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Acclimation and auditing in the cattle feedlot

One of the speakers at the recent Beef Welfare Symposium in Ames, Iowa was Cozad, Nebraska cattle feeder Ann Burkholder.  Among other topics, Burkholder talked about the importance of reducing stress in cattle by properly acclimating them to the feedlot.  She also discussed the auditing of animal welfare practices in their feedlot operation.  After her presentation, we visited with her about those topics.

AUDIO: Ann Burkholder (3:00 MP3)

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Soybean Day at the Ohio State Fair

Saturday, August 2nd is Soybean Day at the 2014 Ohio State Fair.

Fairgoers entering through the Cardinal Gate at the north end of the fairgrounds tomorrow will be greeted by Ohio soybean farmers.

Patrick Knouff , Chairman of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean farmer from Shelby County says the soybean farmers will be able to answer fairgoers questions, as well as explain how soybeans are grown and harvested, talk about what products that can be made from soybeans and what soybean farmers in the state are doing to protect the environment.

“Only 1 percent of the population in the U.S. is directly involved in agriculture,” said Knouff. “With so few people involved in farming, people have questions. Especially in urban areas many people have never met a farmer or seen how a farm operates.  On Soybean Day, they have that opportunity. We encourage all fairgoers to stop by, ask questions and learn about the Ohio soybean industry.”

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Beef demand continues to amaze

As cattle and beef prices continue to set record highs, a common question among cattlemen is “will we reach a point where people stop eating beef?”

John Lundeen, senior executive director of market research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says beef demand remains strong and shows no signs of weakening.  But is there a price level that will cause people to stop buying beef?

beef-meatcase“I always say it’s not a cliff—it’s like a slow hill that you climb.  At every price, there’s another family that has to cut back a little bit on their beef consumption,” Lundeen says. “People are spending just as much on beef, but they may be getting less pounds.  And with supply down, we are in a situation where people are going to get a little less beef than they have historically.”

But while the higher prices have caused some consumers to cut back on their consumption, Lundeen doesn’t think beef-eating habits have been altered long-term.

“When people have more money in their pocket, they want to buy beef.  We’re seeing more pounds sold in food service,” he says. “So I look at the underlying dynamics driving the beef industry and I feel quite positive.”

We talked to Lundeen at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.

AUDIO: John Lundeen (5:06 MP3)

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California’s drought ‘devastating’ to state’s cattle industry

It’s estimated that California has lost up to 30 percent of its beef cow herd this year due to the ongoing drought in that state.

Kevin Kester, who ranches in the central coast area of California, says their operation is in the bullseye of the drought and they’re simply trying to hold on.

kester-kevin-ca cattleman 7-14“We’ve had to cut back drastically in our cow numbers on the ranch,” Kester says. “We’re just keeping a few cows to see if we can struggle through until Mother Nature blesses us with some rain again.”

Kester says they have been supplementing their cattle with hay.

“As any rancher knows, it’s generally unsustainable to do that for a very long period of time.  But we’ve made a business decision to supplement a couple hundred cows or so and see if we can make it through until it rains again.”

Brownfield visited with Kester at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.

AUDIO: Kevin Kester (1:42 MP3)

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Cargill closing Wisconsin cattle plant

Citing the smallest U.S. beef herd since 1951; Cargill is going to close its slaughter plant in Milwaukee at the close of business on Friday.  The decision was made after the company conducted an 18-month review of the cattle supply.


Employees were told about the closure on Wednesday, they will receive 60 days’ pay after the plant closes. Nearly 600 people work at the plant which slaughters 1,400 cattle per day.


Cargill bought the facility in 2001.


A separate ground beef plant at the site which employs about 200 people will continue operations.

The closing does not affect Cargill’s six other slaughter plants.

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USDA extends ELAP signup

USDA is extending the enrollment deadline for the 2012 and 2013 Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) to August 15th.  Signup was to end on August 1st.

The extension gives livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers who experienced losses because of disease, adverse weather, wildfires or colony collapse disorder between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2013, an additional two weeks to enroll in ELAP.

Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA service center or visit FSA’s website at for additional information regarding ELAP.

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Dairy markets hold strong

Cash cheese increased a little on the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday.  Class III futures followed suit.  The cooler temperatures across the country has milk production holding steady in the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions.  Dairy Market News says production is declining in the Southeast as cow comfort declines.  No loads exported out of Florida this week.  Western milk production is also slipping as temperatures hit triple-digits in the Central Valley.  Although some are surprised that production hasn’t declined more crediting high quality feed.

National Dairy Products Sales Report for the week ending July 26 has cheddar cheese blocks averaging $2.01 per pounds down 0.1 cent; barrels increased 2.5 cents to average $2.05; butter increased 4.2 cents to $2.41; nonfat dry milk decreased 3.2 cents to average $1.84 per pound and dry whey 0.2 cents higher at 68.9 cents per pound.

Preliminary Index of Prices Received by Farmers for July has the all-milk price increasing 20 cents to $23.40 per hundredweight.  Meanwhile prices for corn, soybeans and hay all went down in July.  The preliminary milk-to-feed ratio for July is 2.44 compared to 2.2 in June and 1.53 in July of 2013.

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A little less profitable on the farm in July

The Preliminary Index of Prices Received by Farmers in July decreased 3.6 percent from June.  Farmers received lower prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and broilers; higher prices for cattle, hogs, eggs and onions.

The Crop Index declined 8.2 percent from June.  Corn averaged $3.80 per bushel down 69 cents from June.  Soybeans decreased $1.70 to average $12.70 per bushel.  All wheat was down 39 cents at $6.10 and all hay was $5 lower at $192 per ton.

The Livestock Index increased 3.1 percent from June.  Hogs averaged $92.80 per hundredweight up $8 from June.  Beef increased $8 as well to average $155 per hundredweight.  Broilers declined 3 cents to average 68 cents per pound, turkeys increased 1.3 cents to 74.1 cents and eggs increased 17.6 cents to average $1.05 per dozen.

All milk increased 20 cents to $23.40 per hundredweight.  The preliminary milk-to-feed ratio for July is 2.44 compared to 2.2 in June and 1.53 in July of 2013.

The Index of Prices Paid by Farmers was up 0.9 percent from June.  Higher prices for feeder cattle, feeder pigs and milk cows more than offset lower prices for feed grains, complete feeds, supplements and nitrogen.

The Prices Farmers Received Index was unchanged from July of 2013 while the Prices Paid Index was 5.6 percent above a year ago.


Read the full NASS report here

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Wheat up on potential for new export business

Soybeans were mostly higher on short covering and technical buying. Weekly export numbers were supportive, with another strong week for new crop. New crop’s benefiting from a discount to Brazil’s beans, but that may not last that much longer. September beans were the exception, closing slightly lower. Soybean meal was up and bean oil was mostly firm. Thursday was the first notice day for CBOT August contracts, with no deliveries reported on beans or meal Thursday morning. The trade’s also keeping an eye on any potential export opportunities created by Argentina’s debt issues.

Corn was lower on fund and technical selling. Weekly export sales were solid, but it was a slow week for shipments and it doesn’t look like exports will meet USDA’s projection for this marketing year, with about a month left. Past that – weather generally looks good for most of the Midwest. Some rain would help, but we’re getting close to the crop effectively being made. Ethanol futures were lower.

The wheat complex was mostly higher with Kansas City leading the way up on commercial demand, keeping an eye on the potential for new export business. There’s a lot of uncertainty about the impact of economic sanctions on Russia’s wheat export trade, but at least for now, traders are expecting some increase in business. Harvest conditions for the winter crop and development weather for spring wheat look good. Weekly export numbers were neutral and, globally, there’s a lot of wheat available. The International Grains Council projects world wheat production at 702 million tons, up 3 million from the previous guess, with Russia at 94 million tons. Egypt bought 175,000 tons of Russian origin wheat, either soft or milling, according to DTN, and Taiwan picked up 84,800 tons of U.S. milling wheat.

