Beef Magazine is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sitemap


Articles from 2014 In November


Opinion: Hyperbole On Antibiotic Issue Not Helping

I penned this blog at 35,000 ft. as I flew to Atlanta, GA, for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture's (NIAA) conference on the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food — the fourth annual effort.

The conference was immediately preceded by a three-hour session involving state health and agriculture officials and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (and me) discussing the Food & Drug Administration's guidance documents 209 and 213 and the veterinary feed directive, along with recent CDC and World Health Organization reports on antibiotic resistance.

The actual NIAA conference that followed included presentations by Keep Antibiotics Working, the Vancouver Health Authority, the Public Health Agency of Canada, FDA, CDC, a pediatrician from the University of Pennsylvania and many academics from land-grant universities. In other words, they were looking for a balanced, open discussion with all parties represented.

To read more about antibiotic misconceptions, click here.

 

You might also like:

Video Tour: 2014 Yamaha Viking SxS

5 Tips For Getting The Most Cash For Your Cull Cows

Why Cattle Should Not Ingest Net Wrap

Photo Gallery: Meet The Generations On The Ranch

Expansion Indicators Continue

herd expansion 2014 beef cow herd

“Several indicators are suggesting that cattle herd expansion is occurring,” says Matthew A. Diersen, South Dakota State University agricultural economist, in a recent In the Cattle Markets. “Since July 1, the various livestock slaughter reports show sharply lower cow slaughter volumes, especially of beef cows. Overall heifer slaughter is lower, too, giving at least the potential for expansion and a bigger 2015 calf crop.”

Earlier this month, Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, explained that through Nov. 1 federally inspected cattle slaughter was 7.2% less than the previous year.

“Heifer slaughter so far this year has decreased 8.7%, with heifers accounting for 28.2% of total cattle slaughter, down a half-percent from last year,” Peel says. “October heifer slaughter was down 6.3%, with heifers making up 30.6% of cattle slaughter. Steer and heifer combined slaughter is down 5.3% for the year to date, and was down a stronger 6.7% in October. The sustained decrease in heifer slaughter in 2014 is an indication of more success in heifer retention this year.”

As well, Peel points out, “Total cow slaughter is down 14.5% so far this year (through Nov. 1) with dairy cow slaughter down 10.9% and beef cow slaughter down 18.1% for the year to date. Cow slaughter is a smaller percentage of cattle slaughter this year with total cow slaughter representing 17.9% of total slaughter, down from 19.5% one year ago.” 
 

From 1986 through 2013, Peel explains net beef herd culling (beef cow slaughter as a percentage of the Jan. 1 beef cow inventory) averaged 9.7%.

“In the last six years since 2008, beef cow culling has been higher, ranging from 10.5% to a record 12.3% in 2011. At the current pace of beef cow slaughter, net herd culling will likely fall below 9% in 2014, and may stay below the long-term average for several more years,” Peel says.

“Not only have weather conditions given relief to most cattle-producing areas, but a record-breaking corn harvest is apparent,” said analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in the November Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. “As a result, this year’s harvest has lowered corn and soybean meal prices, and producers have the option to keep cattle on feed and/or pasture for longer periods of time.

Combined with high cattle prices and recent feedlot placement patterns, ERS analysts say, “These data may indicate that some producers are interested in herd expansion by keeping heifers back for breeding purposes, foregoing very high returns by not sending them to the feedlot now.”

 

 

You might also like:

Photo Gallery: Meet The Generations On The Ranch

Why You Must Act Now To Minimize Cold Stress On Cattle This Winter

3 Steps To Negotiating A Great Cow Lease

Anne Burkholder, The Feedyard Foodie, Is BEEF Magazines 2014 Trailblazer

How To Prevent & Treat Pinkeye In Cattle

Cattle Supplies Remain Tight

cattle market outlook december 2014

Last Friday’s Cattle on Feed report surprised some with feedlot inventories 0.5% higher than the previous year at 10.59 million head, the first year-over-year increase in more than two years.

