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There are very vivid examples of our crumbling infrastructure: Sinkholes. About 1 every 4 days struck across country in various locations. Four people were injured in the incidents. In Christmas Eve, hole size of football field swallowed several houses in Detroit.

The pace of planting overall for nation doesn't lag far behind five-year average. It may seem slow because last two planting seasons were rapid.14% soybeans planted is 3 points behind average.

The giant rabbit is back in the news. Buyer wants to know why rabbit was cremated before autopsy was done.

Farm Progress America, May 9, 2017

Max Armstrong shares insight on the impact of the flooding that has done significant damage to crops in southern Missouri and into Arkansas. He shares insights into what the impact on crops may be - including the potential extensive need for replant.

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.

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Brazil’s beef exports show modest impact from packer investigation, market closures

Joris Van Ostaeyen / ThinkStock Accusing the Obama administration of putting politics over producers the National Cattlemenrsquos Beef Association NCBA reacted angrily to the news that certain regions in Argentina and Brazil will be allowed to export beef to the United StatesAccording to Beef Producer USDA39s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will amend its regulations and allow import of fresh chilled or frozen beef from Northern Argentina and 14 states in Brazil The final rule will be effective 60 days after pub

A highly publicized investigation into meat inspection practices at some Brazilian processing facilities recently caused an interruption in production and temporary closure of several key export markets for Brazilian beef. But despite widespread speculation about this incident’s impact on global beef trade, Brazil’s beef exports suffered only a modest setback.

Brazil’s March beef/beef variety meat export volume posted a new high for the year at 118,312 metric tons (mt). Although this was 12% below the large volume posted in March 2016, exports actually increased about 12% from the March levels of 2014 and 2015.

While China was one of the markets that temporarily suspended imports of Brazilian beef, March exports to China were 19,546 mt, up 25% from a year ago and the largest since October. The other three major destinations to temporarily close were Hong Kong, Egypt and Chile.

March exports to Hong Kong were sharply lower at 22,681 mt, down 28% year over year, but exports had also been lower in January and February as Brazil’s exports to the region continued to shift from Hong Kong to China. March exports to Chile were down 22% to 4,425 mt as Paraguay (the main competitor and largest supplier to Chile) shipped a sharply higher March volume (8,089 mt, up 31%). Brazil’s exports to Egypt (4,306 mt, down 82%) fell even more dramatically in March, but it is important to note that they were already slumping, due in large part to devaluation of Egypt’s currency.

Other destinations in which Brazil’s exports trended lower year over year in March included the European Union (6,818 mt, down 30%), which imposed enhanced inspections as a result of the investigation, and the Philippines (1,637 mt, down 24%). But exports to Russia (16,999 mt, up 40%) were the largest since October 2015 and shipments to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel continued to trend higher than a year ago.

The United States did not suspend imports of Brazilian beef, but USDA announced in a news release that although none of the Brazilian slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the investigation had shipped meat products to the U.S., it would indefinitely maintain 100% re-inspection and pathogen testing of products arriving from Brazil.

In March, Brazil’s exports to the U.S. were 5,749 mt, up 138% from a year ago. This included Brazil’s largest (by far) shipments of frozen beef (3,154 mt) since the U.S. market opened in September 2016. Prior to the September opening of the U.S. market to chilled/frozen beef from certain Brazilian states, Brazil shipped only cooked and canned beef products to the United States. From September through February, Brazil’s frozen exports to the U.S. averaged only 391 mt, but the volume increased significantly in March.

For the first quarter, Brazil’s beef/beef variety meat exports were 8% below last year’s fast pace at 320,330 mt, led by growth to China (52,855 mt, up 48 percent), Russia (39,402 mt, up 10%), Iran (31,731 mt, up 56%) and Saudi Arabia (14,858 mt, up 319%). These results were offset, however, by decreases for Hong Kong (63,162 mt, down 24%), Egypt (14,823 mt, down 75%), the EU (19,519 mt, down 28%) and Chile (12,592, down 28%). 