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Pockets of dryness in the Corn Belt

Across the Corn Belt, dry weather and near- to below-normal temperatures remain mostly favorable for corn and soybeans. However, pockets of short-term dryness are becoming a concern in some areas, mainly across the western and southern Corn Belt. On July 27, topsoil moisture was rated 41% very short to short in Nebraska and 39% very short to short in Missouri.

On the Plains, rain has mostly subsided in Oklahoma and northern Texas, following a recent deluge. Parts of central and southeastern Oklahoma, as well as northeastern Texas, received 2 to 6 inches of rain in the last 24-hours, causing some flash flooding. Meanwhile, heat is overspreading the northern High Plains, including Montana, promoting winter wheat harvesting and the maturation of spring-sown small grains.

In the South, scattered showers and thunderstorms are heaviest in the Arklatex region. Developing drought remains a concern in several areas of the Southeast. On July 27, for example, topsoil moisture was rated 51% very short to short in Kentucky, along with 44% in South Carolina, 33% in Virginia, and 32% in Georgia.

In the West, an active monsoon circulation continues to produce locally heavy showers in the southern Rockies and neighboring areas. In addition, isolated showers dot the Great Basin and Intermountain West. However, hot, dry weather continues to plague northern California and much of the Northwest, maintaining heavy irrigation demands and increasing stress on rangeland, pastures, and rain-fed summer crops.

Morning Low Temperature Plot

Weather Alerts

Forecast High Temperatures (National)

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More sub-average temperatures for the Heartland

Locally heavy showers will continue to spread across the South. Five-day rainfall totals could reach 2 to 4 inches in the southern Atlantic States. Meanwhile, locally heavy showers will continue in the Four Corners States, with flash flooding possible. In contrast, hot, mostly dry weather will dominate the Pacific Coast States. Elsewhere, a few showers will dot the northern Plains and the Midwest, but dry weather will cover the remainder of the nation’s mid-section.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for below-normal temperatures in large sections of the central and eastern U.S., as well as the central Rockies, while hotter-than-normal conditions will cover the lower Southeast, the lower Rio Grande Valley, and the Far West. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal rainfall across the majority of the U.S. will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest, northern Plains, far upper Midwest, and southern parts of Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

5-Day Precipitation Totals

NOAA’s 6- to 10- Day Outlook

NOAA’s 8- to 14- Day Outlook

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Livestock futures close lower on outside market weakness

Cattle country remained quiet on Thursday afternoon with trade volume delayed until Friday. Asking prices seem to be around 168.00 to 170.00 in the South and 265.00 to 270.00 in the North. Realistic asking prices are difficult to anticipate given the historically strong basis. Specifically, spot August live closed Thursday nearly 6.00 to 7.00 below Southern business late last week. It is possible some hedgers may be willing to accept lower cash bids if such profitable basis levels can be won. On the other hand carcass value continues to appreciate thanks to solid wholesale beef demand. Processing margins at this point look quite attractive. The kill totaled 115,000 head, the same as last week and 4,000 below last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were steady to firm on moderate demand and light offerings. Choice beef was up .74 at 263.66, and select was .23 lower at 260.60.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 150 to 260 points lower. Futures struggled, mostly due to pre-cash profit taking and partially due to bearish vibes from outside markets. The stock market was sharply lower. Talk on Wall Street blamed nervousness over European deflation, rising labor costs, and the threat of higher interest rates. The U.S. dollar index is also on the rise, potentially hurting foreign demand for U.S. beef. August settled 1.92 lower at 157.92 and October was down 2.60 at 157.32.

