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Texas Meets Criteria For TB Accredited Free

USDA has raised Texas's TB designation from modified accredited advanced to accredited free. The agency says Texas has met the criteria for accredited-free status by demonstrating it has a zero percent prevalence of infected cattle or bison herds and has had no significant findings of TB in any cattle or bison herds in the two years since the depopulation of the last affected herd in the state. Under this status, cattle or bison that originate in an accredited-free state may be moved interstate without restriction.

This interim rule appeared in the Oct. 3 Federal Register and was effective upon publication.
-- Joe Roybal

Rumen Protozoa Linked To Antibiotic Resistance

Ag Research Service (ARS) scientists have discovered that protozoa -- single-celled predatory organisms -- found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of cattle can facilitate the transfer of antibiotic resistance from resistant bacteria to susceptible types.

Veterinary medical officer Steven Carlson at the National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, IA, is the first scientist to document rumen protozoa's role in transferring resistance within cattle.

Rumen protozoa engulf and destroy most bacteria. But Carlson and colleagues have ID'd and described the transfer of resistance to ceftriaxone, an antibiotic used to treat pneumonia, from GI tract bacteria known as Klebsiella to rumen-dwelling Salmonella sensitive to the antibiotic.

Last year, Carlson teamed with former ARS microbiologist Mark Rasmussen in a study revealing that disease-causing bacteria can strengthen from interaction with protozoa that are naturally inside animals. In that work, an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella became especially virulent when tucked within rumen protozoa. The discovery suggests naturally occurring digestive-tract protozoa may be a place where dangerous bacteria can lurk and develop. To read more, visit www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2006/061003.htm.
-- Clint Peck

Winter Wheat Areas Needing Rain

"The Plains' emerging wheat crop was in need of a soaking rain to ensure autumn establishment, in part due to lingering subsoil moisture deficits," National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) reporters said last week. "In addition, topsoil moisture shortages began to appear again in some areas, particularly across Oklahoma and Kansas."

Using those two states as an example, 47% of the topsoil moisture in Kansas is reported as adequate and only 34% of the subsoil moisture. In Oklahoma, only 21% of topsoil moisture was reported as adequate; just a measly 7% of subsoil moisture.

Harvest for some of this year's crops underscores the long-term challenges of 2005-2006. For example, NASS estimates the winter wheat crop down 13% from a year ago; oat production at a record low 93.8 million bu. (18% less than 2005), and barley 15% below last year at 150 million bu.

For the week ending Oct. 3, according to NASS:

  • Corn -- Maturation is at 88% or beyond, the same as last year, but 6% ahead of normal. Maturation was at or head of normal in all states except Indiana. 20% is harvested, which is 5% behind last year and 3% behind the five-year average. 61% is rated Good or better, compared to 55% last year.
  • Soybeans -- 87% of the acreage was at or beyond dropping leaves, 4% behind last year but 3% ahead of the average. Growers have harvested 19% of the crop, compared to 33% at this time last year and 26% for the average. 62% is rated Good or better; 56% was at the same time last year.
  • Winter wheat -- 54% of the crop is sown, 1% more than the same time last year but 2% less than average. Planting was 33% ahead of normal in Oregon, but at or behind par in most other states. 24% of the crop has emerged, the same as last year but 3% the normal pace. Emergence was most advanced in Colorado and Washington at 46% and 44%, respectively.
  • Sorghum -- 89% was at or beyond turning color, 4% behind last year and the normal pace. 60% is mature, compared to 65% last year and 67% for average. 38% has been harvested, compared to 36% last year and 40% for average. 32% is rated Good or better, compared to 49% last year.
  • Pasture -- 30% is rated Good or Excellent, compared to 29% last year. 22% is rated Poor and 18% is ranked Very Poor, compared to 23% and 15% respectively at the same time last year.
  • States with the worst pasture conditions -- at least 40% of the acreage rated poor or worse -- include: Alabama (58%); Arizona (50%); Arkansas (41%); California (80%); Kansas (45%); Mississippi (48%); Missouri (59%); Montana (42%); Nebraska (44%); Nevada (58%); North Dakota (52%); Oklahoma (63%); Oregon (51%); South Dakota (41%); Texas (67%); and Wyoming (65%).
  • States with the lushest pasture conditions -- at least 40% rated good or better -- include: Florida (55%); Illinois (56%); Indiana (67%); Iowa (61%); Kentucky (78%); Maine (85%); Maryland (49%); Michigan (53%); New Mexico (62%); New York (61%); North Carolina (62%); Ohio (72%); Pennsylvania (57%); South Carolina (47%); Tennessee (41%); Utah (48%); Virginia (46%); Washington (40%); West Virginia (60%); and Wisconsin (56%).
-- Wes Ishmael, BEEF Stocker Trends newsletter

Senate Passes Animal Terrorism Measure

Before leaving for the election recess, the U.S. Senate passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which would increase penalties for criminal acts against animal enterprises (labs, animal shelters, pet stores, breeders or furriers). It revises criminal prohibitions against damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise to include "intentional damage or loss to any real or personal property and intentional threats of death or serious bodily injury against individuals."

