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Husker Harvest Days to feature new beef programs

CATTLE TALK: Three new beef programs are being added to Husker Harvest Days this year at the Livestock Industries Building arena. The events will be Sept. 10-11.

Since 1988, Lot 860 at what is now the Livestock Industries Building at the corner of Eighth Street and West Avenue in Grand Island, Neb., has been the site of live cattle handling. Big crowds at Husker Harvest Days always enjoy seeing side-by-side comparisons of cattle-processing chutes, along with narration and commentary from Dr. Joe Jeffrey.

But this year, in addition to cattle handling, new beef programming also will be headquartered at the same location. With cattle handling scheduled at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. each day, new beef programs have been added at the Livestock Industries Building arena at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday of the show, Sept. 10-11.

The 11 a.m. program will include BEEF Magazine author and contributor Amanda Radke with her presentation, "Fake meat: What is the real story and what you need to know?" Radke, a fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., is well-known for a career dedicated to serving as a voice for the nation's beef producers.

When she is not writing, Radke is traveling the country speaking to elementary school students about the beef industry and reading her children's book, "Levi's Lost Calf."

At noon, Burt Rutherford, BEEF Magazine senior editor, will talk about "The beef business in an era of uncertainty." A Colorado native, Rutherford was communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communication director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.

Then at 1 p.m. on those first two days of the show, Beef Producer editor Alan Newport will give his presentation, "Great grazing for profit." Newport, who resides in north-central Oklahoma, has been writing and editing agriculture magazines and involved in cattle production on and off for 30 years.

Along with beef programming and live cattle handling, visitors to the Livestock Industries Building can expect to visit with numerous livestock exhibitors, learning more about how to meet and beat their bottom line and to communicate the good news about the livestock industry to consumers.

Farm Progress America, July 18, 2019

Max Armstrong shares insight on the politically charged issue of climate change based on a recent hearing on Capitol Hill. Max shares insight from one speaker – Ohio Farmer Fred Yoder, a long-time leader in the National Corn Growers Association – who talked about the challenge of politicizing the issue. And former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, also talked about the challenge of a changing climate and the opportunity for ag.

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: oticki/iStock/Getty Images Plus

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, July 17, 2019

Heat indexes are going to rise over the next few days.

Private analysts say farmers need to be cautious in their marketing.

Police removed close to 75 cats from an Illinois home.

A rented ATV went off a cliff in Ohio and both men on it were killed.

A Wisconsin woman was convicted of murder 29 years ago, and was just released.

American Bovine Foundation aims to support next generation of vets


As many of you know, earlier this year I wrote a children’s book, titled, "Can-Do Cowkids," which was published by the Georgia Beef Board and illustrated by Michelle Weber. The book highlights the many people who help get beef from pasture to plate, including ranchers, stockers, feeders, nutritionists, etc.

One of my favorite pages in the book is the inclusion of a veterinarian. Our five-year old daughter, Scarlett, dreams of becoming a veterinarian one day, so the illustration in the book reflects a female veterinarian for her to aspire to.

It doesn’t matter whether or not she actually becomes a veterinarian one day, but I’m thankful that on our ranch, we have a strong team of men and women veterinarians who help ensure our cattle are healthy through proper protocols, management strategies and a solid vaccination program.

While our community is blessed with a long list of practicing veterinarians, each having their own individual skillsets for us to utilize, some rural communities are struggling to recruit and retain veterinarians.

This challenge is made worse by the crushing student debt that veterinarians must endure to pursue a career. In fact, the average debt of a veterinary student was $166,714 in 2017.

I was recently alerted to an organization that seeks to remedy some of the financial obstacles facing large animal veterinarians today. The American Bovine Foundation is on a mission to improve large animal husbandry, genetics and health by increasing the number and availability or rural practitioners in cattle-raising areas of the United States.

According to the organization, “We further wish to help provide education to high school and college students through the support of scholarships, grants and continuing education, with an ultimate goal to support the progression of bovine and/or large animal science through the research of genetics by means of satellite research facilities.”

The American Bovine Federation explains that the number of new large animal veterinarian practitioners has been declining over the last 25 years as students pursue equine and small animal health careers.

However, because of advancements in selective breeding through embryonic science, the need for these specialists for livestock producers is greater than ever.

So, what specifically is the American Bovine Foundation doing to remedy these challenges and help young people take advantage of opportunities in the field of large animal veterinary medicine?

The Mississippi-based foundation was created to operate as a non-profit organization for the financial benefit of veterinarian students, encouraging the next generation of large animal practices and training the next generation for improving cattle genetics.

This year, the foundation will award one $50,000 grant to a graduating senior from each of the nation’s 31 veterinary schools. The foundation also will present $58,000 in scholarships to high school students through speech contest and internship programs. A total of $2,658,000 in grants and scholarships will be presented annually to those students chosen as recipients.

