Close
Home » Articles »   By WLJ
 
 
Monday, August 15,2005

Ranchers lose grazing suit in Idaho

by WLJ
— Justice to determine if appeal needed. — Approximately 800,000 acres impacted. A federal court judge in Idaho recently ruled that livestock grazing on approximately 800,000 acres of federally-managed land in the state must be stopped later this month in order to preserve and improve wildlife habitat. Ranching organizations said the judge’s findings directly contradict a ruling earlier this year that said challenges to federal grazing rights must include factual basis, not just theoretical hypothesis. The decision also was said to violate a congressional order exempting the federal land in question from federally-mandated environmental reviews. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill said that an increase of livestock grazing in the Jarbridge Resource Area had put native sage grouse populations in danger because tall grass habitat was being grazed and destroyed. In addition, he said the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had violated federal rules by not conducting an environmental impact statement, required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), when making the decision to increase grazing in the area. However, officials with the Idaho Cattle Association (ICA) and Stewards of the Range said that Winmill erred in his ruling by using outdated information and using his own “discretion” over BLM’s “professional expertise.” According to Fred Kelly Grant, litigation chairman for Stewards of the Range, Winmill used biological data from 1987 instead of taking into account data that BLM has collected over the past four years concerning forage growth and grouse population. In addition, Grant alleged that Winmill allowed the Western Watershed Project (WWP) to by-pass and evade the administrative process surrounding appeals of BLM management decisions. “Interesting that if a rancher asks for a stay in an administrative appeal and it is denied, the rancher has to go on through the administrative process,” said Grant. “Winmill in this case, however, said that because the Western Watershed Project wasn’t granted a stay by the administrative judge, they had gone as far as they needed before jumping to his court.” In addition, Grant said that Winmill ignored a federal law passed through Congress that exempted emergency grazing rules for the Jarbridge Resource Area from the NEPA process. Those special grazing rules were implemented due to a four-year accumulation of extra forage in the area that was leading to very dangerous fire conditions. “BLM has tried to allow ranchers to use extra grazing of the surplus forage to keep the resource in good shape and to prevent disastrous range fires,” said Grant. “However, anti-grazing organizations have blocked each such attempt. Previously, a challenge to an interim decision by BLM to allow grazing of the surplus grass was assigned to a U.S. magistrate in Idaho. He toured the area and concluded the range was a massive fire waiting to happen and allowed the BLM decision to stand so that the extra grazing would reduce potential fire fuel. The magistrate’s decision was consistent with a congressional rider on an appropriations bill that exempted the decision from NEPA compliance.” Winmill reversed that decision saying that normal regulatory rules regarding NEPA superceded the congressional rider. Lloyd Knight, executive vice president of ICA, added that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a few months ago ruled that any environmental challenges to federal grazing permits can’t be taken to court until the plaintiffs can come up with factual information to back up their claims of harm or damage to the land in question. In this case, according to Knight, there were no concrete statistics brought forward by WWP. In terms of the health of the Jarbridge Resource Area, Kelly said that a BLM range technician four years ago found 80 percent of the area to be in fair to excellent condition, compared to 24 percent back in 1987, which is the baseline year that Winmill used to justify his decision. “He (Winmill) basically substituted his own decision for those that were made by a specialist in the field,” said Grant. “He didn’t give the agency their due deference, and that right there is a violation of law.” Members of WWP, called Winmill’s decision a wise one and said that they were not threatening livestock producers’ businesses with their efforts. “We aren’t putting ma and pa rancher out of business here. It’s in the long-term interest of everybody that the lands in the Jarbridge have healthy sage brush and wildlife on them,” said a spokeswoman for WWP. As of last week, there was no indication that an appeal would be filed on behalf of BLM, but that decision has to be made by the Department of Justice. The deadline for initiating the appeal is the end of August, legal sources said. However, a meeting between BLM, the affected permittees, WWP and Winmill was scheduled for Aug. 17 to see if grazing can remain in place until the decision on an appeal is made. If the meeting doesn’t allow that to happen, livestock will have to be moved off of the 28 allotments by Aug. 19, said Grant. There are a total of 98,000 AUMs on the 800,000 acres in question, with 11 different permittees making up that total grazing utilization. One of the permitted grazers on the Jarbridge is J.R. Simplot Company. There is a possibility the impacted ranchers could initiate their own litigation and try to get the BLM decision in the Jarbridge reinstated, and Grant said his group is entertaining the idea of filing an amicus curiae brief if that happens. — 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 15,2005

