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Trending Headlines: Facial recognition, food insecurity & ag profits

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What’s new in food and agriculture?

Today’s headlines give us a glimpse at new facial recognition technology that can recognize unique human and cattle faces.

We also hear from an environmental scientist who builds the case for eating meat without the guilt amidst climate change discussions.

As we close 2020, the USDA is projecting a profitable year in agriculture, a seven-year high thanks to Trump aid.

And the Trump administration bridges the gap between food producers and the food insecure in a unique way.

1. "Researchers develop an app to identify cattle through facial recognition" by Seth Bodine for NPR

According to NPR, “Cows have unique faces just like humans. Facial recognition technology can pick up on about 200 key measurement points to identify a human face, what's known as biometrics. It turns out that concept works for cows, too, and artificial intelligence is really good at it.”

2. “What if the United States stopped eating meat” by Frank Mitloehner for the CLEAR Center

Mitloehner writes, If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the problem of global warming and distracts us from more impactful mitigation opportunities.

“But that’s not what certain people, companies and news outlets and would have you believe. Businesses invested in plant-based alternatives and lab-grown meat continue to exaggerate the impact of animal agriculture in efforts to convert meat-eaters to their products, mostly in the name of environmental health. But if Americans choose to forgo meat, it would have a minimal and short-term impact on the climate.”

3. “U.S. farm profit on track for seven-year high after Trump aid” by Mike Dorning for Bloomberg

According to Mike Dorning, “U.S. farm profit in 2020 will rise to a seven-year high after government-aid payments doubled amid the coronavirus pandemic and trade disputes, the USDA says.

“The forecast by the USDA’s Economic Research Service marked a $16.9 billion boost in net income from a September projection. Commodity prices rallied, and aid rose $9.3 billion following a second round of coronavirus relief.

“U.S. agriculture is on track for one of the three most-profitable years in a half century. Adjusted for inflation since 1973, projected net farm income in 2020 will be surpassed only by 2011 and 2013 figures.”

4. “The Trump administration is putting more fresh fruit and vegetables in the hands of low-income Americans” by Laura Reiley for The Washington Post

Reiley writes, “After decades of food-insecurity experts lamenting the toll that food deserts take on the poor, the Trump administration has managed to get more fresh fruit and vegetables directly into the hands of food-insecure Americans and simultaneously prop up small farmers.

“The amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits — the food assistance formerly called food stamps — redeemed at farmers markets has steadily increased over the summer months because of key changes at the Agriculture Department and expanded funding of food benefits for low-income families and school-age children during the pandemic, the USDA said.”

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

 

Animal welfare and consumer relations

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Providing a safe and healthy environment for cattle is not only the foundation for good animal welfare and efficient production, but is also necessary in order to maintain a positive image of cattle production for consumers.

Day to day care for cattle requires that producers meet each herd’s nutritional and health needs as well as provide housing and handling facilities to ensure their safety and welfare. Cattle are able to eat a wide variety of forages and feeds to meet their nutritional needs. When cattle of almost any age and stage of production are housed on green, growing pastures, they are not likely to require a great deal of additional feed. However, salt and other minerals are required in all cattle diets, and growing calves and yearlings, and lactating cows and heifers require diets that are higher in energy and protein than dry cows and bulls. Cattle grazing dormant forage or being fed harvested hay or other forages may require a supplemental feed or forage that has higher concentrations of energy or protein than the base forage. This supplement may be in the form of high quality hay, grain or grain-byproducts, or other processed feeds. Evaluating weight gain in growing animals and body condition in mature animals provides cattle producers with a simple measure of whether or not a diet is meeting the energy and protein needs of their cattle.

