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Brazilian corruption scandal could impact U.S. beef industry

In what has been hailed as the most significant outcome on agriculture in the World Trade Organizationrsquos 20year history member countries reached a historic agreement on ag export subsidiesnbsp when they wrapped up their Tenth Ministerial Conference in Nairobi Feedstuffs reportsA number of countries are currently using export subsidies to support agriculture exports The legallybinding decision would eliminate these subsidies and prevent governments from reverting to tradedistorting export

This week, Moody’s downgraded JBS S.A and JBS USA financial ratings as the company’s controlling shareholders have been implicated in the Brazilian presidential corruption scandal. JBS executives are accused of placing millions of dollars in accounts for the president of Brazil. 

The scandal threatens to bring down more than just the administration in Brazil, as there remains uncertainty about the extent to which those making the payments may be affected. 

JBS Chairman Joesley Batista in April reached a plea bargain deal where he discussed the bribery and payments made to Brazilian president Michel Temer. There remains much uncertainty about where the criminal investigations will lead, and what penalties and ramifications will occur as a result of the scandal.

Meanwhile, U.S. beef exports are surging, and that’s good news for cattle prices. However, there are significant challenges.

One of the factors fueling the rise in cattle prices has been the increased export market which has enjoyed double-digit gains so far this year. While the demand for beef exports has been tremendous, there remains a lot of trepidation in the exporting community.

Australia is expected to return from its supply shortage, and they enjoy significant access/duty advantages compared to U.S. products, especially with the death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). NAFTA renegotiations also promise to put our two biggest export markets in jeopardy.

All the details about the reopening of the Chinese market have yet to emerge, but it appears that traceability will not be a major issue at this time in terms of hindering access. China could be a huge boon for the U.S. cattle industry, but it will take some time to develop.

The U.S. remains at a competitive disadvantage with significantly higher beef tariffs or barriers to most markets in comparison to our competitors. Our beef might taste better, but our current price disadvantages relative to competing export countries continues to put us at a disadvantage.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.

Is Trump’s proposed budget DOA?

Congress has returned from its August recess to a full agenda with a number of bills that expire the end of the month and others that expire at the end of the year One key issue will be Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations that must be completed by Sept 30 to avoid a government shutdown according to National Hog FarmerOther issues includeMandatory price reporting for pork and beef ndash expires Septnbsp30Tax extenders ndash various tax extenders including biodiesel research and deve

Just when I think that Trump is going to get swept away before he drains the swamp, he does something that tells me two things: He is truly serious about fixing the morass that is Washington, D.C. and he is the first president in quite some time who doesn’t seem to care about being re-elected.

For instance, his proposed budget is a pretty dramatic course change. Like all presidents who promise fiscal responsibility, he is spending a lot on the front end and slashing things later, which in Washington terms means paying lip service to fiscal responsibility and continuing to spend way more than we have.

The deficit received very little consideration from anyone during the last presidential election but interest alone is already nearly $500 billion per year and is projected to approach $1 trillion if we continue at our current pace. Of course, that doesn’t include the unfunded long-term liabilities from financially insolvent programs like Medicaid and Social Security. The bottom line is that our financial condition is horrific and getting worse.

Trump’s proposed budget calls for a $3.6 trillion cut in government spending over the next decade. Admittedly, while it would put us on a path that might actually keep us from following in the steps of Greece and the old Soviet Union, but given what we have seen in the past from Congress, President Trump’s budget will be dead on arrival. Everyone wants to cut spending as long as it is not from a program they benefit from.

Agriculture doesn’t fare well, losing about $38 billion in terms of farm supports, and new limits on crop insurance and caps for commodity payments. The old food stamp program, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), would see significant cuts as well. Additionally, user fees would be increased to the tune of the beef industry having to come up with $660 million annually to help defray the cost of USDA inspectors at meat and poultry plants.

Not surprisingly, all the interest groups have stepped forward, saying the cuts are a bad idea. Cuts are always unpopular, increases in spending are more palatable, and that is why we find ourselves in the mess we are in. Everyone intuitively knows that we can’t keep spending more, not raising enough revenue for current spending levels, and kicking the ball down the road forever. Yet, nobody wants to see their sphere reduced.

History tells us the draconian cuts will end up being reductions in proposed increases. The only hope seems to be a constitutional amendment like those passed in some states that have forced politicians to make hard decisions and live within their means. Even that might have difficulty passing.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.

5 tips to develop a grazing system in sync with nature

Joe Roybal Pasture management

By 2050, the planet’s population is estimated to grow from the current 7 billion to more than 9 billion, while the amount of agricultural land is expected to shrink. Simply put, this means we’ll need to produce more food with less resources in order to feed the world. For the beef industry to continue to be part of the solution, it must develop production systems that are more in line to nature.

Beef can play an important role in providing the world a nutrient-dense food that is also sustainable. However, to accomplish this, a beef production system must take advantage of key components that can make it more sustainable, which can be defined as the ability of beef to be produced in sync with nature. 

Ranching in harmony with nature is one of the key strategies for decreasing the impacts while increasing the profitability and sustainability of beef production.

