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Articles from 2018 In July

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, July 31, 2018

There were some nervous residents and first responders when a grain elevator exploded in central Illinois. There were no injuries.

Crop conditions for corn and soybeans are still in good shape, overall. The best corn is in North Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

How will the Oshkosh, Wis., airshow top this year's performance? The 49th EAA AirVenture was nearly perfect on all fronts. 

Fed cattle Recap | Cash market in languish mode

Fed Cattle Recap

The dog days of summer roll on as cattle feeders look forward to cooler weather and an eventual uptick in wholesale beef prices as consumers prepare for Labor Day. But for the week ending July 28, the cash market for fed cattle was in languish mode.

The feedlot cattle trades were close to $1 per cwt lower in most locations with cash sales volume half of the previous week.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 249,275 head, compared with about 229,238 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 63,951 head, compared with about 128,312 head the previous week.

The national cash sales this week include only about 1,200 head for 15- to 30-day delivery, which means not only are all cash sales being delivered now, but also the higher numbers of cattle bought previously for 15- to 30-day delivery. Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 38,000 head, up over 10,000 head from the previous week. 

Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $111.73 per cwt, compared with $112.61 the previous week, which was 88 cents lower for the week. 

The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $176.22 per cwt, compared with $179.00 the previous week, which was $2.78 lower.   

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $179.09 per cwt, compared with $179.70 the previous week, making it 61 cents lower.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 640,000 head, compared with 627,000 head the same week last year. Current year-to-date harvest total continues to climb higher than last year, up 547,000 head year over year.    

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending July 14 was 867 pounds, which was the same as the previous week and 2 pounds higher than the 865 pounds the same week last year. However, heifer carcass weights jumped up 6 pounds for this same week and were $803 pounds.

The Choice-Select spread was $6.87 on Friday, compared with $7.17 the previous week and a $9.40 spread last year. 


MORNING Midwest Digest, July 31, 2018

The Missouri attorney general has opened a criminal investigation into the duck boat accident. It came within two civil lawsuits being filed.

The corn and soybean crops remain in great shape, overall. Both crop conditions held steady from a week ago. However, some fields in Missouri, Kansas and Michigan look dismal.

Authorities in Iowa will give an update on the hunt for a college student. The woman went for a run on July 18 in Brooklyn, Iowa. Her disappearance has gained national attention as investigators check data from her Fitbit and social media accounts.

A Michigan man was bitten by his pet cobra two weeks ago and is still in the hospital. Doctors struggled to find the correct anti-venom. The man is on the road to recovery. 

Farm Progress America, July 31, 2018

Max Armstrong shares that consumers want more information on the chicken they buy and eat. They want that label on the package. Max notes that the red meat industry has been dealing with the issue for some time. A poultry industry survey shows a growing need for that information.

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: VLG/iStock/Getty Images Plus

On Amazon, Walmart & the future of food shopping

Amanda Radke Beef

Growing up, our out-of-town relatives would often visit our ranch and then head to the nearest Walmart to stock up on groceries and toiletries before heading home. For decades, Walmart was THE place to shop for so many, and it made sense, considering 90% of the population lives within 10 miles of one of its 5,353 retail stores.

Fast-forward to today. I can’t remember the last time I’ve stepped foot in our local Walmart. With three young children, my writing and speaking career, plus ranch work, I don’t have much free time to shop. Naturally, Amazon Prime has become my saving grace to purchase many of our household items. A small monthly fee is all it takes to get almost everything I need delivered right on my doorstep within two short days.

Looking ahead, I’m excited for the day when I can further streamline and decrease my shopping time further once our local grocery store adds online shopping and pickup as an option.

However, online shopping through a local grocer is more than likely just the beginning when it comes to fast and easy food shopping. And many are looking at giants like Walmart and Amazon to forge the path for food retailers in the future.

READ: Amazon keeps the heat on

Forbes contributor Brittain Ladd recently discussed this topic in an article titled, “Killing Amazon: Donald Trump, Kroger, Walmart, Zume and the Next Big Thing.”

It’s an interesting deep dive into the rise of Amazon with its acquisition of Whole Foods, the strategy of Microsoft and Walmart in taking down Amazon, and the role President Donald Trump and the federal government might play in curtailing Amazon before it becomes a monopoly.

