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Friday, August 1,2008

Nebraska and Iowa producers promote U.S. beef in Tokyo

by WLJ
Two beef producers from Nebraska and Iowa took part in a U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) U.S. Beef Checkoff-sponsored promotion, made possible through the financial support of the Nebraska Beef Council and the Iowa Beef Industry Council, that helped boost weekend sales of U.S. beef tenfold at a key store in Japan’s largest retail grocery chain. U.S. beef producers Bill Rhea of Arlington, NE, the Nebraska Beef Council’s treasurer, and Scott Niess of Osage, IA, and a member of the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s board of directors, witnessed and participated in a large-scale USMEF U.S. beef promotion for Japanese consumers at an Ito Yokado supermarket in Tokyo on July 12. Funded by the Nebraska and Iowa state beef councils, the U.S. beef retail promotion at four of Japan’s major supermarkets—Aeon’s Max Valu outlets, Ito Yokado, Daiei and York Benimaru—were part of USMEF’s continuing campaign to rebuild Japanese consumer confidence in U.S. beef by reestablishing its presence in supermarkets and reacquainting target consumers with its positive attributes—taste, consistency and value. "It is a great opportunity to see this U.S. beef promotion," said Rhea, "and to talk with consumers and buyers in Japan." USMEF is conducting a series of U.S. beef storefront events in its July-August "Beef de GENKI" (energy from beef) campaign at the four supermarket chains. This campaign is tied to USMEF’s strategic "We Care" theme and is targeted toward families with children to show that "We Care" about their health and vitality so they can enjoy life to the fullest. The campaign aims to increase sales, enhance consumer perception of U.S. beef, and rebuild trust by handing out samples, educating customers through information panels, and entertaining families with games. Since Japan reopened its market, the main supermarket chains have started offering U.S. beef one by one. Aeon, Japan’s largest supermarket chain, was the last to do so in December 2007. Its supermarkets have a reputation for high quality products at fair prices. One of the more innovative retailers, Aeon allows its customers to trace the origin of its domestic beef through in-store computers and cell phones. The U.S. producers also joined in the fun by participating in USMEF games with Japanese families. Their particular outlet increased its weekend U.S. beef sales tenfold, selling more than 500 U.S. steaks. The presence of U.S. ranchers showed consumers the real "face of the industry" and allowed them to gain a much deeper understanding of the Japanese market through a market debriefing, meetings with U.S. beef importers/buyers, and a visit to a Japanese Wagyu processing facility. "The customers’ reaction to U.S. beef is very positive," said Ito Yokado’s senior buyer. "This event proved very effective and I’d like to hold it again and expand it." "One of the things that is pretty remarkable about this whole trip," said Niess, "was that it was the first time that the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Nebraska Beef Council came together in a joint effort to promote beef in Japan. And anyone that we talked to that had tasted or had sold American beef is wanting more—wanting more availability, wanting more volume, to be able to sell more American beef." Besides enthusiastic responses from consumers and supermarket buyers, USMEF garnered even more publicity for U.S. beef by securing articles in three major Japanese publications: Meat Journal, Chikisan Nippo and Nikkei. Chikusan Nippo The Meat Journal jointly quoted Rhea and Niess: "Japan is an important partner for the U.S. beef industry. We visited several retailers and distributors in Japan this time, and they want American beef. We wish the current problems, including age limitation, will be cleared and beef exports to Japan will increase." — WLJ quoted both Bill Rhea—"We’ve received very good reactions from consumers, and felt that U.S. beef was trusted by them,"—and Scott Niess—"Japanese consumers willingly tasted American beef with smiles. The safety, healthiness and reasonable price are the best attributes of American beef products."