Waning packer demand weighs on fed market

by WLJ
Heavy carryover of slaughter-ready cattle in the southern Plains over the past two weeks has been weighing on fed market prospects. Additionally, packer demand for fed cattle was waning as they try to keep boxed beef prices elevated in an effort to regain profitable margins. Last week’s market looked like it would end up moving cattle at prices $1-3 softer, compared to the previous week, which saw cattle gain $3-4 live, $5-7 dressed. Through last Thursday noon, there were only a handful of cattle traded on the spot cash market. Those cattle were sold in Nebraska at $80 live, $2-2.50 below prices paid the previous week. Most asking prices last week were at $84 live, $132 dressed, while packer bids ranged between $76-79 live, $126 dressed. Most analysts said southern Plains trade would be a Friday affair, and that $81 would probably get most action started. A lot of pressure was being put on the market because of 20-30,000 head of carryover that was reported in Kansas last week and another 12-15,000 head that were held over in Texas. Most analysts said those cattle needed to be moved two weeks ago, but a slowdown in packer chain speeds kept those cattle from being sold when they needed to be. Slaughter for the week ending Aug. 6 was 616,000 head, 30,000 head fewer than the previous week and 40,000 fewer than two weeks prior. Through Thursday, last week’s slaughter volume was slightly above the week prior, with 485,000 head moving through packer chains, compared to 478,000 two weeks ago. Market sources said that packers are trying to keep boxed beef prices at current levels or higher and that by doing so they will get back towards breakeven levels and slight profits during mid-August. Through last Thursday, boxed beef prices had been on a three-week rally. Choice boxed beef last Thursday was at $134.27, while Select was priced at $127.63. At those prices, packers were still losing around $12 per head last Thursday, but that was better than the $25-plus losses reported two weeks ago. Most analysts said that Choice beef needed to be at $137 for packers to start showing any profit on processing cattle. Boxed beef movement was called moderate, with no day last week having a volume of 500 loads or more. The previous couple weeks, 500-plus load days were more normal than not. However, packers moved a lot of “firesaled” product to retailers who were forward buying product for Labor Day beef featuring, analysts said. Most of that activity has been curtailed in early August, sources said. Finishing weights of processed cattle continue to be heavier than a year ago and the previous five-year average, and that is allowing packers to purchase fewer cattle for immediate processing needs. For the week ending Aug. 6, the average weight for all cattle being processed was 1,258 pounds, four pounds heavier than the week prior and nine pounds more than the same week last year. The all cattle carcass weight average was 774 pounds, two pounds heavier than the week prior and nine pounds heavier than last year. For the limited cash trade through Thursday last week, the average fed steer weight was 1,354 pounds live, 820 pounds dressed. Heifer weights were also said to be pressuring the market, with average live finishing weight being 1,205 pounds and the average carcass weight being 773 pounds. The average heifer weights last year at this same time were 1,160 pounds live, 760 pounds dressed. Feeder picture The market for feeder calves was stronger last week. Many markets reported marked improvements in both volumes and quality of producers’ offerings. As a result, buyer demand for offered lots was noted to be moderate to strong at most auctions. Missouri sale barns reported the best movement both in quantity and price for the week. Sales of 10,000 head in two auctions sold for an average of $1-6 higher, for both steers and heifers. Lightweights under 450 pounds led the way in White Plains, MO, selling as much as $8 above prices paid the previous week. The majority of the southern-tier cattle sold higher except in Oklahoma City, OK, where a price split occurred. The majority of steers and heifers sold $2 lower, with the notable exception of steers under 600 pounds selling for as much as $4 higher and 800-900 pound steers selling $1 higher. Much of the demand in Oklahoma centered on steers that will finish by February. Sales across the northern tier were sluggish for the week, with few offerings from producers. The few auctions that did put together enough calves noted a firm undertone to the market bringing steady money to producers. Cooler temperatures and scattered rain across western and central portions of the nation were cause for price improvements in the markets. Buyers are going to keep an eye on wheat pasture grazing prospects as the crop is planted over the next few weeks. Adequate moisture on wheat fields will offer some support to prices as buyers stock up on cattle for wheat pasture grazing this fall. Feedlot margins are still negative but appear to be improving slightly. However, lower slaughter rates and increased carry-over will drag on calf prices until feedlots are able to reduce their showlists. Unless packers are able to move some fat cattle prior to the upcoming holiday, strain on feeder calves could continue. Current consumer demand is likely to make that move difficult. The corn crop report, due out August 