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Monday, February 7,2005

Meat good for calcium absorption

by WLJ
The long-held perception that consumption of high protein foods such as meat causes excess calcium loss is not true, according to research funded by the Beef Checkoff Program. The two-year study was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D. The research announced Jan. 28 confirms findings from other studies showing that protein from meat does not compromise calcium status. Meat protein can increase calcium absorption and has beneficial effects on bone health, said Dr. Sharon Miller, director of nutrition research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, one of the contractors of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which administers the Beef Checkoff Program. “The Beef Checkoff will use these study results to help health professionals understand the positive interaction between consumption of animal protein and calcium retention.” The research has evaluated calcium retention in women eating diets with varying amounts of protein and calcium––high protein and high calcium, high protein and low calcium, low protein and low calcium. Data shows that diets high in meat––comprising up to 20 percent of an individual’s intake––do not increase overall calcium loss, regardless whether calcium intake is low or high. Furthermore, eating recommended amounts of meat was especially beneficial when calcium intake was low because the protein helps better retain the calcium. The study shows that the ideal diet is rich in protein but still within the dietary guidelines for meat sources and adequate servings of calcium. Miller said, “People can consume protein at the upper recommended range.” In addition, Miller noted that consuming protein from sources such as beef is beneficial to bone health because beef contains amino acids and nutrients including zinc and phosphorous, which are important for bone building. “Bone health is of particular importance for postmenopausal women, but bone health begins in childhood. Therefore, all consumers need to eat a nutrient-rich diet,” said Miller. “That’s why this research has such positive implications for both beef and dairy producers.” The principle investigator of this clinical trial, Dr. Fariba Roughead, a research nutritionist and registered dietitian, said, “The data from this study, combined with recent findings from other controlled feeding and observational studies, provide strong evidence negating the long-held dogma that animal protein intake is deleterious to bone health. In contrast, the higher calcium retention and the favorable changes in the circulating amounts of important bone-building hormones suggest that a higher protein intake may be preferred, especially in postmenopausal women with typically low calcium intakes.” The Beef Checkoff Program will communicate results of the study to health and nutrition professionals to help them better understand the positive correlation between protein consumption and calcium. — WLJ

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Monday, February 7,2005

Mice livers show prions move

by WLJ
Rogue proteins like those that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)—found previously only in brain, nerve and lymph tissues —have now been located in the liver, kidney and pancreas in a study of rodents. While the discovery raises the possibility that similar proteins could move into unanticipated parts of farm animals that have similar diseases, it isn't a reason for alarm, says researcher Adriano Aguzzi of the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland. But, he adds, "There is reason to reappraise critically the way regulations that are already in place" are enforced. Sick animals such as sheep and cows shouldn't enter the human food chain, said Aguzzi, the lead researcher in the study, said in a telephone interview. "I think what is probably worth doing is to recheck whether all these regulations are implemented properly," he said. "But, I think this is nothing that should provoke a wave of panic." Rogue proteins called prions are blamed for several brain-wasting diseases, including BSE, scrapie in sheep and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. These proteins had only been found in the brains, spinal cord and lymph tissues of infected people and animals. But Aguzzi's report, published online Feb. 3 by the journal Science, indicates that in at least some cases they can move to other parts of the body. Inflammation, characterized by swelling, redness and pain, occurs in a number of diseases, such as hepatitis, which affects the liver. "I think it certainly raises questions as to the current classification of risk organs, which essentially says the brain and lymphatic tissue is at risk, whereas everything else is rather safe," Aguzzi said. "So, I think that in the case of an inflammatory condition, I think that is no longer valid." The finding "reinforces that you never say never," said Dr. William Hueston, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Animal Health and Food Safety. Hueston, who wasn't part of Aguzzi's research team, agreed that the finding isn't cause for alarm, saying it reinforces the reasons for inspecting animals in the food chain. Dr. Robert B. Petersen, a professor of neuropathology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, agreed that any risk is low since screening procedures would identify infected animals. In addition, considering the low incidence of prion diseases, "it is unlikely that you would find an animal with chronic viral or bacterial infection and prion infection simultaneously," said Peterson, who wasn't involved in Aguzzi's research. Jim Rogers, of the U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health inspection Service, said the agency already targets high-risk animals and don't need to change its procedures. In the study, Aguzzi's team, which included researchers at the Institute f Neurology in London and at Yale University, raised mice that had chronic inflammatory disease of the liver, pancreas or kidney. These mice were injected with prions from sheep suffering from scrapie. When the mice were studied, researchers found at least some prions had accumulated in the diseased organs. Aguzzi said he plans similar experiments on sheep. The research was supported by the Swiss Federal Office for Education and Science, Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss National Center for Competence in Research, University of Zurich, a grant from the Catello Family, the Association for the Promotion of the Academic New Generation, the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. — WLJ

