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Articles from 2013 In December

HSUS Shows Its True Dishonest Colors

HSUS Shows Its True Dishonest Colors

I despise liars and lying. I have excellent personal reasons but I argue that a liar proves himself untrustworthy in every circumstance.

A friend once told me: "My dad always said if a man will lie to you he'll steal from you."

I remember thinking when he said it that the concept was flawed. I no longer think that. I learned the hard way that my friend's father was right. I also became a much keener observer of the human animal.

The concept my friend was getting at was this: Lying is akin to stealing because it is about fundamental honesty or dishonesty and ultimately about the choice each person must make between which of the two very different paths he or she will walk.

In fact, my friend's father was laying before us a pattern of progression the dishonest person will follow along the dishonest road.

Perhaps not every liar steals but every stealer lies.

To read Newport's entire column about HSUS, click here.


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Top 10 Most Read Stories At BEEF

top 10 articles of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, we always enjoy looking back at some of the most-read and best stories of the year. These annual lists always have some surprises, but it's clear that practical, production information, as well as timely breaking news, are always a winner. Below are the 10 most-read articles of the year, but there were plenty that just missed the top 10 ranking. What articles did you enjoy reading this year?

  1. Rancher Details “Gut-Wrenching” Pain From Cattle Lost In SD Blizzard

    Freelance writer and rancher Heather Hamilton Maude experienced the tragedy from the freak winter storm that struck the Great Plains in October first hand. Her detailed commentary struck the hearts of readers as she shared her personal hardship. Read more about winter storm Atlas here.

  2. 7 Common Fencing Mistakes

    This always relevant story highlights seven of the most common errors in high-tensile fencing, and how to avoid them. Learn how to make your high-tensile fences secure here.

  3. castrating bull calvesWhen To Castrate Calves

    It's a question that comes up every year -- what is the best time to castrate my bull calves? BEEF Vet's Opinion Columnist W. Mark Hilton outlines the benefit of castrating a bull calf before weaning in this 2009 article.

  4. Prevention And Treatment Of Cow Prolapse

    With calving season around the corner, number four on the top 10 list will soon be a handy resource for many ranchers. Once a cow has prolapsed, there's a high chance she will repeat the situation next year; here's how to prevent and treat prolapse.

  5. Price-Per-Pound Drives Consumer Beef Sales

    Where can you get outstanding quality beef at the lowest possible price? For Meat Matters columnist Steve Kay, it's Costco. For other readers, it may be another local grocery. Regardless, Kay's story on price-per-pound value hit home with producers and was number 5 on the top 10 list. Read more about Costco and today's value driven consumers here.

  6. Calving Tips For Diagnosing And Treating Coccidiosis In Calves

    One of the five most economically important cattle diseases in the industry, coccidiosis is a costly parasitic disease, primarily in young calves. BEEF freelancer Heather Smith Thomas rounds up veterinarian's tips on how to treat and prevent the cattle disease this calving season.

  7. feedlot beta-agonistsTemple Grandin Explains Animal Welfare Problems With Beta-Agonists

    Tyson Fresh Meats dropped a “Dear John” bombshell on the industry in early August when they announced they would no longer take cattle fed Zilmax, a beta-agonist by Merck. As other packers followed suit and banned Zilmax-fed cattle from their lines, the fall was filled with news articles analyzing the loss of Zilmax fed cattle, but Temple Grandin's acute look at the effect of Zilmax in terms of animal welfare made the biggest headlines. Read her excellent explanation of beta-agonist and our reader's comments here.

  8. Ranchers Sing The Praises Of Mob Grazing of Cattle

    This intensive grazing story has made our top 10 list for two years straight. This practical, production-based story shares insight from some leading "mob grazers" in the country and explains how-to implement an managed intensive grazing program into your operation.

  9. BEEF Chat: Inside Costco

    Costco finds two spots on the top 10 list! This BEEF Chat is one of many industry one-on-one interviews done in the early 2000s. Read more about the grocery giant here.

