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Farm Progress America, July 25, 2019

Max Armstrong is heading to Rantoul soon for the Half Century of Progress event. Max has been involved in the show since 2003, the year the Farm Progress Show celebrated its 50th anniversary. Max tells the story of how the show has grown and how its built moving to the old air base near Rantoul. The event runs Aug. 22-25. Learn more at halfcenturyofprogress.com.

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: Half Century of Progress

Arby’s vows to serve “meat-loving” Americans

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In a place like South Dakota, where cattle outnumber people four to one, it’s not often that we see the plant-based rhetoric pushed as hard as in other places. Yet, a recent news story on local television station, KELOLand, has meat lovers and the ranching community up in arms.

Reporter Sophie Heinemann interviews a local vegan shopping for produce at the grocery store. He says his diet is made easier thanks to alternative plant-based proteins like black bean burgers or the Beyond Meat patty.

The passionate vegan told the South Dakota TV station, “I really enjoyed the alternative plant-based meats like black bean burgers and such, but I felt like it was a good stepping stone in a transitional phase into keep on improving my diet and adapting to a better lifestyle.”

Interviewing a local grocery store vendor that specializes in natural foods, the merchant explains how the Beyond Burger is a quick sellout, and they have expanded their line of plant-based meat options to meet the growing demand.

She said, “Our customers are more and more interested in meatless alternatives. So the Beyond Burgers sold out every case we could get in for awhile when we first brought them in, and we just brought in the sausages from them and they’ve been really popular.”

Watch the story here.

Yet, despite the increasingly loud chorus that wants everyone to believe that plant-based diets are superior when considering nutrition, wellness, animal welfare and sustainability, the truth is — consumers love meat and are eating more of it now than ever before.

And the anti-meat crowd knows this. That’s why activists are pushing so hard to serve a side of guilt, fear and confusion with every ounce of beef sold in America today. Unfortunately, you don’t have to search long to find negative stories online relating to meat in the diet.

It’s going to take strong voices on the side of common sense and reason to reassure consumers that they don’t have to feel guilty about eating meat. Quite the contrary, in fact, as meat has many environmental, nutritional and ethical benefits when directly comparing the footprint of plant-based diets.

Thankfully, there are some big retailers who are saying “no” to the plant-based frenzy.

Arby’s has not only stated strongly that they will not be serving plant-based alternatives at their retail locations, but now they’re even betting against the trend to the tune of $3.9 billion against fake meats.

“We put a bold flag down,” said Jim Taylor, Arby’s chief marketing officer, in an interview with Fast Company. “If you are someone with us, who shares a passion for high-quality meat cooked the right way as deliciously as possible, we’re going to be a place you can get an abundance of different types of meat as a centerpiece for every sandwich.”

According to the Fast Company article, “Indeed, in the age of plant-based Impossible burgers and Beyond Meat, Arby’s has not only decided to resist the rising tide of veganism and flexitarianism, it’s positioned carnivory as a ‘with us or against us’ values system, going so far as to recently launch its first ‘megetable,’ which it called a ‘marrot’ —a shameless troll of a carrot that’s made entirely out of meat.”

Vowing to serve “real meat,” Arby’s offers eight different types of meat on its menu with specialty meats coming and going seasonally, which include meats like lamb, pork belly and venison.

Referring to veganism, Taylor said, “What I’ve found, for long-term adoption in mainstream America, is ‘How does it taste and what does it cost?’ People are not going to pay more for something that tastes worse.

"I’ve seen statistics where 80% to 85% of vegetarians come back to eating meat as part of their lifestyle at some point. We want to be that place for people coming back. That takes a stand at this day and age. Not appealing to vegetarians, in fact, makes us stronger as a brand. We’re 100% carrying a flag for meat-loving America.”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Plant-based mania aside, I’m glad to know there are still some retailers out there who know and understand their customers, who value those of us who want to consume meat and who realize that meat consumption is here to stay, despite the naysayers trying to convince us otherwise.

Arby’s, coincidentally, is owned by the same company that owns Culver’s, another agriculturally-friendly retailer. So I will add this one to my list of restaurants that support and endorse meat consumption and modern farming in today’s America.

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

Cargill’s sustainability initiative reaches back to the ranch

Cattle on pasture

Just in case you thought the sustainability thing was a passing fancy, Cargill made an announcement that indicates that while sustainability in the beef business may eventually fall from the headlines, it is very much alive.

Cargill has set a new initiative dubbed BeefUp Sustainability with a goal of achieving a 30% greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity reduction across its North American beef supply chain by 2030.

According to a Cargill news release, the opt-in initiative will focus on four key areas: grazing management, feed production, innovation and food waste reduction. The 30% reduction builds on the industry's existing GHG efficiency efforts and will equate to removing 2 million cars from U.S. highways for a year.  

