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Articles from 2020 In July


New TV show “Tough As Nails” celebrates everyday Americans

CBS Tough As Nails tough as nails.png

Does agriculture have a public relations problem?

Perception of who we are in agriculture has been a constant struggle we have faced as more consumers move away from rural communities in favor of urban life.

This problem has escalated in recent years for a multitude of reasons — one, greater efficiencies in the industry have resulted in fewer hands involved in the work of putting food on the table; two, an abundance of food at the grocery stores means people never have to worry about where their next meal will come from; and three, instead of people being able to witness first-hand how food is grown, information derived from social media, activists, politicians and Hollywood has resulted in more confusion than ever before.
As a result, it’s been difficult to find our common ground and our shared values. I’ve always believed, however, if we could sit down with our counterparts, we would find we care about the same things when it comes to purchasing food at the grocery store to feed our families — safety, nutrition, taste, affordability, environment and animal welfare.

Even knowing we share these commonalities, there’s still a great deal of work to be done to make agriculture cool and sexy once again.

The one silver lining of the pandemic has been the “essential workers,” those who provide the goods and services we need to function in our everyday lives, are in the spotlight. All of a sudden, we care more about where our toilet paper, hand sanitizer, meats, dairy, eggs and other products we can’t live without come from. There’s a stronger push to get to know the people behind the products, and the opportunities are great if we can take advantage of this open window to share our stories.

However, in the current political climate, you may want to simply go off the grid, ignore the craziness of the outside world, shut off the mainstream media and just keep working the land and raising the livestock you love.

I totally get it, and I go back and forth from feeling like I need to reach out to our consumers to thinking it’s time for me to shut down and hide away from the world for a bit.

If you need a distraction for a moment, may I suggest a television show that celebrates the hard-working Americans who provide the food, fiber and energy to support our country and the world.

CBS has a new show called, “Tough As Nails,” and a friend alerted me to this really awesome series. This all-new reality competition squares off everyday Americans who get their hands dirty while working long, hard hours to keep the country running. In season one, we get to meet a welder, firefighter, farmer, roofer and Marine Corps veteran, just to name a few.

According to CBS, “These competitors, who consider the calluses on their hands a badge of honor, will be tested for their strength, endurance, life skills, and, most importantly, mental toughness in challenges that take place at real-world job sites.

“One competitor will be crowned champion, but nobody will go home. Even after they "punch out" of the individual competition, they will have the opportunity to win additional prizes in the team competitions that continue throughout the season,” CBS said.

“‘I was inspired to create this show almost a decade ago because of my working-class family of farmers, gold miners, builders and coal miners," said host Phil Keoghan. ‘I'm proud of my family and wanted to shine a light on people who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to do a hard day's work. Now, more than ever, it is important for all of us to recognize this country's essential workers: real people in real life who are real tough.’”

Ohio farmer, Melissa Burns, represents agriculture well in the series.

She describes her typical day on the farm, “Every day is different. My day starts anywhere between 3:00 - 4:00 AM. House chores get completed, then depending on weather and the season you will find me in the fields or at the feed mill. We work before the sun comes up and will not stop until after dark or all the work is complete for that day.”

When asked what makes her tough as nails, Burns said, “Getting up every day and putting in the work. We don't do it for the money. We don't do it for anyone but ourselves. I am a tough farmer, a tough female farmer!”

The show airs every Wednesday night on CBS. Learn more about it here.

It’s shows like this that are a win-win because it brings rural America and those who work in these important fields to the forefront. When it comes to a public relations campaign for the food, fiber and energy industries, this one gets the job done. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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

Coronavirus vectors, regenerative ag and a beef update

Here's a question you might not have considered: Do mosquitos spread COVID-19? The answer, thankfully, is no. But in the latest episode of the Around Farm Progress podcast, P.J. Griekspoor, editor, Kansas Farmer, shares the story of a K-State mosquito expert who wasn't willing to take the "it's safe" message at face value. She offers insight into his research proving there's no worry.

Griekspoor is also following a three-year project supported by General Mills focusing on regenerative agriculture. She offers some background on the farmers involved and the work ahead.

Burt Rutherford, editor, BEEF Magazine, got to do something few have done in recent weeks – attend a meeting. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association held its summer business meeting in-person, and virtually, in Aurora, Colorado, and he attended. He offers a look at the business conducted. And even shares that while he was following those social distance and mask rules, that can still be hard.