  10. Cargill To Shutter Plainview, TX Beef Plant

    Overcapacity has been a hot topic in the beef industry for the past few years. Cargill's January 17th announcement to shutter the Plainview, TX plant sent a ripple effect through the industry. Read about how Cargill's announcement impacted cattle markets here.

Additionally, BEEF Daily blogger Amanda Radke wrapped up her top 10 blog posts for the year here and we will announce our top 10 photo galleries on Thursday! Leave us a comment below with your favorite article in 2013 and we will put all the comments in a hat to be entered to win a BEEF hat! Winners will be selected on Wednesday, January 8th.


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2013: A Year In Review

Tonight we will ring in a new year. The year 2014 looks promising for cattlemen. The corn bubble is bursting, beef supplies are tight, and demand remains strong in our global markets. It’s an exciting time to be in the beef cattle industry, and I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings.


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As we say goodbye to 2013, I thought it would be fun to highlight the top 10 BEEF Daily blog posts in terms of viewer traffic of the past year. From fluffy cows, to the winter storm Atlas, to animal rights activists bullying livestock producers, here are the most popular blog posts from 2013:

1. Jamie Oliver Says McDonald’s Burgers Unfit For Human Consumption

2. Debunking UGG Boots And Their UGGly Reputation

3. Early South Dakota Blizzard Leaves Thousands Of Cattle Dead

4. Dodge Ram Super Bowl Ad Gets Mixed Reviews

5. PETA Terrorizes Teen Boy In Louisiana

6. Is The #FluffyCow Trend Good For The Industry?

7. Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Healthier?

8. Carrie Underwood Gets Political On Tennessee Ag Gag Bill

9. Six Reasons Why I Eat Meat Every Day Mondays, Too

10. What Do Carrie Underwood, HSUS & Obamacare Have In Common?

As you read through these blog posts, be sure to check out the comments section, as well. These posts were discussed, debated and analyzed by our readers, adding value to the blogs themselves. Feel free to add new thoughts to the discussion.

What are you looking forward to in 2014? Do you think it will be a good year for beef producers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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7 U.S. Ranching Operations Lauded For Top-Level Stewardship

<p>Seven cattle operations, recognized regionally for their efforts in conservation and stewardship, will compete for the 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award Program&rsquo;s national title. The winner will be announced in Nashville, TN, in February. Learn more at</p>

These seven unique cattle operations, all regional honorees recognized for their outstanding efforts in conservation and stewardship, will compete for the 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award Program’s national title. The winner will be announced during the cattle industry convention in Nashville, TN, in February.

The Environmental Stewardship Award Program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences; USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the National Cattlemen’s Foundation; and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Nominations for the 2014 awards are now being accepted. Learn more at

All photos courtesy of NCBA.


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Meat Matters

Packers Wrestle With How To Add More Value To Cattle

cattle supplies will be tight in Southern Plains

What a difference a year makes when it comes to corn prices. By now, you have a good idea of just how large last year’s record U.S. corn crop is, and how prices will look this year. At press time in late November, cash prices were 42% lower than the same week in 2012. Whether it was in Omaha, NE, or Dodge City, KS, prices were in the $4.14 to $4.30/bu. range.

Prices seemed unlikely to drop below $4 unless the crop is bigger than expected, and exports and ethanol usage decline. But even at the November prices and with live cattle prices around $130/cwt., cattle feeders were enjoying solid feeding profits after 18 months of massive equity erosion. One can only hope that cattle feeders don’t bid away their future profits by paying more and more for replacement cattle.

It’s going to be difficult, however, for feeders to keep a lid on replacement costs. The shrinking U.S. cattle herd has left the feeding sector with at least 35% overcapacity. Some feedlot operators have responded by closing yards or turning them into backgrounding operations. But it seems inevitable that more will close in 2014 and 2015.

Rebuilding of the U.S. beef herd hasn’t yet begun; when it does, it will take even more heifers out of the feeding and slaughter mix. Thus, cattle feeders and fed-beef processors both face the prospect that cattle numbers won’t start increasing until 2016.

