Cattle Prices Set New Records
Jan 13, 2014
"There are simply no superlatives left to try and describe buyer demand and never-before-seen price levels," says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. Cash fed cattle traded at $140 per cwt. in Northern feedyards, with the bulk of the trade at $139. Stocker and feeder cattle advanced as much as $10 per cwt. last week in the first adequate test of the New Year. Feeder markets will likely see pressure this week as corn prices are expected to rise after USDA’s corn stocks report surprised everyone with a smaller 2013 crop than previously reported.
"What Does the Farmer Say?"
Consumers want to know where their food comes from and they want a connection with farmers. Increasingly, farmers are using technology and social media to do just that – give consumers a glimpse of what life's like on a farm or ranch. Nobody has done that better than Derek Klingenberg, a 34-year-old farmer from east-central Kansas whose video "What Does The Farmer Say?" has been viewed more than 4 million times. The video is a parody of "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)?," a Norwegian music video that went viral last fall. Another farmer intent on making his voice heard is the Missouri Farm Bureau president Blake Hurst, who was just named a guest columnist at the Kansas City Star for the coming year. He's also the author of "The Omnivore's Delusion," a book he says was written to counter the agri-intellectuals whose ideals of farming lack an understanding of reality.
Who Will Define "Sustainable Beef?"
McDonald's has no working definition of sustainable beef. But, that hasn't stopped the fast-food giant from announcing that it will begin purchasing "verified sustainable" beef by 2016. If that makes you nervous, it should. That's because McDonald's and other and other food-industry stakeholders have created the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), and the founding members of the GRSB include environmental groups, beef industry suppliers and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse). We're not against strategies to reduce the impact food production has on the environment. But we're not likely to embrace such strategies when they come from folks who have never chopped ice in the winter for thirsty cows or helped deliver a newborn calf.
Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Fatigue
"Beef is one of the purest, most wholesome and most humanely raised forms of protein that we produce worldwide," says Dan Thomson, Kansas State University veterinarian, professor and director of the Beef Cattle Institute. The use of beta-agonists and other feeding technologies, however, have made some question how those technologies might affect animal welfare. Thomson and other researchers are investigating how beta-agonists affect cattle performance, animal stress and carcass weights.