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Friday, August 1,2008

Evocative, emotive "marbling"

by WLJ
To start a lively discussion amongst a group of cattlemen, just utter the word "marbling." It’s been called one of the most emotive words in the beef industry. From those who dismiss it as unimportant to the staunch defenders, opinions will vary. A presentation at the American Society of Animal Science annual meeting earlier this month focused on the science behind the word. Larry Corah, vice president of Certified Angus Beef LLC, shared research related to the value of marbling. "Nearly all beef scientists and connoisseurs indicate that there are three key attributes to beef palatability: tenderness, juiciness and flavor," he said. If it’s not met, tenderness is the most important. "It is clearly a threshold trait," Corah said. "The good news it that most researchers agree the beef industry has made great progress in both understanding and improving tenderness issues." Studies show marbling accounts for between 8 percent to 18 percent of the variation in tenderness, but Corah said it’s more significantly tied to juiciness and flavor. Two separate multi-city studies proved that when tenderness was held constant, consumers buy meat based on flavor. "Data out of Texas Tech University tells us that flavor is 2.5 times as important as tenderness when it comes to consumer acceptability," he said. "The taste they look for is a direct result of at least 80 to 90 days on a high-concentrate diet." The consumer preference for marbling isn’t isolated from the market price of beef, said Corah. "In the last 10 years, market differentiation has developed as a result of the demand for enhanced beef quality," he noted. "Colorado State University studies show that if beef tastes great, people are not only more likely to buy it, but more likely to pay more for it." That’s why over 40 percent of all fed cattle are marketed on quality-based grids, and those that make Premium Choice add more than $500 million per year to the industry. "The research not only says that marbling is important, but it’s also complicated," he said, noting factors like genetics, nutrition, breed and environment. "I would argue that there have been three major technologies in the past 50 years in our business: implants, ionophores and beta-agonists," Corah said. None have a positive effect on marbling, and a few—aggressive implants and Beta-II agonists—can be detrimental. "We really need more research to understand the mechanism in which these management practices affect marbling," he suggested. "The National Beef Quality Audit says we’re leaving $26.81 per head on the table in lost quality. That’s a lot. "As we continue to make great strides in tenderness, the ultimate driver for beef demand will be flavor," Corah predicted. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

GIPSA cites JBS/Swift

by WLJ
GIPSA cites JBS/Swift USDA’s Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced two weeks ago that it had cited Greeley, CO-based JBS/Swift and Company with violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA). According to a release from GIPSA, the company "inaccurately weighed hot carcasses for the purposes of payment to livestock sellers; used a dynamic monorail weighing system which was not accurate; reported inaccurate hot carcass weights to livestock sellers and paid livestock sellers on those inaccurate hot carcass weights; failed to pay the full purchase price for the livestock purchased within the time period required by the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act; and failed to pay the full amount due to livestock sellers for hot carcasses weights." According to one industry source, the allegations regarding inaccurate weights benefitted producers. The weights recorded by company scales were reporting weights in excess of actual hot carcass weights, which were used in turn as pay weights by the company. On June 18, 2008, GIPSA filed a complaint against Swift. If the allegations are admitted, or proven in an oral hearing, Swift may be ordered to cease and desist from violating the PSA and assessed a civil penalty. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

Truck weight laws leave farmers in the lurch

by WLJ
Truck weight laws leave farmers in the lurch Farmers and ranchers hauling their own goods to market across relatively short distances should not be held to regulations intended for commercial long-haul drivers, according to Mike Spradling, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. During a recent hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, the Sand Springs, OK, cattle and pecan producer testified on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) regarding the negative impact existing truck weight laws and regulations have on farmers and ranchers. "Current weight limits imposed by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) burden farmers and ranchers hauling their products to market," said Spradling. "The American Farm Bureau Federation recommends changes to FMCSA’s rules regarding Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) that will make them more workable for some farmers and ranchers while still maintaining the safety of rural roads." The current federal definition of a CMV is a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. It takes very little to reach that threshold. For instance, a heavy-duty pickup truck can often exceed the 10,001-pound weight limit. This makes interstate travel unreasonable by triggering requirements such as a commercial driver’s license and compliance with hours of service rules. "Establishing a national threshold of 26,001 pounds would begin to eliminate the inconsistent and confusing system currently in place and free small farmers and ranchers from being regulated the same as commercial truck drivers," Spradling said. "Concentration within the agriculture industry has reduced the number of grain elevators, cotton gins and livestock markets, forcing farmers and ranchers to drive longer distances, often across state lines, to sell their commodities," Spradling said. Additionally, the lack of uniformity between states causes confusion and frustration, according to AFBF, which has proposed solutions to ease the burden of trucking regulations on some farmers and ranchers. "Farm Bureau believes there are several changes that need to be made to the agency’s current regulations," Spradling testified. "They include exempting border crossings between states with similar weight restrictions, raising the weight limit for CMVs to at least 26,001 pounds, or exempting state border crossings within the 150-air-mile radius currently recognized by FMCSA [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration]." — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