“Turning fewer cattle into larger feedlot inventories is the result of feedlot decisions about both placements and marketings,” says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, in his weekly market comments.

On the placement side of the equation, Peel explains placements of cattle weighing 700-799 lbs. comprised the smallest percentage of placements the past five months.

“In other words, feedlots have placed heavy feeders (>800 lbs.) to the extent available and otherwise have been placing lighter-weight cattle that will stay on feed longer, thereby maintaining feedlot inventories,” Peel explains.

Although October placements were 0.9% below the previous year, analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) explain placements were 1.5% lower on a net basis.

“Besides being marketed to packers, cattle exit feedlots for many reasons (death loss, shipment to other feedlots, incorrect inventory designation, etc.). USDA reports those animals as ‘other disappearance,’” LMIC analysts explain. “That statistic was rather large in the latest report.”
 

Feedlots also increased inventory by slowing marketing the past few months.

Marketings in October of 1.69 million head were 8% less than the previous year.

“The slow feedlot marketing rate is reflected in increased steer and heifer carcass weights in recent weeks, currently at record levels of 903 lbs. for steers and 830 lbs. for heifers, both up 26 lbs. from last year,” Peel explains. “Kansas feedlot data confirm that the combination of lightweight placements and heavier marketing weights is slowing down feedlot turnover rates. Days on feed for steers and heifers were up roughly 15 days in August and 21 days in September.”

Still, LMIC analysts point out, “By historical measures, the on-feed count remains small. However, the number of cattle marketed by feedlots in 2015 will not post large year-on-year declines.”

“Despite the modest increase versus year-ago levels, the main issue in the fed cattle market is the fact that forward contracts hold a premium and provide feedlots with an incentive to feed cattle to heavier weights,” explained Steve Meyer and Len Steiner in their Daily Livestock Report on Monday. “This has slowed down the flow of cattle. Feedlot inventories are slowly increasing but it is unclear how much of the cattle currently being placed on feed are for sale to packers and how many heifers are being placed in breeding programs. This could skew the overall expected supplies for next spring and summer. Taking the report at face value, we should expect more cattle to become available in late winter and spring.”
 

 

You might also like:

Photo Gallery: Meet The Generations On The Ranch

Why You Must Act Now To Minimize Cold Stress On Cattle This Winter

3 Steps To Negotiating A Great Cow Lease

Anne Burkholder, The Feedyard Foodie, Is BEEF Magazines 2014 Trailblazer

How To Prevent & Treat Pinkeye In Cattle

Cash And Futures Markets Vie For The Lead

calf markets

Although cash calf and feeder markets were only partially tested during the holiday week, calves and yearlings traded steady to $5/cwt. higher in early-week auctions, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on Friday.

Regionally, steers weighing 600-700 lbs. last week were averaging $81.93/cwt. to $89.18/cwt. more than the same time a year ago. Steers weighing 500-600 lbs. were averaging $91.51/cwt. and $99.56/cwt. more than a year ago in the Southeast and South Central regions, respectively.

Feeder cattle futures ran the opposite direction, though. Week-to-week, they closed an average of $3.81 lower across the board and that was after an average of increase of 72¢ from Wednesday to Friday.

“Feeder-cattle futures extended losses as feedlot margins remain under pressure,” John Otte, Penton market analyst, explained on Wednesday. “Although feed grain prices have fallen to the lowest levels in years, feeder-cattle costs have climbed higher than the ascent in live fed cattle prices, sparking concerns about demand for light-weight animals. If processors are unwilling to pay higher prices for slaughter-ready cattle, feedyard operators have less incentive to bid aggressively for feeder livestock,” he says.

A similar dichotomy existed between the cash fed cattle and futures markets.
 

Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!

Through Friday afternoon, trade remained more limited for the week than some expected, but prices remained in record territory.

