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NCBA Urges Senate To Re-Evaluate RFS

With persistently wet conditions in parts of the Midwest worsening and some areas suffering catastrophic flooding, cattlemen are “now looking straight down the barrel of $7 corn, and that may just be the beginning,” says Gregg Doud, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) chief economist.

“We already saw a lot of acres migrating away from corn this year, and that was before the wet spring pushed into June. By the time conditions improve in many of these fields, planting corn will no longer be an option,” he says.

Thanks to congressional mandates for production of grain-based fuels, more than a quarter of last fall’s strong harvest was required to meet ethanol production mandates. This figure will grow much higher in 2008, as the production mandates have increased, corn plantings have been delayed, and corn crop progress has been extremely slow, NCBA says.

“USDA is now projecting a significant decline in per-acre yield for corn, on top of the reduction in corn acreage,” Doud says. “This puts a tremendous squeeze on all users of corn, but especially those who do not receive any tax credits or other subsidies to generate their end product.”

In written comments submitted to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, NCBA President Andy Groseta says many cattle feeders are currently losing about $150/animal.

“These losses will be passed on to the foundation of our industry, the cow-calf producer. For every $1/bu. increase in the price of corn, a cattle feeder must pay $22/cwt. less for a 550-lb. feeder steer.”

Several legislative proposals have been introduced to freeze or reduce ethanol production mandates, and to reduce or eliminate incentives that divert feedgrains toward ethanol production. Without endorsing any particular proposal, Groseta urged the committee to carefully weigh current market conditions as they debate these issues.

“Cattle producers have always depended on the free market to drive their business, and as long as cattle producers have the ability to compete on a level playing field with the ethanol industry for each bushel of corn, the U.S. beef industry can and will remain competitive,” Groseta said. “NCBA feels it’s time to level the playing field and allow market forces rather than government intervention to guide the production and use of ethanol.”
-- NCBA news release

Beef

Calving Ease, Growth, Mature Size Illustrate Limousin Breed Improvement

Phenotype is an individual’s observed category or measured level of performance for a trait. Its genotype (genetic merit) and the environment it experiences determine an animal’s phenotype. Because genetic selection and environment – including management – drive expressed levels of performance over time, you can determine if genetic selection and management are working by studying annual changes in observed performance.

The North American Limousin Foundation (NALF) recently examined the breed’s phenotypic trends for the last 10 years to gauge the effects its members’ selection and management decisions were having on calving ease; birth, weaning, yearling and mature-cow weights; and frame size.

“Limousin breeders invest considerable time and resources in documenting performance and using genetic information to make selection and mating decisions,” said Kent Andersen, Ph.D., executive vice president for NALF. “They undertake all of that to serve commercial customers continually with seedstock that deliver more valuable calf crops.”

The Limousin breed has observed essentially no change in its industry-leading calving-ease scores or reasonable birth weights over the last 10 years.

Calving-ease scores indicate 99 percent of mature Limousin dams calved unassisted. Meanwhile, 92 percent of first-calf heifers calved unassisted, and most of the others required only light assistance.

The average birth weight for bull calves remained around 85 pounds, while the average heifer calf continued to tip the scales at around 80 pounds.

“Selection for calving ease and sensible birth weight has been successful based on both phenotypic and genetic trends,” Andersen noted, referring to the breed’s expected progeny differences (EPDs), which are available on the NALF Web site (www.nalf.org).

The organization documented significantly favorable trends in both sexes for weaning and yearling weights. Using 1997 as a benchmark, adjusted weaning weights for 2007-born calves indicate an increase of 40 and 32 pounds for bulls and heifers, respectively. More dramatic are the 97- and 49-pound increases in average adjusted yearling weights for each of the sexes.

Over the same period, the average frame score for both sexes remained around 6.0. Mature-cow weights declined by around 40 pounds.

“Those data indicate Limousin breeders have been successful at improving growth without correlated increases in observed calving difficulty, birth weight or mature-cow weight,” Andersen concluded.

The North American Limousin Foundation (www.nalf.org), headquartered in Centennial, Colo., provides programs and services – including genetic evaluation of 5,000 active sires – to more than 4,000 members and their commercial customers. The Limousin breed and its Lim-Flex® hybrid lead the beef industry in muscle-growth efficiency and ideally complement British breeds.

