Beef Magazine is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sitemap


Articles from 2019 In March


5 agricultural advancements needed to feed a growing planet

13217614_1329851447041961_1227311721044314452_o.jpg

Even as farmers markets and local food movements gain popularity amongst consumers, the reality is that in order to feed a hungry planet that is expected to exceed 9.7 billion people by 2050, we will need to rely on the efficiencies of modern, conventional agricultural.

And while producers are already great at what they do — using far fewer resources than ever before to produce an abundance of safe and affordable food — there is always room for improvement.

As food producers, we’ll need to rely on agricultural scientists and researchers to help us implement advancements in production practices to further stretch how much nutritious food we can grow while creating the smallest planetary footprint.

According to the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, the U.S. needs to increase its investment in agricultural research or risk falling further behind China.

Per a Texas AgriLife article, SoAR researchers have released a new report which identifies how to supercharge agricultural science in the U.S. in order for producers to best compete in the global marketplace.

An excerpt from the article reads, “The new report, ‘Retaking the Field: Science Breakthroughs for Thriving Farms and a Healthier Nation,’ highlights research projects in the five science breakthrough areas identified as the most important fields to advance in agriculture by the year 2030.”

These areas, which were determined by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, are:

  1. Genomics
  2. Microbiomes
  3. Sensors
  4. Data and informatics
  5. Trans-disciplinary research

“Investments in these five science breakthroughs will allow us to achieve a number of broader goals for food and agriculture in the U.S. in the next decade,” said Thomas Grumbly, SoAR president. “But these advancements aren’t possible without federal funding for the research needed to tackle agriculture’s greatest problems. Farmers are getting hammered right now and they need innovation to at least soften the blows.”

So what do these five areas look like in practice? Researchers have determined that by 2030, U.S. producers will need to be innovative in implementing the latest agricultural advancements in order to:

  • Reduce water use in agriculture by 20%.
  • Reduce fertilizer use by 15%.
  • Significantly reduce the need for fungicides and pesticides in plant production.
  • Radically reduce the incidence of infectious disease epidemics for livestock.
  • Reduce the incidence of foodborne illnesses by 50%.
  • Increase the availability of new plant varieties and animal products to deliver food with enhanced nutrient content.

To read the entire report, click here.

What does this look like for U.S. beef producers? We already have a great sustainability story to tell; however, in the years to come, consumers will demand more of our production practices. The ones to adapt will likely thrive, while others who fail to innovate may find themselves floundering.

Ask yourself, how can I be a better land manager to produce more beef per acre on my ranch? Once you have your answers, go out and put your theories to work. Your land, livestock and customers will thank you.

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

This Week in Agribusiness, March 30, 2019

Segment 1

Delaney Howell talks to farmers about its impact and how they’ll move forward.

Chris Norberg, BASF Innovation Specialist, shares insight about planting and ground conditions.

Darin Newsom, Darin Newsom Anlaysis, Inc., lends his market knowledge to viewers, and how the flood and planting will impact market action.

Segment 2

Darin Newsom is back in the newsroom talking livestock markets.

Chad Colby shares his ag tech info and the cell phone accessories that are available.

Segment 3

Chad Colby is back to compare tires and tracks on tractors.

Susan Littlefield, farm broadcaster, reports from Nebraska, about hay donations and other flood recovery efforts.

Segment 4

Max visits with Andrew Fansler, Indiana farmer, who didn’t grow up on the farm, about his background and farm operation. Greg Soulje shares the weather outlook for the week.

Segment 5

Greg Soulje is back with an extended weather outlook.

Segment 6

What’s in Max’s Tractor Shed? A 1958 Cockshutt D50.

This Week in Agribusiness salutes the Bath County High School FFA in Owingsville, Kentucky.

USDA reports are out and Steve talks about acreage and ending stocks.

Segment 7

Max talks about the Half Century of Progress show, the biggest vintage farm show in America.

Orion Samuelson celebrates his birthday this week.

Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report for March 30, 2019

Cattle futures cast a pall over markets this week, pressured by last week’s Cattle on Feed report indicating more aggressive feedlot placements than expected. The sharp decline and increased volatility in Lean Hog futures added pressure.

Not counting the expiring spot month or newly minted away Mar, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.55 lower week this last Friday (47 cents lower to $5.27 lower).