READ: Sustainabililty is worth how much?

in the BeefUp Sustainability initiative, Cargill will expand its partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Already, Cargill and TNC are collaborating on programs such as the Central Nebraska Irrigation Project, which is working to save 2.4 billion gallons of irrigation water over three years — equivalent to the water used by roughly 7,200 households.

Over the next three years, Cargill and TNC will work hand-in-hand with farmers and ranchers to demonstrate how grazing management planning and adaptive management improves sustainability outcomes related to soil, carbon storage, vegetation, wildlife habitat, water and other ecological parameters. These practices have also been shown to help producers be more resilient during extreme weather events.

In addition, Cargill is sponsoring the Yield Lab Institute's Manure Innovation Challenge as an early step in the BeefUp Sustainability initiative. The challenge will connect start-ups and companies to create solutions that capture the value from manure-based nutrients, fiber and energy, bringing them to market while creating on-farm profitability.

How will this affect you? That’s a good question. Deadline pressure and time constraints prevent me from calling Cargill and asking, so the best we can do at the moment is speculate.

From a cow-calf perspective, the effect could be positive. That’s assuming the work they do on grazing systems will yield information on how to better manage pastures.

READ: Burke Teichert-How to build better land and soil

But I suspect they’ll learn the same things that Burke Teichert has been telling us for the last 10 years or more. Which leads me to another speculative thought. If you’re managing your outfit “wholistically,” as Burke suggests, you’re already doing the things that it will take Cargill and TNC the next 10 years to figure out.

READ: Manage the whole of your ranching operation

To be fair, Cargill will look at the entire supply chain, of which we’re just a part. And I speculate that other sectors are not nearly as far along in their sustainability effort as beef production is. After all, the beef business was the first to do a complete lifecycle analysis, setting a baseline from which we have already improved.

So maybe we need to change our moniker from “the original environmentalists” to “the original sustainability experts.”

 

Cargill sets 30% GHG reduction target by 2030

Cargill sets 30% GHG reduction target by 2030

Global demand for protein is rising rapidly, challenging farmers, ranchers and agribusiness to feed a growing population while protecting the planet. Across the food and agriculture industry, there is a pressing need to do more with less impact. To help address this need, Cargill is launching BeefUp Sustainability, an initiative committed to achieving a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity across its North American beef supply chain by 2030.

The opt-in initiative will reduce GHG emissions throughout Cargill's beef supply chain from a 2017 baseline, measured on a per pound of product basis. BeefUp Sustainability is designed to engage a diverse set of stakeholders, including producers, customers and innovators. The initiative will focus on four key areas: grazing management, feed production, innovation and food waste reduction. The 30% reduction builds on the industry's existing GHG efficiency efforts and will equate to removing 2 million cars from U.S. highways for a year.

"This initiative builds on the strong environmental stewardship work already led by farmers and ranchers," said Jon Nash, who leads Cargill's North American protein business. "Cargill is creating connections across the entire North American beef supply chain. Together, we can expand current sustainable agricultural practices to make a meaningful difference."

Innovation within the North American beef industry has led to improved sustainability over the life cycle of cattle. Today, U.S. farmers and ranchers produce 18% of the world's beef with only 8% of the world's cattle. In fact, according the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization, the North American beef supply chain is already more than 35% more efficient from a GHG perspective than the global average. BeefUp Sustainability will help the industry build on this leadership, Cargill said.

BeefUp Sustainability incorporates farmer and rancher feedback gathered through previous projects such as the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Pilot, on-site visits with key supply chain stakeholders and producer panels.

"We will only be successful if farmers and ranchers are successful," Nash noted.

Over the next 10 years, Cargill will work with a range of stakeholders to help achieve its goal.

"Significantly reducing GHG requires change across the entire supply chain," said Heather Tansey, sustainability lead for Cargill's global animal nutrition and protein businesses. "We know the time to act is now and that agriculture can be part of the solution. We're investing in science-based practices and have identified focus areas that will ensure we have the greatest environmental impact."

As an initial step in the BeefUp Sustainability initiative, Cargill will expand its partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Already, Cargill and TNC are collaborating on programs such as the Central Nebraska Irrigation Project, which is working to save 2.4 billion gal. of irrigation water over three years — equivalent to the water used by roughly 7,200 households.

"There has been progress over the years across the industry, and there is much more that we can do together," said Dr. Sasha Gennet, director of TNC's North America Sustainable Grazing Lands Strategy. "We are committed to achieving a productive food system that improves water quality and wildlife habitat while reducing GHGs. Leveraging Cargill's network allows us to drive change at a meaningful scale."

Over the next three years, Cargill and TNC will work hand in hand with farmers and ranchers to demonstrate how grazing management planning and adaptive management improve sustainability outcomes related to soil, carbon storage, vegetation, wildlife habitat, water and other ecological parameters. These practices have also been shown to help producers be more resilient during extreme weather events.