If you have a minute to read the entire article, I encourage you to do so, but what interests me most is Ladd’s predictions for the way we’ll shop for food in the future.

Here is an excerpt:

“Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods has created an opportunity for Amazon to become the largest grocery retailer by as early as 2030. I fully expect Amazon to achieve such distinction unless one or more grocery retailers make a big move to prevent Amazon from achieving a dominant position in groceries.

“Walmart is investing billions in buying brands, opening new store formats, and investing to improve the quality of its groceries. Target acquired Shipt and is investing heavily to improve its grocery business. However, the company I believe has the best opportunity to disrupt Amazon in groceries is Kroger.

READ: Are you ready to buy groceries online?

“I estimate that within the next two to five years, Kroger will make a series of significant moves that will give it nationwide grocery coverage in the U.S. Groceries are strategic to Amazon, but if Kroger adds significant scale and revenue, Kroger will have the advantage. If Amazon doesn't move aggressively and if it doesn't re-imagine the grocery experience to attract customers, buying Whole Foods may turn out to be Amazon's bridge too far. I stand behind my recommendation that Amazon should acquire Target and open Whole Foods Markets inside Target stores.”

Ladd, who grew up on a farm in Iowa, envisions the next step for food retailers will be much like the Schwan Foods delivery service his family enjoyed when he was a kid. But instead of just delivering chilled and frozen foods, customers will be able to order hot meals that will be cooked and prepared in the truck.

Ladd writes, “I believe we are about to witness a massive introduction of personalized, on-demand hot food delivered direct to customers. At a high level, I believe the next big thing will be the creation of a fresh food and protein ecosystem integrated with automated industrial kitchens and facilities to prepare food. Trucks will be used to cook food en-route for delivery to customers.”

He says consumers will flock to this fresh and hot delivery service instead of going to grocery stores or buying food online. Mobile meal deliveries — although they sound far-fetched to me in my corner of the world — will become increasingly popular, and there will be less foot traffic in grocery stores like Whole Foods in the future.

As a result, Ladd says, “If a retailer other than Amazon is able to create a nationwide delivery network for food, it has the potential of allowing the retailer to supplement or replace Amazon in the eyes of consumers. For example, a retailer could deliver meals, groceries and general merchandise direct to the customer. Amazon is at a disadvantage compared with Kroger and Walmart when it comes to the fresh food supply chain and especially the ability to deliver on-demand cooked meals.”

So how does the beef industry fit into all this? I think just as blockchain may disrupt the status quo of how beef is marketed and sold in this country, I believe these source-and-ship online shopping and delivery services will be able to work with more independent producers who have a unique story and a superior product.

READ: Ready or not -- blockchain will change the way ag does business

Today’s consumers want to know more about where their food comes from. Imagine a world where they could pick the rancher to source their steaks, and have a sizzling sirloin delivered straight to their door with the click of a button, the swipe of a credit card and a mobile meal delivery truck with grilling capabilities inside!

Of course, we’ll see this play out in urban areas long before it ever becomes accessible to rural America, but the moral of the story is this — the times are changing, and they’re changing fast. Are you ready to hitch a ride and take advantage of these new opportunities?

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, July 30, 2018

The vice president of the U.S. has joined local politicians in Indiana in condemning graffiti found at a synagogue in Caramel, Ind.

How high will the corn yield be on the crop that looks so good right now? Pollination, about complete, has gone well. Analysts believe the yield could be as good as last years, maybe better?

Iowa authorities continue to investigate the death of a crane operator at a wind field.

In the future, your hotel room may be wired, making you more connected than you maybe want to be. Amazon may offer Alexa services to hotels.

5 Trending Headlines: Cow slaughter keeps climbing; PLUS: Culling in a drought

So far this year 57 of the US Federally Inspected FI cow slaughter has come from dairy cows For calendar year 2014 the dairy percentage was 52 and the prior 5year average 2009 14 was 46 The mix of dairy versus beef cows being processed can shift some from one year to the next due to relative economic conditions in those two industries and because of drought which tends to increase beef cow slaughter relative to dairy according to the Daily Livestock ReportThe current situation of the

Beef cow harvest numbers keep climbing

Giving further indication that the expansion phase of the current cattle cycle is slowing, USDA’s Ag Marketing Service (AMS) reports that through mid-July, beef cow slaughter increased 11% year-over-year across all AMS regions. Cow movement to town appears heaviest on the West Coast.

