AgDay Daily Recap - February 23, 2012

February 23, 2012 02:25 AM

FEBRUARY 23, 2012

Good morning. Red meat continues to be red hot in 2012. Cash cattle and futures markets are trading at all-time records. The blitz comes on the heels of shrinking herd sizes and rising global demand for U.S beef. New record prices lead our beef today report. Live cattle futures rolled to another new record Wednesday...a feat that's been accomplished a dozen times since the first of the year. February contracts neared $129.40, up nearly fifty cents over Tuesday’s close. Cash cattle markets are on a similar last week just shy of the dollar 30 per pound mark. Helping underpin those numbers are strong boxed beef and retail prices. It's all result of severe drought and fewer cattle in North America.

Donald is correct, Canadian beef herds continue to shrink as well. The most recent survey of cattle operations in the country shows the number of beef cows is now 20% smaller than it was in 2005. The numbers come from statistics Canada. As of January first beef cow numbers were one percent below 2011 totals coming in at just over 5 million head. The calf crop was nearly 4% smaller. But producers there are trying to rebuild stocks. Both heifer retention and beef cow replacements are up several percentage points. Canadians also shipped 7,500 breeding females to the U.S. in 2011.

In the southern plains where cattlemen hope to recover from a year of record drought, the mild winter has brought an early spring. Wheat pastures in many parts of Oklahoma have already started maturing to first hollow stem. That means in order to harvest the crop many cattle will need to find forage elsewhere. But pastures have been good while they lasted. Peel thinks much of the winter wheat crop will be used simply for forage and to feed cattle rather than be cut for grain.

News organizations out of Asia are reporting an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in China. It appears the highly contagious disease was found in four head of cattle on a farm in the northwestern part of the country. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the cattle and 22 others were culled in an effort to keep the virus from spreading.

A six-figure reward is now being offered to help find who firebombed more than a dozen livestock tractor-trailers in Fresno County, California. The trucks are owned by Harris Ranch - one of the biggest ranching companies on the west coast. The company is offering a 100,000 dollar reward for the arrest and conviction of the firebombers. The Fresno County Sheriff’s office says the trucks were intentionally set on fire in early January. Investigators with the "Ag Crime Task Force" say they're pursuing all leads.

Next Thursday, an insurance fund created to help protect farmers from similar economic meltdowns, like the MF Global bankruptcy, is supposed to be active. The CME Group announced the fund earlier this month. The 100-million dollar fund is intended to provide protection to customers who hedge their business in CME Group futures markets. AgDay regional reporter Michelle Rook looks at the continuing fall-out of the MF Global fiasco. NCBA officials told Michelle they don't want a "knee-jerk" reaction from Washington that would result in additional regulations. But they want to make sure the laws in place are enforced.

Mark Gold

While winter has been generally mild this year in Wisconsin, history shows us that the season can be brutal...and roads treacherous. In an effort to keep the ice off the roads, one county highway department has come-up with a creative solution. And it involves the cheese industry. In this report from the Wisconsin milk marketing board, find out how cheese brine is making a difference.

Results of a new government study show that the majority of dairy-related illnesses are connected with consuming raw milk. Details in Food and Your Family. The Centers for Disease Control released the results of a 13-year-long review of raw-milk sales. And their likely upset people who enjoy raw-milk. The CDC says the rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk and products made from it were 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk. The study included 121 dairy-related disease outbreaks, which caused 4,400 illnesses and three deaths. Of those, 60% of the outbreaks were linked to raw milk products. The study also showed that children are more likely than adults to get seriously ill from the bacteria in raw milk.

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