 Although Brazil’s beef exports weathered the recent controversy fairly well, it certainly had a negative impact on the nation’s cattle producers. With some slaughter facilities temporarily reducing capacity and the Brazilian industry facing uncertainly about international market access, cattle prices declined 7% (in Brazilian reals) between mid-March and mid-April, falling 13% below a year ago and to the lowest level since October 2014. Prices have since rebounded to some degree to reach 9.36 reals per kilogram, down 9% from a year ago. In U.S. dollars, prices are up slightly year over year to $1.34 per pound, reflecting the stronger real.

Prior to the investigation, Brazilian cattle prices had been quite strong due to limited supplies, as beef production was down 3% in 2015 and fell another 1.5% last year. This has posed a challenge for packers and exporters, with Brazil’s domestic economy in recession and difficult economic conditions in many of its main export markets.

Under the agreement reached in September of last year, U.S. beef regained access to the Brazilian market for the first time since the December 2003 BSE case. Shipments were somewhat slow to get underway, due in part to a product label registration process that is unique to Brazil.

But USDA recently confirmed that the first shipments of U.S. beef have landed in Brazil, and interest from Brazilian buyers has been strong. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) anticipates significant demand for several U.S. muscle cuts and especially for picanha, or sirloin cap, which is the highest-value cut in Brazil.

The restaurant sector in Brazil’s major metropolitan areas presents an opportunity for high-end U.S. middle meats. Beef livers also command strong prices in Brazil, so the market is a promising destination for U.S. livers, a high percentage of which is currently exported to Egypt.

Sources: Global Trade Atlas, USDA/FAS, World Beef Report and the Brazilian Department of Agriculture

Dairy exports to Canada have NAFTA implications

Dairy exports to Canada

Canadian dairy trade has been a major focus in the news in recent weeks. As such, this week’s illustration provides some backdrop to the controversy. Annual dairy exports to Canada began to rise in 2007 and have been largely stronger year over year ever since. Last year’s export value to Canada for dairy products equaled $632 million—that’s nearly double 2007’s annual value and 3.5 times bigger versus 2000.

Much of the increase in exports has come in the form of ultra-filtered milk. The milk is passed through a specialized membrane that captures larger protein and fat molecules. It’s that concentrated protein component that’s especially important to making cheese. Additionally, the process removes much of the excess water, enabling it to be transported far more economically than would be possible otherwise. 

But more important to the trade controversy, ultra-filtration technology was adopted after NAFTA was implemented. As such, shipment of ultra-filtered component across the border is not subject to normal milk tariffs in Canada.

That’s made U.S. ultra-filtered milk price competitive in the Canadian marketplace—especially considering improved cheese yields using the U.S. product. Therefore, Canadian cheese producers have readily imported the product. Hence, the large increase in export value outlined above. 

Meanwhile, Canada has now created a new class of milk – Class 7 – for the purpose of categorizing high-protein dairy products (i.e. ultra-filtered milk). The new category enables Canadian border officials to recognize the product, and thereby enforce an import tariff on U.S. milk. As a result, U.S. ultra-filtered milk is no longer price competitive and shipments have largely ceased.

All of this has rightfully received lots of attention. It’s a very important topic for the dairy industry—and could potentially have ramifications around NAFTA in general. How do you perceive the controversy? Do you think it could have secondary ramifications to beef and/or pork trade with Canada? What would you recommend to the Trump administration to help resolve this issue for dairy producers? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.  

Speer is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and serves as vice president of U.S. operations for AgriClear, Inc. – a wholly-owned subsidiary of TMX Group Limited.  The views and opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the TMX Group Limited and Natural Gas Exchange Inc.

Animal rights activists protest CSU’s meat lab

While attending South Dakota State University, I had the opportunity to work in the college’s meat lab and also take a class in meat science, where we slaughtered, processed, packaged and sold meat products. The course brought together animal science, ag journalism and even zoology students, and as a result, there was a solid mix of different ideas and values surrounding the harvesting of animals for human consumption.

