—with a recent victory in Miles City, MT. Thompson, of Billings, MT, won Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) first quarterfinal qualifying contest for the 2009 WLAC. He defeated 30 other contestants in competition at Miles City Livestock Commission on Sept. 9. The reserve champion was Tom Frey, Creston, IA, and the runner-up champion was Dan Clark, Winner, SD. In addition to the three winners, the next five highest scoring contestants qualify for the June, 2009 WLAC, the 46th annual. It will be conducted at Fergus Falls Livestock Auction Market, Inc., Fergus Falls, MN. In Miles City, those five were, in alphabetical order, Mitch Barthel, Perham, MN; Mike Nuss, Minatare, NE; Jason Santomaso, Sterling, CO; Kevin Schow, Paxton, NE; and Kyle Shobe, Lewistown, MT. Thompson’s list of WLAC titles is impressive. He’s the current runner-up world champion, has won the reserve title, or second-place, twice, and has been a top 10 finalist seven times. And he won the first quarterfinal contest for the 2008 WLAC held last fall in Turlock, CA. Is this Thompson’s year to take home the world champion title? "You never know," he said. "I do know that I’ve improved every year I’ve competed." Laughing, Thompson said, "I’ve sure pleased a lot of judges over the years, just not enough to put me first." What keeps him competing has changed over the years. "At first, I just wanted to win the world title." And while that’s still important, he said, "The livestock marketing business has been good to me and my family, and I think by participating in the contest, you help promote selling livestock at auction. It’s my way of giving back to the industry." Thompson was sponsored by Public Auction Yards, Billings Live Stock Commission and Northern Livestock Video, all in Billings, and Winter Livestock, Inc. d/b/a Riverton Livestock Auction, Riverton, WY. Miles City reserve champion Frey has been in the WLAC "about 12 times," and has been a finalist "five or six times." His highest finish was 2007 when he was named runner-up world champion. Last year, he won the third quarterfinal contest, in Fort Payne, AL. For him, the driving force behind seeking the world title "is the need for a spokesman for the industry." The world champion spends much of his year traveling to livestock markets and other events where he is often asked questions on a wide range of industry issues. Frey, who’s been auctioneering since he was 16, said he’d welcome that role. And he believes that "if LMA is willing to award you the title of champion, you should take it on and promote what we all believe in, the auction method of selling." He was sponsored by the market he’s owned for 10 years, Creston Livestock Auction, Inc., and by Unionville Livestock Market, Inc., Unionville, MO. Clark, the Miles City runner-up champion, has been auctioneering for 25 years and is a graduate of the World Wide College of Auctioneering, Mason City, IA. Competing in the Fergus Falls world championship will mark his tenth time in the WLAC. He has been among the top 10 finalists four times. The competition at Miles City "was like always—tough," Clark said. "Overall, there was a lot of talent there." Winning the world title next June "would mean I’ve reached the goal I set for myself many years ago." Clark was sponsored by Charles Mix County Livestock Market, Inc., Platte, SD, Presho Livestock Auction, Presho, SD, and Winner Livestock Auction Co., Winner, SD. The three remaining quarterfinals will be Oct. 29 at Texhoma Livestock Auction, LLC, Texhoma, OK; Nov. 18 at Muskingum Livestock Auction Co., Zanesville, OH; and Dec. 2 at Kingsville Livestock Auction, Kingsville, MO. The champion in each quarterfinal competition receives a cash award and a custom-made belt buckle. The reserve and runner-up champions in each contest also receive custom belt buckles. The eight qualifiers from each quarterfinal contest, along with the reigning International Auctioneer Champion, will make up the field for the 2009 WLAC. Three titlists will be selected, and the winners take home thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. LMA conducts the WLAC and the qualifying contests to put the focus on competitive marketing, and the continuing vital role of the auctioneer in that process. — WLJ

