Jul 28, 2014
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January 2014 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. 

He Licks His Shoes! A Mother’s Organic Dilemma

Jan 31, 2014

Sometimes reality is the best teacher, and when reality yanks someone away from the herd mentality of the anti-modern agriculture movement, we like to give them kudos. Such is the case with Melinda Wenner Moyer, a science writer based in Cold Spring, N.Y. who writes a parenting advice column for Slate.com. Like a lot of moms, Moyer vowed to feed her newborn son only organic, despite the increased cost. Now, a couple of years later, she's asking herself, "I can't help but wonder whether giving my son organic food really makes a difference to his health, considering that he's been known to lick the bottom of his shoes." To find the answer, Moyer talked to toxicologists, horticulturists, risk experts and nutritionists. "What I've discovered has totally surprised me—let's just say I'm going to be a little more relaxed about what I serve kid No. 2." Her research dispels much of what she assumed about organic farming and the expensive food she bought for her son. Thanks Melinda!


$1 Billion Per Page

That's the cost of the new $956 billion farm bill that has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. The Washington Post calls on President Obama to veto the bill since it "gives to the rich and takes from the poor." But even Grist.org's Nathanael Johnson sees some silver linings in this farm bill. For instance, most environmental groups dislike farm subsidies, but they supported this farm bill because it "contains so many good conservation programs." The greenies were happy that crop insurance subsidies were tied to stewardship so farmers can only qualify for the payments if they are following conservation rules. Meanwhile, livestock groups are angry that Congress didn't address problems they see with country of origin labeling regulations in the farm bill. Once it became clear COOL would continue, Canadian officials threatened action. Canada says COOL costs them about $1 billion a year, and Canada's Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz believes that by "refusing to fix country-of-origin labelling, the US is effectively legislating its own citizens out of work."


Scientists Tell Grazing Deniers Cows Aren't the Problem

Eliminating grazing won't reduce the impact of climate change. In fact, grazing animals can actually help "mitigate some of the effects of climate change." That bit of common sense comes from 27 western U.S. scientists who work for nine universities and the USDA. Cows, they remind us, have no influence on the amount of snow pack on western ranges, but they can help reduce "the herbaceous vegetation that becomes fine fuel on rangelands," said co-author Dave Bohnert, Oregon State University. The authors also pointed out that some criticism of grazing has been based on decades-old studies, when the scars of unfettered foraging were still fresh on the landscape.


National Closes Brawley, CA, Plant

National Beef Packing Company announced plans to close its beef processing facility located in Brawley, California as a result of declining fed cattle supplies. The last day of production is expected to be April 4, 2014. Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka says while overall cattle supplies are declining in the U.S., "the situation has been worse in California with the drought." Coupled with Cargill's closure of the Plainview, TX, plant last year, U.S. packing capacity will be cut by 6 percent within 12 months.

Super Bowl Features Romance on the Ranch

Jan 30, 2014

You'll want to watch the first quarter of Sunday's Super Bowl when Chevrolet debuts its 60-second commercial for their Silverado HD trucks. (Here's the link in case you can't wait for the game.)
The spot continues the "hard-working" theme that past ads have featured only this one ends with a light-hearted twist. Titled "Romance," the video introduces us to a cowboy in the process of picking up a new Hereford bull described as "a very eligible bachelor." The handsome cowboy stops for a barbeque lunch before driving out to the ranch where he unloads the bull into a pen with four attractive young Hereford females. Music from the 1970s hit "You Sexy Thing" plays over the video of the moment the bull and heifers appear to have discovered love at first sight.
The ad represents a huge investment for Chevy and all Super Bowl advertisers. This year a 30-second spot sells for a cool $4 million, and average production costs are about $1 million. Is it worth it? Rob Siltanen, founder and chief creative officer of Siltanen & Partners, a Los Angeles-based advertising agency, makes the case that Super Bowl ads are a bargain.


Drone Helps Send Rancher to Jail

We've all met a few cranky farmers or ranchers in our time, but one North Dakota rancher's attitude has secured his place in history. Rodney Brossart's disagreement with a neighbor over some stray cows escalated to the point law enforcement became involved and a 16-hour armed standoff ensued. A U.S. Border Patrol Predator drone was used to locate Brossart and his three sons and they were arrested, making them the first Americans collared with the help of a drone, according to U.S. News & World Report. Brossart tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that there was no warrant for the drone surveillance, but a federal judge rejected his motion. Brossart will serve 6 months in jail for "terrorizing police," and his sons were placed on probation. "This case should never have happened," the judge said. "Chalk it up to stubbornness, to stupidity, to being at odds with your neighbors or any combination of those." Agreed. Next time just send the cows home.


 

Squirrels Threaten Infrastructure, Cows Could Help

So you won't run out of things to worry about, Eugene K. Chow makes the case that squirrels are a bigger threat to America's power grid than computer hackers. Lawmakers and security officials repeatedly warn us that a cyberattack is a real danger for which we must prepare. Chow's research, however, suggests squirrels and tree branches are more troublesome than hackers. His research found squirrels caused at least 50 power outages across the country during a four-month span last year, including a two-day span in June when four squirrel-related incidents left more than 18,000 homes in the dark. If squirrels or terrorists knock the power out, cows might help provide an alternative. Argentine scientists say they've found a way to transform cow gas into fuel using a system of valves and pumps to channel the digestive gases through a tube and into a tank. The scientists say each cow emits between 250 and 300 liters of pure methane a day, enough energy to keep a refrigerator running for 24 hours, or until the squirrels go away.


Veggie Vending Machine

We have seen the future of the vending machine and chips and sodas are on the way out. That is, if Luke Saunders' invention becomes mainstream. His "kiosk" dispenses fresh salads and snacks, not junk foods with the help of a touch screen. We think it's a great idea, but we see one problem – the machine must be restocked every day to keep the salads and other ingredients crisp. Junk food makers solved that problem years ago with monosodium glutamate, but that's probably not an option for Saunders.