Providing plenty of readily accessible water is another key component in meeting the daily needs of cattle. While well-informed people may disagree about how long cattle can be held away from water without adversely affecting their health and welfare, the basic principle that cattle need plenty of clean water is undisputed. The time of year, the number of cattle, and whether the cattle are near the water source throughout the day or only part of the day all impact the amount of space and the flow rates required. Hot temperatures in summer increase the daily requirement for water and the potential for freezing increases the risk of failed water delivery in the winter. Range situations when cattle are only near the water source for a limited amount of time each day require greater one-time access space and water reserve than cattle housed in small pastures or drylots with continual access to water. Stock tanks or waterers that are not cleaned can result in reduced water intake; and mud, erosion, or other obstacles that make it difficult for cattle to approach a water source can lead to health and welfare problems.

Beef cattle are nearly always housed outside on pastures or drylots which usually means that air quality and sanitation is good. However, cattle housed outdoors in most parts of North America must contend with extremes in temperature and humidity during certain times of the year. Extremely cold and hot temperatures can cause severe stress and health problems. When rainfall is heavy, excessive mud can prevent comfortable resting and be a barrier to feed and water access. Making sure that cattle are protected from extreme wind chills by the use of natural or man-made wind breaks and providing access to shade or other relief during periods of high heat index are important considerations for cattle housed outdoors. In addition, all fences, feed bunks, water troughs, and handling facilities should be designed and maintained so that cattle are not likely to injure themselves and so that the facilities can be used as they were intended. Everyone who works with cattle should understand and implement low-stress handling techniques to minimize the risk of cattle becoming injured or exhausted during handling. To implement low-stress handling, a ranch must have appropriate facilities and well-trained cowboys or animal handlers.

Providing cattle with proper diets, treating for internal parasites (worms) and external parasites (flies, lice, ticks, etc.), protecting the herd from avoidable contact with disease carriers, and using appropriate vaccines not only helps to protect the health and welfare of cattle, but supports high productivity of the herd. By concentrating on nutrition, sanitation, parasite control, biosecurity, and vaccination, ranchers can ensure that they are focusing their efforts to meet the health and welfare needs of their herd.

In addition to meeting cattle’s daily needs, every cattle producer must be prepared for potential challenges such as drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fire, blizzards, and other natural or man-made disasters. While most disasters cannot be avoided, those that are reasonable possibilities should be thought about ahead of time. Planning for ways to provide feed, water, and shelter to the herd as soon after a disaster as possible guarantees that animal welfare will be minimally compromised.

And finally, every cattle producer needs to have a plan for how he or she will deal with a severely injured or ill animal. Although providing an excellent environment with appropriate diets and a good herd health program will minimize the risk of disease and injury, all ranchers know that recognizing when an animal should be euthanized is critical to ensuring the humane care of their herd. Appropriate methods to euthanize (put to sleep) cattle have been recommended by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Veterinary Medical Association. Every ranch should have at least one person who is trained to appropriately euthanize cattle or should have access to a veterinarian to perform this important function.

Time-tested principles of good cattle management are the keys to assuring the health and welfare of cattle herds. Increasingly, consumers are also interested in knowing that cattlemen are concerned about the welfare of their animals. It is becoming very important that you have a management plan that you can share with anyone who asks so that beef consumers can be assured that you also value the health and welfare of your herd.

Source: Kansas State University, 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.

Winter tetany a possible problem in beef cattle

PBouman/Getty Images Herd of cattle walking out to their winter feeding area.
UNEXPECTED PROBLEM: Winter tetany can be an unexpected problem as most producers are not looking for it at this time of year.

Grass tetany is considered a problem that usually occurs when cattle or sheep are eating lush, spring grass or annual cereal forages such as rye, wheat or triticale. However, it also can occur when cattle are being fed harvested forages.

Grass tetany, sometimes called grass staggers or hypomagnesaemia, is a metabolic disorder of cattle related to a deficiency of magnesium. Magnesium is a critical mineral to the nervous system and muscle function.

Low levels of magnesium can result in cattle that exhibit hyperexcitability, reduced feed intake and muscle twitching, especially around the face and ears. Cattle also may appear uncoordinated and walk with a stiff gait.