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Monday, February 7,2005

NCBA picks government affairs leaders

by WLJ
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has named Jay Truitt as the next vice president of government affairs in its Washington, D.C., office. After an intensive selection process, NCBA Chief Executive Officer Terry Stokes officially announced the promotion last week. Truitt, NCBA’s executive director of legislative affairs since March 2001, officially took the helm of NCBA’s Washington office immediately. “Truitt brings exceptional leadership, lobbying, and management experience to his new role at NCBA,” says Stokes. “His ranching heritage from his family’s cow/calf operation in Missouri, his experience at the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and his previous role at NCBA provides a depth of industry knowledge to Jay as he assumes this position.” Leaving the day-to-day operations of his family’s cattle operation in 1991, Truitt joined KANZA Inc., a Missouri-based communications and legislative resource for agriculture-related organizations. In 1995, Truitt worked with the Missouri Soybean Programs as director of market development before becoming executive vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and CEO of Missouri’s Cattlemen Foundation in 1996. During his tenure at NCBA, Truitt served as NCBA’s top lobbyist and has managed policy directives on issues such as tax reform, agriculture policy, and animal identification. Truitt graduated from the U.S. Air Force and University of Maryland with degrees in business and public relations. He replaces Chandler Keys, who left the organization Dec. 31. Stokes also announced the promotion of Bryan Dierlam to executive director, government affairs. Dierlam served as NCBA’s director of legislative affairs since March 1999. “Bryan has demonstrated leadership and growth during the past six years at NCBA, and he is one of the most respected lobbyists on Capitol Hill,” says Stokes. Dierlam has led some of NCBA’s toughest political fights on issues such as farm policy; livestock marketing and risk management, agriculture appropriations, price reporting, and country-of-origin labeling. He holds a B.S. degree in animal science and an M.B.A. in finance from Texas A&M University. “Our commitment to our producer-members is to be the industry leader in addressing the issues that matter most to cattlemen and impact their bottom line,” says Stokes. “Jay and Bryan share in that commitment, and under their leadership, I have no doubt that NCBA will continue to be the voice for the industry in Washington, DC.”

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Monday, February 7,2005

Nebraska Cattlemen address trade concerns

by WLJ
After considering input from producers at four meetings across the state, the Nebraska Cattlemen Board of Directors developed a plan to address six primary concerns its members have related to the USDA plan to resume live cattle imports from Canada beginning March 7. Those concerns include: • Canadian feed rule compliance: NC membership has concerns regarding Canada’s compliance rate with the ban on feeding ruminant byproducts to ruminant animals. So, NC will actively investigate Canada’s compliance by: 1. Thoroughly reviewing reports from USDA’s trade investigation team currently in Canada and from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association trade investigation team; 2. Seeking additional documentation from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If evidence to support the claims that Canada is in clear violation of the feed ban is found, then NC will work to immediately postpone the expansion of trade with Canada through Congressional action. Surveillance Program: NC membership seeks clarification on Canada’s BSE surveillance program regarding: 1. How many animals have been tested; 2. How many animals are going to be tested; 3. How are animals selected for testing. If evidence is found that Canada is not testing aggressively and does not have a surveillance plan designed according to international standards, then NC will work to immediately postpone the expansion of trade with Canada through Congressional action. • Market disruption: NC membership has serious concerns over potential disruption of the U.S. culled cow market by allowing beef from cattle over 30 months of age into the U.S. at this time. A potential situation for dumping cow meat is possible and should be avoided. NC requests that USDA remove this section of the rule. If USDA does not comply immediately, NC will pursue this goal through Congressional action. • Exports Market: NC members have been discriminated against in the export market, specifically concerning Japan and the Asian rim. NC seeks immediate access to these markets and will actively pursue this objective through USDA, President George W. Bush, Congress, and the Japanese government. If Japan and other countries do not immediately agree to begin receiving U.S. beef, NC will seek trade retaliation actions. • Harmonize Trade with Canada: NC calls for immediate correction of Canadian trade barriers regarding anaplasmosis and blue tongue. If USDA negotiations in harmonizing trade on these issues are not successful, NC will seek to postpone the expansion of trade with Canada through Congressional action. • Monitor of Compliance with Proposed Trade Rules: NC requests documentation on how the proposed plan for expansion of trade with Canada will be policed regarding how cattle are handled, managed and processed and what penalties will be enforced for violations. The NC Board also adopted a new interim policy intended to address concerns with inequitable trade. The policy states that NC will request the Bush Administration work diligently to negotiate an international agreement between a minimum of the U.S., Canada and Japan to formalize minimal risk rules for trade between BSE affected countries. Nebraska Cattlemen President Tom Hansen, a fourth generation rancher, said, “NC officers and staff will be carrying out this new action plan so members can receive answers to their questions.” — WLJ