Factory Farm of Dumb Questions

Jan 29, 2014

NFL players have started calling media day at the Super Bowl the "factory farm of dumb questions." Since we routinely poke fun at the stupid things people do that make news on the Net, let's take a moment to honor the stupidity of some paid journalists. At yesterday's media day, for instance, Broncos' linebacker Shaun Phillips was asked, "Is this a must-win game?"
But that question probably doesn't make the top 10 all-time dumbest. John Elway was asked, "Are you going to watch Stevie Wonder perform at halftime?" Emmitt Smith was asked, "What are you going to wear in the game Sunday?" Heath Irwin, who played for the Patriots representing the AFC, was asked, "Would you like to see the AFC win the Super Bowl?"


Farm Bill Fallout

It was touted as a bipartisan agreement, but the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Democratic Chairwoman voted differently. The agreement on a new five-year farm bill came Monday, hailed by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) as a bill "that makes sense." Here’s the $956 billion farm bill in one graph. The proposal angered livestock groups, however, since the new bill did nothing to address the problems created by country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations. Earlier this week, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other groups vowed to oppose the bill. "We're going to work it hard." They apparently already have support from Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts who tweeted, "I did not sign the 2014 Farm Bill conference report. I cannot march backwards and deliver more spending, more regulations and more waste." You can read the entire 959 pages of the bill here.


Waning or Waxing? The Werewolf Diet

If your farming roots can be traced back to ancient times – like before cell phones – you likely know a little about checking the Old Farmer's Almanac for favorable planting dates. Ancient farmers noticed that different plants grow better when planted during different phases of the moon, and that knowledge was passed along for centuries. Can the same reasoning be applied to dieting? The folks promoting the Werewolf Diet think so, but dieticians and health professionals say it's just another fad diet. The diet is based on the theory that since the moon's gravitational pull influences the tides of the ocean it will do the same to the water in our bodies. (Wait, it gets better.) The diet calls for fasting during the full moon, with specific eating plans for the various other phases of the moon. During the waning moon dieters are told not to eat after 6 p.m. when moon light starts to become visible. If you haven't already concluded the Werewolf Diet is mere snake oil, consider that websites promoting the plan warn that it's not safe to stay on the diet more than 6 days. Case closed.


Aussies Fear Developing El Nino

An El Nino weather pattern is developing in the eastern Pacific, and that has Australian farmers and ranchers worried. The El Nino phenomenon – a warming of the Pacific waters – causes drought in Australia and parts of Asia while bringing rains to South America. It's been almost five years since the last event, which typically occurs every two to seven years, according to Indonesia's Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

Fast-and-Loose with the Truth

Jan 28, 2014

We've heard "perception is reality," but now Chipotle Mexican Grill wants consumers to believe "fiction is reality." If that sounds confusing, so will the details about Chipotle's newest campaign, "Farmed and Dangerous." It's described as an "original comedy series that satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America." Well, it is original, but we see nothing resembling comedy in the campaign. In fact, we're offended that Chipotle again stoops to the lowest level by attacking and defaming agriculture to sell its over-priced burritos. Chipotle touts its products as "food with integrity." We wish they had the same commitment to integrity regarding their promotion and advertising. "Much of our marketing is aimed at making consumers more curious about where their food comes from," Mark Crumpacker, the chief marketing officer at Chipotle says in a news release. Sorry, Mark, we don't believe playing fast-and-loose with the truth about modern agriculture is an effective marketing strategy.


COOL Fight will Continue

Livestock groups said Monday they will "actively oppose final passage of the farm bill" if Congress doesn't fix country of origin labeling regulations that have the United States in a jackpot with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Six of the nation's largest livestock producer organizations sent a letter to Agriculture Committee leaders expressing "deep disappointment" that a WTO-compliant resolution to mandatory COOL was not reached, particularly "in the face of retaliatory actions by the governments of Mexico and Canada." The compromise farm bill could come up for a vote as early as Wednesday as key lawmakers from both parties announced an agreement Monday. One new provision that survived the congressional haggling is California's egg law, which would require all eggs sold in California will have been laid by hens that have plenty of room to flap their wings.


Judge: Climatologist can Sue Skeptics

Mark Steyn thinks the whole global warming thing is a hoax, and he's not afraid to say so. Steyn, who occasionally fills in as host for Rush Limbaugh's radio show, finds himself in a legal pickle. He's being sued by climate scientist Michael Mann, a leading authority on climate change, for libel and defamation. Mann is a public figure, and thus must clear a high bar to prove defamation in court. The first hurdle was cleared this week, however, when a judge ruled his suit can go forward against the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for comparing Mann to convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, and calling Mann a scientific fraud. The article in the National Review, written by Steyn, was said to trivialize both pedophilia and the climate crisis. Further, Steyn's lawyers quit when their client accused the former judge in the case of "stupidity" and "staggering" incompetence.


Zace the Great – Heirloom Veggies and Denim

We're always grazing for stories about hard-working folks who are successful doing things others say can't be done. Zace Myers is one of those folks. He's an organic farmer by day and an indie blue jean maker by night. Grist calls him a "bold example of diversification, sustainability, and DIY innovation: Understanding the need for duds that can withstand hard agricultural labor, he created a line of durable work clothes for farmers." Marketed under the name "Zace The Great Overall Company," Myers says "there's nothing more American than denim."

 

Meat and Biofuels Unsustainable, U.N. Says

Jan 27, 2014

A new report from the United Nations says we're using the available land improperly. If we hope to feed the 9.2 billion people that are expected to inhabit Earth by the year 2050, we'll need to eliminate biofuels and drastically cut our consumption of meat. Ouch! Those are two ideas that won't play well in middle America. Specifically, the U.N. thinks too much land is used to produce meat and consumption should be reduced by 60%. Additionally, they say the food and fuel markets should be "decoupled," which means we shouldn't be growing crops for biofuels when the land could be used to feed people. The U.N. says "we need to become more efficient in the ways we produce, supply and consume our land-based products."


Cattle Markets: Another Record Week

Cash fed cattle traded an astonishing $5 to $6 per cwt. higher last week, likely pushing average feedyard profits past the $200 per head mark. Packers are making money, too. How long can this bull run last? That's the question on everyone's mind this week after a slightly bearish Cattle on Feed report issued Friday. Feedyards are likely trying to pull cattle forward this week hoping to cash in on record-high prices. Packers may have benefitted last week from retailers needing to restock meat cases, but most expect this week to find lower boxed beef prices.