Contact Brad Parker

[email protected]

North American Limousin Foundation

7383 S. Alton Way, Suite 100

Centennial, CO 80112-2339

(303) 220-1693 ¦ www.nalf.org

Beef

Red Angus Announces New Leadership

Greg Comstock has been named Executive Secretary of the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA). Comstock has served the RAAA as the Marketing Programs Coordinator since 2003, where he directed breed promotion and the development of several facets of RAAA’s commercial marketing programs. Age verification, electronic ID capabilities and an umbrella program for cooperating feedyards are all components of the Red Angus Feeder Calf Certification Program (FCCP), whose design and implementation occurred during Comstock's involvement. With over 1 million head of cattle enrolled, from more than 3000 producers, the Red Angus FCCP remains the seedstock industry’s most experienced source verification program.

A Virginia native, and alumnus of VA Tech, Comstock conveys 25 years of experience in the beef industry, with breed associations and producers on both the marketing and genetic improvement fronts. As a Red Angus breeder and consultant, Comstock served on the Red Angus Strategic Planning Committee before joining the RAAA staff, and has maintained an active part of Red Angus’ strategic plan during his five year tenure with the breed. This committee evaluates long term breed position vs. industry challenges and customer needs prior to recommending long and short term priorities and strategies.

Shortly after joining the RAAA staff, Comstock developed Pro-Cow, a marketing solution for Red Angus influenced commercial replacement females. Pro-Cow was designed to enhance the visibility of superior maternal traits expressed by the Red Angus female and provide additional marketing opportunities for the female half of the calf crop. In its first 4 years, over 75,000 Pro-Cow females were traded via their listing on the Red Angus website. The GridMaster program followed on the heels of Pro-Cow. GridMaster, Red Angus' carcass awards program, recognizes producers and feeders who have achieved outstanding carcass results through their use and management of Red Angus genetics.

Comstock’s commitment to leadership development resulted in the creation of the Red Angus Young Guns Program. Young Guns is a summer conference held each July in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Young Guns utilizes an interactive program to advance strategic planning, management, networking, and leadership skills.

Comstock’s progressive thinking has made Red Angus Marketing Programs the envy of the industry, and his commitment to Red Angus breeders and their customers has been a catalyst for increasing Red Angus market share. As Executive Secretary, Comstock will oversee staff development, member services, industry relations, and association infrastructure. His vision of breed growth will challenge all Red Angus stakeholders to focus on breed growth through the continual improvement of their collective product, providing added value customer service, effectively relating the Red Angus message to the industry and searching out symbiotic relationships for Red Angus with industry partners.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Clint Berry

June 9, 2008 RAAA Comm/Member Serv Dir.

[email protected]

(940) 387-3502

Beef

MICRO BEEF TECHNOLOGIES RELEASES MICRO PVP, A MAJOR EXPANSION OF CURRENT USDA-APPROVED PROCESS VERIFIED PROGRAM

AMARILLO, Texas, June 10, 2008 - Micro Beef Technologies, a leading provider of innovative, integrated animal management solutions for the global food supply chain, today announced the release of MICRO PVP (www.micropvp.com), a major expansion of its current USDA-approved Process Verified Program. The MICRO PVP will allow ranches, livestock markets, and feedyards to more easily age verify their cattle for export markets as well as benefit from newly added "Born in USA" and "Born and Raised in USA" claims.

For ranch customers, the MICRO PVP expansion will add new flexibility to the age verification and audit process. In addition to on-site audits, ranchers may now elect to submit calving records and participate in phone audits to verify age records. Ranchers may also tag animals upon arrival at a secondary location such as a livestock market or feedyard.

For participating feedyards, backgrounders, and markets, the MICRO PVP has been modified to allow cattle from other USDA-approved PVP and QSA programs to be age verified upon arrival and eligible for export programs. The MICRO PVP will now allow feedyards to accept cattle from virtually any ranch which has maintained appropriate calving records.

The MICRO PVP also offers customers an optional program to prepare for future country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements by qualifying age-verified cattle for one of two new claims: "Born in USA" or "Born and Raised in USA." Either program meets USDA requirements for COOL by linking the age verification and origin verification processes.

The MICRO PVP is presently a leading USDA- approved Process Verified Program (PVP). Thousands of cattle producers, feedyards, and livestock markets have participated in the age verification program, qualifying cattle for valuable premiums. In 2007, Micro Beef Technologies' PVP customers who marketed their age verified cattle earned average premiums of $2-3 per hundredweight. Recent research by Montana State University, a Micro Beef PVP customer since 2003, indicated that age verification was a significant value-added feature, adding an average of $12.83 per head in new value to age-verified Montana calves.

For more information about MICRO PVP, please visit www.micropvp.com.