Looking at AMS weekly slaughter estimates for beef and dairy cows, Regions 9 (AZ, CA, HI & NV) and 10 (AK, ID, OR & WA) are reporting volumes year-to-date of 29% and 163% higher than a year ago, an additional 95,000 head of beef-type animals entering the supply chain compared to last year. Some of this increase is due to additional slaughter plant capacity created by a new plant opening in Idaho, according to the Daily Livestock Report.

Other regions are supplying higher volumes of beef cows as well. Region 6 (AR, LA, NM, OK & TX), which has the most drought impacts so far this year, is up 10%, an additional 40,000 head. Similarly, Region 7 (IA, KS, MO & NE) is showing a 6% increase in beef cow slaughter to date. Regions 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH & WI) and 8 (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT & WY) combined are up 10%. Only two regions are showing year-over-year declines. Region 1 (CT, ME, NH, VT, MA & RI) and Region 4 (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC & TN) are each more than 10% behind the prior year.

Click here to read more.

What’s the fall price outlook for Southeast feeder calves?

Based on the long-term trends of the feeder calf market, producers should expect prices to decline from July to November. Producers seeking higher income for feeder calves held for fall delivery should consider forward pricing to protect their investment while adding additional pounds, says University of Florida ag economics Chris Prevatt.

Cattle prices have struggled to move higher as beef supplies have been increasing. During the third and fourth quarters of 2018, record supplies of animal proteins (beef, pork, and poultry) will continue to be harvested. Cold storage levels for all meat proteins are either at or above 2017 and 5-year averages. These supplies will be a price-limiting factor, despite extremely strong export beef demand. Additionally, losses at the feedlot level are mounting and expected to continue into the fall, dampening overall price bids for replacement feeder calves.

Click here to read the complete outlook.

China's beef industry holds great potential but faces developmental challenges


While China’s potential for beef imports is huge, what’s the country’s potential tor domestic beef production? According to estimates from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, China is the fourth largest beef producing country in the world behind the U.S., Brazil and the European Union, according to the Oklahoma Farm Report.

2018 Chinese beef production is estimated at 7.3 million metric tons, 58% of projected U.S. beef production of 12.4 million metric tons. China has an estimated total cattle herd of 96.85 million head in 2018, slightly larger than the current U.S. herd of 94.4 million head, says Derrell Peel, livestock marketing economist at Oklahoma State University.

"The bulk of cattle production consists of an assortment of native beef breeds, known collectively as Yellow cattle, concentrated in the North China Plain, the northeast and the extensive grazing lands of the northwest. The Chinese cattle industry also includes yak production on the high Tibet plateau in the southwest and water buffalo production in the south and southeast," Peel says.

Click here to read more.

Strategies to reduce numbers during drought

Cheramie Viator

There are several strategies that can help you get through a drought or feed shortage with the least negative impact on genetics. Travis Olson, Ole Farms, Athabasca, Alta., Canada, who owns 1,500 mostly Angus cows, says his general rule of thumb is to cull hardest in the classes of cattle that won’t hurt you in the long term, reports the Angus Beef Bulletin. 

“In our operation, we take a lot of cattle to finish. If we are in a drought, the first group sold is yearling steers. The second thing we look at is the cow herd,” he says. “How you cull cows may depend on when your breeding season is. If you are breeding to calve in February or March and facing a drought this summer, you could ultrasound cows 60 days into the breeding season, identify your open cows and sell them early.”

Another way to find the slow breeders or poor producers is to move all the cows through the chute, perhaps when doing spring vaccinations, and put heat-detection patches on them, he adds.

Click here to read how heat detection patches can help you select which cows to cull and which to keep.

West Nile cases in horses are on the rise

July is the month when mosquito pools test positive for West Nile virus, according to Karl Hoops, Utah State University Equine Extension specialist. In a few weeks, we will see birds test positive and shortly after humans and other animals, reports Utah Public Radio.

