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Articles from 2019 In August

This Week in Agribusiness, Aug. 31, 2019

Part 1

Max, Orion and Greg Soulje bring you the show from Farm Progress Show, and Greg offers an early weather outlook.

Max and Orion visit with Sonny Perdue about trade, including a phone call from President Trump.

Steve Nicholson, Rabo Agrifinance, joins the show to share a market outlook.

Part 2

Steve Nicholson is back, talking about commodity demand and marketing advice.

Chad Colby talks about the new technology featured at Farm Progress Show, including automation.

Steve Bridge talked with corn growers about demand for the crop. Kevin Ross, National Corn Growers Association, shares his thoughts.

Part 3

Max and Orion recap the Half Century of Progress Show.

Part 4

Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau, joins Max and Orion to talk about the Washington issues, including farm labor.

Greg Soulje is back with a weather outlook for the week ahead.

Part 5

Greg Soulje is back with an extended weather forecast.

Part 6

There’s a 1960 Oliver 880 Diesel in Max’s Tractor Shed this week.

The FFA Chapter Tribute goes to Humansville FFA in Missouri.

Orion marvels at the land that he’s seen while flying above farm country, as well as the farmers who farm it in Samuelson Sez.

Part 7

Steve Bridge reports on hemp farming, talking with Geoff Whaling, National Hemp Association.

Yes, cows really do benefit the planet!


In 2006, the United Nations released a report that claimed cattle were the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Although that report has since been thoroughly debunked, the myth persists. And now, more than ever before, we are seeing a greater push for meatless diets, which people believe will help curb climate change.

Yesterday’s blog post discussed why this has become such an issue. Even as we jet from one side of the country to the other, we still think it’s the lowly and humble beef cow that is causing climate change.

It’s an exhausting exercise trying to share information, and lately, it’s been a daily effort on social media for me to address some of the outright lies being spread about animal agriculture.

Lest we grow tired and weary of combatting these misconceptions, I wanted to share some good news about cattle and the environment. Of course, producers already know how critical livestock are to the delicate balance of the ecosystem, but it’s nice to see it published in the media, as well.

Here is a roundup of recent headlines, which showcase why cattle are beneficial to the land:

1. “The value of grazing: The benefits just don’t stop” featured on the Public Lands Council

According to the article, “Land that is grazed by livestock plays an important role in carbon sequestration, a practice that stores carbon from the atmosphere in soil and plants. But the benefits do not stop here. Livestock play an important role in human food production, converting human-inedible feed into nutritious beef and lamb.”

2. “If you want healthy wildlife, you need healthy ranches” by Kathy Voth for On Pasture

Voth writes, “Researchers at the University of California – Santa Barbara revealed a clear link between the economic health of ranches and maintaining habitat for the greater sage grouse, a bird that has been the focus of public land policy debates for years.”

3. VIDEO: “Profiles in soil health: “Feeding the cattle above & below ground” by USDA NRCS South Dakota

Rancher Andrew Snyder says, “All the different bugs of the soil that are taking it apart, that are disassembling a complex item that the cow put on the ground, and they’re taking that back into the soil for the benefit of everything else that’s growing to make the whole cycle start again.”

4. “Cattle grazing on Arizona trust land isn't just about the money” by Benny Aja for AZ Central

Aja writes, “Much of our state lands currently under grazing are not suitable for other enterprises. Yet the forage grown on these lands can be used by cattle to produce an agricultural product while the water we maintain for our cattle also allows wildlife to thrive.”

5. "'Cows are awesome': Working Grasslands Partnership uses managed cattle grazing to benefit habitat and wildlife in North Dakota" by Brad Dokken for the Grand Forks Herald

Dokken writes, “A conservation biologist calls the program 'a win-win-win system' that comes with benefits for landowners, livestock and wildlife.”

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

Labor Day: Because hard work still counts in America


I recently read an article about “brain drain” in rural America, which explained the trend of highly educated people leaving low populated states, like where I live in South Dakota, in favor of more urban areas.