Feeder cattle settled 235 to 300 points lower pressured by the same considerations stated for the defensive tone in the live pit. Perhaps action in the feeder pit had simply become too hot not too cool off. August was 2.35 lower at 220.67, and September was down 3.00 at 221.20.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Nebraska totaled 1225 head on Wednesday, Compared to two weeks ago, steers over 850 pounds sold 10.00 higher, there were not enough comparable sales of heifers and light steers for a market comparison. Demand was very good from start to finish on all offerings. Feeder steers, medium and large 1 averaging 932 pounds average 224.47 per hundredweight. 906 pound heifers traded at 213.50.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .42 higher at 121.49, the West was up .18 at 121.15, and the East was .97 lower at 118.05. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was 1.00 lower at 114.00. Barrows and gilts at Midwest markets were steady to 1.00 lower from 84.00 to 95.00 live

Lean hogs settled unchanged to 112 points lower. Contracts enjoyed a short-covering rally through midsession or so, but selling bias resurfaced into the close. Summer fundamentals remain disappointing with pork demand faltering despite a significant reduction of tonnage on the street. August settle 1.12 lower at 118.02, and October was down .52 at 103.17.

The pork carcass cutout value was down 1.20 at 129.03 FOB plant. The belly primal was over $5.00 lower.

For the week ending July 26, Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 283.7 pounds, 1.1 pounds lighter than the previous week, though still 13.3 pounds heavier than 2013.

Thursday’s hog kill was estimated at 405,000 head, 12,000 more than last week, but 8,000 less than last year.

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Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: July 31, 2014

Sep. corn closed at $3.57, down 4 and 3/4 cents
Aug. soybeans closed at $12.24 and 1/2, up 4 cents
Aug. soybean meal closed at $391.30, up $3.70
Aug. soybean oil closed at 36.11, up 6 points
Sep. wheat closed at $5.30 and 1/4, up 3 cents
Aug. live cattle closed at $157.92, down $1.92
Aug. lean hogs closed at $118.02, down $1.12
Sep. crude oil closed at $98.17, down $2.10
Oct. cotton closed at 62.09, down 125 points
Aug. Class III milk closed at $21.44, up 6 cents
Aug. gold closed at $1,281.30, down $13.60
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 16,563.30, down 317.06 points

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Iowa Corn announces leadership election results

Scott Country farmer Jerry Mohr is the new president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.  Meanwhile Chris Edgington of Mitchell County is the new president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.  The newly elected president, vice president, chair and directors officially take their seats on September 1.

Iowa Corn Growers Association directors bring grassroots policy issues forward while directors for the Corn Promotion Board work on market development, education and research.

*Re-elected directors.
**Newly elected directors.

Iowa Corn Growers Association

President – Jerry Mohr, Scott County
Vice President – Bob Hemesath, Winneshiek County
Chair – Roger Zylstra, Jasper County
District 1 – Dean Meyer, Lyon County
District 2 – Gary Woodley, Wright County
District 3 – Mark Recker, Fayette County**
District 4 – Curt Mether, Harrison County*
District 5 – Dennis Friest, Hardin County
District 6 – Jim Greif, Linn County
District 7 – Carl Jardon, Fremont County
District 8 – Kyle Phillips, Marion County
District 9 – Kurt Hora, Washington County*
At-Large – Pam Johnson, Floyd County
At-Large – Dean Taylor, Jasper County
At-Large – Kevin Ross, Pottawattamie County
At-Large – Bruce Rohwer, O’Brien County

Iowa Corn Promotion Board

President – Chris Edgington, Mitchell County
Vice President – Mark Heckman, Muscatine County
Chair – Bob Bowman, Clinton County
District 1 – Lowell Appleton, O’Brien County*
District 2 – Chris Weydert, Kossuth County
District 3 – Greg Alber, Buchanan County**
District 4 – Larry Klever, Audubon County
District 5 – Roscoe Eggers, Marshall County
District 6 – Pete Brecht, Linn County**
District 7 – Duane Aistrope, Fremont/Page County
District 8 – Donald Hunerdosse, Warren County
District 9 – Wayne Humphreys, Louisa County
At Large – Deb Keller, Wright County
At-Large – Kevin Rempp, Poweshiek County

Iowa corn farmers also serve on the governing board for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). The NCGA directors include:

Bob Bowman, Clinton County
Don Elsbernd, Allamakee County
Pam Johnson, Floyd County
Kevin Ross, Pottawattamie County

U.S. Grains Council members recently voted to elect a new slate of board of directors, including:

Dick Gallagher, Washington County
Craig Floss, Chief Executive Officer at Iowa Corn

Gallagher was elected as the Corn Sector director and Floss as the State Checkoff Sector director. Julius Schaaf from Fremont County will become the past chairman. Deb Keller from Wright County also serves as an At-Large Director.