12, will also play a large role in determining feeder market direction in the coming weeks. Poor feedlot margins are already dragging calf prices lower and an increase in corn price is likely to sideline more buyers. If the crop estimate looks positive—140 bushels per acre or higher—buyer demand should increase, leading feeder calf prices higher. — WLJ © 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Aussies approve checkoff jump Australian beef producers voted in favor of increasing the dues for that country’s version of a beef checkoff program. About 58 percent of the 9,810 ballots returned approved the $5 per head levy. Prior to the vote, the fee was $3.50. The extra $21.3 million annually is expected to go towards marketing development and promotion. The Beef Industry Funding Steering Committee (BIFSC) said earlier this year that the Australian cattle industry faced cut-price competition from Brazil, slowing beef production, and the imminent re-entry of the U.S. into the Japanese and Korean markets. A recent BIFSC report showed Australian beef production was likely to rise by 16 percent or 335,000 metric tons to 2.46 million metric tons by 2009. Australia has about 27 million cattle. Swift sued by Idaho county An Idaho county recently filed a lawsuit against several companies, including beef processor Swift & Co., for allegedly hiring illegal immigrants that it says are a financial burden on the county’s social services. The suit was filed by Canyon County in federal court, and invokes a racketeering law. In the complaint, the county says the action was brought “for damages it has suffered as a direct result of the knowing employment of large numbers of illegal immigrants by the defendants.” It doesn’t specify the amount it seeks as reimbursement. Wendy’s profits hurt by beef costs Citing rising beef costs and slowing sales, Wendy’s International Inc. has cut its profit forecast for 2005 to between $2.20 and $2.26 a share. The restaurant operator reported a profit of $70.8 million in the second quarter ended July 3, a 1.2 percent decrease from $71.6 million last year. Wendy’s reported beef prices up between 12-15 percent over 2004. Those costs ate into its bottom line, even though revenue rose 4.6 percent. Revenue hit $951 million during the quarter, from $908.9 million in the second quarter of 2004. Wendy’s reported falling same-store sales at its core hamburger stores. Same-store sales fell 4.6 percent at company-owned stores in the second quarter, compared with the second quarter of 2004. Same-store sales fell 3.9 percent at franchised restaurants in the second quarter. June grading report released USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the summary report of meats graded for the month of June, 2005. For all quality-graded beef, Choice was 58.0 percent, up from 56.2 percent in May. Select was 39.3 percent, down from 41.2 percent from the previous month. Prime was 2.7 percent, up from 2.5 percent in May. National Beef curbs slaughter National Beef Packing Company LLC recently announced production at both its Liberal and Dodge City, KS facilities will be discontinued indefinitely due to unfavorable market conditions. The change is expected to reduce company slaughter by approximately 10,000 head per week. According to the company’s president and COO Tim Klein, there are too many cattle currently being processed, compared to beef demand. National Beef is the nation’s fourth largest beef processing company, holding a 12 percent market share with sales exceeding $4.0 billion annually. Atkins files Chapter 11 Atkins Nutritionals, the pioneer of the “low-carb” diet craze, has instigated Chapter 11 proceedings to seal a company restructuring that will see it downsize its operations. The filing was not unexpected as the company has been experiencing difficulties since 2004. Upon its exit from Chapter 11, Atkins Nutritionals plans to downsize and focus on nutrition bars and shakes, instead of focusing on its diet craze, which was touted by beef market analysts as a primary catalyst for improved beef demand several years ago. Brazil sees export jump Brazil’s beef exports rose 31 percent, January through June, compared with the same period last year. For the first half of 2005, Brazil’s exports totaled $1.424 billion, compared to $1.088 billion last year. In terms of volume, 1.06 million metric tons were exported, compared with 802,000 tons during the first half of 2004. In June, the average price of beef exported by Brazil was $2,224 per ton, compared to $2,221 over the same time last year. Forecasts last Tuesday continue to indicate that Brazil’s 2005 beef exports will total $3 billion. Brazil officials also said last week that the U.S. will announce a resumption of corned beef purchases from eight Brazilian companies later this month. Albertson’s ‘all natural’ products Albertson’s, Inc. recently introduced Wild HarvestTM all natural ground beef products in its Albertsons, Acme, and Jewel-Osco food stores. The new items, which include Angus Ground Beef Round, Angus Ground Beef Chuck, and Angus Beef burger frozen patties, were made available in stores the first week of August. The new Wild HarvestTM all natural Angus Ground Beef comes from source-verified Angus cattle. The cattle are raised naturally, including an all-vegetarian diet, and never given growth hormones or antibiotics. © 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