About Micro Beef Technologies

Micro Beef Technologies is a leading provider of innovative, integrated animal management solutions for the global food supply chain, creating superior long-term value for our customers, partners, and stakeholders. For more information on Micro Beef, please visit www.microbeef.com or call 800-858-4330.

For additional information about this press release, please contact Tim Niedecken, Micro Beef Technologies' Marketing Manager, at 800-858-4330.

Beef

NALF Executive Tells International Limousin Conference About Genomics Projects

Genetic improvement, new technologies and new markets were among the topics discussed at the 18th biennial International Limousin Conference, May 20–28 in Italy. Kent Andersen, Ph.D., executive vice president for the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF), addressed the conference’s “Future Perspectives of Limousin in the World” technical session, which was May 25 in Florence. He explained how the U.S. Beef Industry Whole-Genome Selection Project will enable and enhance genetic evaluation.

For breeders and commercial users of Limousin and Lim-Flex® genetics, Andersen said, the project and related public and private efforts promise to affect selection decisions and breed improvement dramatically. Existing selection tools, such as expected progeny differences (EPDs), are likely to be genome-enhanced and have appreciably higher associated accuracies before progeny information is available.

Andersen described how NALF is working to empower Limousin breeders and their commercial customers to adapt emerging genomics technologies for enhanced profitability.

“Historically, Limousin breeders and commercial users have used a variety of information tools for making selection decisions. They include visual animal appraisal; pedigrees; phenotypic performance data; EPDs; and bio-economic selection indexes, such as our mainstream terminal index,” he said. “While those tools will continue to help breeders make reliable selection decisions, rapidly evolving genome-based technology now has the potential to revolutionize how cattle producers and breed associations approach animal evaluation.”

Unprecedented public and private investment in genomics research and infrastructure is driving the revolution. NALF’s involvement in the research has positioned Limousin breeders and commercial users of Limousin and Lim-Flex genetics to take competitive advantage of emerging genomics technology, Andersen said.

The U.S. Beef Industry Whole-Genome Selection Project initiated earlier this year is likely to accelerate the evolution toward genome-enhanced and -enabled animal-evaluation tools. For Limousin breeders and commercial producers, genomics research ultimately could yield appreciably higher accuracy predictions of genetic merit for all animals – including young, nonparent bulls – and for an even more comprehensive set of economically relevant traits (ERTs).

Andersen told how federal researchers and beef breed association representatives met last year to discuss the incorporation of genomics information into the U.S. national cattle evaluation (NCE) system. Another outcome of the project is the potential development of DNA-based diagnostic tests for commercial cow-calf producers and cattle feeders for marker-assisted management (MAM).

To accommodate inclusion of the breed, NALF coordinated members’ donations of semen from proven Limousin artificial-insemination (AI) sires.

The U.S. Beef Industry Whole-Genome Selection Project builds upon the International Bovine HapMap Project, which began in 2004 and resulted in the derivation of 40,000 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes from at least 24 animals in each of 19 different breeds. Thanks to support from NALF and the International Limousin Council, the HapMap project captured the breed’s global genetic variation by including 42 influential Limousin animals – more than any other major beef breed.

The North American Limousin Foundation (www.nalf.org), headquartered in Centennial, Colo., provides programs and services – including genetic evaluation of 5,000 active sires – to more than 4,000 members and their commercial customers. The Limousin breed and its Lim-Flex® hybrid lead the beef industry in muscle-growth efficiency and ideally complement British breeds.

###

North American Limousin Foundation

7383 S. Alton Way, Suite 100

Centennial, CO 80112-2339

(303) 220-1693 ¦ www.nalf.org

For immediate release

June 10, 2008

Contact Brad Parker

[email protected]

Beef

Fall cattle work provides opportunity to capture data, value

Comprehensive IGENITY® profile can help producers make important decisions with more confidence.

DULUTH, GA — June 9, 2008 — As fall approaches, producers are looking to offset record-high input costs with savvy production decisions. Now, with inside information from the comprehensive IGENITY® profile, producers can make more confident selection, management and marketing decisions that will help ensure their profitability.

“Data equals value, especially now when precision is required for producers and feeders to turn a profit,” says Dr. Kevin DeHaan, Technical Services Director, IGENITY. “By putting the power of DNA to work this fall, producers can learn more about each individual calf’s genetic potential, and in turn, make decisions about each calf’s future with more confidence.”

The comprehensive IGENITY profile gives producers information for economically important traits, such as tenderness, marbling, quality grade, yield grade, fat thickness, hot carcass weight, ribeye area, heifer pregnancy rate, stayability, calving ease, docility and more. And, this information is all available from a single DNA sample that is as simple to collect as applying an ear tag.

