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Articles from 2017 In January

Are we approaching agricultural advocacy all wrong?

Amanda Radke Advocating for agriculture begins with positive imaging

I thought perhaps when the election cycle was over, the mass hysteria, political arguments and sensationalized media headlines would settle down. However, it seems like now more than ever before, one would be wise to stay off social media and do something productive like cleaning out the barn.

Yesterday, I decided that dealing with actual manure in the barn would be preferential to wading through the barrage of B.S. posts online, so I spent the afternoon outside getting things done around the ranch.

The fresh air offered a little bit of perspective on the parallels we’re seeing in our society vs. what agriculture experiences when trying to connect with our consumers. In both cases, there seems to be a lot of black and white and not much gray in between. And in both cases, emotions seem to trump facts, science and common sense.

I realize I’m talking in generalities here, but if we put politics aside and examine the challenges farmers and ranchers face — we have a big job ahead of us. Connecting with our consumers while also correcting misinformation is a daunting task, particularly in a world where all too often YouTube tells a much different story about ag than what actually happens on a ranch.

In agriculture, we’re constantly talking about advocating for our industry and promoting our way of life; however, have we been doing it all wrong all along?

I recently read an article by Gary Truitt for Hoosier Ag Today titled, “Knowing when to shut up.” The article recapped a presentation given by Leah Beyer, Elanco Animal Health digital communications manager. Beyer’s talk focused on how agriculture responds to negativity and why it sometimes does more harm than good.

Truitt summed up Beyer’s points, writing, “For example, when some fast food firm announces it is going GMO free, we respond with condemnation and threats of boycotts.  When PETA puts out an undercover video, we go crazy and share it all over the place saying how this is not what farms are like. Yet, by doing this, we are playing into the hands of the nutcases by helping to spread their message and giving credibility to their claims.”

So what is the better option? To borrow the words of former First Lady Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high,” and that’s exactly what agriculture should do.

Instead of reposting Chipotle’s latest antics, we should offer consumers recommendations for good taco joints that support agriculture. Instead of sharing the YouTube video showing alleged abuse on a farm, we should do a Facebook Live post offering a tour of our own place to demonstrate to consumers what farms really look like. Instead of bringing attention to the negative in order to get our point across, we should stick to positive messaging.

You may recall my blog post from a few weeks ago that promoted the 4C Summit and the #cattletales hashtag. If you haven’t started using the free shareable materials on there, I highly recommend that you check them out. I shared my first 4C Summit graphic on social media earlier this week, and it got a lot of positive feedback. By the way, if you’re at the Annual Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville this week, be sure to check out the Micro Technologies booth at the trade show to learn more.

There may be a lot of white noise on social media these days, but farmers and ranchers can be the face of positivity. Let’s use the platform wisely in 2017 with smart promotions, friendly interactions and increased frequency in posting about our way of life. Only then do we have a chance of changing consumer sentiment about who we are in agriculture.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.


There's always somebody trying to make what yours theirs. In Michigan, 33 people plead guilty to stealing personal information from military veterans and prison inmates.

WalletHub is out with the list of the most educated states in America. Only five heartland states rank in the top 20. It's an interesting map. Of the 48 mainland states, the northern tend to be the most educated. Colorado ranks third and Minnesota came in 8th. Kansas, Illinois and Nebraska are in the top 20.

Commodity traders haven't been this bullish on the soybean market since last summer. There was a significant selloff in the bean market. Trades don't want to be caught flat-footed as Argentina, which exports half of the bean meal traded in this world, has had weather that's been both too wet and too dry this spring.

Wells Fargo has 270,000 employees, but none have been in the banking business as long as Donnie Rodgers, who's worked at the bank in Knoxville, Iowa, for 70 years. About 400 people showed up for a party to celebrate his 70th anniversary at the bank. He first came in for a loan to buy 4-H calves.


The president's advance team is scoping out Milwaukee. Trump was the first Republican to carry Wisconsin in 32 years. He's headed to Milwaukee after going to the National Prayer Breakfast. Word is the team is scoping out the State Fair Park and Harley Davidson Museum.

Friendly figures on cattle marketing didn't seem to matter much on cattle futures trade. Analysts expect cattle futures to bounce back today. It will be something to talk about at NCBA convention where 9,000 are expected.

Don't respond when someone you don't know calls and asks if you can hear them. It's the latest scam out there.

The employees at the Bryant, Arkansas, Wal-Mart had a surprise when regular Geneva Kendrick came into the store the other day. They held a birthday party for her complete with balloons, cake and gifts. Kendrick is 104 years old.

Fed Cattle Recap|Cash market steady to weak

Fed Cattle Recap

The finished cattle trade set a steady to weaker tone for the week ending Jan. 28. The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the five Area region, which includes the major central feeding areas, was $121.22 per cwt, compared with $121.89 the previous week, which was 67 cents lower.

 The cash dressed steer price was $193.46, compared with $194.80 the previous week, notching $1.34 lower. 

