Farm Progress America - December 29, 2016

Max Armstrong quotes a new study that about 44% doctorate degrees earned in food and ag are with women, but only 23% of tenure tracked positions are held by women. The University of Florida study shows that women are underrepresented in a number of areas in agriculture. He notes progress is being made, but there's work to be done.

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

Burke Teichert: Is that new advancement in tech actually making your ranch better?

Burt Rutherford technology in the beef industry

Among my early childhood recollections are a time when our ranch did almost all of its work with horses, horse drawn equipment and people. We had one tractor and, in the summer, used it to mow hay. The rest of the haying was done with teams of horses and implements designed for them to pull and get the jobs done.

By the time I started to drive a team of horses pulling a dump rake to help in the hay field, we had two tractors; and over the next few years, horses were phased out and tractors or modified trucks (reversed) provided all of the horsepower for harvesting hay. In those days, the tractors, equipment and fuel were cheap. The technology and prices from then until now have changed in an almost astounding way.

As I sit at my computer today, I think back to the late 1970s and early 80s when I was first introduced to desktop and later laptop computers. I hated the things from the beginning, but I began to love what they would do for me—especially when I had an office manager or administrative assistant who would make them (the computers) work for me. We could, all of a sudden, do so many more things.

Now, after watching this unfold, I am asking myself how much of this technology should I be using or recommending to my clients? Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. This thought applies across all of agriculture and our attempts to make our businesses fun and profitable.

I am not ready to tell a broad audience what technologies they should or should not adopt. Those decisions need to be made to fit the situation. Let me point to a few Ideas/questions that I think warrant some consideration. By the way, I have said before that it is much more important for good managers to know the right questions than to know the answers. If they know the right questions, they will find the answers. This is much better than answering wrong or unimportant questions.

  • With the increase in size and cost of haying equipment, should we still put up all the hay, put up less or not put up any? Could we use “new” techniques to provide grazing for a greater portion or even all of the year? Could we buy hay to meet our needs?
  • Has your workload diminished since you started using a PC or laptop? Is there really a payback for all the things you are asking it or your smart phone to do? How much time is wasted in frivolity or low-impact ideas, thinking and tasks?
  • How about AI, estrus synchronization and embryo transfer technology? Who should be using these and who should not? How much are we diminishing genetic diversity and what are the potential future problems and cost of that? Could genetic diversity be helpful in adapting our livestock to climate changes or to our management changes?
  • What about insecticides? Do we only kill the target organisms? No! How many beneficial ones do we kill? What have we done to the balance that nature tries to achieve? Do livestock still have the need to develop genetic resistance to the pests? Can livestock develop genetic resistance to pests? Which happens faster—do the pests develop resistance to the pesticides or do the manufacturers of pesticides develop new chemicals faster? 
  • What about herbicides? Do we really need to kill every weed—especially in pastures? What about resistance issues? Are there other ways to reduce weed pressures—farming techniques, grazing methods? Do we know what they are and how to implement them? I have a good friend who is also a very good grazier. He recently told me he is becoming a very good weed farmer. He then pointed out that many of the weeds (I prefer to call them forbs) are eaten by his cattle. Many of the forbs have excellent feed values and are sometimes medicinal for cattle.
  • There are symposia, magazine articles and much talk about no-till farming and cover crops. What do we know about that? If we were to try it, what would we have to learn? What are the advantages, disadvantages and challenges? Does technology help us learn and implement better?
  • We hear more and more about various implementations of high-intensity, low-frequency grazing. How much do you really know about it? Have you looked for the successes or the failures in an attempt to support your preconceived idea? Do you understand the principles upon which time-controlled grazing is based?

Now for me, I am not ready to return to the 1950s’ methods of haying; nor am I advocating that you or I throw away our computers and smart phones. I do not recommend the abandonment of AI or ET. I do not like poisons because they simplify the environment and reduce biodiversity. However, I continue to use them—just a lot less and with great caution. I know ranchers in nearly every area of the U.S. that have quit using wormers and other pesticides. They had to cull some animals that couldn’t handle or resist the pests, but they now have good cattle health, performance and reproduction.

I think each of the mentioned technologies and many others have their place, but we should recognize that technologies are sold by salesmen; and, though well intended, they will almost always try to sell you more than you should buy or use.