A few sales in Nebraska Friday traded at $170/cwt. on a live basis and at $268 in the beef, but too few to trend. On Wednesday, live prices there were at $170-$173 and dressed prices were at $267. Elsewhere, live sales in Kansas and Colorado traded at $173 on Wednesday.

Likewise, boxed beef cutout values gained for another week.

Week-to-week, Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.18/cwt. higher at $257.40 Friday afternoon. Select was $3.92 higher at $245.85/cwt.

Live Cattle futures, however, lost ground. Week-to-week, Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.97 lower through the front four contracts, and then an average of 46¢ lower, except for $1.20 higher at the very back.

Keep in mind, sliding crude oil prices also pressured commodity futures markets and some equity markets this week. Week to-week, crude oil futures (WTI-ICE) were down an average of $6.57 through the front six contracts, closing at less than $70/bbl.

“The overall size of the U.S. herd remains at its smallest in decades and beef-processing companies paid record-high prices for cattle in cash markets the previous week, helping boost futures contracts,” Otte said earlier this week. “However, last week's USDA Cattle on Feed report suggests that a short-term uptick in fed cattle supply lies ahead. Still, beef will remain in tight supply and pricy. Traders are assessing whether consumers are willing to pay more for beef, particularly with chicken production on the rise.”

 


 

You might also like:

60 Stunning Photos That Showcase Ranch Work Ethics

70+ Favorite Photos From Reader's Ranches

10 Lessons I Want To Share With My Teenage Son

5 Tips For Success In The Family Business

70 Photos Honor The Hardworking Cowboys On The Ranch

Ag Education Is A Smart Investment For America’s Future

beef intern receives FFA American Degree
<p>agricultural education, AFA, FFA, school, kids, consumers, transparency, connect</p>

I was among more than 60,000 members in blue corduroy jackets who flooded Louisville, KY, to attend the recent 87thNational FFA Convention. During the convention, I was honored to be one of 3,567 members to receive the FFA program’s most prestigious honor - the American Degree. This degree is awarded nationally to less than 1% of all members. A few years ago, I never would have imagined that I would obtain my American Degree someday. My involvement in a variety of junior agricultural opportunities through 4-H, FFA and AFA have provided special significance to me as I seek a professional future within Agricultural Education – Communications and Leadership.

Agriculture encompasses our everyday actions, yet its significance is often forgotten in the midst of our consumerism-based society. Farmers affect each person’s life from the moment they wake up and get dressed in the morning, to the end of the day when they sit down for dinner with their family.

Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!

With the average consumer being multiple generations removed from the farm, and modern food production often under assault in the media, it is vital that children be introduced to agriculture at an early age via primary education. Educating children about farm production not only connects them to their food source, but it creates a chain-linked response into their homes. Kids go home and tell their parents what they learned at school, unintentionally informing their family and friends in the process.

More important today than ever

Agricultural transparency and literacy are more important today than ever before due to increased reach and the unceasing nature of today’s media. Understanding agriculture allows a person to more closely follow economics, government and production from beginning to end, as agriculture is the basis of our nation’s economic infrastructure.

Defined by the National Council for Agricultural Education, “Agricultural education is a systematic program of instruction available to students desiring to learn about the science, business, and technology of plant and animal production, or about the environmental and natural resources systems.”

University Land-grant institutions founded in agriculture, under the Morrill Act of 1862, have allowed for progressive research efforts. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "Investments in research taking place at Land-grant universities are vital to America so we can out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world."

Involvement in agricultural programs leads to job opportunities. “Agriculture is the number-one hiring sector in the U.S. Twenty-one million Americans, or 20% of the U.S. workforce, work in the agricultural sector,” the U.S. Department of Education reports.

Two summers ago, I had the privilege of lobbying the importance of agricultural education in American schools to my Congressman, U.S. Rep. John Kline (R-MN). I told him that, according to the National Association for Agricultural Educators, there are more than 800,000 students participating in formal agricultural education instructional programs - grades seven-adult - throughout 50 states and three U.S. territories. In addition, there are nearly 7,500 high school agricultural education programs and more than 10,000 agricultural education instructors, according to USDA.