The legislation is in response to various attacks by activists against animal enterprises. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI).
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

Nebraska Documents Six-Year Groundwater Decline

Spurred by increasing irrigation use and a seven-year drought, parts of Nebraska are experiencing groundwater declines of more than 30 ft., University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) monitoring finds.

Mark Burbach, assistant geoscientist in UNL's School of Natural Resources, says recording of groundwater aquifer level changes from spring 2000 to spring 2006 shows large swaths of the state with declines from 5-10 ft. to greater than 25 ft. Hardest hit are areas relying heavily on irrigated agriculture.

The groundwater level monitoring program Burbach coordinates collects aquifer water level data from a continually growing number of wells that now numbers more than 5,600. Readings from the wells are generally taken between March 1 and May 1, after aquifers have had time to recover from the previous year's irrigation season and before that year's upcoming irrigation season.

Copies of the groundwater level change maps, including historical copies dating to 1954, can be accessed at csd.unl.edu/surveyareas/gwmaparchives.asp.
-- Joe Roybal

Nation's Average Diesel Price Continues To Fall

The average price for a gallon of diesel dropped 4¢ for the week ending Oct. 10, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Landlinemag.com reports the national average price dropped to $2.506/gal., or about 64.4¢/gal. cheaper than a year ago.

The Rocky Mountain region had the biggest decrease -- 9.5¢ from last week's average of $2.679, while the West Coast fell by 9.2¢ to $2.697. The nation's cheapest diesel is in the Gulf Coast region ($2.446), edging out the Midwest at $2.448.

Meanwhile, crude prices fell to their lowest level of the year as futures traded below $58/barrel in New York yesterday.
-- Joe Roybal

Mandatory Price Reporting Signed Into Law

President Bush last week signed into law legislation extending mandatory livestock price reporting until Sept. 30, 2011. The legislation, "Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999," was supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and the American Sheep Industry Association.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent

Limousin Plans Free Member Workshops

The North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) plans a series of free regional workshops for members. Topics to be addressed include breed improvement and marketing issues. The dates and sites include:

  • Oct. 21 -- Lamplighter Inn North Convention Center, Springfield, MO.
  • Nov. 18 -- Cronk's Café, Denison, IA.
  • Jan. 8 -- as part of the NALF annual meeting, Denver, CO.
  • Jan. 27 -- Radisson Hotel North, Ft. Worth, TX.
  • Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN, in conjunction with Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show, Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2007. Exact date and time to be announced.
No advance registration is required. Workshop agendas will be posted in the "Programs" section at www.nalf.org. For more info, contact Frank Padilla at frank@nalf.org or 303-220-1693.
-- Joe Roybal

Cattle Prices, Soft Demand Prompt Packer Slowdown

Major packers continue to trim back beef-processing operations in the face of softer demand and cattle prices too high to cover production costs.

MeatNews.com reports this week Tyson Foods' intentions to trim beef production at its U.S. plants for 6-8 weeks. Plans call for a production cut of about 12,000 head of cattle per week.

Meanwhile, National Beef Packing plans to reduce operations at its Dodge City and Liberal, KS, plants to about 37 hours a week from the current 40-48 hours. And Swift intends to continue limiting production at three of its four U.S. beef processing facilities -- Cactus, TX; Grand Island, NE; and Greeley, CO. -- to 32-37 hours/week.
-- Joe Roybal

Anti-Meat Film Set To Debut Next Week

The anti-meat feature film, "Fast Food Nation," hits theaters Oct. 20. Based on Eric Schlosser's 2001 best-selling non-fiction book, "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal," the fictional film stars some fairly big entertainment names -- Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Greg Kinnear and Kris Kristofferson among them. It tells the story of a "Mickey's" hamburger-chain exec (Kinnear) who visits a Colorado meatpacking town to learn why the chain is receiving contaminated meat.

What he finds: as the film's promo Web site (www.fastfoodnation-movie.com) puts it, is: "immigrant-staffed slaughterhouses, teeming feedlots and cookie cutter strip malls of Middle America," where he discovers "a 'Fast Food Nation' of consumers who haven't realized it is they who are being consumed by an industry with a seemingly endless appetite for fresh meat."

As the National Meat Association's "Lean Trimmings" newsletter describes it, the film also "features attractive young vegetarian celebrities like Avril Lavigne in roles where they're verbally and sexually abused, mutilated and poisoned by dastardly corporate overlords."

A number of industry groups have allied to set the record straight on the U.S. meat production system. One part of that effort is the Web site, www.bestfoodnation.com.
-- Joe Roybal