Aug 1, 2014
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Grazing the Net

RSS By: Greg Henderson and Friends, Beef Today

Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining. 

Another Plant Slams the Gate

Jul 31, 2014

The packers continue to adjust their demand to the supply of fed cattle. Cargill, says it will shut down its Milwaukee plant. That move will leave 600 folks out of work and reduce Cargill's needs by some 600-head per day. Cargill earlier closed its plant in Plainview and National Beef closed it's Brawley plant earlier this year.

For ranchers, these are high times, of course. But the short numbers are not good news for folks whose jobs relied on big numbers of cattle. The turn-around has begun, but the value-added sectors' problems aren't over. We all know why it is happening, of course. Too few cattle to keep the plants (and feedlots and barbecue joints, for that matter) busy and profitable.

An Aborted El Niño? G-Day My Arse!

The Aussies are pleased to announce they’re cutting the odds of an El Nino event this year. Good news for them, of course, but awful for California and the drought-weary Southwestern U.S.
On the other hand, the drought in much of the Southern Plains has abated enough that we felt it prudent to offer tips on avoiding mosquito bites to readers who are seeing their first such pests in the last 3 years.

A Good Story About Steaks

Granting that steaks are playing a downsized role in the explosive cattle market, it's still fun to read such a well-researched article as this Food Business News piece on steakhouses.

Speaking of steaks, according to Food Sentry, beef is way down the list of food safety problems uncovered in international trade. Looks like we'll be having beef again tonight!

Wee Calves Need Water, Too

Nebraska's extension service has some timely advice on making sure your babies can reach the water.

DC Court: COOL is Legal Enough

Jul 30, 2014

Country of origin labeling got a big win yesterday with the DC appeals court saying it found the government had demonstrated a compelling reason for the labels, giving consumers choices "in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak."

It isn't over, of course. There is still the Supreme Court and the World Trade Organization. At any rate, the ruling made R CALF happy and NCBA contemplative. The issue drew the attention of the mainstream press because they see it as a freedom of speech issue.

Restocking? Stocking Up? Go Cows

And who isn't running the numbers these days, what with calf prices looking good into the distant future? Your best bet, says TAMU, is old, open cows.

Ask the economists, and they'll tell you that this mighty fine market is being driven by ground beef. Your high priced, rich-guy, expense-account cuts just haven't seen the demand increase it would take to keep them growing with $1.60 feds.

Reason: The rotten economy. But there is some good news out today. Reuters has a good report.

But the alas part of this economy is that while the steak eaters may be getting richer, the hamburger eaters are just getting poorer. Uh, any you wonder why fowl consumption surpassed beef last year?

No Ceiling in Sight

Beef prices have yet to find a price ceiling this year as new records continued to be broken. We're not complaining, but it makes us wonder just how high prices will go. With prices continuing to rise, we just hope that consumer demand doesn’t go fowl—at least no more than it already has.

The Russians are a Plain Spoken Lot

Not only are they using protectionist trade regulations to block meat imports to benefit domestic producers, you'll note in Nikolai Fyodorov's comments that they are proud to say so.

Pretty Bad to Really Bad Climate Change News

Jul 29, 2014

The White House and the Council of Economic Advisers today released the results of a "study" that says—no, wait, "finds"—that failure to take immediate action to halt global warming will result in 1% damage to annual GDP.

The report, of course, stirred plenty of news coverage. It will, no doubt, figure heavily into the administration's ongoing effort to justify the EPA's broadening reach into carbon emissions.
US News was one of the few news groups that bothered to ask the doubters what they think of the report, but there are a lot of interesting takes out there.

Now, the real bad climate change news: We know a lot of our readers are climate change skeptics, but what if you found out it would give you kidney stones? Well, here is some bad news.

Permits Por Todos!

If the White House press corps is to be believed, it sounds like Obama may "grant work permits" to millions of illegal immigrants. We're not sure what that means. Surely he can't unilaterally "grant work permits," as in green cards. There are laws covering that sort of thing.
But he's got that good lawyer's gift for finding loopholes, so we should watch. At any rate, it seems like a good time for employers to not worry too much about the legality of folks they hire. Nobody seems to be watching. It's all over the news.

What Fine Customers We Are

The U.S. has surpassed Japan as Austrailia's top beef export markets. Apparently, Chipotle's Aussie beef move is catching on. Well, let's hope those importing Aussie beef are doing it for a better reason than Chipotle's "responsibly raised" excuse. We all know how well that went over.

