USDA to survey cattle producers in January
by Jerry Passer
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is calling on nearly 50,000 cattle operations nationwide to provide the latest and most accurate data on cattle inventories and calf production.
“The January cattle survey provides Iowa producers the opportunity to serve as the frontline source of data on cattle” said Joe Prusacki, director of the Iowa Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). “In Iowa, we’ll be contacting about 2,000 operations in order to measure trends in beef and dairy cattle inventories, calf crop and cattle operations.”
Jesse Walker Reason Magazine Animal welfare activists are pushing the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would ban “the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption.” Ken Silverstein parses the problems with the bill: Are French horse eaters worse than American cow, pig, or chicken eaters? Keep in mind that unlike the last three animals, horses aren’t raised for food. Animals raised on factory farms live in infinitely more squalid circumstances than horses destined for the dinner plate. [The law’s supporters] say that transport conditions to Mexico are appalling, with, in the words of the American Welfare Institute, horses “typically hauled for more than 24 hours without rest, water, or food in trailers that provide little protection from weather extremes. FULL STORY
Steroid, hormone-free beef just better, says farmer
By Brent Schanding
Shelby County Sentinel-News (KY)
Beef. It may be what’s for dinner, but Americans are increasingly turning to more organic and natural options to satisfy their cravings, according to supermarket industry and health magazine reports.
Nationwide sales of the specialty meat from cattle that are not fed antibiotics, hormones or animal bi-products, are up 20 percent from last year, due partly to diet trends, fears of mad cow disease and word of mouth from longtime natural and organic consumers.
Beef talks at the livestock symposium
By Teresa Carter
The largest expense a livestock producer has is the cost of providing feed grain. And anything they can do to reduce costs will help with the bottom line.
This year at the Missouri Livestock Symposium, an expert from the University of Missouri will be having a presentation on keeping feed costs in check.
As a symposium committee member says they have a great line-up on speakers that producers will find to be very informative.
Johne’s Disease Testing Options-What Has Changed?
Producers in Ohio have enjoyed a very high level of support for Johne’s disease testing for many years. Although warning signs that this could change have been visible for the past two to three years, the changes that came about in March of this year were a surprise to some producers and veterinarians. What changed?
Actually, not all that much. Ohio still has a Johne’s program that mirrors the federal guidelines of the Voluntary Bovine Johne’s Control Program. Veterinarians still administer risk assessments and help producers develop management plans, much as they have in recent years, and Ohio still has one of the best-equipped and best-staffed diagnostic laboratories for Johne’s disease in the USA. And Johne’s disease is still costing the Ohio cattle industry enormous amounts of money in lost milk production and premature culling of animals. The only real difference, admittedly a very important one, is that the Ohio Department of Agriculture has been required to begin charging substantial fees for fecal cultures and ELISA blood tests. And the timing couldn’t have been much worse. Why?
Grass-fed cows mean healthier beef
By Herb Weisbaum
Cows were made to eat grass not grain. Eating grass is healthier for them and, it turns out, it’s better for those of us who eat red meat.
According to Consumer Reports on Health, beef from cattle that have a grass-only diet has about half the saturated fat of corn-feed beef and higher levels of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
Until this month, there were no standards for the “grass fed” label claim. New government regulations that took effect in mid-November say grass-fed means all grass and no grain.
Checkoff changes the talk of Nebraska Cattlemen meeting
by Peter Shinn
A serious debate on the future of the beef checkoff is set to begin at the Nebraska Cattlemen annual meeting in Kearney. Over 400 have registered to attend this meeting and many more are expected to show up than have signed-up. One of the key topics here is a potential increase in the beef checkoff, a recommendation of the Industry Wide Checkoff Task Force more than a year ago.
Kobe: The Arthritic Beef
The cows behind Kobe beef are supposed to have luxurious lives, right? But that’s not what Gourmet says.
Everyone’s heard the stories of the sybaritic lives of the cows that are slaughtered for Kobe beef: the massages, the Kirin beer, the satin negligees. (OK, that last part is made up. But I’ll bet you’ll read about it on a menu soon.) The world’s most expensive beef famously comes from bovines that make the Roman emperors look modest.