Tuberculosis may have migrated from humans to cattle

by WLJ
Tuberculosis may have migrated from humans to cattle Tuberculosis (TB) may call to mind Old West consumptives and early 20th-century sanatoriums, yet according to the World Health Organization, the disease took the lives of more than 1.5 million people worldwide in 2006. In the U.S. alone, thousands of new cases are reported annually, making TB an enduring menace. The need to better understand this disease is becoming critical, note researchers at Arizona State University, especially with the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains and increasing globalization spurring pathogen migration. Among those trying to decipher the origins and trajectory of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria responsible for TB, are three researchers in Arizona State University’s (ASU) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Graduate student Luz-Andrea "Lucha" Pfister and associate professor Anne Stone in ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and Michael Rosenberg, an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences, are trying to establish a credible evolutionary timeline for TB. Their research suggests that the disease migrated from humans to cattle—not the reverse, as has long been assumed. The research estimates that the evolutionary leap took place prior to the domestication of cows—more than 113,000 years ago—indicating M. tuberculosis is a much older pathogen than previously believed. This outcome supports that of the French Pasteur Institute’s Cristina Gutierrez, an evolutionary mycobacteriologist whose work first cast doubt on the cattle-to-human TB link and its date range. Gutierrez calls the findings of Pfister’s team confirmation of TB’s ancient origins and human-cattle transmission. This summer, Pfister presented the results of the group’s research at the annual meeting of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution in Barcelona. She also presented during the April assembly of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and subsequently saw the group’s research reported on in the journal Science. With no fossil evidence to consult, studying the deep history of bacteria has only recently become possible. Genomics holds the key. Using DNA, Pfister, Stone and Rosenberg are making inroads into calibrating the watershed moments in TB’s development, such as when it expanded in the human population. Through their work, they also plan to address the biogeography of the disease and what types of TB ancient people had relative to modern strains. Why are scientists interested in TB’s status thousands of years ago? Pfister puts the research into perspective. "An accurate time frame can help us learn about the development between host and pathogen. It can aid in understanding the disease and the way it evolves, how it creates new strains to stay alive." As Stone is quick to point out, "The data we generate can be used by clinicians to study this disease and formulate appropriate treatments. Our work is historical, but the implications are far-reaching." One of the primary goals is to calculate a meaningful mutation rate. The established model for bacteria was developed in the 1980s in regard to E. coli. "This mutation rate has been used as the universal standard, but that is not feasible. TB and E. coli are very different. Bacteria may evolve at different rates. We cannot say that one model applies to all," Pfister noted. Pfister, Stone and Rosenberg worked with 108 genes, compared to just over 20 genes used in the E. coli formula. As a result, they were able to delve deeper than Gutierrez at the time she conducted her ground-breaking research. "The Pasteur Institute looked at a small piece of the genome; the full genome gives a much better idea," says Stone, alluding to the team’s comprehensive approach and its possibilities. "The work we have done so far is only one aspect of a bigger project," explains Rosenberg. "There are different directions we want to go with it. Of course, the main target is to get a better estimate of the rate of mycobacterium evolution, but a lot of things branch off from that." Rosenberg, a computational evolutionary biologist who designed the program to analyze many of the sequences, says the project shows that "as we get more data and complete sequencing of full genomes, we find new ways of looking at issues, which can do away with assumptions. An example is the belief of cow-to-human transmission of TB. That was a long-held notion, but it was just an assumption." "It is the evolutionary way of thinking that has caused us to explore this issue from new and varied angles," states Pfister. "An evolutionary perspective is also important in a contemporary sense because our species’ population is growing dramatically. Soon we will reach carrying capacity. We will start producing pathogens and opportunities for problems at escalating rates." Pfister was born and raised in Chile where TB ran rampant before being subdued by aggressive government health programs. However, as in other parts of the world, Chile is presently facing a resurgence of TB. Still, Pfister is hopeful that someday, the deadly pathogen will be rendered obsolete. "We now have lots of gene data. We can count mutations. There is so much evidence out there; we just need to link it all. If we start looking at the history and essence of TB in a holistic, transdisciplinary way, we can see the big picture and find solutions," enthused Pfister. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

