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Farm Progress America, June 22, 2017

Max Armstrong continues to look at that recent farm forum at the Kansas City Federal Reserve, which looked at the economic impacts that could lead to consolidation among family farms. Farm incomes are down and farms are short of working capital. Max looks at other issues that could impact farm income.

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.

Photo: zakaz86/Thinkstock

“Food Evolution” could change public sentiments about GMOs

Amanda Radke Working with future ag leaders

Yesterday, I spoke at the 2017 Youth Leaders in Agriculture Conference in Brandon, S.D. Hosted by the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, the event brought together nearly 100 of the brightest college students, whom I’m confident will one day shape the future of the industry.

Tasked with the job of discussing how social media can not only help advocate for agriculture, but also build their own personal brand and provide a useful point of reference for future employers to check out their skills, my speech recapped my nearly 10 years of blogging for BEEF and how BEEF Daily has evolved and expanded to a wide-reaching online community of industry professionals and a platform to discuss hot topics.

One thing I really wanted to convey to the students was the importance of providing a variety of content that will reach and appeal to various demographics of folks. Today’s consumers are also the folks who will vote for the politicians who will put regulations into place that will largely determine the way we do business, so I believe addressing common misconceptions, responding to negative articles and promoting the positive stories within our industry is critical to protecting our future in production agriculture.

READ: Of Facebook and critical thinking

In my opinion, one of the most crippling and damaging misconceptions out there is genetically-modified foods. And while GMOs may not seem like a fight a beef producer needs to engage in, the fact is cattle eat quite a bit of GM corn, so indirectly, it is a torch we must bear.

We’ve watched on the sidelines for years as Monsanto has battled the constant mudslinging over this topic. A quick Google search of Monsanto shows pages of negative news items surrounding the company and the topic of GM foods. And we can’t forget the damaging effects of alarmist documentaries like “Food Inc.” or “GMO OMG.”

The articles, and subsequent conversations surrounding this safe food production advancement, are highly emotional and lacking in science. Yet, our relationship with food is often very emotional, whether that be showing our loved ones we care with a hot meal or choosing healthy, nutritious foods for the sake of our kids and grandkids.

Consumers care and want to know more about where their food comes from and how it’s produced, but all too often, the science is lost amongst the emotionally-charged rhetoric.

READ: 5 facts about GMOs beef producers need to know

However, there’s good news on this front. The dialogue may soon be changing in a positive direction. A new series of scientific documentaries will soon be released. The first of which is a film called, “Food Evolution.”

According to Kevin Folta for the Genetic Literacy Project, “The documentary examines the issues by taking a close and personal look at several global agricultural situations, the personalities involved, the successes, and most painfully, the damaging consequences of our failure to deploy useful technology that can help those in need. Food Evolution conveys a scientific story with imagery, humanity and compassion that scientists never could alone.”

Folta says the film exposes the “for-profit misgivings of ‘The Food Babe’ Vani Hari, as well as the ideologically-charged anti-corporatism of other leaders in an anti-GMO movement that seeks to end the use of biotechnology, even if it hurts those in need.”

He says that science may soon win over emotion, with more consumers looking for real information about the foods they eat, and not just sensational propaganda.

“The beauty of Food Evolution is that it will benchmark a time when public sentiment was changing to support a pro-science message,” he writes. “For 20 years we have been told of horrors that never materialized. We have watched products intended to serve humanity languish in public laboratories because of affluent-nation fears. We have witnessed approval of scientifically-baseless legislation restrict choices for farmers. We’ve observed the internet’s profiteers tour the planet and reap personal wealth while lying to the public about science.

READ: The death of science, journalism, debate and common sense

“But even before the film has been presented in wide release, news of this film has prompted a typical and expected response from anti-biotech activists. They are shouting the tired claims that this is a Monsanto-financed propaganda flick and that nobody should trust it.

“Watch for yourself and determine who is lying to you. Is it the politicians, celebrities and scaremongers, or the public, government and company scientists that have dedicated their lives to developing technology to solve problems for people and planet? This film answers that question in remarkable clarity.”

Read Folta’s column by clicking here. I’m looking forward to watching this series; how about you? Perhaps these documentaries will go viral and finally change the public perception of hybrid seeds, GM foods and other advancements that help us sustainably feed a growing planet.