Grass tetany is most often associated with cattle grazing immature, cool-season grasses or lush annual forages. However, tetany also can occur during the winter when cattle are being fed grass hay, alfalfa hay or annual forages harvested for hay. This is especially true if these hays are being fed in a drylot situation where they are the only source of feed.

Grass, alfalfa and cereal grains harvested for hay can be low in magnesium. A mineral analysis showing less than 0.15% magnesium in hay is considered low. When hay is low in magnesium and also low in calcium (less than 0.4%), while being simultaneously high in potassium (more than 2.5%), tetany is more likely to occur.

Recent forage test results, observed in the Nebraska Panhandle, have indicated that this could potentially be an issue with some hays harvested this year.

Forages likely to cause grass tetany often are borderline to low in magnesium while having excess levels of potassium. Usually, forages also tend to be low in sodium content. Because high potassium levels interfere with magnesium absorption, it's the excess potassium that induces tetany.

An imbalance of potassium, calcium and phosphorus in feed can hinder magnesium absorption from the digestive system into the bloodstream, magnifying the problem of a low intake of magnesium. Sodium is important in transporting magnesium into cells, so it is crucial to provide adequate sodium (salt) to ensure proper magnesium utilization.

To prevent winter tetany from harvested forages, there are several things for producers to consider.

First, test hay for mineral concentrations to identify if an imbalance of magnesium, potassium and calcium is present.

If hay tests low in magnesium (less than 0.15%) and calcium (less than 0.40%) and high in potassium (more than 2.5%), consider feeding a high-calcium, high-magnesium mineral supplement (10% to 13% magnesium for a 4-ounce target intake mineral) that also contains salt. 

Because magnesium oxide is bitter, adding dried distillers grains or soybean meal at the rate of 1 pound to 50 pounds of the mineral and salt mix can help to increase intake if consumption is not at targeted levels.

In instances where cattle are being hand-fed a protein or energy supplement, supplemental magnesium also can be delivered with the feed. If this occurs, make sure access to loose salt is provided as well.

Be sure to examine the concentration of potassium in mineral supplements. If feeds are already high in potassium, feeding additional potassium in a mineral only aggravates the problem.

Another option to consider when managing hay that is high in potassium and low in magnesium is feeding hay that is higher in calcium and magnesium together with it. Alfalfa can be high in potassium as well, so be sure to test it before feeding.

Winter tetany can be an unexpected problem as most producers are not looking for it at this time of year. Through forage testing for levels of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium present, producers can determine if action may be needed to prevent winter tetany from occurring.

For more information on management and prevention of grass tetany, see these articles at beef.unl.edu.

Berger is a Nebraska Extension beef educator; Drewnoski is a Nebraska Extension beef systems specialist.

Source: UNL BeefWatch, 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.

Adding aggregate value

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Coast through the pastures at Rush Creek Ranch near Viroqua, Wis., at the beginning of October.

You’ll be struck by the uniformity and 12 O’clock condition of the stocker cattle, especially when you understand they were purchased one head at a time at Southeastern sale barns, sent to conditioning yards and then grazed on ryegrass before heading to Wisconsin.

You’ll also be struck by how lush the pastures are and how un-crowded they appear when you understand that depending on size, a herd of 650-900 head will graze a five-acre pasture. These cattle will rotate through the 32-40 such pastures.

Think of these as a single unit. Another herd makes its way through a different 32-40 pastures (unit) and so on. All told, Rush Creek Ranch—this year’s National Stocker Award winner—runs eight different herds through the system each year.

Reid Ludlow established the operation in 1976. His son, Matt, returned home to the operation in 2008.

Churning out pounds with quality

Fact is, the cattle at Rush Creek Ranch don’t just look the part.

“We’ve gridded our cattle coming out of the feedlot the last handful of years and they have averaged 90% plus for Choice or better, which is pretty astonishing when you think about buying a 180-200-pound calf and putting it on grass for that long,” Matt explains.

