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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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Friday, September 19,2008

NMSU helps New Mexico beef industry develop strategic plan

by WLJ
Leaders in the New Mexico beef industry are asking their fellow cattlemen, "What’s your vision for the future?" during meetings held across the state. Outreach meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 24 in Ft. Sumner, NM; Friday, Sept. 26 in Sky City, NM, and Wednesday, Oct. 1 in Silver City, NM. "We are trying to get a sense of what is needed," said Steve Warshawer, a member of the New Mexico Beef Industry Strategic Planning Initiative task force. "We want to develop an industry-wide strategic approach for improving the opportunities of the New Mexico beef industry."Before the task force could plan for the future, they needed information as to where the New Mexico beef industry stands compared to the national industry. New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) College of Agriculture and Home Economics’ Agriculture Economics and Agricultural Business Department conducted a study and Terry Crawford, department head, and Jerry Hawkes, assistant professor, are reporting the findings during the outreach meetings. "We took a look to see were the beef industry is financially and economically in regard to the numbers of usable land, mother cows, yearlings—all of the industrial demographics of today," Hawkes said, prior to the Sept. 3 outreach meeting in Santa Fe. The study investigated the feasibility of an in-state feedlot/packaging facility, a grass-fed program and a New Mexico-grown branding program. The option with the most potential "seems to be a cooperative-branding program which would market New Mexico beef based on characteristics such as being locally grown and fresh as well as consumers’ willingness to support local producers," Hawkes said. The branding program would require independent cattle growers to form an alliance. Under the program, yearlings would be sent to feedlots and on to processing while the producers maintain ownership. The meat would be packaged under the New Mexico-grown brand name and then returned to retailers in New Mexico and the Southwest. "For the number of calves we have, this is the best bang for our buck," Hawkes said. Currently, New Mexico produces 100,000 to 150,000 calves annually. The NMSU study showed that the feasibility of a slaughter facility was unlikely because of a lack of sufficient slaughter animals in the state, as well as the competition the facility would face from larger, more efficient facilities located in the Texas Panhandle region. "A grass-fed program is feasible for a small-scale, niche marketing concept, but is not practical at this point to move the entire commercial industry to a grass-fed situation," Hawkes said. "We don’t have the forage. We’d have to reduce our mother cows to sustain our rangeland in the manner we’d need to for future uses—continued uses." Findings from a grass-fed study as a value chain in north central New Mexico and the San Luis Valley found that this method would be feasible for small-scale, direct marketing producers who don’t want to expand beyond 10 to 20 animals, Warshawer said. The study was funded by the Taos Community Foundation and the Town of Taos. "They could participate as a supplier to existing value chains such as Country Natural Beef," Warshawer said. Or, the producer would have to find a buyer serving the local/regional market to buy the whole carcass and work with a group of producers to develop it as a New Mexico value chain, he said. After hearing the reports by Hawkes and Warshawer, participants at the outreach meetings will be asked to identify the positive activities in the industry, what is their desired future for the New Mexico beef industry in five years, and what are the biggest obstacles for the industry to move to the desired future. Locations of the 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. meetings will be: • Sept. 24: Ft. Sumner at the DeBaca County Extension office, 514 Avenue C. • Sept. 26: Sky City at the Sky City Casino. • Oct. 1: Silver City at the Grant County Extension office, 2610 North Silver Street. Following the outreach meetings, a strategic planning summit will be held Nov. 18 and 19 in Albuquerque. For further information, contact the New Mexico Cattle Growers at 505/247-0584 or the New Mexico Beef Council at 505/841-9407. — WLJ

