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Monday, February 14,2005

Partners invest in beef promos

by WLJ
According to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), the group in charge of administering the nationwide beef checkoff program, foodservice restaurant chains have kicked in $68 for every checkoff dollar invested in recent foodservice/checkoff partnerships. That data was unveiled during the annual cattle industry convention, held Feb. 1-5 in San Antonio, TX. CBB cited just over 20 promotions with national foodservice chains over the past three years that have helped extend the consumer message about beef and resulted in more beef items on restaurant menus. CBB statistics said that between 2002 and 2004, foodservice partners invested approximately $95.7 million in promotions of beef, compared to $1.4 million in checkoff dollars to those programs. “That means that for every checkoff dollar invested in these beef promotions, restaurant chains chipped in $68,” said CBB member Laurie Bryant. “I don’t think there’s anyone who would argue that that’s a pretty impressive leveraging of producers’ investments.” Some of the partnerships pursued via the checkoff in 2004 included joining forces with Pizza Ranch, Quizno’s, RAM International, Domino’s, Taco Bell, Aramark, Arby’s, Ground Round, B.F. Saul, Stuart Andersons, Buckhead Brewery, Quaker Steak & Lube, and Dunkin Donuts. Other new retail checkoff partners during the year included Wal-Mart’’s “Thrillin’ & Grillin’” promotion, Kraft, This Old House magazine, A-1 Steak Sauce, Beringer Wineries, and Borden. — WLJ

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Monday, February 14,2005

Select Sires names new general manager

by WLJ
Cache Valley/Select Sires has announced the promotion of Randy Hill to general manager. In this role, Hill will oversee the organization's eight-state sales area and will manage more than 30 employees. As general manager, Hill's goals are to offer outstanding service and support to Cache Valley employees and customers, and continue to deliver and increase sales of the industry's best genetics. He will continue to be based at the Cache Valley/Select Sires headquarters in Logan, UT. Employed at Cache Valley/Select Sires for 28 years, Hill was instrumental in establishing beef and dairy estrus-synchronization programs that helped Cache Valley/Select Sires to achieve phenomenal growth. His leadership in these breeding projects improved estrus-synchronization systems, benefitting not only Cache Valley but also the entire Select Sires federation. Ultimately, Hill's performance helped to develop the Select Portfolio of Reproductive Solutions. Through his previously held positions of technician, direct herd salesman and beef marketing coordinator, he also gained valuable experience with direct sales, customer service, and supervision of sales staff, technicians and distributors. Hill succeeds retired Ferron Perkes, who served as Cache Valley's general manager for 26 years. During Perkes' tenure, Cache Valley/Select Sires witnessed a five-fold increase in semen sales. Hill is a graduate of Colorado State University. He and his wife, Cindi, have three children and reside in Smithfield, UT. Cache Valley/Select Sires of Logan is one of 10 farmer owned and controlled cooperatives that are affiliated with Select Sires Inc., headquartered in Plain City, OH. Select Sires Inc. is North America's largest A.I. organization. As the industry leader, it provides highly fertile semen as well as excellence in service and programs to achieve its basic objective of supplying dairy and beef producers with North America's best genetics at a reasonable price. — WLJ

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Monday, February 14,2005

Sheep herd growth great news

by WLJ
USDA Under Secretary Jim Butler recently unveiled great news to participants at the American Sheep Industry (ASI)/National Lamb Feeders Association Annual Convention when he announced that the number of replacement lambs under one year of age had increased 10 percent over the last year. Butler provided this information from the newly published Sheep and Goats Report released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). As of Jan. 1, replacement lambs under one year increased from 702,000 in 2004 to 771,000 in 2005. “Reports of growth in sheep numbers is great news for the entire industry and hits a priority goal of ASI to strengthen our industry,” stated Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. “It is gratifying to see such positive results in the lamb and wool business helped in part by the nine different incentive programs that ASI has provided over the last four years, including the retained breeding ewe-lamb program.” Confirmation of better times for the wool sector also was evident in the NASS report. Over the last 12 months, wool prices have improved. The average price paid for wool sold in 2004 was $0.80 per pound, up from $0.73 per pound last year. The value of U.S. wool sold in 2004 increased six percent. "We are proud that our wool marketing programs implemented in 2001 have helped drive competitive pricing for U.S. wool,” added Orwick. ““We have helped build a customer base in the U.S., as well as internationally, with our wool being exported to a dozen countries around the world.” — WLJ

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Monday, February 14,2005

Sheep Notes

by WLJ
LRP program advances Representatives of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and its partners met on Jan. 13 with the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) in the next step of the process to present and review the proposed Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) pilot project for lamb. After extensive discussion, the FCIC Board requested that the sheep industry supply additional information prior to meeting with them again in several weeks. "The industry should be encouraged that the FCIC is seriously considering the LRP-lamb proposal and is working with us through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Services staff on answering questions and clarifying issues," commented Margaret Soulen-Hinson, ASI executive board member. Sheep stamp snafu New Zealanders are feeling sheepish over a new postage stamp that shows two lambs with their mother. The mother, however, has a pair of powerful, curled horns which, in reality, are found only on a ram. The designer of the 45-cent stamp has admitted taking artistic license but said he wanted to make the stamp "more dynamic.” The blunder has not been well received in a land where sheep are considered something of an icon. An estimated 40 million sheep roam the country, vastly outnumbering the human population of just 4 million.

