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Articles from 2019 In December


Good news for beef producers: Low carb diets gaining traction in 2020

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As we welcome a New Year, one of the most popular resolutions for folks is to lean up and finally battle the belly bulge once in for all. Per norm, the fitness and nutrition industry capitalizes on this — selling expensive shakes, protein bars, diet programs, workout plans, memberships, trendy gear and coordinating outfits so you look and feel good at the gym.

But what if the answer to our diet woes lies within a secret that has been painfully buried for a generation?

What if the answer to our health and wellness challenges is to eat more beef?

This would be amazing news for both the consumer and beef producers like you and me.

I consider myself both in this scenario — I eat beef to be a healthy person, and I produce beef to fill my freezer and support my family.

Perhaps one of the coolest interviews I had the pleasure of doing in 2019 was on the What the Keto podcast, where I got to answer questions about modern beef production on a platform geared toward folks who are already huge fans of beef!

To listen to this podcast, click here and search for the What the Fat interview on the list.

In recent news, I’ve discovered that a new organization called the Low-Carb Action Network (LCAN) has been established by a group of doctors, academics and average Americans with personal success stories using low-carb diets.

LCAN is urging U.S. nutrition leaders to include a true low-carb diet as part of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

According to a LCAN press release, “There exists a large and rapidly growing body of strong scientific evidence showing carbohydrate restriction to be a safe and effective strategy to prevent and even reverse chronic, diet-related conditions such as pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes, overweight/obesity, and high blood pressure along with a broad array of other cardiovascular risk factors.

“The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently endorsed low-carb/keto diets as a standard of care for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, stating that the diet lowers blood pressure, controls blood sugar, lowers triglycerides (fatty acids in the blood), raises the ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL-C), and reduces the need for medication use.”

However, the DGA does not include a low-carb diet.

Here are statements from several nutritional professionals in the low carb space:

“One size does not fit all. If there is anything we've learned over the last four years, it's that the low-carb approach should be a viable option," states Dr. Eric Westman, associate professor of medicine at Duke University.

“If the government has any responsibility to give advice on nutrition it should be focused on those who have a medical condition which is impacted by nutrition and provide evidence-based nutrition solutions, one being a low-carb diet. This diet is highly effective to prevent and treat diet-related illnesses and has decades of evidence to support it,” says Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, professor of family medicine at West Virginia University.

“As a cardiologist, I regularly prescribe a low-carb diet to treat patients with type 2 diabetes and other heart-related diseases to better their health and improve their quality of life,” says Dr. Nadir Ali, chairman of the Department of Cardiology at the Clear Lake Regional Medical Center and research professor at the Department of Nutrition and Applied Science at the University of Houston. “Given the significant amount of scientific research and evidence supporting this diet, it’s time for U.S. nutrition policy leaders to prescribe a low-carb option for those who are tipping into obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.”  

According to LCAN, “A study conducted last year by the University of North Carolina at Chapel concluded that only 12% of American adults are metabolically healthy, while 88% are en-route to developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or another chronic, diet-related condition.

“Dr. Jeffry Gerber, M.D., FAAFP, board certified family physician and owner of South Suburban Family Medicine in Denver, Colo., said it is unconscionable for nutrition leaders not to include a low-carb diet in the dietary guidelines.

Gerber says, “It is unacceptable for our nation’s nutrition leaders to exclude nearly nine out of 10 adults from the guidelines, when low-carb diets provide a viable and proven solution for effectively combatting obesity and diabetes, among other conditions. Every day people across the globe are improving their health by following low-carb diets. Their stories are emotional and real—from fighting obesity and heart disease to beating depression and even cancer.”
 
LCAN plans to launch a grassroots campaign in the coming months to urge leaders at USDA and HHS to ensure that a properly defined low-carb diet is included in the DGA to provide a dietary option for the majority of Americans who suffer from diet-related chronic diseases. The next meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will be held in January in Houston.

For more information on the Low-Carb Action Network (LCAN), please visit lowcarbaction.org.

As a beef industry, we should look at these leaders in the low carb and ketogenic spaces as allies in promoting and endorsing a diet that is rich in animal fats and proteins. We well know the benefits of regularly consuming beef in our diets, but our customers have been told otherwise for the last 40 years.

It’s time we undo the damaging impacts of the plant-based propaganda that has been pushed for so long, and it’s high time we start championing for the benefits of meat, dairy and eggs at the center of the dinner plate!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

Top 10 BEEF articles to close out the decade

It's a tradition for many to close out the year looking back at the successes of the past 365 days. We like to do the same at BEEF.