"The way the disease is spread is when the virus is put into a bird, they become what we call an amplifying host," Hoops said. "Their bodies allow that virus to replicate and get really, really concentrated within their blood. The mosquito can then bite them, suck out a small amount of that blood and then go bite a horse and then go bite a human. It then infects that mammal. Inside a mammal, when the virus gets in there it replicates, we get sick a lot easier."

Click here to read more.


Adventures at the county fair


As we hit the peak of county fair season, I am reminded of the great times I had growing up and showing livestock. Kids can learn so much from raising livestock. I showed cattle and horses.

The most memorable event I had showing livestock came when I was about 11 years old. I had a Shetland-cross pony named Silver. He had 2 speeds: 1) walk, and 2) bank-robbery-get-away-gallop.

He also had no stop. The quickest way to get him to stop was to just let him run at a stationary object — a barn, for instance — and he would run full speed, and then stop dead in his tracks with his nose about an inch away from the object. I think the guy who invented airbags for cars got the idea from watching me and ol’ Silver come to a stop.

Even though he was a pony, Silver could outrun a lot of horses. We used him around the farm moving cattle, heat detecting, etc. A cow horse he was not — but we rode our horses a lot, so I knew all his tricks. With his speed, I thought I could really mop up in the barrels and pole bending at the county fair. But stopping wasn’t Silver’s only problem — when he was at top speed, he didn’t turn very well, either.

We were entered in several events. We didn’t last long in the egg race. I thought we might do well in the barrels, but our turns were either way too wide or we knocked the barrel down.

I was bound and determined to do well in something, and pole bending was our last chance.

With my teeth gritted, Silver and I shot into the arena. I was leaning so far forward that the saddle horn was stabbing me in the chest. I had a tight grip on each rein, each of my hands about 4 inches off the bit. I was gonna muscle this rocket through those poles!

We busted it to the far end of the poles. I cranked him around with my left hand, and we started the weaving pattern.

Silver didn’t slow down a step. Pull right, pull left, all the way to the other end of the poles. I cranked him around and headed back.

I hit the second pole with my knee, but I was leaning so far forward that it hit me in the shoulder and popped right back up! We finished out the pattern, and I cranked him around and headed for the arena gate!

With all the adrenaline, I didn’t realize until too late that the arena gate was open! We shot out of that arena into the parking lot like Silver’s tail was on fire!

Our trailer and our other horses were off to the left, but dead ahead was a parked car with a lady sitting in it, enjoying the 4-H horse show. No problem — that car was my stationary object.

As we approached the car at top speed, I could see the lady getting nervous. I remember thinking, “She has nothing to worry about — I got this.”

I sat up and began to shift my weight back to absorb the inevitable sudden stop. Silver charged right to the car and … cut left to go to the trailer!

I came out of the saddle and landed fully on my chest on the hood — and did not stop sliding until I was looking over the roof! I rolled off the car and looked at the lady inside. She had a shocked look on her face.

I pulled one of her windshield wipers out of my pocket and handed it to her, then walked over to the trailer and tied Silver up.

Got first place!

Sjeklocha, DVM, is operations manager of animal health and welfare for Cattle Empire LLC of Satanta, Kan. He can be reached at [email protected]

Enhancement ideas for the Animal Disease Traceability framework

Cattle producers in Florida will soon be required to tag certain cattle under Floridas new animal identification rule The rule is intended to improve the states ability to respond to serious disease outbreaks and to help the industry maintain outofstate markets Under the rule cattle 18 months of age or older moving within the state must be tagged with Official Individual Identification Cattle moving to Approved Tagging Sites for tagging cattle moving directly to slaughter and cattle movin

“While APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] is confident that implementation of the basic Animal Disease Traceability [ADT] framework was successful, some of its parameters limit the progress of the program, and significant gaps still exist within current tracing capabilities,” according to Animal Disease Traceability, a summary of program reviews and proposed directions from the State-Federal Animal Disease Traceability Working Group (ADTWG).

Among examples of the gaps:

  • Application of the official ID requirement only to livestock moving interstate creates significant confusion in marketing channels and enforcement challenges.
  • Use of visual-only, low-cost ID ear tags presents obstacles for collecting animal ID efficiently and accurately.
  • The traceability regulations do not include feeder cattle, which APHIS views as an essential component of an effective traceability system in the long term.
  • Some federally approved slaughter plants could improve collection of ID devices at slaughter and correlation of the devices to the carcass through final inspection.