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Monday, February 7,2005

National Angus carcass results are in

by WLJ
Purebred Angus cattle dominated the 2004 National Angus Carcass Challenge (NACC), but they came from such diverse areas as Texas to Montana, Idaho to Iowa. Winners were from a wide range of genetic and management programs, fed in eight feedlots in five states and harvested at eight plants in six states. Stan and Brad Fansher, Garden City, KS., had their Grand Champion pen fed by neighbor and feeding partner of 15 years, Sam Hands, Triangle H Grain & Cattle Co. No one was surprised that these heifers did well—their sisters won reserve division champion in the 2003 NACC, and Fansher Angus Ranch supplies bulls for the ranch that had top value CAB-fed pen in the 2002 Best of the Breed (BoB) contest. The winning cattle were chosen by ultrasound from a group of 150, but the entire group achieved 96 percent Choice or better. Harvested in November at National Beef Packing, Dodge City, KS, the only surprise is that the February-born heifers spent only 65 days in the finishing yard. NACC is an annual beef value contest, sponsored in 2004 by Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), Drovers magazine, Merial SureHealth, Farnam Company, John Deere FoodOrigins and the American Angus Association. Groups of at least 40 steers or heifers sired by registered Angus bulls have to be fed in CAB licensed feedlots, according to NACC coordinator Rod Schoenbine. Winners of the 2004 contest were announced Jan. 15 at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, where Stan Fansher accepted $5,000 and a new John Deere 4x4 GatorŪ. “I am impressed with quality overall,” Schoenbine says. “Twenty high-value entries graded more than 85 percent USDA Choice, less than 3 percent Yield Grade (YG) 4 and more than 25 percent Certified Angus Beef—not counting CABŪ Prime.” Of 140 pens and 5,998 cattle entered, 4,909 were harvested as eligible and several pens carried over to the ongoing 2005 NACC, he said. The top value pen graded 40 percent Prime and another 53 percent met all criteria for the brand, which include Modest or higher marbling. “They had nearly twice as many Primes as the next closest group,” Schoenbine says, “and the second heaviest heifer carcasses.” Stan Fansher said, virtually all were sired by four Fansher herd sires: sons of Traveler 6807, Precision 1680, Lucys Boy and Emulation 5522. The family’s 400-cow registered herd was built upon genetics from Gardiner, Sitz and Jorgensen Angus ranches, Stan Fansher added. In deciding to finish the heifers, son Brad looked more at winning Prime premiums rather than the NACC. Hands turned to ultrasound to help avoid over-finishing the already 1,000-lb. animals. “They had maturity on their side, along with genetics and technology,” Hands says. The veteran of several carcass contests says he learned early on that the feeder cannot take full credit for quality grades. “We can either enhance or take away from genetic potential.” The heifers’ $107.74/cwt. value on the NACC grid was more than a dollar above last year’s champion on the same grid, $2.09/cwt. above the 2004 top steers and $3.25/cwt. above the heifer division champion pen. Four of them went over the YG 4 line, without which the whole pen would have tallied another dollar higher. The Champion steers, from Woodstone Angus Ranch, New Ulm, TX, were fed at