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Fed Cattle Recap | Cash market remains resilient

Fed Cattle Recap

The cash trade for fed cattle stayed the course for the week ending July 27. While packers have long held the leverage in the cash market, that may be changing slightly as more green cattle are coming to town and cattle grading upper Choice and Prime are harder to find.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 263,275 head, compared with about 255,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 72,724 head, compared with about 77,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 49,000 head for the week. The packers have 226,000 head lined up for August. National cash sales for the week included only about 5,762 head of 15- to 30-day delivery but also had 12,000 head from the previous week.   

Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending July 27 was $113.68 per cwt, which was 66 cents higher.   

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $183.37, 37 cents higher.   

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $181.83, $1.42 higher. 

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 654,000 head and that compares with 640,000 head the same week last year. The current estimated year-to-date total is over 245,000 higher than last year but continues to include larger numbers of fed heifers the past three years, which means fewer heifers being kept in the cow herds. That will have a big impact down the road with smaller calf crops.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending July 13 was 865 pounds, which was 4 pounds higher than the previous week and encroaching on the 867 pounds the same week last year. Last year’s carcass weight was steady with the prior week.         

The Choice-Select spread was $23.83 on Friday, largely because of greener cattle coming to market and much higher Choice rib primal this year. That compares with $23.91 the previous week and a $6.87 spread last year.




Farm Progress America, July 30, 2019

Max Armstrong continues his discussion of the recent Senate Ag Committee hearing on hemp. Max shares insight from the National Hemp Association that shared a critical issue – testing. The industry wants to better manage the state testing requirements, which can cause a problem for farmers and others that may move hemp across state lines.

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: stevanovicigor/iStock/Getty Images Plus

FCSAmerica study finds real estate values remain steady


The real estate market for cropland remained fairly stable in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota in the first half of 2019.

The value of 64 benchmark farms tracked by Farm Credit Services of America declined an average of 0.59% in the first six months of 2019.

“Despite continued tight commodity price margins in 2018, real estate values remained stable and were supported by a favorable interest rate environment, market facilitation payments and equilibrium in the supply and demand levels for real estate,” said Tim Koch, FCSAmerica’s chief credit officer.

Since the market’s peak in 2013, cropland values are down 20.1% in Iowa, 21.2% in Nebraska and 12.8% in South Dakota in FCSAmerica’s semiannual benchmark farmland study.

Iowa farmland experienced the biggest decline in FCSAmerica’s latest benchmark farmland study. However, values in the state still are up 2.7% compared to a year ago. Of Iowa’s 21 benchmark farms, 10 decreased in value, three increased and eight saw no change.

Modest declines in Nebraska and South Dakota in the later half 2018 extended into 2019 for a drop of 1.4% and 1.3% since last July. Ten benchmark farms in Nebraska lost value, five increased and three were unchanged. In South Dakota, values dropped on five farms. The remaining 18 farms held even.

Wyoming continues to see values for cropland and pastureland increase. However, the limited number of farmland sales in the state makes it difficult to accurately track trends.

farmland value change in Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota

Farmland sales across FCSAmerica’s territory were down in the first two quarters of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. South Dakota saw the biggest decline so far this year, with 26.7% fewer sales. In Iowa, sales were down 11%, while Nebraska’s combined sales for irrigated and dry cropland dropped 18.4%.

The average quality of land has not changed in the past year, and buyer demand for high quality ground remains strong.

Source:  Farm Credit Services of America, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

Taco Bell releases new antibiotics policy for beef

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If you’ve read this blog post for a while, then you know my time spent with BEEF has been largely focused on consumer trends and answering the all-important question: What do consumers want and how can beef producers deliver?

I have committed a great deal of time, energy and thought to testing different theories and addressing various issues with a wide range of talking points. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered some messages resonate and others don’t even come close to hitting the mark.

Results of advocacy and outreach efforts are contingent on the particular audience. That’s because just like no two cattlemen operate the same, our consumers also have differing values, beliefs and priorities when it comes to deciding what to purchase at the grocery store.

So in a nutshell, there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to connecting with consumers.

Let me give you an example. Vaccinations in relation to both human and animal health continue to be a hot topic of conversation in society.

We have the no-vaccine camp, who don’t believe in building herd immunity (in people) or preventing illness and disease from occurring in the first place. In the same breath, we have consumers who, every time their child gets the sniffles, are first in line at the doctor to get a prescription, but then blame cattle for antimicrobial resistance when the round of antibiotics fails to work for their child.

There is a great deal of confusion out there regarding vaccinations, antibiotics and health prevention and treatment in both people and animals. Consequently, animal agriculture has become a large focus area in society, with consumers, medical professional, veterinarians, retailers, processors and producers all weighing in to discuss the best routes for addressing this issue in human health.

And while there may be no easy answers, I do believe it’s important that animal agriculture strongly voice that we are doing several key things to combat antimicrobial resistance.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) outlines some of the core principles and antimicrobial stewardship practices followed by livestock producers and veterinarians alike.