California Ranchers Cope with Drought

California's drought has reached historic proportions and ranchers are forced to sell their cattle. January is usually a slow time for auction markets on California's Central Coast, but receipts are up sharply this year as the dry conditions and high feed prices have left ranchers with no alternative. Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for the state nearly two weeks ago and asked residents to voluntarily commit to a 20% water reduction.


Monsanto's New "Super Veggies"

Even some of the most ardent anti-GMO diehards admit there's a "gaping lack of evidence" genetically modified foods are dangerous to your health. Still, they've managed to convince a large segment of consumers they should be worried. So, what do you do if your one of the largest suppliers of GMO technology? Develop non-GMO alternatives, of course. Monsanto has used crossbreeding to develop lettuce, peppers, broccoli and onions that will soon be in a store near you. Ironically, Monsanto's experience and knowledge gained from developing chemical and pest resistance corn and soybeans helped researchers develop the new "super veggies."

Cabin Fever and Terminal Stupidity

Jan 24, 2014

Each year about this time we begin to long for spring. We're just tired of short days, cold temperatures and that nasty wind. Our cabin fever is made worse by our attempts to find a distraction through consumption of what passes for news on TV. Note these headlines: "Justin Bieber throws eggs at neighbor's house." Stupid. "Justin Bieber is arrested for DUI while speeding in a yellow Lamborghini." Terminally stupid. "Bieber could have his work visa pulled and deported back to Canada." Halleluiah! Less famous youth in Texas are giving law enforcement extra headaches as they constantly steal street signs from Copperhead Road. Made famous by the Steve Earle song of the same name, Copperhead Road signs have been stolen multiple times during the last two months. But the sheriff has suspects, thanks to surveillance video. Pssst. Note to thieves. Cameras are small and inexpensive. The cops can put them pretty much anywhere these days.


The Toll of the Anti-Vaxxers

Ignoring scientific facts has consequences. And there's no greater tragedy than a child that suffers from a disease that is preventable. That's evident from a graphic depiction of the toll of the anti-vaccination movement published in the Los Angeles Times. A Council on Foreign Relations interactive map of "vaccine-preventable outbreaks" worldwide 2008-2014 shows the prevalence of diseases such as measles and whooping cough. Reluctance by parents to vaccinate their children in the U.S. partly stems from the thoroughly debunked theory that some vaccines can cause autism. The vaccine-autism link is hogwash, but the anti-vaccine movement has produced a shocking incidence of whooping cough and other diseases to which children are suffering.
More on the unsavory history of the vaccine-autism 'link.'


Images Show Devastating Drought

California is in a state of emergency. The drought is the worst on record, and these two satellite images show the destruction. Scientists have warned that as bad as the drought is now, it could get worse. The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows California and Nevada in extreme drought, with other parts of the West, Southwest and Central Plains still under the grips of abnormally dry conditions.


 

Brazilian Ranch has Dark History

Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II we're still discovering bits of history that shock us. This week we learned that Nazi sympathizers once owned a farm in Brazil that was used as a labor camp for abandoned, non-white children. Jose Ricardo Rosa Maciel, who works on the farm, discovered bricks engraved with swastikas and a history professor began to dig into the ranch's history. They even found documentation that cows were branded with the swastika symbol. The existence of the labor camp was confirmed by a former captive, 90-year-old Aloysio da Silva.

Checkoff Deniers

Jan 23, 2014

Cattle prices may be at an all-time high, but that doesn't seem to soothe the vocal minority against the Beef Checkoff. The program was initiated nearly 30 years ago, and its most visible component is the "Beef. It's What’s For Dinner" advertising and promotion campaign. But your checkoff dollars support many other programs that have proven valuable, such as new product research and issues management strategies that let the industry respond with a solid, unified voice. The dollar collected by the checkoff buys about half what it did when the program began in 1985, and cattle are worth at least three times what they were then. Still, checkoff deniers are convinced our industry would be better off if the checkoff went the way of the horse and buggy. We—along with about three-quarters of producers who support the checkoff, according to surveys—disagree.


Most Obese Jobs

Some jobs just tend to make workers gain weight. A recent study of 37,000 people in Washington State finds that truck drivers have the highest prevalence of obesity, followed closely by those in protective services such as firefighters. Workers in the medical field—doctors, veterinarians and dentists—had the lowest prevalence of obesity. Farmers? About in the middle with just over 22% called obese.


Fear Factor for Calves

Living in fear tends to lower calf weights. Seems logical, and that's what a recent University of Montana study confirmed. When wolves live on the same landscape with cattle there's no effect on herd weight. But once the wolves kill a calf average calf weights decrease by about 22 pounds. The researchers concluded the average loss per ranch was about $6,679.


Sloth Poop Mystery Solved

Scientific research is vital, but sometimes we scratch our heads at the projects some scientists undertake. For instance, we now know why three-toed sloths—native to Central and South America—only come down out of the trees about every three weeks to poop, and why that's important for the ecosystem. Jonathan Pauli, a biologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spent a lot of time studying sloths and their dung, and he has answers to all the questions you ever had about sloth poop patterns.

Vegan Warnings

Jan 22, 2014

We haven't considered becoming a vegan, but this headline intrigued us: "12 Things You Need to Know Before Going Vegan." We've all heard claims from the vegetarian folks about how much healthier we'll be once we swear off eating meat. But about half of this list contains warnings, such as the fact that "you'll likely need a B12 supplement," and "maybe an iron supplement, too." But this warning threw our sarcastic tendencies into overdrive: "You'll have to find new sources of protein." Really? So, some of you people never considered this before? Actually, we regularly switch protein sources. Monday it's hamburger, Tuesday brisket, Wednesday is for pot roast....