Every year, we mine the data to determine what ended up on the fan-favorite list. At this point, we've done this long enough that we know there's a few topics that are always going to make the list: fencing, animal health...because really, when should you castrate that bull calf?... and new products. In fact, the number one story has been the most-read story for years and we'd be the first to bet that it's the most-read article on BEEF's website ever. (What's it about? You'll have to click through to see! Even if you've already read it, it's one you should read again and again and again!)

And while we are big fans of writing content that becomes a go-to resource for you for years to come (we're talking about #5!), we also know there's hundreds of stories that didn't make this list, but that made just as important of an impact in 2019.

There were topics that we just couldn't seem to stop writing about, such as trade, Trump and China; fake meat and cow farts; and the "black swan" market event because of Tyson's plant fire. And then there's the viral content from BEEF in 2019 such as Amanda Radke's Ellen plea or our response to the gut-punch that happened in May at Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana. When we take the time to look back, it's apparent that our job at BEEF is two-fold. First, we have the responsibility to react and respond to what's happening today. We must fairly cover the news, disasters and hot topics that matter most in the moment. But even though our news world is spinning at what seems to be an ever-increasing pace, we work for you, and there are lot of things in your day-to-day that haven't changed much in the last decade. Cows still prolapse. Calves still need to be pulled. Fence still needs be fixed.

We're proudly keep offering you both in the decades to come.

Promoting ag literacy as the antidote to PETA’s curriculum

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you know that I’m incredibly passionate about promoting agricultural literacy in today’s youth.
Perhaps it stems from sharing a dorm room during a summer college internship in Washington, D.C. with a vegan, who abstained from meat because of a YouTube on animal abuse she had seen.

Perhaps it was my shock when my cousin came home for Christmas one year proclaiming that she was a pescatarian and only ate meat at home because she didn’t know how to cook it in her dorm room and didn’t know where the beef came from when she bought it at the grocery store.

Perhaps it’s the confusion that starts with little kids when they watch Disney movies or read children’s books that personify the animals as the heroes while making the farmers/ranchers as the villains.

Or perhaps it’s my own kids’ questions about the circle of life that has sparked my interest in this topic. In trying to answer their questions, I realized that there were very few agriculturally accurate children’s books on the shelves.

That’s what spurred me to write two children’s books (with two more on the way in 2020), and that’s what continues to drive me to travel to various elementary schools to introduce kids to agriculture and teach them about where their food comes from.

However, what fuels this passion for promoting agricultural literacy most of all is this scary reality — PETA has introduced curriculum that is being taught in public schools across the country.

Titled, “TeachKind: PETA’s Humane-Education Division,” this program is presented as a tool to teach kids empathy. However, the materials actually elevate the value of animals to have the same rights as people.

According to Protect the Harvest, PETA’s curriculum teaches students through a DVD titled, “Share the World.” The DVD proclaims:

  • Each and every animal is a unique and special individual.
  • Farmers take calves away from their mothers and they grieve just like a human mother would if her child was taken away.
  • Pigs are friends, not food.
  • Cats and dogs should all be living indoors with their owners.
  • Do not buy pets from pet stores or breeders because every time you do a shelter pet has to die.
  • Tell your parents to only buy cruelty free products.
  • Do not participate in animal dissections at school.
  • Tell your parents you don’t want to go to zoos, aquariums, or circuses.

Protect the Harvest says, “PETA is an organization that has been investigated by the FBI’s Anti-Terror Unit and has been classified in the past as a terrorist threat by the USDA. Why are we letting this group into our schools to teach our children?

“The animal rights extremist agenda has no place in our schools. If you want to make sure your school is not teaching the TeachKind program, contact your child’s teacher, principal, or superintendent.”

Read more about this program, as well as HSUS’ attempt to influence kids, by clicking here.

Find out if this is being presented at your local public school and demand that this be stripped from the curriculum! There is already an excellent character-building program in existence — it’s called Character Counts through 4-H. I can’t think of a better and more effective program to teach empathy, kindness, caring, responsibility, citizenship, fairness, respect and other important attributes than that! No PETA necessary here!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

Bovine vets release updated dehorning guidelines

Dehorning cattle

“The AABP [American Association of Bovine Practitioners] felt that the topics of castration and dehorning differed enough that it made sense to develop separate guidelines to focus on the issues and considerations specific to each topic,” explains Renee Dewell, an Iowa State University veterinarian and AABP Animal Welfare Committee chair.

Dehorning cattle is a necessary procedure to reduce the risk of injury to the animal, other cattle and people, and during transportation to slaughter facilities, reduces bruising of carcasses. AABP recognizes the differences in management of newborn calves between the cow-calf and dairy industry in performing this procedure.

