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Articles from 2012 In June

The Farm Bill Needs A Name Change

The Farm Bill Needs A Name Change

The Congressional Budget Office projects that about 79% of the $1-trillion cost of the Senate’s version of the farm bill would be absorbed by the food stamp program. The remainder is pretty evenly split between direct payments to farmers, conservation and other non-ag related policy goals.

There are those who argue that this is good for ag, as these expenditures protect our interests by broadening support for the mammoth budgets. Perhaps this is true, but looking forward the path is clear – budget constraints will become the overriding factor in analyzing every single program.

Folks involved in agriculture now constitute fewer than 2% of the U.S. population. Increasingly, our role is seen as supplementing the remaining industries in America by providing the safest and most cost-effective food supply in the world, increasing the amount of disposable income available for purchases of other products, and as a social tool to meet health and dietary guidelines as well as improving the environment.

When all of these elements are combined, it appears that direct payments won’t be well received by the populace, especially since the agriculture segment is outperforming virtually every other segment of the economy. At that point, one might consider getting rid of USDA and tying the food stamp program into the other welfare programs where it belongs; as well as tying the conservation and other titles back to their respective interests.

Opinion: Some Random Thoughts On Random Topics

Opinion: Some Random Thoughts On Random Topics

Like all of you, my mind often wanders and ponders many things as I go about my work week. Here’s a sampling of my thoughts on a few different issues that cropped up this week.

  • Pork demand lately has showed signs of weakness, while retail beef prices continue to rise. This bodes well for overall beef demand, but the upside will continue to be limited by widening price spreads that will eventually encourage customers to shift away from beef to other proteins. Given how tight beef supplies are, that may be a necessary evil, but the focus must be on whether or not we can regain that market share once it is lost.
  • In Washington this week, they actually held a hearing aimed at eliminating manure from “Superfund” provisions. Only in America would we have trial lawyers trying to assess liabilities and damages for manure.
  • Talking to producers, it appears 2012 could well end up being yet another liquidation year.
  • Kids grow up way too fast. Our oldest child got his driver’s license this week. It was kind of fun sending him and his brother out to gather up a bull and haul him to the sale barn. I knew they could handle it themselves, but I sent them off with a unique combination of pride and sadness that becomes so commonplace as they grow up.

Lessons From The Family Farm

We buried my grandfather last spring. He had died in his sleep in his own bed at 95, so, as funerals go, it wasn’t a grim occasion. But it was a historic one for our small rural community. My great-grandparents were early settlers, arriving in 1913 and farming the land throughout their lives. My grandfather continued that tradition, and now rests next to them on a hillside overlooking the family homestead.

If you’re a part of the roughly 99% of the North American population that doesn’t work on a farm, you might guess at what comes next – many a lament has been written about the passing of the good old days in rural areas, the family farm’s decline, and the inevitable loss of the homestead. But in many respects, that narrative itself is obsolete. That’s certainly true in my family’s case: The Freeland farm is still being cultivated by my father. And it is bigger and more prosperous than ever.

To see the full article, click here.

Organic Compounds Eliminate Disease-Causing Pathogens

Natural compounds may offer an alternative to certain antibiotics in the future for treating young animals that are susceptible to bacterial infections, thanks to work by USDA scientists.

Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Food Safety and Feed Safety Research Unit in College Station, TX, have invented a new method that involves using chlorate (sodium or salt) and nitro compounds to significantly reduce or eliminate intestinal bacterial pathogens in animals such as piglets and calves. Nitro compounds are organic substances that contain one or more nitro groups, which consist of three atoms—one of nitrogen and two of oxygen—that act as one.

Chlorate and nitro compounds have proven to be effective against the foodborne pathogens Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Salmonella alone causes more than 1.3 million cases of human foodborne disease each year, at a cost of $2.4 billion. Salmonella and certain E. coli strains also cause considerable losses to the swine and cattle industries due to enteric or intestinal diseases of newborns.

To read more, click here.

John Deere HarvestLab™ Now Provides More Nutrient Analysis Of Silage

Beef and dairy producers will have the ability to determine corn silage nutrient quality when using the John Deere HarvestLab starting in July of 2012. In addition to dry matter content, which HarvestLab has traditionally been used to measure, the expanded Constituent Sensing capabilities will be able to predict crude protein, starch and fiber (ADF/NDF, which are important nutrient factors in livestock feed.)