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


Watching the parade of news stories from our regions marching across my screens ever day, I can't help but notice how many ATV crashes there are.

The Senate Agriculture Committee continues to hold hearings as they prepare to write the next farm bill. They've already held hearings in our region.

South Dakota may not be first state many would think of in terms of biotechnology. With state's leading agribusiness role and South Dakota's emerging role as health care center, ti will be in center of growing biotechnology industry.

Sheriff David Clarke gave up $46,000 hike in pay. He made almost quarter million in speaker's fees last year. Perhaps he passed up career with Trump administration to go on speaker's circuit?

JBS puts Five Rivers feedyards on the block

Five Rivers-Kuner

JBS S.A. announced that it is selling Five Rivers Cattle Feeding as part of a divestiture program to reduce the company’s net debt.

Leading up to the decision to sell its cattle feeding operations in the U.S., JBS announced a month ago that seven of its executives and its controlling entity—J&F Investimentos—entered into a plea bargain agreement with the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Brazil, which came with a fine of about $67.6 million (US). Apparently, that’s besides the approximately $3.2 billion (U.S.) that J&F agreed, in principle, to pay in fines. All of that was the result of a massive political and financial scandal reportedly involving bribes by JBS and J&F to government officials in Brazil.

Five Rivers is the largest cattle feeder in the United States with feedlots in six states, one Canadian province and close to 1 million head capacity.

As well, JBS will sell other assets, including shareholding interests in Vigor Almientos, S.A. (one of Brazil’s largest dairy companies) and Moy Park (one of the 10 largest food companies in the United Kingdom).

JBS executive directors estimate that the divestment program will result in a capital injection of approximately $6 billion (Brazilian Real), which is equivalent to about $1.8 billion U.S., based on the current exchange rate.

“Selling these assets is central to a strategy designed to reinforce JBS’ competitive advantage in the global food industry,” according to a JBS news release. “The sale of feedyard assets will more closely align the JBS business model with key U.S. competitors and allow the company to concentrate its efforts on its core food and value-added products businesses.”

If the announcement firms up the odds of JBS maintaining its beef packing plants in the U.S., the market will view it as positive. In the meantime, uncertainty increases with the fact that JBS had to liquidate Five Rivers and other assets, and that there is apparently no buyer for Five Rivers lined up and ready to go.



Summer made its arrival at 11:24 p.m. central. By the way, Denver should be 99 today, the hottest June 21 on record there.

Wheat futures eased overnight after spring wheat futures hit highest level in 2.5 years. Spring wheat crop was rated 41% good to excellent in Crop Progress report out Monday. Spring wheat has more protein than any wheat.

While most states are tightening their restrictions on texting while driving, Colorado has softened its law. Texting while driving is now legal in Colorado. Before now, any texting was prohibited.

Chicago Tribune columnist has interesting take on how Illinois can dissolve its financial woes. He suggests the state be dissolved with parts going to neighboring states. He has posted map on his twitter feed.

Farm Progress America, June 21, 2017

Max Armstrong looks at the news that Amazon is buying Whole Foods, and how that purchase could change the Whole Foods shopping experience. The food retailer has lost to price competition from Amazon, and others, and the company has also seen other market softness. And more changes could be coming.

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.

Will UTVs replace horses on the ranch?

Photo courtesy of John Deere UTVs useful for ranch work

I got into a conversation the other day about utility vehicles or UTVs, those machines that are more than a four-wheeler but not quite a small pickup. That conversation was spurred by the number of such vehicles I see being pulled in trailers headed for the mountains.

While those are recreational machines, I also see quite a few on ranches and farms being used as the name suggests—as utility vehicles that are much more convenient and cost-effective for ranch chores than a full-sized pickup. While I seriously doubt they will replace pickups for some applications—after all, there are times when you have to pull a stock trailer or haul a pickup-load of stuff—the thought crossed my mind about whether or not they will replace horses for many ranch jobs.

Read: 12 new ATVs and UTVs for the ranch in 2017

And I doubt that UTVs and ATVs will fully replace horses, for a number of reasons. First, on any cowboy outfit, if folks can’t be on horseback, they’ll quit and go someplace where they can be. Cowboys are horsemen and are proud of that fact.