ESA reform vote expected late September

by WLJ
— Producer support critical Congressman Richard Pombo, R-CA, chairman of the House Committee on Resources, is currently working to complete revision and lobby consensus on a draft version of an Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform bill. Speaking to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Federal Lands Committee last week, House Resources Committee staff member Erica Tergeson urged NCBA members to contact their representative to show support for the bill. Many agriculture industry activists consider the Pombo ESA reform bill to be crucial to producer interests and are tracking the progress of the bill closely. Many expect that the bill will create an expanded role for state and local governments in the selection of threatened species and more stringent requirements for groups developing recovery plans for threatened populations. In addition, the bill is expected to include monetary reimbursement for property owners who incur financial losses as a result of ESA enforcement actions. According to Tergeson, the bill is expected to go to the House floor for a vote during the last week of September. Resource Committee members will “mark up” the draft version of the bill the week prior to the vote. Currently out of session for the summer recess, members of Congress will be visiting in their home districts for the break. Tergeson, and NCBA leadership urged all members of the livestock community, particularly those represented by Democrats, to contact their Congressional representatives and urge their support for Representative Pombo’s ESA legislation. — WLJ © 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

Eye study may help export beef

by WLJ
Beef cattle researchers are looking into the possible relationship between an individual animal’s eyeball and age. If a direct correlation is found between the two characteristics, sources said more beef could be available for export to countries with restrictions against U.S. beef. Michael Dikeman, animal science professor with Kansas State University, said that the weight and/or nitrogen contact of the lens might correlate with the animal's age, as previous research has shown in swine. “We are currently in the early stages of our study, as we have only been collecting data on age-verified cattle for about a month,” Dikeman told WLJ last week. That data includes carcass information, maturity data and the weights and nitrogen content of eyeballs. Researchers are gathering the eyes from cattle with known birth dates between 14-36 months of age, Dikeman said. The lenses are then weighed and tested for nitrogen content. According to Dikeman the main obstacle is finding older cattle with verifiable birth dates. Currently, the U.S. plans on using a carcass grading system called "A40" to guarantee to Japanese officials that American beef products will be from cattle less than 20 months of age. However, Dikeman told WLJ that “A40" cattle are more likely cattle that are 17 months or younger, which means a lot of cattle that might be eligible to produce beef for Japan and other restrictive export markets aren’t allowed that opportunity. “The average age of ‘A40' cattle is around 15.8 months,” said Dikeman. “About 90 percent of cattle that would qualify for exports to 20-month-and-younger markets would be excluded. Perhaps this eyeball research will offer up an opportunity to allow most of those cattle to have their beef shipped to more restrictive markets.” According to Dikeman, his team would like to have data on at least 500 age-verified animals, hopefully ranging between 13-40 months of age. “If we get enough animals up to 36 months of age that would be okay. However, by going with an even wider range, we could develop an even greater confidence rate in the eyeball test, if there is indeed a correlation found.” Dikeman said it has been extremely hard to find age-verified cattle that are between 28-36 months of age. “The big push for age verification has just been over the past couple of years, and any cattle that were born prior to that probably don’t have a lot of concrete birth records,” he said. The process of collecting the eyeballs was called a “labor- and time-intensive” process and was said to be a little bit expensive. However, Dikeman said there are also plans to look at new scanning technology to see if the process can be made simpler and more efficient. He also said that the extra expense could be absorbed by packers and the industry, particularly if export markets show a lot of demand for U.S. beef when borders reopen. The cattle being used for K-State’s research are being processed through commercial plants throughout the country, and the project itself has been funded through the Kansas Beef Council. Dikeman indicated that preliminary results of the program should be known before the end of the year, but that a final report on the issue wouldn’t probably be ready until next spring. — 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

