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7 questions that must get a 'yes'to close more retail sales

If you work in retail sales, you have to care more about the customer than you care about yourself.

Yes, you might be getting a commission, a bonus, or a paycheck out of a sale – otherwise you wouldn’t be working.

But if you care about the customer first and most...

If you start with what they, as a visitor to your Planet Furniture, or Planet Jewelry, or Planet Whatever, are experiencing and if you are aware of their unasked questions when they visit your store, you’ll make more sales.

To that end Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor, has come up with this handy infographic to help you with your retail sales training ….


Purina introduces gastric support supplement

Purina Animal Nutrition’s new product line is formulated to support gastric health in horses. Outlast Gastric Support Supplement, Race Ready GT and Ultium Gastric Care horse feeds are available at participating retailers.

Research shows up to 90% of active horses experience gastric discomfort, affecting health, attitude and performance. Purina’s Gastric Support products contain a proprietary seaweed-derived blend of natural and bio-available calcium and magnesium in a unique honeycomb structure that allows for a greater buffering capacity to support gastric health and proper pH.

“Horses evolved as grazing animals, designed to consume forages 18 to 20 hours a day. To support this grazing behavior, the horse’s stomach consistently secretes stomach acid, which is naturally buffered by bicarbonates in saliva, and is produced as the horse chews,” explains Robert Jacobs, Ph.D., research equine nutritionist at Purina Animal Nutrition. “In modern management practices, however, horses spend more time confined and eat distinct meals, leading to less chewing, less saliva and less buffering of acid in the stomach.”

In a fasting state, a horse’s stomach maintains an acidic pH of 2. In-vitro and in-vivo research trials demonstrated Outlast Supplement to quickly and effectively buffer natural and simulated gastric environments to a physiologically normal pH of 6.

“We’ve done a significant amount of lab work at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center, as well as in multiple university trials to better understand how Outlast buffers the equine stomach,” says Jacobs. “Compared to some of the competitive products on the market, Outlast Supplement acts more quickly, lasts longer and has a significantly higher buffering ability.”

In field trials around the country and research trials at the Purina Animal Nutrition Research Farm, more than 200 horses consumed more than 95,000 feedings of Outlast Supplement. Purina ambassadors competing and training across all disciplines were among those participating in field trials.

“Our ambassadors and field trial participants have reported improved body condition and appetites, as well as better overall attitude and more relaxed horses when supplemented with Outlast Supplement,” says Mary Beth Gordon, PhD, director of equine research and new product development at Purina Animal Nutrition.  “Additionally, horses notorious for girthiness and grinding teeth showed improvement, even in stressful situations.”

Designed for flexible use, Outlast Supplement can be fed as a snack or top dressed on a daily ration. Ultium Gastric Care and Race Ready GT horse feeds both contain full rations of Outlast Supplement when fed as directed. Additionally, Ultium Gastric Care and Race Ready GT are formulated with optimal fuel sources and a proprietary yeast-derived beta glucan to best support the unique needs and immune function of the equine athlete.

Purina Outlast Supplement, Ultium Gastric Care and Race Ready GT are all part of Purina’s gastric health program to help horse owners recognize and manage gastric discomfort in their horses. 

Purina Animal Nutrition is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the U.S.

Do you really write down suspicious truck tags?

Getty Images/Larry W. Smith rural law enforcement

I had the distinct pleasure of spending several days last week at the 71st annual convention of the International Livestock Identification Association (ILIA), where I was one of the speakers. ILIA is comprised primarily of brand inspectors and law enforcement folks who investigate cattle theft. And as you can tell, based on the number of conferences they’ve had, the group has been active for quite some time.

Over those years, the situations that ILIA members find themselves working in have changed considerably. Back in the day, brand inspectors didn’t have to worry about coming face-to-face with drug runners and didn’t need to know how to recognize a potential terrorist threat. Those were topics of intense interest at this year’s convention.

READ: STOP, Thief!

My talk, on the other hand, was about a survey BEEF did of its readers early this year on animal identification. As you might guess, that’s also a topic on ongoing and intense interest among ILIA members. After all, the better that animals are identified, the easier it is for them to find those animals should they be stolen. “Well sir, they were the prettiest set of black heifers you’ve ever seen” doesn’t give investigators much to go on if they don’t have any permanent identification.  

And make no mistake: the ILIA members I had the pleasure of being with last week are completely dedicated to protecting you and your livestock.