Even so, cash steers and heifers sold steady to $5 per cwt higher, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

“Feeder cattle markets have generally followed seasonal patterns with calves moving higher since January. Though calf prices typically peak in early April, delayed grass demand may extend the seasonal strength deeper into April,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments. Peel adds that feeder-weight cattle (700 pounds and heavier) should begin rising toward a peak in late summer.

“There does appear to be some optimism in the feeder cattle market as the August feeder cattle futures price is trading at an $11 premium to the April contract,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “The educated guess at this point is that the cash price of feeder cattle will begin a strong advancement to the upside in the coming months to fall more in line with what is expected for live cattle.”

Impacts from the recent bomb cyclone and subsequent prolonged flooding downstream surely will play a role.

Calf losses this spring will not really become apparent until fall and may possibly be big enough to affect the overall 2019 calf crop says Peel. Besides weather-depressed carcass weights and less beef production than originally anticipated, he added that recent floods most assuredly increased cattle morbidity and mortality.

“On the crop side, losses of stored grain, hay and other products will have immediate impacts on the producers affected and perhaps on broader markets. Disruptions to transportation may be the biggest impact with truck, rail and river transportation all impacted by the floods and associated damage, and likely to be affected for weeks ahead,” Peel noted.

Jim Robb, senior analyst with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) cautions that protracted flooding could increase feed costs and pressure calf and yearling prices.

Don Close, senior protein analyst at Rabobank AgriFinance, expects to see a seasonal rally in Feeder Cattle futures from the Mar-May low to a high in Aug-Sep.

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were $2-$3 per cwt lower in the Southern Plains at $125-$126 per cwt. on a live basis. Prices in the Northern Plains were mostly $3 lower at mostly $126. Prices in the western Corn Belt were $2 lower at $127-$129. Dressed sales were mostly $2-$3 lower at $206 in Nebraska and $205 in the western Corn Belt.

Week to week on Friday, except for 45 cents higher in the back contract, Live Cattle futures closed an average of $3.08 lower (75 cents to $4.50 lower).

Best bet, depending on how bullish you are, lost tonnage could still push cash fed cattle prices higher.

Listen to Wes Ishmael's Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, March 30, 2019.

Flooding jumbles planting outlook

Corn-Planting-CSD.JPG

Before the massive flooding borne by the bomb cyclone, the nation’s farmers intended to plant 92.8 million acres of corn this year. That would be 4% more (+3.66 million acres) than last year, according to USDA’s Prospective Plantings report issued Friday. That’s more than early estimates presented by USDA at its Outlook Forum; also more than average trade estimates.

Much of the increase comes at the expense of soybean acreage. Farmers intended to plant 84.6 million acres of soybeans, which would be 5% fewer acres (-4.6 million acres) than last year. That’s less than most estimates ahead of the report.

All wheat planted area for 2019 is estimated at 45.8 million acres, down 4% from 2018. This would be the lowest all wheat planted area since records began in 1919, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Again, this is based on surveys before the massive flooding began.

Acreage shift in flood years

Assessing potential impact of what could be historic flooding, the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) considered national planting intentions and actual seeded acreage for the last two primary flood years of 2011 and 1993. Analysts remind that in 1993, devastating flooding during the growing season followed spring flooding.

“In 2011, the corn area planted was about 240,000 acres below the prospective indication (down 0.3%), while soybean acreage was down 1.6 million acres (down 2.0%),” say LMIC analysts in the most recent Livestock Monitor. “In 1993, the difference (actual plantings minus prospective survey) was a corn drop of about 3.25 million acres (-4.3%), and a soybean increase of 785,000 acres (up 1.3%)…Note that the balance of this year’s Midwest crops could be different than those years due to relative crop prices, etc.”

Current forecasts suggest flooding this year could be worse.

“The extensive flooding we’ve seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream,” said Ed Clark, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

“This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities (see “Spring flood outlook).”

Markets will focus on three areas in order to assess corn and soybean prices, according to LMIC.

First is plantings. Next is the portion of planted acres harvested for grain; LMIC analysts note Midwest flooding could increase planting area abandoned as the growing season unfolds. Finally is the yield per acre.

“In the Midwest, the normal corn planting timeframe in many areas still is over one month away,” say LMIC analysts. “Nationally, compared to the Western Corn Belt (e.g., Nebraska), less attention has been paid to acres that are currently too wet for planting, especially in the Mississippi Delta, where corn planting season has commenced. Fewer acres of corn may be planted in that area than expected just a few weeks ago. In contrast, corn planting in Texas has largely proceeded normally. As planting season progresses, wet soils may cause shifting of some planned corn acreage to soybeans.”