Dr. DeHaan says by gaining this information early in each animal’s life, such as at fall weaning time, producers can put the data to work for short-term benefits with the current calf crop and long-term progress toward genetic goals.

“Use of the IGENITY profile empowers producers to evaluate their herd with information about traits that traditionally could not be analyzed until the animal had been harvested or already become a member of the herd,” Dr. DeHaan says. “DNA technology provides producers with timely information early in the animal’s life that can be used to make more confident decisions about calf selection for retained ownership, feeder calf marketing, replacement heifer selection and more.”

Fall preconditioning and weaning are convenient and well-timed opportunities for producers to collect DNA samples. Dr. DeHaan says the process to collect DNA samples can easily be worked into these fall processing routines with minimal management intrusion.

“Not only is fall a convenient time to gather DNA samples, but when it comes time to sort calves, producers can use the information to help ensure each calf is headed down the most profitable path,” he says.

For example, feeder calves can be sorted for retaining ownership and potential replacement heifers can be better sorted or managed based on their potential to be a profitable member of the herd, Dr. DeHaan explains.

Tissue sample collection is simple with the IGENITY sample collection device, which operates like an ear tag applicator. Hair, blood or tissue samples also can be used; however, tissue samples are required to conduct a test to identify persistent infections (PI) of the bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) virus.

Dr. DeHaan says that using a comprehensive profile that includes analyses for multiple traits allows producers to determine parentage and test for BVD-PI, giving producers a more complete package.

“Learning inside information about each animal’s potential, identifying parentage in multisire situations and testing for BVD-PI all from a single sample is very convenient,” Dr. DeHaan says. “Producers can use all of this information to make more informed decisions about cattle in all stages of production.”

As the industry faces rising input costs and an uncertain market future, gaining as much information as possible about cattle is more crucial than ever.

“The bottom line is that the sooner producers know more about each animal in their herd, the better they will be able to profitably manage and market their product,” Dr. DeHaan says. “The comprehensive IGENITY profile is a great tool for producers looking to improve their herd and manage cattle with more confidence, and there is no better time to get started than in the fall.”

For more information, contact your IGENITY Sales Representative, call 1-877-IGENITY or visit www.IGENITY.com.

###

For more information, contact:

Wendy Mayo

Bader Rutter

(402) 434-5307

[email protected]

®IGENITY is a registered trademark of Merial.

©2008 Merial Limited. Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. LAGEEGN801 (6/08)

Merial

3239 Satellite Blvd.

Duluth, GA 30096

www.merial.com

Beef

ROTO-MIX Expands Manufacturing Facility

Dodge City, Kansas - ROTO-MIX recently completed an expansion of their manufacturing facility in Dodge City, Kansas. ROTO-MIX is a leading manufacturer of livestock feed mixing equipment for the beef cattle and dairy industries. ROTO-MIX also manufacturers and markets a complete line of manure spreaders as well as compost mixers and spreaders for municipal and industrial applications.

The expansion of the Dodge City manufacturing facility allowed for the relocation of the machine shop department which in turn freed up space for additional weld and assembly stations. According to Ben Neier, President of ROTO-MIX, "We are experiencing substantial growth and this expansion combined with our exceptional workforce will allow us to keep pace with customer demand. New products and improvements to our existing product lines have served to reinforce our strong market position in the livestock feeding industry."

Agency Contact:

Dennis Suelter, AE

ARROW ADVERTISING

P.O. Box 2898

Salina, Kansas 67421

785-825-8124

Client Contact:

Allin Butcher, National Sales Mgr.

ROTO-MIX, L.L.C.

2205 E. Wyatt Earp Blvd.

Dodge City, KS 67801

620-225-1142

Beef

Alltech Announces Western Milling As Official West Coast Feed Partner

[Fresno, CALIFORNIA] – Alltech, the global animal health company, is continuing to maintain momentum as the title sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010™ with the announcement of Western Millling as the official West Coast feed partner of the Games.

Alltech named Western Milling as the official Western feed partner at the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento, on June 6, 2008.

Dr. Pearse Lyons, president of Alltech, explains, “The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games feed partnership program is a unique opportunity for leading equine feed companies to be linked to this prestigious event as well as differentiating feed companies by providing added value.”

At present, this collaborative program is taking place with other leading horse feed companies throughout the world. This partnership program allows Western Milling and all other partners from around the world to work with Alltech, a company that is passionate about animal performance. Alltech’s driving force is excellence. Excellence in manufacturing through state of the art facilities, in research through cutting edge laboratories, and a strong commitment to total traceability and quality of products.