I walked through a number of responses from the survey, which you can read here, and we had good discussion around several. Two questions that generated the most discussion were: Do you alert law enforcement when you see unusual activity? And Do you write down descriptions of suspicious vehicles?

To the question of Do you alert law enforcement when you see unusual activity, 90% of BEEF readers responded yes and 10% said no. Likewise, 86% of readers said yes when asked if they write down descriptions of suspicious vehicles, while 14% said no.

ILIA members at the conference indicated that their experience is different. While nobody came out and said as much, my guess is that their experience would be closer to taking those numbers and flip-flopping them. One brand inspector was very blunt in his reaction to those figures. Another speculated that folks answered the question based on what they know they should do, rather than what actually happens.

In the survey, we also asked if readers have a relationship with local law enforcement. BEEF defines that as do you know your county sheriff well enough to call him or her by first name? Have you visited with the deputy sheriffs who drive by your place and can they recognize you, your family and employees? Same with the brand inspector and game warden.

A strong majority, 71%, indicated that they have such a relationship with local law enforcement. That’s good. Because just like the brand inspectors, sheriff departments and wildlife officers are truly dedicated to protecting you and your property. And in non-band states that don’t have a state agency specifically designed to investigate cattle theft, they’re your front line defense against the bad guys.

But they need your help.

Most of you carry a note pad in your pickup. Make a habit of jotting down the description of vehicles that seem suspicious and if at all possible, get a license plate number.

Then make that phone call.


Teicholz tells consumers to ignore American Heart Association advice

Amanda Radke Beef for health

Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz has been busy. Last week, she addressed the crazy notions presented in the new documentary, “What the Health.” This week, she’s taking the American Heart Association (AHA) head on after the organization released a “presidential advisory” warning consumers about the dangers of saturated fats in butter, steak and coconut oil.

READ: Nina Teicholz debunks "What the Health" documentary

In a recent column titled, “Don’t believe the AHA — butter, steak and coconut oil aren’t likely to kill you,” Teicholz writes, “To me, the AHA advisory released in June was mystifying. How could its scientists examine the same studies as I had, yet double down on an anti-saturated fat position? With a cardiologist, I went through the nuts and bolts of the AHA paper, and came to this conclusion: It was likely driven less by sound science than by longstanding bias, commercial interests and the AHA’s need to reaffirm nearly 70 years of its ‘heart healthy’ advice.”

The AHA first launched its crusade against saturated fats and cholesterol in 1961, and Teicholz says this recommendation was made without scientific studies and in contradiction to trials that found no risks of saturated fats when compared to vegetable oils.

In fact, she says of nine separate reviews, no study could find evidence in the data that saturated fats had an effect on cardiovascular mortality or total mortality.

The author of “The Big Fat Surprise — Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” writes, “That the AHA should be so resistant to updating its view of saturated fats, despite so much legitimate science, could simply reflect the association’s unwavering devotion to a belief it has promoted for decades. Or it could be due to its significant, longstanding reliance on funding from interested industries, such as the vegetable-oil manufacturer Procter & Gamble, maker of Crisco, which virtually launched the AHA as a nation-wide powerhouse in 1948 by designating the then-needy group to receive all the funds from a radio contest it sponsored (about $17 million).

“More recently, Bayer, the owner of LibertyLink soybeans, pledged up to $500,000 to the AHA, perhaps encouraged by the group’s continued support of soybean oil, by far the dominant ingredient in the ‘vegetable oil’ consumed in America today.”

Her post, which was co-written with cardiologist Eric Thorn, was featured in the Los Angeles Times and Medscape and has garnered plenty of discussion in the comments section. Some were very supportive and understand how meat, eggs and dairy are important components of a healthy diet.

However, others remain skeptical. One reader called Teicholz “incredibly irresponsible” for writing this column, asking her how she sleeps at night when this is a matter of life and death. I’m quite certain Teicholz sleeps just fine knowing that she is fueling her body with the best nutrition possible and satisfied with the work she is doing to debunk the information presented by AHA and other organizations.

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


Have you called your senators to let them know where you stand on health care or other issues? 202.224.3121 is the number to call to talk to senators. General switchboard number.

Did you know that more and more of our cars are coming from Mexico? Part of the reason is automakers can't keep up with demand for SUV, trucks. One in five vehicles is now being built in Mexico.