Studies continue to show that students involved in agricultural education programs perform better in math and science.

While national FFA membership is currently at an all-time high, there continues to be a climbing nationwide shortage of licensed agricultural education teachers.

“We do not have the people to fill position openings. It is critical that we recruit young people and quality agricultural teachers if we are to continue our current success in exposing our next generation to the opportunities that exist in a growing agriculture industry,” says Mike Miron, agricultural education instructor at Forest Lake (MN) High School.

Last month, I was a delegate to the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leader’s Conference in Kansas City. Designated as future industry leaders, all attendees were treated to a host of informational break-out sessions, keynote speakers, and an opportunity fair. The weekend confirmed to me that agriculture truly is the best field to be in. There is no other industry with such top-notch, friendly and professional people across the board.

home photo contest

Photo Gallery: Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat
At BEEF, we're proud to celebrate the ranching lifestyle. Enjoy 70+ photos from our readers that showcase their country home. Enjoy the gallery now.

 

Russ Weathers, AFA CEO and Director, opened the four-day leader’s conference by sharing his thoughts on leadership and agricultural education opportunities. He said, “Drop the ‘ship.’ This is not leadership training. It’s training leaders. You have been given a gift to lead the industry, and I hope you’ll take it.”

Orion Samuelson, National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, spoke during the industry professionals’ dinner on Friday night of the conference. He reminded youth that we have a greater calling to devoting ourselves to agriculture and to thank all who have helped lead us to where we are today. Samuelson concluded, “Thank you, parents, for raising the best crop out there. The future of agriculture keeps getting brighter and brighter.”

My high school did not offer agricultural courses. For this reason, I attended monthly night classes at a high school forty-five minutes away in order to be an FFA member. Had I not been allowed to be an “outreach student,” I would have never had the opportunities that I have had within the FFA program. Each day, through my participation in university schoolwork and extracurricular activities, I am affirmed that my decision to pursue an agricultural major was an excellent choice. As I attend leadership events, I continue to realize that each agricultural opportunity - whether in a classroom setting or not, success or failure, - has left me learning valuable life lessons. I am committed to being part of agriculture’s progressive and innovative future, and for this, I remain grateful and excited.  

 

 

You Might Also Like:

60 Stunning Photos That Showcase Ranch Work Ethics

70+ Favorite Photos From Reader's Ranches

The Importance Of Beef Reproduction - What, How, Why

10 Lessons I Want To Share With My Teenage Son

5 Tips For Success In The Family Business

4 Fun Facts About Thanksgiving Dinner; PLUS: Details About A NEW Contest

Thanksgiving comes but once a year, and it’s a day set aside to truly appreciate life and the many blessings we have. I’m thankful for another year of writing for BEEF, my husband Tyler and daughter Scarlett, our ranch, and our cattle. I’m also thankful for my family’s good health, and the comfortable home and circumstances we enjoy. Many of our fellow citizens can’t say the same. One thing we can all be appreciative of, however, is America’s farmers. Read on to learn more.

In addition to counting my blessings, Thanksgiving is also the one day a year when I happily eat turkey and know that by Black Friday, I’ll be back to eating beef again.

As you shopped for your holiday fare at the grocery store, you may have noticed the high sticker tag on some of your food items. It seems the dollar doesn’t go quite as far as it used to, but some interesting statistics provided by Steve Meyer and Len Steiner of The Daily Livestock Report (DLR) shed some light on food prices.

Here are four fun facts about the cost of a typical Thanksgiving dinner:

1. The cost of the Thanksgiving dinner rose 37¢ from last year.

According to DLR, “The American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 29th annual informal survey of the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner for 10 people says that the average cost grew by $0.37 from last year to $49.41. The meal includes roast turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk.”

