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Monday, July 23,2007

Ag land tax breaks threatened in California

by WLJ
—Funding for Williamson Act dollars faces veto threat. Williamson Act payments to California counties, which offset tax decreases on agricultural land, could disappear if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger carries out his plan to axe the estimated $40 million in funding during this year’s budget negotiation. His initial budget contained no money for the program, however, after an uproar, the California Legislature added funding for the program to its budget package. However, the program remains in jeopardy; the governor could still use his line-item veto power to remove the funds. The Williamson Act is a program, similar to a conservation easement, which allows California producers to guarantee that their land will remain in agricultural production for a period of 10 or more years in exchange for a tax break on property enrolled in the program. Funding of just $40 million for the Williamson program represents a small fraction of the state’s enormous $103.7 billion budget. For the state’s producers however, it represents a substantial savings in terms of property tax assessments. In all, according to the California Department of Conservation, 16 million of the state’s 29 million acres of agricultural land in 54 counties are enrolled in the conservation program. But John Gamper, director of taxation and land use at the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), said administration officials are indicating that the governor might go ahead with the cut, even if it means overriding the Legislature with a veto. Proponents of the Williamson Act argue that it is important to maintain land protected under the act for conservation and land use reasons. CFBF said funding the program encourages more responsible planning to protect “our members right to farm,” according to Gamper. He said in the most recent poll of landowners who participate in the Williamson Act program, 85 percent of participating landowners are “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with the benefits brought to them by enrolling in the Williamson Act. It is estimated the Williamson Act can save agricultural landowners from 20 to 75 percent in property tax liability each year, or approximately $150 million statewide, according to Gamper. “A survey of landowners in Williamson Act contracts concluded that one in three would not be farming or ranching without the act’s benefits,” said Gamper. As an example of how the cuts would impact counties, in 2005, Amador County received roughly $110,000 in subvention funds from the Williamson Act, according to county auditor Joe Lowe, who said the county puts the money into the general fund to cover property tax losses created by Williamson Act enrollments. Currently, Amador county has 94,000 acres, a third of the total acreage in the county, covered by the Williamson Act. The total appraised value of that property, if assessed at the Proposition 13 value and not with the tax break from the Williamson Act, is $133 million. This means the county would receive $1.3 million in property tax revenue from those areas, according to the county assessor. But, while those lands remain under the Williamson Act, they are assessed at $42.5 million and the county collects about $426,000 in property taxes plus the $110,000 in reimbursement funds from the state, the assessor’s office said. — John Robinson, WLJ Editor  

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Monday, July 23,2007

Television horse source

by WLJ
Handsome Stranger Productions announces the premiere of their newest production, TV Horse Source. This 30-minute television program will air on RVD-TV starting in December 2007. Nancy Stober, president of Handsome Stranger Productions, stated: “We believe this program will change how people market their horses! In the past, a buyer would spend countless hours going through publications, searching Web sites and networking through friends and trainers. Then after making contact with a seller, the buyer would wait days and weeks for photos and video, only to find the horse did not meet their needs. Our program will save both the buyer and seller time and money.” Adding, “Our viewing audience will include people who want to buy, sell, breed, learn about, and people who just love looking at good horses.” The program will showcase horses for sale from every discipline. Each horse will be featured with video clips or photographs, with breeding, training, and show or race earnings announced. The price and seller contact information will appear at the bottom of each page. The program will have a corresponding Web site where potential buyers can access more information, photos, and watch up to seven minutes of additional video. Web site features will include past episodes of the program as well as horses for sale not featured on the show. Additional segments will feature a Stallion Show Case, Breeders Showcase, and information segments from some of the top trainers in the country. Equine industry news will also be a program highlight. The individual with one horse, as well as the breeder, will find TV Horse Source a useful tool in their marketing program. The program will also be a platform for a national campaign to reduce the unwanted pet population by asking viewers to spay and neuter their own pets. Studies show that in two years, this platform could reduce the 5 million dogs and cats euthanized in our animal shelters by up to 1 million a year. The show will be hosted by the current Miss Rodeo California, Kadee Coffman.