The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 86,468 head, compared with about 107,000 the previous week.

The Five Area average formula price was $192.69, compared with $189.00 the previous week, which was $3.69 higher. Five Area formula sales totaled 161,034 head, compared with about 155,000 the previous week.  

Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was about 57,000 head, compared with 54,000 head the previous week. Packers have more than 245,000 head of forward contracts available for January and more than 256,000 head for February. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Jan. 14 was 7 pounds lower at 898 pounds, compared with 898 pounds last year. 

The Choice-Select spread was $3.76 on Friday, which was down only 2 cents from the previous week. That compares with a $1.52 spread last year. As we have mentioned in the past, this is the time of the year when the spread is narrow because of demand for chuck and round products which are less dependent on grading Choice.



Farm Progress America, January 31, 2017

Max Armstrong follows Twitter - and tweets. But he also talks about information from Laura who works in the turkey industry and a challenge to the poultry industry when food companies talk about 'no hormones' in their product. The truth is that no hormones are allowed in the product at all, none are legal. Those food ads are false, and Max shares the real secret of the rising productivity in the poultry industry.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

3 ways to follow the Beef Meet from home

Amanda Radke Kids and calving

This week, thousands of cattlemen will travel to Nashville, Tenn., for the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. The annual #beefmeet brings together the sharpest minds the industry has to offer to discuss new technologies, cattle markets, business strategies and the political climate and how it might impact beef producers.

Regrettably, I’m staying home this year as my seven-month-old son isn’t quite ready for his mama to be so far away from home for too long. Probably more accurate, this mom isn’t quite ready to be away from her baby for five days! I’m also slated to speak at a local women in agriculture meeting later in the week, and we’ve officially started calving. Needless to say, like many of you who are stuck at home during this week’s exciting convention, I’ll be following from home on my computer.

Fortunately, several BEEF team members will be there in full force, and they’re geared up to offer up-to-date coverage of the speakers, trade show, meet-ups and discussions that will take place in Nashville.

So how do you follow along from home? It’s easy.

First, follow BEEF magazine on Facebook and Twitter.

Second, check the website often for in-depth articles and blog posts recapping speakers who will present during the cattlemen’s college.

Finally, if you’re in attendance, tag us in your posts and use the hashtag #beefmeet to capture industry highlights in one location.  

These days, social media is a land mine of political posts that pit friends, families, neighbors and fellow Americans against each other. We’re constantly bombarded with political rhetoric, satirical memes and fired up debates. This week, let’s fill our social media news feeds with information about beef, ranching and rural America. Let’s focus on posting constructive, educational and factual information that builds up farmers and ranchers and bypasses all of the negative political postings. That’s what I hope will come out of the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention, and I hope those of you in attendance will help us get that accomplished.

As for me, in times like these, I’m reminded of the quote, “If you want to make the world a better place, go home and spend time with your family.” This week, I plan to do just that. While I may not be able to be at convention this year, I’m so fortunate to be at home with my two young children as they get to experience calving season first-hand. They are the reason I’m in this business. They are the reason I work so hard to succeed. And I hope one day they will have the same passion and appreciation for the cattle industry that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents do.

Are you attending the #beefmeet this week? If so, please share your Facebook page or Twitter handle, so we can all connect and follow along from home.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.


PETA may be losing strength. The organization had called for a boycott of "A Dog's Purpose," but it was the second highest grossing movie of the weekend.

The big buzz at farm meetings will focus on trade and what the first week of the Trump administration will mean for farmers and ranchers. One trader he talked to said he isn't sure what setting fire to trade agreements will do to sales.

The website College Rank has released what it considers the top 35 college farms in country. The list said these schools are developing tomorrow's leaders in food consumption planning, product and crop growth. Colleges on the list include: College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine; College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Missouri; Michigan State University, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana.

Those changeable signs outside churches and buildings can get a person thinking or chuckling. On the way to the studio, Max saw a church sign reading," The devil hates this church."

Near Detroit, a gas station sign changes often with all kinds of wisdom being delivered. One day the sign read, "I could agree, but we'd both be wrong." Another day, "I talk to myself for expert advice," and another, "Laugh so hard you pee a little."

6 Trending Headlines: For the love of ranching, part 2; PLUS: Wildlife and cattle can coexist Kids in ranching

For the love of ranching: Part 2

This is part 2 of Ryan Sexson’s story of how he and his wife were able to continue leading the ranching life they know and love. Here’s what he learned as he grew his operation through lease agreements and other win-win arrangements:

  • First and foremost is communication. Communication may be one of the most difficult parts because it is sometimes very hard to express ourselves for fear of insulting someone or exposing ourselves to emotional distress.
  • Each member in the transition has to consider what the other parties have at stake, and what they are dealing with. All agreements must be fair and to an advantage for everyone, sometimes that means you may not get the most bang for your buck but that you have a common end goal.
  • Young producers need to consider the hard work and amount of time and emotion that the older generation has invested in their operation. The older generation needs to consider the struggle that the young producer is going to go through in order to be successful. You have to trust each other and have faith that God will provide

Click here to read more from

Fed cattle in the black for first time in a long time

Fed cattle did something in January that hasn’t happened for a while—they made a little money. In January, projected slaughter steer prices are the highest for any month since June 2016. January’s closeout profit looks to be the largest for any month since the summer of 2014. Estimated closeouts by the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) showed that for the last seven months of 2016, every month had red ink. In fact, only two months since January 2015 were profitable when all economic costs were considered, according to the Daily Livestock Report.