Fed cattle price peak likely near or just past

fed cattle

Cattle futures cast a pall over markets this week, pressured by last week’s Cattle on Feed report indicating more aggressive feedlot placements than expected. The sharp decline and increased volatility in Lean Hog futures added pressure. 

Not counting the expiring spot month or newly minted away Mar, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.55 lower week to week on Friday (47centslower to $5.27 lower).

Even so, cash steers and heifers sold steady to $5 per cwt higher, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

“Feeder cattle markets have generally followed seasonal patterns with calves moving higher since January. Though calf prices typically peak in early April, delayed grass demand may extend the seasonal strength deeper into April,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments. Peel adds that feeder-weight cattle (700 pounds and heavier) should begin rising toward a peak in late summer.

“There does appear to be some optimism in the feeder cattle market as the August feeder cattle futures price is trading at an $11 premium to the April contract,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “The educated guess at this point is that the cash price of feeder cattle will begin a strong advancement to the upside in the coming months to fall more in line with what is expected for live cattle.”

Impacts from the recent bomb cyclone and subsequent prolonged flooding downstream surely will play a role.

“Calf losses this spring will not really become apparent until fall and may possibly be big enough to affect the overall 2019 calf crop,” Peel says. Besides weather-depressed carcass weights and less beef production than originally anticipated, Peel says the recent floods most assuredly increased cattle morbidity and mortality.

“On the crop side, losses of stored grain, hay and other products will have immediate impacts on the producers affected and perhaps on broader markets (see “Flooding jumbles planting outlook” below). Disruptions to transportation may be the biggest impact with truck, rail and river transportation all impacted by the floods and associated damage, and likely to be affected for weeks ahead.”

Jim Robb, senior analyst with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) cautions that protracted flooding could increase feed costs and pressure calf and yearling prices. 

“If we have a 1993, we have the potential to take corn prices above $6 per bushel,” Robb says. That year, devastating flooding during the growing season followed spring flooding. 

“I’m not forecasting that, but to me, there’s more upside in terms of corn and feedstuff cost that would be depressing on calf and yearling prices,” Robb explained, during this week’s BEEF Market Outlook webinar

Don Close, senior protein analyst at Rabobank AgriFinance, expects to see a seasonal rally in Feeder Cattle futures from the Mar-May low to a high in Aug-Sep. “It might be muted in relationship to a normal seasonal rally, but I think there’s more room left for Feeder Cattle,” he says. Close was also a presenter for the BEEF market webinar.

Fed cattle prices soften

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were $2-$3 per cwt lower in the Southern Plains at $125-$126 per cwt. on a live basis. Prices in the Northern Plains were mostly $3 lower at mostly $126. Prices in the western Corn Belt were $2 lower at $127-$129. Dressed sales were mostly $2-$3 lower at $206 in Nebraska and $205 in the western Corn Belt.

Week to week on Friday, except for 45 cents higher in the back contract, Live Cattle futures closed an average of $3.08 lower (75 cents to $4.50 lower).

“The cash price plummet was not expected, nor did many in the industry expect April Live Cattle futures to decline more than $2.50 since last Friday,” Griffith says. “The waves, or price fluctuations, of the nearby futures contract should not incite panic among producers or industry participants,” he adds. 

“March is generally a month of soft beef demand, which can lead to softer prices in the finished cattle market. Alternatively, April tends to bring optimism to the market from a beef demand standpoint and thus finished cattle. If the cattle market falters in April and May then producers may have a reason for concern.”

Depending on how bullish you are, lost tonnage could still push cash fed cattle prices higher. 

For the week ending March 16, average dressed steer weights were 12 pounds lighter than the previous year at 865 pounds, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. Average dressed heifer weights were 17 pounds lighter at 805 pounds. 

On the other hand, increasing total meat supplies and packer leverage could mean fed cattle prices reached their seasonal peak last week.

Although he sees the potential for Live Cattle futures to revisit recent highs or more in April, Close believes the momentum of the winter-spring rally is behind us.

“From current levels, I would be much more interested in selling rallies than I would be in in looking for opportunities to buy breaks in fed cattle,” Close says.

Choice wholesale beef value was $3.05 lower week to week on Friday at $226.04 per cwt. Select was 25 cents higher at $218.89.

Griffith points out this was the first decline for Choice boxed beef cutout prices in eight weeks; prices increased $15 per cwt along the way.