2. The cost of turkey dropped 11¢ from last year.

Steiner and Meyer report, “The $21.65 cost of a whole 16-lb. turkey was 11¢ lower than last year. Whole-bird prices have fallen slightly even though wholesale turkey part prices have been much higher this year on lower production.”

3. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie are now pricier, and stuffing and cranberries are a little cheaper than last year.

Steiner and Meyer add, “The prices of sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix have risen the most this year. Prices for the relish tray Ingredients and green peas rose as did the cost of a group of miscellaneous items (coffee and other ingredients such as butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour needed to prepare the meal). The costs of bread stuffing, cranberries, pie shells and rolls all fell slightly this year.”

4. In a side-by-side comparison, Thanksgiving dinner cost more in 1911 than in 2013.

According to the report, “An article at BusinessInsider.com cited a study conducted by the Morris County Library in New Jersey that looked back at advertised prices of common Thanksgiving items in its local newspaper from the week of November 22, 1911. Turkeys were $0.28/lb. in those ads while bread stuffing and rolls were $0.05/lb. and sweet potatoes sold for $0.29 for a 6-quart basket. Peas brought $0.05/can and the ingredients for a pumpkin pie cost $0.84. Add everything up and the cost was $6.61. But those are 1911 dollars. Adjust them for inflation and the cost of that 1911 meal is $167.77 in 2013 dollars. The turkey alone cost $110 in 2013 dollars instead of today’s $21.65.”

What a testament to the efficiency of modern-day farming! We can thank today’s U.S. farmer and rancher for producing more while using fewer resources. The proof is in the turkey dinner!

PLUS, here’s big news about an upcoming photo contest!

As you enjoy the day with friends, family and good food, be sure to have your camera ready to capture some fun family memories. Next Monday, Dec. 1, we will launch another photography contest sponsored by Greeley Hat Works. Two Greeley Hat Works hats are up for grabs once again! We want to see you and your family’s personalities shine through in the photos, so take lots of pictures and stay tuned for more contest details.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

You might also like:

60 Stunning Photos That Showcase Ranch Work Ethics

70+ Favorite Photos From Reader's Ranches

The Importance Of Beef Reproduction - What, How, Why

10 Lessons I Want To Share With My Teenage Son

5 Tips For Success In The Family Business

Beef Producers Should Watch For Acorn Poisoning In Cattle

Tom Troxel, University of Arkansas associate head of animal science, says an over-abundance of acorns this fall and winter could be dangerous for cattle. An occasional acorn isn't a threat, but too many open the door to acorn poisoning from tannins, he says.

"Consumption of tannins can lead to gastrointestinal problems, severe kidney damage and death," he says. "Some cattle may consume acorns and experience no ill effects, while others suffer severe disease."

Many species of oaks are considered toxic to animals. They typically affect cattle and sheep, and they also can occasionally cause toxicity in horses.

To read more about acorn poisoning, click here.

 

You might also like:

Video Tour: 2014 Yamaha Viking SxS

5 Tips For Getting The Most Cash For Your Cull Cows

Why Cattle Should Not Ingest Net Wrap

Photo Gallery: Meet The Generations On The Ranch

Why Ranchers Are Feeling Optimistic & Looking To Produce Better Beef

I spoke at a local cattlemen’s meeting last weekend, and of the 175+ people in attendance, I was impressed by the number of young families. Frankly, the average age of my typical crowd is 60+, which makes sense since the average age of the U.S. rancher is 58. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to visit with so many young people like myself who are establishing their roots in the cattle business and finding success raising beef cattle. It’s a good sign to see the next generation thriving in this business.

Of course, with these great times come great responsibilities. We need to keep in mind the end product as we raise beef cattle on our ranches. That means selecting genetics that will produce the best beef product in the most efficient way possible. Additionally, we need to be mindful of quality and consistency, and we can ensure a great product by following Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines. We need to ensure that our consumers are having a great beef-eating experience every time, and it starts at the cow-calf level.

 

Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!