The Southern Plains will face the tightest cattle supply for two main reasons. Drought ravaged Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico cow-calf herds in 2011 and 2012. These three states alone lost 1.62 million beef cows in these two years. Even if cow numbers stabilized there last year, it might be at least another year before pasture conditions sufficiently improve to encourage cow-calf producers to start rebuilding their herds.

There also are other reasons why herd expansion might be extremely modest, both in the Southern Plains and nationally. The average age of ranchers is edging higher, and so is their aversion to risk. Several of my rancher friends are in their 70s, and although they’re among the biggest and best operators in the business, they are opting to reduce their cow numbers.

Another reason is that, as in 2013, feeder cattle prices might be so attractive that intentions to hold back more heifers will once again give way to selling that animal for a record-high price. Who can resist putting money in the bank instead of having to carry that heifer for 18 months or more before she has a calf?


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Cattle numbers will also be the tightest in the Southern Plains due to the huge reduction in Mexican feeder cattle coming north. Northern Mexico was ravaged by drought in 2011 and 2012, two years that saw the second- and third-largest-ever annual numbers (1.447 million and 1.421 million head of cattle, respectively) come north.

Not surprisingly, imports from Mexico by mid-November 2013 had fallen 38%, or by just over 476,000 head. If this percentage decline held through the last six weeks of 2013, Mexican feeder imports for the year will be down 553,000 head compared to 2012.

The decline in the supply of homegrown and Mexican calves claimed its first packinghouse victim last February, when Cargill idled its Plainview, TX, fed-beef plant. The plant was capable of processing just over 1 million cattle annually, so its closure briefly redressed the imbalance between supply and processing capacity on the Southern Plains.

However, an imbalance remains, and plants in the region will likely have to run reduced hours in 2014. And they will have to find even more ways to get more value from each carcass to make up for the economic cost of underutilization. That’s exactly what feedlot operations will have to do as well.

Steve Kay is editor and publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly ( See his weekly cattle market roundup each Friday afternoon at


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Make Sure You’re Using Antibiotics In A Legal Manner

Make Sure You’re Using Antibiotics In A Legal Manner

If you’re putting a fluoroquinolone antibiotic into cattle for anything other than respiratory disease, you’re breaking the law. This class of antibiotics includes enrofloxacin (Baytril 100®) and danofloxacin (Advocin). Illegal uses would include treatment of diarrhea (scours) or ear infections.

These drugs were approved with a prohibition of extralabel (EL) use because of their importance in human medicine, and the intent to limit their uses to only those diseases where microbial safety has been demonstrated. The fluoroquinolone antibiotics are only labeled to treat and control respiratory disease in cattle (only enrofloxacin for control, which means metaphylaxis, or mass medication on arrival), for which this use has been proven safe and effective. Any other use in cattle is illegal. 

There is another recent rule regarding EL use in food animals. The antibiotic ceftiofur is in the third-generation cephalosporin class. You know this drug by the trade names Naxcel®, Excenel® and Excede®, all of which contain ceftiofur in different formulations. This antibiotic has been proven safe and effective for multiple label indications.

Recently, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine prohibited certain EL uses of this antibiotic because of the importance of this class of antibiotics in human medicine. Ceftiofur may be used for diseases other than specified on the label under the supervision of a veterinarian, but in no cases may the label directions for administration be altered (dose, route, duration, frequency).

Therefore, injecting Excede subcutaneously in the neck is illegal; it is labeled only for injection in the middle third or at the base of the ear. If Excede is injected anywhere else, the withdrawal time is so long that there’s a chance the carcass could be pulled and tanked — with the client receiving zero for a $1,500 steer.


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There’s been lively debate about the scientific justification for the EL prohibitions for both of these drug classes. Regardless of your thoughts on this issue, these are the regulations, and the ability to limit uses of these antibiotics through label specifications and EL prohibitions is the reason our industry still has some of our antibiotics. Just as important, it’s the reason we may get new ones in the future. 

