AgDay Daily Recap - January 23, 2012

January 23, 2012 09:11 AM

JANUARY 23, 2012

Good morning. The USDA released its cattle on feed report late Friday afternoon.
The report says inventory in America's largest feedlots is up 3% compared to year ago. The increase isn't a surprise after the surge in placements last summer and fall. The biggest question is can those numbers hold. USDA says placements into feedlots as of last month were down six percent compared to 2010. A shrinking national herd and calf crop may make it tough to find enough cattle to fill feedlots in 2012. That's one reason feeder cattle prices are up nearly 70% since 2008. Record prices and limited consumer demand have some analysts wondering if market prices are sustainable. But at current prices more producers are expected to hold heifers which should keep supplies short.

Those short supplies are already showing at harvest. USDA says beef production in the U.S. for 2011 is down six percent compared to a year earlier. Processors harvested 2.75 million head cutting just over 2 billion pounds of beef. The average live weight of those cattle is down 8 pounds compared to 2010.

The USDA also announced Friday changes to the poultry inspection process. The food safety and inspection service is proposing to modernize the processing of young chickens and turkey. The new plan would focus FSIS inspectors on critical food safety tasks rather than several current regulatory requirements that don't really impact food safety. USDA says not only will food be safer but it saves money. It estimates taxpayer saving of more than 90 million dollars over three years and lower production costs.

Lightsquared wants to install a national wireless system--but concerns over interference with global positioning equipment has it under scrutiny. Now its saying governmental interference tests were rigged against them. GPS is important in modern farming, automobiles and aviation. Lightsquared's proposed wireless broadband has many in those industry saying if installed it will interfere with current GPS equipment. The two use adjoining frequencies on the wireless spectrum. The Air Force just finished testing Lightsquared equipment to check for interference. Now the company says those tests were secretive and rigged to fail. It listed a host of grievances about the testing process and is asking for answers from the government.

Recent polls of farmers show they're skeptical of 2011's banner year having a repeat performance. Although, those in the marketing business have high hopes. A poll from Agri Marketing magazine and the American Business Media Agri-Council shows marketing executives have strong expectations for 2012. The survey was sent to 225 leaders at companies that develop and sell products to North American farmers and livestock producers. 80% of respondents rated business conditions as positive--a new record for the survey. Almost 95% expect in 12 months, business conditions will be the same or better.

In agribusiness this morning, a new study says the business of agricultural chemicals continues to grow. The research firm, global industry analysts says the global Ag Chem market will reach nearly 330 billion dollars by the year 2015. The reports points to population growth and food demand, a reduction in available land and declining productivity as the drivers behind Ag Chem expansion.

The winged-ear farmers recognized as Dekalb is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The national brand got its start back in 1912 in the fertile fields of northern Illinois. According to the company, 11 farmers, bankers and county officials laid the foundation for the brand. The milestone also kicks off a year-long celebration that includes the auctioning of a motorcycle built by Paul Junior designs from American Chopper.

Mike Florez

A Tennessee dairy farmer has opened the doors to his operation to help showcase American agriculture. His business is thriving because he's diversifying the operation and educating the public. John Harrison wants people to see what's *right* about farming. That's one reason why Harrison has been named "innovative dairy farmer of the year" by the international dairy foods association and "dairy today" magazine.
Still to come Food and Your Family. Plus many folks are still talking about an online news article questioning the "usefulness" of an agriculture degree.

In Food and Your Family this morning, we've heard nothing bad news about the obesity epidemic in this country. Well new research from the CDC shows things aren't getting better---but they're also not getting worse. According to the study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, the long-time trend of rising obesity rates among Americans may be ending. The researchers looked at the number of people obese--those with a body mass index of 30 or greater. They found little change from 1960 to 1980. Then in 1980 obesity began to spike until slowing down in the 2000’s. In 2009 and 2010 researchers compared rates with the previous six years--they found no significant differences.

Healthier food choices may be one reason for the leveling off of obesity rates. And according to industry watcher--NPD Group-- healthy choices will be a major driver for restaurants in 2012. Its market research shows increasing pressure to improve the healthfulness of food, especially for kids. Overall, it’s forecasting a slight increase in demand for restaurants in the new year.

And we wanted to leave you with a couple viewer responses to last week's yahoo article regarding the top five most useless college degrees. Here they are again in order as listed by writer Terrence Loose. At the top of the list..agriculture, followed by fashion design, theatre, animal science and horticulture. Dee wrote in to say that agriculture is as important to society as math is to science. He says perhaps it’s time to bring back the old bumper stickers that read, "If you don't like farmers, don't cuss them with your mouth full." And Gary Rhoades wrote in for the first time with a unique perspective. He makes the point--it's not agriculture that's useless... It’s the degree that serves little purpose and is therefore the most useless degree. He says the way people get so worked up, "it's not surprising that nothing constructive ever gets done in this country for fear of upsetting someone.”

Well said everyone. Thanks for writing in. Feel free to talk back on any topic anytime. Call us at 800-792-4329. Email at Or find us on Facebook.

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