According to the AVMA, “Antimicrobial stewardship involves maintaining animal health and welfare by implementing a variety of preventive and management strategies to prevent common diseases; using an evidence-based approach in making decisions to use antimicrobial drugs; and then using antimicrobials judiciously, sparingly, and with continual evaluation of the outcomes of therapy, respecting the client’s available resources.”

These core principles include a commitment to stewardship, advocating for a system of care that prevents common diseases, selecting and using antimicrobial drugs judiciously, evaluating antimicrobial drug use practices and educating and building expertise in this area.

Read more about these core values here.

Whether it’s the Veterinary Feed Directive or simple things like withdrawal times, the animal agricultural industry is already making great strides to be responsible, judicious users of preventative and treatment protocols. Additionally, a greater focus has been placed on promoting optimal gut health and practicing best standards of care to create an environment for wellness and avoid sickness in animals altogether.

I write about this topic today with great frustration as yet another retailer has succumbed to misguided consumer perceptions about animal agriculture and antibiotic use.

In a recent press release, Taco Bell announced a new policy for how the company will source beef for its popular tacos and burritos in the future.

According to the release, “As of today (July 29), Taco Bell has committed to reduce antibiotics important to human health in its beef supply chain by 25% by 2025. Effective across the U.S. and Canada, this change covers 98% of the company’s global beef supply.

“For this new policy, Taco Bell worked with long-term supplier partners for over a year and a half to ensure it benefitted all parties involved. The company will continue to work towards identifying effective approaches to limiting antibiotic use, based on scientific evidence and in accordance with proper animal welfare practices.

“Taco Bell will share progress against this goal in 2022, while continuing to prioritize involvement in collaborative industry efforts along the way, including participation in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the Center for Disease Control’s Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge.

“Since 2014, Taco Bell has been spearheading industry efforts regarding consumers’ food supply concerns, including animal welfare and antibiotic resistance. In early 2017, the brand eliminated antibiotics important to human health in its U.S. chicken supply.

“Taco Bell’s beef supply includes premium beef, such as USDA Prime, Choice and Select grade beef, seasoned without any artificial colors or flavors. This policy is another way the brand is making food with simpler, higher quality ingredients served with full transparency.”

Taco Bell’s policy details read:

Antibiotics important to human health are those defined as “critically important,” “highly important,” and “important” according to the World Health Organization’s Critically Important Antimicrobials for Human Medicine, 4th Revision, 2013.

Taco Bell will give preference to suppliers that:

  • Make measured reductions in their use of antibiotics important to human health, as defined by the World Health Organization.
  • Increase veterinary oversight when required to medically treat sick animals, from diagnosis to treatment to compliance. This will occur through Veterinary Client Patient Relationships (VCPR).
  • Participate in animal husbandry practices that promote antibiotic stewardship.
  • Taco Bell will continue to prioritize involvement in collaborative industry efforts:
    • Taco Bell participates in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), a network of beef experts working towards a purpose-oriented beef supply.
    • Through YUM! Brands, Taco Bell has joined the Center for Disease Control’s Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge, a yearlong effort to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance across the globe.
    • Taco Bell’s antimicrobial policy seeks to reinforce and build upon YUM!’s Good Antimicrobial Stewardship policy, which focuses on responsible, judicious use of antimicrobials to benefit human, animal and environmental health.

A few outgoing thoughts — I do believe these retailers are responding to consumers’ concerns regarding antibiotic use in animal agriculture. Their hearts are in the right place, but I think sometimes these increased requirements and restrictions on how livestock producers can manage herd health are misguided and based on sketchy science.

Ultimately, I think animal agriculture can and should and has already played a role in addressing this hot topic. However, I also feel that limiting how producers are able to prevent and treat disease and illness in their livestock only leads to greater animal suffering, which if pressed, I don’t think the consumer wants.

So what is the answer to the ultimate question — what do consumers want and how can beef producers deliver?

It’s obvious consumers want a product that is safe, wholesome and nutritious, one that aligns with their values and beliefs, and something that benefits society as a whole. It’s a tall order for producers, and we are certainly going to have to expand our research in animal nutrition and herd health if we are going to be able to comply to increasing demands from retailers.

Are we up to the challenge? Yes, I think so. But I also think we need to do more educating, outreach and connecting with our consumers and retailers, so they understand the strides we have already made in regard to the issue of antimicrobial resistance.

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

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, July 29, 2019

Eastern equine encephalitis has been found in mosquitos out East.

After historic flooding in Davenport, Iowa, a flood wall is being considered.

Crop touring field reports are all over Twitter. 

National Guard soldiers from Illinois were deployed to Afghanistan this past weekend.

Minnesota motorists will need a hands free device to talk while driving, among other new laws that take effect on Aug. 1.


Photo: tskstock/Getty Images


MORNING Midwest Digest, July 29, 2019

Dan Coats will be leaving the Trump administration.

Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City may get more netting.

Climate change may impact the future cost of federal crop insurance, according to a new report.

This year's prevented plant payout may be more than $3 billion.

An Iowa man backed his truck right into a sink hole over the weekend.