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Monday, July 23,2007

Summer means watching cattle for heat stress related problems

by WLJ
With temperatures forecast to hit 90 degrees and above, cattle producers need to take steps to ward off heat stress in their herds, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) beef specialist said. It’s important producers make sure their cattle have plenty of water, said Terry Mader, beef specialist at UNL’s Haskell Agricultural Laboratory near Concord, NE. “Cattle do not handle heat stress as well as humans,” Mader said. “Sunny days with temperatures above the mid-80s can be stressful, particularly if there is no wind and humidity is above 50 percent or higher due to a recent rainfall.” Water is probably the best avenue to dissipate heat, Mader said. “The cattle don’t have to be thirsty, but as cattle drink water and pass it through their body, it removes a lot of heat in the process,” he said. Cattle normally take in about five to six gallons of water per day. However, when temperatures rise, that amount can double or even triple. “It’s important to have plenty of available water,” he said. “When there is competition for water, it creates problems because the dominant animals will occupy waterer space and not allow other animals access.” In an emergency, cattle can be sprayed with water to cool them down. However, once producers do that, they need to continue spraying. Spraying cattle with water will allow the animal to rapidly dissipate heat through evaporative cooling processes but this may limit the animal’s ability to adapt to the heat. “That’s why it should only be used as an emergency step,” Mader said. Producers also should have an emergency plan in case water supplies are low or cut off, Mader added. In addition, producers should avoid handling cattle when it’s hot and never after 10 a.m. Cattle body temperatures can rise .5 to 3.5 degrees during handling. Also, producers should feed cattle most of the day’s feed several hours after the day’s peak temperature in the late afternoon or evening. Avoid filling cattle up with feed late in the morning when added heat generated by digestion will peak around the hottest time of the day, he said. Cattle yards also should be inspected so there aren’t any structures that restrict airflow. Cutting down vegetation around pens and moving cattle away from windbreaks can all help. Building earth mounds in pens also can increase airflow by preventing cattle from bunching together. For more information about managing heat stress in feedlots, consult UNL Extension NebGuide G1409, Managing Feedlot Heat Stress, available from local UNL Extension offices or on the Web.

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Friday, July 20,2007

BEEF BITS

by WLJ
4, 2005 Austria discovers second BSE case A second confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Austria appears to be an isolated case as all other cattle at the affected farm tested negative for the deadly brain-wasting disorder. Austria’s health and agriculture ministers said an 11-year-old cow from a small farm of seven cattle near the German border in the province of Vorarlberg had tested positive for the disease. All seven animals were slaughtered. Kosher plant opens in Nebraska Meat company, Local Pride, opened a kosher beef, lamb and bison packing plant in an existing but shuttered facility in Gordon, NE, in late January. The plant has stood idle since 1996. Local Pride is owned by the Rubashkin family, which also owns Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, IA, that has drawn fire from animal-rights activists for its slaughter practices. Boston Market adds sirloin items Boston Market recently added sirloin meals to its dining menu. The new items are a five-ounce and eight-ounce lean steak entree, a barbecue-sirloin-and-cheddar-cheese sandwich, and a sirloin-dip sandwich. Average prices for the steak meals meals are $7.99 and $10.99. A la carte, the sirloin retails for $10.49 for a one-pound entree. The barbecue-sirloin sandwich sells for approximately $4.29, and the sirloin dip for $5.99. As part of the product introductions, Boston Market is partnering with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to distribute coupons for the new items at blood drives throughout the U.S. Packers’ employment falling According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the meat packing industry has declined by almost 10,000 jobs since May 2003, with the majority of those layoffs being from cattle and beef processing facilities. Packing industry sources cited the U.S.’ cessation of Canadian cattle imports as the primary reason for the fall. In May 2003, meat packing employment was 153,100 people. But by April 2005, employment declined to 143,300. Russia reports HMD outbreak All the livestock in the village of Busse in Russia’s Amur region were slaughtered following an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease(HMD). A total of 236 cattle have been destroyed. A total of six hundred kilos of napalm has been brought to Busse to incinerate the corpses. The outbreak has been caused by the Asia 1 virus. Recently, 20,000 doses of a polyvalent vaccine were sent to the Amur region. “Russia has not seen this type of virus so far. It has penetrated from China. This is an entirely new virus and the local cattle have not adapted to it yet,” Aleksandr Nesterenko, head of the agro-industrial department of the Amur administration said. Security measures in the southern part of Russia’s Far East have been stepped up due to the HMD outbreak. Czech Republic may have 20th BSE case Preliminary tests indicate another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the Czech Republic, the country’s second such case this month and its 20th thus far, according to the state veterinary authority. The last Czech case was confirmed 11 days ago, reports Meatingplace.com. Final test results from the second animal will be available next week. In all previous cases, initial positive results were confirmed in final testing. The Czech Republic’s first case of BSE was reported in June 2001. Pincher Creek to house plant Designs are underway to build a beef processing plant in Pincher Creek, Alberta. The plant is said to be worth $3.1 million U.S. New Generation Processors, a co-op planning the facility, is in the process of getting local municipal approvals before it moves to scheduling construction. The plant will be located on a 22-acre site in Pincher Creek and will slaughter between 200 and 325 cattle per day. At present, all investors are Albertan, but the facility is convenient to British Columbia, and New Generation plans to market shares to B.C. cattlemen. The co-op hopes to open its doors within 12 months. New Generation can be contacted at 403/627-3301.   China opens its first Burger King Burger King opened its first Chinese outlet in Shanghai on Monday, hoping to take a bite out of the rival McDonald’s profits in the booming Chinese fast-food market, according to the Associated Press. Along with famous menu offerings such as the Whopper, the outlet will also sell items customized to Chinese tastes, including a hamburger seasoned with the spicy mala sauce of southwestern China, the company said. Burger King has a lot of catching up to do in an already crowded Chinese fast-food market dominated by U.S. chains McDonald’s Corp. and KFC Corp. McDonald’s plans to open about 100 more restaurants in China this year, adding to the 600 plus it already operates there. © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Friday, July 20,2007