Weather and Climate Warnings

More than 80 million people were in the path of the storm that dumped the heaviest snowfall of the season on the Northeast, with more than a foot falling in some areas. That storm moved up the Atlantic seaboard about the same time the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data that 2013 was tied for the fourth warmest year on record around the world.
The average world temperature was 58.12 degrees, tying with 2003 for the fourth warmest since 1980. The hottest year was 2010. Scientists also warn that our changing climate could double the possibility of "super" El Niños. El Niño refers to a pattern of unusually warm water stretching across the surface of eastern equatorial Pacific that occurs every 3-7 years, and the phenomenon has been credited with creating weather disasters around the world.


Ranking the Greatest Fats

There's a list for everything, right? The worst Presidents, the greatest baseball hitters, and movies like "Bucket List." So why not fats? Josh Ozersky has written on his carnivorous exploits for magazines, authored several books and is the founder of the Meatopia food festival. Who better to develop a list of the "7 Greatest Fats – Ranked?" Ozersky believes "there is an eternal hierarchy of Seven Great Greases, as I have come to think of them."


Bee Colony Collapse Linked to Virus

A new study claims a rapidly mutating virus that leaped from plants to honeybees is reproducing and contributing to the collapse of bee colonies. Tobacco ringspot virus, a pollen-borne pathogen that causes blight in soy crops, was found during routine screening of commercial honeybees by USDA.

PETA Brings "Sand to the Beach"

Jan 21, 2014

You have to give those silly folks at PETA credit for one thing, they keep the pot stirred. This week they directed attention to a Chicago restaurant and butcher shop called Publican Quality Meats by placing an anti-meat billboard directly across the street. The billboard includes a pig's face and the words "You can live without those ribs. I can't ... Try Vegan." Cosmo Goss, Publican's chef and head butcher said on Facebook, "We choose to eat meat ... (the animals) are slaughtered as humanely and painlessly as possible. But they ARE slaughtered. There is a death." One Publican customer said, "It's kind of like bringing sand to the beach, nobody's gonna buy [PETA's message] because everybody's come down here to eat meat."


"Expired" Food is Treasure

One man's trash is another man's food. At least that's what the former president of Trader Joe's hopes – he's planning to launch a store that only sells food another store has thrown away. In May, Doug Rauch plans to open The Daily Table, part grocery store and part café which will specialize in healthy, inexpensive food and the target audience are the underserved population in Dorchester, Mass. Rauch plans to collect and sell food that has exceeded its "sell-by" date, rendering it unsellable in other stores.


Marathon Aussie Cow Drive

We've been on a cow drive or two in our time, but our experience pales in comparison to the six-month drive currently in progress in Australia. Bill Little and his crew of Aussie cowboys are nearing the end of a 1,200 mile drive that's moving an amazing 18,000 head of cattle. The Wall Street Journal says that number "easily surpasses the U.S. record for the number of cattle in a single drive of 10,652 animals set at the T Anchor Ranch in the Texas Panhandle in 1882." Little has been entertained by some of the folks who have joined the ride, like the "two pretty blonde girls from the Netherlands. They got a sore bum and lasted a day."


Get Your Daily "Nature Exposure"

Here's research you can appreciate – even if you think the studies were a waste of money to confirm some common sense. Salon.com is reporting that humans "thrive when we have frequent exposure to nature." I’m guessing they didn't look into how city folks would thrive on one of your morning "nature exposures" to feed your cows this winter. But researchers have decided that people are kinder and more charitable "after looking at nature scenes," and office workers can relieve stress by a "mere glimpse of green through a window." So now you can label your daily chores a health benefit because they are "nature exposure."

The World According to Wayne

Jan 20, 2014

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote us a letter. Well, not directly to us, but to all ag journalists to let us know he's not all that happy about our coverage of HSUS. In fact, Wayne gives America's ag media a little advice about how to do our jobs, because he's disappointed in "the tone of coverage." Actually, the column was not aimed so much at ag journalists as it was another angle to spew propaganda about HSUS to the masses. We know because it was published on the Huffington Post, which is ... well, probably the last place ag journalists go for professional improvement help. Nice try, Wayne, but we're not buying your shtick.


They Don't Eat Gravy?!

There are dozens of things we don't understand about vegetarians, but just to make sure we prioritize them correctly, here's "10 things Only Vegetarians Understand." Which made us realize one fact we hadn't considered before – they don't eat gravy! Makes sense, of course, as any good gravy is made in a cast iron skillet after cooking an animal protein. Have we mentioned before that we're gravy connoisseurs? We like brown gravy, white gravy, thick gravy and runny gravy. We've eaten some bad gravy before, but most of it we made ourselves.


Cattle Prices Set New Records

It's another great week to be in the cattle business as prices for just about everything set new record highs. Last week's market surge was driven by sharply higher boxed beef prices as retailers look to fill their inventories. USDA's Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says the "feeder cattle market balloon continues to drift farther out of sight." Stocker operators are thinking about grass cattle already, but the calendar says winter still has two months left.


"Guess Who's Coming to America?"

America's economy is strengthening, which is good news for those of us selling beef. But the improvements in our economy mean more than just spending power for consumers, it also means more people want to live in America. Consumer data from UniGroup Relocation, the international arm of the United Van Lines, says 15% more people moved into the U.S. than left the country, which is up 7% from 2012. Where those new immigrants are coming from may surprise you, but they're not coming hoping to find work. They already have employment, many with high-paid jobs in corporate management. Among Americans who relocated from one state to another, Oregon was the top destination, replacing Washington, D.C., which held the top spot the previous five years.

Remote-Controlled Cattle Checking

Jan 17, 2014

Could you imagine checking your herd from the comfort of your living room? Farmers in Missouri recently got the chance to take a closer look at drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, and how they could be used in the field. During the annual Lawrence County Soils and Crops Conference, state soybean specialist Bill Wiebold showed farmers how the drones operate and discussed the legal issues that come with using them. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was the cattlemen at the conference who took a shine to the unmanned airplanes. Jim McCann, president of the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, said using a drone to check his 500-head of cattle would be a "wonderful time saver," especially when the weather is bad. There's even an iPhone app that can stream live video from the drone to your phone. So put away your rain slicker and hang up your hat—for roughly $1,300, you could have eyes on your herd without even having to put your boots on.