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Friday, September 19,2008

Circle A Feeders wins CAB Quality Focus Award

by WLJ
Value-added Angus genetics, good management practices, and a low-stress environment led Circle A Feeders to a Certified Angus Beef (CAB) LLC Quality Focus Award. The Huntsville, MO, yard achieved a stellar 61.4 percent CAB brand and USDA Prime on 917 cattle enrolled through the CAB Feedlot Licensing Program. That’s the highest annual CAB acceptance rate for any feedlot award, says the brand’s beef cattle specialist, Gary Fike. To top it off, this was Circle A Feeders’ first year in business. Integrated with the large purebred and commercial Angus herds of Circle A Ranch, the feedlot opened in May 2007 to help bull customers realize the profitability of the genetics they purchase. The 5,000-head yard is one of the largest building-enclosed feedlots in the U.S. Calves going on feed are first screened. They must weigh 600 to 800 pounds and have two rounds of vaccines. They must be weaned at least 45 days, individually identified, and out of genetics purchased directly from Circle A Ranch. "We want healthy cattle that know how to eat when they come in and that are ultimately going to make a high percent CAB," says marketing manager Nick Hammett, who accepted the award Sept. 13 at the CAB annual conference in Coeur d’Alene, ID. He emphasizes the effect of early nutrition on the development of intramuscular fat and final quality grade. Despite the requirements and screening, or perhaps because of them, producers have found it worthwhile to feed with Circle A. It certainly helps that the feedlot buys full interest in all of its customers’ qualified cattle up front, and pays top-of-the-market price. "When they walk away with more money in their pocket than they can get anywhere else, they’re sold on the program," Hammett says. Producers can earn $25 per head for calves sired by a Circle A bull, $10 for calves by a Circle A female, and another $10 for age- and source-verification, totaling up to $45 per head in premiums. "Returning carcass data is another huge benefit," Hammett says. "We know how valuable data has been to the development of our genetics and we want our customers to have access to the same decision-making tools we have." He analyzes strengths and weaknesses of each producer’s bull selections, and helps them find which sire line brought the most value to their herd, in time for their next bull purchase. When cattle are delivered to the yard, they are allowed to rest for at least 12 hours before processing. Then, they enter a system designed so that cattle entering the chute think they are leaving the way they came in. "With this kind of approach, the cattle want to load themselves," cattle manager Ken Ladyman says. The overhead roof provides protection from the elements. "Our calves are happy during bad weather," he says. "They use their energy to go to the feed bunk and eat, rather than for maintaining body temperature." Not only are the pens covered, they’re also bedded with sawdust that gives the cattle a softer place to lie and cuts down on the amount of manure that accumulates on them. The feed yard also has an intense fly-control program where larvae-eating wasps are inserted into the ground in each pen. "We know the cattle at Circle A Feeders have the genetics to produce a consistent, high-quality carcass," Ladyman says. "We just increase their chances of high performance by increasing their comfort level." Confident in beating the CAB record again, he says, "Last year we were still on the learning curve. We just wanted to stay in business and help cattle perform better than they could in a commercial yard. This year should be more profitable." Having genetically similar cattle contributes much to the success because all can be pushed hard and still grade well. Genetic consistency helps take the guesswork out of average daily gains and feed efficiencies, Ladyman adds. "This program isn’t just for some bulls or some customers," Hammett says. "It is for every bull, every female, and every customer. A load of 10 or a load of 100 can achieve top-of-the-market. As long as the calves meet our specifications, we are happy to have them." — WLJ

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Friday, September 19,2008

Cal Poly Annual Beef Cattle Field Day

by WLJ
The Annual Cal Poly Beef Field Day and Trade Show will take place Oct. 4-5, 2008, at Cal Poly’s Beef Center. The Field Day is co-sponsored by Cal Poly, California Beef Cattle Improvement Association, and the California Cattlemen’s Association. Registration will begin at 7:00 a.m., with the program starting at 8:00 a.m. The theme of this year’s program will be "Marketing Opportunities" for commercial cow/calf producers. Speakers will focus attention on how producers can make management decisions to improve their marketing efforts and increase the value of their products. The program will begin by a welcome from John Toledo, president of California Beef Cattle Improvement Association. California Cattlemen’s Association Kevin Kester, second vice-president, will discuss current state and national issues affecting cattlemen including the latest requirements with mandatory Country of Original Labeling. The morning presentations will discuss how producers can increase their marketing efforts during these challenging times. Presenters include Mike Sulpizio, McElhaney Cattle Company; Dr. Lynn Delmore, Cal Poly State University; and Dr. Joe Campbell, Boehringer Ingelheim. Highlighting the field day program will be a panel discussion of industry experts representing all marketing avenues for today’s beef producers who will discuss the many ways producers can capitalize on marketing opportunities available to them. Following lunch, the afternoon’s session will provide a venue to become Beef Quality Assurance certified through the new California Cattlemen’s Association program. The field day also includes a commercial trade show, refreshments, lunch and a "bull session," which gives buyers and consignors time to preview bulls up for auction at the Tested Bull Sale Oct. 5. On the evening of Oct. 5 at 7 p.m., the annual barbecue will be at the Cal Poly new Beef Center along with an auction to benefit the Collegiate Cattlemen’s Club and the Cal Poly Livestock Judging Team. The 52nd Annual Cal Poly All-Breed Performance Tested Bull Sale is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at the new Beef Center. For details and registration, contact Mike Hall at 805/756-2685 or visit the Cal Poly Bull Test Site at: http://bulltest.calpoly.edu. — WLJ

