Washington Post busts common ag myths

Amanda Radke Ag Myths

My youngest sister Kaley was home from her college internship last weekend, and she went to a bonfire with some of her high school friends. Sitting around the fire, the topic of farming and ranching came up. Even though these kids grew up in a rural agricultural community, my sister was surprised when one of her peers started complaining about rich farmers.

“These rich farmers and ranchers just hire the work done while they sit in the house getting rich,” the girl complained to the group. “They have such slack jobs.”

Kaley wondered if this girl forgot that she came from a farming background. She didn’t want to get in a back-and-forth at the social gathering, but she couldn’t help but relay some of the financial risks and sacrifices farmers and ranchers must make in order to operate their businesses.

The common accusation that is thrown at modern food producers is that we are “rich” and only “in it for the money.” Forget the notion that farming and ranching is a business, and it can’t be sustainable if it’s not profitable. There are those who make the assumption that managing land and livestock should be a volunteer position; otherwise, we are seen as greedy. What nonsense!

This is just one of the common myths that continue to plague the agricultural industry. It can be difficult to change public sentiment about who we are and what we do in rural America today, particularly since there is so much negativity out there about food and production agriculture.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see a recent column in the Washington Post, titled, “10 mega myths about farming to remember on your next grocery run.”

Written by Jenna Gallegos in a segment called, “Speaking of Science,” the article debunks 10 myths about agriculture. Gallegos tackles pesticides, factory farms, organic vs. conventional foods, GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, natural claims, technology, food costs and more.

Gallegos writes, “Most of us don’t spend our days plowing fields or wrangling cattle. We’re part of the 99% of Americans who eat food, but don’t produce it. Because of our intimate relationship with food, and because it's so crucial to our health and the environment, people should be very concerned about how it’s produced. But we don’t always get it right. Next time you’re at the grocery store, consider these 10 modern myths about the most ancient occupation.”

Read how Gallegos tackles these common myths and feel free to use her arguments as fodder for future conversations you may have about food. Click here to read her column.

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

Charlotte FFA

Max Armstrong profiles Charlotte FFA, Charlotte, Mich., a 45 member group. Member Mackenzi Harag shares some work the group does in its down.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Orion Samuelson at orion@agbizweek.com or to Max Armstrong at max@agbizweek.com. They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online www.ffa.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/nationalffa, on Twitter at twitter.com/nationalffa.

1959 Case 800

Max Armstrong shares the story of a 1959 Case 800 owned by Dave Gentry, Champaign, Ill.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. Max Armstrong shares information about legacy machines, their stories and how they may still be at work today. If you have a tractor you want featured in Max's Tractor Shed, send a high-resolution digital picture, your contact information, and information about the tractor - what makes it special - to max@agbizweek.com.

Questions that need answering

Orion Samuelson has some more questions he'd like answered.

Samuelson Sez is a special feature of This Week in Agribusiness where Orion Samuelson shares his insights and perspectives into key issues of the day.

This Week in Agribusiness, July 29, 2017

Part 1

Max Armstrong opens this week's show with a look at how the U.S. rice crop is performing with a report from Jamie Johansen. And Russell Nemetz reports on the barley crop, which is looking good. And Chad Colby reports from the Experimental Aircraft Association show in Oshkosh, where he found an ag connection.

Part 2

In this segment, Max Armstrong talks markets with Brian Basting, Advance Trading, including a look at the weather and its impact on crops. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson has some more questions he'd like answered. And Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States.

Part 3

Max Armstrong visits with Farm Broadcaster Ken Rahjes, Agview.net, Elwood, Neb., about issues in that part of the country. And Farm Broadcaster Dave Williams, Pennsylvania Farm Country Radio Network, Honesdale, Penn., shares insight about crops and conditions out East.

Part 4

Max Armstrong opens this segment with a new Freeways to Farms installment in a visit with Justin Martz who shares how he's using Climate Fieldview on the farm. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max Armstrong shares the story of a 1959 Case 800 owned by Dave Gentry, Champaign, Ill.

Part 5

Max Armstrong continues his market conversation with Brian Basting, Advance Trading.

Part 6

Max Armstrong profiles Charlotte FFA, Charlotte, Mich., a 45 member group. Member Mackenzi Harag shares some work the group does in its down. And Max points out this is the oldest chapter in the state. And Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the week ahead, and offers is four-week forecast.

Part 7

Max Armstrong wraps up this week's show with a report from Delaney Howell who offers a look at what's happening now that the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three farm counties was dismissed.

Strong beef imports trigger Japanese safeguard mechanism

Getty Images/Lintao Zhang U.S. beef thrives in Asian markets

In response to high levels of beef imports, the Japanese government will increase the duties charged on imported beef, reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). “USMEF recognizes that the safeguard will not only have negative implications for U.S. beef producers, but will also have a significant impact on the Japanese foodservice industry,” explained USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

Beef imports during the first quarter (April 1-June 30) of Japan’s fiscal year, from the United States and other countries covered under Japan’s “safeguard” mechanism, were large enough (by a margin of just 113 metric tons) to trigger an increase in the duty charged on imports of frozen beef. The rate will increase from 38.5% to 50% for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which runs through March 31, 2018.

“It will be especially difficult for the gyudon beef bowl restaurants that rely heavily on Choice U.S. short plate as a primary ingredient. This sector endured a tremendous setback when U.S. beef was absent from the Japanese market due to BSE, and was finally enjoying robust growth due to greater availability of U.S. beef and strong consumer demand,” Seng said.

USMEF will work with its partners in Japan to mitigate the impact of the safeguard as much as possible, Send added. “We will also continue to pursue all opportunities to address the safeguard situation by encouraging the U.S. and Japanese governments to reach a mutually beneficial resolution to this issue.”