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Friday, September 19,2008

Cattle industry responds to Hurricane Ike

by WLJ
The response to Hurricane Ike continues to be a team effort as the issues are much larger than the resources of any one agency or association, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) reported last week. TAHC has worked with the livestock industry to establish sites for emergency shelters, and with local governments, agencies and associations to develop animal issues committees. The agency has established a small area command in the Austin, TX, headquarters, and is one of more than 30 agencies in the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management. TAHC’s Area Command can be reached at 1-800-550-8242, ext 296. At the request of TAHC, members of a National Veterinary Response Team are now being deployed by the federal government to assist in Texas recovery operations. Animal response teams from both Florida and New Mexico have volunteered to provide assistance to Texas via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system and are awaiting final authorization. A joint TAHC and USDA Veterinary Services team is working in the Beaumont area, assessing large animal issues from the air and ground. The scope of livestock death loss is not yet known, according to TAHC. Another team will be assessing the western side of the storm area when re-entry is allowed. The Texas State Animal Resource Team (TXSART), supported by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, is working in the area with credentialed animal care groups. A TXSART hotline for Orange and Jefferson counties has been set up at 409/980-7280 and 409/838-2510. In several storm-ravaged counties, large numbers of cattle and horses caught in the storm surge either died, or fences are down and animals are loose or stranded. TAHC is coordinating carcass disposal with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the National Resources Conservation Service. Reports of dead livestock should be made to TAHC’s Area Command Center at 800/550-8242, ext 296. Callers will be asked to provide the location, species of animal, approximate number, and, if, possible, the GPS coordinates of the site. The Texas Agrilife Extension, Texas Department of Agriculture and livestock industry groups have established "Operation No Fences: Hurricane Ike Horse and Cattle Relief" to collect feed, hay and water troughs to provide the livestock with safe feed and water. For more information or to make a donation, call the Texas 4-H Foundation at 979/845-1213. Producers who wish to donate hay or are in need of hay are encouraged to call the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline at 877/429-1998. Visit www.tda.state.tx.us/hayhotline for more information. Many of the emergency animal shelters for large and small animals remain operational, and livestock producers continue to generously volunteer their pastures and barns for evacuees. Early information from shelters providing reports indicates that more than 550 livestock and about 1,200 small animals were provided refuge. — WLJ

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Friday, September 19,2008

Hereford breeders to gather for annual meeting to celebrate Hereford demand

by WLJ
Members of the American Hereford Association (AHA) will gather in Kansas City, MO, Nov. 1-3 for the 2008 annual meeting. A full schedule of events is planned for Hereford enthusiasts from across the U.S. who attend the annual meeting and the National Hereford Show scheduled during the American Royal. The Annual Membership Meeting, which is open to the public, will be at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 3 at the Hilton President Kansas City. Association members selected 142 delegates to conduct the association’s business at the meeting and to elect three members to serve on the AHA Board of Directors. The board candidates are David Breiner, Alma, KS; Paul Funk, Copperas Cove, TX; Jimmie Johnson, Clinton, OK; Jack Lowderman, Macomb, IL; John Ridder, Callaway, NE; and Jay Wright, Morgan, TX. The association’s Annual Report will be presented and distributed during the annual meeting along with other reports on activities within the association, Hereford Publications Inc., Certified Hereford Beef LLC, and the Hereford Youth Foundation of America. This year’s Hereford Heritage Hall of Fame and Hereford Hall of Merit recipients will also be recognized. Before the annual meeting, the weekend kicks off Saturday at the Hilton President Kansas City with the state presidents’ meeting and breeders’ forum. All Hereford breeders are asked to attend the combined meeting at 8 a.m. Tom Field, Colorado State University animal science professor, will be an added bonus to this year’s meeting as he will address the group and answer questions concerning topics vital to all members and breeders. A panel of breeders and beef Extension specialists will offer advice and information on marketing and other areas of concern to the Hereford industry. For more information about the State Presidents Council, contact Phillip Moon at pamoon@alltel.net. Following the state presidents’ meeting will be delegate orientation. The six board candidates will have a chance to introduce themselves to the delegates during this session. At 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., a bus will be available outside the hotel to shuttle attendees to the American Royal Complex for the Ladies of the Royal sale which will start at 4 p.m. Following the sale, Hereford enthusiasts are invited to an open house at the AHA headquarters. Sunday, the junior Hereford show will begin at 8 a.m. at the American Royal Complex. The junior show judge will be Chris Mullinix, El Dorado, KS. Following the junior show will be the National Hereford Show judged by Bob Goble, Alto, MI. For those who can’t make the trip to Kansas City, show results will be available online at Hereford.org. The AHA headquarters hotel will be the Hilton President Kansas City, located at 1329 Baltimore in downtown Kansas City just blocks from the AHA office. To contact the Hilton President, call 816/221-9490. The hotel is in the newly renovated downtown Kansas City area called the Power and Light District. The nine-square-block area hosted a grand opening this spring and offers new retail and dining options as well as entertainment. For more information about dining and entertainment options, visit www.powerandlightdistrict.com. For general questions about the annual meeting and other scheduled events, contact Amy Cowan at AHA Headquarters at 816/842-3757. — WLJ

