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Articles from 2018 In March


Beef industry needs voices for conversations about antibiotic use

Amanda Radke Antibiotics in Livestock

Antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasingly hot button topic, and the livestock industry is going to continue to be a huge part of the discussion moving forward.

As a whole, the industry has already made great strides in doing our part. With the introduction of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), producers are working closely with veterinarians to determine best protocols for managing herd health. Additionally, many are turning toward prebiotic and probiotic products to optimize gut health and avoid the need for using antibiotics altogether.

While I believe the VFD is just the tip of the iceberg for what types of regulations are to come for livestock owners as it relates to antibiotics and animal health, I do have to say, for now, it’s a great story to tell. Consumers trust veterinarians, and the VFD demonstrates how much the industry cares about this topic and the changes we have made to address ongoing issues of antibiotic resistance.

READ: What has the VFD brought to the table?

However, this great story of livestock producers focusing on both animal and human health is falling on deaf ears. A recent article featured in the New York Times focuses on our reliance on antibiotics in the industry and compares feed grade antibiotics to addictive performance-enhancing drugs, JBS as the “rotten meat mafia,” feedlots as “harsh” places to live, and quotes from producers and veterinarians that show a flippant attitude about the issue instead of addressing the realities of antibiotic use in human and livestock health head on.

Written by investigative journalist Danny Hakim, the article is titled, “At hamburger central, antibiotics for cattle that aren’t sick,” and it disregards the benefits of the VFD, citing that rules do little to reduce antibiotic use for growth promotion rather than treating disease, since he claims the rules were designed in cooperation with “drug companies and industrial farm groups.”

Here is an excerpt: “A blunt-spoken former bull rider, Mike Callicrate raises cattle in Kansas and Colorado. To him, antibiotics are ‘performance enhancing drugs,’ and he lumps them in with other industrial additives like steroid hormones.

“’We’re all worried about athletes using performance enhancing drugs during the baseball game, but we’re not worried about the hot dogs that were produced using the same chemical compounds and that are being eaten by our children,’” he said during a recent visit to his farm on the Kansas-Colorado border.”

It’s apparent to me that Hakim was looking for a “gotcha moment” in interviewing these folks, and even his descriptions of the feedlots he toured were painted as these dark, ugly, hazy places that certainly didn’t portray a beautiful picture of beef production in the U.S.

READ: A beef producer's guide for use of antibiotics

It’s disappointing to say the least, but I do have to credit Hakim for recognizing that people are addicted to antibiotics.

For example, it’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe antibiotics to the whole family if one child gets sick, and I recently read about an app that allows people to plug in their symptoms and get a prescription for antibiotics without ever seeing a physician.

When we don’t feel well and we take the time to go to the doctor, we as consumers often want instant results and medication to make the pain go away. Forget the fact that these medicines aren’t always necessary; people don’t want to pay a co-pay and sit in a waiting room without coming home with something for their trouble.

It’s human nature, and although physicians are becoming more aware of how antibiotics impact gut health and are trying to curtail the use of these drugs, people still live closely together and the result is influenza, strep throat, bronchitis and more gets passed around every winter, necessitating our need for antibiotics.

READ: Keeping antibiotic use alive in U.S.

So what’s the solution? Certainly the livestock industry has a role, but it’s not the entire piece, nor should we be the ones to blame. Personal responsibility is important here, and I believe eating well, using probiotics, getting quality sleep and reducing stress could promote healthy people, just like those same attributes are important to keeping cattle healthy.

We need industry voices to have these discussions, and when the media comes calling, we need strong, educated and practiced voices who can control the rhetoric to ensure a positive story goes to print.

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

Stoughton FFA

Mike Adams profiles Stoughton FFA, Stoughton, Wis.; an active chapter near Madison. Member Grace Link shares one of her favorite memories from being a member including her first officer team.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Max Armstrong at [email protected]. They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online www.ffa.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/nationalffa, on Twitter at twitter.com/nationalffa.

1960 John Deere 430

Max Armstrong shares the story a John Deere 430 with an interesting color scheme - in red - owned by John Craig, Mentone, Ind. This was really sold in that color by John Deere, as Max explains.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. If you have a tractor story you'd like to share for this feature, contact Max at [email protected]

This Week in Agribusiness - March 31, 2018

Note: Start the video and all parts will play through as the full show

Part 1

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams open this week's show with a look at the challenges facing the U.S. Dairy Industry, including work to expand trade to build demand for milk and milk products. Max and Mike talk markets with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc., including a look at the planting intentions report.