Was there another alligator in Chicago?


Photo: leolintang/Getty Images


Farm Progress America, July 29, 2019

Max Armstrong offers insight from a recent Senate Ag Committee about the future of hemp. This crop, which is getting a lot of attention, is actually managed by three agencies. Max shares information from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., about this new crop, which offers both opportunity and uncertainty.

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: Arina_Bogachyova/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Activists target 4-H youth with vandalism at the county fair

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County fair season is upon us, and in case you missed it, last week I blogged about a 10-year study that showed the benefits of 4-H in developing young people who go on to be active civically, who volunteer in their communities and who lead happy, healthy lives.

Read it here: 4-H kids four times more likely to give back to their communities

As 4-H youth prepare for the county and state fair, presenting their livestock before a judge is ultimately the culmination of a year’s worth of work. It takes time, dedication, consistency, patience and continually learning to prepare an animal for the show.

I applaud the 4-H parents who invest their time and money into supporting their children and this activity. The county fair should be a time for celebration, where families and friends spend time together enjoying the fruits of their labor and making memories.

However, at an Iowa fair in Johnson County, the fun was brought to an abrupt halt when animal rights activists crashed the county fair.

In a recent report from KCRG News, “Johnson County Fair officials said animal rights activists have been disrupting the fair which they said stems from the ‘Family Rodeo’ event.

“Long-time fairgoer Sara Krieger said it’s disturbing what the group has been doing.

“‘They have been going around and cutting halters and cutting the hairs off the tail of cattle as well as letting the animals out,’ Krieger said.

“This has caused her to make extra efforts, needing to take her 12 show animals home every single day of the fair for the safety of the animals.

“‘We’ve always felt secure here,’ Krieger said. She is confused as to why anyone would want to put the animals, or other people, at risk. Fair officials said they are anticipating protestors.

“‘If you let them loose, they’re going to run through the fair, they’re going to get caught up in something,’ Krieger said. ‘Run people over; these people love their animals and they are well cared for. I put more time and money into my horses than I do myself. If you want to support an organization that combats animal cruelty, you should join 4-H.’”

It is sad and scary to think about animal rights activists targeting 4-H youth and putting their livestock in danger with their shenanigans. These individuals, whether acting on behalf of an organization and working independently, should be held accountable for their actions.

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprise by this type of activity. Animal rights activists have long used shock value and outlandish behavior to gain media headlines and attention. These folks have little regard for the animals they vow to save.

Consider this a friendly warning to be safe and watchful as your family attends the county or state fair this year. Perhaps 4-H clubs should consider hiring a night watchman to work as security during the evening hours at the fair.

It’s a shame it has to come to this, but when it comes to these activists, it seems like common sense, decency and respect of other people’s property are not values they have.

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

This Week in Agribusiness – July 27, 2019

Note: Start the video and all parts will play through as the full show

Part 1

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge open this week’s show with a look at crop weather this mid-season as Greg Soulje looks at the lack of moisture for the crop in the ground. Steve checks crops with Joel Barickman, Ancona, Ill., who discusses his season including some ingenuity to get his soybean crop up and going. Max and Steve talk markets with Mike Pearson, Zaner Group, who offers a look at key factors traders are watching this season.

Part 2

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge continue their market conversation with Mike Pearson, Zaner Group. In Colby Agtech, Chad Colby discusses his trip to the 50th annual Oshkosh Air Show with a look at the latest aerial crop spray planes; and he shares other planes and tech he got to see. Max and Steve talk with Farm Broadcaster Dave Williams, Pennsylvania Farm Country Radio, Honesdale, Penn.

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge open this segment talking about continued discussion about the June 28 USDA report in a conversation wit Dale Durchholz, market analyst, Grain Cycles. That report took corn limit down with details first came out, and Durchholz shares thoughts on ways to manage the information “dump” on the market.

Part 4

In this segment, Max Armstrong offers a report on a factory tour he made recently to Racine, Wis., where Case IH Magnum and New Holland T7 tractors are made. It was Max’s first trip to the plant. Greg Soulje takes a look at weather across the country, including a look at heat building back into the forecast.

Part 5

Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje offers his extended look at the weather including his four-week forecast.

Part 6

In Max’s Tractor Shed, Max shares the story of a 1957 Farmall 230 owned by Brad Frerichs, Litchfield, Ill., which has a background in broadcasting as he explains. Steve Bridge profiles Blue Juniata FFA in Alexandria, Penn., a 95-member strong chapter with students from Alexandria and Petersburg. Steve shares details about some favorite programs for the organization. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson shares the story of a Wisconsin County Fair site with a flooding problem; and an idea that could benefit other county fairs.

Part 7

Max Armstrong and Steve Bridge wrap up this week’s episode talking with Matt Jungmann, events manager, Farm Progress, about the upcoming Farm Progress Show. Jungmann talks about the investments made by exhibitors for permanent exhibits, and other exciting features for the 2019 event. Farm Progress Show will run Aug. 27-29, 2019 in Decatur, Ill.