Aug 20, 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. 

PETA Can't Pass The Smell Test

Aug 19, 2014

Last week Dairy Carrie told us PETA’s video claiming abuse at a North Carolina dairy had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.

That’s now confirmed by the Haywood County (N.C.) Animal Control department, who visited the farm in question to see for themselves. Animal control officer Jean Hazzard found no evidence the cows were either emaciated or in poor health, and wrote in an email that the alleged deplorable confinement and living conditions were "unfounded." PETA also claimed regional grocer Harris Teeter was receiving milk from the dairy—a fact the grocer denied and demanded to be retracted.

And about PETA’s claim that the dairy was a "factory farm?" They milk about 30 cows.

Beef Recall Leads to Federal Charges

Federal charges were announced Monday against two owners and two employees of Rancho Feeding Corp., the Northern California slaughterhouse involved in a series of beef recalls, including one for 8.7 million pounds. USDA shut the plant down in February. Prosecutors allege the company slaughtered about 79 cows with cancer eye while USDA inspectors were on lunch breaks. While there were no reports of illnesses linked to the meat, more than 1,600 food distributors were alerted to the recall. In March, USDA allowed Marin Sun Farms to take over the shuttered Rancho slaughterhouse.

Cowboy College

Beef Today’s Cowboy College is rapidly approaching. The event, designed for feedlot cowboys, cattle crews and others involved in day-to-day care and welfare of the animals, will be held Sept. 9-10 in Omaha. This educational event will be led by veterinarians Dan Thomson and Tom Noffsinger. Attendees will see how management of newly received cattle, low-stress cattle handling, care of high-risk calves and antibiotic and therapy decisions can significantly impact the bottom line and lead to higher profitability. Online registration can be completed here.

Angus Names New AGI President

The American Angus Association has named Dr. Dan Moser as its new president of Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) and Association director of performance programs. Moser brings more than 15 years experience in genetic research and education to the Association’s 25,000-plus members and their commercial partners. A native of Effingham, Kan., Moser received his bachelors of animal sciences and industry from Kansas State University in 1991, then earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in beef cattle genetics from the University of Georgia. Moser will begin his new role on Sept. 1.

High Prices, High Anxiety

Aug 18, 2014

Tight cattle supplies and strong consumer demand has produced a record-shattering year for cowboys. Lost in the glow of this once-in-a-lifetime market, however, is the precarious position of your national beef checkoff. A shrinking cattle herd means a shrinking budget for promotion, research and consumer education. Couple that with the fact a dollar has about half the buying power it did when the beef checkoff was launched over a quarter-century ago, and you begin to realize the budget crunch facing the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. There’s plenty of evidence that the $1 checkoff has paid tremendous dividends back to producers, but it’s clear the program needs a raise. Several organizations with ties to the beef industry have held ongoing discussions about raising the national checkoff to $2.

Texas producers approved an increase in that state’s checkoff by a 2 to 1 margins last month.

Cowboys and Pipelines

Texas rancher Pete Bonds believes state law gives pipelines too much power to condemn and grab private land. Bond, who is the president of the Texas & Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, and other Texas landowners are keeping a close eye on the Texas Railroad Commission’s recent efforts to more tightly regulate the states’ network of oil and gas pipelines. The Commission, which regulates 426,000 miles of pipelines in the Lone Star State, has been criticized for rubber-stamping applications by pipeline companies.

Cattle Feeding Margins Decline $87

Cattle feeding margins declined $87 per head last week, but remain near $200. Farrow-to-finish pork margins declined $16 per head to $61.74, according to John Nalivka, Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. Beef cutout values declined about $5 and beef packer margins improved $2 per head.

USDA Seeks to Change Grading Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking public input on possible revisions to the U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef. Significant changes (such as grass fed versus grain fed feeding regimens, instrument grading, management, and export requirements) have taken place in the beef industry since the current grade standards were adopted in 1997. AMS is seeking input from cattle producers, food processors, the public and other sources before revising the grades to better reflect the characteristics of meat that is available for Americans.

PETA Says "Cease and Desist"

Aug 15, 2014

Dairy Carrie considers her "cease and desist" letter from PETA a badge of honor. And we do, too! The ruckus is over a video PETA claims was filmed in a dairy barn showing cows wading in boot-high manure. Except, there are several inconsistencies in the video, as pointed out by our heroine, Carrie Chestnut Mess, aka Dairy Carrie. You have to read her post to get the whole story, but Dairy Carrie says the cows "were telling me the truth." For instance, the cows wading in the manure look like they just walked out of a shower – except for their feet, of course. How is that possible? It's not, and thanks to Dairy Carrie, PETA was exposed.

Montana Cowboy Bucks Putin

Montana rancher Darrell Stevenson stands to benefit from Russian President Vladimir Putin's ban on U.S. and European meat.

The third-generation American cowboy also has a ranch 550 kilometers (340 miles) south of Moscow, and believes the sanctions will "stimulate the growth and development of (Russia’s) domestic herds. Within a year, a considerable amount of Russian-raised beef will be available." With the government embarking on what Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev calls a "new page" of agricultural development in the wake of tit-for-tat sanctions, the biggest challenge for Stevenson and his team is the lack of ranch knowledge and infrastructure in the country.

Cow Herd Expansion: Where and When?