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Monday, February 14,2005

The role of alfalfa in horse feeding redefined

by WLJ
Alfalfa is a high quality, highly digestible feed for horses, but so many myths surround its use that many of the nation's horse owners either underutilize or misuse it. A concise, scientifically based, user-friendly publication by the National Alfalfa Alliance clarifies to owners of horses how to match the characteristics of alfalfa hay to the age, class and activity level of their equines. "Alfalfa: The High-quality Hay for Horses" was written by University of Idaho Extension forage specialist Glenn Shewmaker, University of Wisconsin forage agronomist Dan Undersander, and University of Kentucky equine nutritionist Laurie Lawrence and Extension forage specialist Garry Lacefield. "There's a lot of information out there about feeding alfalfa hay to horses but it's almost entirely anecdotal," said Shewmaker. "We use science, rather than myth, to guide the use of alfalfa products for varying needs of horses." Lacefield calls the publication an attempt to bring the "best scientific information on feeding alfalfa to horses into one aesthetically pleasing publication that is applicable from Florida to New York to California." It includes easy-to-use tables of example diets for recreational horses, lactating mares, weanlings, yearlings and horses that perform moderate or intense work. "People generally believe that all hay is the same," says Lawrence. "They don't realize that different horses have different requirements for different kinds of hay." In Wisconsin, Undersander notes that appropriate use of alfalfa will "save costs for owners as well as provide good nutrition and horse health." The publication describes the horse's digestive system and the specific nutritional needs of mature horses used for recreational activities, broodmares, growing horses and performance horses. It explains how growth stages of alfalfa affect forage quality, discusses how alfalfa hay is classified, defines terms used to describe alfalfa characteristics and quality, and reviews several types of forage products. In addition, it addresses preservatives and blister beetles as well as buying, transporting and storing alfalfa hay. According to Shewmaker, the publication's target audience includes equestrians, small ranch owners, hay producers and hay marketers. Even owners of large horse operations should find it useful in finetuning their feed economics. Single copies of the 12-page publication can be downloaded from the NAA's Web site at www.alfalfa.org, and multiple copies can be purchased in lots of 25 for $50, plus shipping and handling. — WLJ

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Monday, February 14,2005

Trade policies passed by ASI/NLFA members

by WLJ
There was great enthusiasm for the future of the U.S. sheep industry at the 2005 American Sheep Industry Association/National Lamb Feeders Association (NLFA) Annual Convention Jan. 26-29 in Reno, NV. Registrations topped those seen in recent years, with attendance surpassing 360. “The industry definitely demonstrated a unified front with participation from five national sheep associations including ASI, NLFA, the American Lamb Board, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and the Western Range Association,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “Additionally, all major players in the domestic wool industry had a strong presence again at this year’’s events, and everyone was pleased to hear U.S. production of lamb and wool would be increasing in 2005.” Dr. Jim Butler, USDA deputy under secretary, and Dr. Ron DeHaven, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service administrator, addressed attendees on topics ranging from the increase in sheep numbers and ewe-lamb payments to an update on animal health issues and trade policies. Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) representative, Ron Cole, conveyed that AMS began reporting wool on a clean basis by region rather than individual sales on a grease basis. This type of reporting provides the producer more complete information on wool values, encourages more companies to share information and is a more internationally accepted type of reporting. Major policy additions or amendments addressed by the board included: <52> opposition to the U.S. reopening the Canadian border to sheep trade until the trade barriers concerning bluetongue and anaplasmosis are eliminated; <52> industry support of an effort to amend the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act of 2004 to include language that would provide federal tax incentives for the development and labeling of pharmaceuticals for sheep; <52> ASI assistance to USDA/APHIS in requiring all states to attain consistent state status for scrapie eradication; and <52> approval of an across-the-board membership dues increase for fiscal year 2006-2007. The board of directors also welcomed back into membership sheep producers from Iowa and Delaware. Executive board named New officers and executive board members were seated during the annual convention. The slate of new officers includes Paul Frischknecht, president, Manti, UT; Burdell Johnson, vice president, Tuttle, ND; and Glen Fisher, secretary/treasurer, Sonora, TX. Newly elected members to the executive board were Brant Miller, Bowdoinham, ME, representing ASI’s Region I; Bill Sparrow, Jr., Durham, NC, representing Region II; Jim Bristol, West Branch, MI, representing Region III; and DA Harral, Fort Stockton, TX, representing Region V. In addition to the new members, two regions re-confirmed appointments for existing members. Lyndon Irwin, Ph.D., was re-elected to serve as ASI’s Region IV representative and Richard Hamilton as the Region VIII representative. Members continuing their service on the board include Mark Marley, Roswell, NM, Region VI, and Margaret Soulen-Hinson, Weiser, ID, Region VII. Dues increase passed The ASI board of directors passed a membership dues increase that will take effect in fiscal year 2006-2007. The board agreed that in order for the national trade association to be sufficiently funded to carry on membership, legislative and communications services, planning and preparation needed to be conducted. Approval of the dues rate fully a year and a half in advance of the effective date provides sufficient lead-time for state members to plan for increased fund-raising. The dues structure to be implemented in fiscal year 2006-2007 provides for a 22-percent overall increase to ASI. The dues will increase by the following amounts: stock sheep from $0.03 per sheep to $0.035; member dues from $6-8 per member; and minimum state dues from $300 to $400. — WLJ