More podcasts and coverage

Beyond Around Farm Progress we've got more podcasts to share. Check out all our podcast links at FarmProgress.com/farm-progress-podcasts to keep up on not only Around Farm Progress but daily updates from Max Armstrong, and more.

And if you want quick access to top news from Farm Progress, sign up for our mobile text service by texting FARM to 20505. Note that there may be a text or data cost for using the service.

The podcast Around Farm Progress goes live online by 3 p.m. Central time each Friday and will engage editors from around the country. And you can now subscribe through Spotify, Google Play and the Apple podcast app. Just search "Around Farm Progress" and subscribe so you don't miss an episode.

Farmers are getting their information in new ways. Farm Progress is a leader in reaching them as needed. From top magazines around the country to one of the first agriculture-focused mobile apps from Farm Futures, to the leading television presence with This Week in Agribusiness, the company covers all media for agriculture.

Comments or questions? Just send a note to [email protected]

Farm Futures Market Update

Farm Progress America, July 31, 2020

Max Armstrong reports on the news that USDA has opened public comments for final development of the new Dietary Guidelines. The development of the new nutrition guidelines are directed by a scientific committee has already seen 62,000 public comments. These guidelines help shape nutrition programs supported by USDA.

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.

Image: Abehoidar/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Minerals Matter – Introduction to mineral nutrition

Farm Progress Grazing cattle

Although their percentage of the diet is small, minerals pack a big punch in the beef cattle herd. Producers seeking solutions to poor pregnancy rates, weak newborn calves or other reproductive or performance issues should not overlook a thorough review of their beef herd mineral program. Often, deficiency in minerals surfaces as a factor influencing the health and nutrition of the beef animal.

“We are always learning more about what minerals can do and learning more about the basic needs of beef cattle nutrition,” Stephanie Hansen, Iowa State University beef feedlot nutrition specialist, told cattlemen during a webinar series on mineral nutrition hosted by NCBA. She noted minerals matter because they are important to the overall animal health, along with bone and muscle growth, feed efficiency, carcass quality, and reproductive performance. To develop the proper mineral nutrition program it is important to know the two main types of minerals associated with beef cattle diets: macro minerals and micro-minerals.

Macro minerals

“Macro-minerals are usually less than 1% of the diet, but are very important,” Hansen explained. Common macro minerals are calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P), and sodium (Na). Since beef animals cannot store macro minerals in their body, these minerals must be provided in a constant supply through the animal’s diet, either from feedstuffs or supplements.

Fortunately, forages supply macro minerals, meaning cattle grazing grasses have access to these critical minerals. Research indicates the ratio of calcium to phosphorous in the diet should be 1:1.

While many nutrient needs are met through forage consumption, a common misnomer is that grass tetany occurs in the spring because the grass is low in magnesium levels. This is not true, Hansen said.

The magnesium deficiency which causes grass tetany is the result of interference of other minerals in the grass, creating a decrease in absorption of magnesium at levels needed. The main culprit of this interference is potassium (K), which tends to be represented at high levels in forages in the spring, thus preventing the animal from obtaining the required magnesium levels and forcing producers to supplement the beef animal’s diet with a mineral high in magnesium, correcting the shortfall.

“The rule of thumb is a potassium to magnesium (K to Mg) ratio of 10:1. Nitrogen regularly used to fertilize grass and forages is also capable of creating interference with absorption levels of magnesium.”

Micro nutrients (trace minerals)

The other primary family of minerals important to beef cattle diets is micro minerals, more commonly referred to as trace minerals. “Fed at levels as parts per million (ppm), trace minerals are a very, very small part of the diet, yet cattle can still be deficient in these minerals, impacting productivity,” said Hansen.

Top of mind for cattlemen are copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn), as these two trace minerals are often deficient in forages. Unlike macro minerals, the ruminant can store trace minerals in their body to be utilized later, thus alleviating the need for access to the constant intake of trace minerals.

“Where monitoring of trace minerals becomes important is due to their great variability in forages.” However, one trace mineral abundant in forages and harvested feedstuffs is iron (Fe). Iron is commonly found at levels two to three times higher in forages than needed to balance nutritional requirements.

The concern with iron is its role as an antagonist. Iron acts as a buffer against some of the other critical trace minerals, such as copper and manganese, preventing them from being absorbed and utilized at levels to maintain proper cattle health and nutrition.

Finding the balance

The nutrition specialist is often asked, “Can cows balance their diets when their body indicates a deficiency in a mineral?” Unfortunately, the answer is no.