Folks interviewed for the story cited more job opportunities in the fields of technology and engineering. They desired more cultural diversity and openness to ideas. And they ultimately wanted to ditch their one-horse towns in favor of more exciting, entertaining and dynamic locations.

I read the article with sadness as it described how increasingly difficult it is to recruit trained professionals to work in rural schools and hospitals. The article also pointed out how this widening gap between rural and urban America has increased the political polarization in this country.

Our lives and experiences in rural and urban America differ so greatly that it’s often difficult to find common ground in some of these hot topic debates.

Take, for example, discussions around climate change. Every day I read countless articles that essentially conclude if we are to save the planet, we must go meatless. This is written as fact and completely disregards that the very heart of agriculture — whether you’re eating peanut butter or beef — supports human life.

Certainly, every food we eat has a carbon footprint; however, food is essential to survival.

What’s more, common sense (which isn’t so common anymore, even in the highly educated) would dictate that heavily used things like transportation and electricity contribute more emissions than the simple beef cow.
But what would I know? I live in a rural state where cows outnumber people four to one. If the emissions from the beef cow were so great, there would be smog over Artesian, S.D. (population 140) where I live, not in concrete urban jungles like Los Angeles or New York City.

Simply stated, we cannot eat our way out of climate change because every food we grow uses natural resources. People should feel free to eat what they want without guilt and they should have the facts when they do so.

I’ve written on climate change many times on this blog, negating the claims that the beef cow is the number-one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and explaining how ranchers sustainably use land and water to produce more beef today with fewer cattle.

While we can talk these numbers until we are blue in the face, we are still being largely ignored by the general population. Perhaps we could approach it from a nutrition standpoint. Calorie for calorie, beef provides more bang for your buck than lettuce or tofu. Yet, are those numbers ever figured into the climate change discussions?

I didn’t intend for this blog post to deep dive into emissions and climate change. When I started typing, I had plans to discuss Labor Day. I promise, I’m getting there.

I give the myth of climate change and cattle as an example of the widening urban and rural divide. In rural America, hard-working producers are utilizing every drop of water, every acre of land and every input in order to efficiently and sustainably raise crops and livestock to feed and nourish a growing planet.

The “brain power” at work in rural America is great! Every day, producers are utilizing drones, artificial insemination, embryonic transfers, GPS, data collection, electronic identification, etc. to be better at their trade. These tools are implemented with educated minds, strong backs and a willingness to work against the odds. Each day, producers face an onslaught of media criticism, market uncertainty, unpredictable weather and huge financial risk.

Even as the rest of the world discounts the lowly agriculturalist, I believe our hard work still matters in America. After all, food security is national security. Without access to safe, affordable food, famine, war and civil unrest will become the norm.

The article about “brain drain” basically discounted the educated folks working in the blue collar jobs like agriculture, energy and timber. It’s these folks who make eating, keeping the lights on and our cars running a simplicity that we take for granted.

We no longer have to hunt to eat. We don’t have to chop firewood to heat our homes. We can hop in a car, train or plane to get places instead of a covered wagon. And we can do these things because of the fundamental work being done in rural America.

It’s this essential work that allows the rest of society to pursue other interests — art, medicine, politics, social marketing, public relations, journalism, engineering, etc.  

On Labor Day, which became a federal holiday in 1894, we celebrate hard-working Americans who through the course of our nation’s history have contributed to the growth, development, endurance, strength, security, prosperity, productivity, sustainability, structure and well-being of the country.

In 2019, this celebration of laborers is probably more important than ever before. While society grumbles and points their fingers at rural America, we’ll keep using our brains to produce more food while using fewer resources. We’ll continue to utilize the latest technologies and find ways to improve what’s already great. Even in the face of great criticism, agriculture will keep feeding the world.

And whether we like it or not, our challenge and burden will continue to be bridging the gap and opening the lines of communication between the urban elite and the humble farmer. If we don’t, I’m afraid the armchair “farmers” will be able to dictate how we get to do our jobs in the future.

