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New Spoolmate™ 200 Spool Gun Optimizes MIG Aluminum Welding in Farm and Ranch Applications

New Spoolmate™ 200 offers farmers and ranchers a cost-effective aluminum MIG welding solution, remote adjustable wire feed speed settings and multiple barrel options.

Highlights/Key Facts

• Wire feed adjustment at the handle and 20-foot power cable provide convenient remote wire feed speed adjustments for welding atop combines and other large implements.

• Curved, heavy-duty and extended barrel options and internal shielding gas line increase operator’s ability to access tight joint configurations.

• Clear wire spool and drive assembly cover provides easy access to wire drive components and to view wire on wire spool.

• Offers direct connection to Millermatic 212 with Auto-Set and Millermatic 252 power sources for seamless transition between steel and aluminum welding.

• List price of $700.

APPLETON, Wis., Oct. 12, 2009—Miller Electric Mfg. Co. introduces its new Spoolmate™ 200 spool gun, designed as a cost-effective option for farm and ranch aluminum fabrication and repair work.

Increasing the farmer or rancher’s work area, the Spoolmate 200 features handle-based wire feed speed adjustment and a 20-foot power cable, allowing them to conveniently adjust their wire parameters while working at a distance from their power source.

The Spoolmate 200 also offers curved and extended barrel options, ideal for tight and difficult-to-reach joint configurations. Also improving joint access, the shielding gas hose is bundled within the power cable assembly, removing an obstruction common in many aluminum spool guns. For higher-amperage aluminum welding, an optional heavy-duty barrel is also available.

The Spoolmate 200 plugs directly into the Millermatic® 212 w/Auto-Set™ and the Millermatic® 252, both of which feature spool gun direct connections so that users do not need to remove their steel MIG gun to install their aluminum spool gun. For added convenience, the Spoolmate 200 contains a built-in gas solenoid, allowing farmers to switch processes without changing gas cylinders.

Rated to 160 amps at a 60-percent duty cycle—the same as the Millermatic 212 w/Auto-Set—the Spoolmate 200 accepts .030-in. and .035-in. wire. List price is $700. The Spoolmate 200 provides a product with a price point and duty cycle positioned between the Spoolmate 100 (light welding applications) and the Spoolmatic 15A and 30A (industrial fabrication and repair applications).

What's It Like In Your Neck of the Woods?

thirsty.jpg Rain. Rain. Rain. It seems to be the theme for 2009. Some of you are begging for a drop of rain, and some of us are just wishing it would go away already. In South Dakota, we continue to fight the rain, trying to get the crops in and trying to work cattle in the mud. And, in my travels across the country and my email updates from readers, it's evident that many of you are experiencing the same weather troubles. From drought to floods, is there a happy medium? If there is, which state is experiencing it right now? Today, I want to shoot the breeze like friends in a coffee shop. So, what's it like in your neck of the woods? Inquiring minds want to know...

Whether you're experiencing a drought or are overwhelmed by wet conditions, BEEF is here for you, our readers. We have a ton of articles relating to weather for your reading pleasure, and I hope you'll check them out. In the meantime, if you can take a few minutes to fill all of us in about the weather conditions in your area and how harvest, weaning and preg-checking are going, that would definitely help me better serve you in future blog posts. Thanks for your readership and your comments. I really appreciate it.

By the way, have you voted in the latest BEEF poll yet? If you've got a second, head on over to our homepage and answer this question: "Would the Waxman-Markey bill, which proposes to cap carbon-dioxide emissions and allow trading of allowances (cap and trade), be good or bad for agriculture?"

BEEF Daily Quick Fact: “Seldom have forests been cut to pasture cattle, for a very good reason: cattle don’t generate more profit than trees.” —Dr. Dennis T. Avery, the Hudson Institute (Source: Beef Production Facts)

Growers Continue to Face Harvesting Challenges From Cool, Wet Summer

While the rains have stopped and harvest is progressing, Kentucky growers continue to deal with the ramifications of a cool, wet growing season.