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Friday, September 19,2008

What is the value of a standing corn crop for silage?

by WLJ
Many acres of corn in the region are two weeks behind normal in maturity, so the corn is vulnerable to yield and quality loss because of possible frost. "Harvesting the corn for silage rather than grain may be a better option for some of this corn if a killing frost arrives too soon," says Dwight Aakre, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Service farm management specialist. "However, many corn producers do not run cattle, so they must find a buyer for the standing corn. It is difficult to place a value on a crop, such as silage, that typically is not a cash commodity." Further complicating the pricing decision is that the buyer and seller may want to determine a value per acre prior to harvest when the yield is still in question. The NDSU Extension Service has a worksheet available at county extension offices titled "What is the Value of a Standing Corn Crop for Silage?" to help answer this question. The worksheet also is available on the Web at www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/farmmgmt/resources.htm. The worksheet goes through a procedure to estimate the value of silage based on different levels of corn grain content. The value of silage is determined by estimating the quantity of corn grain and fodder dry matter per ton. The local prices of corn grain and grass hay are used to value the grain and fodder in each ton of silage. Silage yield is another important variable in determining the value per acre. A formula for estimating yield is included in the worksheet. This involves cutting and weighing the production from one one-thousandth of an acre to determine the per-acre yield. "Once both parties are in agreement on the yield per acre and the market value per ton, the total value per acre in storage is known," Aakre says. "This is the value per acre if the owner of the corn is going to chop, haul and pile the silage at the buyer’s location. More often than not, the buyer is going to incur the harvesting costs, rather than the corn producer. In that situation, the costs of chopping, hauling and piling must be subtracted from the gross value per acre to determine the net value in storage." Before any corn is chopped for silage, if it is covered by multi-peril crop insurance, the producer must contact his insurance company and have the crop adjusted. Failure to do so will result in loss of any potential insurance payment. An insurance indemnity payment does not affect the value of the corn for silage. Its worth is its feed value less harvesting and hauling costs. "Some buyers think they should pay no more than the price of corn times the adjusted yield," Aakre says. "This completely ignores a major part of the value of silage, which is the fodder. Likewise, some corn producers believe it is worth a certain amount because of the money invested in the crop. These are sunk costs that do not impact the value of the crop." — WLJ