Supplemental information on Japan’s imports of U.S. beef and possible implications of the safeguard are available in this brief USMEF fact sheet. Further analysis and charts are also available online.

“Japan is the top export market for U.S. beef in both volume and value, and anything that restricts our sales to Japan will have a negative impact on America’s ranching families and our Japanese consumers, said NCBA President Craig Uden. “NCBA opposes artificial barriers like these because they unfairly distort the market and punish both producers and consumers.”

Nobody wins in this situation, Uden said. “Our producers lose access, and beef becomes a lot more expensive for Japanese consumers. We hope the Trump administration and Congress realize that this unfortunate development underscores the urgent need for a bilateral trade agreement with Japan absent the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Japan was the top export market for U.S. beef in 2016, valued at $1.5 billion. According to data compiled by USMEF, first quarter U.S. beef sales to Japan increased 42% over 2016. In addition to the United States, the 50% safeguard tariff also applies to imports from Canada, New Zealand, and other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan.






Are you among the folks who called Congress this week? 202-224-3121 is the number for the main switchboard.

Plains state drought is expanding. All of South Dakota, much of Nebraska is in it. 

An old horse jockey asked him in the coffee shop about the state of late planted corn. If there's a frost even as late as last week of September, some corn will be damaged.

A family wiped out in rural intersection crash south of Chicago. Only dad, who wasn't in car, survived. Every year at this time rural intersections provide danger.


The small Indianapolis suburb of Southport has about 30 officers. A police officer responding to a report of an overturned car was shot and killed by a person in the overturned car. Was honored just two years ago as officer of the year. Shooter was shot and wounded by other officers on the scene.

Federal authorities are examining record of Iowa trucking company, Pyle Transportation. One of drivers of Pyle Transportation has been charged with murder for leaving migrants sweltering in heat of trailer. Eight died at the scene. 

Some of grain analysts are saying rain may have helped grain crop. Other say damage may have already been done. Some noting similarities with 1995. Crop ratings do usually slip in July.

Are you enjoying sweet cherries? This year's crop in Washington is the biggest ever. Cherries get credit for helping you sleep, maybe even helping keep you trim.

Farm Progress America, July 28, 2017

Max Armstrong gets insight into how commodity groups work and the role of leaders from Chip Bolling, past president, National Corn Growers Association. Bolling offers insight into policy, trade and markets.

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: National Corn Growers Association

Let’s talk about the real problems with our market

Burt Rutherford Loading out fed cattle

It is difficult to make the case that all this market volatility is really reducing risk, but I’m a contrarian at heart. Consider these points:

Certainly, these unprecedented levels of volatility give us ample pricing opportunity on both the buy and sell side and that is a good thing. Secondly, the computers and their fancy algorithms may be able to handle $6 moves in two days, but humans who are still pulling the trigger when these commodities are changing hands simply don’t process those kind of price swings.

We have simply become numb. Just this last week we saw futures rally, and then move sharply lower and it had absolutely no effect on feeder cattle prices in the country.

You could almost argue that the volatility in the futures has relegated it to what it was intended to be, which is a risk management tool. Its role in price discovery is diminishing with every gyration, at least in terms of short-term price discovery.

The days are largely over of the packer driving onto a feedyard and saying the board is down $.50 so you are going to have to take less, or a rancher thinking that feeder cattle futures are up $1 so calf prices should be higher. Those things simply don’t have the impact they once did. Or we have come to understand and accept that the market will not perform as it has in the past, and are adapting to those changes.

Like soldiers who no longer flinch at the sound of gunfire or explosions, there is a tendency emerging where we don’t overreact to what is happening in futures market on a day-to-day basis. The futures market’s wild gyrations are perhaps a minor concern in the long run.

And that brings us to consider other factors, like packing capacity.

The real question we have going into the fall is not so much the futures market, beef demand or even supply. Feedyards have reacted to strong markets by aggressively marketing finished cattle and pulling more feeders into their pens. That affects when fed cattle will be ready, but does not affect total placements. However, we do have a slight increase in available supplies as well.

That, in and of itself, is not an unmanageable concern. After all, we have moved far more tonnage and numbers in the past. Unfortunately, that is not the case now.

Last fall’s precipitous decline in prices has been explained away largely as an overreaction to the psychology of fear, significant losses in the feeding sector, abnormally performing futures, etc. It was supposed to be a perfect storm and largely an anomaly.

Yet, a big part of last fall’s collapse was simply that we had insufficient packing capacity to handle the increase in the nation’s cattle herd. When we were blessed with packing overcapacity, large placements or fluctuations in the supply could be handled easily. We now live in a world where current slaughter capacity is deficient for the numbers we are projected to produce.  

R-CALF and others have been proven wrong, and the economists and mainstream industry correct: reduced packing capacity is a boon to the packing industry and a disaster for the cow-calf industry. There is no relief in sight and expansion will likely stop; not because of supply outstripping demand, but rather supply outstripping capacity.

Now, R-CALF is trying to shut down the checkoff through legal means and destroy our only capability to maintain and increase beef demand. Admittedly, though, hurting beef demand will alleviate the packing capacity concerns. The take-away is that they are largely irrelevant and have to use anti-industry money via the courts or other means to even have an impact. 

They have come to that strategy because they have been unable to have an impact in the halls of Congress or out in the country. Thus, they have turned to anti-beef industry groups for help. They may not be worthy of mention because of their minimal impact, yet small extremist organizations like R-CALF and OCM can’t be measured by their successes or number of people they represent, but rather by the negative impact they create.

By that standard, they occasionally deserve to be called out, and it is valid to ask who is funding these organizations? We know it is not cattlemen.