Outdoor farm show season starts next month. Farmfest is next Tuesday through Thursday. We'll be there with Linder Farm Network. 

New vaccine design may protect horses

Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council pair of horses

An effective vaccine that protects against all nine strains of African Horse Sickness Virus (AHSV) is a step closer, according to new research published in the journal Vaccine.

The study, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and funded by the U.K.'s Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, used a type of vaccine that has all the benefits of a traditional vaccine, but with none of the associated risk factors. The study is among the first to report a vaccine for AHSV based on "reverse genetics" and highlights its great potential in controlling the disease.

African Horse Sickness is a devastating disease affecting species in the horse family. It causes severe respiratory problems, and approximately 90% of horses that catch it die within a week. AHSV is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, although there have also been known outbreaks in Spain and Portugal. The biting midges that transmit the disease are found all across Europe, and there is concern regarding the influence of climate change on midge populations, the announcement said.

Many countries use a "live" vaccine to treat AHSV. These vaccines render pathogens harmless, vastly reducing their ability to infect a host; the current version for AHSV is considered unsafe, however. This is due to the possibility of the virus becoming infectious again due to mutations in the vaccine strains, which would cause African Horse Sickness in the host animal.

In 2016, the London School-led research team developed a reverse genetics system that enabled strains to mimic viruses, demonstrating their same abilities to enter host cells and initiate an immune response. However, unlike the natural virus, the vaccine strains are unable to replicate, rendering them harmless. This Entry Competent Replication-Abortive (ECRA) system allowed for the development of virus strains for all nine types of AHSV, and a successful mouse model displayed the potential for vaccine development.

In this latest study, researchers tested the effectiveness of a single vaccine strain and a "cocktail" of multiple ECRA-based vaccine strains in eight ponies. As found in the mouse model study, the vaccine viruses were able to enter the cell, triggering strong immune responses, but they were unable to replicate. None of the eight ponies suffered any adverse effects from the vaccine. When infected, all vaccinated ponies were protected from African Horse Sickness, and only the non-vaccinated ponies had clinical symptoms of virus infection.

Principal study investigator Polly Roy, professor of virology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said, “The high volume of movement in the horse industry increases the risk of the introduction of exotic diseases such as African Horse Sickness. There are well-designed control measures for animal outbreaks in the U.K., but measures taken during such an epidemic, such as the restriction of movement, could cost the U.K. economy approximately £4 billion pounds.

“Using our patented reverse genetics system, the study findings demonstrated that ECRA vaccines triggered strong immune responses in ponies that protected them completely against the virus infection. Our unique and cost-effective vaccine design could act as an example for the development of next generation of vaccines against other vector-borne diseases that undermine the horse industry,” Roy added.

It is hoped that the development of a safe and effective AHSV vaccine can afford protection and prevent major impacts in the event of an outbreak in European countries. As the ECRA-developed vaccine does not require live and infectious materials, the vaccine would not only be cost efficient but could also be manufactured rapidly.

The team said further research is needed to determine the optimal dosage requirements and the longevity of the vaccine.

Farm Progress America, July 26, 2017

Max Armstrong looks at how farm groups have been working with trading partners to make sure they know that farmers want to keep the trade going. There's also news that Mexico is optimistic about the opportunity for revamping NAFTA.

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: Tryaging/iStock/Thinkstock


Heavy rains tonight and tomorrow would worsen areas already flooded. $15 million damage in southern Wisconsin this month from flooding.

Whole bunch of ag leaders in Washington this month offering their views on variety of subjects, including NAFTA. Canada and Mexico have developed into two of top five markets for beef after NAFTA. Advise Trump administration to "do no harm."

Some members of Congress think Bob Dole should receive Congressional Gold Medal. WAs member of U.S. Senate for 27 years. He was in U.S. House for 10 years. He received Presidential Medal of Freedom, Purple Heart.

Upping the side-by-side ante

The side-by-side utility vehicle market has long been a hotbed of competition. A key innovator in that class of off-roaders is Polaris who may not have been first with the concept, but has provided stiff competition with its Ranger line-up. In fact, Ranger remains a best-seller in its class. And given the new design of the upgraded XP1000 that market share may be safe.

"We've incorporated more than 100 changes to this machine based on what customers told us," Josh Hermes, marketing manager, Ranger, explained. "We want to maintain our market leading position and with this machine the competition will have to catch up."