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Friday, September 19,2008

Markets

by WLJ
Fed cattle trade last Thursday was underway in the Corn Belt and northern Plains regions with dressed sales in a range of $148-152, with most trade occurring at the $150-151 level. Southern Plains trade was still inactive at mid-day although live trade was expected to come in mostly steady to perhaps slightly higher at the $99 level after cutout values held their ground early in the day. The mostly steady trade comes at the start of what is expected to be a very tight supply of fed cattle over the next several months. Ahead of the cattle on feed report due out Sept. 19, analysts were predicting overall on feed numbers would decline an average of 2.1 percent from Sept. 1, 2007 levels. That number is expected to remain low, as placements have repeatedly fallen below year-ago numbers and could show a drop again for August when the numbers are reported. Average analyst estimates were for a placement number of 100.2 percent, up just slightly from year earlier levels. Marketings, with two fewer slaughter days during August, were expected to show a significant drop with average guesses coming in at 90.3 percent of year-ago levels. The drop in the number of market ready cattle well into next year could shift bargaining power solidly into the hands of cattle feeders who should be able to force packer bids higher as a result of limited supply. For now, though, packer margins remain solidly on the positive side of the ledger and feedlot operators were likely to hold out for a larger share of the pie last week as they edged higher. Choice cutout values rose in morning trade to $161.64 while Select prices declined slightly to $153.98, mostly steady to slightly higher than a week earlier despite weak trading action in the middle meats for the past several weeks. Livestock Marketing Information Center Director Jim Robb explained that much of that weakness is directly attributable to lackluster sales in the restaurant sector. "Restaurants are really the story in the meat markets and will remain so with the larger economy at the edge of a recession," Robb said. "The macro side of the economy is becoming an increasingly important issue in the market right now and if we are going to benefit from the tighter supplies of fed cattle through the second quarter of 2009, then we are going to have to see some improvements at the consumer level." He said export markets, which have been critical to supporting the market for much of the year, continue to be exceptionally strong. He noted that South Korea, on a weekly basis, has returned to the import volume seen prior to 2003. The result has been a big boost in some of the end meats, particularly the chuck primals which are in high demand overseas. "With the domestic economy on the edge, the big question will be can we maintain the export markets, particularly as foreign economies begin to slow down?" he said. "If we can, and the restaurant sector manages to improve, then we might be in a position where second quarter live cattle contract prices are a little too low." However, he cautioned that consumers are under extreme pressure from losses in the housing markets which are now spreading to other areas of the economy and could lead consumers to pull in their horns even farther when it comes to spending. "I think we are continuing the trend of consumers trading down to lower priced proteins," he said, noting the competition, particularly from pork, currently suffering from an oversupply which is lowering prices and making it a more attractive buying opportunity. Likewise, ground beef markets continue to be a bright spot despite higher than normal slaughter volume. "Ground beef prices remain historically high and some of that’s a result of consumer demand, but it’s also a result of very low imports of beef from overseas," Robb said. "When the beef import volume is translated to a per-head basis, during July it would have amounted to a decline of 170,000 head. So you can see there has been a substantial drop in the amount of beef being imported into the U.S., and that’s a big reason our cow beef markets have been so strong recently." Last week, those markets remained well above prior year levels, although they had slipped back some from the previous week. The cow beef cutout stood at $137.15 in morning trade last Thursday, down $2 from the prior Thursday. The 90 percent lean traded at $171 while the 50 percent trim traded at $92, both down more than $2 from the previous week. Feeder cattle Even with ample rain in many major production areas, this summer’s grass supplies have begun to grow short and a number of lightweight offerings have begun to make up a heavy presence in auction markets around the country. Buyers, however, have been very selective for type and kind cattle, possibly more so than normal. Heavier yearlings would normally continue to be in strong demand, but buyers have begun to eschew these cattle for lighter-weight calves which can be backgrounded over the winter on forage resources, the cheaper alternative to placing light cattle directly in the growing yard. Reports from many areas, though, show that buyers are still taking a wait-and-see approach as the picture for fall and winter grazing prospects begins to clear up. "We’re definitely seeing good demand for the number of calves we have had come in this fall, which is fairly high right now," pointed out Brian Winter of Winter Livestock in Dodge City, KS. "But there are a lot of people who are waiting to see what there will be available for these cattle to graze over the winter. A lot depends right now on how much wheat pasture there will be available." DTN analyst Walt