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

Feeder cattle numbers steady with last year

The feeder cattle numbers at the auctions are starting to return back to normal as prices start to regain some of what they lost. There was 22,100 head at the test auctions, which was 12,000 head higher than last week and similar to last year. Prices were mostly $3-6 higher.

Slaughter cow numbers are starting to increase, and we are still well ahead of the big fall runs. The slaughter cow prices were steady to $1 lower and the cow cutout on Wednesday was about $1 lower than the previous week.


Meat Market Update | Cutout tops $227 ahead of Labor Day

The weekly average Choice cutout was $227.42 for the week, $9.22 higher even though the daily Choice cutout ended the week on Friday just a little lower. The weekly average Choice cutout includes all types of sales including the daily Choice cutout.  

The weekly average has been higher year over year for most of 2019, but currently it’s running about $20 higher than last year. The main reason for the big increase this week was that many but not all formula sales were based off the previous weeks higher daily spot sale prices.

There were 6,604 total loads sold for the week, 131 loads lower than the previous week but still a very good volume of sales. The daily cutout sales were only 431 loads this week, so it had limited impact on the weekly average cutout. 

Formula sales were at 3,646 loads, 94 loads higher than last week and about 55% of the total loads sold this week. The formula sales include over 7 million pounds of Choice rib and loin products this week, just a little higher than last week. So this is now four weeks in a row of adding many tons of steak items in the pipeline ahead of Labor Day at higher prices.

Farm Progress America, August 30, 2019

Max Armstrong considers the fact that in most cases that the general public doesn’t think about famine. Max shares some insight from Neville Spear who wrote in Feedstuffs about a survey of Millennials that looked at consumer sources of stress. The sources of stress in the survey never mention one area – fear of famine.

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: elenabs/iStock/Getty Images Plus

7 ag stories you might have missed this week - Aug. 30, 2019

NolanBerg11/flySnow/SteveOehlenschlager/ThinkstockPhotos 7AgStoriesNEW051517-1540x800

Missed some agricultural news this week? Here are seven stories you might have missed.

1. In a Farm Futures poll taken in late July 2019, farmers were asked if they would vote for President Trump if the presidential election was held today. A majority, 66.6% said they would, up from 59.6% last year. More than 1,100 farmers responded to the survey. – Farm Futures

2. The broad outlines of a U.S.-Japan trade deal and assurances from President Trump that he isn’t planning to impose tariffs on Japanese automobiles “at this moment” have met a tepid response in Japan. No details of the planned detail have been released, but the broad outline is a reduction in Japanese agricultural tariffs to the levels agreed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade pact from which Trump withdrew. – Financial Times

3. Farm Futures first survey of 2020 planting intentions shows farmers intend to plant 94.1 million acres of corn, up 4.5% from the 90 million USDA said they planted in its Aug. 12 report. Growers intend to sow 83.6 million acres of soybeans, up 9% from 2019. And growers intend to boosot hard red winter wheat seedings by 1.3% to 23 million acres. – Farm Futures

4. As the trade war with China continues to escalate, farmers are feeling the pain. California almond grower Dale Edson put her land up for sale because she’s unable to make a living. She had been selling her almonds to China. Edson supports the president’s aims to achieve better trade agreements. – USA Today

5. President Donald Trump will announce a plan to boost biofuel demand within weeks, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Trump is seeking to quell the uproar his 31 small refinery exemptions created. – Reuters

6. University of Wisconsin-Madison dairy economist Bob Cropp predicts Class III milk prices will go higher than predicted by USDA. USDA predicts Class III futures will peak in September at about $17.80 per cwt. and then decline slightly during the fourth quarter to end the year at about $17. – Wisconsin Agriculturalist

7. Global market demand for beef is pushing deforestation in Brazil where farmers clear cutting the forest and burning what’s left to make way for pastures. Nearly 40% of Brazil’s cattle population is located in the Amazon region. – The Washington Post

And your bonus.