Part 2

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams continue their market conversation with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc. Chad Colby, Colby AgTech, looks at the rising use of wireless cameras and their potential around the farm. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather in the Western United States. And in the Bayer Farm Challenge of the Week, Max Armstrong looks at the importance of using a herbicide with multiple modes of action.

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams share a report from Delaney Howell looking at a program at Iowa State University aimed at helping creating agricultural entrepreneurs. Max looks at a 1955 Chevrolet 4400 straight truck owned by Rock Katsching, Prophetstown, Ill.

Part 4

Max Armstrong offer a story about Woods Equipment Company, and how the company uses producer input to help develop products, including the company's newest Batwing mowers. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max Armstrong shares the story a 1960 John Deere 430 with an interesting color scheme - in red - owned by John Craig, Mentone, Ind. This was actually sold in that color by John Deere, as Max explains.

Part 5

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams talks with Farm Broadcaster Lynn Ketelsen, Linder Farm Network, Owatonna, Minn., about what farmers are focused on in his part of the country including thoughts of spring.

Part 6

Mike Adams profiles Stoughton FFA, Stoughton, Wis.; an active chapter near Madison. Member Grace Link shares one of her favorite memories from being a member including her first officer team. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the week ahead.

Part 7

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams wrap up the show with a report from Patrick Haggerty who visited with the American Soybean Association to talk about global trade issues, and the current market uncertainty. And Mike Adams offers a timely look at egg demand, which is up, with a look at the top 10 egg-producing states. And Orion Samuelson is celebrating his birthday, send your good wishes to [email protected]

Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report for Mar. 31, 2018

Cattle markets continued under pressure from a variety of directions this week, including worries about international trade, surging late-week grain prices and, of course, the looming increase in fed cattle supplies.

Feeder steers and heifers sold $1-$5 per cwt lower, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Prices for lighter calves were as much as $8 lower in the Southeast.

“Feeder buyers have been more willing to dip down and procure smaller packages of top quality cattle as the numbers at auctions are sure to dwindle in the coming months,” AMS analysts say. “Demand was moderate to good at most auctions this week, with calves suitable for grass having the best demand.”

Other than $1.92 lower in expiring March, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $4.40 lower week to week on Thursday. That’s an average of about $11 lower over the last three weeks.

Cattle feeders sell more ahead

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices dropped hard. Live prices were $5 lower in the Southern Plains at $121 per cwt; $3-$4 lower in Nebraska at $120-$122. Dressed trade ended in Nebraska at $190, which was $10-$13 less than the previous week.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $4.62 lower through the front five contracts week to week on Thursday and then an average of $2.42 lower. AMS analysts point out the June contract closed the week at the lowest level since late April of last year.

Listen to Wes Ishmael's Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, Mar. 31, 2018.

Grain prices climb on USDA report

Cash bids for corn surged 9¼cents to 15 cents higher on Thursday in response to USDA’s Prospective Plantings report indicating farmers intend to plant fewer acres of corn than expected at 88.0 million acres. That would be 2% less than last year—2.14 million acres less. If realized, corn acreage will be the least since 2015.
 
Estimated acres for soybeans were also less than expected at 89.0 million acres, which is 1% less than last year.
 
“While the planting estimate captured traders' attention, prices tended to ignore the record 8.9 billion bushels of corn stocks on hand as of March 1,” said analysts with the Daily National Grain Market Summary. “As with corn, USDA's 2.1 billion bushels of U.S. soybean stocks on hand March 1 was a new record high and more than expected.”
 
More specifically, according to the quarterly Grain Stocks report issued by USDA Thursday, corn stocks were 3% more than the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were up 2% from a year earlier; off-farm stocks were up 5%.
 
Soybean stocks were 21% more than the previous year. On-farm soybean stocks were up 28% from a year ago, while off-farm stocks were up 17%.
 
Acreage for all wheat planted this year is estimated at 47.3 million acres, up 3% from 2017, but it would be the second lowest all-wheat planted area since records began in 1919. All wheat stored totaled 1.5 billion bushels, down 10% from a year ago. On-farm all-wheat stocks were 26% less than last year; off-farm stocks were 6% less.
 
