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April 2013 Archive for 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. 

A Grain of Salt a Day Keeps the Panic Away

Apr 26, 2013

A grain of salt a day keeps the panic away
Professor Gutting may be nothing more than the rare philosophy major who didn’t have to go to law school, but he has some good advice about how we should proceed with caution when reading those news stories about "new studies" that have this or that effect on our health.

Checkoff focuses on the "next generation"
The Beef Board announced its new advertising campaign and says it aims to concentrate on delivering nutrition information to the health-conscious "next generation of beef eaters – the older millennial and Gen-Xer, aged 25 to 44 –who care about food and nutrition."

Progress on test tube beef

This lab grown beef may not be ready yet, but one of these days it may constitute a serious threat to ranching. Maybe sooner than we think

Snow’s mixed blessings

Horse slaughter is a go in New Mexico but Robert Redford doesn't like it not one bit.

Indiana may get a gag

Among headlines we just had to investigate
ScienceShot: For Great Tits, Climate Change's Downside Leads to Upside

Man survives harpoon through skull with no brain damage

More space for sage grouse? If we had sage grouse on our country, this study would make us very nervous.

Two smalls make a big
Michigan producers need big boy permits to combine small operations

Strolling of the heifers
Not sure what this accomplishes, but who doesn't love a parade?

Odd cow facts
When you word search all day, you find some odd things to know and that would include these 10 facts about cows.

Having never heard of a "flink" of cows, Grazing did more research and decided that it's a neologism that was invented by the web.

In case you wonder...

...why Jim Hightower hates ag gag laws and modern animal husbandry, here it is.  Organic Jim got himself elected commissioner of agriculture in Texas shortly after fire ants entered the state and had people pouring hot water on fire ant hills to avoid chemicals. Didn’t work very well.

...why Alan Guebert hates of the beef checkoff, here that is.

..why Cargill hated that Harpers piece, here that is.

Other stuff



Will Cheaper Corn Mean Feedyard Profits?

Apr 22, 2013

Will cheaper corn mean feedlot profits?
This piece, predicting a turnaround for cattle feeder profitability, was written before last Friday's Cattle on Feed report and the weekend floods that postponed planting in much of the Corn Belt.

But the cattle on feed report provided some evidence of the Catch 22. Cattle feeders anticipating lower corn prices are putting more cattle on feed.

Feeders' big problem isn't so much high corn prices as low cattle numbers. There is too much space competing for too few available feeder calves. Cheaper corn won't fix that in the short term.

Tennessee’s ag gag law passed, but...
But, overall, you have to rate press coverage of the ag gagging movement as, uh, less than positive.
Vegetarian singer Carrie Underwood, for instance:

Savaging Savory
One of Slate's anti-meat crusaders attacks Allan Savory's theories.

Food poison culprits: Seafood and poultry
An unscientific survey of the coverage of last week's CDE report on food safety progress indicates the headline writers chose (for a change) to emphasize the risks associated with stuff like raw oysters.

How to make news
The Environmental Working group stirred up a bit of a media storm last week by repackaging a ho-hum government report on antibiotics and meat. (Especially chicken meat)

Our view:  A tongue-lashing would have sufficed
Grazing the Net does NOT condone physical violence associated with overdone steaks. On the other hand, neither do we condone overcooked steaks.

Undercover inspector 
This dude got himself hired as an FSIS inspector (causing one to wonder why applicants aren't, you know, screened) and apparently found not much to justify his preformed judgments. "On Meeting Our Meat"

It's a tough job, but somebody wants to do it
Check out the picture of this rancher carrying what looks to be a darned big calf through a darned heavy snow storm.

How to cook a steak. (If you're in New York City)
Since they've got no mesquite in the big Apple, this system looked ok to us until he sacrileged it with the sauce junk

Two views on guest workers
Slate has a piece on the proposed immigration bill that strikes us as spot on. Limiting guest workers makes no sense.

On the other hand, folks like Phyllis Schafly says let the immigrants eat cake.

The running iron fails again
Another cow thief story; another example of why brands work.

NAMA likes BQA    
In case you haven't followed it, the Beef Quality Audit is back in the news, and, in fact, took a big award from the agrimarketers.