BSE case spurs testing changes

by WLJ
4, 2005 In addition to confirming the presence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow first tested for the disease last November, USDA on June 24 also announced plans to change its testing protocol for the disease. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said two different confirmatory tests were performed by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) testing facility in Weybridge, England, and that additional tests were also conducted by U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service scientists. All those tests came back positive for the disease. “Last November we had an inconclusive report from a rapid screening test. USDA then conducted two IHC (immunohistochemistry) confirmatory tests, and both came out negative. A few weeks ago, an additional confirmatory test was conducted, and that test is referred to as the Western blot test,” Johanns said during his June 24 announcement. “On June 10 I learned that test was reactive and shared those results at that time.” “We now have the test results from the lab in Weybridge, England, as well as the results from additional testing in our own lab....The results confirm the presence of BSE in this animal....” Johanns and APHIS chief veterinarian John Clifford both reiterated that the suspect animal was a downer cow that was condemned from entering both the human food or livestock feed chains and that there was no opportunity for the disease to spread to the U.S. human or livestock population. “It is critically important to note that this animal was identified as a high risk animal,” said Johanns. “A sample was taken, and the carcass was incinerated.” Despite that fact, Johanns still announced that the testing protocol for the disease would be changed to include utilizing both the IHC and Western blot processes as confirmatory tests on “preliminary inconclusive” rapid test results. If results from either confirmatory test are positive, the sample will be considered positive for BSE. “I want to make sure we continue to give consumers every reason to be confident in the health of our cattle herd,” Johanns said. “By adding the second confirmatory test, we boost that confidence and bring our testing in line with the evolving worldwide trend to use both IHC and Western blot together as confirmatory tests for BSE.” He added that he was made aware of some variations in the IHC test between England and the U.S. However, Dr. Danny Matthews, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy program manager for VLA, said the variations do not result in either one of the countries’ BSE testing protocol being less effective or accurate than the other. “There are no two laboratories around the world that are using identical IHC methods and not a single test that you can take off the shelf,” said Matthews. “And, in fact, there's been quite a lot of resistance in Europe when there was an attempt to see if there was any scope for having a common protocol. In some cases, just variations in water content can actually mean that your test does not perform equally. So it really is appropriate for each laboratory to develop the test that works best for them.” Johanns said USDA will work with other international scientists to see if any additional changes to BSE testing protocol are necessary. Johanns and Clifford both remained confident that the U.S.’ BSE testing program is effective in ensuring both producers’ and consumers’ confidence in the health and safety of U.S. beef. According to USDA statistics, as of June 26 a total of 394,613 “most at risk” cattle have been tested for BSE under the stepped up testing protocol which was implemented June 1 of last year. There have been three preliminary inconclusive results and only one cow has been confirmed to have the disease under that program. On a weekly basis, the volume of testing has dropped off the past couple of months with only 5-6,000 tests being conducted per week. The peak season for testing was this past March and April when 10,000-11,000 tests were done weekly. Officials close to the testing program said the drop off in numbers is simply a matter of seasonal trends in the amount of “most suspect” cattle available for testing and that the “most at risk” population has almost been exhausted. When the program was first announced, APHIS Administrator Ron DeHaven said that there were around 450,000 head of cattle that were considered to be at higher risk for being infected with the disease. There are still several months before the maximum 18-month testing program time frame is reached. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Friday, July 20,2007