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“Our nutritionist told us if you put them on a relatively high, good plane of nutrition for an extended period of time, the better the grading analytics will be.”

Matt, who also serves as president of the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association,  believes part of the improved feeding and carcass performance in their cattle stems from what he views as a sea change in the overall quality of cattle, especially since the massive cowherd liquidation during the widespread drought a few years ago.

“Most stocker operations I know of sell cattle when they get to a certain weight, or weight range. Our cattle, no matter what they weigh coming to Wisconsin, we’re shipping them all at about the same time, usually from just before Thanksgiving to just before Christmas,” Reid says.

“The other reason we’re doing that is we’re trying to have those cattle hit the April board (Live Cattle futures). So, if they can be done from the middle of March to the first of May, that’s the goal,” Matt explains.

He notes that historically there’s a hole in fed cattle supplies as average yearlings finish, before calf-feds start to make their way to rail, and as spring consumer demand begins to pick up.

Stocker by design

Reid attended Colorado State University, where he got a degree in business. Throughout his college years, he kept thinking about his dream of being in the cattle grazing business. He also spent time looking around the U.S. and working for different cattle operations, including in Montana, southeastern Colorado and at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska.

“I would ask questions of all of those people I worked for. I formulated more ideas about what might work and might not work, what some advantages were and disadvantages.”

He created a short criteria list for his operation. The ground had to be deeded acres. The operation had to be located in an area where there was sufficient rainfall or there was the ability to irrigate. Finally, it had to be in a strong market for feeder cattle.

That led him to southwestern Wisconsin, where his dad once owned property.

“This ground was basically the same price as a lot of the western ranchland, but many, many times more productive; in essence it was cheaper,” Reid says.

Then began the decades of cultivating relationships with the buyers, conditioning yards and ryegrass grazers in the Southeast that would become essential components of what Rush Creek Ranch is today.

“Our deal wouldn’t work without all of these relationships,” Reid says. “We’ve used some of the same people for 40 years and more in the South. Those buyers will come to Wisconsin to look at the cattle as yearlings so we can talk about how we need to adjust for the next year’s buy.”

Of course, the relationships also include all of those within the Rush Creek operation.

“We’ve been fortunate to find really good people who help us before the calves get to Wisconsin,” Matt says. “And, we have great people who work for us full time. We’re really lucky in that regard.”

BEEF and Zoetis sponsor the National Stocker Award. You can find the full story about Rush Creek Ranch in the December issue of BEEF. 

See the December issue of BEEF magazine for BEEF's 2020 Stocker Award Winners.

Coronavirus

Scaled-down bull sales to proceed in person

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A bull is auctioned off during the 2020 Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale. The 2021 sale will be held in person in late January.

Amanda Bradshaw’s first Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale as manager will be considerably different from all the others.

While it normally draws a big walk-up crowd, the 80th annual Northern California event Jan. 26-30 will only be open to buyers and consigners because of coronavirus-related restrictions on public gatherings.

Those with a pass will enter through a fairgrounds gate. All the sifting, trials and livestock auctions will be held as normal, albeit with precautions, and there will even be an outdoor trade show billed as an “agriculture-essential swap meet,” Bradshaw said. But social get-togethers such as a buyer-consigner dinner and bull-riding exhibition were jettisoned.

The measures followed months of talks between the bull sale committee and Tehama County public health officials.

“I made the strong argument that it is essential for our buyers to be here in person,” Bradshaw told Farm Progress. “Our buyers need to be here from sift day to sale day to evaluate the animals all the way through. We were not capped on capacity and not limited in the number of attendees, but we stipulated to the health department that anybody who attends needs to be a buyer or consigner.”

Klamath also proceeds

If all goes according to plan, the Red Bluff sale will be the first of two major West Coast livestock events to be held in person. The Klamath Bull and Horse Sale will proceed Feb. 3-6 at the fairgrounds in Klamath Falls, Ore., sans the horses and stock dogs.