At least that’s the line. But in December’s Gourmet (story not available online), Barry Estabrook asks a few pointed questions about how exactly these cows are reared. He gets very few direct answers—he dryly notes that “attempts to reach an official with Japan’s Kobe Association failed”—but he’s able to flesh out the real story from the few Westerners who’ve seen Kobe farms.
U.S. ends increased testing of Canadian meat
Canadian meat and poultry exports will no longer be subjected to increased U.S. testing after audits of the country’s meat system showed it was safe, the U.S. Agriculture Department said in a letter to Canadian officials.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service early this month began double testing Canadian meat — including pork and poultry — in an effort to detect E. coli 0157:H7, salmonella and listeria. The increased testing began on November 9.
The extra meat tests came after an outbreak of E. coli in several U.S. states was traced to beef from a Canadian company, Ranchers Beef, this year.
William James, an acting assistant administrator with FSIS, said in the letter that two audits were completed in Canada this month. One audit found “unsafe practices in Ranchers Beef were not employed by other establishments” and that seven other plants where problems were identified between May 1 and June 6, had taken corrective action.
Hoosier Beef Congress Begins 21st Year
by Gary Truitt
Hoosier Ag Today
One of the biggest events in the Indiana Cattle industry gets under way this week. The Hoosier Beef Congress will draw over 4000 cattle enthusiasts to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Julia Wickard, Executive Director of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association, told HAT this year’s show will feature a record number of cattle, “This is our 21st year and we just keep getting bigger every year.” Wickard credits the popularity of the event with the timing of the show, “This is the first show of the new show season and it is a change for people to get their new entries in a show.” She also said that this show attracts a lot of first time exhibitors, “It is a great place for young people to get some experience.”
Baxter Black: Born with the Music in Ya
Some people are born with music in ‘em. Other people do good with algebra, throwin’ a rope or rebuilding engines.
I am blessed with the music. My father’s family played, Grandpa played the fiddle, Uncle Wade the banjo, Uncle Bert guitar and second fiddle, Uncle Dink the mandolin and third fiddle, Aunt Effie the organ and “Hi-wa-yen slide git-ar” and my dad, the youngest, played whatever needed played.
I remember as a boy goin’ back to visit in Oklahoma. Saturday afternoon they’d have a “musical.” We’d gather at somebody’s house. Anybody that wanted to play would sit in a big circle in the living room, including kids. The recognized ‘first fiddle’ in the group would start playing. They never told you the song or the key. There was no singing and nobody else took the lead. In my memory he’d play 4 or 5 songs in one key, switch to another key, play a few in that one, then eventually he’d say, “Bert, why don’t you play one?” Bert, the acknowledged ‘second fiddle’, would graciously accept the invitation and play his favorites, then pass it on down. It went on for 3 or 4 hours!
New Report Says Beef With Hormones Produces Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions
New Beef Eco-Report: Pound-for-pound, beef produced with grains and growth hormones produces 40% less greenhouse gas emissions and saves two-thirds more land for nature compared to organic grass-fed beef.
To reach these startling conclusions, analysts at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues used beef production models from Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions estimates from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC).
More than 95% of beef produced in the United States is raised on grain-based diets in feedlots, using supplemental growth hormones, both natural and synthetic. The report details the extensive human and environmental safety requirements for the use of supplemental hormones on feedlots, as well as the growing body of environmental monitoring studies showing no significant negative impacts from their use. Instead, the data show major environmental benefits of this production system: Saving 2/3rds more land for nature and producing 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per pound of beef produced.
Research Shows Producers Can Improve Auction Prices
In an auction barn, every feeder calf is judged for a few seconds before its value is determined.
Cow calf producers who sell at auction should take note of research by the University of Arkansas that documented distinct traits and management practices that can add dollars. In 2000 and 2005, the University worked with USDA Livestock Market News reporters to track data from 17 markets across the state.
The results showed the largest differences in price were due to health, muscle score, breed and body fill.
“There was a $42 (per hundredweight, or cwt.) spread between the healthy cattle and the sickest calf,” says Tom Troxel, animal science associate department head at the University of Arkansas.