Because dairy calves are handled daily, the guideline recommends that disbudding/dehorning be performed no later than eight weeks of age. The beef industry has made significant improvements in utilizing polled genetics and currently only 7.8% of beef cattle are born with horns, according to the NAHMS Beef 2017 Cow-Calf Survey.

“One significant update in the dehorning guidelines is the recommendation that pain mitigation protocols for dehorning be considered a standard of care,” Dewell says. “This was done to reflect the considerable body of scientific evidence that has shown that calves benefit from pain mitigation protocols associated with dehorning and disbudding procedures.”

Specifically, the AABP Animal Welfare Committee updated the sections in the guidelines on proper restraint, local anesthesia and systemic pain relief. “The updated guidelines provide science-based recommendations to help veterinarians and producers best raise the animals entrusted to their care,” adds Dewell.

The updated dehorning guidelines can be found on the AABP homepage under the Home tab. The updated castration guidelines can be found here.

Source: AABPwhich is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

What’s the outlook for the 2020 economy?

Nevil Speer 2020 Economy Outlook

From an equity market perspective, the end of 2019 stands in sharp contrast to 2018. Last year at this time, the stock markets were experiencing some sharp declines; the financial markets were on edge with lots of concern about pending slowdown (or even recession) and subsequent decline in company earnings. 

None of those fears came to fruition. In fact, the economy has avoided any and all setbacks.  As a result, concerns in late ’18 have been largely reversed. 

There are any number of ways to measure the outlook on economic activity including GDP, employment rates, etc. One of the most tangible ways to look at broader expectations, though, is through analyst expectations for company earnings in the coming year.   

Analysts are now forecasting aggregate S&P 500 earnings to total roughly $158 per share for 2019. And those solid earnings have helped boost the equity indexes to new records in recent months.

Nevil Speer2020 Economy Outlook

But markets are always looking ahead; those records have also been fueled by generally upbeat consensus among analysts for 2020. At the end of ’19, earning estimates for the coming year total nearly $175 per share—better than 10% growth versus ’19.  

Clearly, solid economic growth, strong employment and a favorable outlook among consumers has helped boost beef demand in 2019. That’s best evidenced by the record strong (and long-tail) Choice-Select spread during the second half of the year. Consumers are willing to pay up for high quality, consistent beef.   

The most important component of this discussion isn’t around the exact numbers, but rather around the general trend. It appears everything is shaping up for a favorable 2020 from an economic perspective. That should translate into good news for the beef sector. How do you see this all shaping up for 2020? Can beef spending run even stronger in the coming year?

Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, Ky. Contact him at [email protected]

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Dec. 31, 2019

Have you checked your stock investments? Numbers are up at the end of the year.

However, the farming economy has had a rough year. Because of that, a bill has been introduced to address mental health on the farm.

There might be a marijuana shortage in Illinois when it can be legally sold starting tomorrow.

MORNING Midwest Digest, Dec. 31, 2019

As the year ends, perhaps it's time to resolve to stay in touch with people better in 2020?

Many are concerned about the mental health of farmers, and a bill has been introduced to help address that.

Airports have major construction projects going on.

Not every state in america is growing. 

AABP updates dehorning guidelines

Shutterstitch-iStock-GettyImagesPlus Dehorning cattle
AABP says it updated its dehorning guidelines to match the latest scientific data.

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) recently updated it's dehorning guidelines for veterinarians.

“One significant update in the dehorning guidelines is the recommendation that pain mitigation protocols for dehorning be considered a standard of care,” says AABP Animal Welfare Committee Chair Dr. Renee Dewell, Iowa State University. “This was done to reflect the considerable body of scientific evidence that has shown that calves benefit from pain mitigation protocols associated with dehorning and disbudding procedures.”

The updates follow another 2019 AABP change in which the association separated its guidelines for dehorning from castration and updates both protocols.

In 2014, AAB) established guidelines for the dehorning and castration of calves. On a regular basis, the AABP reviews and updates its guidelines to make sure they incorporate the latest scientific evidence and recommendations.

The updated dehorning guidelines can be found publicly at https://aabp.org/Resources/AABP_Guidelines/Dehorning-2019.pdf or on the AABP homepage under the Home tab.

The updated castration guidelines can be found at https://aabp.org/Resources/AABP_Guidelines/Castration_Guidelines-2019.pdf.

"The AABP felt that the topics of castration and dehorning differed enough that it made sense to develop separate guidelines to focus on the issues and considerations specific to each topic," explains AABP Animal Welfare Committee Chair Dr. Renee Dewell, Iowa State University.

More specifically, the AABP Animal Welfare Committee updated the sections in the guidelines on proper restraint, local anesthesia and systemic pain relief.