Through my observations of food animal veterinarians and producers over the years, there are some characteristics I’ve noted among those striving to do things right. These people understand that:

  • Their success, and that of their colleagues and neighbors, depends on the success of the industry as a whole.
  • This success is understood to encompass a long-term horizon, including future generations.
  • This success is completely dependent on the willingness of a consumer to purchase the end product, which is based not only on price, but also on perceptions related to animal welfare and product safety.

Anyone who suggests picking and choosing the regulations to observe doesn’t understand these relationships. If you see an industry demonstrate it will pick and choose which regulations it follows, are you comfortable doing business with that industry? What about an industry that tolerates some of its members ignoring some of the rules?

Our willingness as an industry to adhere to regulations will determine if label directions, EL use regulations and veterinary oversight will continue to serve as sufficient assurances to allow approval of new tools for animal health and to keep the ones we have. Our responsibility includes both being involved in the regulatory process through our veterinary and producer organizations, and being very vocal about not tolerating lack of adherence to the regulations once they are in place.

If you’re told that some of these regulations don’t need to be followed, you’re getting bad advice. If you take that advice, you’re breaking the law.

Mike Apley, DVM, Ph.D., is a professor in clinical sciences at Kansas State University in Manhattan.


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Delivering Value To Beef Consumers Is More Important In Today’s Market

test tube burgers

“Our vision is to become the market leader in the development and introduction of new plant protein products. We are focused on perfectly replacing animal protein with plant protein where doing so creates nutritional value at lower cost.”         

That’s the stated mission of Beyond Meat, apparently one of the bright lights in the world of meat analogues. A meat analogue is simply a substitute for meat that is made from plant protein, such as soy and pea proteins.

By all accounts, meat analogues today aren’t like the dry, tasteless soy burgers some of us were forced to choke down in the school cafeteria. This is “meat” manufactured to mimic the taste, texture, mouth-feel and nutritional profile of specific meats.

Ironically, some of the loudest champions of fake meat are the vegetarians and vegans who seem to hate anything and everything associated with meat.

Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame, is a champion, too. And, he’s pro-agriculture. In fact, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave away $375 million in agricultural development grants in 2012. Some of it went to the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines to provide livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for resource-poor people.

His blog, Gates Notes, carried a feature last year supporting meat analogues as part of the solution to providing protein to the world’s expanding population.

Meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is expected to double again by 2050,” Gates says. “This is happening in large part because economies are growing, and people can afford more meat. That’s all good news. But raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact.”

Gates says there’s no way to produce enough meat for a projected nine billion people by 2050. “Yet we can’t ask everyone to become vegetarians. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources.”

He says he’s encountered a few companies over the past few years “doing pioneering work on innovations that give a glimpse into possible solutions.” Beyond Meat is one of the firms he highlights.

Gates makes no mention of whether society approves of livestock production, or plant production for that matter. There’s also no pondering about whether meat processors themselves might one day lead such an analogue movement, as some in the meat industry have suggested intermittently.

Call me a purist or just sentimental. It pains me that non-leather billfolds are so inexpensive and last so long, at least according to friends who use and swear by them. Nothing can replace the smell and feel of genuine leather, which can last a lifetime. Tooling a leather billfold and stitching it by hand makes it one of a kind, too. But craftsmanship takes time, and time multiplies the cost.


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In other words, the utility/price value of fake leather is too high for some shoppers to ignore. Others simply don’t have the economic luxury of choosing between what they want and what they need.

Through the recent recession, data indicated some beef consumers were trading down in their beef purchases from middle meats to end meats and ground beef. Some who couldn’t afford that transition traded out beef for pork and chicken, etc. Shoppers will buy the best protein they can afford.

I hope I’m eating brisket in heaven long before meat analogues go mainstream, if they ever do. But given the price differential between beef and other animal proteins, as well as our continuing challenge of product consistency, beef must do all it can to preserve and grow its utility relative to the price.

A lot of folks likely laughed at the first belching horseless carriages that rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly lines a century ago. It’s just as likely that few horse breeders, harness makers or wainwrights fully appreciated the threat of these primitive machines to their livelihoods. I hope the beef industry has more prescience.