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Friday, September 19,2008

Beef Bits

by WLJ
U.S. to pressure China on beefThe U.S. was expected to urge China to halt its ban on U.S. beef imports when top officials from both nations met last week via the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. China closed its market to U.S. beef following the first bovine spongiform encephalopathy case in December 2003. While the Bush administration praised China’s conditional agreement in April 2006 to reopen its market, the reopening still has not occurred. "It’s really too early to say what progress we will have in the area of beef. But ag issues are on the agenda," U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told Reuters in an interview ahead of the talks. Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab led the talks for the U.S., and Vice Premier Wang Qishan for China. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming were also expected to attend. Korea cracks down on country of originSouth Korea’s Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) recently said it found 315 restaurants that falsely labeled the country of origin of beef during a two-month intensive crackdown that started in July. SPO ordered local offices to carry out the crackdown in cooperation with the Korea Food and Drug Administration, the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service, local governments and police. They checked on 284,000 restaurants nationwide. The most common violation was falsely labeling imported beef as Korean, with 76 cases, while 64 restaurants labeled U.S. beef as Australian. There were also those who labeled locally produced beef from non-Korean cattle as the prized "Hanwu." Government prosecutors have offered up to W2 million ($1,800 USD) in rewards to those who report violations or help arrest violators. Nebraska Beef Council giveaway As the nice weather comes to a close, so does the Nebraska Beef Council (NBC) Beef Producer Appreciation Giveaway. NBC teamed up with Behlen Country, Elanco, and Purina/Land O Lakes for this year’s giveaway. Prizes included 15 portable panels from Behlen and $1,000 product certificates from both Elanco and Purina/Land O Lakes. According to Katie Rasmussen, NBC business coordinator, the contest was organized to build NBC’s producer database. Nebraska beef producers were encouraged throughout the summer to register for the contest by completing a survey designed to gauge producer awareness of the Beef Checkoff and checkoff-funded programs for beef promotion, research, and education. The addition of producer names to the database will also allow NBC to more efficiently conduct regularly scheduled elections of producers to serve on NBC’s nine-member board of directors. Beef Quality Assurance trainingThe Texas Beef Council recently hosted three Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) trainings in Abilene, Amarillo and Rosharon where Texas beef producers learned about the latest production decisions affecting the quality of beef they are producing. Over 200 producers attended the meetings across the state learning best management practices including organizing herd-health plans, record keeping, environmental stewardship, cattle handling, breeding and genetic selection. BQA training sessions and injection-site demonstrations are conducted across the state in efforts to educate producers about beef quality challenges and the proper production techniques to ensure consumers have a positive eating experience. Culinary students learn new cutsStudents from the Culinary Academy of Austin visited the Texas Beef Council (TBC) office for a beef training day where TBC staff introduced the culinary students to the second generation of Beef Value Cuts. The students and instructors were given an overview of the checkoff-funded muscle profiling research and product development behind the Beef Value Cuts program. Russell Woodward, TBC senior product manager, conducted a cutting demonstration showcasing where the five new cuts are located and how each of them is fabricated from the chuck roll. The first generation of Beef Value Cuts had tremendous success with cuts like the Flat Iron steak, which is currently sold in over 20,000 restaurants and outsells the T-Bone in foodservice. The first generation of cuts are now carried in over 10,000 retail supermarkets, which is an increase from just 231 stores in 2003. Beef gaining favor in IndiaBeef consumption is becoming more popular in India as a source of protein as some pulses have become costlier than meat, says USDA. "Beef (buffalo meat) is increasingly becoming popular as a protein source compared to pulses, some of which have become more expensive than buffalo meat," USDA said in a report. USDA also notes that both poultry and buffalo meat have "no specific religious sentiments attached" to their consumption. Hindus, which comprise 80 percent of the Indian population, do not consume beef, while Muslims, comprising 13 percent of the population, do not eat pork. "Nevertheless, the younger generation is changing their food habits to non-vegetarian and other processed foods. Consequently, with rising income levels, domestic meat consumption has the potential to rise further," said the report.  