To accomplish this, the foundation has put together a sweepstakes that features 100 superior donor heifers from the top registered cattle producers in the United States.

“For a $50 tax deductible donation, you receive a confirmation email with an electronically registered ticket, making you eligible for an opportunity to own a once-in-a-lifetime donor female,” said Wallace Danos, American Bovine Foundation vice president. “The heifer could possibly change the direction of your personal program and seedstock portfolio forever. Only 1,000 opportunities at $50 each will be offered on each individual heifer, totaling $50,000 in donations per individual heifer to the American Bovine Foundation. Our goal is to contribute $1,550,000 annually to 31 individual universities. Through your generous donation, we can achieve our goals in preserving our rural veterinarians.”

To learn more about the sweepstakes or to check out the mission of the foundation, click here.

I think anything we can do to help the next generation of bovine veterinary practitioners is beneficial to all of us. A shortage of good veterinarians in rural areas continues to be an ongoing challenge for ranchers, and I think the American Bovine Foundation has found a way to address this issue moving forward.

On that note, if you wish to support this effort further, the American Bovine Foundation is hosting its inaugural Gala and Expo at the Brazos County Expo in Bryan, Texas, on Sept. 7-8. The event will include supreme heifers on exhibit, a trade show, dinner, live auction and dancing with music by Austin Allsup and Randy Brown.  

For tickets and information, visit or call 622-4-BOVINE. That’s 622-426-8463.

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

Is a China beef deal in the offing?

Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images Presidents Trump and Xi

It is my pleasure to once again attend the International Livestock Identification Association (ILIA) annual meeting, this year in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. ILIA is a group comprised of brand inspectors and others involved in livestock law enforcement in the Western states.

They are, of course, very interested in livestock identification and have been for the past 73 years. But animal ID has moved past branding and ear tags, and this group of dedicated men and women works hard at staying up-to-date with the newest technology. I’ll bring you more on that as time goes by.

But the group also works to stay current on what’s happening in the beef business. To that end, NCBA Past President Kevin Kester gave an update on the international beef trade. That’s an area fraught with uncertainty as President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer work toward negotiating and renegotiating a number of trade agreements. Kester also serves Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary of Ag Perdue on the Ag Policy Advisory Committee on Trade.

READ: U.S. beef exports shatter annual record

China, of course, is on the radar of many beef producers. And Kester is cautiously optimistic that a trade deal will eventually be worked out.

Kester says that NCBA, and agriculture generally, fully supports the President in his actions with China, even though it's painful, especially for the soybean sector and pork sector and others. “President Trump, I think, is going to come out on top of this at the end of the day on our behalf. And so we are fully supporting his efforts to come up with what's best for the American producer and farmer/rancher as it relates to trade in China.”

After years of being locked out of beef trade with China, the U.S. gained access in July of 2017. “It's been a small market, $5, $6 million a month. And then when the President slapped Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S., the Chinese retaliated, they put an extra 25% here on U.S. beef. So we effectively have a 37% tariff into China,” Kester says. 

“So that put us at a real competitive disadvantage. And we've dropped 40% off a very small market into China. So China is one spot I think we just need to hold firm.”

Kester told the group that Ambassador Lighthizer told him that the U.S. was just a few weeks away from finalizing a trade agreement with China. And then they changed theirminds on many of the points that had already been negotiated and backed out of the deal.

That was a couple of months ago. Then, at the G20 meeting two or three weeks ago, Trump and President Xi got back together. “Now talks are back on schedule and Ambassador Lighthizer, our negotiating teams are back engaged with the Chinese government. And so trade talks are back on.

READ: Beef's trade balance sets new record

“Now where that's going to lead I have high hopes, I’m cautiously optimistic, but the Chinese are tough, tough, tough negotiators. And so we'll have to wait and see what eventually happens. But I will say, based upon the economic numbers, the Chinese government is being hurt worse by our tariffs on their imports into the U.S. than vice versa. They're suffering more than us and their economy is starting a show it. So even though it's a tough pill to swallow, I'm hoping that the Chinese will say, okay, let's come to the mutually beneficial agreement.”

Kester told the group that it won’t be easy. But the Chinese market is important. “The U.S. Meat Export Federation did an economic analysis. Their numbers are, if we opened up beef trade without the restrictions that we currently have in China on hormones, for example, that within five years, U.S. beef can do $4 billion a year into China.” That would equal half the value of current U.S. beef exports, he says.

Kester has been to Beijing and says the millennials in China have a lot of disposable income. “Go out on a week night, all the venues around the city are full; full of millennials out spending money. They have the money, they want to spend it and they'll spend it on U.S. beef because we’re high quality, grain-fed product that the rest of the world can’t provide. So a real opportunity.”