I have a huge preference to move away from a high dependence on fossil fuel and equipment to a higher dependence on sunlight, rainfall, soil and our creative abilities to learn, observe and adopt and use nature as a model for more of what we do. For those reasons, I very much favor farming with the use of no-till and cover crops and grazing with what I like to call managed, time-controlled, adaptive grazing, which can take on a number of shapes depending on location and goals.

With these practices you learn to view nature as a partner instead of an enemy. Modern technology for fencing and stock water placement provides wonderful tools to facilitate good grazing. Other technologies for mapping, planning, planting, recording yields, etc. have made implementation of these techniques more practical and efficient. Then there is the technology of the mind which is simply a better understanding of the science surrounding soil health, range and crop production and animal health, production and well-being.

There is a world full of wonderful technology. We can’t and shouldn’t adopt it all. In fact, we must be careful to not be oversold. We must be economically selective and make sure that there is a good economic return for the technologies that we adopt. Some very good and useful technologies will not fit every operation.

The cost of regulation is killing American drive and entrepreneurialism

Regulation limits ranching

While President Obama may officially be on vacation, the administration, as expected, has embarked on a last-minute regulatory binge aimed at advancing agenda items they didn’t have the political capital or the politic al will to enact. Advancing these “midnight” agenda items by executive fiat also creates headaches for the new administration, making it more difficult to implement changes they had promised. It is kind of sad, but as they say, all is fair in love and politics.

The real disturbing part of this last-minute regulation bonanza is that the political drama tends to overshadow the real and significant costs associated with these regulations. I’m never quite sure how economists put costs on these things, but the estimates are that federal (just federal) regulations cost the economy roughly $2 trillion a year. Amazingly, that equates to about 12% of our economy. The Federal Register which contains all the regulations we are supposed to follow is over 80,000 pages and growing exponentially.

The cost of regulation is disproportionately born by small businesses and organizations; the big guys can hire the attorneys, accountants and employ staffs to work with and manipulate the rules. For small entities, the mountain of paperwork, regulatory constraints and costs amount to a defacto barrier to entry.

While most ranchers were focused on dealing with the cold snap that swept through the country and the holidays, the EPA and Department of Interior were busy putting in place new regulations that are expected to cost $5.1 billion per year, and amazingly require at least 350,000 hours of paperwork from companies, according to an article in Investor’s Business Daily. And there are a host of smaller regulations being implemented as well.
 
The numbers are staggering. Just since 2009, the new regulations implemented by EPA and Department of Interior are estimated to have added $349 billion in regulatory costs. 

It seems, though, that the cost-benefit analyses of these regulations are never discussed. The battle over the growth of government and these newly-imposed regulations promises to be immense, and there is a lot of history to suggest that the Democrats will be proven correct in their belief that the Republicans, despite controlling both houses of Congress, will not have the stomach for the fight.

As one Democratic strategist said, it doesn’t matter whether it’s us or the Republicans threatening a government shut down, we know how to blame them for it.

Few deny the growth-killing impact of over regulation, but nobody wants to be blamed for putting federal employees out of work or not caring about whatever noble intention these regulations are supposed to address. Somehow, the conversation has to become about sensible regulation, because most everyone agrees that some regulation is needed. The question is, where does the intrusion stop and the free market take over?

It will be up to everyday citizens and small businesses to hold D.C. accountable and to reel in the negative impacts of regulation, because big business understands that the most heavily regulated industries are insulated from competition and enjoy the most consistent returns and highest margins.

Regulation has a way of benefitting federal employees, big business, and politicians and codifies crony capitalism. It is the overall economy and the average citizen that pays the price through lower wages, higher taxes and lower overall economic growth.

The Trump administration has promised to address the situation, but so have several of their predecessors who found they didn’t have the stomach for the fight. Regulation has the support of the mainstream media, big business, the political class and the federal bureaucracy, and that has been a difficult force to overcome.

The Trump administration is aware of the negative impacts of over-regulation, but it is yet to be seen whether or not they have the political acumen and will to reign in its growth and roll it back to the point where American ingenuity and drive can be unleashed again.

Professional sports should be the model. They understand that changing the rules changes the game, and they have competition committees to analyze the impacts of the rules and determine if they improve the game and improve the level of competition.