And in any sort of rough country, there are places where any kind of machine just can’t go, but a horse can. That’s important because there are places a cow can go that a machine can’t reach, either.

But for any number of chores, like fixing fence or hauling salt and mineral, to name a few, a UTV can be a mighty handy thing. And even on sure-enough cowboy outfits, you’ll see ATVs and UTVs in use.  In fact, I’d venture to say that those machines have become an indispensable part of running a farm or ranch.

What do you think? Will UTVs replace horses for at least a part of traditional ranch work? What do you look for when you buy a UTV? Brand? Cargo capacity? Durability? Let me know in the comments section or email me at [email protected]


5 things to know about pesky stable flies

Amanda Radke Fly management

Summer is officially here. Pairs are on grass. Bulls are turned out. Life is good.

Despite the reprieve from feeding hay for a few months during the grazing season, there’s still plenty to think about from a management viewpoint. There’s hay to bale, fence to fix, waterers to check, weeds to chop and flies to ward off by any means possible.

According to Dave Boxler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator, stable flies can have a significant negative impact on cattle. With an increased risk of anemia, decreased milk production and declining average daily gains, flies are more than just pests; they are draining your pocketbooks, as well.

To control flies, one must first understand the flies. Boxler explains the lifecycle of stable flies and offers tips for making them go away.

1. Frequency of feeding

Boxler writes, “During warm conditions, stable flies will feed several times a day, but during cool weather they normally feed once a day. The female stable fly requires at least three blood meals before depositing eggs.”

2. They thrive in decaying matter not manure

Stable flies do not develop in pure cow or horse manure, but in wet, decaying organic material (old corn silage, spent hay, decaying straw, bagasse, and grass clippings) mixed with some horse or cow manure, and soil,” said Boxler. “The life cycle from egg to adult can take between 19 to 45 days to complete.”

3. Round bale feeders are prime breeding ground

“One of the major larval development sites that contributes to stable fly numbers is wasted feed near round bale feeders, especially when it has accumulated during winter feeding and adequate spring moisture has been present,” said Boxler. “These sites can generate thousands of stable flies. Sanitation or clean-up of these sites may reduce localized fly development.”

4. Apply fly spray weekly or as needed

Boxler writes, “Controlling stable flies on pastured cattle is difficult due to the amount of time the fly spends away from the animal. Currently, animal sprays are the only adult management option available. Weekly applications are often needed to reduce stable fly numbers.”

5. Rotate insecticides

Boxler says, “Fly populations are exhibiting higher tolerances to many labeled control products in the U.S. To manage insecticide resistance or tolerance, alternate insecticide classes.”

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

Fed Cattle Recap | Cash market takes a nosedive

Fed Cattle Recap

After a run that left just about everybody surprised, but very pleasantly so, the cash market for fed cattle turned south for the week ending June 17. Is this the beginning of the seasonal decline in prices, now that Memorial Day and Father’s Day is behind us? Time will tell.

Click on the red arrow below for a full audio report.

The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region, which includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, was $130.12 per cwt, compared with $136.07 the previous week, which was $5.95 lower.

The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $205.94, compared with $218.36 the previous week, for a drop of about $12.42.

The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 81,006 head, compared with about 98,754 the previous week. 

The Five Area average formula price was $220.53, compared with $215.16 the previous week, $5.37 higher. Five area formula sales totaled 186,306 head, compared with almost 185,000 the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 78,000 head, which was quite a bit higher than the 57,000 head the previous two weeks. Packers have more than 300,000 head of forward contracts available for June, so quite a few more to go yet. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending June 3 was 9 pounds higher at 847 pounds, compared with 864 pounds last year. June normally starts to see large jumps in carcass weights.

The Choice-Select spread was $30.04 on Friday, compared with $30.92 the previous week and that compares with a $22.22 spread last year. The daily Choice rib primal was $438 on Monday and dropped to $433 by Friday and the Choice loin followed similar path, so we’re starting to narrow the spread.

Estimated total federally-inspected cattle harvest was 628,000 head, compared with 606,000 the same week last year, which is 22,000 head over last year. The estimated year-to-date total is 771,000 head over last year.