Because of state regulations to curb the spread of COVID-19, the sale committee had to cancel all the events typically held in the Klamath County Main Event Center, including a big trade show, stock tog trials, all horse events and a ranch rodeo.

“We are excited to still be offering quality bulls and heifers to our community” through the 61st annual sale in the fairgrounds’ Stillwell Arena, the sale committee wrote on the event’s website. As in Red Bluff, the Klamath event will include a modified “essential industry trade show” in and around the arena.

The in-person bull sales come as scores of agriculture-related seminars, conferences and shows have been cancelled or moved online as the West Coast has endured some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country. These events included this week’s Almond Conference and California Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting, next month’s Unified Wine and Grape Conference and the World Ag Expo in February.

First year as manager

A Red Bluff native, Bradshaw, 37, was announced in early 2020 as the second woman to manage the sale beginning in ’21. She spent her first year simply trying to keep the event going, at least in person. There was community speculation that the sale would move temporarily to the Rolling Hills Casino in nearby Corning, which has an equestrian center and is not subject to state mandates. But the committee soon decided against such a move, Bradshaw said.

“Our heart is always here in Red Bluff,” she said. “This is our community. This is where it began in 1941. This was obviously always where we wanted to be.”

To take precautions against the virus’ spread, the bull sale will shut down points of entry except for two gates. Masks will be required, and extra restroom and hand-washing facilities will be added, Bradshaw said. The bulls, dogs and horses will be kept “in cohorts” in different areas, and consigners in each area will have access to their own bathrooms, she said.

In another change, buyers will be charged a $20 entrance fee. In most years, admission is free but some attractions, including the gelding sale, are ticketed. But no additional tickets will be required this time. For those who don’t make the trip, all the auctions – including Western Video Market’s 13th annual online feeder and replacement heifer sale – will be streamed online and offer a chance to bid by phone.

“Luckily for us, primarily 99% of our activities take place outside anyway,” Bradshaw said, adding that the committee came up with a “good compromise” with health officials.

“Our bull buyers breed for this (sale) specifically, so … we’re just happy with the health plan we were able to push through,” she said.

Nearly 400 bulls

This year’s sale will have nearly 400 bull entrants, between 70 and 75 geldings and 20 stock dogs, with more dogs on a waiting list, she said. After sifting, 262 bulls were auctioned off in 2020 for a total of just under $1.179 million, edging the nearly $1.15 million collected for 302 bulls at the 2019 auction.

The 66 horses auctioned in 2020 collected a total of $796,400, edging the 2019 total of $785,850 for 63 horses.

Normally, one of the biggest attractions of the week in Red Bluff is the stock dog sale, which in 2018 saw a pair of female border collies sell for a record $30,000 apiece. Crowds usually line the fences surrounding a grassy area where contestants show their skills at moving cattle into a trailer a few hours before the sale. This time, all three outdoor dog workouts will be streamed online.

“We’re looking at a strong sale,” Bradshaw said. “One thing we’ve noticed in the sales they have had, including a lot of these horse sales and private bull sales, is the prices have been phenomenal. I’m hoping for a good outcome for our consigners.

“This is a good outlet for them,” she said. “We are one of the few that is going to move forward.”

Farm Progress America, December 9, 2020

Max Armstrong notes that China imports of meat could slow in 2021. Max reports that testing procedures being use by that country are slowing imports. And according to Rabobank, some mainland Chinese consumers are concerned about COVID-19 and frozen meat. Imported salmon was singled out as a risk, but due to that the country has ramped up import requirements.

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: narvikk/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Beef Alliance announces first-ever Startup Challenge

The Beef Alliance is pleased to announce a new initiative, Feeding Innovation: The 2021 Startup Challenge. The Startup Challenge is a virtual pitch competition for innovators with solutions related to the cattle feeding industry.