R-CALF: Scholarship Applications Now Available; Deadline Extended To Dec. 31
Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA’s charitable foundation, the United Stockgrowers of America Foundation for Research, Education and Endowment (USA FREE), is now accepting applications from students interested in winning one of three scholarships to be awarded in February 2008, at R-CALF USA’s annual convention in Omaha, Neb.
To qualify, applicants are required to write a research paper about a current threat to the U.S. cattle industry and include a solution. First place winner will receive a $2,000 scholarship, second place winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship and third place winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
USDA Announces Listening Sessions on Marketing Claim for Naturally Raised Livestock
WASHINGTON, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced today that the USDA is considering the development of a voluntary standard to address production practices associated with the term “naturally raised” for livestock. Three listening sessions will be held to provide for public input on a voluntary marketing claim standard specifically for Naturally Raised Livestock.
Working with industry representatives and other interested parties, AMS facilitates the marketing of agricultural commodities by developing and maintaining U.S. standards for nearly 240 agricultural products. Producers and consumers use the standards in the marketplace to specify the quality of commodities. Standards provide a common language for trade and a means of differentiating value in the marketing of agricultural products.
More sorting, more beef quality
Certified Angus Beef
Sorting cattle helps eliminate outliers in a pen, but the extra effort may be rewarded by higher quality grades, too.
A study by Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) shows the more sorts the better the grades in most cases.
“Our data says those cattle that were sorted three or more times have much higher CAB acceptance rates than cattle that were just sold as one group,” says Gary Fike, beef cattle specialist for the company.
From 2005 to 2006, CAB tracked data from its 63 licensed feedlots in 15 states (see table). Cattle that were marketed together had an average CAB acceptance rate of 23.3%. Cattle in two sort groups improved to 29.6%, compared to those sorted three times or more at 33.9%. That 10-percentage-point increase means more dollars for the seller.
FULL STORY PDF
Sustainable Crops and Livestock Workshop Scheduled For Dec 1st
Practical production methods for sustainable crop and livestock producers in western Nebraska will be highlighted during a Dec. 1 workshop at Sidney.
“Sustainable Crops and Livestock Systems Workshop for High Plains Agriculture: Practices That Work For Western Nebraska” will take place at Western Nebraska Community College, 371 S. College Drive in Sidney from 8:45 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. The workshop is sponsored by the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS) and Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) NE Chapter No. 2.
US official says failure to ratify South Korean trade deal could ruin U.S. image in Asia
WASHINGTON (AP) – Failure by U.S. lawmakers to ratify a free trade pact with South Korea would damage the United States’ credibility in Asia and hamper its future trade in the booming region, according to a senior U.S. trade official.
Wendy Cutler, an assistant trade representative and the lead U.S. negotiator of the pact, said
Tuesday that South Korea is pursuing trade accords with Canada and other countries while the U.S. Congress considers the deal.
K-State Looks At Financial Impact Of Foot and Mouth Disease
As much as $945 million. That’s what agricultural economists at Kansas State University say could be the impact on Kansas’ economy were there a large-scale foot-and-mouth outbreak in a region thick with livestock operations.
“If such an outbreak were to occur, livestock and meat commerce, trade, and movement would be halted,” said Ted Schroeder, a K-State professor of agricultural economics. “That represents a very, very expensive endeavor.”
Schroeder is co-author of a paper that predicts a devastating economic impact should foot-and-mouth disease come to Kansas.
Commentary: Eliminate the critter — Feed dried distillers grains to humans
By Cheryl Stubbendieck
Nebraska Farm Bureau vice president/public relations
Minnesota Farm Guide
Ethanol’s been getting beat up lately, with some critics saying using corn for ethanol is reducing the amount of food for humans. That’s not the case, plus the distillers dry grains that result from ethanol production make excellent cattle feed. Cattle eat the DDGs, we eat the beef, life is good.
But maybe the critics would be happier if we could eliminate the critter from the equation. A number of scientists and biofuel and biomass processors are looking into feeding DDGs more directly to humans by incorporating them into people food.