Cattleman’s Choice Feedyard, Gage, OK, by managers Dale and Mary Moore. They came from a herd of 500 registered cows and bulls of an old Irish line. Families noted on the Web (irishherd.com), such as Lady Elizabeth of the Manor, read more like Celtic romance than animal science, but they all trace back to the first registered Angus cattle. Bill and Yvonne Woods keep half the cows in Texas; the other half run on family land near Hackett, AR, looked after by John and Angela Wiggins, who backgrounded the 43 NACC steers. The Woods family accepted the $3,000 NACC award in Denver. The only entry to avoid all discounts on the contest grid, the steers won premiums from their 7 percent Prime, 51 percent CAB showing. Only 30 percent of the 785-lb. carcasses were YG 1-2, but Woods says he is “not trying to raise Limousin or Charolais. If we get too many YG 2s, we lose marbling, so we aim for YG 3 and easy fleshing mommas.” Steers sired by 14 different linebred bulls demonstrate the uniformity in that herd, he adds. Woodstone generates its own bulls and another 25 for local customers, Woods says: “We don’t just feed the bottom end.” Moore has fed and admired Woodstone cattle for four years. “These came in at 870 lb., converted in the 5s and gained in the 3s for 150 days, not implanted,” he reports. “If all our customers keep the records Bill keeps and use carcass data the way he does, we’ll have nothing but outstanding cattle,” Moore says. “That’s where we’re heading.” He and Woods already have plans for the 2005 NACC. “We’re going to win both the steer and heifer divisions next time,” he says. Darnall Ranch came closest to doing just that this time, with its commercial herd and CAB licensed feedlot near Harrisburg, NE. Forty Darnall heifers won Champion Heifer Division with 20 percent Prime and 45 percent CAB, while 40 Darnall steers came in third in the Steer Division. All were harvested at the Swift plant in Greeley, CO. “They were all home-raised,” says owner-manager Gary Darnall, “and they trace back to the Performance Breeders on both the cow and bull side.” Dave and Yvonne Hinman, Malta, MT, are partners with Bill and Jennifer Davis of Rollin’ Rock, Sidney, MT, in Performance Breeders. Ultrasound sorting 80 days preharvest is routine at Darnall’s 20,000-head feedlot, so the scans were taken into account. But Darnall entered a wide cross-section-16 groups in all-for educational purposes. And nothing special was done to enhance grade. “We aggressively implant everything,” he says, ending with a TBA compound. All were calf-fed and harvested at about 14 months. “They did well, but we were surprised they came out that high in the contest,” Darnall says. He accepted the $3,000 heifer and $1,500 third-place steer awards in Denver. Reserve Champion Steers ($2,000) and third-place NACC heifers came from Jimmy Thomas, Homedale, ID, who had the top heifers in 2003, all fed at Boise Valley Feeders, Parma, ID. The Reserve Heifers were a “middle cut” from longtime CAB test herd cooperator Chuck Pluhar’s 600-cow commercial Angus ranch near Cohagen, MT, fed by CAB partner Beller Feedlots, Lindsay, NE. The 2005 NACC features easier entry rules and a new sponsor, Alltech, a multinational biotechnology company providing natural solutions to the feed and food industries. For more information, visit cabfeedlots.com, contact Schoenbine at 330/345-2333 or e-mail rschoenbine@certifiedangusbeef.com.