Slaughter cow prices dip drastically

There was another good run of feeder cattle at test auctions this week with 40,200 head. This report was the same as last week and almost twice as high as last year. Prices continue to climb higher following the previous week's bigger jumps. However, the bottom end of the price ranges jumped more this week with much more active bidding which tightened up the spreads between the highs and lows and pushed more prices higher.

Slaughter cow prices took an enormous drop and were mostly $5-7 lower even though the cow cutout was very close to steady during the last seven working days. The 90% trimmings, which are the largest product from the cows, was just a little higher than last week and only about $1 lower than last year during most of the last seven days. However slaughter cow prices are way below last year's prices at this time.

Farmers say it will take years to recover from flood

Mindy Ward 032919Northey-800.jpg
WATER TOUR: USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey (left front) got an up close view of the damage floodwaters from the Missouri River had on the Spiegel farm north of Watson, Mo. Farm co-owner Andy Spiegel, took Northey, along with Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst (back left) in an amphibious ATV around the family farm.

Thunder boomed and rain pattered on the tin roof as the amphibious eight-wheel ATV pulled back into the machine shed on the Spiegel Farm. It was a fitting end to USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey’s tour of cropland and farm buildings inundated by floodwaters from the Missouri River.

Water topped federal levees a little over a week ago at the family farm just north of Watson, Mo., near the Nebraska border. Roughly 1,700 acres are covered by water and debris.

Andy Spiegel farms the land along with his father, Dick, and brother, Kyle. The family has endured several historic floods like those in 1993 and 1998. Their last flood event was just eight years ago. However, this flood is different.

“It’s the earliest flood we’ve ever had,” Andy said. And all three men agree the water level is the highest it has ever been.

Between the rise and reach of the water, many farmers didn’t have time to get their grain out of the bins or move machinery. The Spiegels, with the help of friends and neighbors, worked through the night and into the morning hours to move 20,000 bushels of soybeans out of grain bins that are now surrounded by river water. They were able to relocate farm machinery to a hill across Interstate 29.

“So many people are far more affected than our farm,” Andy said. “This will economically be a big challenge for us. But folks lost their homes and don’t have any place to go back to. I have a dry bed so I am fortunate.”

Helping hand

Northey said there are federal programs that will help those affected by the flood. “It softens the blow, but in many cases, it barely softens the blow.”

The Emergency Conservation Program can help pay for some cleanup via cost share. Farmers can use these funds to rebuild fences, clean up debris and push away sand, Northey explained.

The Emergency Watershed Protection is a Natural Resources Conservation Service program that focuses primarily on infrastructure needs. Northey said this program requires a sponsor, like a public entity, to repair infrastructure.

Both ECP and EWP require funding from Congress. Northey said those funds are dwindling. “We’ve been operating on funds from last year that address some of the disasters of 2017. We’ve worked our way through most of the funding available from 2017, then the 2018 hurricanes, now we have tornadoes down south and flooding here.” Northey said there are some dollars left. “It is enough to get started, but not going to be enough to address what is remaining.” Congress understands the need for more money for those two funds, he added.

Planting prospect

There were 14 levee breaks in Atchison County alone, compromising the Missouri River Basin south of Watson, and leaving roughly 60,000 acres unprotected.

Northey envisions prevent plan being used heavily up and down the Missouri River system for 2019. He’s also heard some concerns along the Mississippi River.

“Work with your crop insurance agent,” he said. “You need to be aware now more than ever of what provisions are out there.”

The Spiegel family is moving forward with this cropping season starting with their hill ground. “We are getting the planter ready,” Andy said. “We are going to go out there and give it our best shot.”

Farming is his life. “I’ve got young kids,” he said. “This is how we make our living. I’m optimistic.”

He said others who farm along the Missouri River will likely follow suit. “Farmers are resilient and will always try to get the job done.”

Senators introduce bill to bring transparency to checkoff programs

Senators introduce bill to bring transparency to checkoff programs

A bipartisan duo of senators hope to bring transparency and accountability to the federal government’s checkoff programs.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Cory Booker, D-N.J., re-introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act on March 28. The bill is a direct response to past checkoff program misconduct. Changes proposed by this legislation are designed to improve checkoff board behavior and avoid similar conduct in the future.

The act would:

  • Clarify and fortify the prohibition of checkoff programs contracting with organizations that lobby on agricultural policy;
  • Establish program standards that prohibit anticompetitive behavior and engaging in activities that may involve a conflict of interest;
  • Require transparency through publication of checkoff program budgets and expenditures and means for audits of compliance.