Higher prices for cattle and calves should encourage ranchers to expand their herds. But it will take time – maybe six to eight years. That's according to Purdue University Ag Economics professor Chris Hurt, who expects expansion to start in the Northern Plains. It's a region where beef cow numbers did not decline over the past seven years. "We have a lot of marginal land in that area and now there is a profit incentive," Hurt says. The western Corn Belt from Minnesota to Missouri, where cow herd reductions totaled 566,000 cows, is also primed for expansion. University of Kentucky analysts claim the next cattle herd expansion will be complex for producers.

"Too often we discuss cow-calf operations as though they make decisions year-to-year, when expansion decisions take a long-term outlook."

Feral Horse Fight

Free-ranging horses near Placitas, New Mexico, are now drawing the ire of some residents who say their growing numbers are hurting the delicate desert landscape amid an ongoing drought. Horse advocates say the drought is to blame for damaging the landscape and state officials have blocked their attempts to administer a female contraceptive to help control the horse population. A round-up of some of the 125 or so horses by state authorities and a plan by federal officials to remove some from nearby federal land have raised the potential for a standoff between horse advocates and federal officials over the animals' fate.

Moo-less Milk

Aug 14, 2014

The San Francisco-based makers of cow-free milk are banking on vegetarians and lactose intolerant individuals for the success of their laboratory-created drink. That's a fairly narrow target audience.

The moo-free milk reminds us of the moo-less burgers announced last year.

Still, the scientists who created the cow-free milk claim that since they can make it from scratch, taste can be adjusted to imitate the essence of true dietary milk. The selling points for the moo-less milk? No animals, no hormones and no cholesterol.

Border Ranchers Anxious

The flood of illegal immigrants across America's southern border has become the primary concern of many ranchers. Over the past decade, rancher Presnall Cage estimates he's found over 100 bodies on his Brooks County, Texas, ranch.

They're mostly undocumented immigrants who succumb to the brutal Texas summers. But the increasing traffic from drug smugglers has made ranchers fearful for the safety of their families and employees. Rancher Frank Yturria has begun arming his ranch hands as more armed smugglers are walking across his land.

Weed Remains A No-No in Oregon

Yesterday, we mistakenly legalized marijuana in Oregon, which came as a surprise to some of our Beaver State readers. They let us know that if you want to get stoned you need to visit either Washington or Colorado, the only two states with legal marijuana. The story referenced the fact that proposed GMO-labeling laws would include edible marijuana, which might garner resistance from recreational marijuana users. The GMO-labeling campaign, however, continues to gather momentum across the country. There are currently 84 bills on GMO labeling in 29 states, as well as dueling bills in Congress.

Yet, as Molly Ball writes for The Atlantic, "No widely accepted science supports the idea that GMOs are inherently dangerous to people's health or the environment."

Profit Tracker: Feeding Margins Decline $70 Per Head

Cattle feeding margins declined $70 per head last week, but remain more than $280. That's a tidy profit, especially considering feedyards were losing more than $83 per head at the same time last year. The decline in profit margins was due to a $2.50 per cwt. decline in fed prices last week and breakevens that were nearly $3 per cwt. higher than the previous week.

Mark Your Calendars for Cowboy College

Beef Today is proud to be hosting Cowboy College on Sept. 9-10, in Omaha, Neb.

Wading Into Wacko

Aug 13, 2014

As we wrote yesterday there's a good chance your bottled water comes from drought-parched California, and much of that is simply tap water.

The article was from Mother Jones and gathered interest from the far reaches of the Internet, mainly because the whole bottled water business just invites criticism. Which is all good until somebody pulls out a calculator and tries to add up the drops of water in a salad or a steak. Eric Holthaus from wades into such wacko when he tries to convert your loathing of bottled water into hatred for beef.

Per capita, Americans consume about 30 gallons of bottled water each year. "But here's the kicker," Holthaus writes. "A single steak dinner uses as much water as almost a lifetime (61.5 years' worth, to be exact) of drinking bottled water." That's 1,845 gallons per pound of beef, using Holthaus' math. We think the slide rule they use at the University of California-Davis is more accurate. They say it takes 441 gallons of water to produce a pound of boneless beef.

Stoned on GMOs

Even some of the anti-technology folks like technology when it suits their desires. Like, GMOs are evil unless you can manipulate marijuana to make it more potent. That seems to be the sentiment in Oregon and Colorado – states where marijuana is legal – where there's a movement to exempt genetically engineered marijuana from proposed GMO-labeling laws.

In Colorado the GMO-labeling initiative is called I-48, and the proposal exempts several categories of food from labeling, including alcohol. But since the law does not exempt edible marijuana, supporters fear recreational pot users will oppose the GMO-labeling initiative. Dude, this is like…really confusing.

Brazil's Beef Buyer

Brazilian beef exports are on the rise, thanks mainly to a doubling of purchases by Russia. Vladimir Putin responded to international sanctions over his meddling in the Ukraine by banning imports from Europe and the United States. That opened the door for Brazil, and the country's Association of Meat Exporters said Tuesday that beef exports rose 19% in July, and exports to Russia rose 113% compared to July of last year. Brazil exported 144,700 tonnes of beef in July, up 8.6% from a year ago.

Kansas BPI Plant to Reopen

A shuttered Kansas processing plant that produced a treated ground beef product critics dubbed "pink slime" plans to reopen next week with limited operations amid rebounding sales. Beef Products Inc. said it plans to start collecting fresh beef trimmings at its Garden City facility beginning Monday to support its current Dakota City, Nebraska production operations. The Kansas plant is the first to reopen since the company closed three of its facilities over the 2012 controversy about the meat.

Mark Your Calendars for Cowboy College

Beef Today is proud to be hosting Cowboy College on Sept. 9-10, in Omaha, Neb.

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