The growing season came to a close the weekend of Oct. 17 with the season’s first frost. While that may seem early, it was only slightly ahead of the state’s average first frost date, said Michael Mathews, staff meteorologist in the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture.

Fortunately, the majority of the state’s corn was mature; however, only 75% of soybeans were mature, said Chad Lee, UK grain crops specialist.

“Most likely the remaining 25% will not grow any further, resulting in lighter seeds,” he said. These soybeans were mainly double-cropped with wheat or planted late.

Not only will the late soybeans have lower test weights, but they may have additional damage, which could reduce marketability and lead to additional price discounts at the elevator. When the frost hit, some of the soybeans had yet to turn yellow and drop their leaves. This could make the plant’s green color nearly impossible to get out of the seeds. High moisture levels may lead to shriveled seeds, which could trigger an additional discount, said Jim Herbek, UK grain crops specialist.

Corn and soybean harvesting delays are slowing wheat planting. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) weekly crop and weather report for the state, only 8% of the crop was planted as of the first of this week. This compares to 33% seeded by this time in 2008 and a 40% five-year average.

“There could be a lot of late-planted wheat, especially if there’s another crop still in the field,” Herbek said.

Training Targets Livestock Producers

South Dakota State University specialists will host an environmental training session Nov. 18 for operators of concentrated animal feeding operations.

Specialists from SDSU, along with scientists and experts from the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are offering the training.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Crossroads Convention Center, 100 Fourth St. S.W. in Huron.

For more information, link here.

Cattle Prices Should Ride the Recovery Upward

A host of economic indicators suggest that the recession has ended - with more positive than negative signs for the U.S. and the world economies - signaling a recovery for the cattle industry as well.

"Unfortunately the beef industry rode the recession downward. So far this year, through the month of September, beef production has been down by 5 percent, but finished cattle prices have been almost $11 lower than in the same period last year," said Chris Hurt, Purdue University Extension economist.

Nebraska finished steers averaged $93.60 per live hundredweight in the period between January and September 2008. This year those values dropped to $82.75. Steer calf values have also been about $11 per hundredweight lower and feeder cattle about $9 lower.

Beef and cattle prices are generally more directly impacted by changes in economic prospects than pork or poultry markets, moving downward with recession and upward with recovery.

"The indicators of recovery are beginning to become more numerous in such data as the rise in the average length of work week, rising building permits, falling numbers of new claims for unemployment, and, of course, the rising stock market. The recovery is expected to be slow by historic standards with unemployment remaining high into 2010. However, the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator and not the one to use as the measure of recovery," said Hurt.

Inflationary investing may be another reason cattle are underpriced.

"In the past six weeks, there has been a resurgence of inflationary buying in futures markets. This has also been related to the continued weakening of the U.S. dollar where the lead futures contract has been down 5 percent since September 1," said Hurt.

"Since that date, the lead futures contracts for various commodities have been shooting upward: corn up 19 percent, copper and gold 5 to 10 percent higher, and crude oil up 14 percent. In contrast, the lead contract for live cattle futures has been down about 2 percent. This may well mean that cattle are cheap relative to other commodities," he said.

To read the entire article, link here.

Farmers on List of America's Most Dangerous Jobs

img_0884.JPG At times, it feels like the general consumer doesn't understand what we do on our farms and ranches. In the past few years, it has become evident that the public mistrusts the American farmer and rancher, which is unfortunate, because we have the same worries and concerns as they do. Like our consumers, we worry about animal care, the environment, food safety and sustainability. Yet, so often, the plight of the ranchers themselves is forgotten. Profitability, good health and a well-balanced lifestyle are sometimes hard to achieve in the 24/7 business of producing food, but it hardly seems like the media is ever concerned about that. However, this week in MSN Careers, Career Builder Editor Kate Lorenz identifies America's Most Dangerous Jobs, and she lists the challenges farmers face in her countdown. Finally, a media source that remembers humanity and recognizes the hard and dangerous work farmers and ranchers do on a daily basis. Read on for an excerpt of her article... And, please remember to be safe and smart this harvest season. God Bless.