“Research has found that cattle will select a palatable but poor-quality diet in preference to an unpalatable, nutritious diet,” she said, “requiring constant management practices to focus on herd nutrition.” Salt has become the primary intake driver in most free choice minerals to add palatability to products and keep consumption levels up.

Following nutritional requirements is a good baseline, but “don’t assume the book averages apply in all cases.” Mineral content varies by plant species, soil characteristics, soil fertility, stage of plant maturity, and climatic conditions. To find minerals that matter to your cowherd, first test forages and second conduct water tests. Water can play the role of an antagonist in mineral bioavailability ̶ how much of the mineral the animal can absorb and use.

“No mineral is an island. You can’t just fix one problem; you need a holistic approach because a change in one mineral can mean a change in the other.”

B. Lynn Gordon is a freelance writer from Sioux Falls, S.D.

DGAC plows ahead with dietary guidelines, despite growing concern

Getty Images Dietary choice

Far from delaying, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Report early, all 835 pages. The 18-page Executive Summary is enough to spark considerable concern for red meat producers, even though lean meat is still on the list of permissible foods. Going into the detail in Chapter 1 contains good news, bad news and confusion.

Considering the DGAC was actually weighing whether or not red meat would be actually allowed at all in the 2015 guidelines, its inclusion in the 2020 guidelines is a victory. That might be the result of assiduous work from associations providing research data to USDA.

While the report is not comforting for the future of animal products, there are some glimmers of hope. There are also contradictory impulses in the report, as it mentions some Americans not getting enough protein and iron, for example, or vitamin B-12 or calcium. Beef is one of the best sources of protein, iron and vitamin B-12 and diary is an excellent source of calcium. Yet these are discouraged by the DGAC.

Saturated fats

The hang-up seems to be saturated fats provided by animal products, palm and coconut oil. Despite the fact that human beings have been eating meat for millennia and getting smarter and living longer, the DGAC states that there is absolutely no Daily Recommended Intake for saturated fats. Indeed, allowing less than 10% of the daily intake as saturated fats is a capitulation for the committee. 

Multiple times the report states that Americans would be better off with less red and processed meat, fewer added sugars, less sodium and alcoholic beverages in our diets. There are only three recommended diet patterns. One is a vegetarian pattern, devoted to the very small percentage of Americans following that pattern. That an entire pattern is devoted to possibly 5% of the population makes one wonder if the committee wants to encourage that pattern.

The committee seems unaware that the link between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol has been largely discredited and likewise the connection between serum cholesterol and heart disease. But they express concern that “In adults 20 years and older, the overall prevalence of high total cholesterol is still more than 10 percent.” 

Ten percent. In other words, the DGAC would change the entire population’s diet for the 10% whose bodily feedback mechanism is faulty and overproduces a crucial bodily compound.

To further muddy waters, the committee notes that “Because dietary cholesterol is found only in animal-source foods that are typically also sources of saturated fat, the independent effects of dietary cholesterol on CVD [cardiovascular disease] are difficult to assess.”

More than 50 years of research and the committee’s own review has not resolved fault, so why is the committee recommending consumption limits?

The answer seems to be that the apparent war on saturated fats, animal products and cholesterol needs all the reasons, or alleged reasons, the committee can find.

The committee’s report doesn’t mention that diet is only a minor cholesterol source. Most of the cholesterol needed for critical body functions the body produces itself.

There is a substantial body of scientific evidence building that saturated fats are not detrimental to long-term health outcomes but are also beneficial, in particular in preventing stroke. That news has not reached the committee, but many nutritionist and health experts worldwide are aware and will keep hammering that point.

There’s more

While the DGAC keeps preaching that Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, there is also evidence accumulating that there are substantial health benefits to low carbohydrate diets, something the committee has rumored to have studied on the quiet but did not include in their report.

The committee is expressing more concern about the 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. They see the overconsumption of “energy,” i.e. calories, as a problem of eating too much of the categories of “burgers and sandwiches” and “added sugars.” Carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables are not regarded as problematic.

The committee seems confused on America’s dietary trends. The report says, “The American dietary landscape has not changed appreciably over time.” Yet USDA data shows that even consumption of fruits and vegetables has declined in recent years. Red meat consumption has declined, yet total meat consumption is up because of increased poultry consumption. 

The report goes on to say Americans overconsume “total energy, saturated fat, sodium, added sugars, and for some consumers, alcoholic beverages.” Notice what company the committee lumps saturated fats with, categorizing all but energy per se and alcohol as “food components of public health concern.”