 

An article published in the Farm & Ranch Guide entitled, “Note To Youth Ranchers: Start With End In Mind” echoes my thoughts on this topic.

Mark McCully, vice president of production for the Certified Angus Beef brand, says, "As beef prices have increased, and consumers pay more for our product, their expectations are going with that. And so, we really have to deliver. There's more pressure than ever to deliver a great eating experience, and remember why consumers are buying beef. We're not the cheapest protein out there, and when we spend a lot of money on a product or premium brand, we have a higher expectation level of how that product will perform.”

McCully offered some advice to young people, pointing out that ranchers need to keep quality in mind as they make decisions on the ranch.

“Our traditional way of thinking is we start at the ranch and think about the mother cow only, but when we look at the growth in the high-quality beef sector, the opportunities out there for a young person getting back into this industry are great. I would suggest that, in addition to your focus on great cows, look beyond the commodity business to where there's value added, and where there is a growth in demand. That's clearly in the high-quality side of the beef market.”

Do you think about the end product in your spot on the beef production chain? What are ways you’re working to improve beef for consumers? Are you optimistic about the beef industry? What advice do you have for young ranchers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

You might also like:

60 Stunning Photos That Showcase Ranch Work Ethics

70+ Favorite Photos From Reader's Ranches

The Importance Of Beef Reproduction - What, How, Why

10 Lessons I Want To Share With My Teenage Son

5 Tips For Success In The Family Business

Immigration Reform Continues To Be A Political Football

Immigration Reform Continues To Be A Political Football

There’s been a lot of political maneuvering around the issue of immigration reform, with the latest play, of course, being President Obama using his executive power to protect around 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. In the aftermath of Obama’s move, controversy has raged regarding the rule of law, and whether the executive branch can legislate just because Congress either elects not to act or passes legislation the president doesn’t agree with.

It’s a debate worth having and, in the long run, it’s more important than the policy because 5 million illegal immigrants weren’t going to be deported anyway. The problem is that real reform isn’t an issue that either party has been serious about. Obama’s move is all about positioning for the next election, and he showed once again that despite his failures in foreign policy, the economy and health care, he is brilliant politician. 

Obama’s executive order will do little to address illegal immigration, but it virtually ensures that any cooperation between the executive branch and a newly elected Congress won’t happen. In one simple act, the president once again removed the government from a governance role to a purely political beast. Obama might feel most comfortable in this role, but it does little for the country. 

Eventually it has to happen

Of course, real comprehensive immigration reform will have to be addressed eventually, and there is bipartisan agreement on several points:

• Deporting 11 million illegal immigrants isn’t going to happen,

• Securing our porous border is vitally important,

• Reforms are needed to improve and increase legal immigration,

• The federal government must find a way to remove the incentive for immigrants to come here illegally,

• The issue won’t go away if the government continues to grant citizenship to those who defy our laws,

• Something must be done regarding the 11-12 million illegal immigrants already in our country.

The two sides of the political aisle agree on all of this to varying degrees, and there is even little disagreement about how to go about it. So why hasn’t it happened? Because they don’t agree on the timing.

The right only wants to provide a pathway for citizenship to those who have broken the immigration laws after the border has been secured so as not to continue to encourage illegal immigration. The left wants to first provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegals in the country, and it has a less stringent meaning of what “securing the border” means.

Sadly, however, it is more than just timing and prioritization of implementation that needs to be worked out; there are also the political ramifications. What’s ironic about the politics of the situation is that both the right and the left benefit from not doing anything and keeping the issue alive. Or as President Obama did, enact some minor short-term change to curry political advantage. 

Almost every demographic in the U.S. falls heavily into the arms of one political party or the other. Go to any meeting of environmental activists or organized labor, and the attendees will overwhelmingly tend to vote with the Democrats. Meanwhile, a group of entrepreneurs and small business owners will resoundingly vote Republican. The groups don’t have to be that narrowly defined, either. White men are overwhelmingly Republican, while black Americans almost universally vote Democrat.