Cattle import rules clarified

by WLJ
— Condemnations feared by Canada. — More feeder cattle entering the U.S. Officials with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) last week clarified that there are some differences between regulations regarding Canadian feeder and fed cattle. In addition, Canada’s concern that Canadian cattle could be condemned upon entering U.S. packing plants was not acknowledged by USDA officials. After saying that both fed and feeder cattle needed a “CAN” brand on their right hip upon being loaded on a truck destined for the U.S., APHIS officials said that was not the case. Instead, Canadian feeder cattle destined for U.S. feedlots must have the brand, while fed cattle for immediate slaughter are only required to be identified with an approved Canadian tag. Feeder cattle must also have an approved Canadian eartag in place when they cross the border. In addition to the appropriate identification, extensive paperwork needs to accompany the cattle. In the case of fed cattle, up to eight trucks can haul a specific “volume” of cattle, as long as all the trucks in the fleet carry two copies of the appropriate paperwork identifying all the cattle involved. Feeder cattle are a different story, however, as each truck must have the appropriate paperwork for just the cattle on it, APHIS sources said. During the recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association mid-year meeting, members of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) told WLJ they are concerned that Canadian fed cattle might be condemned upon entering U.S. processing plants because of a lost and/or transposed eartag or some “minor discrepancy” in the paper work. “We are concerned that Canadian cattle can be unfairly kept from the U.S. market if there is some minor problem with the ID apparatus or paper work that accompanies the cattle from Canada to the (U.S.) processor,” said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice president of CCA. “Every precaution has been taken to assure that Canadian cattle being exported meet the U.S.’ criteria of being under 30 months of age.” APHIS officials last week would not confirm or deny whether or not any Canadian fed cattle have been kept from being processed due to any paperwork or eartag problems. Canadian feeder and fed cattle were both allowed to begin entering the U.S. on July 18, the week following an announcement overturning a preliminary injunction blocking their entry. As of Aug. 2, a total of 16,315 cattle had come in from Canada, 8,418 of them being feeder cattle and the other 7,897 being fed cattle going directly to U.S. slaughter facilities. Market analysts still said the volume of Canadian cattle carried minimal impact against U.S. cattle prices, but said that more severe price pressure could be seen on feeder cattle during the fourth quarter of the year when Canadian calves start being weaned and marketed. Feeder cattle imports from Canada more than doubled over several days. The number of fed cattle entering the U.S. ranged between 700-1,300 head July 26 through Aug. 2. Those figures account for anywhere between one-half-of-one percent and one percent of daily U.S. slaughter volume. “It’s not carrying any impact on the fed market right now,” one Midwest analyst told WLJ. — 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