Red Angus announces new employee

by WLJ
Red Angus announces new employee Mikalena Randazzo has been hired as the commercial marketing specialist for the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA). Randazzo was raised on a commercial cow/calf operation near McAlester, OK. She brings experience from the family operation as well as from her former position as the office secretary of Oklahoma BEEF Incorporated (OBI). While working for OBI, she was responsible for data entry, maintenance of the OBI Web site, data extractions for catalog preparation, and coordinating sale day activities. Randazzo received her Associates Degree in Agriculture from Connors State College and her Bachelors of Science in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University. Randazzo was hired as an RAAA intern receiving training in the Feeder Calf Certification Program’s (FCCP) supplier evaluation process, registration data input, sale catalog data extraction and website content, layout and design. As the commercial marketing specialist, Randazzo will manage the content on the RAAA Web site, handle FCCP enrollment, assist in industry communications, and contribute to commercial marketing and RAAA promotions. "She (Randazzo) expresses an exuberant energy with an eagerness to learn. She is a talented and dedicated young woman with a great future ahead of her," said Clint Berry, Communications and Member Services director of RAAA. She is proud to have earned the opportunity to work with a great breed of cattle and an organization whose focus is on the commercial beef industry and beef production. "I’m excited by the opportunity to join the RAAA staff and am honored to have received this position," said Randazzo. "I’m looking forward to working with the RAAA members and their commercial customers," she added. Randazzo can be contacted at mikalena@redangus.org or 940/387-3502. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