New logo signifies push for mCOOL

by WLJ
4, 2005 The Cattlemen’s Competitive Market Project (CCMP) last week officially launched a “public awareness” campaign concerning mandatory country-of-origin labeling (mCOOL), including the unveiling of a new USDA RAISED BEEF logo. CCMP is a consortium of various state, regional and national livestock organizations who have been in favor of mCOOL ever since it was first passed by Congress in 2002. Among the CCMP member organizations are South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Livestock Producers, Cattle Producers of Washington, R-CALF USA and the Organization for Competitive Markets. “The USA RAISED BEEF ‘Ask For It’ initiative is designed to increase consumer awareness and to encourage consumers to ask for USA Raised Beef at the point of sale,” CCMP said in a statement last Tuesday during a press conference in Washington, DC. “By educating consumers, and soliciting their involvement, mCOOL will be given the importance it deserves. When consumers are made aware that they cannot determine where their meat comes from, they immediately question grocers and political representatives urging that the information be included on product labels in their local stores.” The group added that the “Not Just Any Beef” portion of the logo is a key component of the educational process informing consumers that the USDA inspection stamp deceives consumers and misleads beef purchasers who believe it means beef raised and processed in the U.S. “In reality, the federal stamp is applied to cheap imported and unidentified beef. Currently, the U.S. accepts imports of beef into the food chain from more than 30 nations, all of which is sold to consumers under the guise of the USDA grade stamp of approval,” the group said. CCMP officials cited results of a recent survey that shows 85 percent of consumers surveyed want COOL; 74 percent support the idea of Congress making the program mandatory; and 55 percent have “little or not much trust” in the meat, seafood, produce and grocery industries to voluntarily provide country of origin labeling. The 1,000-person poll was conducted June 9 - 13 by Lake Snell Perry Mermin and Associates. A proposal recently approved by the full House delays funding for mCOOL until at least the beginning of fiscal year 2007, which means Sept. 1, 2006. No similar language has yet been introduced in the Senate, and senator staffers indicated that such language would be included in their version of the Ag Appropriations Bill for FY 2006. The Senate is expected to discuss and vote on an ag appropriations package sometime during mid-July, according to lobbyists. Once that is done, the House and Senate will send both proposals to a conference committee, where a compromise ag appropriations bill will be hammered out. Sources from both houses were uncertain as to whether the funding delay for mCOOL would be included in the conference version of the bill. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Friday, July 20,2007

Infected cow native to U.S.

by WLJ
4, 2005 — Animal born and raised on Texas ranch. Officials with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) last Wednesday confirmed that a cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was U.S. born and raised. It is the first domestic case of the disease confirmed in the U.S. According to John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for APHIS, the Brahma-cross cow was 12 years old when she was shipped to a pet food plant in Texas last November. She was born and raised on the same ranch in Texas all her life. When she arrived at the plant, the cow was not able to stand or walk and was condemned from entering the animal feed chain. Instead, brain samples were collected and the animal was incinerated. APHIS is currently working on tracking down any cohorts or herd mates that would be considered most at risk for BSE. “The source herd is under a hold order as we identify ‘animals of interest’ within the herd,” Clifford said. “Animals of interest include animals that were born the same year as the infected animal, as well as those born the year before and the year after. We may expand our inquiry to include all animals in this herd that were born before the feed ban went into place in 1997.” In 1997, a federal regulation was put in place that eliminated the use of ruminant meat-and-bone meal (MBM) in ruminant feed. MBM could include bits and pieces of central nervous system tissue, which is thought to carry the malformed proteins responsible for the disease. Clifford also said his department is interested in any of the animal's offspring that were born within the last two years, which means the last two calves. Last week’s announcement was several days after USDA announced the confirmation of the disease in the animal, but officials said they had to do DNA analysis to trace back the animal to its herd of origin. When the sample was first collected last November it was mislabeled with the wrong breed of the animal and was also commingled with at least four other animals that were being tested for the disease, Clifford said. In addition, Dr. Bob Hillman, state veterinarian for Texas, said that the laboratory from College Station that did the original testing on the infected cow’s sample conducts tests on cattle from states other than Texas, and that extra time was needed to gather the information concerning the cow’s origin and path of movement, if any. The name and specific location of the quarantined ranch has not been released. Clifford added that information would probably not be released through their office. He said releasing that information could violate the producer’s individual right to privacy. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Friday, July 20,2007