Beef Checkoff Brawl

Rancher groups in North Dakota are butting heads over their Beef Checkoff dollars. The North Dakota Stockmen's Association plans to ask the state legislature next year to double the current $1-per-head checkoff fee, which hasn't been changed since 1985. However, the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota—a group that was formed nearly a decade ago by ranchers unhappy with the Stockmen's Association—says the checkoff increase should be agreed upon nationwide, and not by a single state. Regardless of how the politics pan out, Stockmen's Association president Jason Zahn got one thing right: "Attacks on beef and beef production practices are increasing, and the needs of our industry to educate consumers and promote our product continue to grow."


Could We Get That with a Side of Gator-Sticks?

We don't mind a little creativity in the kitchen, but Evan's Neighborhood Pizza in Fort Myers, Fla., is taking locally sourced ingredients to a new level. Enter "The Everglades" pizza, a pie featuring none other than fresh python meat. Is your mouth watering yet? Apparently, the pie was invented as a response to Florida's burgeoning python population and pizza joint owner Evan Daniell says they are "selling them left and right." The pizza costs about $45, and toppings include other swampy delicacies such as alligator and frog. We're sure swamp critters make fine pizza toppings, but we'll continue to stick with pepperoni—at least it's made with beef.


It's Not the Fast Food, It's…the Food

You've heard it all before: Our nation—and more importantly, our children—are suffering from an "obesity epidemic," and fast food is primarily to blame. Only, it's not. At least, that's what a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is saying. Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that a child who regularly eats foods high in saturated fats and sugars at home is more likely to be overweight or obese than one who eats more fruits, vegetables and leaner proteins. This, regardless of how frequently either child frequents fast-food restaurants. We're glad these researchers were able to verify what common sense has told us all along. So go ahead—buy your kid the occasional Happy Meal. Just make sure you get them a cheeseburger, not the chicken nuggets.


Whale Meat Beer

Some dreams die before they are ever realized. Case in point: An Icelandic brewery owner is "disappointed" after his whale-meat beer was banned. The beer, made with whale meat byproducts and oil, was to be released in time for a mid-winter festival in honor of the Norse god Thor. But alas, Thor's hammer came crashing down. It turned out that the brewery had partnered with a whaling company that didn't have a license to produce whale meat.

The Case for an Antibiotic Tax

Jan 16, 2014

The discussion—or rather, debate/argument—over the use of antibiotics in livestock continues to be a heated topic. However, you must admit that it is a topic that deserves some serious attention. Brad Plumer with the Washington Post dives into some of the arguments and proposed "fixes" in the on-going war on antimicrobials. Plumer highlights the proposed "case for an antibiotic tax," where a "user fee" would be attached to antibiotics. The logic is that if farmers have to pay additional fees, and these fees impact their bottom-line, then farmers and ranchers would use less antibiotics. Naturally, our first reaction—especially given the little pie chart showing antibiotic use in livestock compared to other sectors—is that size matters. When you compare the number of animals, including their size and weight, with that of people it becomes obvious why more antibiotics are going to the livestock sector. However—and this is where Plumer gets some brownie points—he closes his article with a section entitled: "But why limit it to farms?" This caught our attention, especially when he mentions, "There's plenty of evidence that humans overuse these drugs for medical purposes, too." This is what we like to see, looking at the field from both sides of the fence. While there probably isn't a one-size-fits-all fix to this issue, at least people are talking. 


Crazy Mixed Up Weather

The United States is made up of nine distinct regional climates. While this is frustrating for those of us who rely on the weather, it also makes for some interesting meteorological developments. From Arctic Blasts to spreading droughts, it is hard to predict what will happen next. However, what we do know is that below average temps are heading into the U.S. next week and the most recent USDA drought monitor is showing that 52.57% of the U.S. is in a drought zone. It's hard to believe that with all the snow that there is still a drought in the Midwest and troubling to see that the drought in the West and Southwest is only getting worse. Well, adversity will either make or break you but you can take the hard lessons learned and adapt. Take it from Trey Patterson of the Padlock Ranch Company in Wyoming who found a way to keep grazing despite the drought.


Revoked Wieners

It's never a good day when you get your wieners revoked and that is what's happening in North Dakota. Cloverdale Foods Co. recalled 2,664 pounds of beef tube-steaks because of misbranding. Apparently, the dogs contained milk but the label did not clearly state this and milk is a well-known allergen. Thusly, the company withdrew their wieners from store shelves posthaste. 


India the New Beef Powerhouse?

Yes, we said India. You know, the place where they worship cows. Apparently, India has the largest cow population in the world, which isn't that surprising since killing and eating cows is illegal in much of India, but they do have a flourishing illegal cow beef market. However, it isn't their cow beef that's making them a major player in the industry—it's their buffalo meat. India's buffalo meat production has nearly doubled in the past three years and in 2012 they became the world's largest exported of beef—Indian buffalo meat, that is. We must admit that this article wasn't what we expected. For some reason, when we initially saw the phrase "Indian buffalo meat" Kevin Costner popped into our heads......


Oddities on Video

Because it's football season. Because sports abound in this country and nearly every other country in the world. And, because everything is better with gravy. Enjoy some English gravy wrestling. Yes, it is a real sport but you'll have to wait until this summer to participate in the World Gravy Wrestling Championship. By the way, the gravy tastes like sausages, according to one participant.

Also, because it is fun to prank and scare people, the terrifying debut of the Devil Baby.

Biobullets for Bangs Ain’t Working

Jan 15, 2014

Shooting Yellowstone bison with vaccine-laced "biobullets" to prevent brucellosis is ineffective. That's the conclusion of Yellowstone Park administrators who say about half of the 4,600 bison tested positive for brucellosis, a disease that causes cattle and bison to abort their fetuses. In 2010, a $9 million plan—paid over a 30-year period—to vaccinate the bison using absorbable vaccine-laced bullets was implemented. Now, however, officials say the program has had minimal effects and they recommend scrapping the idea. So, you think shooting bison with a vaccine gun from a helicopter sounds silly? Not when you consider that some communities over-run with deer are capturing the does and sterilizing them – surgically removing the ovaries. What does that cost? The town of Cayuga Heights, NY, spent $35,808 to sterilize a dozen does last month. That's nearly $3,000 per animal!! We think bullets are the answer, and not the vaccine-laced kind.