Added sugars account for 13% of the diet and include sweetened beverages, desserts and sweet snacks, coffee and tea with additions, candy and sugars and breakfast cereals and bars. The Committee recommends cutting that percentage to 6%.

The recommendations on dietary patterns managed to hammer red meat twice in one paragraph but add to the confusion by recommending lean meat and poultry. The list of dietary patterns associated with positive health outcomes includes higher intake of “lean meat and poultry” and low consumption of red and processed meats.

Negative health outcomes were characterized by higher intake of red and process meats. The same recommendations are repeated in the “Dietary Fats” section. During the meeting on the draft report, one of the committee members had to drag out of the presenter the admission that “lean meat” included red meat in many studies.

That completes the picture revealed elsewhere in the meeting, that red meat is one of those “crossover” foods that is on both sides of the dietary debate. In addition, many animal foods including eggs contain both saturated and unsaturated fats, yet the DGAC wants to lower the 10% limit on saturated fats, wants to increase unsaturated fats and says there is “no biological requirement” for saturated fats. Confused yet?

The committee report also said certain topics were very important and strongly encouraged USDA and HHS to examine them: the food environment, the overall food system or strategies to support behavior change. My loose translation: We’re producing food incorrectly; our food presentation leads to people eat the wrong things and they haven’t figured out how to get us to eat what they think we should. That would include Americans eating too many “burgers and sandwiches.”

Comments on the final report are due by Aug. 13 at this link: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FNS-2020-0015-0001.

Steve Dittmer is a longtime beef industry commentator and executive vice president of the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation. The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

Beef producers hammer out compromise policy on addressing price discovery

timsa / Getty Images Compromise

It was long. It was contentious, sometimes heated and passionate. But in the end, it resulted in a compromise that gives the beef business a way forward to tackle the tough issue of price discovery for fed cattle.

Like me, nobody had any illusions going into NCBA’s Live Cattle Marketing Committee at the cattle industry Summer Meeting in Denver. A confluence of events had brought matters to a head: Market disruptions from the Tyson fire; market disruptions, plant processing problems and shutdowns due to COVID-19; the market investigations by the government; the re-introduction of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s mandatory negotiated cash bill and unrest in the country. 

All the angst and disappointment in the cattle market culminated in Denver. Should the beef industry investigate a regulatory/legislative fix to price discovery or would a voluntary approach be better? To its credit, though, NCBA went to great lengths to make sure this issue was fully aired and debated. The question was whether or not all this gathering momentum could be harnessed to propel progress.

All this suggested a long, complex, heartfelt and passionate committee session. It did not disappoint. Fully 100 cattlemen and cattlewomen with voting cards were present in the main committee room, with another 80 in the overflow room and over a dozen affiliates connected via the internet to monitor the session, make comments and register votes. 

Through it all, the members kept a gentlemanly and gentlewomanly demeanor. The chairman, Stephen Sunderman from Nebraska, made sure everyone had their turn to speak and a professional parliamentarian minded the procedure. Which was a wise choice, because it was a parliamentarian’s dream.

Not only did dozens of well-known names speak up and conduct adroit parliamentary moves to advance their causes, people from all types and sizes of operations from around the country got a chance to voice their opinions, introduce amendments and vote. I can’t remember when a NCBA committee meeting produced over a half-dozen roll call votes. But this one did, with votes on amendments, amendments to amendments and finally resolutions themselves. 

Nobody disagreed on the overarching issue—that more robust price discovery is needed in the fed cattle market. The debate centered on how best to make that happen.

In the process, over some five hours of debate and with amendments, resolutions from both sides of the debate came to resemble each other. Both agreed in terms of acknowledgment of the industry situation, intent to utilize the research and data available, the quest for more transparency faster, and the agreement that some steps needed to be taken sooner rather than later.

Legislative fix?

The contention really boiled down to one word—legislation. Many individuals and groups had given up on the hope that voluntary action could or would do anything to increase the percentage of negotiated cash marketing of fed cattle. Some folks acknowledged the dangers in getting government involved but felt they had no choice to preserve the long-term survivability of their operations. Others seemed confident that the industry could remain in control of legislation in Congress and get what they wanted without interference. Their resolution called for NCBA to pursue legislative or regulatory action.

The other contingent remained opposed to government intervention, feeling it was against historical industry philosophy, dangerous because of politicians’ natural inclinations to interfere with business and the forced elimination of some cattle operations’ abilities to do business as they saw fit. They wanted to pursue a number of intermediate, voluntary steps to boost negotiated cash markets.