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Monday, February 7,2005

National Western Sales Reports

by WLJ
NATIONAL WESTERN MILE HIGH RED ANGUS CLASSIC Jan. 17, Denver, CO 16 Open heifers $4,347 3 Choice/Pick lots 5,466 2 Bulls 3,250 12 Embryo packages 2,264 5 Bred females 2,580 6 Flushes 2,925 6 Semen packages 1,525 Auctioneer: Kyle Gilchrist Sale Management: Amy and Kyle Gilchrist On fairly short notice—an incredible line-up of live cattle, embryo= s and flushes was assembled from progressive breeders of Red Angus cattle from across the country. Some of the freshest genetics in the breed were offered! A large crowd of mostly regular breeders from across the U.S. were on hand and were very active for a solid sale. TOPS—Glacier OSCE 403, 2 0/04, daughter of Glacier Chateau 744, dam Leachman Chassis, Glacier Red Angus, Polson, MT; to Cabernet Red Angus, Pomeroy, WA, $16,000. Reserve National Champion Female Ms 122 Chateau of 4L 302N, 9/15/03, daughter of 4L Mr Chateau R122, dam Panhandle Centerstage, Von Farell Ranch, Wheatland, WY; 2 int. and poss. to 3 Fires Red Angus, Lacygne, KS, $10,000. Choice of ET calves due 3/05, sired RBJR AdvanceA709, dam 4L Rambo R621, Perks Ranch, Rockford, IL; to Sandpoint Cattle Co., Lodgepole, NE, and Solution Genetics, Cushing, IA, $9,500. — JIM GIES THE 30TH ANNUAL NATIONAL SALERS SALE Jan. 16, Denver, CO 14 Bulls $4,052 13 Heifer calves 3,143 Auctioneer: Col. Bruce Miller Sale Management: Conover Auction Services This sale was not big on quantity but certainly was big on quality! Some 19 consignors from 12 states offered some of the very best in this National Salers Sale. The cattle were right on the forefront of genetics, performance and phenotype. A good crowd filled this arena representative of purebred and commercial producers alike and steady selling throughout. TOPS—Bulls: Futurity Champ Bull JGK Flat Iron 502P, 1/02/04, blk, polled, purebred son of AP Polled Genesis XZ64F, Krehbiel Salers, Scott City, KS; 2 int. to Jasperson Cattle Co., Goshen, UT, $8,500. GGT P Blk Double Play, 3/5/04, blk, polled, purebred son of GGT P Broker 137K, GG & T Land & Cattle, Co., Quniter, KS; 2 int. to Washakie Ranch, Salt Lake City, UT, $5,200. PCSL Priority, 1/30/04, blk, polled, purebred son of Hubb Pld Dakota 41K, Panter Country Salers, Leigh, NE; 3/4 int. to Bittersweet Farms, Cathage, MO, $4,500. Females: GGT P Blk Esther 365N, 3/13/03, blk, polled, purebred daughter of AP Polled Genesis XZ64F, bred to GGT P BLK Heavy Duty, Jason Conater, Jamestown, TN; to Washakie Ranch, $4,900. Hubb Bod Nancy 306N, 2 6/03, blk, polled, purebred daughter JFW Packer 40F, bred to Hubb Pld Dakota 41N, Dalroy Farms & Bodee Schlipf, Miami, OK; to Thiel Land & Livestock, Nysse, OR, $4,000. — JIM GIES THE AMERICAN CHIANINA ASSOCIATION '05 Peak of Performance and Style Sale Jan. 16, Denver, CO 24 Bulls $3,410 20 Heifer calves 2,349 1 Embryo lot 6,300 Auctioneer: Steve Dorran Sale Management: Prime Time Marketing The breed was back on the forefront with a strong representation of Chiangus, Chimaine and Chianina bulls and females. This all black mostly coming yearling set of seedstock represented several breeds across the country. A set of cattle that would add style and pounds to any operation. TOPS—Bulls: TMH Kingpin 2CA, 3/6/04, son of RDCA Pollette Pride 2CA, dam HCK Nutone ICA, Todd Hixon, Laramie, WY; 2/3 int. and poss., to T Bar T, Gresham, NE, and Melroe Farms, Gwinner, ND, $8,000. Presale champ bull GGM Jax 57P ICM, 3/20/04, son of FJH All American, dam Eagle Scout 2CA, Double G Cattle Co., Albany, MO; to Winkonly Cattle Co., Alrich, SD, $6,500. GGM In Excess 46P ICM, 3/10/04, son of Bass Western Union 37L, dam Blk Power 2CA, Double G Cattle, Albany, MO; to Wayne Buggard, Tuscon, AZ, $5,200. Females: WEBC Cocoa Crisp 456 P ICM, 3/15/04, daughter of EEX Playmate, dam Double Vision, Weleo Show Cattle, Highmore, SD; to Allen Scott, Georgetown, OH, $5,200. TBSC Joanne 457P ICM, 4/14/04, daughter Heat Wave, Burke Shaw Cattle, Genoa, NE; to Dale Phelps, Barrington, IL, $5,000. RDD Ms Venus 217P 2CA, 3/19/04, daughter of RDD Desperado 1CA, Deiter Brothers and Holt Brothers, Faulkton, SD; to Melroe Farms, Gwinner, NE, $4,800. — JIM GIES