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Monday, February 14,2005

Tyson extends suspension

by WLJ
Workers at some Tyson beef plants will continue to be paid to stay home as the company reports that market conditions are not improving. Tyson Foods announced in January that it would temporarily suspend slaughtering operations at plants in Denison, IA; Norfolk and West Point, NE; and Boise, ID, for a period of three to five weeks. A second shift in Pasco, WA, was also suspended. Now, Tyson says that the suspension will last at least five weeks and perhaps longer. Workers were asked to take vacation during the first week of suspension, then were paid for 32 hours of work. During the downtime, many were assigned to maintenance and training sessions. “We know how difficult this suspension has been for our team members and our plant communities,” said John Tyson, chief executive. “However, market conditions have not improved enough to warrant resuming operations.” Approximately 2,100 workers have been affected, 900 of them at the Norfolk plant. Tyson will hold meetings with workers at all plants on Feb. 7 to update them. — WLJ

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Monday, February 14,2005

Western states’ grazing fee up 36 cents

by WLJ
The federal grazing fee for Western states lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will be $1.79 per animal unit month (AUM) in 2005, up from $1.43 in 2004. The newly adjusted fee, which takes effect March 1, applies to more than 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by USFS. The formula used for calculating the grazing fee, established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential executive order issued in 1986. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level. Without the 25 percent cap, the 2005 fee would have risen to $1.99 per AUM. The annually adjusted grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in more western states. The figure is then adjusted according to three factors – current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. Based on the formula, the 2005 fee rose primarily because of an increase in beef cattle prices in 2004, which reflects the fact that beef cattle ranchers are getting a higher price for their products in the market. The $1.79 fee applies to 16 western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service. Those states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. USFS applies different grazing fees to national grasslands and to lands under its management in the eastern and midwestern states and parts of Texas. The national grassland fee will be $1.90 per AUM, up from $1.52 in 2004, and will also take effect March 1. The fee for eastern and midwestern states and parts of Texas will be out later this month. — WLJ

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Monday, February 14,2005

Water scarcity looms

by WLJ
A growing population coupled with diminishing fresh water supplies should force major changes in the way the world's farmers tend crops in coming decades, a recent study recommends. Since agriculture uses about 70 percent of the world's fresh water every year, farming should be the focus of intense conservation efforts, Cornell University professor David Pimentel said. "We in the U.S. waste a lot of water in contrast to other people," said Pimentel, whose study appeared in the October issue of the journal BioScience. "Agriculture is going to have to give up water as the population grows," he said. "States like California, Colorado, Texas and Nebraska are going to have to make some major changes." The study said farmers should use water-conserving irrigation methods combined with water and soil conservation practices to minimize run-off. It also suggests governments eliminate water subsidies to farmers to encourage more efficient use, work to reduce water pollution and protect forests and wetlands. In parts of Arizona, water from major aquifers is being withdrawn more than 10 times faster than it can be recharged by rainfall. In California, agriculture accounts for about 3 percent of the state's economic production but consumes 85 percent of the fresh water. The United Nations estimates world population will rise to 9.4 billion by 2050 from about 6.3 billion now. The increasing demand for water is already causing problems. Pimentel cites the Ogallala aquifer, under parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, that supplies water to a fifth of all irrigated land in the country. The underground water source has dropped 33 percent since 1950—half the volume of Lake Erie, said Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project in Amherst, MA. Similar problems are happening worldwide, from the Chenaran plain in northeastern Iran to Guanajuato, Mexico. Of particular concern is Asia, home to 60 percent of the world's population, but only 30 percent of its fresh water. Postel says water efficiency will have to double to meet future needs. "The pace of the problem is proceeding faster than the pace of the solution," Postel said. By 2050, "water will to be the most critical resource issue we face in the entire world," said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and a Texas-based rice farmer. "Frankly, I think wars will be fought over water. There are already border disputes in some parts of the world between countries over water."