The taskforce created at the cattle industry winter convention in February had been meeting on a frequent, regular basis, with representation from multiple industry sectors, operation sizes and geographic regions. Besides evaluating the data, consulting with researchers like Steve Koontz from Colorado State University and discussing lots of ideas, they also created two subcommittees. One subcommittee examined the potential of the “bid the grid” concept, with the base price of any formulas reported so as to transparently increase the price discovery database. Another looked at the market maker concept used by other stocks and commodities.

In a series of roll call votes on amendments and amendments to amendments, the contingent opposing government intervention prevailed, but by relatively narrow margins. Neither of the base resolutions as amended had come to a final vote as the meeting neared the four-hour mark on this one agenda item. The chairman then called for a recess, apparently to provide opportunity for some sideline negotiating on some kind of compromise.

Finally, some agreement

Obviously, I didn’t sit in on those discussions or read anyone’s minds. But the attitude of the leading spokesmen for both contingents coming out of nearly an hour of discussions suggested what happened. The following is my speculation.

This bedrock issue had nearly even support on both sides. The close preliminary votes suggested that the folks opposed to government intervention could very possibly have prevailed, but at the cost of nearly as many people very unhappy with the outcome.

It appears the groups decided on a compromise that accomplished a lot of what both sides wanted but with steps spelled out to advance the core desire—real results in increasing transparent cash-negotiated trade. Triggers and deadlines both determined and to be determined were included, with legislative action to follow if voluntary steps did not get results. After nearly five hours of vigorous debate and parliamentary work, the committee, and subsequently the board of directors, was able to pass a resolution unanimously.

The key part of the resolution said that NCBA supports a voluntary approach increasing “frequent and transparent negotiated trade to regionally sufficient” levels, to “achieve robust price discovery determined by NCBA funded and directed research in all major cattle feeding regions.” The other key element was “triggers to be determined by a working group of NCBA producer leaders by Oct. 1, 2020.”

The resolution went on to specify that if the voluntary approach does not achieve robust price discovery and meet the triggers, NCBA will pursue legislative or regulatory solutions as membership decides. In addition, the resolution called for a three-year review/sunset provision on any negotiated trade solutions implemented to allow for a thorough cost-benefit analysis to be conducted.

Some other related resolutions were renewed or amended. The Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) program is up for reauthorization Sept. 30. Tanner Beymer, committee staffer, said the House and Senate Ag Committee staffers had warned that with the crowded legislative calendar, any substantive changes to the bill could jeopardize getting it passed in time. 

The committee passed the resolution supporting continuing the LMR program. Committee members also passed a resolution calling for next day by 11:00 a.m. reporting of average carcass weights. Another resolution calls for USDA to create a library of the various types of contracts offered by packers to provide equal access to market information for all participants. The committee also extended the tenure of the Working Group until at least the annual convention in 2021.

As one NCBA officer commented, democracy can get muddy and messy, but it can work, given time and opportunity.

Here is the final compromise resolution approved by the NCBA Board of Directors:

WHEREAS, a competitive fed-cattle market, based on multiple price discovery points, is necessary to achieve robust price discovery that sends proper price signals throughout the supply chain, and

WHEREAS, robust price discovery is vital for all cattle market participants, and

WHEREAS, properly functioning cash and futures markets require transparent distribution of market information and regionally sufficient negotiated trade to achieve robust price discovery, and

WHEREAS, Livestock Mandatory Reporting defines negotiated trade as a cash or spot market purchase of cattle by a packer or negotiation of a base price, from which premiums are added and discounts are subtracted, and

WHEREAS, the bid-and-offer cash fed cattle trade remains the primary base factor for fed cattle value determination on a nationwide basis, including those transacted on alternative marketing mechanisms, and

WHEREAS, all fed cattle market participants have a shared responsibility to contribute to regionally sufficient levels of negotiated trade in all cattle feeding regions to achieve robust price discovery,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, NCBA supports a voluntary approach that: 1) Increases frequent and transparent negotiated trade to regionally sufficient level, to achieve robust price discovery determined by NCBA funded and directed research in all major cattle feeding regions, and 2) Includes triggers to be determined by a working group of NCBA producer leaders by October 1, 2020.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, if the voluntary approach does not achieve robust price discovery as determined by NCBA funded and directed research, and meet the established triggers that increase frequent and transparent negotiated trade to a regionally sufficient level, and triggers are activated, NCBA will pursue a legislative or regulatory solution determined by the membership.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCBA support a three-year review/sunset provision on any negotiated trade solutions implemented to allow for a thorough cost benefit analysis to be conducted.