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Monday, February 7,2005

Obits

by WLJ
Joe Mendiburu Joe Mendiburu, 87, passed away at his home Jan. 20, five years and one day after his beloved wife, Jeannie, passed. Mendiburu was born in Bakersfield, California Aug. 18, 1917, to parents, Gregorio and Eulalia Mendiburu. He married Jeannie in May 1941, and followed in his father’s footsteps in the livestock business. He never missed a day of work, not even for vacation. His day always involved the purchase of sheep or cattle and he loved working alongside his faithful and longtime employees, and they would vouch that no one could work the cattle chute like he could. He was very proud of his family, as they were of him and will be missed by all who knew him, since he touched so many hearts! He is survived by his son, George Mendiburu; daughters, Jo Ann Mendiburu, and Sharon Banks and husband, Tim; brother, Mike Mendiburu; brother-in-law, Dennis Bessonart; grandchildren, Bob Leppek and wife, Julie, Joe Mendiburu and wife, Lee, Timmy Banks and wife, Rana, Jody Reese and husband, Dan, Nicole Dobrzanski and husband, Robert, Danielle Mendiburu, and Lisa Salisbury; and many great grandchildren and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and his faithful dog, Nikki. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to make a donation are asked to make one to the charity of their choice. Richard A. Coon Richard A. "Dick" Coon, 78, died Jan. 31, in Washtucna, WA. Born in Watertown, MA, he attended Harvard University before transferring to Whitman College where he graduated in 1951. While at Whitman College, he met Stephanie Snyder and they were married in 1951. Together they spent their life ranching and raising their family at the Bar U. Coon also was office manager for Schaake Packing Co. in Ellensburg from 1956 to 1962. Mr. Coon was a member of the All West-Select Sires board and the Washington State Beef Commission. He served as president of the Washington Cattlemen's Association and on the Washington State University Dean's Advisory Board for Animal Science. He was the Soil Conservation Rancher of the Year and Commercial Cattle Rancher of the Year in 1978. Survivors include his wife; three daughters, Kathy Meline, Kahlotus, WA, Nedra Eychaner, Richland, and Patricia Coon, Olympia; two sons, Dick Jr. and Fritz Coon, both of Benge, WA; two sisters, Roberta Struck and Myra Gove; five brothers, James, Ralph, Paul, David and Peter Coon;13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the Washtucna-Benge Scholarship Trust, c/o Jim Whitman, 2946 E. Ralston-Benge Road, Benge, WA 99105, or the Washington Cattlemen Endowment Trust Fund, P.O. Box 96, Ellensburg, WA 98926.

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Monday, February 7,2005

Options for limited irrigation

by WLJ
Drought, declining water tables, and legal issues are limiting the amount of irrigation water available. University of Nebraska-Lincoln forage specialist, Bruce Anderson producers who don't have enough water to grow a good grain crop, may be able to rely on forages. Anderson realizes that many irrigated acres won't receive enough water this summer to grow a grain or root crop. He says sometimes producers can combine water allocated for several fields onto one field to get a crop, but that still leaves the other acres with little or no water at all. Forage crops also need water for high production, but, unlike most annual crops, Anderson says at least some useful yield can be gathered when total water available is very low. “So what are your options,” Anderson asked. “Do you expect these water limits to continue for several more years? If so, a perennial forage would eliminate the cost and time of establishing a new crop each year.” Anderson suggested that switchgrass is a good choice for a new crop because it is less expensive to plant. He also said, switchgrass’ primary water needs occur in early summer when water is available, and it can be managed successfully for hay or pasture. Other good warm-season grass options include big or sand bluestem and indiangrass. Anderson said these options are especially good for grazing. Some of the wheatgrasses and bromegrasses as well as alfalfa can work with limited irrigation, but he says these cool-season plants respond best to water applied during spring. For some irrigators water won't become available until after the most efficient time has passed. Anderson added that of course, annual forages like pearl and foxtail millet, cane, and sorghum-sudangrass are relatively water efficient and will yield proportionately to the amount of water they actually receive. “And don't forget small grains like rye, triticale, and oats for fall and spring forage if you have moisture at those times,” said Anderson. “It may not be what you hoped for, but growing forages under limited irrigation will help you make the best out of a bad situation.”