Feeder cattle markets rev up

by WLJ
Feeder cattle markets rev up —Video sales, special auction market sales garner good demand, prices. The fall in corn prices last week served to add significant support to feeder cattle markets, particularly the action in the video auction last week in Reno, NV. Western Video Market’s (WVM) annual Reno sale saw good prices on offered cattle and moderate to good demand from buyers. Although trucking costs hitting $4 and higher per loaded mile had some buyers restrained, action overall was good, particularly for the heavier classes of cattle and calves which were weaned and pre-conditioned. Interestingly, some of the fly-weight calves in the upper-200 to mid-400 lb. calves bound for grass also met with heavy bidding action and some of the best prices of the week. Nevada calves were in especially high demand at the WVM sale. For example, one 260-head offering of 380 lb. steer calves brought $149.50, while another ranch offering 120 steer calves in the 400 lb. class sold at $147.50. Another Nevada offering of 100 weaned steers with a base weight of 460 lbs. called for $140.50. Although yearlings and heavy calves were predictably fewer in number, their selling prices were also very strong during the sale, particularly for the Plains state offerings. A Nebraska ranch sold a lot of 212 head with a base weight of 975 lbs. for $113.25, while another Nebraska outfit sold 130 head of 830 lb. steers at $115.75. One Wyoming ranch offering 200 steers with a base weight of 740 lbs. sold their cattle at $116. The strength of the fed cattle markets over the past several weeks, at a time when the market is traditionally marking its summer lows, has bolstered demand for feeder cattle and the futures contract level has allowed cattle feeders to lock in some profit potential for next year. The result has been a growing interest in the trade to contract calves for fall delivery and rising prices for offerings on the video sales, private treaty, and the seasonally light auction market cattle. The realization among cattle feeders that there are more tight supplies ahead is also starting to hit the market, bumping prices higher. Heavy cow slaughter, heavy planned marketings of heifers, and low numbers of cattle coming in from Mexico and Canada are all pointing to a shortage of available feeder cattle next year. Already this year, cow slaughter is up more than 8 percent from last year. High cull cow prices as a result of heavy demand for grind product and cow beef and a sharp increase in hay and forage prices is expected by many to continue to keep cow slaughter numbers elevated through this year and into next, translating into a shrinking herd and fewer available calves. As previously mentioned, auction markets continue to run with seasonally light numbers and in places, markets are taking a summer hiatus until calves start to trickle in from pastures next month. One of the few reporting decent runs of cattle last week was West Plains, MO, which reported a run of 4,200 head of steers and heifers started off steady to $2 higher, but quickly moved $2-5 higher, with some spots $6 higher, once buyers got settled and quality and bunches improved. The exception were the offerings of 500-650 weight steers which sold mostly steady to firm with the previous week on moderate supply and good demand, particularly for the yearling steers which have started to appear in this market. At Oklahoma City, OK, a run of more than 9,400 head was called mostly steady with the previous week on the feeder steers, with heifers steady to $2 lower. Calves were only lightly tested during the sale with unweaned kinds still selling at a substantial discount to weaned. Demand moderate with some buying interests not very aggressive. Quality was reportedly not as attractive as recent weeks, with limited numbers of cattle in the mix. At Crockett, TX, last Tuesday, no market comparison was available due to the fact that the sale was just resuming activity after a shut-down, however, prices at the market were good. Steers in the 300-400 lb. class sold in a range of $117-122, while 400-500 lb. steers were in a range of $99-107 with a few reaching $116. Steers in the 600-700 lb. class brought a range of $94-102 while 700-800 lb. offerings brought $93-101. At the annual Bassett, NE, barbeque auction, good numbers of cattle and buyers combined for an excellent sale, with good quality and condition noted on cattle which consisted entirely of yearlings over 600 lbs. Although no trend was applicable, prices were outstanding across the board. The offering of 314 head of cattle in the 800-845 lb. category sold in a range of $111.24-119.60, while 962 head in the 850-890 lb. class brought a range of $110.60 to $119.10 and 1,612 head of 900-945 lb. steers sold in a range of $109.50-118.80. The heaviest class of cattle in the 950-975 lb. range sold between $109.10 and $118.10. Fed cattle markets Feedlot trade started earlier than anyone anticipated last week with all signals pointing lower as the summer slump took hold, at least temporarily. July typically marks the lowest point of the summer market, although it has been unexpectedly strong this year as consumer demand has supported the Choice cutout above the $170 level and kept packer margins up, supporting slaughter volumes. Last Tuesday, trade broke open in the northern Plains and Corn Belt at prices steady to $1 lower than the prior week at $97 live and $154-155 dressed basis. Trade followed Wednesday in the south mostly steady to slightly lower at $98 in Texas and $97 in Kansas following some $154.50 dressed trade there on Monday. Colorado feedlots traded at mostly $97.50 live and $1.55 dressed. Despite the decline in the cutout last week, prices remained good although movement out of cold storage was light to moderate at best. Last Thursday, the Choice cutout slipped 54 cents during morning trade, to $170.39, while Select declined 66 cents to reach $161.43. Although prices are down slightly from the highs notched early in July, they remain historically strong and well above last year’s price levels of $142.26 on the Choice and $136.67 on the Select. The result is a nearly $10 increase in fed cattle prices, which stood at $88.88 during the same week in 2007. As a result of the stronger margins in the fed cattle markets, packers are maintaining incredible margins on their beef operations, estimated at $67.60 per head by HedgersEdge.com last Thursday, down from the highs in excess of $100 and more per head notched earlier in the month. The result has been a willingness among packers to keep chain speeds up as they work to capture as much value from the positive market as they can. Feedlots, on the other hand, have been caught in a tough spot for much of the year. Caught between rising feed and fuel costs and relatively high calf prices, many are reportedly on the market. Some sources note that the number of feedlots on the High Plains being quietly offered for sale could be 60 or higher. Consolidation in the feedlot business could occur rapidly if the market dynamics don’t shift soon. As it is, catle feeding has been a volatile business and heavy losses and increasing risk have dissolved the willingness among producers to retain ownership in cattle, particularly with calf prices remaining high. Unless corn continues its correction, the number of feedlots on the market could continue to rise for some time to come. The cow beef markets continued to shrink back slightly last week, a correction that began after the first week of July and the strong seasonal demand that accompanies the Fourth of July holiday. Robust cow slaughter numbers have had little impact in pushing prices lower and the cow beef cutout last week stood at $143.46 on Thursday, nearly $30 higher than a year earlier. The 90 percent lean market traded at $183.55, up from $141.26 during the same week in 2007. Meanwhile, the 50 percent trim climbed to $97.33, up more than $44 from the 2007 price of $53.81. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