The lab also had a viewing area where interested students could watch slaughter taking place every Tuesday. Sure, the transparency made the university vulnerable to activist criticism and opposing viewpoints, but the point of a land-grant university that focuses on agriculture is to learn about every aspect of food production. For those who want to stick their nose in the sand, learning the circle of life may not be of much interest, but for the rest of us, it was a valuable class that I still think about almost a decade later.

On campus at Colorado State University, Becca Bliel is fighting the college’s attempt to open a small harvesting facility included in the $20 million JBS Global Food Innovation Center. The facility is expected to open in 2018, and Bliel, a student and member of an animal rights club on campus, has started a petition through to protest the project.

According to the Coloradoan, “While College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Ajay Menon understands Bleil's position, he said CSU is continuing to fulfill its mission as a land-grant university with the addition of the center. Now, instead of slaughtering animals elsewhere, there will be room for faculty and students to do it on campus. Some carcasses will be used for teaching; some for research. And, some of the meat will be sold at Ram Country Meats, a student-run meat market on campus.”

Ken Odde, head of the K-State’s animal sciences and industry department and former CSU faculty member, told reporters, “I appreciate their need to be heard on this, but on the other hand, it is also a reality that animal sciences and meat sciences is at the historic roots of our university. We have had a meats program [at K-State] dating back to the '30s and ‘40s. We consider it an important part of our mission as a land-grant university. Livestock agriculture, animal agriculture, provides a huge portion of the food supply globally, and we think it's important to properly train students in appropriate and humane procedures.”

Bleil already has 60,000+ signatures on her petition, and the freshman psychology and global environmental sustainability student says that raising and rendering cattle goes against the university's sustainability and carbon-neutral pledge.

In a letter to faculty, Menon, who is originally from India, wrote, “I understand better than most the sentiments and arguments against animal protein from those who are vegetarians, vegans and animal rights advocates. However, nearly 90% of the global population has made a different choice. As the world hurtles toward 9 billion people, the demand for animal protein will only grow. I don't know how to get that protein without harvesting. CSU is in an important position to lead as our country seeks advances in sustainability, quality and safety in food production."

Unlike the SDSU meat lab, CSU’s won’t be open to the public; however, both provide a platform for learning and for providing meat products to students on campus. I’m glad that despite the anti-agriculture rhetoric, our land-grant universities are still moving forward as centers for science-based learning and providing sound research for farmers and ranchers to implement in order to produce the best possible foods for our consumers to enjoy.

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

6 Trending Headlines: Are beef imports necessary? PLUS; Ag and immigration reform

Farm Progress beef exports bounce back

Are beef imports necessary? You bet!

In order to keep freezer storage open, and to move parts of the beef carcass most Americans would not typically consume, beef exports are imperative, says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing economist at Oklahoma State University. What’s more, those exports make room for more desirable products like steaks, while at the same time adding value to the carcass.

Conversely, much of the beef imported is lean trimmings, used to supplement domestic supplies to satisfy the huge demand in the U.S. for ground hamburger, according to the Oklahoma Farm Report.

"Beef imports are often viewed as (partially) offsetting beef exports, thus reducing the net value of beef trade. In reality, both beef exports and imports add value to the U.S. beef industry," Peel says. "Beef trade, both exports and imports, help to sort out the complex set of beef products in domestic and international markets to maximize the value to U.S. beef producers."

Click here to read more.

Smart ways to use your smartphone apps for correct drug use


denizbayram / ThinkStock

While correctly using the many pharmaceuticals available to treat food animals has always been important, it’s even more so now. Consumers want to know how and why we use animal health products, and that we’re using them correctly.

That information is on the label. And now, it’s on your Smartphone as well, according to

Recognizing the need for easy access the important details contained in a drug label, several entities have developed drug information resources that are available via cell phone or tablet.