Kester is the fifth generation on his California ranch. "I've got seventh generation grandkids on the ranch and the export markets that we do will keep my seventh generation and your next generation in business."


MORNING Midwest Digest, July 17, 2019

We're in for a heat wave over the next few days.

The USMCA may be passed this fall.

Which states are least violent?

Families who've lost members to truck accidents are asking for more measures to make roads safer.

Not all distracted driving is people being on the phone. 


Photo: coffeekai/Getty Images


Farm Progress America, July 17, 2019

Max Armstrong offers a look at the soybean industry marking a one-year anniversary of trade tariffs on agriculture. Max shares what soybean industry leaders are saying about trade agreements that need movement. The focus is the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, which if passed can show the world that the country can reach agreements and get them passed.

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: Willie Vogt

Where’s the corn market headed?

Neviil Speer July 2019 Corn Market Outlook

An interesting phenomenon occurred last week following USDA’s release of the July WASDE report. First, as expected, USDA raised the acreage estimate from 89.8 million acres (June estimate) to 91.7 million acres, based on estimates from the Acreage report released on June 28. As a side note, the agency’s June 28 acreage report caught the market off-sides – the nearly 92-million acres was unexpected and served to drive the market lower in the short term.  

However, the July WASDE report resulted in ending stocks being revised upwards from 1.675 billion bushels to 2.010 billion bushels. Accordingly, USDA revised the average farm price down from $3.80 per bushel to $3.70 per bushel.

The corn-ending stocks also caught the market off-sides. That’s because the average trade estimate (depending on your source) was roughly right in line with the June WASDE number. And even the highest trade estimates didn’t have carryover exceeding 2 billion bushels.  

While the market may have been caught off-sides, it played on through and completely disregarded the new information. That is, although USDA provided a bigger ending stocks number, the market found strength to the upside.

In fact, in the two days that followed, both the September and the December contract added 19 cents on sizeable volume. Some of that strength may be directly attributed to concerns about tropical storm Barry and its potential impact on the crop in the southern U.S.   

Nevertheless, the market saw a bigger number and yet traded higher. USDA noted that, “In July, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will collect updated information on 2019 acres planted, and if the newly collected data justify any changes, NASS will publish updated acreage estimates in the August Crop Production report.” 

Neviil SpeerJuly 2019 Corn Market Outlook

That statement underscores the broader uncertainty surrounding this year’s crop – it’s all subject to change. Markets hate uncertainty and often work off the adage of “buy the rumor, sell the fact.” In other words, as long as there’s uncertainty, the market will likely remain volatile and continue to push higher.  

This week’s illustration highlights the influence this is having on key cash markets. The average Omaha price is now above $4.50, and the Texas Triangle is encroaching on $5.00 – levels not seen since 2014. And as long as there’s this tension in the corn market, there’ll also be some limit to how much feeder cattle prices can recover. There’s a lot that can happen yet before 2019’s corn crop is a sure thing. Stay posted!

Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, Ky. Contact him at [email protected]

Beef earns prime-time spot on FOX’s MasterChef

Beef Checkoff grilled-steak-and-watermel copy.png

I’m a strong proponent of the Beef Checkoff program. It’s a great way to collectively leverage our dollar to promote beef, educate consumers, address misconceptions and advance beef nutrition and cattle production research.

Yet, it seems like many of our dollars must be spent promoting the program to our ranching peers or fighting off a lawsuit that seeks to dismantle the checkoff entirely. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but I’ll continue to celebrate the wins our investments in the checkoff have accomplished.

One of the key ways we can be effective in promoting beef is to get our product in front of consumers in relevant ways through popular culture.

We’ve seen this theory at work with the American Ninja Warrior, Team Beef and Chuck Knows Beef, just to name a few.

This week, beef will have a prime-time spot on FOX in a new MasterChef challenge. Tune into MasterChef Season 10 on July 18 at 7:00 p.m. CST to see how chefs use various popular beef cuts.

Given that it’s National Grilling Month, this is a timely promotion that targets a specific demographic of folks who watch this show for cooking ideas and inspiration. It’s great to know that beef will be front and center on MasterChef, and in countless other ways this summer.

Cheers to the Beef Checkoff for this partnership. I look forward to tuning into the episode. How about you?

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

MORNING Midwest Digest, July 16, 2019

Road construction projects were delayed this spring due to rains, so there are many places with lane restrictions. Along one of those stretches, a mother and her two daughters died on Sunday.

Farmers have been actively seeking info about how to grow and market hemp.

Crop conditions improved over the past week.

Regulators in Michigan are continuing a ban on baiting and feeding deer to help curb CWD.

Tavern owners in Green Bay hope the city will allow patrons to park on the street overnight.


Photo: Arina_Bogachyova/Getty Images