2008 International Auctioneers Championship crowns winners

by WLJ
2008 International Auctioneers Championship crowns winners C.D. "Butch" Booker of Colfax, WA, and Jodi L. Sweeney of Waukon, IA, were announced the winners of the 2008 International Auctioneers Championship at the 59th International Auctioneers Conference (IAC) and Show in Nashville, TN. This year’s competition had 74 men and 22 women compete for the coveted title. Each champion received a cash prize of $10,000, a trophy, and will now represent the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) as its spokespeople throughout the year. The competitors were judged on their presentation, chant, voice quality, body language and other elements of effective auctioneering. There was also an interview segment of the competition that participants were judged on. C.D. "Butch" Booker Second-generation auctioneer C.D. "Butch" Booker is all too familiar with the IAC competition. Since 1993, Booker has competed in every IAC competition and has eight trophies to show for it. This year, Booker will proudly add the IAC Championship trophy to his collection of four first runner-up and four second runner-up IAC trophies. The owner of Kincaid Real Estate Company in Colfax, WA, Booker is also an active auctioneer in his family auction business, Booker Auction Company. He has conducted over 2,500 auctions in 16 states and specializes in industrial and farm machinery, real estate and purebred livestock auctions. Upon being awarded his trophy, Booker invited his son, Cotton, to the stage to assist him in the IAC Champion auction. With his son standing by his side, Booker said, "When I was a little boy, my friends’ fathers played catch or fished with them. My dad took me to auctions. My son does the same with me. Auctions are our life. It’s what we do for a living. It’s what we love." Booker and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Colfax, WA, with their 6-year old son. Booker is the son of the late NAA Hall of Famer D.L. Booker and Colleen Booker. Jodi L. Sweeney Third-generation auctioneer Jodi L. Sweeney was born to be an auctioneer. At the age of 21, Sweeney is an impressive auctioneer. Raised in the auction house, she started helping with the family auctions at the age of 6 and began selling at age 19. Sweeney specializes in farm machinery, real estate and antique auctions. She holds a real estate salesperson license in the state of Iowa. In August of 2007, Sweeney was the first female to win the Iowa Auctioneers Association State Bid Calling Contest. "This year’s competition was filled with an excellent field of competitors," said Jodi Sweeney. "I was shocked and amazed to have won this year’s competition and I am truly honored to be this year’s champion." Sweeney is currently completing her last year of college and will graduate in May. She is a member of the Iowa Auctioneers Association and lifetime member of the NAA. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