The two broad-based groups considered to be in play, or that are growing rapidly thus are critical to electoral success in the future, are women and Hispanics. The trend lines for those groups is decidedly toward the Democrat Party, but both sides of the aisle believe the trends aren’t as engrained as in other groups. Thus, they hold the key to future elections.

President Barack Obama announces executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during a nationally televised address from the White House, November 20, 2014. Credit: Pool / Pool / Getty Images

That’s the reason Democrats went with the failed “war on women” theme in the midterm elections and that’s why political positioning is so important in the immigration debate. White men, African Americans, entrepreneurs, union members, and all of the “one-issue groups” out there are not irrelevant, but they’re considered to be comfortably aligned with one party or the other.

Women and Hispanics will decide future elections, and Obama is gambling that his executive order will help ensure a Democrat victory in 2016 and beyond. He outmaneuvered and gained tremendous political advantage with the move. Of course, he loses that advantage if Congress actually acts and creates comprehensive immigration reform and delivers it to Obama’s desk to sign.

Obama, on the other hand, believes Congress won’t act. As he seems to make few miscalculations when it comes to campaign strategies, I wouldn’t bet against him. However, with the need for real immigration reform being substantial, who’s to say that Republicans can’t still trump Obama’s hand. Both sides agree on what needs to be done; they just have to conclude that it’s in their best political interest to set politics aside and do what is right.  

The current debate regarding the executive order revolves around two issues. Is Obama’s executive order simply an exercise of prosecutorial discretion? Or is it a blatant attempt to ignore the laws as passed by Congress, and a consolidation of not only executive but legislative authority under the presidency?

Prosecutorial discretion is nothing new. Prosecutors don’t prosecute every crime; they prioritize and prosecute the cases they feel do society the most good. While the Justice Department might elect to only after go after big-time drug dealers and ignore dealers on street corners, it doesn’t mean dealing drugs on the corner is legal.

Uncharted territory

Still, this is uncharted territory, and that is why both sides of the aisle in Congress have such serious concerns about this executive action. They see Obama’s action as rewarding lawbreakers; they don’t see it as an issue of focusing resources, but vacating a law written by the legislative branch.

President Obama is gambling that Congress won’t fight for its constitutional power because the political consequences of doing so could be too damaging at the ballot box. While Obama has the power to decide which laws to enforce and who to prosecute, Congress should be the entity with the power to repeal laws and confer positive legal benefits on non-Americans, which they see Obama as doing with his executive order.

It’s an amazing political gambit – can a president ignore his constitutional duty if he cloaks it an appealing way designed to deliver compassion?  It was sheer political genius that one of his main arguments has been couching it as “I’m doing this so Congress will act.” It a case of the ends justifying the means, but it’s nothing less than a direct challenge to our constitutional system.

Congress must act on immigration because it is a broken system. Congress also must address the president’s usurpation of Congressional power. Our founding fathers were correct in setting up a system of checks and balances and saw the inherent danger of an executive branch that continued to grow in power to the point of creating a king. 

Anything less than an aggressive two-pronged approach by Congress will result in a disappointing result. While Republicans won the last election, they will only truly win if they act to address health care, immigration, enact a pro-growth economic package and offer a coherent foreign policy plan. Short of that, their victory will be short lived. They don’t need Obama to sign such measures into law or enact them; they merely have to demonstrate their plan and their ability to govern.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.

You might also like:

60 Stunning Photos That Showcase Ranch Work Ethics

70+ Favorite Photos From Reader's Ranches

The Importance Of Beef Reproduction - What, How, Why

10 Lessons I Want To Share With My Teenage Son

5 Tips For Success In The Family Business

70 Photos Honor The Hardworking Cowboys On The Ranch

Grass-Fed Vs Grain-Fed Ground Beef: Research Shows No Difference In Healthfulness

Video Tour: 2014 Yamaha Viking SxS