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Monday, February 7,2005

Senate committee grills Johanns on border issue

by WLJ
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns got an unofficial welcome to Washington last Thursday when he testified to an at-times hostile Senate Agricultural Committee hearing. In sharp contrast to the warm reception at his confirmation hearings, Johanns faced probing questions about USDA's plans to reopen the Canadian border to live cattle. Johanns was also grilled about the lack of progress in opening the Japanese and other foreign markets to U.S. beef, as well as a lack of transparency in allowing some potentially dangerous products, such as tongue, into the country from Canada. The big issue, though, was the USDA final rule's contradictory exclusion of live cattle over 30 months from import, while beef products from those over that age are allowed as long as specified risk materials have been removed. Contending that there are two types of science at work here—health science and economic science—Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN.) attacked USDA's economic science as "out of Mad magazine." Charging that both Tyson Foods and Excel Foods are building large new slaughterhouses north of the border, he called the USDA rule "ignorant and offensive. This is going to cost us jobs; it's like it was crafted to benefit Canada and the larger processors." The entire rule, he said, "is a disaster. It will cost our industry $2.9 billion over several years. Whose interest is this in?" The attack was bipartisan. Although Republicans favored the rule more explicitly, virtually no one on the panel tried to defend the cattle/beef disparity. Johanns admitted that it bothered him too, and promised to review it quickly, before the actual opening of the border on March 7. He also said that he would release the full report on the state of Canada's compliance with its ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban in the middle of February, with a further report on Canada's epidemiological practices due by the end of the month. “These reports will be critical as we consider any adjustments to current policies are warranted,” Johanns said. Though changes will be considered, Johanns added he is “very confident” that Canadian measures “provide the utmost protection t U.S. consumers and livestock.” Johanns also said the United States has done all it can to try to convince Japan to reopen its markets to American beef. “We’ve answered their technical questions. It’s time for the Japanese government to make the decision. There’s nothing more we could possibly provide,” he told the committee. Johanns also seemed to indicate that the U.S. officials are frustrated with the lack of progress. “Efforts to reopen this market have drawn on resources from across the federal government and the highest political levels,” he said. — WLJ

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Monday, February 7,2005

U.S. beef to Taiwan expected

by WLJ
Taiwan is expected to announce by the end of February the results of its federal inspections of U.S. packing facilities that were supposed to mark the final stage in allowing U.S. beef back into the island nation, according to officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Taiwan suspended beef from the U.S. in December 2003 due to safety concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) after the discovery of a singe case of the disease at a Washington state farm. Several USDA officials said Taiwan health and agriculture officials have traveled to the U.S. and have conducted on-site inspections of the implementation of the U.S. safeguards against BSE. The Taiwan officials have completed the reviews necessary for resuming the beef trade, USDA said, adding that officials from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) have also been contacting relevant Taiwan officials in an effort to speed up the paperwork so that U.S. beef can reenter the Taiwan market at an earlier date. AIT is a quasi-official organization authorized by Washington to handle U.S. exchanges with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. USDA officials are now more reserved and low-key over the re-entry issue than before after Taiwan lodged a protest against the USDA for its unilateral announcement late last year concerning Taiwan's reopening of its market to U.S. beef. The USDA announced Oct. 26 that Taiwan agreed in principle to resume imports of U.S. beef and beef products. Taiwan officials told them that they were close to completing the reviews necessary for resuming the beef trade, with on-site inspections being the final step of the process. If everything went smoothly, it was expected that Taiwan would reopen its doors to U.S. beef and beef products before the end of 2004, the USDA news release said. However, that didn’t happen, and the final review to be released by Taiwan will now happen late this month or in March. Taiwan purchased $325 million worth of U.S. beef and beef products in 2003, prior to BSE being confirmed. That made the Asian Island the sixth-largest importer of U.S. beef before it imposed the ban in December 2003. Since then, Australian beef has replaced U.S. beef in the Taiwan market. More than 40 U.S. beef export markets, including Japan, the largest foreign consumer of U.S. beef, imposed embargoes against U.S. beef, seriously affecting the U.S. beef export trade worth $3.5-4 billion annually. — WLJ

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