Grazing management is key, and is the single greatest sustainability advantage beef production has to offer, which is the ability of cattle to self-harvest a self-renewing feed source, grass.

The ability of the beef production system to turn grass, a resource unpalatable to humans, into a nutrient-dense food is a unique competitive advantage that is yet to be fully appreciated. For example, it isn’t a topic within the sustainability discussion occurring among stakeholders looking for solutions to feeding a growing population while also tackling climate change. Beef can do both because of two unique natural processes at the heart of beef production and grazing.

The first of these is photosynthesis, an amazing process within a plant (such as grass) that turns water and carbon dioxide (CO2) that the plant takes in from the air, into oxygen (O2), which the plant releases back into the air and carbohydrate (sugar) which the plant uses to supply its energy needs.

Second, and just as amazing, are the intertwined relationships between soil nutrients, soil microbes and plant roots. Soil isn’t just a medium to support plants. Healthy soil is made up of highly complex symbiotic relationships between plants, microbes and sources of nutrients. What’s more, a healthy soil ecosystem is one of earth’s primary carbon sinks.

These are truly miraculous processes that make grazing possible, and give beef production a unique sustainability and competitive advantage.

Here are five tips to develop a sustainable grazing and forage system that is in sync with nature:

1.Calve in harmony with green grass

Calving in harmony with green grass minimizes hay feeding, and can increase weaning rate and general herd health. In practical terms, this generally means calving around the same time as the local populations of wild ruminants such as deer, elk or antelope.

2. Extend the grazing season to decrease or eliminate feeding of purchased and harvested feeds

This takes advantage of cattle’s ability to “self-harvest” grass, a renewable feedstuff. This can be done by filling forage gaps with grazable forages and by applying changes in grazing management, resulting in a tremendous positive effect on the bottom line.

3. Develop a cowherd that is capable of high reproduction efficiency on a forage-based system.

Today’s cattle genetics are not all the same, and the genetics currently found in many cowherds are not capable of producing a marketable calf year after year within a high forage based system. Changing cowherd genetics to match a management strategy that is in sync with nature is a critical consideration. 

4.Use holistic grazing tools to improve efficiency.

Improving grazing management by applying the principles of adaptive holistic grazing leads to greater ranch sustainability and economic viability. Most leading ranches use some form of rotational grazing based on a grazing management plan that focuses on grazing grass that is prepared to endure the rigors inherent with grazing. Utilizing a rotational grazing program that mimics the movements of the historic herds of herbivories is key to ranching in harmony with nature.  

5.Stop using your grandfather's forages; we have better genetics available.

Modern forage genetics provide varieties of grass that are much better able to endure management intensive grazing, with better yields, higher nutritional levels, and improved persistence. Stop using your grandfather’s forages – many of the grass varieties used in forage system today are 50- to 70-year-old genetics, even though much better varieties are available. Grazing systems in sync with nature rely on providing cattle within a high forage system, which should include high quality forages to maintain efficient production.

Ranching in harmony with nature requires a heightened reliance on well managed grazing to fill the nutritional needs of the cowherd. The basis for the sustainability of the entire beef production system, is the capacity to harvest grass, a renewable source of feed, and turn it into a nutrient dense food. A ranch can contribute to the beef industry’s sustainability by improving it grazing management to be more in sync with nature.

Weech is a consultant and adviser on sustainable agricultural projects. Contact him at [email protected]

How Natural Resources Defense Council got it wrong on beef demand

Beef demand and consumption in 2017

I recently wrote an editorial for Feedstuffs – Real story of U.S. beef most favorable – addressing what’s really occurring with consumers and their perception of the beef industry. The editorial was in response to a new report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) titled, Less Beef, Less Carbon.

NRDC explains that, “…between 2005 and 2014, we reduced our per-capita consumption of beef by 19%.” The report contends that because Americans ate less beef between 2005 and 2014, we have effectively “avoided the equivalent of the annual tailpipe emissions of approximately 39 million cars.”

The trouble with the report is that it doesn’t address the underlying cause for declining beef consumption in the U.S.  In other words, it leaves the door open for misinterpretation about consumers and their perception of beef in the marketplace. To that end, Sujatha Bergen, NRDC policy specialist, tries to explain declining consumption as a “welcome side effect” of a growing anti-beef sentiment in the U.S. – wanting us to believe consumers are choosing NOT to eat beef because it allegedly harms the planet.

Wrong.

BEEF readers know there’s a substantive difference between consumption and demand. Demand is a function of both supply and price. In other words, even with smaller supply, if consumers aren’t favorable toward beef, there’ll be little pricing power to clear the market.

What really matters is spending. To that end, per-capita beef spending in 2010 was approximately $261; in 2015, that measure reached $340! Meanwhile, the U.S. population was about 309 million in 2010 versus 321 million in 2015. Doing some quick math, that means U.S. beef spending increased nearly $28.5 billion in just five years. The beef industry has proven its ability to successfully capture new spending at an increasing rate.