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Lessons to be learned in managing weeds

There are lessons to be learned from the southern states’ battle with weed resistance.  Dr. Ford Baldwin, partner of Arkansas based Practical Weed Consultants says farmers in the Corn Belt need to implement a diverse weed management program.

“One of the things that killed us in Arkansas, is once we got to the point that farmers even knew they had resistance issues their reaction was ‘our glyphosate program is so cheap, I know I can get by one more year and then I’ll have to make some changes’,” he says.  “Well in a lot of cases that one more year mean fields weren’t harvested.”

Baldwin tells Brownfield if you talked to farmers in the south today, they’d have made a different decision in their weed management program years ago.

AUDIO: Dr. Ford Baldwin (3:30mp3)

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ADM settles Clean Water Act violation with EPA

Archer Daniels Midland Company has agreed to settle allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act at five of its storage facilities in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.  The EPA says the facilities, which store large amounts of oil, failed to develop required Facility Response Plans that address worst-case discharges of oil.

The ADM facilities are at Mexico and Deerfield, Missouri; Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa; and Columbus, Nebraska.

In a prepared statement from the company, spokesperson Jackie Anderson says ADM has an environmental compliance program in place to meet the company’s environmental obligations.  In addition to resolving the violations, ADM has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $430,000.

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18th Annual Pork Rib-Off

Hickory River Smokehouse_Tipp City_OH_Grand Champion Pulled Pork_webThe Ohio Pork Producers hosted the 18th Annual Pork Rib-off during the Ohio State Fair. The annual event attracts competitors from across the state competing for top honors in both the pulled pork and ribs categories.

Grand Champion Pulled Pork honors this year went to Hickory River Smokehouse at Tipp City, Ohio.

Audio: Dan Davis, Hickory River Smokehouse, Tipp City, OH, Champion Pulled Pork (2:10 mp3)


Smoke'm If You Got'em BBQ_Grand Champion Ribs_webSmoke’m If You Got’em BBQ at Middleport, Ohio won Grand Champion ribs.

Audio: Adam Williams, Smoke’m If You Got’em, Grand Champion Ribs (2:05 mp3)

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TPP needs to be good for US agriculture

Lawmakers are pushing to protect the US agriculture industry in Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement negotiations.

A letter sent to the President earlier this week indicated that congressional support for the TPP would be jeopardized if US negotiators accept anything less than elimination of all trade barriers to US ag products.

Currently, Japan is demanding special treatment for its ag sector – including exemption from tariff elimination for certain products, including pork.

Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the US Trade Representative says even though Japan has one of the most protected agricultural markets in the world – they are an incredibly important business partner.  “But with all the Economic Partnership Agreements, that is what Japan calls their Free Trade Agreements with other countries, almost all of those products were excluded from consideration,” she says.  “In joining the Trans Pacific Partnership – Japan agreed that there would be no product exclusions.  So every product is on the table.”

Vetter says, because Japan has never done this before – the USTR office is going through each one of the products individually, trying to ensure that they get the best deal possible – making the process very slow.

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Beef demand continues strong

Even with cattle prices at record highs, consumer demand for beef remains strong.  But a common question among cattlemen is “are we going to price ourselves out of the market?” John Lundeen, senior executive director of market research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says there are no indications that beef demand is weakening.

AUDIO: John Lundeen (5:06 MP3)


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Ritz: Canada is prepared to retaliate over COOL

ritz-gerry canadaCanada’s minister of agriculture, Gerry Ritz, is making the rounds at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.  Ritz tells Brownfield that if the Country of Origin Labeling rule is once again ruled out of compliance by the World Trade Organization, Canada is prepared to retaliate against U.S. meat and other products.

AUDIO: Gerry Ritz (3:43 MP3)



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