Farm Bill Flub
Feb 19, 2014
The latest version of America's farm bill has provided plenty of opportunities for critics. The near-1,000 page $956 billion bill contains some obscure provisions, like the $3.5 billion Congress will give to academic research. That part is important to ranchers because it includes funding for brucellosis surveillance, testing and vaccine development. How that money is spent and how disease plans are implemented is controversial around Yellowstone National Park where bison management and brucellosis control have been an issue for decades.
The farm bill also spends billions of dollars "underwriting a system detrimental to public health." That's the argument Tamar Haspel offers in an editorial in The Washington Post. "Taxpayers heavily subsidize corn and soy, two crops that facilitate the meat and processed food we're supposed to eat less of, and do almost nothing for the fruits and vegetables we're supposed to eat more of."
Who is Tamar Haspel, you ask? Well ... she says she spent most of her career in Manhattan but recently moved to Cape Cod where she farms oysters.
Goat Amusement Park
If you're in the mood for some lighthearted animal entertainment, we recommend this French video that shows goats balancing on a sheet of extremely flexible tin. We watched the clip – which is just over a minute long – with amazement as the goats are able to hop onto the moving tin sheet and remain there as it swayed to and fro. But, since we're wayfully short on goat knowledge, we were left wondering just why a French farmer erected this goat amusement toy in the first place.
Cattle Feeding Margins Top $200
Higher cattle prices and lower feed costs have translated into tidy profits for cattle feeders. Last week on average, cattle shipped from feedyards earned $209.54 per head, according to John Nalivka, president of Sterling Marketing, Inc., Vale Ore. Nalivka tracks prices and feeding costs for both cattle and hogs in a weekly summary called the Sterling Profit Tracker.
Feedyard margins received a boost from a $1.59 per cwt. increase in cash fed cattle prices last week to an average of $142.33. Lean hog prices gained $2.43 per cwt. to average $86.67.
Cattle feeding margins increased more than $64 per head last week from a previous average profit of $145.47. The Sterling Profit Tracker also found an increase in farrow-to-finish hog margins, with average profits at $22.41 per head. The previous week’s profits were pegged at $18.30.
The Power of Meat
Value, quality and variety are the key factors shoppers seek when buying meat at retail. That's according to the ninth annual Power of Meat survey published t by the American Meat Institute (AMI) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI). This year's survey finds the first indication of a return to higher spending on home-cooked dinners since the start of the recent economic recession. The number of home-cooked meals containing meat or poultry increased slightly from 3.6 to 3.8 dinners per week. The survey also found that shoppers are trending away from a focus strictly on lower prices when making meat purchasing decisions.