Perhaps we need a competition committee that analyzes every new regulation proposed by the federal government – does it improve the overall position of America now and in the long term, and does it benefit the American economy and worker? If those questions were honestly applied, I’m guessing the Federal Register would be reduced by 50,000-60,000 pages almost overnight. 

 

Top 10 BEEF articles in 2016

electric fencing tips grounding

As we conclude one year and turn to the next, it's always fun to look back and see what everyone was reading at BEEF. I've been creating this list for five years and year after year, you turn to beefmagazine.com to find practical information on cattle health and ranching basics. It's why our article that explores seven common fencing mistakes (and how to fix them!) is always at the top of the list. And why people keep coming back to learn about coccidiosis and prolapses. These stories offer real-world advice you can use and that's something we're always working towards at BEEF.

Just for fun, here are a few facts from the digital world of BEEF. In 2016, over 2.3 million unique visitors stopped at our site and viewed over 8 million pages of content. We saw our most monthly traffic last January, readers were the most interested in information on pasture-range and nearly 50% of our traffic came from mobile sites. When I started my job at BEEF in 2011, we celebrated when we hit 2 million page views. My, how the digital world has grown.

Here are the Top 10 articles viewed in 2016:

1. 7 common cattle fencing mistakes

Whether you’re an experienced hand or just learning the basics of wood, wire and tape, there's always something more to learn when it comes to livestock fencing. And readers keep proving that's true. For the third year in a row, Jim Gerrish and Kevin Derynck's tips on livestock fencing tops our Top 10 list.

Read more on these seven avoidable mistakes here.

2. 2016 market outlook: Here's what to expect

This one should come as no surprise. The fear of the unknown drives everyone to look for answers in the market. Was Jim Robb with the Livestock Marketing Information Center right? Yes and no.

Read our 2016 market outlook here.

3. Grass-Fed Vs. Grain-Fed Ground Beef -- No Difference In Healthfulness

Is ground beef from grass-fed cattle healthier than that from conventionally-raised ground beef? It seems like everyone wanted to know the answer.

See more on the Texas A&M research on grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef here.

4. Calving Tips For Diagnosing And Treating Coccidiosis In Calves

Calving is a stressful time for ranching operations, and it gets even worse when a calf gets sick. Coccidiosis is a costly disease and this detailed look at what causes it and how to treat it is one to bookmark.

Read more on coccidiosis here.

5. Young ranchers, listen up: 8 tips from an old-timer on how to succeed in ranching

Here's a good one that deserved to make the list. Ninety-one-year-old Nelo Mori offers his real-world, no-holding back advice to young ranchers. If you're just getting started in the business, this is a must-read.

Read the 8 tips for young beef producers here.

6. Prevention And Treatment Of Cow Prolapse

Cow prolapses happen and ranchers turned to this practical piece by rancher Heather Smith Thomas to figure out how to treat it. (We recently posted a new article on prolapse you might also like to read here.)

Read how to prevent and treat prolapses here.

7. How To Treat Lump Jaw Disease In Cattle

This is what we call evergreen content in the magazine world, because no matter how old it is, the content is still useful. Genetics and technology change annually, but lump jaw keeps happening. Here's the basics on what causes it and how to treat it.

Read how to treat lump jaw here.

8. How To Control Sucking & Biting Lice On Cattle

Winter's here, bring on the lice! Those itty, bitty creatures are costly when it comes to your cowherd. Here's how to control them.

Read lice control tips here.

9. Exactly When You Deworm Your Cows Matters

Ever heard of the clean cow-clean pasture concept? It's one you'll want to be familiar with as you look to deworming this spring.

Read more on deworming timing here.

10. When is the best time to wean? It might be younger than you think

Rounding out the list is one of our favorites. When do you wean? You might benefit from doing it 30-60 days earlier this year.

Read more on how to improve your weaning schedule here.

What's your favorite article at BEEF? Did it make the top 10 list?

Fetal programming: Fact or fiction?

One of the emerging concepts in beef production is that of fetal programming. Increasingly, research is pointing to the importance of adequate cow nutrition in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, not just the third trimester.

What exactly is fetal programming and how does it affect calf health and carcass quality? Is the concept of fetal programming a passing fad or will it be a paradigm changer in how cow-calf producers look at winter cow nutrition? Will the demand for high-quality beef make it worthwhile for commercial cattlemen to up their game in cowherd management?