In addition, Cargill is sponsoring the Yield Lab Institute's Manure Innovation Challenge as an early step in the BeefUp Sustainability initiative. The challenge will connect start-ups and companies to create solutions that capture the value from manure-based nutrients, fiber and energy, bringing them to market while creating on-farm profitability. A valuable resource supporting new ideas for manure management is another way Cargill hopes to further improve the sustainability of beef production.

"We're working every day with farmers, ranchers and supply chain partners to continue to serve as stewards of the Earth while achieving greater business results and efficiencies," Nash said.

Source: Cargill, 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. 

Try these successful delegation strategies

designer491-Getty Images Delegration diagram

Many leaders and managers limit the potential of their business through their inability or unwillingness to delegate.

When they hold too tight to specific tasks, believe that they are the only one capable of doing certain actions correctly, or that their way is the best way, the company and its employees can no longer grow.

There are many good reasons to delegate some of our tasks to others. When done properly, delegation increases the self-confidence and competence of those to whom we delegate, we learn the potential of our employees, increase efficiency, and the leaders create more time for themselves to do higher-value tasks. We have more time for business analysis, for long-term strategic management, and to build a strong stable of talent for management succession. Leaders can also reap the personal benefit of greater work-life balance or other personal goals.

There are many approaches to determining what can and should be delegated. First, start with simple tasks that are taking too much of your time. Then look for items you don’t like to do, what others could easily do, what others suggest they would like to do, or what you know others would be good at or natural at doing. To narrow it down further, focus on what will make the most money for the business, create the greatest gain in efficiency, and increase customer delight.

Along with delegating some of your tasks, consider ways to help your key people delegate some of their tasks so that they can benefit from the same strategies. This has the benefit of building a deep bench throughout the company and establishing a culture of continual growth and development. This is particularly valuable when going through a reorganization of responsibilities, there has been a season of high turnover, or you are planning an expansion of services or locations.

Our methodology for delegating tasks includes several factors. We start with communicating to the staff our strategy and goals for the process so that there is no confusion. Some employees may sense they are being left out of opportunities, or that an imbalance in workload will occur. Address those concerns and stress the positive outcomes for the entire team, customers and business. Connect this strategy to your company’s vision and mission statements.

Next, we need to realize the difference between handing off tasks to someone who has significant experience, in contrast to someone with limited experience.

Some considerations for those with less experience:

  • Don’t confuse confidence with competence.
  • Provide them with clear goals and expectations.
  • Help them determine how they will fit the new responsibilities into their schedule.
  • Track closely but avoid micromanaging. The more we micromanage, the slower they learn.
  • They should keep accurate records of their activities early in the process, then provide less detail as they establish an appropriate level of competence.
  • Don’t lower your performance standards just because they are inexperienced. Teach the standards along with the process.

For those with more experience:

  • Encourage them to take initiative.
  • Focus more on results than on specific processes.
  • Give them progressively more authority over time.
  • Ask them for the best type of support you or others can offer.
  • Be sure to listen closely to their questions and comments. Their experience may cause them to not say much, but when they do it’s probably important.

The basic rules for training are essential to delegation. If they fail to become competent in these new tasks and responsibilities, our delegation strategy will fail. So show them how to do it, watch them do it, provide coaching, be available for questions and provide consistent encouragement to build their self-confidence along with their competence.

Consider developing a year-long schedule for delegating responsibilities to others through the organizational structure and implement it methodically as time and circumstances allow. This will help you reach challenging goals for the business, ensure that others in the company are getting new opportunities and confirm that you are achieving the full potential of your staff.

Delegation requires a focused dedication to coaching, competency, efficiency and customer delight and is one of your best strategies to achieve the culture and success you and your staff desire.

MORNING Midwest Digest, July 24, 2019

Sand piles still line roadways in Nebraska, and residents are concerned the sand is contanimated.

The flood that hit Davenport, Iowa, was the perfect storm this spring. 

Three people are facing charges after a toddler was mauled to death by a dog in Kentucky.

There was a serious bike crash during the Ragbrai bike race in Iowa.

A message in a bottle was found, from 1995, traveling from Lake Michigan to Florida.

Farm Progress America, July 24, 2019

Max Armstrong shares a reminder by commodity groups for farmers to connect with lawmakers to talk about trade. The focus is the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, which must be passed by both the House and Senate. A delay in passing the revised trade agreement could tie it up indefinitely. This agreement supersedes NAFTA. Max offers insight on the value of this trade agreement.

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: ronniechua/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices hang tough

Fede Cattle Recap

While the summer of 2019 has generally followed seasonal patterns, fed cattle prices have remained stronger than expected. That’s due to a number of factors. Among them were much higher out-front purchases by retailers early this spring, as well as feedyards being current in their marketings, especially in the north and Midwest, continued lighter carcass weights and continued strong beef demand both here and in our export markets.