I noted in the Feedstuffs column that, “…consumers continue to reward the beef industry for their efforts with their dollars. And in the end, that’s the only measure of business success that matters.” How do you perceive NRDC’s positioning of U.S. consumer perception of the beef industry? What else would you want to share with NRDC about their recent report? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.    

Nevil 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.

MIDDAY-MidwestDigest-05-25-17

Nashville, Tenn., has hockey fever. It will cost you $825 for nosebleed seats for June playoff game. Center ice tickets are going for $7,000.

America's oilfields are cranking out output and nation's of OPEC are capping production through next March. OPEC nations control 40% of world's oil supply. 

Dairy farmers may need to turn off their faucets. Milk price remains under pressure. Milk output up 2% from year ago. 24 pounds above April of last year. Nation's dairy farmers are milking 69,000 more cows than a year ago.

What is it like to stay in Wal-Mart store for 48 hours straight? Two men tried it. They played every game, they read books, attracted dirty looks from security staff and bought stuff every three hours. They ate at Subway and got haircuts in the salon. They talked to the greeter on the way out.

MIDDAY-MidwestDigest-05-25-17

Nashville, Tenn., has hockey fever. It will cost you $825 for nosebleed seats for June playoff game. Center ice tickets are going for $7,000.

America's oilfields are cranking out output and nation's of OPEC are capping production through next March. OPEC nations control 40% of world's oil supply. 

Dairy farmers may need to turn off their faucets. Milk price remains under pressure. Milk output up 2% from year ago. 24 pounds above April of last year. Nation's dairy farmers are milking 69,000 more cows than a year ago.

What is it like to stay in Wal-Mart store for 48 hours straight? Two men tried it. They played every game, they read books, attracted dirty looks from security staff and bought stuff every three hours. They ate at Subway and got haircuts in the salon. They talked to the greeter on the way out.

USDA releases second report from 'Equine 2015' study

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released "Changes in the U.S. Equine Industry, 1998-2015," the second report from its "Equine 2015" study.

Produced by APHIS’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), this report takes an in-depth look at trends in the equine industry during the last 18 years and provides "Census of Agriculture" data on demographic changes in the industry from 1850 to 2012.

The "Equine 2015" study marks the third time NAHMS has conducted a national study on the U.S. equine industry. As with the 1998 and 2005 equine studies, the 2015 study was designed to provide participants, the industry and animal health officials with information on the nation’s equine population to serve as a basis for education, service and research.

The study provides information representing 71.6% of U.S. equids and 70.9% of U.S. operations with five or more equids.

The following are some highlights NAHMS provided from the "Changes in the U.S. Equine Industry, 1998-2015" report:

* In 1998, 2005 and 2015, the percentage of operations that used equids primarily for pleasure was similar (46.1%, 45.7% and 47.2%, respectively), as was the percentage of operations that used equids primarily for farm/ranch work (18.7%, 24.8% and 25.0%, respectively).

* The percentage of the equine population 20 years of age or older increased across the study years (5.6%, 7.6% and 11.4%, respectively), while the percentage of the overall population younger than five years of age was lower in 2015 than in 1998 or 2005. These key findings suggest an aging equine population with fewer foals born in 2015 than in previous study years.

* The overall percentage of equids tested for equine infectious anemia was similar in 1998, 2005 and 2015, while the average cost of the test (including call fee or transportation) increased from 1998 to 2005 and again in 2015.

* The percentage of operations that vaccinated any resident equids during the previous 12 months was similar in 1998 and 2005 but lower in 2015.

* The highest mortality rate in all three studies occurred in equids 20 years of age or older, while the percentage of those older equids that died was lower in 2015 than in 1998 or 2005.

MORNING-MidwestDigest-05-25-17

In the real estate business, they count on the arrival of spring to help sell homes, but in April of this year, home sales went down. But it happened because there aren't enough homes for sales. Sale prices are also climbing, up 6% from a year ago.

Not many are moving to Chicago. Top 20 largest cities in America, Chicago was only one to lose population. Chicago Tribune said Illinois population dropped more last year than any state in America. Top destination states for those fleeing are Texas, Florida and California.

USA Today giving attention to case of California farmer who failed to get permit to till his land. His lawyer said it's important because of precedent it could set.

Lady charged twice for barbering without a license. She's been barbering while topless. Also accused of being married to two men at the same time.

Farm Progress America, May 25, 2017

FarmProgressAmerica_FeatureIMG

Max Armstrong looks at the regulations hitting agriculture, including news that a Senate committee has crafted a bill that would require accountability for any proposed regulation. The new bill would also require public involvement. Max shares insight into the new measure.

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.

Household debt tops 2008 peak ahead of financial crisis

U.S. household debt has topped the record level reached in 2008, a milestone for the recovery that shows consumers are borrowing again.

But while the debt doesn’t pose the risks that toppled the financial system nine years ago, there are still some signs of potential trouble, notably high student loan debt and delinquencies.

Debt balances for American households increased $149 billion, or 1.2%, in the first quarter to $12.73 trillion, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Wednesday. That’s modestly above the $12.68 trillion peak in 2008 and 14.1% higher than the bottom in 2013.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/05/17/household-debt/101774626/