Harvested acres of all hay are estimated to be about even with last year at 53.7 million acres.

Fed cattle trade sharply lower

feeding the world

Cattle markets continued under pressure from a variety of directions this week, including worries about international trade, surging late-week grain prices and, of course, the looming increase in fed cattle supplies.
 
Feeder steers and heifers sold $1-$5 per cwt lower, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Prices for lighter calves were as much as $8 lower in the Southeast.
 
“Feeder buyers have been more willing to dip down and procure smaller packages of top quality cattle as the numbers at auctions are sure to dwindle in the coming months,” AMS analysts say. “Demand was moderate to good at most auctions this week, with calves suitable for grass having the best demand.”
 
Other than $1.92 lower in expiring March, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $4.40 lower week to week on Thursday. That’s an average of about $11 lower over the last three weeks.

Cattle feeders sell more ahead

 Negotiated cash fed cattle prices dropped hard. Live prices were $5 lower in the Southern Plains at $121 per cwt; $3-$4 lower in Nebraska at $120-$122. Dressed trade ended in Nebraska at $190, which was $10-$13 less than the previous week.
 
“Fed cattle supplies increasing in the weeks ahead and anticipation of lower prices has been the focus of this cattle market. Packers bought the second largest weekly total of cattle purchased for 15 to 30-day delivery since the data series started in March of 2010,” AMS analysts say. “Significant equity vanished from the cattle complex in recent weeks as feedlot managers trade a substantial amount of cattle out front for future delivery in order to lock in a price ahead of the normal calf-feds hitting the supply chain from late April to early May.”
 
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $4.62 lower through the front five contracts week to week on Thursday and then an average of $2.42 lower. AMS analysts point out the June contract closed the week at the lowest level since late April of last year.
 
Noting the slide in cattle futures from mid-February onward, Isaac Olvera, livestock and meat market analyst for Informa Economics IEG explains, “From current levels, the market appears to be finally succumbing to larger supply concerns, implying a cash decline from the previous week’s $126 area (fed cattle) toward the $113s by late April and puts May expectations closer to the $108-$110 area.”
 
Olvera adds that cattle placed on feed weighing more than 800 pounds have been near record large for most of the past 12 months.
 
“Despite the slower first-quarter start, heavier weight placements are expected to bolster the already sizable summer inventories, pushing weekly average steer and heifer harvests an estimated 2-4% over a year ago, from May through August,” Olvera says. “The 2017 peak came atypically late last year, but this year is expected to exhibit a more typical summer surge in fed cattle harvests.”

Wholesale beef values wobble 

Prices for wholesale beef, especially Select, continued to lose ground.
 
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.05 lower week to week on Friday at $221.04 per cwt. Select was $7.71 lower at $208.69.
 
The recent calendar likely explains part of the price softness, with consumers and retailers focusing on traditional Easter offerings. More than anything, though, it’s increasing production.
 
“Federally inspected beef production is up 2.6% year to date, which is an increase of 147 million pounds of beef,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “Similarly, federally inspected pork production has seen an increase of 197 million pounds, or an increase of 3.3% year to date. The negative price pressure is expected to continue as cattle dressed weights continue to exceed year-ago levels and more animals are expected to be harvested.”
 
As indicated by the most recent Cold Storage report, demand continues to help dilute the impact of increasing production. Total pounds of beef in freezers Feb. 28 were 8% less than the previous month and 8% less than the previous year.
 
“Red meat, especially beef, continues to move briskly through the marketing chain, but chicken has struggled in that regard,” say analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC).
 
“In January and February, according to the latest Livestock Slaughter report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. output of beef was up 5.2% year over year,” say LMIC analysts in the latest Livestock Monitor. “Beef production was the largest for those two months since 2008. January-February U.S. pork output this year increased 5.0% from a year ago and was record-large for that timeframe. Chicken output also was record-large for those two months and rose 3.4% year-over-year.”

Facing larger supplies with strength

“Despite the challenges of growing cattle and beef supplies, and seasonal pressure ahead in many markets, cattle market fundamentals are quite supportive and stable at this time,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments. He adds that an increasingly turbulent and murky macroeconomic environment poses the most risk, as seen in the pressure on cattle futures the previous week.
 
On one side of the ledger, Peel notes the relatively strong domestic economy and low unemployment rate, as well as higher year-over-year cattle and beef prices.
 