Using total economic costs as calculated by the LMIC, which assumes a feeder steer weight of 700 to 800 pounds, the January breakeven steer sales price was estimated at $112.00 to $114.00 per cwt. Looking ahead to the next few months, breakeven sales prices are projected to remain low, ranging from about $108.00 to $112.00 per cwt throughout the spring months. Breakeven estimates are now at the lowest levels since early 2011.

Click here to read more.

Is your record-keeping system really telling you what you need to know?

This is a great time for cow-calf producers to reevaluate their record keeping systems. At the core of that, says Kansas State University Beef Cattle Specialist Sandy Johnson, is an accurate cow herd inventory. Johnson says individual cow identification carries considerable value in overall herd management, according to the Oklahoma Farm Report.

And don’t wait until you get home to write it down. "We just too often forget is we think we're going to write it down when we get to the house," Johnson says. "It doesn't have to be the same method for every member of the management team. Our millennials might be quite adept using a smart phone. Somebody else, might need to write it down. The main thing is - you develop a habit of recording those things when they happen."

Click here to hear and read more of Johnson’s tips.

Cattle grazing and wildlife can co-exist

Burt Rutherford

Vibrant green grass awaited visitors to a cattle ranch northeast of Stockton, Calif., recently. That and a couple of salmon that had spawned and died and started to decay along a creek.

Both were good signs for Sparrowk Livestock, which has enhanced wildlife habitat along with producing beef, reports the Modesto Bee.

Bev and Jack Sparrowk have ranched for about 40 years. They rely on rain-fed Valley grasses in winter and spring, then move to summer pasture in northeastern California and southeastern Oregon.

An entirely different creature, the bay checkerspot butterfly, is the subject of a conservation effort in the hills just east of San Jose. Invasive grass and brush crowded out native plants that provide nectar to these insects, according to the Creekside Center for Earth Observation in Menlo Park. The recovery plan included cattle grazing on the invaders, said Stuart Weiss, co-founder and chief scientist at the center.

“In the end, the keystone species in the system is the ranchers,” he said.

Click here to read more.

How cold stress affects newborn calves

“The general consensus is that the cold calf does not have the energy for the cellular functions to work properly,” says veterinarian and University of Idaho Professor James England. “A cold calf has used up all his brown fat calories and what little bit of protein was left in the stomach (in the amniotic fluid) trying to keep warm. There isn’t enough energy for the cellular functions for transporting things back and forth in and out of the cells. The motility of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract is also impaired.”

There is a direct correlation between the suckle reflex and the uptake of antibodies. Studies have shown that suckling makes the calf several times more able to absorb the globulins than if colostrum is administered via tube, bypassing the suckle actions, reports the Angus Beef Bulletin.

If you can get the calf to nurse the cow or suck a bottle of warm colostrum, this is best, but if he is too cold to suck, the next best thing is to give the colostrum via tube.

Click here to read more.

Stocker and updated cow-calf budget now available

A new stocker calf enterprise budget spreadsheet is now available from the University of Wisconsin for use where pasture is a component of the stocker calf program.

For stocker/backgrounding where the calves are backgrounded in drylot situations, the feedlot enterprise budget will be the better tool to use with gains, performance and rations entered in for the conditions to be evaluated.  It can be found on the WBIC Decision Tools and Software Page. The recently released UW Extension Cow-Calf Enterprise Budget Spreadsheet has also been updated. 

Click here for more information.

Farm Progress America, January 30, 2017

Max Armstrong shares insight on the latest Cattle on Feed report, which included a big placements number with marketings out of the feedlots up 7%, but placements rose 17%. He explores insight on the report and how it differed from what the market anticipated.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.


The TV cameras were pointed this weekend at the protestors mainly at airports in big cities with large Somalian populations: Detroit, Minneapolis and Chicago, but even in the smaller towns protesters were vying for the attention of the media.

Cattle futures will be under some pressure this week as Friday's Cattle on Feed report reported that feedlots placed most the cattle in six years in December. The report also found the marketings of cattle out of feedlots higher than forecast ahead of report. This will give cattle market analysts plenty to talk about at the NCBA convention this week which starts Wednesday at Opryland.

The video of a Fed Ex employee fighting off protesters in eastern Iowa to extinguish two fires on American flags has gone viral.