Ranch-Country Etiquette: How to Cook a Steak

There are certain rules of ranch-country etiquette. For instance, you always stay for supper and compliment his wife's cooking; you never criticize his dog; and you don't tell him how to cook a steak. But there's lots of folks living in America that don't know a T-bone from a chuck roast, and they're not insulted in the least by advice on how to properly cook and serve a tasty ribeye. As the founder of Uncle Jack's Steakhouse in New York, Willie Degel is something of an expert on steak, and he shares his wisdom with "Daily Shot" host Ali Wentworth.


Beet Juice Keeps the Ice Away

The roads in a small town in British Columbia, Canada, smell like a Tootsie Roll. That's what one resident says of the test project using beet juice as an anti-icing agent on roads. The area receives an average of 75 inches of snowfall each year, and local officials are searching for ways to save on the cost of winter road maintenance. Beet 55, as the product is called, is a slightly sticky mix of sugar-beet juice and saline. Officials say its brown and doesn't stain, and it smells like caramel.


Australian Heat Wave

While the U.S. struggles under the grip of freezing temperatures, Australians are battling a heat wave of historic proportions. It's the middle of summer down under, and temperatures as high as 113 Fahrenheit have the Aussies in the country's southern regions concerned about wild fires. Wednesday was the second day of a four-day heat wave forecast across southeast Australia, after temperatures reached 113 F in the capital of Adelaide, near the city's record of 115 set in 1939. Dozens of wildfires have been sparked by lightning strikes.

If You Have to Ask, You'll Never Understand

Jan 14, 2014

Did you ask yourself why you were battling zero temperatures and negative-ridiculous-something wind chills while you were feeding cattle last week? Did you consider selling them all and jumping on a plane to Cancun or Acapulco? Montana rancher Lisa Schmidt did ... but not for long. She admits the cattle she and her husband own could pay off the mortgage and send their kids to college, but then they wouldn't be ranchers, would they? If you have to ask why Lisa and other ranchers do it, you'll never understand. But Lisa does her best to explain why ranchers do what they do.


Cantankerous Cowboy

Cowboys are generally an independent bunch, and you can include Japanese cowboy Masami Yoshizawa. In fact, Yoshizawa is probably as cantankerous as any cowboy we can recall in our years of traveling cow country. That's because he's defying orders to abandon his cows around Japan's Fukishima nuclear plant that suffered major damage by a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The government wants to euthanize the cows, but Yoshizawa says he plans to stay in the radioactive wasteland and continue to care for the cattle. Kinda makes chopping ice on a cold day seem inconsequential.


Bill Would Ban Horse Slaughter

Stop the money. That's apparently how Congress intends to deal with the mavericks in New Mexico who want to open a horse slaughter facility. It's legal to slaughter horses, but the proposed budget bill specifies that no money provided by the bill can be used for salaries or expenses of personnel performing inspections of horses intended for slaughter.


 

Part 2: Beta-agonists and Cattle Feed Intake

Growing cattle that are more efficient in converting feed to muscle is a main goal in the beef industry. Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist for Kansas State University, seeks to find solutions to improve efficiency in cattle production. Reinhardt has looked specifically at how beta-agonists improve the cattle's natural ability to convert feed into more lean muscle. This story is part 2 of a two-part series on how beta-agonists and environmental factors potentially play a role in cattle fatigue and feed efficiency.

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.

PETA Protesters Take Stupid to New Level

Jan 10, 2014

PETA protesters laid an egg in Toronto. The group was on hand to protest a dairy meeting, much to the delight of Sun News broadcasters Brian Lilley and David Menzies. If you thought the PETA folks were a little wacky, two of the protesters interviewed for the segment take stupid to a new level. While protesters campaigned to let the "cows go free," Menzies asked one woman "how would the cows survive?" "That's nature's work," she replied. To which Lilley responded, "the Ontario coyotes will have a field day with that one." Another woman suggested the cows would all go to sanctuaries. Hmmm. Are there enough sanctuaries for all the cows in North America? We think so ... they're called farms.


The Face of "Big Ag"

Freelance journalist Tove K. Danovich, founder of the blog Food Politic, calls the Peterson Brothers from Kansas the "face of Big Ag." Actually, the Peterson Brothers—famous for their music video parodies such as, "I'm Farming and I Grow It," which has nearly 9 million views—are what we would call family farmers, but that's not a point of contention we have with Danovich. Indeed, we aren't directing you to this web site to nitpick about what Danovich gets wrong, but what Greg Peterson helps her get right. For instance, she asked Peterson what changes he would make to farming: "I wish people could spend as much time appreciating farmers as they do attacking our methods." If Greg is the face of "Big Ag," we'll gladly accept that.


"Where's The Beef?" Plus 30

Thirty years ago this week Clara Peller made "Where's the Beef?" a classic 1980s catchphrase, and helped boost Wendy's annual income by 31%. That all happened two years before Seattle Seahawks' running back Marshawn Lynch was born, but the team is ready to show fans "the Beef" this weekend when they offer a new giant hamburger during their playoff game with the New Orleans Saints. Lynch is known as "Beastmode," so the new burger at CenturyLink Field in Seattle is called "The Beast." With two slices of bacon, two slices of cheese, two hamburger patties, two slices of ham and 1,743 calories we think "The Beast" is a bit much, but Clara Peller would be proud.


Cows Dumped at Sea

Scandinavian officials are investigating how and why 11 dead Holsteins washed up on beaches along the Baltic coast this week. Detectives in Denmark and Sweden believe the cows were dumped from a ship sailing Baltic Sea, and they are trying to trace which livestock transports have passed through the waters separating the two countries in recent weeks. Veterinarians have found no trace of disease in the dumped animals.