BLM dismisses lease sale protests

by WLJ
BLM dismisses lease sale protests The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has dismissed protests filed on its April 2008 oil and gas lease sale by the Western Environmental Law Center and WildEarth Guardians. As a result of the decision, the 61 leases sold at the April 16, 2008, lease sale will be awarded to the bidders that secured the leases, effective Aug. 1, 2008. The protests alleged that federal laws and regulations compel BLM to do a series of detailed analyses of the impacts to global warming and climate change from potential greenhouse gas emissions before offering leases for oil and gas development on federal lands. BLM rejected the protests because greenhouse gas emissions are addressed in Environmental Assessments (EAs) prepared by its field offices and because the agency has taken, and will continue to explore, significant actions to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from federal oil and gas wells. For example, BLM requires that operators minimize flaring and venting of natural gas during production operations; BLM estimates that greenhouse gas emissions from federal wells in New Mexico have been reduced by 50 percent or more since 1980. In the EA process, BLM offices examine air quality and other impacts from potential oil and gas development, including greenhouse gas emissions. Based on New Mexico’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Reference Case Projection 1990-2020, it was determined that issuing these leases will have no significant impact to the total regional and global greenhouse gas emission levels. "We understand that people are concerned about greenhouse gases and global climate change, as are the BLM and the Department of the Interior," said Linda Rundell, New Mexico state director the BLM. "But we don’t feel this protest will help reduce the levels of gases released into the atmosphere. The real issue is worldwide demand and use of fossil fuels." In its protest response, BLM noted that consumption of oil and gas would likely continue at current levels or increase in the future with or without the leases being issued in its April sale and that consumption of these fuels provides the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions. BLM’s response further noted that if the BLM were to forego leasing or otherwise reduce oil and gas development on federal lands, public demand would not decrease in the U.S. or worldwide. The fuels not produced from federal leases would be replaced by other sources—sources that could include a combination of imports and other domestic production. The net effect, therefore, would not impact overall emission levels. In fact, levels of greenhouse gases could increase because oil and gas production in other parts of the world are not subject to the strict environmental regulations that apply to federal leases in this country. — WLJ

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Friday, July 18,2008

Nebraska Grazing Conference offered Aug. 12-13 in Kearney

by WLJ
Nebraska Grazing Conference offered Aug. 12-13 in Kearney The 2008 Nebraska Grazing Conference on Aug. 12-13 at the Kearney Holiday Inn will offer an in-depth look at grazing, from animal behavior to grassland monitoring. Two dozen speakers from four states and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty will give farmers, ranchers, wildlife managers and advisers the opportunity to learn more about obtaining economic success through grazing, enhancing wildlife habitat, and conservation. Sessions begin Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. following 9 a.m. registration and will conclude mid-afternoon the following day. Tom Hansen, North Platte rancher and state senator, will provide opening remarks. Key speakers and topics over the two days include: Allen Williams, chief executive officer of Tallgrass Beef Co. headquartered in Sedan, KS, marketing grass-fed beef; Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), legumes in grass pastures; Ray Bannister, Wibaux, MT, modifying animal behavior; Charley Orchard, Land EKG Inc., Bozeman, MT, land monitoring for management decisions; Rick Rasby, UNL, utilizing co-products in a beef livestock operation; John Ravenscroft, Three Bar Cattle Company, Nenzel, transitioning to organic production; Jerry Volesky, UNL, North Platte, NE, winter grazing strategies. Topics covered in concurrent sessions the first day are grazing basics and grazing and wildlife, and on the second day, use of co-products in beef production systems and grassland monitoring. On Aug. 12 following a 6 p.m. banquet, participants will have the option of attending informal discussions with some of the day’s speakers. A session targeting students that evening will cover grazing-related career opportunities. Ample time will be provided throughout the conference for participants to browse through exhibits from various companies and organizations within the grazing industry. The conference will conclude with a panel of experienced graziers who will discuss their management strategies for adapting to high feed and fuel costs. Conference participants who have been interested in seeing the treasures at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, but have been unable to travel to its home in Oklahoma City, will get the next best thing. Executive Director Chuck Schroeder will offer a history lesson to the audience through his entertaining slide show on the museum pieces and the stories behind them. Registration is $75 if postmarked by Aug. 1 and $90 after. Fees include two lunches, break refreshments, an evening banquet and materials. One-day registration is $40 before Aug. 1 and $50 after and does not include the evening banquet. Walk-ins are welcome. Reduced registration fees are offered for full-time high school or college students. For the first time this year, registration fee will be waived for students who will still be in high school this fall and who pre-register by the Aug. 1 deadline, compliments of the UNL College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Hotel reservations can be made by contacting the Holiday Inn at 800/248-4460 and specifying the Nebraska Grazing Conference for appropriate rates. For more information about this conference, go to the Center for Grassland Studies Web site at www.grassland.unl.edu, contact the center at 402/472-4101, e-mail grassland@unl.edu, or contact a local UNL Extension office. — WLJ

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