Private property ruling criticized

by WLJ
4, 2005 — Supreme Court: economic development is public use. — Farms, ranches could be impacted. Private property groups, including farming and ranching organizations, were dismayed and upset with a recent Supreme Court decision allowing local governments to “take” private businesses, homes and/or land in order to promote economic development. The vote was 5-4 in favor of the town of New London, CT. Petitioners from the town alleged their Fifth Amendment rights were violated and challenged the city government’s use of eminent domain to take and pay for residential property which would be used to build a retail and entertainment area. In 1998, pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer, Inc. agreed to build a $270 million research facility next to the area involved in the lawsuit. The New London City Council then adopted a plan to redevelop 90 acres of that neighborhood, and transferred power of eminent domain to the private, nonprofit New London Development Corp., which was in charge of that redevelopment plan. According to the plaintiffs in the case, the city had no right to take their property except to build projects for “explicit public use,” like roads or schools. However, the court’s majority opinion indicated that economic development was considered within the realm of public use. “There is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion. “Petitioners contend that using eminent domain for economic development impermissibly blurs the boundary between public and private takings....our cases foreclose this objection. Quite simply, the government ’s pursuit of a public purpose will often benefit individual private parties.” Other justices in the majority were Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. In addition, the majority opinion appeared to give local governments the authority to purchase and redevelop privately-owned areas if they are deemed run down or dilapidated. The four dissenting votes were by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. In her dissenting opinion O’Connor said, “Today, the court abandons the long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded—i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public—in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings ‘for public use’ is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property—and thereby effectively to delete the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” Private property groups were upset with the ruling saying that it now opens up all house and property owners as potential targets by city governments looking to expand their boundaries or improve their economic viability. “We are outraged that the Supreme Court ruled government bodies can use eminent domain authority to take private property for economic development by private businesses. The ruling in favor of the city in Kelo v. City of New London could have serious negative consequences to farmers and ranchers,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). “Apparently no one’s home, farm and/or ranch land, is safe from government seizure because of this ruling.” AFBF was one of many farm and ranch-based organizations that filed amicus curiae—also known as “friend of the court”—briefs. “Farmers and ranchers are having problems maintaining their fields and pastures for food and fiber production. They are contending with urban sprawl and need protection against government bodies having free reign to take land.” The other point of contention from plaintiffs and “friend” petitioners was that the land can be “taken for less than fair market value.” Property Rights Attorney David McIlheny, Joplin, MO, told WLJ last week that the Supreme Court’s decision could even result in some municipalities taking private property or land without paying for it, if land or property owners don’t agree to an original offer. “It appears landowners’ hands could be tied, with this decision,” McIlheny said. “There isn’t anything explicit in the ruling about ‘fair’ and/or ‘market’ value being paid for targeted property.” There were concerns that farms and ranches located on the “near outskirts” of municipalities could be the most impacted by this decision. “Those are probably the operations that need to be the most concerned with this decision, particularly if they are in ‘prime development’ areas,” McIlheny said. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, July 16,2007

Educational beef tour schedule set

by WLJ
Lunch begins at 11:30 at the River Bend Ranch Headquarters, located east of Limon, CO, off I-70 at Exit 354 then .75 miles west. The program will conclude around 3:30 p.m. Joe and Cindy Frasier, Frasier Farms—River Bend Ranch are inviting beef producers, educators, industry representatives and others to their ranch near Limon, CO, for a tour on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007, beginning with a lunch at 11:30. Lunch is sponsored by Red Angus Association of America (RAAA). During the tour, participants will get a first-hand look at how River Bend Ranch uses a Synchronized Artificial Insemination Breeding Program in their summer calving program. The day of the tour is the mass-insemination day for cows on an estrous synchronization protocol coordinated by Frank Carlson from ABS Global, Inc. This protocol also employs short-term calf removal to enhance pregnancy rates. The Frasiers are using Red Angus sires as part of progeny test evaluations for RAAA. Participants will also see first-hand how the use of radio frequency identification tags for record- keeping has been integrated with mating choices, breeding and calving records and marketing opportunities for Source and Age Verification through U.S Premium Beef. River Bend Ranch moved from a traditional season of calving to summer calving nine years ago. Joe will describe why they made this decision and the benefits he has seen by incorporating this management practice in his herd. The tour will also include a stop and discussion of how the River Bend Ranch is effectively using Management Intensive Grazing to improve range condition and productivity. Participants in the tour will observe the pasture cell structures and their use in rotational management. The Frasier families have been ranching in eastern Colorado since 1947 and are no strangers to the Colorado beef industry. They received the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Regional Environmental Stewardship Award in 2003. The Colorado State University (CSU) Beef Team is serving as coordinators for this tour and encourages cattlemen to plan to attend this very educational event. For more information, contact Mick Livingston, Kit Carson Cooperative Extension Office in Burlington, CO, at 719/346-5571, or email mick.livingston@colostate.edu; Jack Whittier, CSU Beef Extension Specialist, Fort Collins, CO, at 970/491-6233, or by email jack.whittier@colostate.edu; Roger Ellis, CSU Extension Veterinarian, Fort Collins, CO, phone 970/297-4516, email roger.ellis@colostate.edu; or Michael Fisher, Yuma County Extension Office in Wray, CO, phone 970/332-4151, emai MJ.Fisher@ColoState. edu.