In a walkaround of the machine at a special sneak peek recently, Hermes noted that five years ago with the launch of the first XP1000, the company set the bar higher. This was a hauling machine with high ground clearance, and a road speed that allowed you to get to work faster. Now comes the successor with that long list of changes. We'll detail some in the gallery and a few below.

This new machine has a taller stance, as Chris Judson, product manager, Polaris, explained that the Ranger XP1000 has 13-inches of ground clearance, higher than the previous model. "And we've increased the suspension travel by an inch too," he said. That means the machine sits higher, but rides smoother.

When the cover was removed from the new Ranger XP1000, the first impression is a big front bumper, but also a more automotive look to the front-end design. As for the bumper: "It's the biggest in the industry," Judson noted. That bumper is already set up to take a winch, and is designed in a way that still allows easy access to the radiator for cleanout if needed.

The machine also has a full pan underneath, which means rocks, and other debris when off-roading are less likely to cause damage.

And the company is working with Maxxis for tires. The tires are 27-inchers and they have a tougher tread pattern for handling stalks and other on-farm debris you might find.

You'll also find better hauling capacity too. The bed has been redesigned to be an inch deeper. It keeps the Lock and Ride holes - a popular system for adding accessories - and this 2018 machine will work with your older accessories. But Polaris also molded in locations in that bed to place 1-by-4 boards to add height if needed.

The tailgate is also wider at the top, like a pickup truck's, and it raises and lowers easier than in the past. There's a hydraulic assist for manual tilt, and of course an optional electric tilt if needed.

Polaris has always had that 2-inch receiver hitch on the back. With this new model, towing capacity has been bumped up too. The machine can now haul 1,000 pounds, but also tow up to 2,500 pounds. And behind the wheel, that pull doesn't feel like it's straining the machine.

Comfort and convenience

The new Ranger has a more automotive like operator station with 6 cup holders for stowing not only your morning Joe, but they're handy for other items too. There are two sealed glove boxes, and below them is a cavernous area for throwing other items you might need.

The right seat folds up easily, and there's even an indentation for your 5-gallon bucket, where you might stow your tools for mending fence or other chores. Judson noted that with the seat up that flat floor is also a popular place for your dog.

For human riders, the seats feature an extra inch of foam padding and stitched covers for a more comfortable ride. Behind the wheel is a lighted information center that keeps you informed about speed, RPM and more.

Getting in and out of the machine is easier because there's an added 5 inches of space in the entrance to the footwell.

And driving is simpler with standard electric power steering, but beyond that Judson added that the steering has been tightened up. "There are less turns lock to lock in the machine," he said. That means less steering correction during driving, even in rougher terrain. More like a performance car, this machine answers your steering touch quickly.

Unique innovations

Some of those customer changes benefit your dealer as much as you. For example, the machine is already set up for a winch, but the key innovation here is Polaris Pulse. This is the new electric control junction box on the machine. In fact, there are two. These make it easy to connect controls to the machine for quick use.

For example, the installation of a winch in the past took a dealer 90 minutes, today that can be done in just about 20 minutes, Hermes said. The dealer uses the available plate to attach the winch, runs the wire to the battery for power and another line to the pulse for control. Done.

The new cab can be outfitted with a high-quality sound system that is easy to wire because there's a Pulse module at the top of the cab and wires can be run easily at the top of the cab under the liner.

And the cab has been beefed up to keep dust and grit out of your way. In an independent test, Polaris put the machine in a Wind tunnel with fine sand and measured how much got in the cab. They also included two competitors in the test. The new Polaris cab did a better job of keeping dirt out, which is great on those hot days in dusty conditions - the air- conditioned cab can really keep the air cleaner.

That doesn't count the new LED lighting packages available from Rigid. Or more than 70 new accessories designed for this new machine, that are also retro-fitted to older Rangers.

Behind the wheel

There are so many new features it's hard to list them all on this machine. But how does it drive? During a trail ride both behind the wheel and in the passenger seat, we got a feeling for the new machine. While it does sit up higher, there's never a feeling of being top heavy. The machine is a smooth rider.

That tighter steering system made it easy to make course corrections, or in some cases on the ride, stay on course through mud and rough trail conditions. Acceleration is solid, and even over the obstacle course, the bounces - given the taller travel of the suspension system - were easily managed.