This edition of the Beef Roundtable explores those questions and more. This video delves into the issue with Kim Vonnahme and Ron Scott.

Kim Vonnahme is a researcher at North Dakota State University. The long-term objective of her research is to produce healthy beef cow pregnancies that will allow the offspring to optimize their potential. The overall concept is to study developmental programming during gestation on subsequent offspring productivity. Ron Scott is director of beef research with Purina Animal Nutrition, with a focus on developing life-cycle supplementation strategies that increase animal performance and producer profitability. Listen as they discuss the current state of knowledge about fetal programming and how cattle producers can incorporate it into their management strategies. dissect the premiums and discounts in the feeder cattle market.

The Beef Roundtable is a joint project with BEEF and Purdue University. It’s a monthly video podcast that features some of the top leaders in the beef industry co-hosted by Ron Lemenager, Extension beef specialist at Purdue University and BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford.

 

Replace dogma with logic for better productivity

Amanda Radke Natural Resources

Those of you who have read my ramblings over the years know that I am not a fan of industrial agriculture.

There are several reasons for this position but the main one is that industrial agriculture simply does not work. It is not sustainable, much less regenerative. It produces a lot of product but at a cost that is unacceptably high.

Agriculture, once the premier generator of new wealth in the world, is now wealth-consuming and dependent for its existence on subsidies from outside the system.

The problem goes beyond the cost of products being too high in dollars and cents. In many and perhaps most areas, we are trading our natural resources – top soil, water, biodiversity – for dollars. This is a mining operation, not a growth operation.

To read the entire article, click here.

MIDDAY-Midwest-Digest-December 28, 2016

Max Armstrong's Midwest Digest

Max Armstrong talks about changes at malls after the post-Christmas fights where there were widespread arrests, and some injuries. Traffic deaths are on the rise, and 2016 may be the biggest in 50 years - thanks to distracted driving. And Max notes that drug deaths in Wisconsin topped traffic deaths. And finally he shares news that Bertch Cabinets in Waterloo, Iowa, rewards its employees - all of them - with a special trip.

Midwest Digest is a twice-daily look at news from around the Midwest. Veteran broadcaster Max Armstrong offers news and commentary for the region.

Top 10 BEEF Daily blogs for 2016

Amanda Calves in the fall

As my final blog post for 2016, I’ve rounded up the 10 most popular blogs of the year. We’ve covered a lot of ground in 2016 — from the election to ranch management to activist propaganda. I hope you’ll continue to tune in throughout 2017 for industry coverage on issues facing ranchers today. Happy New Year from my ranch to yours!

1. NFL player spends signing bonus to buy cattle

Texas farm boy and professional football player Cobi Hamilton may have achieved fame and fortune when he secured his spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers team as a wide receiver. However, the country boy hasn’t forgotten his roots in agriculture.

2. Are vegetable proteins equal to protein in beef?

Do you really need meat to get protein? VeganStreet.com says no. The activist group posted this graphic in the Albany Times-Union stating that, “Beef has 6.4 grams of protein/100 calories” and “Broccoli has 11.1 grams of protein/100 calories." But is that the whole story?

3. 5 tips for preventing, diagnosing & treating foot rot

Foot rot occurs in all ages of cattle, with increased case incidence during wet, humid conditions. When case incidence increases in hot and dry conditions, attention must be directed to loafing areas, which are often crowded and extremely wet from urine and feces deposited in small shaded areas.

4. Mainstream media slams flyover states as rural voters unite to elect Trump

Who do the talking heads at NBC and ABC think raises the fiber for the designer clothes they are wearing? Where does the food come from that they enjoy backstage during commercial breaks? How do they power their lights and cameras to air their broadcasts? Who drills for the oil and gas that helps heat their homes and keep their planes and cars moving? Oh yeah, it’s those “uneducated” rural Americans.

5. Chipotle sparks farmer outrage over soda cup

There’s a reason most self-respecting farmers and ranchers choose places like Culver’s instead of Chipotle when they are looking for a quick meal on the go —  Chipotle chooses to spread falsehoods and perpetuate fairy tales to make a buck while Culver's supports modern food production and how sound science, technology and common sense help feed a growing planet.