America's Most Dangerous Jobs, By Kate Lorenz

While many of us go to our jobs every day without even thinking that we might suffer a paper cut, there are thousands of other workers in peril every time they punch the clock. From inner city violence to acts of nature, professionals put their lives at risk to keep the community safe, keep store shelves stocked with food, keep our utilities running, and build our roads, cars and homes.

Jobs with the highest fatality rates: Farmers ranked fifth with a rate of 39.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

Jobs with the most fatalities: Agriculture work ranked fifth again with the most common accidents being highway-related.

Most dangerous industries: Agriculture work ranked third with 651 deaths in 2008.

BEEF Daily Quick Fact: Remember to practice farm safety rules to avoid tragic accidents. To review these rules with your family, check out Farm Safety Just 4 Kids.

Sides Clash Over Livestock Rules

Supporters and opponents of state Issue 2 clashed last night about whether the livestock-standards proposal is a "constitutional grab" by powerful agribusiness interests or much-needed protection for Ohio's farms and food supply.

Both sides of the issue that Ohioans will see on the Nov. 3 ballot got a full airing during a two-hour debate at Independence Hall on the Ohio State University campus. The event was sponsored by the Ohio Liberty Council, a coalition of on- and off-campus organizations.

Two Ohio Farm Bureau Federation officials were the strongest supporters.

Keith Stimpert, senior vice president of public policy, said the issue is necessary to fend off "out-of-state activist groups," specifically the Humane Society of the United States, which he said supports reforms for livestock and poultry care without regard to the impact on Ohio's $93 billion-a-year farming business.

Leah Dorman, a veterinarian and director of food programs for the Farm Bureau, raised the specter of suspect foreign foods filling the gap if "animal-rights activists" have their way.

If food can't be produced in Ohio, it will come from elsewhere. "That may be Indiana or Michigan. That may be China or Mexico," Dorman said.

Opposing the issue was Natalie Kee of the Ohio Act Coalition, made up of environmental and other groups who think Issue 2 is a bad idea to permanently enshrine in the Ohio Constitution.

Kee said the issue, if approved, would be "a blank check to put corporate profits before public safety."

To read the entire article, link here.

Economist: Cattle Producers Predicted to See Profitable Outlook in 2010

A weak U.S. dollar has encouraged investment in commodities, resulting in positive activity for agriculture, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist.

“With regards to index investments, they (investors) buy these as a hedge against inflation, and when you have investment dollars coming out of the closet, many are putting money into commodities and that’s good for agriculture,” said Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension grain marketing economist.

A weak dollar allows foreign investors more purchasing power for U.S. products, and this has led to investment opportunities in commodities such as oil, which hit $78 a barrel recently. Index funds will also seek other commodities outside the energy sector, Welch said.

“This will also include agricultural commodities, which can lead to some positive activity for the agricultural industry as a whole,” said Welch, who recently discussed market implications at the 2009 Brock Faulkner Cattleman’s Clinic in Bryan.

This activity will affect the cattle market, Welch said. Coupled with declining numbers of cattle across the U.S., Welch said, beef producers can likely expect to see higher prices in 2010.

“We’re reducing numbers as a result of drought over the past two years, and that could put us in a very profitable situation in the future,” he said. “We slaughtered a lot of cows last year and this year, which has exceeded 2008 in some cases.”

Heifer retention rates have also been on the decline, down 2.2 percent compared to 2008 and the fewest in over 30 years, Welch said.

“We’re not going to have as big of a production beef plant (number of calves produced) in 2010 as we did this year,” he said. “When the economy increases and supports the demand, in general I think we can predict prices are going to increase next year, and especially going into 2011.”

Meanwhile, Welch said, grain demand could increase substantially in the coming months, coinciding with an economic turnaround and increased demand for energy.

Currently, more than 4 billion bushels of corn are being used for ethanol, and growth is expected to approach 5 billion. He said the nation’s corn crop is projected to be the second-largest on record. However, carryover stocks are going down as a result of the demand for corn from ethanol producers returning to profitability.