The Beef Alliance is an organization of innovative, progressive and relevant cattle feeding companies. Through collaborative innovation, scientific exploration and value chain engagement, the Beef Alliance is committed to being a leader and catalyst for positive change in the beef supply chain. Beef Alliance members include Adams Land & Cattle, AgriBeef, Beef Marketing Group, Beef Northwest, Biegert Group, Cactus Feeders, Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, Friona Industries and LaVaca Cattle Co.

“Central to the vision of the Beef Alliance is to be a trusted leader that drives positive change in the cattle feeding industry. We can’t achieve that vision sitting on the sidelines, and the Startup Challenge is an opportunity to step up and be a leader in our industry through supporting and driving innovation in cattle feeding,” said incoming Beef Alliance chairman Scott Whitefoot. “This event aligns commitments to continuous improvement and enhanced transparency and stewardship in cattle feeding with an openness to new technologies that improve our ability to deliver a high-quality product to our customers and ultimately enable consumers to access high-quality beef.”

The Beef Alliance Startup Challenge is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to align the customers of technology (cattle feeders) with the creators of technology (startups) to put high impact solutions to work. By allowing startups to engage directly with prospective customers and strategic investors in the cattle feeding segment, the goal is to establish direct visibility for startups with their prospective customers, and for cattle feeding operations to gain visibility to nascent technology solutions.

Finalists will pitch their product directly to major feedyard decision makers for the opportunity to win a $50,000 cash prize and the chance at a pilot with a Beef Alliance member company.

The Beef Alliance is opening the competition to any startup with an offering for feedyards with a focus on the following areas:

-                 Environmental & Natural Resource Management

-                 Animal Health

-                 Animal Nutrition & Production Efficiency

-                 Livestock Monitoring & Traceability

-                 Business Management 

-                 Improvement in Operational Efficiency

-                 Food Safety

Companies interested in applying to the Startup Challenge can find more information about the challenge, including the application, at https://beefalliance.com/what-we-do/startupchallenge/

Do you believe in profit?

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Watch each Friday for Doug Ferguson's Market Intel blog on Beef Producer and BEEF magazine.

The best definition of success I ever heard is this: “It’s the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

Progressive means we are always continuing in the direction of our goal. Realization meaning our goal is manifesting. And for the purposes of this blog, the worthy ideal is a profitable cattle operation. The word worthy means the idea has to be worth trading our time to achieve it.

Seventeen years ago I got a job buying cattle for a friend’s dad. He told me if I was going to buy cattle for him, I had to read a blog about sell-buy marketing. Now, keep in mind for years I was just knew there had to be a way to make money in the cattle biz, and it turned out the answer was in that blog. The law of attraction I have described before brought it all together. The tip I got on that night from my friend’s dad changed my life. I’ve been studying sell-buy marketing ever since.

Teaching it

I never would have guessed I would end up teaching a marketing school, but that is what I did this week. At the school I spent some time discussing paradigms, how we get them, why it’s hard to shift them, and how to shift them. I called it the X-Y factor. X is the existing paradigm and Y is a new idea. Y in this case is profit, or our worthy ideal.

To entertain worthy ideals, we need to open our minds and have a greater awareness. Sometimes all this requires is a slight change in perception. A slight change in perception can make a huge impact. I believe this may be what Bud Williams was talking about when he said, “There is no limit to better.” We must keep raising our level of awareness and chasing new and better ideas (Y) to improve our success.

This was my first time playing the role of teacher, and there were some glitches and I got tripped up a few times. It didn’t seem to matter, though. Everyone there was pretty intelligent and eventually I could see their light bulbs come on. I knew they were getting it. That’s a pretty awesome feeling. I can’t help but now wonder if maybe I played my part in changing their lives in a manner like mine was changed all those years ago. Only time will tell.