READ: Full circle: Cattle ID and traceability

Recommendations to ADT improvements are based on last year’s program assessment, as well as input from nine stakeholder meetings held across the country that sought input on traceability objectives and how to accomplish them. Keep in mind that ADT stems from an industry-government development process that began in 2002.

Among the 14 recommendations for proposed ADT direction, according to the ADTWG summary:

• Maintain current cattle population subject to ADT — all dairy, beef cattle older than 18 months of age and all rodeo and exhibition cattle. “The inclusion of beef feeder cattle in the traceability regulations is an essential component of an effective traceability system in the long term. However, addressing other fundamental gaps in the traceability framework must occur first,” the summary says.

• The summary says, “Cattle should be identified to their birth premises; official ID records must provide birth premises information for the animal. APHIS should revise federal regulations to include interstate commerce, and the appropriate authority — either USDA or state officials — should establish regulations that trigger official ID requirements at: change of ownership, first point of commingling; interstate movement (may reflect no sale and no commingling).”

• “The United States must move toward an EID [electronic ID] system for cattle, with a target implementation date of Jan. 1, 2023. A comprehensive plan is necessary to address the multitude of very complex issues related to the implementation of a fully integrated electronic system,” according to the summary.

FDA investigating horse deaths due to contaminated feed

Feed mill stack

After six horses from the same owner died in June and July 2018, the Food & Drug Administration notified the animal feed industry July 27 that it is investigating horse feed mixed by Gilman Co-Op Creamery in Minnesota that contained monensin, an animal drug highly toxic to horses, even at low levels.

While the feed was a special order of horse feed for the farm and was not distributed to other farms, FDA said it was issuing its notice to ensure that feed manufacturers and horse owners are aware that monensin in horse feed continues to be a concern.

Monensin is an ionophore animal drug approved for use in cattle and poultry feed to increase feed efficiency and prevent coccidial infections. Monensin is highly toxic and potentially lethal to horses, even at relatively low levels.

When inspecting the firm, FDA said it found that on the date the batch of horse feed in question was manufactured, Gilman Co-Op Creamery first mixed cattle feed containing monensin but then did not perform adequate cleanout procedures to remove the monensin from its equipment before mixing the horse feed.

FDA regulations require firms to establish and follow cleanout procedures for equipment used in the production and distribution of medicated feeds to avoid unsafe cross-contamination of other medicated and non-medicated feeds.

FDA said it is working to investigate the matter and will take action, as appropriate.

According to FDA, horses exposed to monensin may show a range of symptoms, including weakness, unsteady gait, the inability to get up, diarrhea, abdominal pain, excessive urination, heart failure or death. Acute toxicity may progress rapidly enough that the horse doesn’t exhibit many symptoms prior to death.

A horse’s reaction to monensin will vary depending on the amount of exposure and the horse’s individual tolerance based on the breed, diet and metabolism, FDA said. The horses that received the contaminated feed in this case experienced symptoms and died within 12-48 hours of consuming the feed.

Monensin toxicity is rarely treatable, and the majority of horses die or are euthanized to avoid pain and suffering. Horses that survive monensin toxicity may suffer permanent damage to the heart or muscles and are unlikely to fully recover, FDA said.

Feed manufacturers making medicated feeds need to remain vigilant about taking appropriate steps to eliminate unsafe carryover of medications into feed intended for different species, FDA emphasized, noting that it has two guidance documents — "Guidance for Industry #235: Current Good Manufacturing Practice Requirements for Food for Animals" and "Guidance for Industry #72: GMPs for Medicated Feed Manufacturers Not Required to Register & Be Licensed with FDA" — that provide further explanation and examples of how to meet FDA’s requirements for the safe manufacture of animal food.

As a general practice, FDA said medicated feeds intended for one species should be kept away from other species.

Both the American Feed Industry Assn. and the National Grain & Feed Assn. offer training and education programs on the safe manufacture of medicated and non-medicated animal feeds, and additional information on the safe use of medicated feed additives can be found in the Feed Additive Compendium, from the publishers of Feedstuffs.