Checkoff programs are mandatory participation programs managed by USDA. These programs are funded by fees on producers of eggs, beef, pork and a multitude of other agricultural products.

"Federal checkoff programs need to start working again for the family farmers and ranchers who are required to pay into them,” Booker said. “This bipartisan legislation will bring much needed reforms by prohibiting conflicts of interest and anti-competitive practices, and requiring more transparency in these programs.”

“Checkoff programs force farmers to pay into a system that sometimes actively works against their interests," Lee said. "On top of that, the boards for these programs have come under fire for a lack of transparency and for misuse of their funds. The Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act is common-sense reform that would help farmers see exactly where the fees they pay are going and ensure that their hard-earned money is not being used against them.”

Source: Office of U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, 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.

China and U.S. make progress in trade talks

China and U.S. make progress in trade talks

by Jeffrey Black and Jenny Leonard

Chinese and U.S. negotiators made “new progress” in trade negotiations as both sides discussed the wording of an agreement that’s designed to resolve a bilateral trade dispute, according to Beijing’s official news agency Xinhua.

The report echoed officials familiar with the talks who said negotiators have been working line-by-line through the text of an agreement that can be put before President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held meetings in Beijing Friday partly to ensure there were no discrepancies in the English- and Chinese-language versions of the text, and also to balance the number of working visits to each capital, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified because the talks aren’t public.

In a tweet, Mnuchin called the talks “constructive” and confirmed Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is due in Washington next week. Speaking Friday afternoon on CNBC Television, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the two sides made “good headway” and U.S. negotiators were probably on their flight back to Washington.

The focus on the joint wording has become a key issue after U.S. officials complained that Chinese versions of the text had walked back or omitted commitments made by negotiators, the unnamed officials said. The two sides have very different understandings of certain words, according to one of the officials, who noted that China’s Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen started his career as a translator at the ministry.

The burst of diplomacy suggests both sides remain determined to reach an agreement that would avoid any escalation of a trade war that has seen them impose duties on $360 billion of each others’ imports. China wants the U.S. tariffs imposed on Chinese goods lifted but Trump said last week the duties would remain in place for a “substantial period of time.”

‘Significant Risks’

Kudlow, who runs the White House’s National Economic Council, said the U.S. could raise tariffs if China doesn’t comply with an eventual deal. “If they don’t stick to it, there will be significant risks” to China, he said.

At stake is a deal that could resolve a conflict that’s roiled markets and cast a shadow over the global economy. Kudlow said the Trump administration is focused more on getting a good agreement than a quick resolution to the trade dispute.

The pact “has got to be right for the U.S.A., whatever the timetable is,” Kudlow said. “A little patience isn’t a bad thing. It’s been less than a year in this round. We went there, they’re coming here. That’s a good sign. These are all very positive signs.”

As China nears agreement with the U.S., officials are keen to maintain an appearance of equality between the two sides, which explains the focus on matching visits to Beijing and Washington, the people said. While talks have taken place by phone over the past month, the last face-to-face meetings took place in Washington in February.

Key Areas

The key areas where the U.S. is demanding better terms include China improving treatment of U.S. intellectual property, opening up market access for American companies and agreeing on an enforcement mechanism for the trade deal, Kudlow said Thursday. The U.S. wants regular meetings to assess whether China is living up to promises, and wants to be able to impose tariffs on China -- with no threat of counter-retaliation -- if it fails to do so, he said.

The U.S. focus on translation issues came after negotiators felt China was backtracking on previous commitments it made on IP and tech issues. After the latest round of face-to-face talks, Chinese negotiators frustrated U.S. officials by sending back text on IP with entire sections crossed out that had already been agreed to by Lighthizer and Liu, people familiar with the situation said.

Kudlow has said numerous times the U.S. won’t remove all tariffs on Chinese goods. “Would some be withdrawn? I don’t really want to get into that,” he said Friday. “These things are done as a matter of the negotiations, and that’s up to Mr. Lighthizer.”

--With assistance from Peter Martin.To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey Black in Hong Kong at [email protected] ;Jenny Leonard in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at [email protected] ;Sarah McGregor at [email protected] Randall Woods, Alister Bull

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 29, 2019

Interest rates dropped; the biggest weekly rate drop in 10 years.

With all the trade focused on China, we need to remember that the USMCA still needs to be ratified.

There's a new use for drones in Australia: herding. 

 

Photo: monsitj/Getty Images