High Prices, High Anxiety

Published on: 14:36PM Aug 18, 2014

Tight cattle supplies and strong consumer demand has produced a record-shattering year for cowboys. Lost in the glow of this once-in-a-lifetime market, however, is the precarious position of your national beef checkoff. A shrinking cattle herd means a shrinking budget for promotion, research and consumer education. Couple that with the fact a dollar has about half the buying power it did when the beef checkoff was launched over a quarter-century ago, and you begin to realize the budget crunch facing the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. There’s plenty of evidence that the $1 checkoff has paid tremendous dividends back to producers, but it’s clear the program needs a raise. Several organizations with ties to the beef industry have held ongoing discussions about raising the national checkoff to $2.

Texas producers approved an increase in that state’s checkoff by a 2 to 1 margins last month.

Cowboys and Pipelines

Texas rancher Pete Bonds believes state law gives pipelines too much power to condemn and grab private land. Bond, who is the president of the Texas & Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, and other Texas landowners are keeping a close eye on the Texas Railroad Commission’s recent efforts to more tightly regulate the states’ network of oil and gas pipelines. The Commission, which regulates 426,000 miles of pipelines in the Lone Star State, has been criticized for rubber-stamping applications by pipeline companies.

Cattle Feeding Margins Decline $87

Cattle feeding margins declined $87 per head last week, but remain near $200. Farrow-to-finish pork margins declined $16 per head to $61.74, according to John Nalivka, Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. Beef cutout values declined about $5 and beef packer margins improved $2 per head.

USDA Seeks to Change Grading Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking public input on possible revisions to the U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef. Significant changes (such as grass fed versus grain fed feeding regimens, instrument grading, management, and export requirements) have taken place in the beef industry since the current grade standards were adopted in 1997. AMS is seeking input from cattle producers, food processors, the public and other sources before revising the grades to better reflect the characteristics of meat that is available for Americans.