Who Slimed Pink Slime?

Several journalists, including three members of Bill Marler's "Food Safety News" website, have been ordered to cough up correspondence relating to stories that fueled the "pink slime" media frenzy of 2012. They, of course, are fighting the order.

"We dispute that [BPI attorneys] are entitled to the documents under various state shield laws protecting reporters from such intrusion," Marler wrote in an email. We're curious to see how this one plays out.

It's the Sizzle, Silly

Jul 28, 2014

These incredible cattle prices get less credible daily, and Jim Robb and Ron Hays are forced to marvel at how demand seems to stay "robust."

From the supply side, they, of course, take note of the much-reduced supply of cattle—headlined last week by USDA's July inventory report, but that doesn't explain such robust demand. Naked hamburger thieves might explain it, though.

If you want proof of how badly folks want beef, well, consider this report on nude hamburglars. Nobody in the beef business expected demand could be so strong. But we may have found the explanation!

We’ll have fries with that.

Carbs and Cancer

Beef has been blamed for everything from cancer to heart disease and even the distruction of the world's rainforests. There are even a number of lists roaming around the interweb explaining why you should stop eating beef. Of course, we can think of plenty of reasons to keep eating beef, and they all end with "charbroiled."

On a side note, Brazilian ranchers are reinventing their business, and as a result, deforestation has declined to a 25-year low. Eh-hem. 

But look. A study that doesn't blame beef for anything!

Amen and Amen

The Farm Bureau's Bob Stallman has some thoughts on the EPA trying to regulate your windmill’s spillover pond. He wants to set the record straight regarding the "Waters of the U.S.," saying, "If our government says something, you ought to be able to take it to the bank." Stallman goies on to explore the fine print and hash out his beef with EPA's definitions and lack of clarity.

Cow Groups Take Note

Oregon cattlemen have a mighty fine idea for a fundraiser. Sell steaks cooked the way steaks should be cooked and raise money for the cause at the same time.

Just seeing all those juicy steaks over that firepit makes us wish we were in Oregon for the Washington County Fair.

Rainbow-Belching Unicorns

Jul 25, 2014

Earlier we told you about a new report that laid the bulk of the blame for climate change at the hooves of livestock production, with beef cattle the worst offender.

Media outlets gobbled it up as the work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That fact notwithstanding, the study was a prime example of "junk in, junk out." In fact, Jude Capper, a scientist with more than a little expertise regarding beef's carbon footprint, says to accept this new work is akin to believing "Elvis would come back from the dead, and rainbow-belching unicorns would graze the Northern Great Plains."

Known as Bovidiva to her Twitter followers, Capper notes the new research was conducted using antique feed efficiency data from 30 years ago. She finds other errors which "underline their complete ignorance of the U.S. beef industry." Capper's peer-reviewed study from 2010 presents a more complete view of modern beef production's footprint, minus Elvis and the unicorns.

Mapping The Spread Of Drought

Last week's strong summer cold front brought record low temperatures to the Eastern two-thirds of America and triggered rain across the Southern and Central Plains. As a result, the weekly drought monitor showed improvement.

The prolonged drought in the Southern Plains, however, is taking a toll on the Ogallala Aquifer. Over the last decade average underground water levels across the 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) have dropped 8.83 feet (2.69 meters), with three counties seeing average declines of more than 15 feet, according to data compiled by the HPWD. Over the past decade, droughts in some regions have rivaled the epic dry spells of the 1930s and 1950s.

Currently, about 34% of the contiguous U.S. is in at least a moderate drought.

Drought Affects Us All

California's exceptional drought, which scientists say comes every 50 to 100 years, can be blamed on the "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge." That’s the nickname for a high-pressure area that sat for months over the Pacific Ocean and diverted storms to the north of California.

Farmers in the state's Central Valley stand to lose $810 million this year due to the drought, and the state is expected to lose 17,100 agricultural jobs.

America's widespread drought, however, is having a significant effect on rural communities. The Washington Post says drought pushes the poverty rate higher in rural areas, driving residents to urban areas in search of work and a better life.

Animal Welfare: The View From Your Window

Your view on animal welfare depends on what you see when you look out your window, says a cattle producer who also works in academia. Dave Daley, interim dean of the College of Agriculture at Chico State University in California, gave an outline on "How to Lose the Argument on Animal Welfare" at the 4th International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare hosted by Iowa State. Daley is a fifth-generation rancher from a family that operates a 100,000-acre spread in California.

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