According to Steve Siegel, product manager for John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group, HarvestLab uses Near Infrared Technology to determine the constituent characteristics of corn silage and has proven to be highly reliable under tough field conditions over the past six years. The device is used on John Deere Self Propelled Forage Harvesters (SPFH) to monitor corn silage at harvest and can be disconnected for use as a stationary unit to evaluate silage nutrient quality at the time of feeding.

“We partnered with DairyLand Labs, a recognized expert in forage analysis, to add these other nutrient analysis capabilities to John Deere HarvestLab,” Siegel says. “With real-time nutrient analysis, producers and nutritionists can more easily and quickly analyze feed rations for crude protein, fiber and other factors and make adjustments on a daily basis to improve nutrition and reduce feed variability.”

The HarvestLab Constituent Sensing enhancement also enables more precise application of silage inoculants at harvest because rates can be adjusted according to crop and dry matter readings. The result is higher quality silage with greater feed value and less spoilage.

Siegel adds that John Deere received a Silver Medal for the HarvestLab technology at the 2011 Agritechnica, the world’s largest agricultural equipment show held in Hanover, Germany, in November.

“The use of this technology is growing in importance with the high cost of feed and livestock,” he adds. “John Deere Constituent Sensing can be integrated with the Documentation system on GreenStar 2630 displays installed on John Deere SPFHs.”

For more information on John Deere HarvestLab and its new Constituent Sensing features, visit your local John Deere dealer or visit

Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land - those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world’s dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity.  For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at

John Deere Launches MyJohnDeere Web Portal As Customer Resource

To help agricultural producers manage their equipment information, production data and farm operations from a single website, John Deere introduces Developed as part of the John Deere FarmSight™ strategy, the MyJohnDeere toolboxes gives customers a centralized online portal to access, view, archive and manage a wide variety of business information.

Nathan Greuel, product manager, John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group, says users can log into and access key applications such as JDLink which allows them to view real-time information about their farm operations, field locations and important performance data from their equipment. Other applications include AgLogic™, JDParts, John Deere Financial, Stellar Support and My Equipment.

“This will be a new suite of technology to help producers plan, run and analyze their operations through the entire farming cycle,” Greuel says. “The user can access their MyJohnDeere site to view the information that is most important to them, as well as allow access to their dealer, farm manager or other third-party individuals.”

More importantly, all the information on the MyJohnDeere portal is accessible via computer, smartphone or other handheld mobile device, giving producers the flexibility to view the information when and where they want it.

“Many of the new solutions and technologies that are being developed under the John Deere FarmSight strategy will be accessed from this centralized and convenient website –,” Greuel adds. “The site will integrate technology solutions, financial services, parts and service sourcing and other information producers need in order to make sound management decisions and increase the productivity of their farming operations.”

To learn my about MyJohnDeere, go to and log on, or see your local John Deere dealer.

Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land - those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world's dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at

NCBA Statement On WTO Ruling On Country Of Origin Labeling

NCBA Statement On WTO Ruling On Country Of Origin Labeling

“The World Trade Organization has been extremely clear that mandatory Country of Origin Labeling is a clear WTO violation. This most recent decision is very similar to the initial ruling made three months ago. Instead of working diligently to bring the United States into WTO compliance, we wasted three months and taxpayer dollars on an appeal process. This did nothing more than jeopardize our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, the two largest importers of U.S. beef. The Obama Administration prolonged an issue that could have been resolved quickly.

“NCBA worked with Canada and Mexico to prevent any retaliatory action that could have occurred from the unfortunate decision made by the U.S. government to appeal the initial ruling.

“Cattlemen deserve a government that fights for and protects our opportunities. We need a government that not only demands WTO compliance of our trade partners but one that ensures the United States is abiding by these same guidelines. We are committed to working with this administration and Congress to find a permanent solution to this issue in order to bring the United States back into compliance. It is absolutely critical that the United States leads by example.”

Horses Displaced By Colorado Wildfires

More than 200 horses have been evacuated from a wildfire burning near Manitou Springs, CO.

David Rose, public information officer for El Paso County, CO, says that on June 23 county fire officials began receiving initial calls about the Waldo Canyon wildfire. Since then, the blaze has forced 6,000 people and an unknown number of horses to evacuate.