You can access the document here.

Steve Dittmer is a longtime beef industry commentator and executive vice president of the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation. The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

Power of Meat | Consumer perspectives on animal welfare

Nevil Speer Power of Meat | Animal Welfare

The annual Power of Meat 2020 study provides a comprehensive look into various trends driving consumer behavior and perspectives. Accordingly, it’s subtitled, “An in-depth look at meat through the shopper’s eyes.” The report is published by FMI (The Food Industry Association) and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education, prepared by 210 Analytics LLC and primarily sponsored by Cryovac (a division of Sealed Air)

There are many important take-aways out of the study; Industry At A Glance has highlighted several of those in recent weeks, including:

  1. Basic trends in terms of what’s important to shoppers. Most notably, the brand/consumer relationship is becoming more important with time. 
  2. The importance of transparency with a majority of shoppers desiring more information about how/where livestock were raised and processed.  Fifty-five percent of consumers believe meat and poultry brands should provide that information; meanwhile, 68% believe it’s important for grocery stores to do so. 
  3. Response to the statement: “Ranchers take measures to minimize impact of animal farming on environment.”  Most significant are responses broken out by category:
  • Gender: Men were much more likely than women to respond favorably (47 vs 35%, respectively)
  • Age: The favorable response was fairly consistent across all age groups. However, the negative response rate consistently rises with each step down in age group. The net outcome being Gen Z (18-23 years old) respondents were twice as likely to disagree with the statement versus Boomers (56-75 years of age): 34 vs 17%, respectively.

That brings us to this week’s illustration. It features consumer response to the question of whether or not animal welfare for livestock in the U.S. is sufficient. Overall, 43% of shoppers agree with that assessment – down 8% from the 2019 study. 

Meanwhile, much like the environmental assessment, the categorical responses are especially important. Once again, men were more likely to respond “yes” compared with women (51% vs 38%, respectively). And the age trend also remains intact. That is, the negative response consistently rises with each subsequent generation. For example, only 17% of Boomers (56-75 years of age) expressed disagreement that animal welfare for U.S. livestock is sufficient or satisfactory. However, 40% of Gen Z respondents (18-23 years of age) responded in the negative.  

Nevil SpeerPower of Meat | Animal Welfare

As noted last week, based on those results, the meat industry (including beef) has work ahead to build and maintain loyalty among younger shoppers – particularly when it comes to environmental and animal welfare concerns. Coupled with greater demands for transparency, going forward there’ll be greater need to ensure both implementation and documentation of best management practices throughout the supply chain. 

Doing so is critical to earning consumer trust – that’s especially important in an ever-increasingly competitive protein market.       

Nevil Speer is based in Bowling Green, Ky. and serves as director of industry relations for Where Food Comes From (WFCF). The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of WFCF or its shareholders. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

Typical summer slump in cow and feeder market

It was a typical summer week with a smaller run of feeder cattle with 25,200 head at the test auctions. However, the recent good rains helped with more active bidding on lighter weight yearlings and calves with prices mostly $2-6 higher. The heavier yearlings were steady to weaker appearing to be topping out.

Slaughter cows also saw a smaller run of cows with 4,200 head at the test auctions. However the slaughter cow prices were quite a bit higher again this week, and were mostly $3-5 higher even though the cow meat prices continue to slip lower.

 

 

Meat Market Update | Did the market find it's bottom?

The daily spot Choice box beef cutout ended the week on Friday, July 24 at $201.77, which was $1.30 higher compared to previous Friday.  Last year it was $212.17. The graph shows that the cutout leveled out and firmed up lately, hopefully finding the bottom prior to the next grilling holiday. In fact, it was $202.96 on Tuesday, July 28, continuing to get higher.

There were 7,753 total loads sold for the week which was 727 loads higher than the previous week. Total loads sold was helped along by the exports this week.

The exports as reported on the box beef report were 1,749 loads and that was 838 loads higher compared to the previous week. 123 loads were sold to our NAFTA neighbors and 1,626 loads were going overseas. This very impressive number is actually the highest week shown on the graph, really helped by the overseas volume which has increased quite a bit since 2009. The NAFTA volume has mostly been slipping slightly lower since 2009.

 

Farm Progress America, July 30, 2020

Max Armstrong points to changes in food demand. For example, consumer demand for potatoes is rising fast, even as the food service demand falls. From March 16 through June 16, retail sales up 32%. Max digs into some new potato stats showing that spud demand remains strong for consumers.

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: iStock/Getty Images News