“What does that mean if we have a disruption in the corn supply?” Welch said. “We’re riding a razor's edge between supply and demand reflected in current price volatility.”

He said fertilizer prices may play a major role in how many corn acres are planted next year. Last April the national price for anhydrous ammonia averaged $680 a ton. Welch predicts $430 a ton in 2010, which is the cheapest price since 2005.

“Those are the kinds of prices we need to encourage lots of corn production,” he said.

To receive Welch’s grain market reports, e-mail him at [email protected].

Pilgrim’s Pride Receives Early Antitrust Clearance

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. today announced that it has received early antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice for the company’s previously announced stock purchase agreement with JBS USA Holdings Inc. (JBS U.S.A.), a subsidiary of JBS S.A.

Last month, Pilgrim’s Pride and six of its subsidiaries (the Debtors) filed a joint plan of reorganization and related disclosure statement with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas. Under the terms of the joint plan of reorganization, Pilgrim’s Pride has entered into an agreement to sell 64% of the new common stock of the reorganized Pilgrim’s Pride to JBS U.S.A. for $800 million in cash.

Pilgrim’s Pride said that it anticipates the plan to be confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court in time for the Debtors to emerge from bankruptcy before the end of December.

Information about Pilgrim’s Pride’s restructuring is available at Pilgrim’s Pride’s web or via Pilgrim’s Pride’s restructuring information line at 1-888-830-4659.

As previously announced, the Debtors filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions Dec. 1, 2008. The Chapter 11 cases are being jointly administered under case number 08-45664. The company’s operations in Mexico and certain operations in the United States were not included in the filing and continue to operate as usual outside of the Chapter 11 process.

Media, For the Last Time, It's H1N1, Not Swine Flu

mn-beef-expo.jpg As I was driving to the Twin Cities this weekend to attend the Minnesota Beef Expo, the radio was nonstop news about a show pig that was infected with the H1N1 virus. Cheers to the one radio station that reminded consumers that 1) H1N1 has been incorrectly named the swine flu, even though it's a virus that originates from people, birds and pigs, and 2) You can not get H1N1 from eating pork. However, every other report I heard on the radio or the news referred to it as both H1N1 and the swine flu. I don't care if it's easier to say, continuing to repeat the incorrect name because it's convenient is absolutely destructive to the animal agriculture industry. My support goes out to America's pork producers, and I have gathered some important reference materials for all of you to read and pass on in your email lists. For the last time, media, it's H1N1, not swine flu. Thank you.

News about recent H1N1 flu virus in Minnesota pigs...

USDA Confirms H1N1 Flu Virus in Minn. Hog, by Ag Web

USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed the presence of 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in a pig sample collected at the Minnesota State Fair submitted by the University of Minnesota. Additional samples are being tested. "We have fully engaged our trading partners to remind them that several international organizations, including the World Organization for Animal Health, have advised that there is no scientific basis to restrict trade in pork and pork products," said USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack in announcing the positive sample. "People cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products. Pork is safe to eat."

Virus Confirmed In Minnesota Pig, by NPR

It's now official: at least one pig in Minnesota has been confirmed to have had the swine flu virus, according to the Agriculture Department Monday. A sample from a pig which was at the Minnesota State Fair has tested positive for the H1N1 virus infection by scientists using the most accurate methods available. The Agriculture Department was quick to point out, however, that the presence of the virus in a show pig doesn't mean commercial herds are infected since show animals don't mix with their commercial cousins.

H1N1 Flu Virus Quick Facts, by National Hog Farmer

The swine flu outbreak is an inappropraite name because hogs are not the source. An outbreak of a hybrid form of swine influenza has not affected the safety of pork, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. President Barack Obama says that the threat of swine flu spreading is a cause for concern but “not a cause for alarm” as the United States works to closely monitor borders to contain it.

BEEF Daily Quick Fact: Pork is safe to eat; to enjoy pork recipes, link to The Other White Meat.