The strategic partnership will also enable the partners from around the globe to be part of a loyalty program, which will include sales, marketing and collaborative advertising support as well as hospitality opportunities for partners in the build-up to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which reflect Alltech’s passion for animal performance and the company’s core values of ‘Passion, Performance and Excellence’.

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be held in Lexington, Kentucky from September 25-October 10, 2010. Riders from around the world will compete in the eight disciplines that comprise the Games, including show-jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting, reining and for the first time in concurrence with the other seven, para-equestrian disciplines. The event is expected to draw an estimated 700,000 spectators, 2,000 journalists, and will account for the largest transatlantic horse transport since D-Day.

Alltech is committed to equine nutrition research, producing and delivering all-natural feed ingredients such as Yea-Sacc® digestive enhancer, Bioplex® organic trace minerals, Bio-Mos®, MTB-100® and Sel-Plex®, nature’s model of organic selenium to optimize horse health and performance. For more information, visit www.alltech.com .

Black Ink: Records that work

Whatever activity you think of, there’s probably a world record. Somebody has licked the most envelopes in a minute, played the longest chess match and worn the most t-shirts at one time.

There are books, websites and even news articles that tell of oddities and obscurities that make the list of being the most, longest, heaviest, smallest or fastest. Many of you are probably thinking, “But who cares?”

Good point. Eating the most cockroaches ever earned Ken Edwards a spot in the “Guinness World Records” book, but he isn’t exactly a household celebrity. So, if nobody cares about records, what are they worth?

The question can be applied to your cattle operation and its unique set of records. Many educators and industry experts say to keep detailed information, but one recently added an obvious but critical qualifier: “You should only keep records that you’re actually going to use.”

When your tracking system becomes so complicated that it’s keeping you from using it effectively, it’s time for an overhaul.

First, you can evaluate what data is easy to gather and record. A pocket-sized book is a simple tool for recording calving dates and identification (ID) from your pasture or pickup.

Writing specific vaccinations on the calendar date given might be the best processing map you could keep. Others find value in high-tech systems, in a spreadsheet or commercial herd management computer program. Either way, you still need to collect the information without a lot of extra labor.

Next, ask yourself what questions you want to know the answers to from year to year.
Pregnancy rates and abortions can help you identify breeding problems and reproductive diseases. Weaning weights can give you feedback on both your selection and early nutrition programs.

On-farm research can provide tell you what works and what doesn’t, just based on your observation. From one calf crop to the next, these notes are of some value, but data speaks for itself. It doesn’t require a photographic memory or keen intuition for picking up subtle differences.

If something happens gradually over the years, you might not notice a problem cropping up unless you have the records to prove it.

Now, for all those books you never open. Why go to the work of gathering and writing down data if it’s never going to be used? You may go back and analyze a five-year trend, some day. But if that day never comes, those records are about as good as the honor for the longest fingernails in the world. (Yes, totaling almost 25 feet, this is a Utah woman’s claim to fame.)

Maybe your system is getting a little more lax every year because you just don’t have time. You need to analyze and prioritize. List those details could help guide your management decisions and record the numbers, gather the measurements. Streamline the process, and then use the records. You’re more likely to put precious effort and energy into taking notes if you’re confident you can use them to add value.

That’s an underlying goal, after all, and the payoff is both immediate and long-term. Don’t waste another day’s feed on your worst cow. Take advantage of natural premiums or source- and age-verification programs to get paid for what, in many cases, you’re already doing. It just takes proper documentation.

The next time you hear somebody going on about the oldest performing ballerina or the greatest distance walked with a milk bottle balanced on the head, you might not call it silly. After all, the value of a record is all in the eye of the beholder. The records you keep on your farm or ranch only need to make sense to you, just so they provide answers that make dollars and cents.

Website offers heat stress predictions

For years, cattlemen have relied on temperature and humidity predictions to gauge the potential for heat stress on both their cattle and themselves. However, other factors play into that calculation and the Ag Research Service has developed a heat stress model to help cattlemen predict which days are apt to be most critical.

In addition to temperature and humidity, sun intensity and wind speed are influential as well. The on-line model, developed by USDA researchers at the Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, NE, is updated twice daily and makes predictions for South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, eastern Colorado, eastern New Mexico and northern Texas. It analyzes weather forecast info, assesses the danger of incurring heat stress and displays that info as a color-coded map. For more, go to the Ag Research Service website.

Read more on keeping cattle cool during the summer