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Friday, September 19,2008

Finks win CAB Commitment to Excellence Award

by WLJ
Galen Fink and Lori Hagenbuch grew up on eastern Kansas farms learning the importance of sound decisions in cattle judging, business and leadership. The couple met at Kansas State University and married in 1975. Galen spent 14 years managing the university’s purebred herd while Lori headed the Kansas Angus Association. More recently, Certified Angus Beef (CAB) LLC honored the Finks on Sept. 13 at the brand’s annual conference. They accepted the 2008 Seedstock Commitment to Excellence Award in Coeur d’Alene, ID. Fink Beef Genetics started with the purchase of a few Angus cows in 1976, keeping back heifers. They had no land of their own, but found a pasture to rent. They couldn’t even afford a bull, but that wasn’t the main reason they built up with only artificial insemination. "We had about 20 cows in the mid-1980s," Galen recalls. Purchasing 30 heifers from Montana’s Hyline Angus in 1987 provided a boost to complete the foundation. They spread it by renting space in their customers’ cows, implanting embryos since 1988. The Fink type of cow "rejected the 1970s and ’80s model and went for more volume and muscling," Galen says. "That set us up for the 1990s." The couple left other jobs, and daughter Megan was born in 1990 to help mark the new era. "If we were ever going to make it on our own, that was the time," Lori says. They held a private-treaty production sale with 25 bulls that fall. After embryo transfer with customers, the Finks began keeping some of their cows in customer herds. "We owned the cows, made the breeding decisions, and bought the calves back," Galen says. From the start, the couple had put every available dollar into their herd, to the exclusion of buying land or fancy equipment. "That’s what you do when you don’t have money," Galen says. "We had to get our herd built up some way. "A lot of nights, we wondered where the money was going to come from," he says, but the bulls worked for people, who comprised a kind of support network. "If we thought about any changes, we talked with our customers and they kept us on track." The first female sales were "really good," Galen says. That helped in the cattle-cycle crash of the mid-1990s. In fact, the Finks found a way to diversify into a whole new arena. Their Little Apple Brewing Company restaurant in Manhattan, KS, opened in 1994. The next year, chef Russ Loub joined what has been a Kansas Beef Council and CAB brand award-winning restaurant ever since. Since adding CAB steak houses in Council Grove and Junction City, KS, Lori says, "We’ve tried to do our part from conception to consumption, developing supply and opening new markets for CAB in Kansas." On the cattle side, the Finks have included carcass traits since 1990, "without chasing it," Galen says. "Don’t get me wrong, I think you should add all the marbling you can without losing anything else. But you should be sure. It’s not a problem with commercial guys; most of them could probably pay more attention to marbling," he adds. Knowing the prevalence of crossbreeding, and to avoid selecting for ever-larger Angus, the Finks added Charolais genetics in 1999. In that breed, they stressed marbling more because it was a relative weakness. "There will come a time when they won’t want cattle so big, but if they want them now, they can terminal cross," Galen says. Whatever their customers’ strategy, the Finks will help them sell. A recent sale catalog notes a half-dozen alliances and information on nine feedlots. Fink Influence calf and female sales through local and national auction companies provide other options. Steers garner premiums of up to $10 per cwt., and $17 per cwt. on replacement heifers. Whether auction, private treaty or retained ownership, the extended staff offers help. Barrett Broadie is based at Ashland, KS, and Gene Barrett at Grantville, KS. Tommy Mann and Charles Robert Stevens take care of southern customers from their Florida base. Over the past 18 years, Megan has grown to be an active partner in the ranch. "She loves working with and being around cattle," Lori observes. Nothing can match that mutual family affection, but the Finks all love their new home and ranch headquarters. "Until two years ago, we were implanting more than 1,000 embryos and selling 600 bulls a year, all out of a 40-acre rented base," Galen says. Unlike the Finks, the place they bought near Randolph, KS, had been idle for 50 years. It took a lot of work to clean up, but already shows all the signs of becoming a showplace for the functional Fink cows and their owners. After all those years of "living poor," Fink Beef Genetics, now among the top 20 volume seedstock producers in the U.S., has arrived. "This place has given us a sense of belonging to a community," Lori says; "a sense of home." — WLJ

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