Will that continue? We’re now into the dog days of summer, so it remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Looking at the numbers, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 255,061 head for the week ending July 20, compared with about 242,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 77,601 head, compared with about 87,000 head the previous week. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 41,000 head for the week. The packers had 191,000 head lined up for July and 226,000 head for August. National cash sales for the week included only about 12,322 head of 15- to 30-day delivery, but also include 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 20 was $113.02 per cwt, which was only 35 cents lower than the previous week.    

The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $183 per cwt, 13 cents higher than the week before.   

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $180.41 per cwt, $2.45 higher.  

The July 20 estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 648,000 head, compared with 635,000 head the same week last year. The current estimated year-to-date total is now 229,000 higher than last year. But it pales in comparison with last year when it was half a million head higher than 2017. And 2017 was close to a million head higher than 2016. 

Total slaughter is creeping up mostly because of more heifers fed and slaughtered now than previous years. That, of course, means fewer heifers being kept in cow herds, which will have a big impact down the road with smaller calf crops.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending July 6 was 861 pounds, 7 pounds higher than the previous week and still lower than the 867 pounds notched the same week last year.         

The Choice-Select spread was $23.91 on Friday, compared with $23.20 the previous week and a $7.17 spread last year.        

 

2019 weather conditions increase rates of summer pneumonia

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If 2019 can teach us anything, it’s that beef producers are eternal optimists. This year will test even the best of producers who have been plagued with extreme and unpredictable weather — from dangerous cold temperatures to late-season blizzards to massive flooding to wind and tornados and never-ending rain.

As a result, producers experienced increased death loss and illness during the spring calving season, delays in planting (if they got crops in at all) and excessive moisture leading to flooded pastures and hay fields.

And when the year kicks off with inclement weather, it may impact the calves born during that time from day one until harvest.

If this sounds familiar, you may think you’re in the clear now that cow-calf pairs are on grass for the summer grazing season. However, now is the time to start watching for summer pneumonia in those spring-born calves.

In a recent article for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Watch newsletter, Halden Clark, DVM MS, health stewardship veterinarian at the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, offers tips for what to watch for and how to treat calves experiencing summer pneumonia.

“Beef producers know from experience that calving season is fraught with perils for baby calves. Calving difficulties, failure of cow and calf to bond, failure of passive transfer of immunity (colostrum intake by the calf), weather, mud, scours, and injuries are all threats during calving season,” Clark writes.

“Often, once cows and calves are on summer grass, most of the calf-related risk and workload are in the rear-view mirror. It is still time for vigilance, however, because things like nursing calf pneumonia and pinkeye can take a lot of the fun out of baseball games and county fairs.”

If you notice a listless calf with droopy ears, that might be the first sign of trouble. A fever, cough or difficulty breathing are also indicators of summer pneumonia symptoms.

“In order to shed light on approximately how often summer pneumonia occurs within the beef industry, a recent survey of veterinarians suggested that across the Plains states, about 1 in 5 herds will have cases of summer pneumonia in a given year,” Clark advises.

“In a related survey of beef producers by the same research group, the number of cases of summer pneumonia appeared to correlate with herds that had fought scours in the calves, had a calving season that lasted three months or longer, or that brought in orphan calves from other farms.”

Referencing a previous study done on summer pneumonia in calves, Clark said risk factors include increasing herd size, intensive grazing and estrus (heat) synchronization. This is due to the number of “effective contacts” between calves, giving them more opportunity to spread bacteria and viruses to one another.

To reduce the risk of summer pneumonia, Clark advises producers to not only manage these associated risks, but also understand that things like inclement weather will increase the rates of sickness beyond what can be controlled.

Clark says, “Cattle across the Plains endured prolonged weather stress this past winter, and many cows appear to be thinner than usual, even in areas not affected by the historic and devastating flooding. Due to the stress on cows caused by extended cold and wet weather, it is probable that there are a large percentage of calves that have received lower quality colostrum than usual this year. This is likely to predispose them to illness of all types, including summer pneumonia.

“Reports and personal communications have also suggested that there have already been many struggles with calf health across the state of Nebraska this spring. This should lead us to consider that this summer will be an especially important one in which to keep very close tabs on calf health, and if treatment is necessary, to intervene earlier rather than later.”

To read additional research on this subject, click here.

With the challenging weather we have been experiencing in 2019, tell me, are you struggling with summer pneumonia in calves?

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

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, July 23, 2019

Should we still be taking an aspirin to prevent heart attacks?

A former judge was dragged to jail after being convicted of using her power to help her brother.

The soybean crop is behind average progress.

Ryan Newman, veteran NASCAR driver, isn't a big beliver in the moon landing.

 

Photo: ironstealth/Getty Images