6. Winter feed: Do you have enough to feed your cows?

With winter just around the corner, I’m sure most of you are well along in stockpiling your forage resources for the cold months ahead. For those of us still winding up the process, here are a few key considerations to think about, courtesy of Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist.

7. Wendy’s addresses antibiotic use in beef production

Wendy’s official statement on the issue is, “when antibiotics are necessary, producers should work with their veterinarians and only use antibiotics as prescribed at the lowest dosage that has been proven to be effective.”

8. 6 reasons why I eat meat every day — Mondays, too

Sorry, Prevention Magazine, but you’ve got it all wrong. Here are my six reasons to include meat in your diet.

9. How the media got it wrong about the euthanized Yellowstone bison calf

The tourists picked up an abandoned bison calf in Yellowstone and hauled the animal in their car to area officials in hopes of finding help for the baby. They thought the calf looked cold and needed assistance.

10. ATV accident serves as a reminder to ranchers to be safe this spring

The beef industry lost a great cattle woman earlier this week. Jordan Straight Muxfeldt, age 27 of Iowa, was killed in an ATV accident on Monday, along with her two unborn twins who were due to arrive this spring.

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

 

(Preview) Top 10 BEEF Daily blogs for 2016

Amanda Calves in the fall

As my final blog post for 2016, I’ve rounded up the 10 most popular blogs of the year. We’ve covered a lot of ground in 2016 — from the election to ranch management to activist propaganda. I hope you’ll continue to tune in throughout 2017 for industry coverage on issues facing ranchers today. Happy New Year from my ranch to yours!

1. NFL player spends signing bonus to buy cattle

Texas farm boy and professional football player Cobi Hamilton may have achieved fame and fortune when he secured his spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers team as a wide receiver. However, the country boy hasn’t forgotten his roots in agriculture.

2. Are vegetable proteins equal to protein in beef?

Do you really need meat to get protein? VeganStreet.com says no. The activist group posted this graphic in the Albany Times-Union stating that, “Beef has 6.4 grams of protein/100 calories” and “Broccoli has 11.1 grams of protein/100 calories." But is that the whole story?

3. 5 tips for preventing, diagnosing & treating foot rot

Foot rot occurs in all ages of cattle, with increased case incidence during wet, humid conditions. When case incidence increases in hot and dry conditions, attention must be directed to loafing areas, which are often crowded and extremely wet from urine and feces deposited in small shaded areas.

4. Mainstream media slams flyover states as rural voters unite to elect Trump

Who do the talking heads at NBC and ABC think raises the fiber for the designer clothes they are wearing? Where does the food come from that they enjoy backstage during commercial breaks? How do they power their lights and cameras to air their broadcasts? Who drills for the oil and gas that helps heat their homes and keep their planes and cars moving? Oh yeah, it’s those “uneducated” rural Americans.

5. Chipotle sparks farmer outrage over soda cup

There’s a reason most self-respecting farmers and ranchers choose places like Culver’s instead of Chipotle when they are looking for a quick meal on the go —  Chipotle chooses to spread falsehoods and perpetuate fairy tales to make a buck while Culver's supports modern food production and how sound science, technology and common sense help feed a growing planet.

6. Winter feed: Do you have enough to feed your cows?

With winter just around the corner, I’m sure most of you are well along in stockpiling your forage resources for the cold months ahead. For those of us still winding up the process, here are a few key considerations to think about, courtesy of Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist.

7. Wendy’s addresses antibiotic use in beef production

Wendy’s official statement on the issue is, “when antibiotics are necessary, producers should work with their veterinarians and only use antibiotics as prescribed at the lowest dosage that has been proven to be effective.”

8. 6 reasons why I eat meat every day — Mondays, too

Sorry, Prevention Magazine, but you’ve got it all wrong. Here are my six reasons to include meat in your diet.

9. How the media got it wrong about the euthanized Yellowstone bison calf

The tourists picked up an abandoned bison calf in Yellowstone and hauled the animal in their car to area officials in hopes of finding help for the baby. They thought the calf looked cold and needed assistance.

10. ATV accident serves as a reminder to ranchers to be safe this spring

The beef industry lost a great cattle woman earlier this week. Jordan Straight Muxfeldt, age 27 of Iowa, was killed in an ATV accident on Monday, along with her two unborn twins who were due to arrive this spring.

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