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What Are The Obstacles Ahead For The U.S. Beef Industry?

looking ahead at the beef industrys future

2014 marks the 50th year of publication for BEEF magazine. On the occasion of our 25th anniversary, we asked a handful of industry experts to prognosticate on what the U.S. beef industry might look like in 25 years.

Digging into the time capsule that was our 25th anniversary issue, I found the following thoughts about what the year 2014 held for the U.S. beef industry:

• “$98 feeder cattle and $95 fed cattle.” So said the headline of an article by Ed Uvacek, a longtime columnist for BEEF magazine and a Texas A&M University emeritus professor. Those were some vertigo-inducing figures at a time when feeder cattle were selling around $80 and Choice fed steers hovered at $70. But such prices would be disappointing in today’s market of $170 calves and $130 feds.

• Uvacek also projected beef cow numbers to grow from 33.7 million head in 1989 to 35 million in 2014. In actuality, they headed the other way, matching levels not seen in 50 years.

• U.S. per-capita beef consumption was forecast to rise to 78 lbs. in 2014 from 72.7 lbs. in 1988. It was at 57.5 lbs. in 2012.

Other predictions

Other predictions in the issue included:

• As U.S. society becomes more urban, and with urban/rural problems often at opposite ends of an issue, cattlemen will be subject to more scrutiny.

• We should not elevate issues among a public that doesn’t have the issues as top-of-mind
concerns, especially if those issues are not now reducing beef purchases. We plan for now to continue focusing our information programs on opinion influencers and people in the media.

• Twenty-five years from now, diet will be less an issue that it is today. Our challenge is to ensure that other issues, such as safety, don’t get away from us.

• The message for the future is to produce meat products that excel in quality, palatability and nutrition. To do this, we must devise production and marketing schemes that reward all production levels from seedstock to food processor for superior meat food products.

• When we talk about the future, there’s a whole series of new compounds waiting in the wings. Known as beta-agonists, they are different from anything we’ve used before.

• Packers must tell us what they want and provide incentives for producing the cattle they prefer. Increasingly, we’re going to sell cattle based on true retail value, not on a conglomerate average that disguises inefficiencies.

• We will have faced and gone beyond the issue of animal welfare by the year 2014.

• Concerns for planet Earth will have moved beyond fad and become a way of life. It is conceivable that a measure of impact on the environment will be a marketing tool.

• For the next 25 years, the challenge is to continue making progress in the face of today’s — and tomorrow’s — public perceptions. That is on top of livestock agriculture’s traditional challenge of providing protein at reasonable prices.

• It is reasonable to believe, as cloning technology becomes more efficient and routine, that within a few years it will be possible to produce cloned feeder calves at economical costs. What may be possible in 25 years will probably exceed our wildest dreams today.

Shots in the dark

While some of those pronouncements seem wildly off target in retrospect, others are prescient. But all these thoughts were conceived without the benefit of knowing the myriad of unknowable factors that can upset the best-laid plans.

No one in 1989 would have factored in events like the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on the East Coast, or the BSE case of 2003 that shut down U.S. beef access to world export markets. Then there was the general economic
meltdown of 2008, and prolonged severe drought that hit the heart of ranch country a few years ago. And don’t forget the effect of sensational media reports like that on lean finely textured beef that fueled a social media fury (who foresaw social media?), essentially sidelining a 20-year-old process. Then there is the renewable fuel mandate.

In some respects, there’s even more uncertainty in today’s market than 25 years ago, thanks to a more globalized economic market.

“It’s pretty clear that government regulation/policy is increasingly an important influence across any number of facets,” says Nevil Speer, Western Kentucky University. “For example, the renewable fuel policy has dramatically influenced agriculture in any number of ways. And now the unwinding of that program will be equally disturbing.”

Equally concerning is monetary policy, he adds. “I continually tell producers they HAVE to watch what goes on with the Federal Reserve and other international central bank decisions. It seems so ambiguous or disconnected from producers’ everyday business decisions, but it has a huge effect in influencing money flow everywhere. Therefore, it has fingers into the broader economy and economic growth, lending opportunities, interest rates, exchange rates and international trade.”