AABP says it recognizes the differences in management of newborn calves between the cow-calf and dairy industry in performing this procedure. Because dairy calves are handled daily, the guideline recommends that disbudding/dehorning be performed no later than eight weeks of age. The beef industry has made significant improvements in utilizing polled genetics and currently only 7.8% of beef cattle are born with horns according to the NAHMS Beef 2017 Cow-Calf Survey.

Source: AABP, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Farm Progress America, December 31, 2019

Max Armstrong continues his discussion about the China trade deal. While there's a lot of attention to soybeans and pork, he shares that another crop that could benefit is wheat. China has to boost its supplies of wheat while soybeans may not see the big bump due to the reduction in the country's swine herd. China will release its wheat quota, and no matter where the country buys the wheat it will change the global demand picture of the crop.

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.

Photo: Willie Vogt

What’s ahead for beef?

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Last week, this column gave an outlook from Rabobank on the global beef picture. Since this is the time of year for outlooks, be they right or wrong, let’s look at what the economists who write the Daily Livestock Report (DLR) think about the beef cutout.

Why is that important? After all, that’s a long way from the calving pasture. It’s important because what happens at the wholesale and retail end of the beef marketing chain affects you at marketing time and ultimately, affects the genetic decisions you make.

According to DLR’s Dec. 27 report, the rib primal value has collapsed, as it does every year, but the pullback this year has been even more significant than last year.

READ: Facts about the live-to-cutout spread

But don’t worry. That’s a seasonal move as rib demand dampens following the holiday season. “Last year, the pullback for the same time period was 14.5% but the year before that it was 23%. So the rib seasonal is alive and well although it will move around a bit from year to year,” DLR reports.

At this time, what we don’t know yet is the performance of end cuts come January and February. For the beef cutout to gain traction in January, end cuts would need to once again carry more of the value. Higher beef prices in the world market and lack of imports should be supportive but it is far from a sure bet, according to DLR.

“The big unknown is how retailers feature beef roasts and ground beef in Q1. One could argue that the higher [cash register] rings that beef provides will continue to make it an attractive feature item. The economy continues to outperform the doom and gloom talk from some quarters and the partial trade deal with China could also open the doors for more U.S. beef trade in 2020.”

Related: As beef producers look to 2020, all eyes are on China

On the other hand, there are some reasons for concern. “The most significant is the slowdown in beef sales for delivery 22-60 days out. In the four weeks ending Dec. 20, forward sales in this category are down 23% from a year ago and also below both 2017 and 2016 levels.

“This could suggest retailers are planning on fewer features in the second half of January and in February. Forward sales for the 61-90 day window during this period were down 18% and for delivery 90 days or further in the future were down 34%,” according to DLR.

One thing we know for sure: Beef demand has been exceptional and that has been underpinning prices. Yes, feeder cattle and calf prices aren’t as good as we want them to be. But I believe they would be lower were it not for the great beef demand we’ve seen.

So my outlook for 2020 hinges on continued strong beef demand. I’ll use Certified Angus Beef (CAB) as a proxy for the high-quality beef consumers have available.

“The Prime carcass count from 2015 to 2019 has increased by 91%. That’s moving the Prime share of steer/heifer carcasses up from 5% to 8.5% in that period,” CAB’s Paul Dykstra tells me. “The Prime cutout premium to Choice is up 5% from 2015 vs. 2019. Supply has increased tremendously while price has modestly increased too.”

READ: Does beef demand impact you?

The CAB story is similar with a big move in supply. “Same period—2015 vs. 2019 (calendar years)—an increase of 59% in CAB carcasses certified, moving the acceptance rate from 28.3% to 34.9% of all eligible cattle,” Dykstra says. “The CAB cutout premium to Choice in that comparison shows a 21% increase from $8.58 per cwt to $10.39 per cwt. It’s important to realize that Choice supplies were also increasing. As well, CAB supplies are nearly 20% of all fed cattle combined,” he adds.

“The interpretation is that during a period of significant increases in supply of high-quality beef, we have seen premiums for Prime and CAB carcasses increase as well.” 

That’s a clear signal that consumers want the best beef you can produce and are willing to pay for it. Meeting that demand starts with the genetic decisions you make when you buy your herd bulls and the management you put into cow herd and raising your calves.

I don’t know what cattle prices will do in 2020. But I’m certain that the quality of beef you provide to consumers here and around the world has gained a reputation for being the best.

Let’s look forward to 2020 with the certainty that the beef you produce will continue to be best in the world. And also with the hope that trade tensions will lessen and the trade outlook will be better.

That, along with the reputation U.S. beef has established, will continue to underpin cattle prices regardless of which direction they trend.