Holiday beef outlook spurs fed rally

by WLJ
— Rally of $3-5 live, $5-7 dressed. — Calves follow suit. Cattle feeders were still reporting major losses on cattle being marketed last week, however, the extent of those losses narrowed significantly as live cattle brought $3-5 more than two weeks ago, and dressed cattle were $5-7 stronger. Most market sources cited a forecast for stronger beef demand leading up to Labor Day as the primary reason for the fed market turn around. Trade was said to be mostly completed by the end of business Wednesday, as just over 216,000 head had traded. In Nebraska, feedlots sold 65,000 head of cattle for $81-82.50 live, $130 dressed. In Kansas and Texas, trade ranged between $82-82.50 on 29,000 and 40,000 head, respectively. The most obvious bullish market indicator last week was the continuation of extremely large volumes of boxed beef being moved out of packers’ storage facilities. The first three days of last week all showed 400-plus loads being traded on the spot cash market. Last Wednesday marked the seventh straight business day that over 400 loads had been moved on that market. Between July 19 and Aug. 3 there was only one business day when fewer than 400 loads of boxed beef were moved on the spot cash market. The Comprehensive Boxed Beef Report for the week ending July 29 said that 8,729 total loads of boxed beef were moved, including formula and forward contracted beef. Analysts said that was a record week for total beef movement. A lot of that extra beef distribution was said to be the result of retailers picking up their beef featuring activity through the last few weeks of August to meet what is expected to be increased demand leading up to the Labor Day holiday weekend. In addition, grinding product was said to be in greater demand by processors that supply hamburgers and other ground beef products to the growing number of fairs, expos and other outdoor extravaganzas that pop up leading up to school resuming. “Firesale” prices were also cited behind the jump in beef movement to retail and other outlets, sources said. However, the recent jump in boxed beef movement did help spur a rally in boxed beef prices last week. As of midday Thursday, Choice boxed beef was at $129.40 per cwt and Select was bringing $122.09. The week-to-date gain for Choice was $4.68 and $4.22 for Select. Despite the jump in both price and activity for boxed beef, packers were still reporting negative processing margins, and that was keeping fed cattle prices from gaining even more. As of last Thursday, the packer margin index was estimated at minus $25 per head. Several market analysts said that last week’s market turnaround is probably a temporary “blip on the radar” and that the seasonal price low may still be around the corner. “Cattle are still extremely abundant and are very heavy, particularly in the southern Plains,” said Jim Robb, chief analyst at the Livestock Market Information Center. “Beef demand hasn’t turned around that much—a lot of the movement has to do with retailers liking the price they are paying for product.” On the weight side of things, Robb said the average live weight for southern Plains fed cattle was within four pounds of the record two weeks ago and eight pounds short of that record last week. For the week ending July 29, the average live fed cattle weight in Oklahoma/Texas panhandle was 1,248 pounds, 26 pounds heavier than the same week last year and 37 pounds heavier than the previous five-year average. “That’s a lot of extra tonnage being put on the beef supply,” said Robb. “But packers must be getting some forward buys in place, and that is why they are paying more for that extra weight.” Robb and several of his colleagues all said they wouldn’t be surprised if once the push for Labor Day product subsided, fed prices would fall back below $80, possibly getting down around $78. “I don’t think we’ve hit the seasonal low quite yet,” Robb said. He was particularly concerned with the possibility that weekly cattle weights, and associated beef tonnage, would well eclipse record levels, particularly since that peak usually hits around mid-September, even into early October. Slaughter volumes last week continue to run at levels that exceed current beef demand levels, which analysts said should result in softer prices once processing cattle for post-Labor Day beef demand starts up in late August. For the week ending July 30, 644,000 head of cattle ran through packing plants, approximately 20,000 head more than current beef demand dictates. Last week’s daily volumes averaged around 119,000 head, which means another week of 625,000 head or more is likely. Calves, yearlings climb higher Prices and demand for feeder and stocker cattle trended up last week despite still significant per head losses on fed cattle and continued bearish crop reports from the Corn Belt. In most markets, an easing of temperatures and last week’s negative BSE test result were cited as primary reasons for both buyers and sellers to get back into the game. Those two items, along with an upward bump in futures prices and significant increases in movement and price on the retail side, seem to have helped prices across the board. Throughout the southern tier states, prices were on the rise with a $2-5 bump noted in most markets. On the supply side, producers seem to be taking advantage of the firmer market and are unloading their calves fresh off the cows. A continued lack of moisture across the central U.S. was partially to blame for an increase in loud lots being offered which were being discounted by buyers, particularly in Oklahoma and Missouri. However, both supply and demand for backgrounded calves were described as steady to good in all markets across all weight classes with particular interest in lightweight calves. Northern tier states are marketing very few calves. In spite of a price increase across the region last week, most markets were reporting light supply and not enough feeders for a market test. Regardless, most sales indicated at least a firm undertone. Buyer turnout and subsequent demand was described as good across the region. Late last week, both temperatures and rain started falling across the central Plains and Inter-mountain West regions. While it was not enough in most places to ease dry conditions or help suffering crops, particularly corn, where crop ratings continue to slide, it may serve to improve prices at least slightly for the coming week. When combined with very high movements of boxed beef and a slight steadying of the fed cattle markets last week, these factors will serve to provide continued price support in the feeder cattle market. A downward trend in corn prices was also noted last week, and that gave cattle feeders even more money to use towards purchasing replacement feedlot cattle, sources said. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange feeder cattle index last Wednesday was at $108.95, compared to $108.54 the previous week. — WLJ © 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