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Monday, February 14,2005

Wolf ruling receives criticism from ag community

by WLJ
Last week’s announcement of the Oregon ruling on wolf reclassification sent shock waves through the agriculture community and has producer organizations in the affected states planning their appeal. A federal judge in Oregon ruled last Tuesday that the Bush administration violated the Endangered Species Act when it relaxed protections on some of the gray wolf populations in April 2003. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) divided the wolves range into three areas and reclassified the Eastern and Western populations of wolves as threatened, instead of endangered. Experimental non-essential populations, like those found in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Idaho and the rest of Montana, were not included in the reclassification or jurisdiction of the ruling. These wolves are considered to be separate and distinct populations with different rules for management. However, producers who operated in areas where the wolf status changed were allowed to kill wolves that were attacking their livestock. The Oregon decision rescinded that rule change and has again made it illegal for producers in areas outside of experimental populations to do anything about the wolves except call FWS. Tom McDonnell, director of Natural Resources for the American Sheep Industry Association, said, “As a result of the Oregon wolf lawsuit, USDA’s Fish Wildlife Service has pulled all of its traps and halted wolf management activity in Wisconsin, Michigan, Northwestern Montana and Northern Idaho. It is still uncertain if relocation can even be used as a management tool at this time. FWS is in the process of applying for special take permits, a process that could take weeks or months. At this time it is illegal for anyone within these regions to kill a wolf for any reason.” McDonnell added that because of wolf management in Minnesota the species was already down listed to threatened. Therefore, the lawsuit does not impact wolf management efforts in this area. He noted that the Minnesota wolf management plan and efforts to delist the eastern timber wolf are, however, on indefinite hold. “If the lawsuit is allowed to stand nationally, it will mean the wolf will have to be recovered throughout its historic habitat, at historic numbers,” said McDonnell. “Unfortunately, historic population estimates are just that, estimates, and much of the wolf’s habitat has been converted to agriculture, urban areas and other uses. If applied at the national level, this lawsuit makes wolf recovery for all intents and purposes very difficult.” Steve Pilcher, executive director of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, said, “The wolves are doing very well and people need to understand there are some impacts with livestock being present. Unfortunately, it is the livestock industry that bears the cost of having the wolves present. I am thankful the Oregon ruling does not have any impact on the 10j rule that is now in effect. For those of us dealing with the experimental non-essential populations, we’re very fortunate to have this increased flexibility in protecting our livestock. It’s just sad when we have those type of people making decisions when wolves can have such a significant impact on the lives of the ranching community.” The 10j regulations allow livestock and landowners in areas where nonessential experimental populations of wolves roam to shoot a wolf depradating their livestock without obtaining a permit first. Glen Stonebrink, executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said the association is waiting to see what FWS’ plan of action is before moving forward to combat this ruling. Stonebrink is anticipates that FWS will rewrite some of the rules of the Endangered Species Act, in particular the 4D rule, which was used to reclassify those wolves from endangered to threatened. “Instead of the judge having to define everything as he did, FWS could go back and redo their rule-making and make it more clear so it would have a better chance of standing up in court,” said Stonebrink. “In the meantime, I think it is important for producers and legislators to decide that the Endangered Species Act should be reformed and defined by lawmakers. We’re tired of the court defining what something means when it is pretty clear.” Incidentally, the gray wolf is extinct from Oregon and the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is strongly fighting any plans to reintroduce the wolves to that area. Responding to the Oregon ruling, Jack Field, executive director for the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, said, “We oppose removing that management tool from our cattlemen and our producers realizing that if there is an issue we would like livestock producers to have the ability to protect their personal property and livelihood.” Lloyd Knight, executive vice president of the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association, said, “That decision causes some concern and puts up some roadblocks in delisting, but thankfully it does not derail us from state management. In our minds, state management is the next best thing until we get delisting.” According to FWS, it will take two to four weeks to review the Oregon decision and its implications. The agency did indicate that the lawsuit does not impact the experimental population in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming directly. Since the Colorado and Oregon wolf management plans allow private landowners to take depredating wolves, these plans may be illegal at this time and producers are encouraged to contact their local FWS for more information. Wyoming is moving forward with its lawsuit on wolf management.

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