Did you know oleomargarine was banned in Wisconsin, leading entrepreneurs to make a run across the border? Which is the birthplace of the ice cream sundae – Two Rivers, Wis., or Ithaca, New York? Do you remember hearing about the milk strikes of 1933? Learn more about Wisconsin’s dairy history. – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Perdue announces investigation into market reaction to Tyson beef plant fire

Oklahoma Farm Report Tyson Beef Plant Holcomb

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue promised that USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Administration will investigate any unfair practices that may have resulted from the August 10 fire at the Tyson Finney County beef plant in Holcomb, Kan. The fire idled the plant for an undetermined length of time.

Market reaction to the fire was swift and severe, with feeder cattle and fed cattle prices plunging and wholesale prices skyrocketing. “Both the cash and futures markets reacted predictably the week ending August 17 to the fire that shut Tyson’s Finney County, Kan., beef plant. The feedlot cattle trades were $5-6 per cwt lower…” according to BEEF’s August 20 Fed Cattle Recap.

“As part of our continued efforts to monitor the impact of the fire at the beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kan., I have directed USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division to launch an investigation into recent beef pricing margins to determine if there is any evidence of price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition or other unfair practices, Perdue said in a statement dated August 28.

READ: Tyson fire disrupts market supply chain

“If any unfair practices are detected, we will take quick enforcement action. USDA remains in close communication with plant management and other stakeholders to understand the fire’s impact to industry. 

“I have spent this summer visiting with cattle ranchers across the country, and I know this is a difficult time for the industry as a whole. USDA is committed to ensuring support is available to ranchers who work hard to the feed the United States and the world.”

USDA’s investigation drew quick praise from beef industry leaders.  “[This] announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue demonstrates the government’s understanding of the extreme strain placed on the cattle industry by the plant fire in Holcomb, Kan.,” said NCBA president Jennifer Houston.

“We encourage USDA to look at all aspects of the beef supply chain and to utilize internal an external expertise in this investigation. We believe it adds transparency that will build confidence in the markets among cattlemen and women.”

READ: Industry scrambles after Tyson fire

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association President Bobby Simpson agreed, saying there is no harm in conducting an investigation to ensure integrity of the markets and to respond to the justified concerns of thousands of U.S. cattle producers. “In fact, it's simply the right thing to do. No matter the result of the investigation, good can come from better understanding what took place and how to best mitigate future disruptions, he said in a statement.

 "Cattle producers have sound reason to question market events that transpired after the Holcomb fire. While a sharp decrease in slaughter capacity was anticipated, slaughter actually increased some 9,000 head from the week prior to the fire,” he said.

“Further, most expected this market disruption to cause uncertainty, but few could believe in one week fed cattle prices would drop 5% and Choice boxes would spike 9% while total slaughter increased. All the while, prices for feeder calves plummeted. The financial woes do not reside within one segment of the industry. It impacts the entire chain and causes lending institutions a high level of uncertainty as equity dwindles across the board.

READ: Markets continue recovery after Tyson beef plant fire

"We applaud U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for listening not to conspiracy theories or charts and graphs of economists. He leaned on the expertise of the men and women who have successfully made their living in the cattle business through mercurial markets, regulatory uncertainty, unpredictable weather and much more. These producers - from the cow/calf operator to the backgrounder to the feeder to the livestock market - understand the markets. They are good at what they do and when the overwhelming majority speak, we listen and this administration does as well."  

MORNING Midwest Digest, Aug. 29, 2019

Sonny Perdue was at the Farm Progress Show yesterday, talking ethanol, trade and more, and even took a call from President Trump.

The USDA says 8 states lose nearly $30 million a year to bird damage.

Vaping illnesses continue to increase.

A drug pipeline between Chicago and Kansas has been cut off.

There've been 21 people hit by metro trains in Chicago. 


Photo: Holly Spangler


Farm Progress America, August 29, 2019

Max Armstrong talks consumers and food knowledge with insight from Dairy Management Inc., noting that farmers need to commit to sustainability more quickly. The key will be a rising need for transparency with 73% of consumers saying they’re willing to pay more for products that are more transparent. This is more than talking about what you do on the farm, but providing proof of what you do.

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