ID trials under way in Texas

by WLJ
Through the rest of the year, livestock identification in Texas is moving from the drawing board to field conditions to test identification devices, equipment durability and reliability. Using USDA cooperative agreement funding, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has awarded contracts to four manufacturers of radio frequency eartags (RFID), five makers of tag “reader” devices, four computer software providers and a data trustee to maintain the computer records. Tag readers and computers are set up in several livestock markets, and customers of these facilities will be issued RFID eartags for cattle that will be marketed through the livestock markets. Two cattle firms that purchase from the three markets also will be equipped to record and report movement information as cattle are sorted and shipped to feedlots in the Texas Panhandle. “We solicited proposals through the state’s purchasing process in March, and had an industry committee review submissions and help select the participating companies,” said Kenny Edgar, animal identification coordinator for the TAHC. “Now, like a number of other states that are conducting field trials, we have awarded contracts for equipment so we can see how well ear tags stay on, the readability of eartags, how well equipment holds up in livestock markets under everyday use, and how accurately and efficiently data can be captured, stored and used.” About 80,000 of the radio frequency eartags, known as RFID tags, are being provided by Allflex USA, Farnam, Temple Tag Company and Y-Tex. Tag readers, supplied by AgInfoLink, Allflex USA, Farnam, Temple Tag Company and Y-Tex, will be tested for speed and durability in “real-life” conditions. “Computer software is needed for managing the eartag information and movement records. Services are being provided by eMerge Interactive, Micro Beef Technologies, Texas Dairy Herd Improvement Association 032, and the Beef Information Exchange/AgInfoLink. The data “trustee,” or company that will hold all the records is the Beef Information Exchange, and this service will be evaluated with an exercise to trace animal movement. The results of the field tests will be reported back to the committees working on the National Animal Identification System, so the glitches with computers, ear-tags or readers can be fixed before they are put in use across the county.” “Regulatory agencies do not need or want production data; but we must be able to locate animals that have moved from a premises within 48 hours or less,” said Edgar. “The age and class of an animal, as well as movement information, is critical for locating potentially infected or exposed animals during a disease situation. In our field experiment, we are working only with cattle, sheep, goats and horses.” commented Edgar. “Every state now is getting on board for premises and animal identification to speed up livestock movement tracing,” commented Edgar. “In Texas, HB 1361 will be in effect Sept. 1, providing the TAHC authority to implement the animal identification program in Texas that is consistent with the National Animal Identification System. Edgar reported that, nationally, about 90,000 premises have been identified, with about 2,200 of those in Texas. “According to the national strategic plan, premises identification will be required by January 2008, and so far, about 1 percent of Texas’ estimated 200,000 premises have been identified.” “This premises identification number is a unique seven-character alphanumeric identifier assigned to ranches and other sites where livestock or poultry are maintained or moved. One number will suffice, even if the owner raises several species of livestock and poultry on a place,” said Edgar. Registering for a premises identification number is easy, and the application is simple to complete, he said. Producers can call for an application, or they can go on the internet to register. To obtain a paper copy or schedule a presentation, call the TAHC at 800/550-8242. The TAHC’s home page at www.tahc.state.tx.us has a link to the premises identification application. — WLJ © 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