On the other side, Peel cites increasing uncertainty in a number of areas, including rising interest rates, current trade deals being negotiated by the U.S., as well as worries of trade wars, prompted by recently announced import tariffs by the U.S.
 
“It’s as though the economy has one foot on the accelerator and another foot on the brakes, making it extremely difficult to figure out what happens next or, perhaps more importantly, what happens after that,” Peel says. “Markets, in general, are increasingly scared and running for cover. The fear of the unknown may be the worst of it but the reality of the unknown could be far worse.”
 
Although Peel doesn’t believe it’s necessarily time for cattle producers to run for cover, he suggests knowing where it can be found.
 
“Cattle producers need to closely monitor the broad range of macroeconomic and global conditions and be prepared to abruptly switch to a strongly defensive business strategy,” Peel says. “Markets are increasingly volatile and it will be important to maintain as much short-term flexibility as possible to deal with rapidly changing conditions. The uncertainty and volatility likely has not peaked yet, but one hopes that it will be followed relatively soon by more clarity and stability.  However, there is certainly no guarantee of that and producers must be prepared to hunker down and weather the storm.”

7 ag stories you might have missed this week - March 30, 2018

Collage with corn harvest, capitol building and angus beef cattle

Missed some agricultural news this week? Here are seven stories you might have missed.

1. Corn and soybean futures jumped after USDA said farmers would plant less corn and soybeans in 2018 than a year ago. The agency released its annual Prospective Plantings report on Thursday. – Farm Futures

2. Iowa farmer Mark Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, has been fielding a lot of phone calls and attending a number of meetings since late February when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and oil refiners came up with a plan to cap the price of Renewable Identification Numbers. – Wallaces Farmer 

3. The European Union isn’t eager to jump into negotiations on the stalled Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The negotiations have been frozen since Trump entered the White House in January 2017. – Farm Futures

4. Foremost Farms broke ground on a new dairy processing plant in Greenville, Michigan, earlier this month. The $57.9 million plant is expected to create 33 jobs and provide the state’s dairy farmers with a much-needed in-state processing facility. More than 24% of Michigan milk production, or 2.65 billion pounds, is shipped out of state per year. – Michigan Farmer

5. A recent Farm Futures survey found about 46% of respondents would be interested in buying health insurance through a pool offered by a commodity group or other association such as 40 Square in Minnesota. – Farm Futures 

6. John Deere Co. is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its official entry into the tractor business. John Deere purchased the Waterloo Boy in 1918, giving the company its first tractor to sell. – Indiana Prairie Farmer 

7. The U.S. hog herd inventory as of March 1 was up 3% from a year ago, but down 1% from Dec. 1, 2017, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report released March 29. – National Hog Farmer

For your bonus, here’s a couple stories on land values:

  • Iowa farmland values have risen nearly 3% on average since September and are 5% higher than a year ago, based on the most recent statewide survey by the Iowa Chapter of the Realtor’s Land Institute. – Wallaces Farmer
  • Land in north central South Dakota sold for an average of $4,121 per acre in March and high-producing land in in eastern South Dakota sold for $7,200 per acre at a recent auction. – Dakota Farmer

 

MIDDAY-MidwestDigest-03-30-18

If you’re keeping an eye on the cost of money to buy a home, the mortgage rates did not go up this week. The 15-year fixed rate slid. Mortgage experts are split on where they are headed.

This was the week USDA gave us a peak at what farmers are planting this year. Farmers said plant less than 90 million acres each to corn and soybeans. There is slight tendency for numbers to be higher for corn and soybeans in report than what is actually planted.

Orion Samuelson is 84 this weekend. Orion is from Norwegian area of Wisconsin.

MORNING-MIdwestDigest-03-30-18

Many of us will have to cover our Easter finery with coats this weekend. It appears it could be coolest Easter in 10 years in Quad Cities.

This just doesn’t look good. If police are trying to question you and you bail out of moving car while it’s moving.

The bulls came out of hiding yesterday after release of Prospective Planting report. Farmers always complaining about USDA reports being bearish should tack this one up somewhere, Farm Futures analyst Bryce Knorr says.

Tax time. The clock is ticking. April 17 is the deadline this year. IRS is auditing fewer taxpayers than they were. Down to lowest level last year in 15 years. IRS has lost one-third of enforcement personnel since 2010.