Burrito Box is a New Low

Jan 09, 2014

Are we really that hungry? So hungry that we would actually drop $3 into a burrito kiosk? Apparently the Burrito Box company thinks we are. The world's first automated burrito kiosk has been stationed inside a Mobil gas station in West Hollywood, Calif.The vending machine offers five burrito flavors and will add sour cream, Tabasco sauce and guacamole for an extra fee. The burritos are also advertised as hormone- and antibiotic-free and use cage-free eggs. Seriously? Do the folks at the Burrito Box company really believe that somebody willing to buy and eat a burrito from a vending machine is so discriminating they’ll demand hormone- and antibiotic-free? This innovation is a new low for the food industry.


Gutter Oil Magnate Avoids Execution

"Gutter oil" is called one of the "most revolting substances in the culinary pantheon." We must agree after learning that it is used cooking oil from drains, sewers and trash cans which is bottled and sold to an unsuspecting public. A Chinese gutter oil dealer has avoided execution, for now, in what is described as a "suspended death sentence," which means he won’t be executed unless further crimes are committed. Seven others were sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in the case. The gutter oil scheme totaled more than $8 million in illicit sales and likely many unreported bellyaches.


Ranchers Helping Ranchers

The past few months have produced a handful of natural disasters that put some of our colleagues in the cattle business in hard times. Previously we’re reported on where you could donate to the South Dakota rancher's relief fund. Now we're alerting you to an online benefit auction that will support a Colorado Angus breeder that was hit hard by the devastating flooding last fall. Keith Russell’s homestead was left with mud and debris and he lost nearly all of his winter feed and equipment. You can view the online auction at www.disasterrelief.dvauction.com. The sale ends at noon on Jan. 25. For more information you can call DV auction at 402-316-5460.


New Cat on Broadway

Cats the musical has been off Broadway since 2000, but a new cat is gracing the marquee in Times Square and it is not dancing or singing for joy about the practices at the Humane Society of the U.S. Thanks to the folks at HumaneWatch.org visitors of New York City will become more informed on where their HSUS donations don't go: local pet shelters. The billboard at the corner of Broadway and 46th Street features a grumpy looking cat with the statement "WTF? (Where's The Funding) The Humane Society of the United States only gives 1% of its budget to local pet shelters." Maybe that statistic will make some donors hack up a hair ball.

Cold Weather Heats Up Climate Change Debate

Jan 08, 2014

When every state except Hawaii records freezing temperatures on the same day you can be sure one of the topics to thaw out will be climate change. Climate skeptics are using the record cold temperatures as an argument that climate change is not happening. One thing for sure, however, is the water shortage in California, where 2013 was recorded as the driest on record—at least since 1877. The biggest concern is the dwindling Colorado River and the reservoirs that have shrunk to less than half their capacities after 14 years of drought that scientists say is nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years.


More Taxes, Please

Cowboys in Montana's Lewis and Clark County have asked the county to raise their taxes. They presented the County Commission with a petition this week asking a tax of $1 per head be enacted on the county's 22,000 cattle to help pay for predator control. Owners representing 54% of the cattle in the county signed the petition. Twenty-three of the state's 54 counties now have taxes in place to help protect cattle from predators. The taxes will help pay expenses incurred by the Wildlife Services Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—the federal agency responsible for much of the government predator control. Michigan doesn't have a tax on cattle to help offset predator control, but some may be thinking about that option after a recent review suggests the state's taxpayers spent more than $200,000 to help an Upper Peninsula farmer protect his cattle from wolves.


Good Samaritan Rescues Calves

Mike Elder is a professional cake chef, but last week became a part-time cowboy when he rescued three calves that had fallen through the ice on a neighbor's pond. After spotting the calves in trouble, Elder raced to his rural Clinton, Missouri, home for a rope to pull the calves to safety and an axe to break the ice.


New York Throws Food in the Furnace

New York has launched a pilot program to deliver pre-processed organic food waste to Brooklyn's Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant where it will be mixed in with wastewater sludge to help boost the production of biogas, a natural byproduct of the five-step wastewater treatment process at Newtown Creek. The methane-rich biogas will then be used to heat homes and businesses across five boroughs. The city has an ambitious goal of reducing municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by the year 2017.

Cold Drives Cattle Futures Higher

Jan 07, 2014

If you're looking for a silver lining from this ridiculous cold snap, it sent cattle futures to all-time highs yesterday. Cattle traders in Chicago worried the coldest weather in 20 years would cause weight losses in feedyards, further diminishing the available supply of beef. The nearby February Live Cattle futures closed Monday at $136.82, the fourth consecutive day a new high has been posted. Dangerous wind chills and icy roads slowed cattle movement to packers and Monday's slaughter was reduced roughly 15,000 head. The freezing weather was also expected to damage crops such as winter wheat and oranges.


Book ‘em, Dano

A County Council on Hawaii's Big Island is guilty of being hoodwinked by anti-GMO activists. Even after several university scientists testified about the safety of GMOs, the County Council voted in favor of a ban on GMOs--except, of course, the GMOs that were already in use on the island that had saved the local papaya industry from extinction due to virus that was controlled with genetic engineering. That's convenient. But Councilman Greggor Ilagan is no hypocrite. He spent a lot of time studying GMOs in an effort to cast his vote in the best way to serve his constituents. With the GMO bill, he often despaired of assembling the information he needed to definitively decide. Every time he answered one question, it seemed, new ones arose.


 

Is it Kobe or is it Not?

Kobe beef from Japan has a reputation as one of the finest beef products in the world, and it's really expensive. Unfortunately, when something becomes very expensive it invites people to market products that are similar but not quite the real thing. Two years ago, Terry Olmsted wrote "Food's Biggest Scam: The Great Kobe Beef Lie," which told Forbes readers the truth, that Japanese Kobe beef could not be purchased in the United States. Olmsted is back with some new truths about Kobe beef. A small amount has been shipped to the U.S., but he notes that only 10% of the beef from the 3,900 Kobe animals are offered for export. That means there's not much available here, and it's likely to be really, really expensive.