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Speer says managing capital will be increasingly important. “The cattle business is increasingly becoming a highly capital-intensive business. Those who manage their capital efficiently will thrive; those who don’t will get left behind. That’s especially true as interest rates creep higher over time, assuming they will.”

Too often, Speer adds, producers focus strictly on production as a template for progress. “But today it must be both production and financial management. That’s hard to do, but it’s true in any business. We’re just catching up.”  

Meanwhile, Glynn Tonsor, a Kansas State University economics professor, says general global economic strength is paramount for overall beef demand growth in the coming decade. “There’s reason to be optimistic about global growth, and that’s a positive for the U.S. beef industry in a five- to 10-year horizon,” he says.

However, he shares the concern of many producers regarding the growing regulatory burden. “At this point, we’re not certain how it might change over the next 5-10 years, but there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding how much more involved government will get. People are concerned about the current level and direction of government regulation, and whether it will ever stop,” Tonsor says.

All in all, however, Tonsor says he’s optimistic about the coming decade. “Laying a broad brush over the entire industry, I’m very bullish. The U.S. has a clear comparative advantage in grain-finished beef production in the world, and I don’t think we’ll totally regulate that away. We may keep eroding it, but I don’t think we’ll make it disappear.”

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In 2014, Strive To Be The Kind Of Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

In 2014, Strive To Be The Kind Of Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

A new year is traditionally viewed as a sort of fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. It’s estimated that about 45% of Americans typically make New Year resolutions, according to, and only about 8% of those resolutions are realized.

The top 10 resolutions for 2014, according to the same website, are to lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more, enjoy life to the fullest, stay fit and healthy, learn something exciting, quit smoking, help others in their dreams, fall in love, and spend more time with family.

Of the resolutions made for the new year, it's estimated that 75% will make it past the first week, and only 46% will make it past 6 months. That's not the greatest of success rates but, of course, that doesn't mean one shouldn't try to better oneself in areas where you think improvement is needed.

There's a natural tendency, I think, to look beyond home for measures of success, however. The problem is that such factors often aren't totally under our control - things like wealth, recognition, material possessions, etc. Inspirational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say that "Money won't make you happy, but everybody seems to want to find out for themselves."

I like to think that the most meaningful yardsticks for measuring success are things that we generally have a lot of control over. There's an old adage I heard a few years ago that goes something like this: "To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you just may be the world." I think we all too often get caught up in the race for something more, bigger or better. Meanwhile, the thing that carries the truest and deepest personal reward might just be a loved one, be it child, a spouse, an elderly relative or friend, or any person who looks up to you.

This is a lesson I think we all viscerally know and understand, but often have to be reminded of, and it's the turn of a phrase that sometimes provides the cold slap that forces us to stop and take inventory. And the turning of a new year is always a good time to rededicate ourselves to such important pursuits.

Golda Meir, the legendary Israeli prime minister, once said: "Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life." I recently heard a more succinct and humorous version of that sentiment by author J.W. Stephens, which went like this: "Strive to be the kind of person your dog thinks you are."

I don't know if it's possible for any of us to live up to that kind of lofty image, but best of luck for a great 2014.


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Food Price Pressure to Rise

Last week USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) issued its report on food prices with a look at key inflation numbers. The agency reports that in 2013, food prices for "food-at-home" was up just 0.6% from a year ago, while "food-away-from-home" was up 2.1%.

In reviewing prices, the agency notes that, despite the historic drought of 2012 and dire predictions for food prices, "retail food prices were mostly flat in 2012.

Prices rose for beef and veal, poultry, fruit and other foods in 2012; however, prices fell for pork, eggs, vegetables, and nonalcoholic beverages. For the remaining food categories, prices were mostly unchanged."

Back to normal? USDA's ERS sees more "normal" inflation ahead, which would be an increase from 2013.

To read more about rising food prices, click here.

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