Hackney noted that yearlings coming off of summer pastures will begin to taper off in the weeks ahead, though calf movement through auction markets should remain strong for a couple more months. "The supply of available yearlings has gone through the initial phase of movement off grass pastures, and the remaining run of unsold cattle coming off the grass programs will be primarily finished within the next two to four weeks," he said. "The calf runs will continue on into early to mid-November when all of the October-November contract deliveries are completed and the remaining unsold spring calves are either weaned or taken off the cows and delivered to an auction environment." James Mintert, professor of ag economics at Kansas State University, warned producers that as corn harvest approaches and grain market uncertainty continues, it would be wise to pay attention to markets closely to secure feed resources for the winter at more reasonable prices. "Attention is expected to remain focused on corn yields for a few more weeks, perhaps until harvest is well underway in October," he said. "However, once 2008 yields are confirmed, attention will shift to a battle for acreage between corn and soybeans. Once that happens, it’s possible that corn prices could move higher over the course of the winter and early spring. As a result, livestock producers should consider taking steps to aggressively manage their feed purchases for the rest of the fall, winter and spring." As the runs of yearlings begin to peter out and lighter-weight calves begin to dominate the markets, buyers will start becoming more particular about the cattle they choose, explained USDA market reporter Corbitt Wall. "Normally this time of year, available yearlings are highly sought after and the first offerings of top quality calves are met with open arms, though outlets tend to fill up later in the fall," he said. "This week, buyers turned much more particular, even on heavy yearlings, which is a direct contrast to their bidding habits of several weeks ago—when scattered single and odd lots would sell very near the top of the market." A total of 6,170 head were received last week at the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City, OK, where compared to the previous sale, feeder cattle and calves moved $1-3 lower, with instances of $4-5 lower on plainer, fleshy or stressed offerings. Demand was moderate at best, with some buying interest out of the market. Many cattle buyers have a wait-and-see attitude, as there is uncertainty in the financial, grain and futures markets adding to the pressure on cattle prices. Lighter runs showed up last week as many of the summer yearlings get cleaned up and the fall calf season is not in full swing. Heavy rain in western and eastern areas of Oklahoma also slowed down cattle movement some. Steers weighing 776 lbs. sold at $110.61, while heifers weighing 760 lbs. sold at $100 even. The Joplin Regional Stockyards near Joplin, MO, took in 4,525 head last week where all classes of steers sold $3-7 lower. Heifers, calves and yearlings traded $1-4 lower with a few consignments of northern-quality heifers selling steady. Market uncertainty from several different fronts pressured feeder cattle demand. Factors included bearish news from Wall Street, flooded conditions in many cattle and grain production areas from the remnants of Hurricane Ike, and unseasonably cool nighttime temperatures that are triggering calf health concerns. Buyers paid $107.05 for steers weighing 784 lbs., and $101.97 for heifers weighing 757 lbs. Last week’s sale at the Winter Livestock Feeder Cattle Auction in Dodge City, KS, saw receipts of 3,349 head. There was a higher undertone noted on steers from 350-600 lbs. and heifers from 300-550 lbs., though there were no sales last week for a comparison. Steers from 600-750 lbs. were weak on a light test, with weights from 750-1,000 lbs. going $1-4 lower. Heifers from 600-700 lbs. were not tested, while 700-850 lb. heifers were weak to $3 lower in a light test. Steers weighing an average of 776 lbs. sold at $109.59, while fleshy, 781 lb. heifers brought $100.10. A full 4,300 head were received last week at the Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett, NE, where compared with two weeks ago, feeder steers and heifers trended $5 lower. Demand was fair to weak, with most consignments showing extra fill. An average of $113 was paid for 773 lb. steers, while 767 lb. heifers brought $106.80. The La Junta Livestock Commission Company in La Junta, CO, reported receipts of 1,287 head last week where steer and heifer calves under 600 lbs. dropped $2-4 lower. Feeder steer and heifers over 600 lbs. were $2 lower, with active trade and moderate demand. Steers weighing an average of 615 lbs. sold at $109.55, while 610 lb. heifers were good for $101.50. Last week’s sale at the Riverton Livestock Auction in Riverton, WY, offered 2,101 head for sale. Compared to the previous sale, steer calves under 400 lbs. went $1 lower, with 500-600 lb. steers steady with instances of $1-5 higher. Heifer calves under 500 lbs. dropped $3-5 lower. Yearling steers were $4-5 lower with instances of $7-10 lower on weights over 900 lbs. Yearling heifers were $1-3 lower, with instances of $4-5 lower. Demand was noted as being good to moderate. Buyers paid $103 for steers weighing an average of 760 lbs., and $102.29 for heifers weighing an average of 767 lbs. The Stockland Livestock Auction in Davenport, WA, reported receipts of 1,080 head last week where feeder cattle went $5-6 lower. Trade was slow with light to moderate demand. Steers weighing 739 lbs. sold at $94.36, while 782 lb. heifers brought $85.66. — WLJ

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