Brazilian Beef Impact on World Trade

A proposed plan to allow Brazil to ship fresh beef to the U.S. appears unlikely to threaten market prices here. That's because such imports would be subject to quota limits. The impact of Brazilian imports to other countries, however, could have a huge impact on world beef trade dynamics. For instance, if China and Saudi Arabia opened their markets to Brazilian beef, the impact on Australia would be significant since the Aussies moved in to fill the void when Brazilian beef was banned in those countries in 2012 due to a reported case of mad cow disease, or BSE.

Free-Range Cheerios

Jan 06, 2014

Remember when Coca-Cola changed its recipe and became Classic Coke, which became a classic fail in marketing? The folks at General Mills have just launched a marketing/public relations campaign for Cheerios cereal that in our view is the total opposite of Classic Coke. In other words, it's a winner without significant changes to the product. General Mills announced they will no longer make Cheerios with GMOs, which will earn style points from the anti-GMO crowd, but it's mostly a PR move that will have little impact on anything--including General Mills' financial report. The company could just as easily have declared Cheerios as "free-range." That's because Cheerios are mostly GMO-free anyway, since the main ingredient in the product is oats. All General Mills need do to make Cheerios GMO-free is change the sourcing of cornstarch and sugar. The company conveniently neglected to change the recipe of its other cereals to become GMO-free, likely because those other products--such as Multigrain Cheerios--have primary ingredients sourced from corn, which contain GMOs.


Crop Circle Hoax

Aliens did not create the crop circle etched in a farmer's barley field in Chualar, California. And neither did D.B. Cooper. Sunday night at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Jen-Hsun Huang, the CEO of a computer graphics company, revealed it was the work of his company's marketing team. The stunt worked, drawing free media attention to the new Tegra K1 graphics chip. The farmer who owns the field, however--apparently tired of the fuss and the traffic the crop circle was drawing--had the field mowed last week.


Frigid Weather for Cows

Brrrrr!! It's cold all over cattle country, but it's just part of winter chores for ranchers. South Dakota ranchers are receiving a little more attention after the freak October blizzard killed about 20,000 cattle. This week's weather is different, but with feed, water and a place to get out of the wind, ranchers like Bob Fortune of Belvidere think there cattle will be just fine.


Texas Ranchers Hope to Rebuild

Texas ranchers would like to start rebuilding their cow herds, but Mother Nature is not cooperating in much of West Texas. The state already lost 15% of its cattle to drought--about 2 million animals--between January 2011 and January 2013. Those ranchers are now interested in rebuilding again, but it will be a slow, gradual process. The biggest hurdle remains lack of moisture as 44% of the state remains in drought.

The Duke of Agriculture

Jan 03, 2014

It's back to school for British Royal Prince William. The Duke of Cambridge is going to take part in a 10 week program at the University of Cambridge to study agricultural management. Prince William will be learning about current issues in agriculture and rural communities across the United Kingdom. Who knows, maybe Prince William will be inspired by this course to take up farming and ranching as a career while he waits for his turn to sit on the throne. After all, his grandmother is the "largest landowner in the world," maybe she'd like to see her heir calving out some heifers in Canada or running a cattle station in Australia.


 

Walmart Recalls Donkey Meat

That headline is not a misprint. In fact, Walmart is scrambling to make things right with its Chinese customers after testing of donkey meat sold in Shandong province in central China revealed the meat was tainted with fox. Donkey meat is a popular snack in some parts of China where 2.4 million donkeys were slaughtered in 2011. Walmart will reimburse customers who bought its "Five Spice" donkey meat and the company plans to take legal action against the supplier that provided the tainted product.


Horse Slaughter Back in Court

Congress lifted a ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. in 2011, but the issue remains more than a bit controversial. A New Mexico businessman has been fighting for two years to open his Valley Meat Co. horse slaughterhouse, and he goes back to court today to fight a lawsuit filed by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, who claims the business would violate the state's food safety, water quality and unfair business practices laws. Cynics believe Mr. King is using the horse slaughter lawsuit to bolster his bid to become the next governor of New Mexico.


Texas' Small Farm Decline

The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources provides chilling statistics about the state of Texas farming: small and midsized farms and ranches in Texas--those under 2,000 acres--have been declining at a rate of 250,000 acres a year. From 1997 to 2007, the institute estimates, Texas lost about 1.5 million acres of agricultural land and is expected to lose a million more by 2020. The Texas Tribune reports on the effects of the state's drought coupled with rising land prices that have encouraged farmers to exit the business.

Dodge Ad > Chipotle Ad

Jan 02, 2014

If you watched the Super Bowl last season and caught Dodge Ram's "So God Made a Farmer" spot, then you witnessed one of the best commercials of 2013. According to the folks at the Wall Street Journal, Dodge's tribute to American farmers and ranchers because it was authentic, memorable, epic and it even helped sell some trucks. Now on the other side of the coin was Chipotle's "Scarecrow" advertisement that completely missed the point and really ticked off a lot of people in agriculture. We agree with the staff at the Wall Street Journal in saying the Chipotle ad was one of the worst of 2013.


Here's Wishing You a Good Rain

We start this New Year hoping for rain in cattle country. The drought for many ranchers is far from over. If you live in western Kansas, western Nebraska, eastern Colorado and the Panhandle regions of Texas and Oklahoma, the drought remains severe to extreme. California and Nevada are also desperate for rain. The ongoing drought's impact on farmers and ranchers has been devastating. A vast wildfire in Nebraska's sand hills consumed 300,000 acres and many of Susan Straka’s cows.


 

No Room at the Inn

Maybe you've heard of the oil boom in western North Dakota where hydraulic fracking is now producing a million barrels of oil a day. Maybe you've wished for a similar-type windfall for yourself or your community. Be careful what you wish for. Unemployment is low and wages are high, but the oil boom has also created a burden for law enforcement and the local jails are overflowing. A dozen Montana counties have no jail, and some of those are in the Bakken region. Local law enforcement officials are often forced to turn some lawbreakers loose.


Export Support

Exports to China could soon start beefing up the market for US producers. According to an article in The Fresno Bee, consumers in China are demanding more beef at the table and a ban of exports from the US may soon be lifted in 2014. The story is part of a 5-piece series that analyzes the importance of exports to the US economy and beef going more global was one of the focuses.

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