As part of the ride, we rode a machine attached to a trailer with a large round bale. The bale had been rained on, so there was plenty of weight in the machine. During the run with the bale, at no time did it feel like the 82 hp engine was straining. It was just another day of driving, albeit with a lot more weight behind.

These new machines move into dealerships later this year. Available colors include Sunset Red, Suede Metallic, Titanium Matte Metallic and Polaris Pursuit Camo. There's even a special edition Northstar HVAC model with industry-exclusive heating and air conditioning. Learn more about the new machine at

Price for the Ranger XP1000 starts at $16,299 for the EPS model, and tops out at $23,999 for the Northstar HVAC Edition.

What Bill Gates gets right & wrong about beef production

Amanda Radke Beef production

Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently visited a large cattle operation in Australia. While there, he learned about artificial insemination and the use of smartwatches to alert the cowboys of how much the cattle are drinking and when water tanks needed to be refilled.

Gates, who readily admits he’s a city boy from Seattle, writes of the experience, “I was impressed by how high tech the whole process was at Wylarah Station (a station is the Australian term for a ranch). The Australian Agricultural Company—or AACo—relies on cutting edge genomics to breed Wagyu beef cows, some of the most elite cattle in the world.

“AACo is one of the foremost experts in the developed world on tropical cattle production. Although they use innovation to raise higher quality beef that they can sell for a good price, I was more interested in learning about how their methods could help farmers in low income countries with similar climates.”

Gates shared some of the challenges of innovating the beef industry in hot, rural communities in Africa, but noted that advancements in technologies could help produce more meat and dairy to nourish people in these remote areas.

READ: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visits a South Dakota ranch

He writes, “Not all of AACo’s innovative approaches could work in the poor world. It’s unlikely that every farmer in Africa will be wearing a smart watch anytime soon (if ever). But as smartphone usage continues to grow across the continent, it’s easy to imagine a future where Africans might use an app to order the perfect bull DNA or make sure their cattle are eating enough—something that an African ICT company called iCow is promoting in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania with help from our foundation. There’s a lot we can learn from Wylarah Ranch about how to more efficiently raise cattle, but I can’t ignore the big question: should we rely on animals for food at all?”

Here is where Gates starts to lose me. The ex-vegetarian buys into the notion that beef production is harmful to the environment, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Calorie-per-calorie, you get far more bang for your buck eating nutrient-rich meat and dairy than you would from tofu, beans or broccoli. Plus, modern beef production uses fewer natural resources than ever before!

He repeats the common misconception we’ve addressed over and over again.

Here is what Gates has to say: “Eating too much meat contributes to higher levels of obesity and heart disease, and raising animals contributes to climate change. That’s why I’ve invested in companies working on meat substitutes, which could one day eliminate the need to raise and slaughters animals entirely.

“Although it might be possible to get people in richer countries to eat less, we can’t expect people in low income countries to follow suit. When I went vegetarian for a year in my late 20s, all I had to do to get my daily serving of protein was buy a can of beans or a container of tofu at the grocery store. It’s not so easy for families in poor communities to get the nutrition they need.

“For them, meat and dairy are a great source of high-quality proteins that help children fully develop mentally and physically. Just 20 grams of animal protein a day can combat malnutrition, which is why our foundation’s nutrition strategy wants to get more meat, dairy, and eggs into the diets of children in Africa.”

I appreciate that he understands the nutrient punch that animal products have to offer, and he knows these African communities rely on livestock for economic prosperity.

He writes, “Cattle are also a huge economic driver in some parts of Africa. In Ethiopia alone, cattle account for 45% of their agricultural GDP. In addition, livestock can actually contribute to ecosystems by stimulating pasture growth, enhancing biodiversity, and recycling energy and nutrients.

“As more people in poor countries move into the middle class, they will likely eat more beef and drink more milk. But we can mitigate the impact of that growth on the environment by increasing production from the cows they already have. The cowboys of Wylarah Ranch have mastered the art of raising tropical cattle. I don’t know yet how African farmers can benefit from their expertise—our foundation is just starting to dig into this—but I’m excited about the possibilities.”

You can read more from Gates’ experience in Australia by clicking here and even watch a video of him wrangling cows in the outback.

I believe beef and dairy cattle play a critical role in food security and nourishing people, from the affluent to the poverty-stricken. It’s great to see folks like Gates paying attention to this industry and recognizing how these foods can improve the lives of the impoverished. If we can only change the rhetoric about livestock and the environment, we’ll be in pretty good shape.

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