Second domestic BSE case unfounded

by WLJ
The number of confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in U.S.-born cattle is still at one after USDA last week announced that confirmatory testing came back negative on a suspect cow sample. According to John Clifford, deputy administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, both the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, Ames, IA, and the international lab from Weybridge, England, came back with negative results on a “non-definitive” sample tested late last month. “The initial non-definitive result was caused by artifactual (artificial or untrue) staining and, while this staining did not resemble BSE, we felt the prudent course was to conduct the additional tests,” Clifford said. The sample in question was collected in April from a cow that became non-ambulatory after experiencing calving problems. The veterinarian that collected the sample had packaged it with some preservative and then inadvertently left it in a refrigerator before finding it last month and sending it to a lab for preliminary testing. The location of the ranch and other specifics of the suspect animal were not released. Clifford reiterated last week that USDA’s ongoing stepped-up BSE surveillance program is effective and that the animal did not represent any threat to the human, livestock or pet population in the U.S. “The carcass of this animal was destroyed, therefore there is absolutely no risk to human or animal health from this animal,” Clifford said. “I do want to emphasize that the most important protections for human and animal health are our interlocking food-safety protocols. Our enhanced surveillance program is designed to provide information about the level of prevalence of BSE in the U.S., which by any measure is extremely low.” By regulatory rule, non-ambulatory cattle, also called “downers,” aren’t currently allowed into the human or animal food chains, and the carcasses of tested animals are held back until test results come back negative for the disease. Through July 31, USDA had tested 426,164 at risk animals with only one sample being confirmed to be infected with the disease. That positive case was announced June 24, seven months after the sample was originally collected from a 12-year-old Texas cow that was delivered to a pet food plant. — 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.  

Read more
Monday, August 8,2005

Mandatory reporting deadline looming

by WLJ
— Senate action wanted before Sept. 30. — House approved five-year extension. Among the first livestock industry issues expected to be addressed by the Senate upon getting back from summer vacation at the end of August, is the pending sunset of current mandatory price reporting (MPR) legislation. The current program is slated to come to an end September 30, and livestock industry leaders are pushing for the Senate to approve a five-year reauthorization of the program. The House of Representatives approved such an action on July 27, prior to adjourning for its month-long summer recess. A large majority of Senators, however, are awaiting a review from USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding the program’s successes and failures and whether or not it is worth reauthorizing for another five years. The call for that review was in addition to a June 22 hearing on the issue, which featured testimony from industry participants, market analysts and officials with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which administers the MPR program. Washington, DC, lobbyists said last week, it is likely the Senate will approve a limited one-year reauthorization and then take some time to look over OIG’s review and make a determination on a five-year reauthorization next year. Staffers with the House Committee on Agriculture told WLJ last week, that there wouldn’t be much opposition to a one-year reauthorization. The issue would still have to go through a conference committee to come up with a bill that is suitable to both houses and then be voted on by both the full Senate and House. Lobbyists said that because there will only be a month left between the Senate resuming its session and the reporting program’s deadline, action is expected on the issue within the first week to 10 days of September. When the House reauthorized MPR last month, they did so with only a few changes being made to a couple of the hog reports. Cattle and sheep reports were untouched, sources said. Senate concerns also appear to revolve around the hog reports, however, there could be some modifications made to reports on all species. Western state senators have expressed some concern that final daily reports are compiled and released too early in the day, and that producers aren’t given an opportunity to see the most up to date information that may help them make a marketing decision. MPR was first implemented in 1999 following demands from livestock producers that there be more price discovery and market transparency. MPR requires the largest packers to report live, carcass, grid, formula and boxed beef trades to USDA on a daily and weekly basis. The daily reports are accumulated three times a day, but the final report from a given business day isn’t released until the next morning. — 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.  

Read more
 
 
User Box (click to open)
 
SEARCH IN WLJ
Get WLJ In Your Inbox!
   
 
S M T W T F S
1 2 3* 4* 5* 6*
7* 8* 9* 10 11* 12* 13*
14* 15 16* 17* 18* 19* 20*
21 22* 23 24* 25* 26* 27*
28 29* 30
 
 

© 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.