Feeling the pain
A Colorado rancher deals with high costs and no rain

More drought stories

NCBA joins the legal challenge to the EPA's greenhouse gas power grab

The Swedes are checking out a new e. Coli O157 vaccine

A hopeful report on how some ranchers are cashing in on prairie chickens.

More CAFO hate from Iowa

China's bird flu problem

Germans like red meat more than Americans do

Oklahoma State University's new steak

Here's a report from a would be vegan

Does illegal use of clenbuterol result in false positive drug tests for athletes?

Wrapping Up COOL Comments

Apr 15, 2013

USDA's Ag Marketing Service wound up with 913 comments before it closed the comment period on it's proposed rule change on  Country of Origin Labeling, and it looks like opponents gained a little toward the end.

In fact, it looks like maybe the free traders within the industry may have eeked out a plurality. (Consumers who commented were uniformly supportive of the rule change.) Here's a quick sampling:

NCBA's explanation of it's opposition

R-Calf's news release on why it is working with consumerist and environmental activists to support the changes:

Among the general comments, we find that the Mexican Ganaderos association "will decidely be requesting the Mexican government to move toward realiation as early and aggressivly as possible utilizing appropriate WTO resources."

Barry Becker says "yes we need this! I am very proud of my cattle I raise. we need to stop the ncba and the check off. I have 400 momma beef cow. and verry much do not like the ncba. lets get real cool lets do it now."

James Keller allows: "We are a Kansas ranching family with a cow/calf operation along with a stocker operation.
We implore our government to abide by the WTO ruling and move on. We don't think anything of value has ever come from mandatory has been costly and made people in this beef industry of ours jump through a lot of hoops. In addition, our take on these new proposed rules would make things that much worse for our partners in our beef industry.Please, abide by the WTO ruling."

But, Jay Pfeifer at the Bar P Ranch needs lots of exclamation marks to express the depth of his support: "I feel we need this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here is what the proposed COOL Rule does:

  1. It provides more, and more specific information to consumers: The proposed COOL rule requires labels on muscle cuts of meat to state the country where each of the three production steps (born, raised, and slaughtered) occurred. For example, if an animal was born and raised in Canada and slaughtered in the U.S., the label would state "Born and Raised in Canada, Slaughtered in the United States." If the muscle cut of meat is exclusively of U.S. origin, the label would state "Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the United States." This requirement addresses the WTO claim that COOL discriminates against foreign cattle because not enough information is passed on to consumers.
  2. It eliminates the loophole that currently allows exclusively U.S. muscle cuts to be mislabeled as if they were of mixed origin: The proposed COOL rule would prohibit meatpackers from using a multiple-country label on muscle cuts that are from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.
  3. It addresses the negative WTO ruling without ceding the United States' sovereign right to pass and enforce laws that require retailers to inform consumers about the origins of their food."

The note from Charlie Bradbury of Nolan Ryan Beef explains how COOL forces his company to avoid Mexican cattle fed in the U.S, and might well serve as "exhibit A" in the Ganadero's WTO challenge.

Pamela Leighton-Burwell's take seemed about par for consumer reaction: "Every consumer needs to know that the products they are purchasing are genuine, pure, unadulterated genetically and safe for consumption. The proposed Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling rules are a good start. Strengthen and approve them."

(Do not, by the way, blame the Grazers for all those typos and grammatical mistakes. They are copy-paste sic)

So now, USDA has to make its decision. Our bet: They institute the rules and let the WTO do its thing.

Best Burger show
Reality TV is not always that great, but let's all try to tune into this "best burger" thing tonight.

Missouri's right-to-farm amendment
Gets pro and con treatment in the Joplin paper

"Molecule of heart disease"
This is a scary study indicating there may be some sort of bacterial reaction with red meat that contributes to heart disease. But it's one study and it certainly doesn't offset the thousands of studies proving the importance of red meat in the diet.

More access to Japan?
Perhaps the most portentious news of the week, for beef producers, is the indication that Japan may be willing to accept a lot more beef in order to get involved with the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Janan Times

Immigration reform
Seems to be moving forward, check out these stories and columns from:
Time's Swampland
New York Times "The Caucus" blog
Washington Post
The Leaf Chronicle 

"Copped out" in Australia
They've got the same drought problem much of the U.S. has, but a much more entertaining way of talking about it. A bit abashed, we admit to having had to look up the term "agistment." It means they're shipping cattle to greener pastures.