At the beginning of the school I explained to them that everything is energy. Everything is made of molecules or atoms, and they are always moving. This means we either create or disperse that energy. We either get better or worse, but we cannot stay the same. This is the progressive realization part. Continue to string together profitable trades over a period of time and we will be successful. A slight change in perception and a little bit of new knowledge can be lifechanging.

Late last night I was relaxing and I thought of this concept: Everything is energy, including the idea of sell-buy marketing. It started with Bud Williams, and then he taught someone else, and that person eventually taught me, and now I taught a class. I reminded the class about the what I call the “law of increasing life,” which simply means you plant a seed and you will get 100 seeds back. (It’s harvest time in the countryside and we are seeing that all around us.) Williams planted seeds, and many of those people planted more seeds. That’s when it hit me, the idea is energy seeking greater and fuller expression of itself, and it is only using me to do so. I am so grateful it is.

A slight change in perception, a little new knowledge gained, a slight shift in a paradigm can lead to huge success.

The markets

Fats got a little bump again, and guess what? We can replace them at a profit with some of the middle-weight feeders, even in the plains! The heavier feeders are still overvalued relative to fats.

Auction markets appeared to be a bit mixed. I noticed on some market reports it stayed steady with the previous week and others seemed to take a real nasty bite out of calf prices. The heavy, weaned feeders may have even been slightly higher in some places. This is making for some impressive value of gain (VOG) in feeder-to-feeder trades.

Yet once again there is a cliff around the nine-weights where the VOG falls off. This is an example of knowing when not to put weight on cattle. By doing so we may devalue our feed, by trying to feed that weight on.

Southern markets were still undervalued this week, just not as undervalued as they have been. Geographical spreads remain in place. A truck ride of several hours can lead to a buying opportunity or selling opportunity.

This week unweaned cattle were $3-11 back, and feeder bulls were $15-25 back.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Beef Producer or Farm Progress.

Beef producers sought for GrowSafe system research at MU

heifer prices

Researchers at University of Missouri’s (UM) Southwest Research Center are inviting beef producers to take part in a program to identify beef cows that use feed efficiently.

MU Extension researchers will mine data from the GrowSafe system to help producers select breeding stock cows that eat less than other cows while producing calves with similar growth, said Reagan Bluel, interim superintendent of Southwest Center, an MU research farm in Lawrence County.

Currently, most systems measure feed efficiency by pens. The GrowSafe system tracks individual feed intake and weight gain. Cows that eat less will reward producers by reducing ongoing production costs over long periods, said Bluel.

“Imagine your herd of cows producing a growthy calf every year,” she said. “Now imagine being able to find the mamas in your herd doing this while eating less forage. It’s a game-changer for your cow herd. Determining the efficiency of your replacements will reap cost savings in maintenance feeding throughout the heifer’s entire life.”

Breeding these cows with efficient sires can further improve herd profits.

“It is hard to measure in a historical beef system,” Bluel said. “In beef, you have a birth weight, then typically nothing until weaning. Even then, we still don’t have intake.”

Bluel said producers can enroll their replacement heifers aged 9-12 months in the Heifer Efficiency Test this winter.

MU specialists will feed individual heifers a total mixed ration throughout the test. They also will weigh heifers during the test to measure their rate of gain.

“We can determine the efficiency of gain by simply dividing the pounds of feed required by the pounds gained,” said Eldon Cole, MU Extension livestock specialist.

Southwest Research Center will contract to test heifers born in spring 2020 that have been weaned at least 45 days, bunk broke and on a vaccination protocol that included two rounds of modified live vaccines.

The 63-day test will cost producers $400 per animal. This includes the cost of feed, yardage and management.

The test starts the first week of January. Participants will receive their heifers before pre-breeding exams and the breeding season. Space is limited.

To learn more or to enroll heifers, contact the MU Southwest Research Center at [email protected] or 417-466-2148.

'Build back better' without beef?

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In recent weeks, there’s been much talk about the impending “The Great Reset,” a vision of the World Economic Forum that seeks for “global cooperation to simultaneously manage the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.”