"We don't know exactly how many (horses) have been evacuated, but we do know they have been placed at the Teller County Fairgrounds in Cripple Creek and at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center in Colorado Springs," Rose says.

Humane organization personnel and fairgrounds and equestrian center staff are caring for the animals, Rose says.

To see the full article, click here.

USDA Ordered To Justify Claim That Satisfied Injunction Awarded To R-CALF USA & Others

The legal battle concerning opening the border to Canadian cattle has been reignited, according to Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA).

In 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota granted R-CALF USA, consumer groups, other cattle groups and individual ranchers an injunction against USDA’s final rule issued Sept. 18, 2007, that reopened the U.S. border to Canadian cattle older than 30 months of age and Canadian beef from cattle of any age.

The court found that USDA had violated its own rulemaking process in issuing the 2007 final rule and remanded the rule to USDA. The court ordered the agency to provide the public proper notice and comment period, to file quarterly progress reports with the court, and to make any changes to the final rule the agency deemed necessary after reviewing public comments.

An R-CALF release stated that for nearly four years USDA dragged its feet and though it initiated some of the court’s directives, it refused to fully comply with the injunction. In March 2012, USDA issued a new proposed rule that alters the 2007 final rule and proposes to open U.S. borders to imports from countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Entwined within USDA’s new proposal was a section purporting to comply with the court’s injunction. In March, USDA sent a notice to the court stating it had fulfilled the court’s 2008 order.

R-CALF USA replied to USDA’s notice and objected to its claim.

R-CALF USA urged the court to stay the lawsuit and continue requiring quarterly reports from USDA pending the agency’s completion of its new rulemaking process and the completion of the agency’s investigation into the cow in California recently detected to have an atypical strain of BSE.

On June 27, the court, among other things, ordered USDA to state when the new rulemaking is expected to be final, and to justify its claim that it had fulfilled the court’s 2008 order.

USDA Reports Indicate Some Worrying Signs On Corn

USDA Reports Indicate Some Worrying Signs On Corn

USDA released on Friday morning the results of two important surveys, the Grain Stocks and Acreage reports. Here are some report highlights and implications for corn supplies in 2012-13.

• The report shows that U.S. farmers planted 96.41 million acres with corn this past spring, almost a half-million more acres than the initial March survey indicated and 4.5 million acres more than a year ago. Despite the higher acres, however, the impact on the corn balance sheet will be minimal or even negative. This is because the survey also showed that harvested acres are expected to be lower than USDA’s June estimate (higher abandonment rates and silage use than earlier forecasts). Even with a half-million more planted acres than expected, harvested acres are now expected to be about 200,000 acres lower than a year ago.

• As expected, U.S. farmers took advantage of early wheat harvests to double crop soybeans. As a result, soybean plantings are well above the March survey indications and also above analyst estimates. U.S. farmers indicated they planted 76.08 million acres of soybeans, a half-million acres more than what analysts were expecting, and 1.1 million acres more than a year ago. While expected, the higher soybean acres should help moderate some of the bullishness in the soybean complex. But, as with corn, much will depend on weather patterns in the coming weeks. The soybean crop hasn’t been damaged as much as corn by the recent high temperatures, but it’s important to get some much-needed rain in the next 2-3 weeks.

• USDA grain stocks for June were relatively close to pre-report estimates. USDA reported that June 1 corn inventories were 3.148 billion bu., about 33 million bu. lower than pre-report estimates expected (-1.1%).

Other Factors to Watch: While these two reports are important in defining the potential size of the U.S. grain supply in 2012-13, markets will likely remain focused on short-term weather concerns. There’s mounting evidence that crops in the eastern Corn Belt are sustaining significant damage from current hot, dry weather. The crop progress report on Monday indicated that 17% of the corn crop in Illinois and 9% of the corn in Indiana was silking. The acres in the pollination phase will likely be even larger this week.

With little rain in the forecast for the eastern Corn Belt and temperatures over 100°, there’s significant concern of yield losses. Already, some private forecasts are indicating they expect corn yields for 2012-13 to be in the low 150 bu./acre.

Also important for the market will be the situation in Europe. A proposed solution to support banks directly buoyed risk trades Friday morning. This is generally bullish for commodities and could add more fuel to the rally in the grain complex.