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Monday, July 16,2007

Distillers grains vital to future success

by WLJ
There’s no reason the cattle-feeding industry in Texas cannot remain strong and viable if it incorporates distillers grains into rations, said a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher. “Our concern has been, ‘Will there be enough feed?’” said Dr. Jim MacDonald, Experiment Station beef cattle nutritionist. “Assuming all the distillers grains are available for livestock feed, clearly there will be.” But, MacDonald said, the ratio of corn being fed vs. distillers grains could go from 11-to-1 today, to 3-to-1 nationally in the next 10 years. “So we’d better figure out how to feed distillers grains,” he said. Relatively few distillers grains are fed in the southern Plains states now, MacDonald said. Some beef producers are reluctant because there’s no incentive and no ready supply.  However, with the opening of two ethanol plants scheduled later this year in the Texas Panhandle, a steady supply of distillers grains should be available, making the alternative feedstock more attractive, he said. “In the future, as long as it is priced relative to corn, I think there will be a necessity to use this new large pool of feed,” MacDonald said. The proportion of corn used from 2002 to 2006 hasn’t changed much in the areas of human consumption, high fructose production or exports, he said. The biggest change has been corn moving from the livestock-feed sector to the fuel-ethanol sector, MacDonald said. Livestock feed has decreased from 60 percent to 55 percent in that time period, while the ethanol fuel sector increased from 8 percent to 14 percent. However, National Corn Growers Association forecasts show that while the percentage has decreased, the actual bushels of corn produced will continue to increase due to higher yields and acres planted, he said. The acres of corn harvest is expected to rise from the current 71 million to 80-85 million over the next five years, MacDonald said. Yields are projected to rise to almost 180 bushels per acre in the next 10 years. “We’re not sure how big the ethanol industry is going to get, but if every plant being proposed as of now gets built, the Renewable Fuels Association says we’ll be producing 12.5 billion gallons of ethanol a year from starch,” he said. In estimating feed availability for livestock, MacDonald assumed as much as 15 billion gallons of ethanol being produced annually. At that rate, 35.5 percent of all corn would be needed for ethanol. This would bring the amount of corn available for feed down from the current 60 percent to 33.5 percent, assuming the other categories remain steady. Because yields are expected to increase, he said the decrease of actual corn fed will not be as dramatic, going from 6.1 billion bushels in 2006 to 5 billion bushels by 2017. The beef and dairy industries are in the best position of any of the livestock industry to use distillers grains, MacDonald said. Based on the number of plants proposed in the Texas High Plains, he estimated feed yards will need to include 15 percent to 20 percent of distillers grains in the diet (moisture-free basis) to use all the available supply. The two Hereford, TX, plants, with a combined 200 million gallons of ethanol production per year, will produce 665,000 tons of distillers grains, he said. This quantity alone would be enough to include 6 percent to 7 percent distillers grains in the diets of the 5.75 million head of cattle fed in the Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma region. If a proportion higher than 20 percent were included into area feed yard and dairy rations, distillers grains will need to be railed in from the Midwest, he said. Growth of the ethanol industry in the Corn Belt has created a greater demand for corn in that area, MacDonald said. However, they now have a large surplus of distillers grains. That could make them cheaper to rail into Texas than whole corn. In the tri-state area, distillers grains would be mixed with steam-flaked corn. This is different from in the Midwest, where dry-rolled corn is fed, he said. Several studies are under way to see how to maximize the use of distillers grains in the feed yard situation, MacDonald said. Those results should be available later this summer.

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© Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use, without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. 2008 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.