We’ve heard President-Elect Joe Biden speak about his platform to “Build Back Better,” and notably, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have both used the same phrase in recent speeches.

Additionally, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon have all adopted the same slogan to “build back better” and “fairer and stronger.”

What does this mean? And why the coordinated chorus of slogans?

Cue “The Great Reset.”

Are you surprised that the World Economic Forum is using the exact same phrase to “build back better?”

An article titled, “To build back better, we must reinvent capitalism. Here’s how.” was published by the World Economic Forum on July 13, 2020.

Written by Peter Bakker, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and John Elkington, Volans executive chairman and co-founder, an excerpt from the article reads: “A true recovery from COVID-19 will not be about putting things back together the way they were: we need to ‘build back better’, to 'reset', if we are to address the deep systemic vulnerabilities the pandemic has exposed. For businesses, building back better is about much more than corporate social responsibility: it is about truly aligning markets with the natural, social and economic systems on which they depend. It is about building real resilience, driving equitable and sustainable growth, and reinventing capitalism itself.”

Another section of the article reads, “The case for ‘green’ stimulus measures is clear: they are likely to deliver more jobs and higher (equitable) growth in the short-term, while reducing longer-term risks linked to climate change and biodiversity loss – crises that, if unaddressed, will cause a level of disruption to our economies and societies orders of magnitude greater than COVID-19.

“The challenge of decarbonizing entire economies can be the source of demand needed to kickstart economic recovery and create good jobs. Now, more than ever, integrating climate goals into business strategy can be a vital driver of long-term success.”

Curious about what would be considered “green,” I searched for “beef” on the website. Can you imagine what I found? Articles discussing cattle production, greenhouse gas emissions, reducing beef consumption and replacing animal proteins with plant-based alternatives, thanks to investors from the packers like Tyson and Cargill transitioning to more diverse protein companies.

One article, titled, “6 pressing questions about beef and climate change, answered,” doesn’t paint a great picture for beef consumption in the future.

Here’s an excerpt: “Reining in climate change won't require everyone to become vegetarian or vegan, or even to stop eating beef. If ruminant meat consumption in high-consuming countries declined to about 50 calories a day or 1.5 burgers per person per week — about half of current U.S. levels and 25 percent below current European levels, but still well above the national average for most countries — it would nearly eliminate the need for additional agricultural expansion (and associated deforestation), even in a world with 10 billion people.

“Diets are already shifting away from beef in some places. Per capita beef consumption has already fallen by one-third in the United States since the 1970s. Plant-based burgers and blended meat-plant alternatives are increasingly competing with conventional meat products on important attributes like taste, price and convenience. The market for plant-based alternatives is growing at a high rate, albeit from a low baseline.

There are also other compelling reasons for people to shift toward plant-based foods. Some studies have shown that red meat consumption is associated with increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and colorectal cancer, and that diets higher in healthy plant-based foods (such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes) are associated with lower risks. In high-income regions like North America and Europe, people also consume more protein than they need to meet their dietary requirements.”

If after reading through this website alarm bells aren’t ringing for you, then I’m afraid we aren’t on the same page. If this is how Biden, and cooperating countries, plan to “build back better,” then I’m afraid we are in for a very long road ahead.

Plan to have the government decide how much beef you can eat. Plan to have the government tell you which businesses are essential and which will be squeezed out and closed down. Plan to have the government dictate to you blanket health recommendations, travel restrictions and worse. Also plan to have the government tell you exactly how to live your lives, even if it is to your own demise, for “the greater good.”

Don’t be pacified by the pandering. Don’t shrug this off as a conspiracy theory. This is an incredibly dangerous agenda that should not be ignored.

I, for one, plan to fight it tooth and nail. Maintaining our freedoms to farm, to own livestock, to run family-owned businesses, to manage our land and to choose the diets that best fit our needs should be paramount. Saddle up, this is going to be a tough battle.

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