Click here for a rundown of the apps and aids available to veterinarians and producers.

Here’s how to combat external parasites

It’s summer, or at least summer-like weather is nigh, and that means external parasites are hungry. And as they take their blood meals or otherwise use your cattle for a 24-hour buffet, they put a heavy burden on both you and your animals.

Painful bites and risk of disease transmission are common issues with these nuisance pests, says A.J. Tarpoff, Extension veterinarian at Kansas State University. In cattle, culprits can include several fly species as well as ticks. Controlling these pests takes properly timed management.

Click here for a rundown of the parasites you and your cattle will face this summer, and what to do about them.

How social pressures shape the beef business

In days not so long ago, the main concerns consumers had when it came to beef was having a consistently great eating experience and knowing they were serving their families a safe, wholesome meal. That is still true, but now consumers also are concerned about how beef is raised.

"Society in general is increasingly shaping how meat is produced," says Glynn Tonsor, market economist at Kansas State University. "They're doing it in different ways. Anybody that's on the supply side of that story needs to be cognizant of that, because at the extreme, you can have mandates put upon you that you need to be aware of."

While that can be very frustrating to livestock producers, Tonsor says, "that doesn't change the fact that's the way it is now in the U.S. and you have got to keep in mind that the bulk of the product that is consumed is where the people are. And most of the people are on the coast."

Click here to read and hear more of Tonsor’s thoughts on the Oklahoma Farm Report.

Will Trump leave ag alone in immigration reform?

New Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue thinks so. He announced recently that he believes agricultural producers need not worry about immigrant farm worker problems under the Trump administration's aggressive immigration policy, reports Southwest Farm Press.

Perdue said that the president will not focus his immigration efforts on deporting farm workers even if they are illegally in the United States. Producers have been concerned that the President's tough stand on undocumented immigrants might cause instability in their operations and could further cause an increase in food costs in the months ahead. Perdue said the President is open to helping agricultural producers protect their immigrant work force.

Click here to read more.

Beef exports bolster the cattle market

U.S. meat supplies have expanded rapidly but a significant portion of that growth went to feed the rest of the world, according to the Daily Livestock Report. For example, U.S. red meat and poultry exports were explosive in March, the latest available data, with both export volume and revenue up in double digits compared to year ago levels. And that is good news for U.S. beef producers.

Exports of fresh, frozen or cooked beef and veal in March were 77,743 metric tons (mt), 15,407 mt (+24.7%) higher than a year ago. This was the largest monthly beef export volume since June 2014. “We think this is evidence that it was a combination of both domestic and export demand, which pushed beef packers to ramp up slaughter during the first quarter” [thus leading to the increase in fed cattle prices].

Click here for more.



What is happening with enrollment in our colleges and universities? Not all are taking a hit, but some are. University of Missouri-Colombia is seeing declining enrollment

Hearings have already started to replace farm bill. Expires in 2018. Was hearing in Michigan over the weekend. MAP program received support.

Sen. Roberts told attendees there will need to be savings.

Michigan is No. 2 in apple output, wind up in 27 states and 17 other nations.

Warren Buffett meeting over weekend. Buffett always tries to bring humor to his meetings.



You'll be hearing news today about appointment to federal judicial court. President Trump is expected to make a number of appointments to federal bench.

The protein content of the wheat hit by bad weather is very much a concern right now. 281 million bushels expected, down 40% from last year. Protein content could make supplies very tight for flour millers. Spike in prices for higher protein wheat.

America's oil patch continues to recover and rebuild. We have most working in America now in over 2 years. Added rigs for 16 weeks in a row.

Warren Buffett is in love with wind and solar energy projects, which are subsidized.

Buffett sees declining roll for coal.


Farm Progress America, May 8, 2017

Max Armstrong offers his thoughts on the new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue who will bring a different vibe to his role in the office. Max says the new "farm chief" will be more focused on agriculture.

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.