Speaking of Australia, they've got a new certification program going.

Other News:

--Steve Cornett

Rich Guys and Ranchland

Apr 08, 2013

Rich guys and ranchland
Forbes has a nice story  about rich guys buying up ranch land and it includes a list of 25 properties you might consider if you're looking to expand.

It talks about "boutique ranches," which would those that offer 1% to 2% returns. With the current investment climate, that's pretty good stuff and one reason land prices have been so silly the last few years.

We can wring our hands about this--these bajillionaires are not always as good as the neighbors they replace--or we can see it for what it is: opportunity in another guise. Once the new wears off, these guys will need management and renters--and that provides rich promise for young people. They may never be big land owners themselves but there are tons of absentee-owned land  looking for good management.

New Mexico's "Worst year ever"
Drought news from  New Mexico.

Eat it. Like it.
The Des Moines register has a pretty balanced look at the problems with the Obama administration's effort to change Americans' long-term eating habits through school lunch programs.

Deep thoughts from Hollywood
You'll certainly want to review the thoughts of actor Ryan Gosling who has been educated about dehorning by no less an authority than PETA.

Poultry conquers the burger joints
So when you think of places like McDonalds and Burger King, you think of hamburgers, right? Wrong. Think  chicken. The number of chicken offerings surpasses the number of burger offerings at the big chains and, according to this article, it's getting worse. Changing tastes and beef prices to blame.

"Sacrosanct" horses "absurd"
The Yakama Nation would like to kill some its horses and their spokesman has a point

Better living without chemistry
The NRDC honors a pig farmer.

Other news
North Dakota will test Idaho cattle.

Our own Sara Brown offers some good advice to Missouri cattle growers.

COOL argument from Reuters

The comments are of interest on this  story about public lands ranchers' winning a battle in their ongoing war with BLM and activists over wild horses. The comments, as of this writing, lead one to remember the saws about winning battles and winning wars.

Oregon voters may have turned down marijuana legalization last year, but that doesn't keep their elected representatives from wanting to honor a microbe responsible for a more socially acceptable recreational drug.

More cows for NY

The organization formerly known as the Texas A&M Extension service is considering ways to get heifers cycling sooner. One of these days the drought will lift and we'll need knowledge about those things maybe.

What America needs is more sand on the beaches, more stars in the skies and more packing plants. Good luck to these guys, but they sure are getting into a tough business.

Turns out that when PETA folks say animals and humans are ethically equivalent, it's good they don't take in orphans.

The NY Times Ken Bittman continues his crusade against taste buds.

There has been much talk about the GMO rider in the spending bill. As you might guess, Mother Jones writers don't like it.

A Ruinous Shutdown Averted

Apr 01, 2013

A more accurate story
There has been quite a bit of coverage on the way congress prevented the meat inspectors' furloughs. Most credit the "powerful meat packers' lobby." This Washington Post piece is the first one we found that makes any effort to explain how ruinous a shutdown would have been for the cattle industry.

A breed of tail enders
Here's a nice bit of Florida cattle history. Looking at the cow explains a lot about where that one or two tail enders come from in order buyers' loads. Turns out they've just been trying to keep a historical breed alive all these years.

No wonder they call it the "show me state."
For cattlemen in much of the U.S., branding cattle comes as natural as coveting good horses, but it sounds like the folks in Missouri may have got a bit too trusting. They showed up by the "hundreds" to be shown how to freeze brand cattle.

On the good news side of the Missouri cow thievery business, they've charged a couple of guys who forgot to smile at the camera.

And in Montana
The Crow tribe buys back a ranch.

Muzzled heelers?
The animal rights movement keeps making progress and it's worrisome. Still, this story makes you wonder if a the neighbor's "almost trained" heeler would still cause wrecks if you required muzzles.

More inspections

The Office of Inspector General thinks the way to make food safer is to inspect more of it.

Eat like a caveman?
This paleo dietician lady says we don't have to eat bugs and worms just because our ancestors did.

Antibiotic resistance
This smoking gun take on research strikes us as a bit more smoke than gun. But it's a technique that might provide some answers some day.

EQIP attack
Should federal money help feeders keep the environment clean?





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